Tag Archives: greenwillow

River’s Quickie Reviews #7

It’s been a long time since I’ve thrown one of these together, but River managed to get a crapton of books from ALAMW 2016, and has been writing some mini reviews for a few of the books she got her hands on. Enjoy some mini-reviews of titles that have either just released or will be coming out later in the year!


23266647

 

Title: Ask Me How I Got Here by Christine Heppermann (May 3rd 2016 by Greenwillow )

Synopsis: Addie has always known what she was running toward. In cross-country, in life, in love. Until she and her boyfriend—her sensitive, good-guy boyfriend—are careless one night and she ends up pregnant. Addie makes the difficult choice to have an abortion. And after that—even though she knows it was the right decision for her—nothing is the same anymore. She doesn’t want anyone besides her parents and her boyfriend to know what happened; she doesn’t want to run cross-country; she can’t bring herself to be excited about anything. Until she reconnects with Juliana, a former teammate who’s going through her own dark places.

River’s Review: This is a very fast read. I think I read it in about a half hour? It’s written in verse and the writing is SO gorgeous.

This is the story of a girl who has an abortion. She goes to a catholic school so there’s a lot of religious stuff going on in this book, but it’s not a book about condemning what was done. It’s not a book about a broken girl, just a girl who deals with the consequences of her actions and does what she believes is the right thing. This book isn’t preachy, but it does give a very interesting view on both sides of the debate, and I loved the juxtaposition going on in it.

I also really liked how quiet it was. She doesn’t go crazy and become a broken thing, but she does lose faith in herself and interest in things that were once important. Friends and family show concern, but it’s all very subtle and overall very well done.

This is a great book for a lazy afternoon. Beautiful writing, important content. It was something different and I needed it. 5/5 Stars.


25203675Title: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi  (April 26th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin)

Synopsis: Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth. But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

River’s Review: Here’s another book that I very much enjoyed but didn’t LOVE. The writing in this is breathtakingly gorgeous and I really enjoyed some of the side characters. But over all I felt a little displaced with the world and the two main characters didn’t do too much for me. I LOVED that it was based on Indian mythology, that’s not something that I’ve run into very much in YA. Kamala the flesh eating horse was hilarious, and I really enjoyed Gupta and his eccentricities. Sadly Maya was a little too gullible at times, but I did enjoy her growth as a woman in the story. Amar was every other brooding bad-good-guy.

The first 100 pages or so of this was slow and boring at times, but around 150 things really picked up and I loved the way that things were reveled and pieced together through Maya’s own personal journey.

I’m very excited to see what more Chokshi writes, because wow does she spin some beautiful tales! 4/5 Stars.


24724627

Title: The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter (March 15th 2016 by Philomel Books)

Synopsis: Cassie O’Malley has been trying to keep her head above water—literally and metaphorically—since birth. It’s been two and a half years since Cassie’s mother dumped her in a mental institution against her will, and now, at eighteen, Cassie is finally able to reclaim her life and enter the world on her own terms. But freedom is a poor match against a lifetime of psychological damage. As Cassie plumbs the depths of her new surroundings, the startling truths she uncovers about her own family narrative make it impossible to cut the tethers of a tumultuous past. And when the unhealthy mother-daughter relationship that defined Cassie’s childhood and adolescence threatens to pull her under once again, Cassie must decide: whose version of history is real? And more important, whose life must she save?

River’s Review: So I really liked this but something about the story felt super dated. I couldn’t place the time, and then there were mentions of cell phones and a couple of pop culture references, but overall this felt like it was set in the late 80s or early 90s for some reason.

And the college aspect of this was REALLY weird for me. I didn’t do the whole “freshman” thing when I was in college (I transferred in during my 2nd year) but I don’t remember my college (or any of my friends) having dances (like formals like you do in high school) and the pay phone at the end of the hallway and the very lack of anybody really following up with anything regarding Cassie just seemed really random and strange.

The emotional aspects, the mental health issues in this, and the writing were all really good though. 3/5 Stars.

 

 

Advertisements

ARC Review – The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett

22595271Title: The Unquiet

Author: Mikaela Everett

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis:  For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this for review!

River’s Review:

THIS. BOOK. WAS. SO. GOOD. It’s def in my top ten for the year. I went into it not sure what was going to happen… I’d heard it was slow and didn’t do a very good job of executing what it promised.

