Tag Archives: Young Adult

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Overview

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FaeFantasy, Mystery, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2016

Thoughts

This story was absolutely nothing like what I was expecting. It was kind of dark and twisty, without all of the feel good that I’ve been reading a bit much of in some of my young adult books. Plus, this was actually and truly about misfits. There are way too many YA stories which feature a “misfit” who is actually seriously cool. These kids aren’t. For that, I love them.

I’m always diving into tales of the fae. Tales that are a little bit uncomfortable and sweep you away to some incredibly unexpected places. What I loved about this is that a whole variety of alternate lands are featured. There’s not one doorway to go through, but a whole range. A different land for a different kind of person to fit in. It was nice that each of the characters in this story found their own lands to fit into. Their own places to experience a happily ever after.

This is a great reminder that we all fear death. And fear makes people do stupid things. Nancy may have come from a land of the Dead. But that doesn’t mean she causes death, or even desires it. I love how she is immediately looked upon with suspicion amongst people who know, themselves, what it is like to be a misfit. It’s a reminder that human nature tends to ostracise others, regardless of how we may have been ostracised ourselves. Particularly in instances when there is a whole heap of fear running rampant.

I was completely not expecting the ending of this story. It had such a wonderful Frankenstein, Dracula, Wuthering Heights feel. I might kind of hate Wuthering Heights, but I loved the other two, so it was a good feeling. A good feeling in a bad way…

<- More Seanan McGuireDown Among the Sticks and Bones ->

Image source: Kobo

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Overview

Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Gothic, Magic, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I started trying to read this book last year at some point. And I remember liking it, but not really getting into it. Picking it up again… I’m REALLY not sure why I couldn’t get into it. I mean, this book is fantastic. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Again, not entirely sure what it was that made me put this aside last year. Because WOW.

To start off with, I loved the twist at the end of this. It was horrifying, and you thought that there might be something horrible. And then the horrible thing happens and you were just… gobsmacked. I mean, what a damn betrayal! And what a way to make me thirst for the next book in the series… like seriously, and desperately thirst for it. I just can’t even believe the power that this book holds over you, long after you turn that final page. Even now, when I’m finally getting to sit down and write a review of it… I’m still completely enthralled and gobsmacked.

I’ve read a lot of stories which are based on historical Europe, but not Slavic Europe. It did take me a little to get my head around the character names. And I am 100% certain that the way I say them in my head is completely incorrect. Which is fine, because no one else is inside my head. Partner that with the holy war that is going on… and although there was a slight sense of familiarity due to the European aspect to it, this felt like a whole new world. One that I seriously can’t wait to get back to… I mean, it is dark and twisted. And, for someone who is a little freaked out by anything with religious connotations, impossible to not want to dive straight back into.

Duncan’s world building is insane and intense. She is able to construct a world that you can’t turn away from. And although a lot is revealed in this novel, there is a lot more to the world and the conspiracies than is imparted in one novel. Which, again, is what makes me want to dive into Ruthless Gods so badly. I mean, the world building and the politics are phenomenal. And even with the betrayal that I didn’t see coming, there is a whole slew of other aspects to this storyline that need answers. Relationships that may become more and more complex…

<- More Emily A. DuncanRuthless Gods ->

Image source: Goodreads

One Boy, No Water by Lehua Parker

Overview

Title: One Boy, No Water
Author: Lehua Parker
Series: Nihui Shark Saga #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Mythology, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

I really loved the island-life feel. It had this breezy, relaxed, surfer kind of vibe, that felt kind of familiar to my surfy cousins. There was such a lovely, breezy feeling to this story and I most definitely want to revisit this world. Aside from the vibe in this story, I loved that there was a lot of cultural information and aspects to the story that made me more and more fascinated by the Hawaiian life.

Then there was the fantastic language used throughout. Not just the language and tone of the story, but also the island slang throughout. Each chapter starts with the meaning of one piece of slang. Then, there’s bits and pieces that you have to put together yourself. I love this pidgeon form of English and Hawaiian that is used throughout. It may actually be the aspect of this story that I love the most – learning new slang that I will probably never use.

I loved how although this story is very much around a mythology and fantasy and powers, at it’s heart it is a coming of age story. One where a boy discovers who he is and that, like all of us, he has his own powers. It’s been a while since I’ve so thoroughly enjoyed a coming of age story. So it was nice to read this one. And, as I previously mentioned, definitely a world and journey that I will return to.

Zader is an incredibly fun lead. He is obviously kind of awkward and a fish out of water. Which, I always connect best to these types of characters – I’ve always felt like a bit of a fish out of water myself. I enjoyed how as his story unfolds, a bit more of his background and the secrets of his past. It made it incredibly difficult to put down this fantastic book.

