Friday, May 31, 2013

New Releases: June 2013

Hello lovelies,
June is nearly upon us, and I thought I'd make a list of the YA releases I'm most looking forward to for the upcoming month.  Have a look, and then tell me in the comments what June YA you're most looking forward to. (Click the covers to go to the Goodreads page for the book)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Published May 7th 2013 by Margaret K McElderry Books

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.
When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.
Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion...
Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.

Rating: 3/5


In Chantress, Amy Butler Greenfield has woven an alternate history in which magic plays a prominent role.  She has also established a unique magic system in which spells are accomplished through singing.  Although I enjoyed these aspects, I felt that the descriptions of them dragged on just a touch too long.

The truth is that most of the book wasn't very interesting.  First, a lot of time was spent on the situation being explained to Lucy.  Then, Lucy had to spend a lot more time practicing magic before she could actually do anything.  I found this caused the middle of the book to go really slowly.

The real saving grace of this book was the ending.  I don't want to spoil it, but it was the perfect fit for the story and was beautifully executed.

Chantress is the first of a trilogy, and I definitely want to see where it goes from here.  I think now that all the minutia is out of the way, the pace could really pick up.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Program by Suzanne Young

Published April 30th 2013 by SimonPulse

Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.
Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Rating: 4/5


What I liked least about this book was the worldbuilding.  Teen suicide has become an epidemic, with one in three teens attempting to take their own lives - but no one has any clue why.  For equally inexplicable reasons, traditional treatment methods, like therapy and anti-depressants, have been completely abandoned. To me, this made no sense.

What I liked most about this book was the relationship between Sloane and James.  They were an established couple at the beginning of the book, which I preferred to the insta-love that seems so common in YA.  I also liked the way Suzanne Young wrote the relationship.  Sloane and James had a comfortable dynamic and a friendship beneath their romance.  I'm not sure I really agreed with the idea that love can persist through memory loss, but I was definitely rooting for this couple.

Something that I hope is addressed in the next book is a question Sloane posed early on which was never answered.  She wondered if she and her friends would even be depressed without the threat of the program looming over them.  I found this line of thought compelling, and wish it would have been explored.

In spite of my worldbuilding greivances, The Program was a compelling read, and it gets a rating of 4 out of 5 from me.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Published Febuary 12th 2013 by HarperTeen

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.
In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Rating: 5/5


Pivot Point has a touch of several different elements: paranormal, mystery, and romance.  Kasie West weaves these elements and Addie's two paths into one cohesive, high-stakes story.

Addie has grown up in a secret compound for people with paranormal powers.  Addie has a form of clairvoyance which allows her to see how her choices will affect her life.  Her best friend, Laila, can erase memories, her mother has the power of persuasion, and her father can tell when people are lying.  The compound also has advanced technology, though I wasn't quite certain how that worked.  I can't see how their special abilities would translate into a technological advantage.

When her parents get divorced, Addie searches to see who she should live with.  The two choices are shown side by side in this book.  Similar events occur in both versions, but they play out differently based on Addie's choice. I liked seeing the similarities because it showed that one person's choices can't change everything about the future.

The choice Addie has to make at the end is difficult and sad, but I was left knowing that she'd done the right thing.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Published July 31st 2012 by Harlequin Teen
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.
Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Rating: 4/5


In anticipation of Dare You To, the upcoming sequel to Pushing the Limits, I read this book.  At first, I thought I wouldn't like it.  It seemed like a stereotypical good girl/bad boy romance.  And it was, to a certain extent, but it was also more than that.

Echo and Noah are two people with compelling problems.  Echo has lost her memory of the night her mother tried to kill her, and is trying desperately to regain it.  Noah's in foster care, and wants nothing more than to be reunited with his younger brothers.

In many romance novels, the whole story is about the relationship.  I liked this book because it wasn't like that.  Echo had her own story, and Noah had his own story, and in Pushing the Limits, their stories just happened to intersect, and they fell in love.  In many parts, the focus shifted away from their relationship.  I enjoyed this because I thought it felt true to life.  In real life, when you enter a relationship, the rest of the world doesn't get put on hold.  In this book, Echo and Noah's individual problems persisted even after they found each other.  The thing that kept me reading, honestly, wasn't to find out what happened between Echo and Noah, it was to find out how their separate problems were resolved.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Published May 7th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Rating: 3.5/5


I loved the beginning of this book.  Cassie was a great character with a unique voice.  In a situation that demands practicality - surviving alone in the woods while fighting aliens - Cassie remained sentimental.  She carried books, a stuffed animal, and even her cell phone that doesn't work.  To me, these attachments made her feel like a real person.

About a hundred pages in, there's a point of view switch.  I'm not a fan of multiple points of view in general, but I found it especially unpalatable in this case.  I went from the head of a character I loved to that of a character I didn't care for at all with no warning.  Perhaps if it hadn't taken a whole hundred pages for the first POV switch to happen, or if the book description had given any indication that there was more than one main character, it wouldn't have hit me so hard.  The second main character, Zombie, lacked personality.  He was just bland, and I found that I was suffering through his point of view just to get back to the interesting parts with Cassie.

But, grudgingly, I have to admit that Zombie's point of view was necessary.  There were parts of the story that Cassie simply had no way to know, but that the reader needed to see.  However, there was also a single section told from the point of view of Cassie's younger brother, Sammy, and a one told from the point of view of an alien.  Those sections, while more engaging than those from Zombie's point of view, were completely unnecessary to the story, and I wish they wouldn't have been there at all.

What saved this book for me is the fact that it's incredibly well-written.  Even though there were parts I hated, there were other parts that just blew me away.  I settled on a 3.5 star rating because although the writing was far above average, the book's issues kept me from enjoying it as much as I hoped I would.