From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.
When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.
Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.
But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs. – Goodreads
Charm & Strange was one of my favorite books the year it came out. I love a good YA novel about troubled teens, especially if it includes an unreliable narrator. This book centers on three characters, Sadie, Emerson, and Miles. Sadie sounds like a bit of a sociopath, someone who hurts others because she’s bored, who gets off on making people uncomfortable, who knows just how much to say or not say. She’s a rich kid with a past, a missing father, a penchant for being kicked out of boarding schools, things like that. Emerson and his brother Miles are different. They live on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, though Emerson has now joined the rich kids in the cool crowd due to playing basketball. Their father killed himself when they were younger, so there’s some leftover baggage from that. Miles, though, is truly different, in that he is constantly sick and believes he is having visions. These visions appear to often be accompanied by a panic attack or a seizure. Miles sees violence in his future, but is having trouble seeing it clearly. They are all connected, both by their past and their present, and you can see the disaster coming from a mile away.
Each of these kids are disconnected in some way, though Sadie is perhaps the worst. She has no real feelings other than boredom and the joy she feels when she is in control, hurting others, or getting what she wants. I’m sure there’s a reason Kuehn chose to name her protagonist something similar to “sadist.” She is hard to rile, very slow to anger, and she sees no point in most of the baser emotions that rule the lives of the average teenager. She enjoys trying to manipulate and shock her school therapist, she uses information to blackmail and control other students, and she is, in her heart and at her base, cruel. She is the kind of person who believes people are born as they are and nothing can change them, even if they are born “bad.” Sadie is the worst kind of apathetic, and we slowly discover her roots and her experiences, which only sort of explain why she is the way she is. Emerson, on the other hand, seems to be all base emotion, all pride, lust, and anger. He is afraid of Sadie and also drawn to her, running from a past full of hate and pain, and yet also seeming to want to jump back into it. Emerson does things differently than Sadie, but they’re still terrible. In fact, I liked him even less than Sadie, even though it seemed like Sadie was being set up as the villain. Miles is a bit of an enigma. He doesn’t do terrible things, isn’t a ball of anger or indifference, but he is in pain and his past is sort of shrouded in mystery. Something is there, something has happened, but we don’t know what it is. At first, I wasn’t sure Miles himself knew what it was.
This book is a heartbreak. There’s really nothing happy or fulfilling about it, but that doesn’t make it a bad read. Just a hard one, one you have to brace yourself for, even if you see it coming.
Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters. – Goodreads
I wanted to love this book. I am a Rainbow Rowell fangirl. I don’t hide from this fact. I’m proud of the fact and that I own far too many copies of Fangirl. (My BFF doesn’t hide from the act that she’s trying to get me to get rid of them. Because I only need..one?) That being said I struggled with Carry On and that kills me. I think it stems from the fan that it’s a chosen one story. A Harry Potter story and to be honest, Harry Potter has never really worked for me. I know. I know. Sacrilege. But it’s true. I read Harry Potter too late in life for it to touch me in the way it touched all my friends. Because of this fact I struggled with Carry On.
Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, the kid who does not want to be the chosen one. As a reader, we learned a bit about Simon from Fangirl, but this is really his moment to shine. I also want to be clear there is nothing wrong with Carry On. It’s solid story, which characters that I adored and a plot that wasn’t too shabby. It’s the chosen one stereotype where this fell flat for me..I just didn’t care about the storyline or Simon. By the time I did ultimately care about Simon, the story was almost over.
I may go back and re-read the story sometime because I did find it enjoyable, it was just more of a me problem than the book.
Clementine has spent her whole life preparing for her sixteenth birthday, when she’ll be tested for Extraction in the hopes of being sent from the planet Kiel’s toxic Surface to the much safer Core, where people live without fear or starvation. When she proves promising enough to be “Extracted,” she must leave without Logan, the boy she loves. Torn apart from her only sense of family, Clem promises to come back and save him from brutal Surface life.
What she finds initially in the Core is a utopia compared to the Surface—it’s free of hard labor, gun-wielding officials, and the moon’s lethal acid. But life is anything but safe, and Clementine learns that the planet’s leaders are planning to exterminate Surface dwellers—and that means Logan, too.
Trapped by the steel walls of the underground and the lies that keep her safe, Clementine must find a way to escape and rescue Logan and the rest of the planet. But the planet leaders don’t want her running—they want her subdued.
With intense action scenes and a cast of unforgettable characters, Extraction is a page-turning, gripping read, sure to entertain lovers of Hunger Games and Ender’s Game and leave them breathless for more. – Goodreads
While I am friends with the author this did not effect my review. Mostly because she would kill me if she found out. No really. She would.
A stunning debut from Diaz that has been compared to The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game and Divergent and in its own way I believe that hype to be unfair because this book stands by itself with no hype, which probably helped me as I do not like two out of those three books I mentioned.
