Welcome to yAdult Review, a space where two girls review novels from across the genres, from YA and MG, to fantasy and sci-fi, to historical fiction and mystery, with a sprinkling of non-fiction too. We hope you enjoy your stay here as much as we enjoy ours.

Tag Archives: ALAMW 2014

20649195Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Release Date: July 2, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher (Thanks!)
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine. – Goodreads

Review:

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is the story of friendship. Two boys, Ollie and Moritz, who live on completely opposite sides of the world (Upper Michigan and Germany) who both have something in common: they both were born with defects that have made them hermits of society. While Ollie is forced to live in the middle of nowhere because he can’t be near electricity; Moritz is fine to live in the middle of the city, however, he wears goggles due to having no eyes and has a pacemaker.

Which means the two of them will never meet.

Due to this fact, the two open up and tell each other things, that they would have never felt comfortable telling anyone else. The two of them also learn things about not only each other, but their selves, far more than they could have expected to. As someone who reads, a lot, I was pleasantly surprised by how much this novel shocked me. I found Thomas’ writing style to be solid and to involve twists and turns that I was not aware of happening.

Of course looking back, they were obvious and I should have seen them coming, but I was so caught up in the letters that these two boys were writing that I couldn’t help but be caught up in their story. They’re two boys who have very messed up and fucked up lives. But what was constant was each other and their parents. Their parents loved them fierily and did everything they could to protect their parents, even if that wasn’t always enough.

Both boys are not perfect. They fuck up. They yell at each other. They yell at their parents. They yell at their friends. All because they don’t feel like they fit in. They aren’t comfortable in their own bodies and then when they are, they’ve alienated everyone. I found this to be a universal story. I’m not allergic to electricity, but I know what it’s like not to feel comfortable in my own body. I know what it’s like to alienate my friends, because I’m trying to protect them, but I end up hurting them instead.

While I rated this book three stars, it is not a bad three stars! It is a solid three stars and illustrates that while I enjoyed this book I have little to no interest in re-reading it.


16069030The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star (3.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.  – Goodreads

Review:

Seventeen year old Kestrel, is a headstrong girl who doesn’t stand for nonsense or old fashion ideals. This includes her father who doesn’t believe she is safe to walk alone, but is strong enough to be in the military and she calls him out on it. Her fahter however is not interested, he is only interested in what is best for the empire, not his daughter, or even himself. What keeps her sane is her music, and it has been clear that she is not supposed to have time for that. What is unexpected for Kestrel, is that music helps bring her together with Arin, the slave she bought at market.

Kestrel is looked at in society, she paid a crazy amount of money for a slave, she freed her own maid when she was fourteen and she has a love of music. This is not normal, and Kestrel’s BFF, Jess makes it known to her and requests that just once Kestrel acts “normal.” It’s hard for Kestrel to act “normal” when she feels like an outcast of society, even though her father is respected in the community. She continues to feel like an outsider.

It also doesn’t help that the slave she bought, is actually a spy. He’s also, one of the few people who’s completely honest with her. Most tell her what they think she wants to hear, not the truth. While her father is patient, he is also a general, and he tells Kestrel she must decide to join or marry by next Spring. That’s it. No more “thinking” about it.

What Kestrel, and her father don’t know is that Arin, or Smith as they call him, is actually a spy inside the house. While he is clearly changing Kestrel throughout the novel, usually over games of Bite and Sting, the fact that he has been lying to her isn’t helping any situations.

“Well.” His smile was slight, but it was there. “I suppose neither of us is the person we were believed we would become.”–pg 116, ARC

Kestrel and her father continue to have a special relationship throughout the novel. Although her mother died, and he is trying his hardest, Kestrel is never going to become this perfect person that he wants her to be, and he slowly does accept that. Even if it includes listening to gossip about his daughter and the slave being more than friends. Although that wasn’t true, when enough people said it, he did believe them and it didn’t change his opinion of his daughter, not once.

The Winners Curse was also a heartbreaking book because the moment Kestrel and Arin are finally honest with each other, a pivotal moment in the book occurs and the climax of the novel transpires. However, this never felt like a book that was full of fluff. Rutkoski chose her words wisely and often proved a point with them, even if it was brutal and hurt Kestrel’s heart, and my own. However, I didn’t really believe the love story between Kestrel and Arin. I believed that they went from strangers to friends, but friends to in love never worked for me. Rutkoski made a very subtle love story here, and that includes the two main characters falling in love, too. Which is probably why it didn’t work for me. I enjoy when my love stories slap me in the face with feels.


