Category Archives: Young Adult

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

All of Us Villains is extremely well-written Hunger Games fanfic. Take the Hunger Games, add magic, and make it between children in seven specific families and you have the premise of this book. A character even comments that someone else almost made him spill his drink on his pants. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of four characters, three chosen as their family’s champion and one not. I got sucked into the story and then it just ended. There was no resolution whatsoever. It just got to a point and, boom, done. I wasted no time ordering the second book of the duology, but it still annoyed me a bit. I have no problem with series, but I do like for each book to wrap stuff up at least somewhat. This one answered one single question (who wrote A Tradition of Tragedy) and that’s it. Not satisfying at all. Other than that, I loved the book. I recommend this book to people who like magic set in the current day and enjoyed reading The Hunger Games. Just be aware that the two books really should just be one single book and expect to move on to the second book quickly to finish the story.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 85
Pages Read in 2022: 30,226
Graphic Novels: 2

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Grim Readers, Young Adult

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

As is typical with books by Karen McManus, The Cousins was filled with twists and turns and so many things I did not expect. My daughter read the book just before I did and she happened to be sitting next to me when I got to one of the big shockers and my mouth dropped open and my eyes got huge and she knew exactly what I had just read. All three points of view it alternates between have their own voice and are easily identifiable as Milly, Aubrey, or Jonah. Every question (except maybe one) was somehow answered satisfactorily by the end. This is a truly excellent book. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys young adult mysteries, especially if you like to be surprised.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 81
Pages Read in 2022: 29,204
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Reason: Buddy Read, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: Recommended by a Friend, Young Adult

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I preordered The Final Gambit ten months before it was published. It was worth every month of that wait! The book is full of surprise twists and puzzles to solve. The light romance is nice, too. By the end of this book all the questions have been answered and the ends are tied up, for now at least. I was very sad that my time with Avery and the Hawthorne brothers had come to an end, but it was a very satisfying end so that made it okay. I very highly recommend this book to everyone, but you have to read the first two Inheritance Games books first.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 80
Pages Read in 2022: 28,874
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: I Like the Series, Young Adult

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is a very bizarre book. The story makes little sense and there doesn’t seem to be all that much of a plot. Sometimes too much description is a bad thing and with this book that is definitely the case. It could’ve been half as long. The cadence is weird, too. I read it out loud to my boys and usually within a chapter or two it’s easy to get into the rhythm of reading a book, but this one just stayed weird and was never pleasant to read. The romance was so contrived and unnecessary, almost like the author said to himself that this is a YA book therefore it must have some sort of romance (and the last paragraph, related to that romance, was totally silly and unneeded). The characters were pretty flat and while the main character got the information she wanted, there was no real growth or change to any of them. No one seemed to be shocked or even care much at having a traitor among the booksellers. It was just not a very enjoyable book so I do not recommend it.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 75
Pages Read in 2022: 27,273
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: Literati, Young Adult

From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

From a Distant Star is an incredibly sweet book. I was sucked totally into the story and completely invested in what happened to the characters. I couldn’t put it down telling myself “just one more chapter” repeatedly. The ending is absolutely perfect. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys light scifi.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 70
Pages Read in 2022: 25,511
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I did not much enjoy reading Crown of Midnight. I wavered between giving it one star (I almost never give books one star) and two and in the end it just barely saved itself from getting one star. Parts of it were decent. Good even, on occasion. It’s just there were so many things that annoyed me.

Note: This review contains some mild spoilers.

Celaena is kind of dumb and downright annoying. So incredibly annoying. She gets irrationally mad at Chaol, insisting, after a week of sleeping with him every chance she gets, she will never trust him again for withholding information (as he should have due to his job), but she withholds information from him all the time (including the fact that the king has threatened his life if she does not assassinate each person he assigns). This just makes her come across as a spoiled brat. Also, she is way too trusting of the wrong people. If she was such a great assassin, she would be much more careful about where she places her trust. For example, even knowing the type of person Archer is, she immediately believed him (including lies) about Chaol. Now, I realize the author needed her to do that to make the plot go a certain way, but it was just another place Celaena didn’t make sense. Thinking Nehemia always only told her the truth just because Nehemia said she would doesn’t seem to make sense for an assassin, one who would generally be suspicious of everyone.