Uh, nope and nope. This book wasn’t FAST paces but it was well paces. It moves along and draws you in. It’s… oddly quiet. There’s a lot of backstory (which is so good and so needed) a lot of present time and then when the war hits things spin out and then draw back in and it’s just so damn good. And yes, it’s a little confusing in the beginning and I guess the ONLY world building problem I had was that I didn’t know what time period it took place in. It feels a little bit 1950’s but then they talk about laptops and I think it’s modern. But then you find out some other stuff at the end and I guess it doesn’t REALLY matter but still.

So there are two Earths. There have always been two Earths. They exist in parallel universes. If you’ve ever seen Fringeimagine the other dimension. Duplicates of everyone, similar technologies, but things are off, different. And the one Earth starts to die. People start to vanish. And they get scared. And as humans do, they want to persevere themselves. So they start to send people over to kill their duplicates and take over their lives.

OH. Before I get any further, do NOT rely on the synopsis for your info. It sounds like ONE girl is being trained to kill her duplicate but it’s not only her, it’s EVERYONE. Children are taken from their parents and the streets and sent to the living Earth to train for years before they take an exam that will deem them ready to take over their duplicate’s life and then they’re sent out at ripe age of 14 to kill their alternate and assume their life. It’s not just ONE girl. That was something else that kinda made me hold off on this book because I was like wtf is so special about one girl?

This book is dark. The MC, Lira, has so much trouble doing what she was trained for. She’s good at it, but it’s hard. Not only does she live her alternate’s life (which is a MUCH better life than the one she’d been living on the dying Earth) she also has to carry out missions. She is constantly examining her morals and struggling with her sense of loyalty.

There are some of the most heartbreaking moments in this book too. People die. People suffer. People live and it’s hard. There’s betrayal and broken hearts. I was gut punched more than once.

And the writing, my god, the writing is rich and lush and anytime I would read it I just wanted to sink into the pages and live in the words they were so beautiful.

This book is also incredibly bittersweet.

ARC Review – No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss

22403036Title: No Parking at the End Times

Author: Bryan Bliss

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Abigail’s parents have made mistake after mistake, and now they’ve lost everything. She’s left to decide: Does she still believe in them? Or is it time to believe in herself? Fans of Sara Zarr, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell will connect with this moving debut.

Abigail doesn’t know how her dad found Brother John. Maybe it was the billboards. Or the radio. What she does know is that he never should have made that first donation. Or the next, or the next. Her parents shouldn’t have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there with Brother John for the “end of the world.” Because of course the end didn’t come. And now they’re living in their van. And Aaron’s disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But maybe it’s too big a task for one teenage girl. Bryan Bliss’s thoughtful, literary debut novel is about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

This book was so difficult to read at times. It actually made me physically angry too. See, I once dated this boy who’s family was SUPER religious. And the boy acted like he wasn’t but then about two months into our relationship he told me about how I wasn’t going to go to Heaven unless I let Jesus into my heart and repented and he sobbed to me that I needed to do it or he wouldn’t see me in Heaven and that he couldn’t stand it. He also said that he didn’t like to kiss me because he didn’t want God to see him and that he’d always have to pray afterwards… so we broke up and he was like ‘let’s still go to youth group together!’ and I was like ‘uh, no, Jesus isn’t really my thing…’ and then I found out that he would go smoke pot after church with his friends and I was just done.

I respect people who are religious. Everyone has the right to their own beliefs, but I’ve found that more often than not those religious people don’t respect the right to not believe. Or to believe something different. And those are the people I have a problem with. So Brother John and the father in this book just made me want to kick things.

In this book Abigail and her family sell all of their worldly possessions and travel across the USA to join Brother John who’s basically a scam artist peddling the end of the world for those who will believe. Abigail’s father lost his job and found Jesus and it was just so sad how he was so blind and naive. He truly believed that the end of the world was coming and that his family didn’t need anything anymore.

But then the end of the world didn’t come. And Abigail’s brother began to not believe. He turned his back on God and got angry. I totally understood him. Abigail took a bit longer to come around, and it was so hard seeing her torn between knowing what was right and what was faith. But did God really want her family homeless? Living out of a van? Eating leftovers from the soup kitchen? Did God want that for them? Her brother knew the answer, but Abigail loved her family and I think she wanted to believe that her mother and father would do the right thing eventually. She had faith in them. And I liked that about her, but man when that dick Brother John would take their money (that they were getting from ANOTHER church because their family had NOTHING) and spout out some crap about ‘God’s plan’… I just got so mad and wanted her to get mad too.

