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: publisher: balzer + bray

18304322Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: ALA 2015
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart. – Goodreads

Review:

Before I went into Dumplin’ I had heard great things. Great things. So expectations were a bit high about this book and here’s the thing. I was not remotely disappointed. I even related to this book far more than I expected to. From Willowdean stating “I’m fat. I’m happy. I’m insecure. I’m bold” (ARC, pg 371) to her relationship with her friends: I got Willowdean.

I only wish I had Willowdean in my life when I wasn’t so happy or bold. My friends tend to comment on the fact I wear loud and bold clothing. From dresses that have horses on them to cardigans that have seahorses, I own them and I love them. But it took me awhile to get here. For the longest time I wore what fit, even if I hated it and then one day I realized screw that. Wear what makes me happy. And you know what, I am. I am happy, but I also have insecure days, because I’m human.

What really drew me into Dumplin’ was the story between Willowdean and her BFF, Ellen, or El. The two of them are thick as thieves but they are also slowly growing apart something that worries both of them and worried me as a reader. It killed me not to skip ahead to see if everything would be okay between them. I was so invested in the friendship, because I got it. One of my closest and dearest friends got married and although I like to keep my shit together, in my head I thought, “What if this is the moment? What if this is where she realizes she doesn’t need me anymore. What if this is it?” While Willowdean and El were growing apart because of work, relationships, and general anger it was still completely relateable and at one point made me weep. (This was made more fun by the fact I cannot breathe currently. Plus crying? I was a mess.) Please note my BFF getting married changed nothing besides the fact she’s snarkier now? But I feel like that was all my fault anyway. Plus she’ll read this and be shocked I didn’t tell her in person. It’s cool. She loves me anyway.

Willowdean learned a lot throughout this novel. She learned you can put people in neat little boxes and expect them to stay there. She learned that growth is okay and that you will get hurt. She learned her Aunt Lucy will always be there for here, even in little, small ways. Williowdean learned to be true to herself.

I went into Dumplin’ with high expectations and in the day it took me to read this book I wasn’t disappointed.


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby22535489
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are. – Goodreads

Review:

This is one of those rare books I don’t know how I feel about. I actually recommended this book to a friend by going “please read it and tell me how I should feel about it.” Thankfully she agreed and put it on hold at the library. I found Bone Gap to be an interesting story, but had a hard time being drawn into said story. Bone Gap took me over a month to read, almost two months. As someone who can read a book a day, taking two month is..not normal. There is a magical realism to this story that never worked for me no matter how hard I tried.

This story has multiple point of views, and not once didn’t I have a good hold on one of the characters. I understand that perspective is important because that changes everything. Bone Gap goes on to show how perspective is often the most important, but also the least important thing all at the same time. I loved how Ruby wrote from a very feminist prospective and gave no apologies for that. I wanted more of Finn. More of Roza. More of the people of Bone Gap. I will be happy to give Ruby credit, the way she weaved together the story of Bone Gap was amazing, however, I ended the book with almost more questions than I started with.

This book had signs of everything I should love and adore, but still, it took me two months to get through. That of course effected my rating, because when I read I want to be swept up by a novel, I don’t want it to be slow and savory. I want it to be amazing and a book that I cannot put down.


22754644Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.– Goodreads

Review:

There are very few people who’s book taste I trust because they know what is an “ASHLEY BOOK!” My friend Jen is one of those people, who have A+ tastes (besides her love of me obviously), so when she loved this book, I knew I had to read it. And I did not disappoint. I was on vacation recently and during a torrential downpour in which we stayed inside for pretty much 24 hours straight, I devoured this book. As soon as I started I was drawn into Simon’s story. I wanted more. Heck, I still want more.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda starts off on a sour note; Simon is being blackmailed by a classmate named Martin. While Simon is gay, and he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, Martin does. Martin wants to black Simon into helping Martin getting a date, with one of Simon’s friends who has no idea that Simon happens to be gay.

Simon doesn’t care that he’s gay, he knows his family and friends who care that he’s gay, but what he doesn’t understand is why he must come out and announce it. None of his straight friends come out with “HEY GUYS! I’M STRAIGHT!”

As a side note, don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying. —50%, eARC

What I loved about this book, and I loved a lot of things, was the fact at its heart this is a story about friendship. The friendship between Simon and Blue (who’s privacy he is fiercely protective of), his friendship with his family (who are a bit weird, but they’re his weird), and his group of friends who are changing (because it’s high school and everything is changing.) Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda hurt, but it hurt to read in a good way. This is easily a universal story which everyone will be able to seem themselves in, even those parts that hurt.