<- More Lehua ParkerOne Shark, No Swim ->

Image source: Booktopia

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Overview

Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Series: These Violent Delights #1
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Mystery, Retellings, Young adult
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I need to start this review by saying that I really, really don’t like Romeo and Juliet. I mean, other than Wuthering Heights, it may be one of my least favourite stories. They’re just so…. irritating. Which means that the fact that this is a retelling of that story put this on the backfoot to begin with. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t mad about it like so many other stories I’ve been reading lately.

Although I couldn’t quite fall in love with the characters in this. I DID love the world building. And the story line. And pretty much everything other than Roma and Juliette. And the romance aspect. I’m just not a huge fan of the whole crossed lovers storyline. And the betrayal and such…

I would love to read more flappers stories. And the fact that this one is set in Shanghai just makes it all that much more intriguing and unique. I mean, the 20s aren’t an era that I’ve read much of… let alone the 20s in Shanghai and all of the politics that occurred there. Mix in teo rival gang heirs and the paranormal element… it was a pretty good sell.

Although I loved like 90% of this book, I found it incredibly hard to connect to the characters. And I do tend to find if I can’t connect to the characters, then I don’t hugely care what happens in the end. Which, ultimately is why I feel like this is a try again kind of book.

<- More Chloe GongOur Violent Ends ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Overview

Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Young adult
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 1911

Thoughts

I did enjoy this story, but I also didn’t really find it much of a story. Most tales that I really get stuck into have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes this isn’t so distinct, but it is still there. I didn’t really feel like there was anything other than a beginning here. Burnett manages to introduce Mary and all of her flaws beautifully. She is an incredibly dislikeable character. But, after her introduction, it’s possible to feel sympathetic to the reasons behind her characterisation. However, other than that, it was not much of a story.

Alright, the development of Mary’s character, and the friendships that she makes are definitely a good storyline and development. But I always expect more of an external trial and obstacle. In fact, I thought there would be many barriers to the children getting into the secret garden and helping it grow. Instead, they find the secret garden, find friendship and then miraculously heal all of the wounds of the past.

I did enjoy this classic, but I also don’t think I’ll quickly dig into it again. It was a bit of a story line that I felt needed a whole lot more. And one that was just too simple. Maybe a better book to read as a young child than an adult…

<- Bulfinch’s MythologyTarzan of the Apes ->

Image source: Abebooks

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

Overview

Title: These Rebel Waves
Author: Sara Raasch
Series: Stream Raiders #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Magic, Paranormal fantasy, Pirates, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

Let me preface this review by saying that there is a surprise reveal in this that I DID NOT see coming. Not so much a twist that will shock and awe… but certainly a surprise unveiling of truth that I wasn’t expecting. It was one that suddenly made total sense and has me itching to read These Divided Shores… I just have to buy it first.

Jumping between points if view doesn’t always work so seamlessly. But Raasch is able to do it in a way that is not only enjoyable, but highlights the different voices of the three leads. In fact, she managed to have such great characterisation and relatable characters that I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. For all three of them. Not a feeling that I often have with multiple points of view.

This book had a very pirate-like feel to it. Almost Pirates of the Caribbean in some moments in fact. Add in the not so subtle splashes of botanical magic, and of course this was the kind of story that was up my alley. A dash of romance, plenty of action and violence… of course I fell for this.

The part that destroys me most about this story? The goddam ending!!! It is such a phenomenal cliff-hanger. One that I didn’t anticipate AT ALL. And it is one that I can’t stop thinking about… I really don’t relish the idea of waiting to buy the next book in this series…

<- More Sara RaaschThese Divided Shores ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

Overview

Title: The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Series: Montague Siblings #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, LGBTQI, Romance, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

I definitely didn’t enjoy this novel as much as The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I think there was something about Monty’s chaotic existence and personality that drew me in. I just didn’t quite feel as attached to Felicity. This was still an amazing novel. But just not quite as grabbing as Monty’s story.

One of the aspects of Felicity that I found most difficult to connect to, but, also the most realistic, was how judgemental she was about other women. Its a conversation that is often had – there is no right or wrong way to be a woman. There is no right or wrong in being strong and independent and a feminist. Sometimes we are our harshest critics and its definitely something that needs to be changed. As is pointed out very beautifully in this story.

There is an element of asexuality in this story that I found beautiful. Instead of being a romance and ending with the off kilter couple running off together, there is that sense of me about romance and sexuality. I’m not sure if there was an aim for an asexual character, but it was definitely how I read it.

Lee is able to bring up a lot of very relevant social issues and realities in a seamless manner. It’s a rollicking adventure that had me smiling. One that I would happily read again. But maybe not for a little while…

<- The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting LuckyThe Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Disasters by M.K. England

Overview

Title: The Disasters
Author: M.K. England
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: LGBTQI, Science fiction, Space, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

Just from the title, I knew that I was quite likely to love this. I mean, it’s about a group of Disasters. I’m always a sucker for a tale of misfits and outcasts. And the fact that it’s set in space? Brilliant!!!

