Tag: YA

Book Review: The Agency: The Body At The Tower by Y.S. Lee

Posted September 30, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments


Title: The Agency: The Body At The Tower

Author: Y.S. Lee

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: August 2011

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Two

Synopsis can be found here.
Book One review can be found here.

Review: 

And she’s back!


Mary Quinn, spy extraordinaire is back for another mystery! A man falls to his death from the under construction clock tower of the Houses of Parliament. It seems like an accident, but of course, foul play is suspected! Enter our heroine Mary who disguises herself as a boy, sneaks around the site ready to uncover the truth. And who should she run into but none other than James Easton.

The second book in the series is just as good as the first. The intrigue and mystery is there. Mary is fearless and finds herself is a lot of dangerous situations. The action is quick and the storyline rolls by fast. The chemistry between Mary and James heats up. Both characters have grown since their last encounter and it’s rewarding to see these two develop together. They make a great time both as detectives and love interests. I love James and Mary. Both are headstrong and their banter is natural and fun. It’s fire, arguments and butting heads. It’s passionate- arguing one moment and kissing the next. Really, this Victorian London is fun!

The mystery itself is more intricate than the first book. The secondary characters are well drawn out, each with distinct characterizations. Their voices are thick and rich in my head. And some of these guys are just plain scary.

If you haven’t read the first book, I highly recommend you start with that. Lee does a good job of recapping Mary’s previous adventure without being too wordy (don’t you hate that?). But really, the first book is amazing and you’ll have a different appreciation for Mary and James coming from that first novel.

What is my gripe with this series? That I have to wait until 2012 for the third book to be published in the US! (I can go to book depository and buy the third book, UK edition right now though. Just saying.)

Looking forward to the next installment, sooner rather than later.  Once you read the ending, you’ll understand why.
(Book Depository here I come!)

Rating 9, Ridiculously Awesome like Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted September 30, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 2 Comments


Book Review: The Agency: A Spy In The House by Y.S. Lee

Posted September 26, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Title: The Agency: A Spy In The House

Author: Y. S. Lee

Publisher: Candlewick

Publication Date: February 2011

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Mystery

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One


Synopsis can be found here.

Review:I will be honest. I was hesitant to read this book. I’m not a big fan of historical Victorian England fiction. Perhaps I haven’t read enough of it, or perhaps what I had read was too dry for my taste.

But this book series turned it all around for me.

My friend Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later recommended I read it. Thanks to the powers that be that 1. She knows her stuff! And 2. I listened to her.

This is one of those books secret gems that isn’t widely known, but my friends who have read it all love it. And what’s not to love?
The mystery is rich and thrilling. Mary Quinn herself is multi-layered, full, diverse and complex. And her big secret? Well, I just wish there will be more characters modeled after her in the future! She’s an old soul in a teenager’s body, coming to terms with her past and her future. Facing danger at every turn. And perhaps, falling in love?

The love story isn’t the central storyline in the book, which is refreshing in itself. James is a great companion for Mary and their conversations made me giggle. Tension filled and funny, the chemistry between these two leaps off the page. And James is a great lead male. He’s equal parts intriguing, dashing, funny and strong.

Lee’s writing is so strong, I immediately appear in her Victorian England just by opening the book.

An awesome debut. Book two “The Body At The Tower” is currently out and book three “The Traitor and the Tunnel” will hit shelves in the United States in February 2012. My friend bought book three already, UK edition, from Book Depository. Yeah, she couldn’t wait. That’s how good.

Rating 9 Ridiculously Awesome, like Cookies and Ice Cream

Posted September 26, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments


Book Review: Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson

Posted September 15, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Breathe My Name

Author: R.A. Nelson

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: November 2007

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.


Review:Realistic fiction becomes physiological thriller in this book. Frances Robinson is a typical high school teenager, but she’s hiding a secret only her family and best friend knows. Years before, she barely escaped her birth mother’s hands. Now her birth mother is out, asking Frances to see her, and to finish what they started.