Diaz tells the story of Clementine who’s whole life is essentially dedicated to her sixteenth birthday and the day of the Extraction.
The Developers have made me live for sixteen years–eARC 1%
The Developers have caused there to be a big brother feeling to the city. Diaz makes it clear from the beginning that this is to “help” the citizens who live on the Surface. The Surface is where no one wants to live. It’s full of hard labor, lethal acid, asshole officials who are power hungry. Nothing good comes from being on the Surface. It’s also full of submission because submission means a better chance at living, or being Extracted and sent to the Core. Clementine is torn, she is legitametly not sure if she wants to be Extracted or not. While she would love to have a chance at a better life, there is Logan and her heart is with Logan she knows this even if love isn’t encouraged or needed in Extraction. Couples are paired and mated for the better chance of procreation and that is it. There is no true need for love.
They don’t let girls and boys pair up when they pick them to procreate; they use artificial methods. — eARC 13%
This worries Clementine for various reasons, mostly because she worries if she is Extracted that she’ll forget Logan or worse: Logan will die on the top. Of course, Clementine is extracted and she stays worried throughout the novel that she made the right choice. She isn’t as compliant as they were hoping for and she quickly begins to question the Core, the leaders and the point to this whole grand plan.
If it isn’t obvious, I adored Extraction. In the middle of romance novel spree I devoured Extraction and Diaz’s writing. I would actually like more of it because I was so immersed into this world and had a hard time leaving. What I also enjoyed is that Diaz wrote it almost to be a stand alone. The fact that there are more books is just a cherry on the top.
From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? – Goodreads
I’m not sure what I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said. Yes, it is awesome, and yes, it is that relatable. This is the story of Cath, a girl who has severe anxiety, something I related to so well, I had to put the book down because it hurt my heart so much. (I actually tweeted about this and the author tweeted me back saying “It’s okay! It gets better!”) And better it does. Cath finds herself, like many do, in college. She also happens to be a fairly big writer in the fanfiction world for Simon Snow. Now I have never written fanfiction, but I’ve read more than enough that I got her feelings on the topic.
Cath enjoys her world at home. She has a safe boyfriend and shares her life with her twin sister. Then one day before college starts, her sister tells her that she doesn’t want to room with Cath. She wants to be her own her. While I understand why her sister wants to be her own person, I understand where Cath is coming from. Cath thought of her twin as her safety net. The one who got her through the time her mom left and her dad went manic. Cath doesn’t like change and going to school was going to be a big enough change for her. She’s going an hour away from home. To her that is all the change she needs and again, I get that. I went 45 minutes away from home.
Her first day is painful; she barely talks to her roommate, Reagan, she gets annoyed at her roommate’s boyfriend and she fears the dining hall so she decides to eat in her room until she runs out of food. Thankfully one day her roommate, who I love and adore because she is snarky, decides she’s had enough and she calls Cath on her bullshit. Or what she views as bullshit. She asks Cath if she is anorexic. Of course Cath finds this to be the craziest thing ever and from that moment the two begin to bond. What Reagan brings to the relationship, along with snark, is Levi.
Levi, my book boyfriend (*hearts in eyes!*). Rowell knows how to write men. Not everyone will enjoy Levi, but oh, did I enjoy him. He’s awkward, he isn’t perfect, he gets that Cath writes fanfiction and he embraces it. He is that guy who will do whatever you need and be nice to everyone. He grates on Cath’s nerves. Slowly however he begins to wear her down and there is a nice lovely slow burn (cannot believe I just said that). Levi and Cath have a moment, which is promptly ruined by both sides. But once again Rowell makes it work and makes it authentic to the characters.
Along with Levi there are growing pains with not only Cath, but with her sister and her father. The family dynamic is huge to not only this book, but truly Cath at her core. Throughout the story Cath discovers she can change while being true to herself. To say I loved and adore this book would be putting it mildly.
Bonus points: Rowell embraces fangirling. The photo with the tabs is how often I related to Cath.
In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!
Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!
But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.
Man, I got sucked into this one fast! This is like the supernatural, alternate universe version Philadelphia, and it is awesome. Instead of the pilgrims coming to America to escape religious persecution, the pilgrims have crossed to the New World to escape magick. At first, I wasn’t sure what was happening, but as the story unfolds, it just gets better and better. I was immediately invested by the beginning of chapter two. And really, how could I not love a book in which a character says, “More strongly of the opinion that one should let sleeping dogs lie. Because that is all politicians do anyhow. Lie.” Jordan is a spoiled lady of rank, but one who shows a tiny spark of curiosity and decency. Her best friend, Catrina, very obviously wants Jordan’s man, Rowen, who Jordan is not in love with. So I immediately felt a part of me rooting for Jordan, and the way Delany describes Philadelphia and the magick that powers the city is amazing. Plus the way she describes and fashions the way of life for the upper-class was so interesting. I love court intrigue. This one also feels a little dark, and you guys know I love dark. And the Weather Witch being Harbored by the Astraeas? Jordan. That’s not a spoiler. It’s what the book is about. She’s carted off by creepy Wraiths at the end of chapter three. There are also other storylines, one involving Lady Astraea and one involving the Maker, Bran. Learning his story was one of the best parts of this novel in my opinion. There are little splinters of stories, one involving the Astraea servants, another with a boy thought lost, and a third with Rowen.
