Thu, July 24, 2014

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke Review

Dissonance book cover

Dissonance book cover

Dissonance
By Erica O’Rourke
Publication date: July 22, 2014
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 496 pages
Source: Publisher

Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

— Goodreads.com description

Dissonance is set in Chicago, which I loved (in one scene, the characters even walk by my office). And the concept is great — it sort of reminded me of Pivot Point by Kasie West. Del’s part of a special group of people who can walk through the multiverse, follow alternative realities that pop up based on the decisions people make.

It was a long book (nearly 500 pages!), but I made it through with no problems and will absolutely read more of the series.

But, and this is a big “but” for me, I think I was a little too slow on the pickup of certain plot points. The science behind the multiverse concept was tricky, and I never quite followed along. Honestly, it made me feel a little stupid as I struggled to keep up.

So, not a total win and “OMG WOW” reading experience, but like I said: It piqued my interest enough that I’d absolutely try the second book.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: For those who read it…my notes say “Addie & Monty intrigued, gay thing?” What the heck was I talking about?!?! Must’ve been a typo?

Posted by: Anna   •   In: erica o'rourke, family, paranormal
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Mon, June 30, 2014

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater Review

Sinner book cover

Sinner book cover

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #3.5)
By Maggie Stiefvater
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Scholastic Press, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole’s story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole’s darkest secret — his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel’s life. Can this sinner be saved?

— Goodreads.com description

Okay, let’s be honest: The Wolves of Mercy Falls series is one of my favorites of all time, but I wasn’t that excited about this book when it was first announced.

Why? Well, Cole and Isabel were so abrasive in the Shiver trilogy that they never really endeared themselves to me. They were the complete opposites of Sam and Grace in many ways, and Sam and Grace are what I loved most about that trilogy. So I never gave them much thought.

But, I am happy to report: This book is AMAZING and I totally underestimated these characters.

I love Cole and Isabel now for the very same reason I didn’t like them before: They are jagged and stubborn and bitter, through and through. Their personalities shine through in every scene and their voices are strong and consistent, even as they change and grow as characters. Was I as moved or satisfied by their story as I was Sam and Grace’s? Nope, but these aren’t lovey-dovey romantic characters, so that’s okay.

The vibe is completely different from the Shiver books, though the writing remains beautiful and full of heart. It’s definitely a great addition and true companion to this series.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: maggie stiefvater, paranormal, romance, werewolves
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Wed, May 28, 2014

Sekret by Lindsay Smith Review

Sekret book cover

Sekret book cover

Sekret
By Lindsay Smith
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children’s, 337 pages
Source: Publisher

An empty mind is a safe mind.

Yulia’s father always taught her to hide her thoughts and control her emotions to survive the harsh realities of Soviet Russia. But when she’s captured by the KGB and forced to work as a psychic spy with a mission to undermine the U.S. space program, she’s thrust into a world of suspicion, deceit, and horrifying power. Yulia quickly realizes she can trust no one–not her KGB superiors or the other operatives vying for her attention–and must rely on her own wits and skills to survive in this world where no SEKRET can stay hidden for long.

— Goodreads.com description

I’ll admit it: I know very little about Russia and the Cold War.

On the one hand, that made Sekret by Lindsay Smith a cool reading experience. I was introduced to a new culture and a beautifully depicted new setting.

On the other hand, I got so lost in the Russian names and historical plot points that I had a hard time following quite a few parts of the book.

But, if you’re into (a) Russia or (b) historical fiction or (c) paranormal spins on actual events, I think you’ll have a better go at this one than me. Historical fiction fans, do note point (c) there, though: They are mind readers. So, you know, not 100% historical. At least I hope not!!!

Also worth noting: Some of the characters were a bit stereotypical to me: mean girl, shy boy, jock boy, etc. Would have liked to see that mixed up a bit more.

So maybe it wasn’t a favorite and didn’t totally win me over, but I’m still glad I tried Sekret. I loved the amount of research Lindsay Smith clearly put into this book, and her writing was great. And, hey, it’s always good to try new types of books and challenge ourselves as readers, right?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: historical, lindsay smith, paranormal
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Mon, March 31, 2014

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It book cover

Don't Even Think About It book cover

Don’t Even Think About It
By Sarah Mlynowski
Publication date: March 11, 2014
Delacorte Press, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Contemporary teen fiction with romance, secrets, scandals, and ESP from the author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have).

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.
So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

— Goodreads.com description

Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski was super enjoyable: fun, quick and lighthearted but surprisingly thought-provoking.

I can’t think of any other book told in first-person plural, and I loved how different it made the storytelling. The book follows a group of teenagers with ESP, and because they know ALL of each others’ thoughts, they tell the story together. How smart! I usually hate multiple points of view, but this twist was so clever I couldn’t help but like it.

Fair warning: This one definitely skews a little young/predictable (perfect for middle schoolers reading up or early high school, for sure). But Sarah Mlynowski is sooooo funny that it still worked for grownup me. For something quick and easy but still unique, check this one out — especially if you fit into the REALLY A TEEN age group.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: friendship, paranormal, sarah mlynowski
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Thu, February 20, 2014

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi Review

Ignite Me book cover

Ignite Me book cover

Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)
By Tahereh Mafi
Publication date: Feb. 4, 2014
HarperCollins, 416 pages
Source: Bought on my Kindle

Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them down, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

— Goodreads.com description

I think Tahereh Mafi is a brilliant writer — her writing style is incredibly fresh and gorgeous.

And, beyond that, I think she’s a lovely person. I was lucky enough to go to lunch with her once when Shatter Me first came out, and she was a delight.

So it’s from a place of love that I say this: HOLY COW, TAHEREH, YOUR CHARACTERS INFURIATE ME.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

As Juliette falls deeper and deeper for Warner, she becomes less of the Juliette we first met. And I think that’s good in theory — she was a hot mess when we first met her. But what we got here was such a total character 180 it gave me whiplash.

As a reader, I couldn’t keep up as everything that enraged me in the first few books (about Warner, about society, about so many things) was just — poof — written off. I mean, kudos to Juliette for moving on faster than I could, but it was hard for me to process. Her quick forgiveness and acceptance of Warner appalled me.

And while I think we were supposed to be pissed off by Adam…I was really rooting for him. Every single word out of his mouth was exactly what was running through my mind as I read. It was harsh, yeah, but it felt like Juliette was breaking up both him and me! Or, maybe, I was just starting to realize that who I thought she was as a main character in the first two books was phony baloney. So I was cheering him on, like, “Yeah, bro, you tell her what’s up!”

Then the ending felt rushed and I just…blah. I’m not even sure I’m Team Kenji anymore. Team No One.

Okay, clearly I’m feeling a little bitter. Truly, I feel like I’ve been dumped by this book!!!

What’s hilarious is that anyone who was even SLIGHTLY into Warner in book two is going to have a totally different reaction. And that this can’t even be a negative review because Tahereh clearly knew at least a quarter of her readers would feel this way, so it’s like: That thing you wrote knowing it would drive me nuts? You did it. And I hated it, but you succeeded at making me feel that way, so good job.

Either way, I’m very much looking forward to whatever Tahereh has in store for us next. Have you guys read it yet? Thoughts? Do I even want to know, or are you going to be all Team Satan and upset me? HAHAH. Kidding. Sort of.

Previous reviews: Shatter Me | Unravel Me

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: Is this the longest review I’ve ever written? Was this rant even readable?

Posted by: Anna   •   In: paranormal, tahereh mafi
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