It was almost impossible to put this down. One insane high jinks after another had me laughing and smiling at the sometimes-bizarre difficulties the crew finds themselves in. England certainly has a gift for weaving a story that draws you in. I look forward to seeing what else she can do.

The variety in this cast added to my enjoyment. There is cultural diversity, sexual identities and familial relationships galore. Each and every character has a great structure and identity that is completely unique. One that quickly makes you bond differently with each of the characters.

This is definitely a book that I’ll read again. It’s fun and an easy read. One that took me on a fun and light adventure. Alright, there’s death and betrayal… but still…

<- More M.K. EnglandSpellhacker ->

Image source: Goodreads

Dragonkeeper by Carole Wilkinson

Overview
Dragon Keeper - F.R.R.E.E

Title: Dragonkeeper
Author: Carole Wilkinson
Series: Dragonkeeper #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Chinese mythology, DragonsHistorical fiction, Young adult
Dates read: 5th – 29th September 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Black Dog Books
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: “Danzi will fight.”

Synopsis

Ancient China, Han Dynasty. A slave girl saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master. Pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter, the girl and the dragon make an epic journey across China carrying a mysterious stone that must be protected. This is the story of a young slave girl who believes she is not worthy of a name but finds within herself the strength and courage to make this perilous journey – and do what must be done.

Thoughts

This is the first book I’ve ever read that I sat up all night long to finish. So, as an adult, I wanted to see if I was just as hooked as the first time I read it. I wasn’t quite, but I was still very much in love and hooked. The journey is intense, Ping’s journey of self discovery is sweet and the creation of her relationship with Danzi, it was seriously enjoyable. That’s not even to mention the world building and story line that Wilkinson is able to weave.

Dragonkeeper is a great adventure story that will keep you on your toes. Ping and Danzi go on a very epic journey that takes them from mountain to coast. And you are just… swept along with them. The challenges and the difficulties that they face are scary and kind of intense at times. But, when push comes to shove, this is an incredibly G-rated book that, even though it talks about some horrible moments, is filled with a tempering of hope and growth.

I love that this book focuses on a young girl in a world that traditionally ignores girls. And that she is able to not only discover her name and destiny, but find her own strength and friendship. It’s a pretty typical young adult book in a lot of ways having this as a key feature. But it was the first such book I ever read like this. The first book that reminded me that as a girl, I had amazing power and strength. You kind of go on that journey of discovery along with Ping, particularly reading this as a young girl.

Although I didn’t sit up all night long reading this, I did still love it just as much as the first time I read it. The whole knowing what happens in the end made it a little easier to put this aside and actually go to sleep. But, it was still an amazing journey. And now I need to dig out the rest of the books in this series…

<- Dragon DawnGarden of the Purple Dragon ->

Image source: Weebly

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Overview
Red Queen: Red Queen Book 1 eBook : Aveyard, Victoria: Amazon.com.au:  Kindle Store

Title: Red Queen
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 5th – 18th September 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Orion
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: Just bumbling officers who don’t know you.

Synopsis

This is a world divided by blood – Red or Silver

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to seventeen-year-old Mare, a Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

But Mare possesses a deadly talent of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of her potential, the Silvers hide Mare in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess. Knowing that one false move will mean her death, Mare must use her new position to bring down the regime – from the inside.

Now Mare has entered a game of betrayal and lies.

This is Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

Thoughts

This was one of those books that I felt really unsure of at the beginning. For starters, I’ve read a LOT of mixed reviews about this on the many online book clubs I’m a member of. And there was also the fact that at the beginning it all felt a little same same for YA dystopia stories. Having said that, once I got past the first 50 or so pages it stopped feeling so same same and really started to draw me in.

Mare wasn’t a painful protagonist, which, considering some of the YA books I’ve read, was a pleasant surprise. She wasn’t whiney and childish. Yet, she also wasn’t perfect. I like that she had all the insecurities of a fairly typical teenager – felt like a failure, the black sheep. And that all of this was underlined by an overwhelming love for family and Kilorn.

I knew that this story featured betrayal, but I wasn’t expecting the betrayal that actually happened. I kept flicking back and forth as to whom I thought the “bad” guy was. But I was still kind of seriously surprised when it all came out. Probably part of the reason that I ended up enjoying this book so much.

All in all this was a fantastic book. And the perfect beginning to a series. Now I’m intrigued as to where the story line is going to take me. There’s a sense of wonder and confusion in it all that I just can’t get away from.

<- Steel ScarsGlass Sword ->

Image source: Amazon