The end really got me. I wish that the father would have been a little more dramatic, and I would have loved to see him admit that he was wrong or at least that Brother John was a sham, but we didn’t get to see that. Maybe that wasn’t the point. I was just happy that family won in the end.

Overall this was really good and makes you think about your place in the world and what you believe in. But if you’re really religious you might want to avoid it. Maybe. Not that this is an anti-religion book, it’s not, it just might not resonate the same way it might with someone who doesn’t have super strong religious beliefs.

ARC Review – The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

18802989Title:  The Murder Complex

Author: Lindsay Cummings

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.

Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this. I’m writing this honest review to say thank you!

River’s Review:

Wow, so okay. I didn’t have high expectations for this book. The author followed me on twitter last year and I saw all of the crazy promoting she was doing and how everyone was going nuts for it and it wasn’t even out yet and thought ‘wow, that’s a lot of hype’. I also saw what a huge fan of all the other big-time (over-hyped) dystopians she is and thought… it would just be more of the same. And while this book does have elements from a lot of those other series (Divergent, Hunger Games, Delirium, even the movie Hanna) it didn’t bother me too much because it was just A GOOD BOOK.

I like dark bloody books and this was just that. I loved the movie Hanna and Meadow reminded me a lot of Hanna. Her looks, her relationship with her father, her training. But for some reason it didn’t bother me. Maybe because we were inside of Meadow’s head and in Hanna we don’t get to go inside her head. Also a lot of their motivations were different. I don’t know. I guess I can see how these crossovers might bother other people, but I was able to maybe see that it was a nod towards something awesome, and a different take on it.

This reads FAST. And the perspectives flip between Zephyr and Meadow. If you know me and my reading preferences, you know that I HATE multiple POV. But this worked SO well. I was able to keep up with who was who, I never got confused between the voices, and most of the chapters were really short so not only was it keeping the pace clipping along, but it was easy to get a lot of information from each character.

As for the world building and the society… it wasn’t bad, but sometimes there was a little too much going on and I’m not even sure that I’m 100% clear on what the Murder Complex is and what it’s goals were. I also would have liked to have learned A LOT more about Lark and what her goals were. And what the purpose of the Patients was. Like, I get that they were killing machines, but why was that her brilliant solution? I hope that more is explained in the novella and next book.

The only thing that didn’t work for me was the romance. I get that Zephyr was getting images of a girl that looked like Meadow and that he was kinda in love with the image of her and so that when he met Meadow that he transferred those feelings onto her… but her return feelings for him just seemed to come out of nowhere. Like, they were running around, fighting, killing and she falls in love with him? Hmmmm. I can see her falling FOR him, but there wasn’t really any time for romance and I just never felt that they had THAT kind of connection. I did like that she started to accept that it was okay for herself to have a partner and someone to work with, but… love?

Anyway, I FLEW through this and I loved it and I can’t wait to read more! If you like dystopians then check this out, you’ll LOVE IT!

ARC Review – Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann

20359699Title: Poisoned Apples

Author: Christine Heppermann

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A devious poetry collection by  author Christine Heppermann. 

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

So I have to say, Poisoned Apples was a pleasant surprise. The poems attempt to blur the lines between fairy tales and reality and have to say, a lot of them the poems do a good job in justifying this. I think poetry collections can be a real tough sell, but the poems weave into each other surprisingly well that you felt like you were reading one large poetic narrative.

Also it’s feminist poetry. That’s an area I can say I completely approve of. I loved that Heppermann poked fun at tampon commercials, beauty, fashion, body images, things that are supposed to “make a woman.” A lot of the poems argue that none of these things make you a “true woman” and if anything it’s silly to even consider it. There’s a very dark and playful tone to a lot of the poems — in fact, I even found humor in a lot of them. There’s quite the cleverness in this collection, and no you don’t have to be well versed in fairy tales to appreciate it.

There’s a lot to like in this poetry collection, and I think the poems coupled with the photography and artwork is a great touch. I definitely want to see how a finished version of this book will look like when it releases in September. Honestly, check it out — there’s so fun and trouble to be found here.

ARC Review – Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

18114921Title: Salvage

Author: Alexandra Duncan

 

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Ava is the captain’s daughter. This allows her limited freedoms and a certain status in the Parastrata’s rigid society-but it doesn’t mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain’s daughter. Betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny instead, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. The gravity almost kills her. Gradually recuperating in a stranger’s floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust-and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul. This sweeping and harrowing novel explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family and, after a tidal wave destroys the Gyre and all those who live there, ultimately sends its main character on a thrilling journey to Mumbai, the beating heart of Alexandra Duncan’s post-climate change Earth.