I knew going into it that this book was going to be intense. Nelson’s other book I read, and reviewed, was equally jarring, scary and emotionally explosive. Breathe My Name doesn’t let up for one second.  The flashbacks are the most disturbing for me. Traveling back and forth between France’s current life and her former one leaves the reader feeling off balanced. You already know what’s going to happen, and every flashback leads you closer and closer, achingly close until the very end.
Meanwhile, the present Frances is doing everything she can to come to terms with what this means to her.  With her new boyfriend Nix in tow, they begin a journey that I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end.
Frances is a real, warm character. She has been through a lot, but she doesn’t come across as whiny, annoying or overly dramatic. She’s level headed, brave and seems far older than her years.  Nix is sweet, funny and a great supporting character to Frances. It’s easy to see the chemistry between these two characters. Nix makes Frances laugh and she feels safe around him. The scariest character of all is France’s birth mother. Tense and unhinged, she is her own force; a hurricane you can’t help being pulled towards and almost swept up in. Nelson does an amazing job in the flashbacks, describing her pull, her fears, and her insanity.
Without revealing too much, the plot twist at the end left me a little empty. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a well-written and thought-out ride to get there.  

Rating 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted September 15, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Posted September 8, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Five Flavors of Dumb

Author:
Antony John

Publisher: Dial

Publication Date: November 2010

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.


Review: Through a series of brave choices, Piper offers to manage Dumb, her school’s band that has just won an indie band rock award. She makes the band a deal that she can get them a paying gig in a month. Any other teenager, and this would have been a less interesting story, but Piper is hearing impaired, so an entirely new set of challenges await her. And she’s ready to overcome all of them.

This book was recommended to me by various readers, so I’m not going to lie, I had some high hopes. And it lived up to all of them. Piper is a strong but struggling teenager. Her very young sister Grace is also hearing impaired, but Piper and Grace are treated very differently. The emotional rollercoaster Piper endures every night she goes home is heartbreaking. I felt all of Piper’s frustrations and sense of abandonment.  Her complicated relationship with her parents was sharp and unbearable at times. I felt a real sense of injustice on Piper’s behalf.
Finn, her brother, is a stable and well-rounded character who Piper grows closer to as the novel progresses. It’s easy to see why these two turn to lean on each other and it gave a nice sense of balance to the family life.
Yay to Antony John for creating Ed Chen, a shy chess playing geek as the love interest, who enjoys rocking out on his drums.  Ed is fully formed and well crafted. He is part teenage boy, part loyal friend and Piper’s sturdy rock. His refreshing friendship with Piper is light hearted and fun.
Tash, Will and Josh round out the rest of Dumb nicely. Each has distinct personalities, or lack thereof in Will’s case. This allows Piper to really shine through the novel, the reader experiencing her journey, her mistakes and her ups and downs as if they were their own. The obstacles Piper has to overcome in this novel are unique to her situation, and while she is a sympathetic character, she’s equally flawed, which makes her even more interesting.
The use of sign language through the novel and Piper’s struggles with that and her hearing aids are well written. John does a fantastic job using Piper’s communication skills as another layer.
A wonderfully rich and fun story. Piper is a girl you want to root for. And Dumb is well, pretty awesome.

Rating 8, Cookie Worthy

Posted September 8, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins) by Andrew Lane

Posted August 29, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Title: Death Cloud

Author: Andrew Lane

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
 

Publication Date: February 2011

Genre: Young Adult Historical Mystery Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.


Review: There may be more stories written by other authors about Sherlock Holmes than by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.  That says a lot right there. Holmes is clouded in his own mystery- a solitary figure, master in the art of deduction, a bit eccentric and very little is known about his past.

