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review 2017-07-13 23:15
Thief - Elena Dillon

For a star rating and full review please visit InD'tale magazine online, July/Aug 2017 issue. http://indtale.com/reviews/young-adult/thief

Source: www.indtale.com
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review 2017-07-07 11:46
Review: The Names They Gave Us
The Names They Gave Us - Emery Lord

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I had pre ordered this one ages ago, but I have a habit of pre ordering finished copies of Emery Lord books and requesting them on Netgalley as soon as I see them. Usually I start them as soon as I’m approved, but in this case it took me a while to get round to starting this one. Mainly because of the subjects it dealt with – faith and cancer.

 

While it took me a while to get into the novel, by the end I did love it to pieces, and as with every Emery Lord book I’ve read by the end I was in floods of tears. Beautifully written, and I thought it handled the tough subjects excellently. A+ points for diverse characters, transgender rep and friendships as well. The characters were fantastic and well fleshed out. The romance was adorable. The adults were likeable as well.

 

The novel tells the story of teenager Lucy who has learned that her mother’s cancer has returned. Lucy’s dad is a pastor, she’s very religious. She has a great relationship with her parents, she has a steady boyfriend of several years Lucas. Though on receiving the news, she falls to pieces. She starts to question her faith. It’s all handled very thoughtfully and manages to do it without being preachy at all. So bonus points for that.

 

Lucy’s parents run a Christian themed summer camp and she usually helps out as a councillor, but her mom convinces her to try being a councillor at the camp the other side of the lake, Daybreak. Which is a camp helping troubled children. Her mom thinks this may help Lucy deal with some of her own issue. She’s in pieces in private, but determined to put on a strong face around her parents. Though she’s acting out and getting overly amorous with the boyfriend. The boyfriend was also very religious and frankly, a bit of a dick. He was trying to be patient and understanding, but it didn’t come across very well – then – he puts their relationship ON PAUSE over the summer. Jerk.

 

Lucy is a bit reluctant to try Daybreak, she just wants to be with her mom. But she finds herself getting to know the other councillors her age, and dealing with the children, from all sorts of different backgrounds with all sorts of problems. As much as I liked Lucy and her voice I did find her to be kind of sheltered, maybe something to do with her deep religious beliefs. One of the kids, a girl of 14 is pregnant, and Lucy is quite shocked by this. She turns out to really connect to the girl and help her a lot.

 

Lucy makes friends in the camp, though the other councillors have known each other for years, she struggles to find her way into the close group of close-knit friends. It’s very sweet as she learns to accept the other kids who they are, find things in common with them, and gets to know them. She finds herself attracted one of the councillors her age, a boy named Henry. They bond and develop a close friendship with the potential for something more. Lucy has to figure out if she really wants to make the relationship with Lucas work, or go for something new with Henry. It works really well and adds a lot of depth to Lucy’s character as she struggles to make her decisions.

 

Lucy has to deal with a lot of different emotions and manages to handle them extremely well. She has her moments where she does fall apart. I did find I really liked her views on her struggle with her faith as well. A lot of it made a great deal of sense as she pondered it out. And there really were some beautiful passages on faith towards the end of the novel.

 

Tough subjects, but well worth reading.

 

I loved it.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-07-03 12:01
Review: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful - Eric Lindstrom

 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

Not entirely sure what to say on this one. This is a contemporary YA novel about a girl with bipolar disorder. I know almost nothing about how bipolar disorder works, so I feel like I can’t judge how good the representation was. I liked the author’s debut novel. I liked this one too, but not quite so much.

 

It tells the story of Mel Hannigan, who is struggling to cope with bipolar disorder. She works at an old people’s care home, has a few friends, reluctantly sees a therapist, takes her meds, though seems more comfortable talking to one of the doctors at the care home where she works than confide in her regular therapist. She keeps a track of meds and how she’s feeling in a somewhat complex routine noting how she’s coping and feeling. Each chapter starts with a list of Mel’s tracking routine. (Which seemed complex to me, it was explained in the novel though I can’t say I understood it).

 

Mel had a brother who met a tragic end, who also had bipolar disorder, she lives with her mom and dad and her aunt who also has the disorder. They each deal with it differently. The aunt is very outgoing and loud, where Mel is quite quiet and while she connects to a few friends she can’t bring herself to tell the truth about her disorder.

 

Her family moved at some point, and Mel found a great group of friends, but a fight and falling out with one, lead to the others getting some false information and cutting her off.  Though at the start of the novel the girl she had a fight with drops a bombshell on her leading her to have to try and speak to the others again. While this is going on Mel is getting to know David, the grandson of one of the residents at the care home. They have a somewhat rough meeting which leads to a cute romance.

 

The novel dealt with Mel’s ups and downs, struggles reconnecting with her old friends, and the truth about what really happened and why they all fell out, dealing with her disorder, falling for David, realising that the therapist isn’t so bad and is there to help.

 

Of course nothing is quite so smooth and everything goes wrong at some point. It seemed to me at least to be handled quite realistically, Mel was a likeable character, she had good moments and bad moments, times when she did stupid teenage things which caused problems in other respects. Like partying and drinking which had a big effect on her meds. Fights with her aunt. Surprising things came out when Mel reconnected with her old friends. One thing I did like was the parental input from Mel’s parents. Not overbearing, but understanding and helpful, which was nice to see.

 

A decent contemporary read.  I did buy a finished copy (The UK paperback has a really nice bright pink eye catching cover, I couldn’t resist).

 

Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins UK, Children's for approving my request to view the title.