18634726The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star (3.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter’s come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I’ve watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I’m the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I’m tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I’m tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don’t know why. I think it’s because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind. – Goodreads

Review:

This book pulled me in from the moment it started to describe Door County and it was that accurate. I was born and semi-raised in Wisconsin. I have visited Door County numerous times in my life and Anderson very much got that feeling in The Vanishing Season. I went into this believing that The Vanishing Season was a ghost story, and while there is a ghost story, there is so much more to this story than just the ghost.

This is a haunting, slow moving story about that thing that fears people the most: growing up. Maggie moves to Door County from Chicago and slowly begins to fit in to the town. Through a job and becoming friends with Pauline, Maggie begins to feel like she fits it. Pauline also introduces Maggie to Liam, who is Pauline’s boyfriend and while the three become good friends, things change when Door County becomes a haunting location for disappearing girls. Because of the disappearing girls, everyone is on alert, including Maggie, who’s parents send her south to Milwaukee and her aunt’s house for safety. That is where the lines begin to blur, and Maggie becomes close to Liam. What I found most interesting about The Vanishing Season is Anderson was able to make me feel sympathetic for characters that would usually drive me bonkers.

My heart hurt during this whole book because it is not an easy read and the ending isn’t either. Looking back at The Vanishing Novel there really was no other choice to end the novel, it really was the only choice, but it doesn’t hurt any less.

The Vanishing Season is hard to describe because this is easily a book in which nothing happens and that is not a bad thing. This book pulled me in with flawed, realistic characters that act like teenagers, that break your heart. While The Vanishing Season is my first book by Anderson, it will not be my last.


18459190Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run – Goodreads

Review:

I have been a fan of Laurie Faria Stolarz from the moment my bff put her books into my hands. They are not my typical light fluffy reads, but I still adore them. That also isn’t meant to be as negative as it sounds! Promise! They just are not my usual reads, but it is good for me to spread my reader wings!

I was thrilled when I got a chance to read Welcome to the Dark House, as someone who watches a lot of Criminal Minds this sounded right up my alley. While this book had a lot going for it, what didn’t work, in my opinion was the fact there were so many points of view. The author makes it work for the story to a point, but after about 30% of the novel, I started to get confused about who’s mind I was in and what they were bringing to the story. Ivy and Parker were the clear stand out to Welcome to the Dark House and the book could have gotten away being just from their views.

I wanted more from them, less from the other four. There is more to Ivy that I want to know. About her family, her past and while Welcome to the Dark House touches upon it there so, so, so much more that Stolarz could have delved into that she seemed to skip over to concentrate more on the six characters as a whole, sadly to me however, it didn’t work. It wasn’t nearly fleshed out as it could be. A lot of questions I asked that never got answered (and maybe they will be in book two?) As much as I make it sound like this book was wrong, there was a lot of good going for it. Stolarz knows how to write realistic teens who you may not relate to, but you know. She also knows how to write to the point you are gripping the book and you need to know what happened next. I was intrigued, even when I was annoyed, I was intrigued. I cannot wait to see what comes next.


18052929School of Charm by Lisa Ann Scott
Release Date: February 18, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Who’s got time for hair curlers and high heels when you’re busy keeping baby turtles alive?

Chip has always been a tree-climbin’, fish-catchin’ daddy’s girl. When Daddy dies, Mama moves her and her sisters south to Grandma’s house and Chip struggles to find her place in a family full of beauty queens.

Just when she’s wishing for a sign from Daddy that her new life’s going to work, Chip discovers Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. Could unusual pageant lessons and secrets be the key to making Chip’s wishes a reality?

Full of spirit, hope, and a hint of magic, this enchanting debut novel tells the tale of one girl’s struggle with a universal question: How do you stay true to yourself and find a way to belong at the same time? –

Review:

Although this book took awhile to get into, it quickly warmed a place into my heart. It is the story of Chip, who very clearly does not fit in. She is told this repeatedly by her mother, her older sister, her grandmother. Everyone spends their time around Chip telling her she shouldn’t be there. And while the book is painful, it is also real.

Taking place in 1977, Scott takes the reader to the 1970s. With Chip as a narrator the reader comes to see how close Chip was with her father, who died before School of Charm took place and how uncomfortable she is around the rest of her family; which includes her two sisters, her mother and now her grandmother. From the very first scene with her grandmother, we see that Chip and her will never get along. Chip’s grandmother wants Chip to be proper and Chip is a tomboy. Chip enjoys rivers, mud and bugs, something her grandmother does not seem to understand.