Huge thank you to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

I picked this as one of my most highly anticipated books in 2015 and when I got to about 10% I was SO scared that I wasn’t going to like it. The beginning is a bit difficult to get into. The writing in this entire book is rich and layered and incredibly intricate and detailed. Ava, and her people, have their own form of English. The rules are never fully explained, and the social structure that Ava knows is shown, never really explained. So if you aren’t willing to work a little bit to get into this book, then you might have trouble with it. THANKFULLY I was able to get into it and it just FLOWED from there.

I made the mistake of reading a few reviews on here before reading this and had a small part of it spoiled. So when I got to a certain point in the book I was SO scared about how it was going to work based on the spoiler. And I feel that this is how my entire relationship with this book was. Ava would make choices that made me go NO DO NOT DO THAT OMG PLEASE DON’T DO THAT because she was heading into directions that really turn me off in the YA genre. Thankfully every time it seemed that the book was going to head into a undesirable direction, it made good choices, right choices, and satisfying choices. I have never been so pleased so many times in a single book.

This is basically a story about a girl growing up. Ava was born and raised in space, on a ship that travels between a space port above Earth, and Mars. Her ship has it’s own unique culture, which we later find out was a product of time and isolation. Women have children, cook, clean, do simple jobs, and aren’t allowed to learn how to read, write, do math, or anything mechanical. Ava knows this and grows up looking forward to when she can become someone’s bride. The men take multiple wives and are allowed to travel between the space ship and Earth. Women are told that they can’t handle the Earth’s pull, but really it’s just that they aren’t allowed to keep their bodies in shape and therefore they are unable to physically handle gravity.

Ava is sent to be married but she gets caught in a scandal and is instead sentenced to death. She manages to escape and goes to Earth where she makes friends, suffers heartbreak, finds her only remaining family, and learns that women are capable of so much more than she ever imagined. She learns that she can use her skills and learn new things. That she can have a life and happiness.

I loved Ava. She walks a fine line between innocence and experience. She is so mature and naive at the same time. She is smart and thinks about her actions and even when she is irrational she later visits her mistakes and does the right thing. She loves with all of her heart and only wants to be loved in return. Her character development is amazing and I was so happy with every choice she made, right up to the very end of the book.

The rest of the characters are wonderful as well. The heartbreaks suffered are so real, and the world is so vivid. I love how it feels futuristic and dystopian at the same time. There are elements that are similar and familiar enough that this book is easy to picture, but I could also imagine it as a big-budget movie with lots of amazing special effects.

And the writing… it’s so lush and beautiful. Once I got used to the way Ava and her people spoke, I even began to enjoy it.

I highly recommend this. And don’t be fooled by the few reviews saying that there’s a love-triangle, there isn’t.

Books We’re Excited For Releasing in 2014

River and I are totally trapped under a pile of books at the moment, but that doesn’t me we aren’t excited to read more. Today we’re going to share our Top Five that we are most excited to get our grubby hands on.

River’s Top Five:

13518102

1) Salvage, by Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)

2) Tease, by Amanda Maciel (Balzer + Bray)

3) (Don’t You) Forget About Me, by by Kate Karyus Quinn (Harper Teen)

4) After the End, by Amy Plum (Harper Teen)

5) Alienated, by Melissa Landers (Disney Hyperion)

Sam’s Top Five:

18599748

1) Guy in Real Life, by Steve Brezenoff  (Balzer + Bray)

2) Dorothy Must Die, by Danielle Paige (Harper Teen)

3) Prisoner of Night and Fog, by Anne Blankman (Balzer + Bray)

4)  The Rule of Three, by Eric Walters (Razorbill Canada)

5) (Don’t You) Forget About Me, by by Kate Karyus Quinn (Harper Teen)

So these are the books that River and I are beyond excited about. One treat I will let you in on is that “Guy in Real Life” is going to be participating in an upcoming feature over at RPGamer.com (video games in a book blog? How dare you, Sam!), so there will be a few goodies related to that one that will likely be cross-posted to here.

Coming up River and I are going to share our Top Five Favourite Books that we read in 2013. Keep in mind they may be actual 2013 releases, or just books we finally got to within the year. In the comments let us know what 2014 releases you’re excited for and why you simply cannot wait for them!