Rowen is not adjusting well to Jordan’s absence, though Catrina seems to be doing just fine. Rowen acts recklessly and must run from the law, while Jordan keeps trying to convince herself that she is no witch. I liked all these characters, even Catrina, though she treats her so-called best friend like nothing. Rowen was spoiled and vain, but he had principles and stood up for them, and I liked his views on how marriage worked at the time. It wasn’t love he was looking for with Jordan, but friendship, companionship, and understanding. He already had that and realized how lucky he was in the land of marriages for political/societal advantage. I kept forgetting this was Philadelphia, because Delany makes it sound so old world, so full of life and imagination, that I kept assuming they were in London. I just loved it so much, the description, the plot, the characters. It’s a bit twisty and confusing at first, but so were my other favorites so far, 17 & Gone, Mortal Fire, and Charm & Strange. This is also so much better than the last weather book I read (and then quit in a fit of rage), Struck. Of course, it’s more fantastical than scientific, the way Struck tried to be. And, you know, this one really reminded me of Shadow and Bone, which is probably another reason it struck me right away.
When the stories of Jordan and Bran converge, it’s brutal and you kind of dread it because you know what’s coming even while Jordan is in denial. It’s at this point that I’d like to state that this book is not only about Jordan Astraea, and I think the summary did us wrong by not including Bran, Rowen, and Marion Kruse into the mix. This is a story of many, each broken in their own way, each doing something they don’t want to do, each have seen and done things they never want to see or do. We also get little stories about Lady Astraea and an Astraea servant named Chloe. This was many tales weaved into one, and it’s done perfectly. The only thing lacking is character development, but I didn’t mind that, because the story was the main character. Philadelphia, the Hill, Holgate, those were the characters, and they were fleshed out completely. The wordbuilding in this novel is astounding. And the story isn’t very nice. People you like will die or be tortured. Delany isn’t afraid to kill her darlings, I see.
I also really loved the ending, which sets us up for another book, Stormbringer, due out next year. I’m really excited about this one, guys. It reminds me a little of Shadow and Bone, as I mentioned, but it also has bits of Seraphina. I can’t really describe my love better than this, though I wish I could. Another great YA fantasy, this time with an alternate historical backdrop!
When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .
Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.
He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.
He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.
Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.
Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.
Right off the bat, I was sucked into this one. The way it’s written reminds me of 17 & Gone, which is a great thing since I loved the latter novel so very much. I’m not sure what to call Drew/Win, because each chapter alternates between his two selves, so I’m going to go with DW. I didn’t like Drew/Win every much at the beginning. His father sounded terrible, and it’s clear early on that Drew grew up in an abusive environment of some sort. So he’s abrasive in personality, but I felt for him because of his past. He grew up kind of sickly and introverted, angry at everyone and everything. I also sensed that DW was going to be a bit of an unreliable narrator, just like Lauren from 17 & Gone, and we all know how much I like that. The mystery starts off right away, though the details are revealed slowly. Charm & Strange is another one of those books that sounds like it’s paranormal, but might be something else entirely. You just aren’t sure at first. DW is prone to fits of anger and violence, something we find out he inherited from his father, but circumstances lead DW to believe he is a werewolf. There’s also a kind of creepy incestual thing happening involving his brother and a female cousin, and later, DW and a female cousin. I wasn’t sure what to think about it, honestly.
Eventually you realize that two tales are being woven. The first is the story of Win in boarding school, the second is the story of Drew and the “unthinkable.” As I mentioned before, because Drew is an unreliable narrator, you spend the whole book wondering what’s true and what’s not. I read so closely for the whole book because I didn’t want to miss any clues. Plus hearing the story of DW’s family was really intriguing. And it’s woven in a really great way, where you really feel like you’re inside DW’s head. You can feel how out of control he is. DW isn’t the most likable dude in the room, even on his best day, so sometimes I was annoyed with him while still being unable to put the book down. And when you discover what the “unthinkable” is, it’s devastating. And the reason is worse. I’ll post the specific trigger warning under a cut at the end of the post.
For all the sorrow this novel holds in its pages, it’s also got humor. The pop culture references were subtle, in my opinion, but I really liked it when I recognized one. Especially this one: “Fucking girls, how do they work?” Oh how I laughed. Thank you, Lex Emil and Stephanie Kuehn for that moment.
This book is like 261 pages long. You could read it in a day. And you should. You should go and buy it and read it right now. It’s harder to write a review for a novel you love than a novel you hate, isn’t it? I’m going to pick this one up in hardcover right away, and you should too.