Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Heist Society (Heist Society Series, Book 1), by Ally Carter

heist society book cover, ally carter
Heist Society (Heist Society Series, book 1)
By: Ally Carter
ISBN-10: 142311639
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Kat’s family has always been a bit . . . different. When most girls were spending their childhoods playing with dolls and dressing up, Kat’s parents were teaching her how to break into a museum. Now Kat wants to leave her life as an expert thief behind—that is, until a new “job” comes up that is so huge and dangerous it’s impossible to resist.

Light-hearted and fast-paced, Heist Society is the first in a charming espionage series. It combines mystery and witty characters in a clean read for young adults. The only inappropriate content is stealing, some analyzation of female bodies, and a kiss. I would recommended this book for teenaged and preteen girls (though guys can read it too) who have a sense of adventure.

Readers who enjoyed Heist Society might also like:

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 1), by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 1)
By: Sarah J. Maas
ISBN-10: 1619634449
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Feyre should have known better than to shoot a wolf in the woods—especially a magical wolf who came from the forbidden boundaries of the Fae world. When a High Fae Lord comes to Feyre’s house, demanding her life in exchange for the faerie’s she took, Feyre agrees to be taken to his house if he will spare her starving family. When she arrives at the mansion, she soon begins to lose herself in the magical land and to the High Fae Lord, Tamlin.

It contains:

• Profanity (sh*t d*mn, h*ll, whore, and b*lls)
• Violence (evil creatures roam the night and cause hallucinations, shooting a wolf, a gory nightmare, descriptions of blood, a magical beast tries to draw in its prey, descriptions of magical creatures tearing humans apart, stabbing people in the heart, a wormlike monster chases its victim, a faerie’s wings are hacked off, a head is impaled on a stick, breaking bones, a group of men attempt to rape a woman)
• A family is in poverty and is starving
• References to past sexual encounters (mild descriptions)
• Reference to taking a brew to have “safe sex”
• Several sex scenes (quite descriptive, including oral sex, kissing breasts, mentions of sexual fantasies, lap dancing, and references to sex slaves)
• One character is a prostitute
• Lots of drinking and drunkenness

A Court of Thorns and Roses contains less action than the author’s Throne of Glass series, and focuses more on the romance aspect. The genre is also new adult, not young adult, meaning it has more sexual content than you would usually read in a YA book. That said, Sarah J. Maas’s writing is still breathtaking and compelling, and the fantasy world is intriguing.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Best Books of 2015! (So Far)

I have had the privilege of reading quite a few books published this year. Here are twenty-one of my favorites! (That I’ve read so far.)

If you see a book you might be interested in, click on the title to read the full review. Please note: not all of the books listed below have reviews published yet. Also, the books are in no particular order!

Marie Rutkoski, Cynthia Hand, Renée Ahdieh, Nova Ren Suma, Sabaa Tahir, Sally Green, Rosamund Hodge, Stacey Lee, Tommy Wallach, Jasmine Warga, Kody Keplinger, Jennifer Mathieu, Kathryn Holmes, Robin Benway, Sara Taylor, Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Maizel, Katelyn Detweiler, Courtney Summers, Liesl Shurtliff,
 1. The Winner’s Crime

In this sequel to the fantasy romance bestseller, Kestrel plays a dangerous game with the emperor. The stakes are higher, the romance more sizzling, and the characters as dangerously clever and full of wit as ever. There is a knife-sharp edge to this book that guarantees readers won’t be able to put it down.
Marie Rutkoski, Cynthia Hand, Renée Ahdieh, Nova Ren Suma, Sabaa Tahir, Sally Green, Rosamund Hodge, Stacey Lee, Tommy Wallach, Jasmine Warga, Kody Keplinger, Jennifer Mathieu, Kathryn Holmes, Robin Benway, Sara Taylor, Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Maizel, Katelyn Detweiler, Courtney Summers, Liesl Shurtliff,
2. The Last Time We Say Goodbye

The author of Unearthly combines a deeply poignant story about suicide with family and love. The emotions are raw and the themes ring true in this heartfelt standalone.
Marie Rutkoski, Cynthia Hand, Renée Ahdieh, Nova Ren Suma, Sabaa Tahir, Sally Green, Rosamund Hodge, Stacey Lee, Tommy Wallach, Jasmine Warga, Kody Keplinger, Jennifer Mathieu, Kathryn Holmes, Robin Benway, Sara Taylor, Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Maizel, Katelyn Detweiler, Courtney Summers, Liesl Shurtliff,
3. The Wrath & the Dawn