Someone who does understand however is Miss Vernie and her School of Charm, a school that Chip locates one day when she needs to take a break from her family. While her family is busy planning for pageants and the future of the family in the south; Chip wants to hang with her turtle and her father’s spirit. What Chip really wants is a sign that her father is there with her. That he’s listening. What Chip finds instead is Miss Vernie and two girls that Chip would have never talked to without the School of Charm. While Chip’s mother and grandmother are not necessarily the best role models out there, this little school is full of role models for Chip, even classmates Dana and Karen.

This book faces a lot of tough topics in a short period of time. Chip has to face racism and discrimination with her friend Dana who happens to be black in the South, in the 70s. Dana wants to compete in the pageant with everyone else in the community has a problem with this, including Chip’s grandmother who is the quintessential old school southern grandma. While I understand the grandmother had to be that way, she was a little too hard core for my taste in this middle grade novel. Yet, this was still an enjoyable novel that I would happily pass along to many.


17290329Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer
Release Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Zest Books
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Told through real-life journals, collages, lists, and drawings, this coming-of-age story illustrates the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student. Written in an autobiographical style with beautiful artwork, Little Fish shows the challenges of being a young person facing the world on her own for the very first time and the unease—as well as excitement—that comes along with that challenge. – Goodreads

Review:

One of my highlights of ALAMW this past year (besides meeting/having my life become better because SOMEONE is in it) was because I met Ramsey Beyer and her book Little Fish. Then of course, because life happens, the book sat on my shelf and recently I picked it up and devoured it. In one sitting.

Highlight of my reading month to be honest.

I related a lot to Ramsey and her first year at college, her love of list making and realizing how polarizing your childhood home could be from freshman year of college when you live on your own. Through use of mixed media, lists, drawing and her livejournal, Beyer tells the story of her freshman year in art school when she moved away from her small town of Paw Paw to Baltimore, a place 700 miles or 10 hours from home.

While life in Paw Paw was good for Ramsey, she also knew that it was a very limited view of the world. She was excited to see what Baltimore would bring to her life. Because it spans the time period of one academic year you see her high school friends go from emailing her daily to barely emailing her and how it took her a bit to come out of her shell and find her group of college friends. When you grow up in a small town you know everyone and you tend to become friends for life. Ramsey jokes that she forgot how to make friends because she just always had them.

What made Little Fish stand out to me was the use of drawings, the inner dialogue, the lists. Oh the lists. 18 year old Ashley related to all the lists. Heck, the Ashley writing this review relates to all the lists. I often joke that my lists have lists and Ramsey seems to get that and embrace that side of her. She also over thought a lot and never hid that from her livejournal or the lists that she made throughout her freshman year. It works throughout Little Fish. Heck, I would love to fill my shelves with more books like this. Not just because of how well I related to it, but because how well done it was. It wasn’t your typical book, but maybe it should become more typical.


18490532The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen #1) by April Henry
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations – Goodreads

Review:

This is the story of three teens, Alexis, Nick and Ruby, who are part of the Portland Search and Rescue team. While they are looking for a lost, autistic man, they come upon a dead body. The story is told from four points of view, the three teens and the killer. Here is one of the genius things about this novel that rarely works with different POVs: I always knew which characters head I was in. There are many other YA novels out there with differing POVs where I had no idea who was talking. I never fell into that problem with The Body in the Woods. Even if I stopped reading in the middle, I was able to pick it up and still knew who was talking.

The three teens have extremely different backgrounds. Alexis is fighting demons by the name of her mother who is off her meds. Nick just wants to be good enough after his father died in the war, and Ruby just wants to fit in. No one really understands Ruby, including her own family. At point point Ruby and Alexis start to bond, but Alexis’ own demons make it hard for her to bond with anyone. Henry wrote a very realistic story involving friendship. The three form an awkward, yet real friendship which happens to involve solving a mystery.

A mystery which the adults want them to have nothing to do with. Ruby’s parents are freaked out. The cops are trying to keep them out of it, because they are teenagers. Of course, being teenagers they don’t stay out of it and continue to search. This helps them bond without any romance in the background. It’s about teens being teens and friendship. Well friendship with YA MURDER MYSTERY! Hearts in my eyes. I adored this book far more than I thought I would. I ended this book wanting more. *grabby hands*