Tag Archives: ya book reviews

Replica – Book Review

Title: Replica

Author: Lauren Oliver

Pages: 520 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Science Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins

Published: October 4, 2016

Summary:

Lyra

From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.

Gemma

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Review:

I love the unique way that this story was told! Instead of the book being told in alternating chapters to tell both stories, each half of the book is dedicated to one character. That means that the book can be read in numerous ways. I chose to read a chapter from Lyra, then a chapter from Gemma, alternating throughout the whole novel. I really liked each girl’s perspective. By the time I made it to the end of a chapter, I was so immersed that I wanted to keep reading, and not switch chapters. But as soon as I switched, I was right back into that perspective too.

This book really looks at what makes someone human. Is it the ability to love? The ability to feel emotion? The ability to make your own choices? All of these questions are explored throughout the novel. And while we may not come out of the novel with a clearer idea of the answer to this question, I never really expected that. After all, it isn’t really an easy question to answer. There really isn’t just one thing that makes someone human. It’s a combination of all of the things we are that add up to the big picture.

One of the things that I wasn’t a huge fan of was Gemma’s lack of value of herself. She is a little overweight, and by the sound of it, it’s not as if she is morbidly obese, she just has a little extra weight that all of the “perfect” size zero girls at her school don’t. But once Gemma finds a boy who is attracted to her, she suddenly becomes okay with herself. It’s problematic thinking.

It was very interesting to see that this world exists in our own world, and not some far off fantasy world. It really makes you wonder just what goes on out in the world that most people would never believe is real.

I enjoyed this book, and have started reading the sequel, Ringer, which comes out in October. Expect my review of Ringer closer to the publishing date, but so far I’m enjoying it even more than I liked Replica. I give Replica 4/5 stars.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love – Book Review

Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Author: Maurene Goo

Pages: 336 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Published: May 30, 2017

Summary:

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and never had a B. But in her charmed school life, there’s one thing missing—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a known disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet. When the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides it’s time to tackle her flirting failures. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has watched obsessively for years—in which the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. All’s fair in love and Korean dramas, right? But when the fun and games turn to feelings, Desi finds out that real-life love is about way more than just drama.

Review:

This book is one of my new favorite contemporaries! From the moment I picked this book up, I didn’t want to put it down. I Believe in a Thing Called Love is sweet and funny. Desi Lee is great at all things, except when it comes to boys. Her friends have lovingly coined the term “flailing” when it comes to Desi flirting: flirt failing. I could relate so much to Desi, because I, too, excel when there is a set list of “rules” for something. When things are left up to chance, Desi fails miserably, and often embarrassingly.

I’ve never seen a K drama before, but after reading I Believe in a Thing Called Love and seeing all of Desi’s “K Drama Rules for True Love,” I feel like I understand the genre a lot more, and might actually appreciate it if I were to go watch some of them. There’s even a handy guide at the end of the novel for getting into K dramas, based off of what genre you’re looking for, which I found to be really unique and helpful.

Have you ever watched a show or read a book that you knew was going to end in a huge disaster, and were just waiting for the bomb to go off? That’s what this book was for me. I just had this feeling that all of Desi’s ridiculous manipulations to try and snag Luca were going to end terribly! I mean, she makes some horrible decisions throughout the book, that no sane person could possible come up with, but I think that she also learns a lot about herself through the course of the book.

Maurene’s writing style is one that I really like. It’s engaging, funny, and kept me immersed within the story. The friendships that her characters share are absolutely amazing, and they are so supportive of one another. I constantly found myself wishing that I had friends like Fiona and Wes.

I give I Believe in a Thing Called Love 4.5/5 stars. Thanks so much to Maureen Goo for the ARC of this book, I couldn’t have been more pleased with it!

Anna and the French Kiss – Book Review

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Pages: 372 (paperback)

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Speak

Published: December 2, 2010

Summary:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

Review:

This is one of my favorite contemporaries that I’ve read so far. I first read it last summer, and I just picked it up for the second time last week. I absolutely love contemporary books, and the mushier they are, the better. There’s just something about a great contemporary read that gets me in the mood for summer, and this is one of the best that I’ve read.