Shahrzad becomes King Khalid’s new bride, but she’s heard the stories—that after marrying them, Khalid kills each of his new brides before dawn. Can she find a way to stop him? This fantasy romance debut is diverse, mesmerizing, gorgeously written, and based on a collection of Arabian tales.
Marie Rutkoski, Cynthia Hand, Renée Ahdieh, Nova Ren Suma, Sabaa Tahir, Sally Green, Rosamund Hodge, Stacey Lee, Tommy Wallach, Jasmine Warga, Kody Keplinger, Jennifer Mathieu, Kathryn Holmes, Robin Benway, Sara Taylor, Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Maizel, Katelyn Detweiler, Courtney Summers, Liesl Shurtliff,
4. The Walls Around Us

Dark, strange, unsettling, and eerie. But possibly the best thing about this standalone that straddles the genres of contemporary and thriller is the lyrical writing. The Walls Around Us follows ballerina Violet and her ex-best friend Orianna, a juvenile convict sentenced to prison for murder.
Marie Rutkoski, Cynthia Hand, Renée Ahdieh, Nova Ren Suma, Sabaa Tahir, Sally Green, Rosamund Hodge, Stacey Lee, Tommy Wallach, Jasmine Warga, Kody Keplinger, Jennifer Mathieu, Kathryn Holmes, Robin Benway, Sara Taylor, Sophie Kinsella, Rebecca Maizel, Katelyn Detweiler, Courtney Summers, Liesl Shurtliff,
 5. An Ember in the Ashes

Elias and Laia’s lives are full of hardship. One is a soldier, the other a slave. This intense, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat dystopian novel set in a world based on ancient Rome follows the two main characters as they break free from their chains.
top 21 twenty one books of 2015 so far young adult ya best books of 2015 two thousand and fifteen publication new books releases published list fun
6. Half Wild

Nathan, half Black, half White Witch, is back, but now he has a new, dangerous shapeshifting ability he must control if he wants to save his girlfriend Annalise. This novel is the sequel to Half Bad and is just as gripping, gritty, and violent as the first book.
7. Crimson Bound

Rachelle is a forestborn, an assassin cursed to obey the darkness covering the land. In Rosamund Hodge’s second young adult retelling, this time of Little Red Riding Hood, things are even gorier and more breathtaking.
8. Under a Painted Sky

Sammy and Andy are two Chinese and African girls fleeing prison and slavery. As they make their way across the wild frontier, disguised as boys, they band up with a group of cowboys. This is an exciting and adventurous historical fiction debut.
9. We All Looked Up

Four teens defined by stereotypes get to know each other during their last few weeks on earth before a possible meteor will blow them all sky high. This a realistic apocalypse novel that focuses heavily on character development.
10. My Heart and Other Black Holes

Depression and suicide go hand in hand, and Jasmine Warga explores these two issues deeply and thoughtfully in her darkly emotional debut book. Aysel and Roman are both planning to commit suicide, but they can’t do it alone. When the two meet online they decide to become Suicide Partners, but can they overcome the grief and sadness that haunts them before it’s too late?
11. Lying Out Loud

Sonny has a problem: she’s addicted to telling lies. So when she gets a new boyfriend her bad habit might cause a lot of problems. This is a companion novel to The Duff and is equally engaging, funny, and bittersweet.
12. Devoted

Rachel loves God, but she is beginning to question the ways of the community she lives in, and she starts searching for an escape. Devoted is a coming of age story following Rachel, and it explores religion in a wonderful and respectful way.
13. The Distance Between Lost and Found

Hallie and her two friends get lost in the mountains on a hike with her youth group, and they end up getting lost for days. The three teens have no choice but to survive, but can they make it on their own?
14. Emmy & Oliver

Oliver was kidnapped as a child, but now he’s back in his hometown and Emmy is seeing her childhood best friend for the first time in ten years. This book portrays friendship, quirky personalities, and relationships wonderfully.
15. Boring Girls

Rachel gets into metal music and starts writing her own lyrics for songs. Before she knows it she’s in a band, but Rachel doesn’t care about the fame when a horrible crime is committed. She’s out for one thing: revenge. This is the author’s first published novel and it is ruthless, psychological, and disturbing.
16. Finding Audrey

