I’ve got four bite-sized reviews of YA books today. Three books and a series! I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on December 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.
Which is where the list comes in.
Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.
This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.
This book is SO Kasie West (which is a very good thing, trust me). First off, I pretty much always love stories that involve best friends becoming more—I’m a complete sucker for that trope. But this book is a lot more than the romance. Abby is a pretty typical seventeen-year-old—she thinks she has her life pretty much figured out in a lot of ways but then something happens that shakes her belief in herself and her insecurities come rushing in. I’m sure that a lot of YA readers will be able to relate to this. Family ties are incredibly important in the story. Abby’s relationship with her mom (who struggles with agoraphobia) and her dad (who is stationed overseas, but we still get to see him via email and Skype) are central to the story. And her grandfather is also a huge part of her life (and he’s utterly lovable!). My only issue with the book was that I was a bit unsure of where it was all going and how things were going to end with the romance—this was one of those cases where I truly wasn’t sure the main characters were going to get together—or if they should. I felt like Cooper was possibly leading Abby on a bit sometimes and I wasn’t sure if she was going to end up with him or Elliott in the end. Of course, West did her magic and everything turned out in a way that was both satisfying and emotional, so it was all good. Speaking of emotional—I shed more than a few tears for Abby!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
The Young Queens by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns #0.5
Also in this series: Three Dark Crowns
Published by HarperTeen on December 26th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
My content rating: YA
Three black witches, born to a descending queen. One would rise to become queen in her place. Perhaps the strongest of the three. Perhaps the cleverest. Or perhaps it would be the girl born under the best shield of luck.
Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella - three young queens born to fulfil their destiny - to fight to the death to win the crown. But before they were poisoner, elemental and naturalist, they were children, sisters and friends . . .
The minute this novella came out, I had to read it immediately, and it did not disappoint. This little gem lets us experience some of those past events that the main books refer to—the birth of the queens, the switch of Katharine and Arsinoe, the separation of the girls when they were six, bits and pieces of their experiences growing up, Jules’s mother returning home, and Jules meeting Camden for the first time. We also got some unique perspectives: How did Natalia feel about Katharine when she was young? How did Caragh feel when Madrigal came traipsing back home? Why did Luca decide to support Mirabella? There are some answers given in this little novella (for instance, we know Katharine’s gift without a doubt now), but there are still plenty of mysteries to be solved in future books!
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly
Series: Seriously Wicked #1
Published by Tor Teen on May 5th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
The only thing worse than being a witch is living with one.
Camellia’s adopted mother wants Cam to grow up to be just like her. Problem is, Mom’s a seriously wicked witch.
Cam’s used to stopping the witch’s crazy schemes for world domination. But when the witch summons a demon, he gets loose—and into Devon, the cute new boy at school.
Now Cam’s suddenly got bigger problems than passing Algebra. Her friends are getting zombiefied. Their dragon is tired of hiding in the RV garage. For being a shy boy-band boy, Devon is sure kissing a bunch of girls. And a phoenix hidden in the school is going to explode on the night of the Halloween Dance.
To stop the demon before he destroys Devon’s soul, Cam might have to try a spell of her own. But if she’s willing to work spells like the witch...will that mean she’s wicked too?
This book is just plain cute. It’s one of those books that’s perfect for the younger YA set (I don’t think there are enough of those) but has enough appeal for older YA readers as well. The magic in this book is pure fun—it never takes itself too seriously—and it makes me glad I don’t have to go grocery shopping for potion supplies. If you’re looking for a lighter YA read with a paranormal twist, this is a great series for you!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via BEA16 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls
Published by Scholastic Press Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Narrator: Jenna Lamia, Pierce Cravens, Dan Bittner, Emma Galvin, Maggie Stiefvater
Length: 43 hrs. 6 min total
My content rating: YA (Characters have sex)
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.
Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
Once again, I’m writing a review of the whole Wolves of Mercy Falls Series in one fell swoop since I’m very late to the game. I listened to this series after adoring The Raven Cycle Series, and I have to say that I fell in love with Stiefvater even more. There is something about her writing that enthralls me: Her characters are so intricately (and believably) drawn, her dialogue is snappy and realistic, her descriptions are just so incredibly unique. No one else writes the way she does.
This story is a bit younger-feeling than The Raven Cycle, even though the characters are roughly the same age. The first book introduces us to the mystery of the wolves. I immediately fell in love with both Grace and Sam, and I loved how well they balance each other out. Grace is all logic and order, while Sam is soulful and, quite frankly, adorable. Stiefvater did an excellent job of upping the stakes continuously throughout the book and giving us a shocking ending! I DEVOURED IT!
The second book focused on trying to find a permanent cure for their little “problem” and introduced Cole, a former teen rock star who just wants to escape the world. He’s a bit abrasive, but his and Isabella’s POVs worked well with Sam and Grace’s since the latter two are much “softer” and more likable. The chemistry between Cole and Isabelle is immediately palpable, and I was rooting for them to end up together! Once again, this book ended in a way I didn’t expect. This one FED MY ADDICTION.
The last book in the original trilogy is probably my favorite. The danger level is this book is kicked way up and Grace, Sam, Cole and Isabelle find themselves racing against time to save the wolves (AKA, themselves, in some cases). I liked seeing Grace and Sam happy for a little while before things got crazy again, and I was very satisfied with the ending, even though it was a bit open-ended. (Unlike the original readers of the series, I knew there was still one more book coming). I DEVOURED IT!
The fourth book was definitely my least favorite, but I still enjoyed it. Even though I loved Isabelle and Cole in the original trilogy, as I had feared, they were a little bit easier for me to take in small doses. A whole book from just their two somewhat cynical and messed-up POVs was harder to swallow. This companion to the original series felt more like a New Adult novel to me, both in tone and subject matter and since I listened to it directly after the others, it was hard not to compare. Still, I did love the concept of Cole’s wolfishness being sort of like an addiction for him. And I also felt for him when no one seemed to want to forget his past and give him a chance at a future. This one FED MY ADDICTION.
Overall I give the series an I DEVOURED IT rating because I just loved the listening experience so much!
That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?