I didn’t know it was possible to laugh so hard at a book and debate crying as often as I did. Please note the only reason I didn’t cry was because I was surrounded by dogs who already tried to tackle me when I made a single noise. While I got a copy of this from my public library, I cannot wait to purchase a copy for myself.


18635051The Boyfriend App (App #1) by Katie Sise
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Source: Library
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

From stunning new talent Katie Sise comes an irresistible Cinderella story with a tech twist.

Computer whiz Audrey McCarthy feels most at home in a tech lab, surrounded by her fellow geeks. Once popular and fearless, she hasn’t been the same since her dad died. And her ex–best friend, gorgeous queen bee Blake Dawkins, has turned into her worst nightmare. Audrey is counting the minutes until high school is over and she can get the hell out of Dodge and go to college—that is, if she can find a scholarship.

So when Public Corporation, a giant tech company, announces a contest for the best app developed by a high schooler—with $200,000 in prize money—Audrey is spurred into action. She comes up with an idea so simple, yet so brilliant, she can’t believe it hasn’t been done: the Boyfriend App.

With a simple touch of the screen, romance blooms among the unlikeliest couples at school, and people start to take notice. But it’s not quite enough.

To beat out the competition, Audrey will have to dig deeper. And she does—right into a scandal that would rock Public to its core. Suddenly the Boyfriend App lands Audrey where she never expected to be: in the middle of the limelight, passionately kissed by the hottest guys in school, causing complete and utter mayhem. But can it bring her true love? – Goodreads

Review:

Audrey enjoys staying below the high school radar, she loves her computers. Ever since her BFF and her had a falling out, she decides that it’s best to stay behind the scenes. With her computers she’s tied to her father, the one who taught her how to code, how to take apart a computer, and of course, the reminder not to use code (the power) for evil. Katie is also a genius. A genius that should go to a good school: MIT, Harvard, etc. Of course, because she has no money and doesn’t want to be in debt for the rest of her life, she knows she’ll end up going to a state school.

Then everything changes, Public Corporation announces that if you come up with, create and code the best app, you can win $200,000. Audrey needs this. She needs the money to survive and help her mom survive. Audrey is very, very family conscience from the moment her father died. If anything she regrets she was not more family conscience when her father was alive.

Of course, what Audrey didn’t expect was the downfalls. She didn’t expect her crush, Aiden to get matched with someone else, she didn’t expect bad matches to be made and people to get upset with her. Of course what Audrey doesn’t know is that Aiden also likes Audrey but they both refuse to act on.

Then Part II of the novel occurs. I really thought these were two different books. I also thought that Audrey were two very different people from Part I to Part II. I actually missed Audrey from the first half. She was a character I could get behind and support. Audrey in the second part was..different. Audrey’s father from the very beginning made it clear to not use technology for evil, or bad will, and what does Audrey do in Part II: create evil.

I just felt that this was very much two books put together, and not really in a good way. My heart went out to Audrey, but I also felt that she did some very messed up things in the second part with no real repercussions or consequences. I wanted Audrey to be punished, because she should have been punished!

What was enjoyable about The Boyfriend App was the fact that it was a quick read and had awesome strong female friendships, which was awesome. The writing was fast paced, and even if you have no interest in apps or coding, it was still delightful and makes me interested in knowing what else Sise will write. Particularly with the fact she can write hilarious scenes — looking at you cafeteria scene.


22896551None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarstarstar (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she’s intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned–something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?  – Goodreads

Review:

My heart. This book. I do not know where to begin if I’m being honest because it effected me that much. I did not expect to care about this book as much as I did if I’m being honest. But what I know is I stat down to start None of the Above and the next thing I knew the book was done and I was full of feelings wanting more from these characters. I loved None of the Above and I’m a believer that this book will start the next wave of YA books where it isn’t “typical.”

Kristin is a very every day high school girl. She’s on the track and field team, she has a solid group of friends, a boyfriend, and was even voted Homecoming Queen (even though she still doesn’t understand why.) After a horrible painful, first time, Kristin decides to be logical and go to the doctor and that is when the doctor tells her the “bad” news. Seeing Kristin’s mother died of cervical cancer, her father and her jump to the fear that it’s cancer, but it’s not. Instead the doctor tells her that she’s intersex, or the extremely outdated term of hermaphrodite. Kristin sees this as her life is ending.