Audrey lives in a large family and has an anxiety disorder. Is love the cure for her problems? This contemporary standalone is both hysterical and heartwarming.
17. Between Us and the Moon

Sarah loves to watch the stars, but she’s sick of being seen as the nerdy baby in her family, so she starts an experiment to become popular. This contemporary novel explores first love, the consequences of lying, and family.
18. Immaculate

A beautiful, modern retelling of the Virgin Mary. Mina is one hundred percent a virgin—but who’s to believe her now that she’s pregnant? There is no other explanation for her condition other than a miracle.
19. All the Rage

In true Courtney Summers fashion, this book is extremely dark, wonderfully written, and full of complex characters. Romy was raped by the sheriff’s son, but no one believes her. Full of hurt and anguish, Romy starts bottling up her emotions until she’s sure she will explode.

20. Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk

This is a delightfully funny and charming middle grade retelling of the classic story. Jack and his little sister must venture into the land of giants to save their papa. If you enjoyed Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, then you won’t want to miss this second book by the author!
21. Everything, Everything

Madeline has deadly allergies that keep her trapped in the house all the time. When Olly moves in next door, Madeline is willing to risk her life so she can be with him. This contemporary debut is sad, funny, and a unique take on young love.

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Book Review: The Ghosts of Heaven, by Marcus Sedgwick

The Ghosts of Heaven
By: Marcus Sedgwick
ISBN-10: 1626721254
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Whispers in the Dark

A young tribal girl whom no one respects has a gift for the written word.

The Witch in the Water

Anna makes medical remedies with her mother, and one day the preacher’s son comes to her house to court her. But when Anna dismisses his affections, the furious young man is determined to get Anna sentenced as a witch.

The Easiest Room in Hell

It’s the twenty-first century, and a senile man living in a psychiatric ward is terrified of the spiral staircase looming in the hospital.

The Song of Destiny

In the far future, a pilot has the job of helping fly a spaceship, but when he notices his co-pilots are slowly being killed off, things begin to get out of hand.

The stories contain:

• Minor profanity
• A man admires a woman’s figure and attempts to kiss her
• Violence (one character is drowned and people are mysteriously murdered on a spaceship)

The Ghosts of Heaven contains four interconnected short stories from an imaginative blend of genres, including historical fiction, poetry, and science fiction. The stories all revolve around the same main subject: a spiral.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Small Favor (The Dresden Files, Book 10), By Jim Butcher

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, #10)A Novel of the Dresden Files, Book 10
By: Jim Butcher

Chicago's professional wizard – Harry Dresden – may have thought being attacked by a children story gone nightmare constituted a bad day, but that was before the fairy queen of winter-herself showed up.

Small Favor is yet another enjoyable and action packed installment to the Dresden Files. Readers should be aware that it contains mild references to arousal, partial nudity, profanity, killing, injuries, and disembowelment.

Small Favor was the first Dresden Files I ever went through and I enjoyed it a great deal without any knowledge of the prior nine books. However, when I went through it again having read or listened to the earlier books, I found that there was a lot I had missed my first time through. My conclusion: You can read any of the first eleven Dresden Files and you will get a good entertaining story, but if you want to understand the overall plot I recommend starting at the beginning and working your way through.
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book Review: Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge

Crimson Bound
By: Rosamund Hodge
ISBN-10: 006222476X
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The Forest is a dangerous place to be. Three years ago Rachelle strayed off the path and was seduced by a forestborn, a lethal creature bound to the darkness that is slowly overtaking the whole land. Now Rachelle has become a forestborn, and her human abilities are enhanced. The catch is, she has to obey every order the darkness commands her to carry out—even when it means killing the people she loves.

It contains:

• Lots of kissing (including with tongue)
• Lustful thoughts and desires
• Sex scene (it cuts off before anything happens, with only some minimal descriptions of naked bodies and tangled legs and sheets afterward)
• The word “d*mn” is used throughout
• Violence (killing innocents, beheading, cutting out parents’ hearts and eating them in a stew, stabbing people with knitting needles, fighting with swords, injuries, deaths, lots of blood, gruesome descriptions)

Crimson Bound is a young adult retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and The Girl with No Hands. It’s very violent, but does contain some good messages, and the story is led by a strong female protagonist. The writing is also beautiful to behold and should keep readers engaged in the complex plot.