This is what makes Andrew Lane’s Holmes so enjoyable. Whether you are familiar with the original Holmes stories or not, he is so engrained in western culture with his signature deerstalker style hat, its hard to not recognize the popular literary figure.
Lane’s Holmes is young, curious and adventurous. While we see the slowly layered foundation of the man he is to become, this Holmes is fun to read. Along with his tutor Crowe and friend Matty, Sherlock starts his first adventure. He is only just a boy, but the potential is there and fueled by Crowe’s own skill and wisdom, it’s easy to see how young Sherlock develops into the man he is famous for.
Matty is true and loyal supporting character. Young, alone and rough around the edges, he makes the perfect friend for privileged Holmes.
Lane does a good job of prolonging the mystery, even if I had guessed it chapters earlier. There is a good deal of action and a couple of very threatening characters, so I think young boys might really enjoy this early Holmes adventure.  It’s light on the girl, and yes, of course there’s a girl, and heavy on the danger, which makes it perfect for boys maybe around 13 yrs old.
A quick read and a good debut to a promising series.



Review 6 Good but wouldn’t own a copy

Posted August 29, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 4 Comments


Book Review: Sean Griswold’s Head

Posted August 16, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Sean Griswold’s Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: March 2011
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
Review:
Payton is my type of girl. She loves to be organized, and even color-codes her folders. She’s a smart student who likes to place things in their proper places. Therefore, it’s especially traumatic for her when she learns a secret that sends her reeling into her guidance counselor’s office. Her guidance counselor recommends she find a focus item to concentrate on. And what do you know? It’s Sean Griswold’s head.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. The synopsis sounded cute and I figured it would be some light-hearted treat I could read quickly and move on. But there’s a lot more to it than that. My friend loaned me her copy, with the words, “No, it’s awesome. You’ll love it.” And I did.
Leavitt is a very talented writer. Her characters are well rounded, full, rich and funny. Even when they’re suffering, they don’t lose their wholeness or depth. The novel touches upon more than just Payton and Sean. It delves into relationships between family members, especially parents and children.
Payton’s character is so real, she felt like she was sitting next to me. Her emotions, thoughts and actions made her into a mature teenager, just growing out of adolescence and trying to figure it all out.
And Sean Griswold is more than just a head. Payton gets to know her focus item, the sweet and kind Sean Griswold. He has such a wonderful personality, reminding me of some of my best guy friends from home.
As their relationship develops, Payton grows in leaps from the character she started out at the beginning to the young adult she eventually becomes.
A wonderful and hilarious story that should not be missed!
Rating: 10 One of the Best

Posted August 16, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


Book Review: Across The Universe

Posted August 9, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments

Title: Across The Universe

Author: Beth Revis

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: January 2011

Genre: Young Adult Dystopia/Science Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book One

Synopsis can be found here.

Review: Amy joins her parents aboard the massive spaceship Godspeed where she will awaken on a new planet, 300 years in the future. But Amy awakens fifty years too early and begins an adventure that might create more questions than answers.

Revis’s debut novel is not to be missed. A little bit sci-fi, a little bit dystopia, Revis has created a lush and frightening world aboard the space ship Godspeed, where all the characters have hidden agendas.  Just when I thought I had it all figured out, a twist would come out of nowhere and make me go, “Wait, what!” in a good way. Dark, sinister characters move around the spaceship, and Amy is different. Which makes her a target and a threat.

The dual narrative between Amy and Elder is well done. Two distinct voices relaying a story adds to the overall tension and feel of the ship and the relationships on it. I’ve found it hard sometimes for an author to write a narration in the opposite sex, but Revis does this very well. At no time did I feel Elder was anyone but Elder, a boy on a spaceship who had an impressive and complicated job before him.

Across The Universe reminds me of an episode in Lost. You know the ones- the groundwork is laid, the action going strong, but you wind up with more questions than answers. Leaving me unsatisfied and wanting.

This book is probably not for younger readers below fifteen or sixteen.  The first chapter alone is very graphic and traumatic. I almost cried when Amy went through the freezing process. There are other moments through the book that are downright scary.

Overall, the unsettling themes and tone of the book left me off balance, which was probably the point. I’m excited to continue with the series to see how it all plays out. It’s a serious ride.

Rating: 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted August 9, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 5 Comments