For a bit Kristin keeps it to herself, then a snowball effect occurs and everyone knows. Kristin again, sees this as her life ending, but not once did I feel like she was being over dramatic, I saw this as how anyone, or in particular, Kristin is handling the news. None of the Above  was a painfully realistic book about not only finding out what it means to be intersex, but ultimately finding yourself.

However, with her father’s assistance and ultimately herself, Kristin ends up finding that being intersex isn’t that bad and that maybe, just maybe that previous life wasn’t everything you thought it was. What was also interesting to me, as a reader, was how much I learned while reading None of the Above, but this book never once felt clinical or like a textbook. I am resisting quoting during the review because there is so much of the book I would end up, proudly quoting because I felt that Gregorio understood me as a reader, and as a person, even though she doesn’t know I exist and I am definitely not intersex. My heart constantly went out for Kristin as she found out who her true friends are and how life doesn’t always get wrapped up in a bow, but it’s often better than we could ever expect it to be.


18196040The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Little Brown
Source: Netgalley
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Review: I tried to pick it up a few times and every time I just could not find myself to care. There are too many books in the world for me to read/care about. This was not one of them.

 

 

 

 

18106985Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Source: ALA2014
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Review: Never jumped off the page and excited me. It annoyed me more than anything. I may go back and pick it up in the future, but at the moment with my long TBR pile there are too many books out there.

17061489

The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown
Source: ALA2013
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Review: I made it to 12% and was bored out of my mind. Maybe it’s wrong book, wrong time. I may come back to it later. But there were so many side stories it was hard to stay concentrated.


 

10729409_1502309396690269_2066829146_nThis past Saturday, October 10, I had the pleasure of going to my local Barnes and Noble and seeing the Epic Reads Fall tour come through town. Going to Barnes and Noble book signings are very weird for me because I am very loyal to my local indies and I never know how they work. Actually all of my Barnes and Noble signings that I have gone to have been out of state BztVcQlCEAA__Y6(Oceanside, CA and Las Vegas, NV). This is a long winded way to say I had no idea what to expect. Because it was on the other side of town, my BFFSarah and I got there about 45 minutes before it was to begin and noticed this set up. The event was going to be held in the fiction rotunda, by the cactus (it’s Phoenix, OF COURSE THERE WAS CACTUS) and by the 50 Shades display. Or as I called it, what was once twilight fanfiction. Closer to the store started to set up chairs, and people slowly started to file in. Sarah and I began to worry when there weren’t many people there, because we love YA and we want everyone to! Thankfully as the event started it became a packed house and was ultimately a lot of fun!

The authors were introduced and gave a short blurb about what their book BztV-yHCEAEpiAEis/means to them.  Then the moderator asked them a handful of questions and then opened it up to the floor. What I found most fascinating was, from the outside, it seemed that these books didn’t have much in common: fantasy, contemporary, guns, abuse of women, etc. But as the authors discussed more and more about their books the more I realized there are common themes and putting them together was actually genius. Plus, them being put together made me want to read of of these authors books. The five panelists were:

  • Amy Ewing, who wrote The Jewel
  • Andrea Portes, who wrote  Anatomy of a Misfit (and more importantly enjoys the greatest football team ever: The Packers)BztVPx3CUAAuodx
  • Anna Carey, who wrote Blackbird (and who I’ve met 3 times now and remembers me! And gave me a hug!)
  • Heather Demetrios, who wrote Exquisite Captive
  • Madeline Roux, who wrote Asylum 

As you see, even the titles make it hard to believe that these books have anything in common, but really: THEY DO! And they answered my question during the Q & A. I say this because I ask, what I consider to be a very entertaining question “what book have you read, purely based on the cover?” I need to state that I have stolen this question from a bookseller at Changing Hands, but we’re friends, so I believe it to be okay. I find this question to be interesting for various reasons. One, I find new books with pretty covers, and two, some authors very quickly state they don’t judge books by their cover and always give a very valid reason. All five of these lovely authors gave answers quickly and brought new books to my attention that I am now excited to look into.

Yes, even a librarian judges books by their cover, sorry to spoil that for you.

Also, it was clear throughout this panel that not only do these authors all enjoy the company of each other, but they love what BztVoofCYAAwlXBthey do. I am a huge reader with no interest in writing and they were happy to discuss not only their craft, but also the reading aspect of their books. Anytime these ladies come back to town I would be more than happy to go to another one of their signings.

Lastly, shout out to the authors that took selfies with me, without even second guessing it.

If you have yet to go to a book sign, I cannot recommend going to one more. Just ask BFFSarah, as I constantly drag her to them.