Dorian pining over Celaena while at the same time insisting he had let her go (he hadn’t) was possibly true to character, but it was so idiotic and annoying. I just wanted to smack some sense into him. I literally groaned a few times when the story returned to him.

I felt like several characters didn’t behave true to their character. I’ve heard many authors speak about how they have to let their characters go where they want to go. It seems that this author was set on what she wants her characters to do to make the story go a certain way and so quite often the thought crossed my mind that character behavior seemed forced and out of, well, character for them.

Honestly, the only characters I truly liked were Katlain and Mort. And one of them is insane and the other is a brass door knocker. The others… I just didn’t care what happened to them. When it finally showed what Celaena really is, I was like oh, whatever, just finish the book.

In general, the writing was just poor, poorer, actually, than the first book in the series. I read a whole lot of YA and the vocabulary was less sophisticated in this one than most I’ve read. One time the author decided to suddenly use a big word, it didn’t really much make sense. Celaena, in mourning, had dinner with Dorian. It said something about how it was a quiet dinner, but not lachrymose. Considering this was Celaena I wouldn’t expect her to be tearful through dinner, especially not a dinner with Dorian. A better, more fitting word would have been somber, but maybe lachrymose was the author’s word of the day that day so she really wanted to use it.

The author repeated a lot of things over and over, particularly during the first about two-thirds. Sometimes I just felt like she was trying to increase the word count. Occasionally changing time or place or what’s happening wasn’t clear, but then that just may be me because I often found my mind wandering, even during parts that were supposed to be exciting. The witch explaining Wyrdkeys was dreadfully boring. The first part of the riddle seemed totally obvious to me and took Celaena way longer to solve than I think it should have. And then the “shocker” at the end was painfully obvious well before the big reveal.

A lot of people love this series, so I’m clearly in the minority disliking it. If you loved Throne of Glass (I liked that one very much myself), give Crown of Midnight a chance. You might find it rather dreadful like I did, or you might love it like most people, so don’t just write it off based on the problems I had with it.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 69
Pages Read in 2022: 25,232
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: I Like the Series, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons

Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons

Set Fire to the Gods is a pretty exciting book. The way gladiators from ancient Rome and element bending were blended was quite interesting. The characters were well-written and made you care about them and what happened to them. I recommend this book to teens and up, particularly those who like gladiators or Avatar: The Last Airbender.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 67
Pages Read in 2022: 24,529
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Literati, Young Adult

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Lost in a Book is a clever addition to the story of Beauty and the Beast. The timeline is the same and even includes the scene of Belle and the Beast ice skating. Added to it is a bet between Love and Death and an enchanted book Death tries to cheat with. Belle’s pull toward the book as a way to live in a perfect, magical world and escape the dreariness of the Beast’s castle as well as her frustration with the Beast’s interpersonal communication are written very well. I was sad when it ended. I would have liked to get all the way to the point where the Beast turns back into a prince, but I guess it’s okay to end where it did since we all know the (Disney) ending of Beauty and the Beast. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Belle’s story.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 65
Pages Read in 2022: 23,656
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

Dry is alarmingly realistic. It changed narrator regularly which I thought was very effective in telling the whole story. The authors really did a good job with how people would behave if there was suddenly no water. The government response was likely pretty accurate, too. I enjoyed the book a lot and it really made me consider how important water is to our lives. I recommend this book to teens and up.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 64
Pages Read in 2022: 23,306
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

The first about fifty pages of I Killed Zoe Spanos were slow and quite confusing. I was starting to question why I had chosen it (the description sounded great). But then it started getting good. And then it got amazing (and ended up even better than the description made it sound). It was still a little confusing, or rather crazy making. I wanted to believe from the start that Anna had lied in her confession and that she had not killed Zoe, but then she knew things she shouldn’t have known if she was innocent and blackouts weren’t uncommon for her so I kept questioning my own thinking. A lot of it was psychological and so creepy. When I read it at night I couldn’t go to sleep right away after putting it down because it had me creeped out (granted it doesn’t take much to creep me out). I found giving the background of the case mostly through podcast transcripts very enjoyable. There were some things at the end that I really never saw coming. I highly recommend this book to teens and up who enjoy psychological thrillers.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 62
Pages Read in 2022: 22,559
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Literati, Reason: We Be Book'N, Thriller, Young Adult