Tag Archives: Young Adult

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

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Overview
Shadow and Bone: Siege and Storm : Leigh Bardugo : 9781510105263

Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Shadow and Bone Trilogy #2, Grishaverse #2
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Magic, Young adult
Dates read: 4th September 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Square Fish
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: The wound in my shoulder felt like it was on fire, but I was unhurt and my whole body was thrumming from using my power again.

Synopsis

SOLDIER. SUMMONER. SAINT.

Alina Starkov’s power has grown, but not without a price. She is the Sun Summoner – hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Shadow Fold. But she and Mal can’t outrun their enemies for long.

The Darkling is more determined than ever to claim Alina’s magic and use it to take the Ravkan throne. With nowhere else to turn, Alina enlists the help of an infamous privateer and sets out to lead the Grisha army.

But as the truth of Alina’s destiny unfolds, she slips deeper into the Darkling’s deadly game of forbidden magic, and further away from her humanity. To save her country, Alina will have to choose between her power and the love she thought would always be her shelter. No victory can come without sacrifice – and only she can face the oncoming storm.

Thoughts

Ever since reading Shadow and Bone, I’ve been seriously wondering what was going to be thrown in Mal and Alina’s way this time. And, you know, when the Darkling was going to reappear. He’s a great villain – I don’t really get the sexy vibes off him that others have claimed, but he is dark, mysterious and undoubtedly evil. A wonderful combination for a villain in my opinion.

Even though I think Mal is a wonderful lead love interest, he’s also kind of a knob. I mean, he’s got a woman who is obviously being thrown into a situation she’s not comfortable with. But instead of trying to communicate and support her? He runs. And just acts… well, knob-like. By the end of the book I was finding him to be a bit much and a bit frustrating in this area… im hoping Ruin and Rising will redeem him a bit more…

The build up that Bardugo creates in this story is wonderfully and seriously intense. Not only is there the clash between Alina and the Darkling, but there’s now royalty and a cult… I mean, if that set of trials and tribulations isn’t gearing up for a massive one, then what is?

I honestly couldn’t put this book down. Even in the moments that I wanted to cringe and look away, I just… couldn’t. The majority of this was read in one sitting. Late at night. When I should have been sleeping. Always a good recommendation for a book in my eyes…

<- Shadow and BoneRuin and Rising ->

Image source: Bookdepository

The Scarlet Woman: A Gemma Doyle Story by Libba Bray

Overview
A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Scarlet Woman
Author: Libba Bray
Series: Gemma Doyle Companion
In: A Universe of Wishes (Dhonielle Clayton)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Dates read: 17th August 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Crown
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: The bulk of my correspondence comes from my grandmama, who, in between complaining about various ailments, never misses an opportunity to remind me that, at nineteen, if I don’t find a husband soon, I will become unmarriageable – though, she remarks, she isn’t sure that I am marriageable at all.

Synopsis

Gemma Doyle feels like she’s finally moving on from the magic and mayhem of her past. But, then a confusing note sends everything crashing back down on her head.

Thoughts

I remember buying A Great and Terrible Beauty a while ago, but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it. This short story based in the world of Gemma Doyle has certainly made me feel tempted though.

I found a lot fo this story hard to understand and follow. Probably because I haven’t read the greater series and so I don’t have a lot of backstory. But, it was still a great adventure.

A good short story can have a seriously open ended ending. This is like that. It makes me think this takes place between books in the Gemma Doyle series… otherwise it is just way too… unsolved for my liking.

<- The Silk BladeCristal Y Ceniza ->

Image source: Goodreads

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Overview
Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1) by Rachel Caine

Title: Honor Among Thieves
Author: Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre
Series: The Honors #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Space, Young adult
Dates read: 9th – 14th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: I already knew – however impossible it was – why Marko Dunajski was here.

Synopsis

Petty criminal Zara Cole was shocked to be recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by a race of sentient alien ships to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to change her life, and when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned to, she feels like she belongs for the first time. But nothing – not her Honors training or her street smarts – could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Thoughts

This book is just so dang good!!! I honestly didn’t want to put it down and found it really hard not to leap for Honor Bound the second I finished this. I have a huge stack of books to read… but man was it still tempting. This was such a phenomenal beginning to a trilogy.

Zara is a fantastic lead. She’s feisty and has a seriously horrible past. And, the part that I found the most attractive? She’s rebellious as all hell. It gives her this fun edge and relatability that made me feel connected almost immediately. It also created a really good coming of age feeling to this story. As the story unfolds, Zara slowly comes into her own and finds her own identity.

I’m still fairly new to the Sci Fi genre as a general. And particularly, fairy new to the stories of sentinent ships in space. They do have a bit of a same same to them. But Caine and Aguirre are able to add in this extra layer of mystery that is lacking in most of the other similar stories I’ve read. You know that there is a Big Bad out there somewhere… you just don’t know what or whom.

All in all, I absolutely loved this book. It was hard to put down, easy to relate to the characters and filled with twists and unexpected turns. The world building is phenomenal and the relationships help to further support this incredible reality that was created. This book was amazing and completely impossible to put down.

<- More Rachel CaineHonor Bound ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Overview
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult, Zombies
Dates read: 22nd July – 6th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: She tried to steady her breathing, to will herself to calm.

Synopsis

NOTHING STAYS BURIED FOREVER.

Seventeen-year-old Ryn cares about only two things: her family and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meagre existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as bone houses, and legend says that they’re the result of an old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with a new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the deeply buried truths about themselves. Equal parts classic horror novel and original fairy tale, The Bone Houses will have you spellbound from the very first page.

Thoughts

This is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for a while. But it seems to keep getting shunted to the side. Now that I’ve finally managed to sink my teeth into it… wow. This was brilliant. The kind of journey that is hard to put down and forget about. Even writing this review, the day after finishing the book, I’m getting the happy tingles.

I seem to be enjoying books a lot lately that flick between the points of view. I like how this mostly starts with Ryn and builds up her history really strongly. Then it flickers over to Ellis and starts to give out his history and characterisation in more of a trickle. Not only are you reading the book because you can’t wait to see how it ends, but also because you want to know where Ellis began.

This had a slight historical fiction feel to it. The structure of the society and the use of the fae back stories felt very celtic to me. It had a nice sense of familiarity that I tend to find with this background. Then, you add in the bone houses. They’re seriously creepy and a mystery all on their own. Each and every moment of the journey, I was fully expecting one of them to jump out and that tension kept me turning each and every page.

I absolutely adored this book, it had two strong characters who both had their flaws. A dead goat that showed insane amounts of loyalty. And a feeling of mystery that seized you from the very first moment and swept you along. This was just amazing and I’m so glad that I decided to pick this book up!!!

<- More Emily Lloyd-JonesThe Drowned Woods ->

Image source: Goodreads