If you enjoyed Crimson Bound, you might also like:


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, Book 1), by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, book 1)
By: Stephanie Perkins
ISBN-10: 0525423273
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At first, Anna hates the idea of moving to a new boarding school in Paris—but as she makes new friends, she slowly begins to fall in love with the city, although her feelings about Étienne St. Clair, a British-American boy who befriended her at the school, are conflicted, as he has a girlfriend but seems to return Anna’s warm feelings.

Parents should be aware that it contains:

• Profanity (including the F-word)
• References to sex
• Kissing
• Making out
• Name calling
• Some fighting (a fistfight with scratching; a teen punches another teen; a parent says they should smack their child on the head)
• Teenagers become very drunk, but it is legal to drink in Paris at sixteen
• Some adults smoke cigarettes

Anna and the French Kiss is a happy-feely, emotional young adult chick lit book. It’s the first in a trilogy, but it can be read as a standalone, as the main characters in this novel are different from those in the following books.

Readers who enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss might also like:

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Book Review: Half Wild (Half Bad Trilogy, Book 2), by Sally Green

Half Wild (Half Bad Trilogy, book 2)
By: Sally Green
ISBN-10: 0670017132
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With the help of his father, Nathan, a half White and half Black witch, must rescue Annalise and aid a revolutionary group of witches intent on defeating the Hunters. Meanwhile, Nathan is also struggling to harness his new, bloodthirsty Gift: the power to shape-shift.

This is a young adult books that contains:

• Profanity (two or three F-words, sh*t, bad*ss)
• Violence (killing, slicing throats and stomachs, one character murders and eats both animals and humans when he is in his animal form, cutting out a heart and eating it, lots of blood, stabbing a stake in two boys’ hands, cutting off someone’s ear, shooting, references to executions and torture)
• One character is in a magical, deathlike sleep
• Two boys kiss twice (quite passionately on one occasion—one boy has feelings for the other, but the other boy is unsure of his feelings toward him)
• Mention of teenagers having sex (vague descriptions)
• Smoking a cigarette
• Drinking champagne

Half Wild is a satisfying sequel to the fantasy novel Half Bad. The books in the Half Bad Trilogy are very gritty and violent, so I would advise parents to take caution in letting their young teens read them.

More Half Bad reviews:
Book 1: Half Bad

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, Book 1), by Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight, book 1)
By: Melissa Grey
ISBN-10: 038574465X
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Echo lives in a secret annex under New York City amongst a group of fantastical creatures called the Avicen. The Avicen are at war with the Drakharin, and both races of magical, birdlike people are after one thing: the firebird.

This young adult novel contains:

• Profanity (godd*mn, b*tch, cr*p, screwed, p*ss, d*mn, and h*ll)
• Some kissing (including kissing with tongue and hand under shirt)
• Homosexuality (a man is attracted to two other men; two men kiss)
• Violence (deaths, killing, and fighting)
• Kidnapping
• Stealing

The Girl at Midnight is the first installment in a fantasy series. It is similar in tone to other YA fantasy books, and contains a cast of feisty main characters and a fast-paced plot.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
By: Sabaa Tahir
ISBN-10: 15951148035
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Laia and Elias are each in positions they don’t want. Elias is a soldier competing in the deadly Trials to become the next Emperor. Only, he isn’t sure if he wants to rule over the cruel and violent empire. Laia is disguising herself as a slave to infiltrate the training school where Elias lives in the hopes of rescuing her brother, who has been captured. When the two meet up, will they help one another with their individual quests to freedom—or destroy each other?

This is a young adult book containing:

• Many references to rape
• Attempted rape
• A man wants to rape women
• Profanity (b*tch, p*ss, d*mn, h*ll, bloody, whore, bastard)
• Violence (descriptions of torture inflicted on slaves, murders, executions, slicing necks, sword fighting, stabbing, slapping, serious injuries, death threats, lots of blood)
• Kissing
• Physical attraction
• A sensual dance
• Some adults drink at receptions

The world of An Ember in the Ashes is incredibly gripping and harsh, but that’s to be expected of a fantasy world based off of Ancient Rome. There’s lots of fighting, killing, and a handful of ruthless and merciless characters. Parents considering letting their child read this book should worry most about the violence and numerous references to rape.

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