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review 2017-06-27 11:50
Review: Royce Rolls
Royce Rolls - Margaret Stohl

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I was really looking forward to this one. I’m actually not interested in reality television. (With the exception of Judge Judy and court TV)  I pretty much loathe the type of reality TV this book is based on. But I do actually like novels about reality TV.

 

Unfortunately, this book didn’t work for me at all. The satirical nature of it was almost too over the top, it seemed to be going one minute like it was making light of all the ridiculous drama that this scripted reality family go through, then tried to be deep and meaningful as the main character tried to do whatever it took to keep her family together.

 

The biggest problem I had was the main characters, the Royces,  were all horrible horrible people. The mother Mercedes is the worst type of all about me showbiz mother who only seems interested in keeping the show on air, the eldest daughter Porsche, who was an attention seeking bimbo, focused only on her own fame and her own product line of cosmetics. The sixteen year old daughter Bentley is the one the reader is supposed to be routing for, nothing like the vapid character she supposedly portrays on the show she’s really quite deep and smarter than anyone ever imagined. Problem for this reader was I just didn’t like her. And then there’s Maybach, the youngest brother, who’s sole purpose seems to be the cute gay brother. Though for Bach, he seemed to just have a gambling problem that was used as plot point later on rather than give him a romance or something.

 

The premise of the novel is the show is on the verge of cancellation, the family want to keep it going, Bentley wants out and wants to go to college instead. So they keep coming up with more and more ridiculous antics to keep the public watching. So the older sister comes up with an idea for making a wedding, which would give her new product lines and sponsorships and things. Of course it’s all a big fake.

 

But when the chosen groom makes an appearance it all goes wrong very fast. The drama is ridiculously increasing throughout the novel. And to be fair, Bentley does a pretty good job of playing her role as the brattiest daughter of the bunch, managing to ruin planned events and become the worst sort of paparazzi fodder. It’s told with a tone that’s meant to be humorous, but it’s the type of humour that I found got very old and very tiring quite quickly.

 

Bentley finds herself stressed more than she wants to be, she finds out a pretty shocking secret about her sister’s so-called fiancé. She can’t talk to anyone about it. She’s also dealing with constant bickering between her mother and Porsche who seem to be trying to one up each other in antics meant to get attention. And then there’s annoying network executives to deal with and producers and such.

 

She does get a little bit of freedom when she can sneak away and hang out at the library, where she chats to a boy named Venice who appears to be a vagrant. She can talk to him like herself, she doesn’t have to play a character. And Venice listens to her. He was actually one of the decent characters. He had a huge secret of his own as well.

 

Again to be fair, the twist at towards the end was pretty damn epic.

 

There was just too much annoying stuff about the book in general to care by then, too much of Hollywood image crap, the body shaming was really irritating. While there were some decent scenes of the family coming together, finally, when the answers to the twists are finally revealed. There just wasn’t anything really redeemable by the end for my liking.  Reading it was a bit like even though it’s terrible there was still a need to know how it all turned out.  

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)

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review 2017-06-26 11:56
Review: It Started With Goodbye
It Started With Goodbye - Christina June

Netgalley actually granted one of my request wishes! Which was a fun summery themed contemporary YA novel. There was nothing startlingly original about the plot. Tatum is an average snarky teenager with a larger than life spoiled rich girl best friend, a dad who works far too much and is often out the country on business, a stepmother who’s way too strict and a step sister who is a goody two shoes.

 

At the start of the novel Tatum and her best friend whose name I have already forgotten get big trouble when the BFF and her sleazeball boyfriend are caught doing some major shoplifting. Of which Tatum was unaware, she was in the car waiting for them when the police showed up and was lumped in as the getaway driver.

 

While her BFF gets off with practically no punishment other than transferred to a snotty boarding school miles away, Tatum gets stuck with community service, a fine, grounded all summer, a mass of chores and lecturing from her parents. Her dad has to go out of the country on business so she’s been left with her stepmother to met out the punishment.  The sister is a brilliant dancer and goes to some snooty art school, Tatum has a secret graphic design business she’s trying to get off the ground. After a show at her sister’s school, she leaves some of her business cards out, and starts getting some responses.

 

For the most part Tatum was actually quite a likeable character, she was easy to relate to and understand as she moaned about her situation, it’s no fun being grounded during the summer! Doesn’t help when her stepmother announces that her mother, Tatum’s grandma is coming to stay for the summer as well. Thankfully, Grandma turns out to be really cool, and actually listens to what Tatum has to say, doesn’t automatically dismiss her as a grumpy teen.

 

She ends up trading emails with a music student interested in her graphic design service, and they get to know each other throughout email. It’s delightfully cute and entertaining, the guy is a cellist and he introduces her to new artists and music she’s never heard, including some of his own pieces. There’s some wonderful descriptions and emotions brought out as Tatum listens to the pieces. It was quite surprising and incredibly moving in parts.

 

She’s made some friends with some of the kids on her community service team that she knows from school, and a guy in a band. She’s gets some escape from her monotony of community service then chores from a baby sitting job she’s supposed to be doing, which gives her a breath of freedom. Turns out that the step sister isn’t actually as bad as she’s made out to be, and later on in the novel through conversations with the grandmother she learns some things about her stepmom that explain why she’s the way she is.

 

Some nice scenes of the family coming together towards the end as discussions are held, after many many arguments, tears and tantrums throughout the summer.

 

A decent read, with a cute romance, family drama and likeable characters.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Blink for granting my wish to view the title.   

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