I first picked this book up because it takes place in Paris, and I was feeling a bit nostalgic about the time I had spent there in 2012. Not being able to travel pack to Paris, I decided to do the next best thing and pick up a book set in Paris, and I wasn’t disappointed. Anna spends her senior year of high school at a school for Americans in Paris. At first, she is very upset that she has to go, because she doesn’t want to leave her best friend and her crush behind, but Anna quickly warms up to Paris, and finds some amazing friends.

I think that the friendships in this book are stunning. No matter what happens between these characters, they are always there for one another. And there is quite a bit of drama that goes on in the group. But I mean, it’s high school, so it’s completely understandable. Through thick and thin, highs and lows, these characters are there for one another, even when they haven’t been the best of friends to one another. And I think that’s really important.

The romantic tension in Anna and the French Kiss is intense! There were so many instances where I wanted to yell at the characters that they just needed to OPEN THEIR EYES to see what was so clearly in front of them, but they were just too afraid to see things for what they really are. And I totally get it. I, too, am afraid of doing things that may seem scary, so I understand why these characters don’t want to admit their feelings. Don’t want to stand up to their parents. Don’t want to cause any conflict. I get it all, and I can relate to it on a really personal level, which is just another one of the reasons why I give Anna and the French Kiss 5/5 stars.

The Winner’s Curse – Book Review

Title: The Winner’s Curse

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Pages: 355 (hardcover)

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Published: March 14, 2014

Summary:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Review:

I absolutely loved this book. I’ve read it twice in the last three months, because I just couldn’t get the story out of my head. I think that The Winner’s Curse is set in such a unique world, and has many important messages about the world that we live in, veiled by a great story with interesting characters.

This book is just so swoony. The entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t help but wish that Kestrel and Arin would realize their feelings for one another, despite the many obstacles that they faced. Though I really wanted them together as soon as possible, because their tension was so obvious, I was happy that it took as long as it did for them to see their feelings, because it made it believable. I can’t stand when two characters have insta-love, even though that’s totally what I was hoping for with Kestrel and Arin.

Kestrel skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite female characters. She isn’t like the heroines of all of the other major YA books out there. She isn’t a skilled fighter or hunter. But Kestrel is smart, and strategic, and she embraces it to it’s fullest. Kestrel is independent, and despite her society’s rules regarding women, she manages to do what she wants.

I love the world that this book takes place in. It is so well thought out, and I could picture it in my head so clearly while I read the book. There’s a mix of fantasy and history, and it is definitely a world that I would like to visit. I can’t say as though I’d want to live there, because women can’t travel without an escort, but I would definitely be down to go to a few of the balls and parties that happen.

I’ve already read the entire trilogy, but am planning on rereading the other two books as well, and I’ll likely be doing reviews for Crime and Kiss as well. I give The Winner’s Curse 5/5 stars, but I would give it about a million more stars if I could.

At First Blush – Book Review

Summary:

Who would have thought that a teenager could have a successful career creating makeup tutorial videos on YouTube? For Lacey Robbins, this dream has been her reality. An up-and-coming YouTuber, she has thousands of fans and can’t wait for the day when her subscriber count reaches the one million mark. And when she is offered a high school internship at On Trend Magazine, she figures that this could be the make it or break it moment.

But sometimes your dream job isn’t all that it seems. Her editor is only interested in promoting junk products, and her boss in the Hair and Makeup department introduces her to the larger world of makeup artistry, making her wonder if making tutorials online is all she is meant to do. To top it all off, when the magazine’s feature subject, musician Tyler Lance, turns his broodingly handsome smile her way, falling for him could mean losing her fans, forcing her to make a decision: her YouTube life or her real life?

Review:

I loved this book so much! Spring has sprung, and I am fully in the mood for all of the contemporary books. This book definitely didn’t disappoint me!

LaceyBlushes gets the chance of a lifetime when she’s selected for an internship at a magazine, where she’ll vlog all the behind-the-scenes deeds about the magazine’s guest editor, but the experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Lacey finds that while things are going great for her YouTube channel, she is losing her passion for making videos. And to top it all off, she’s falling for someone that she never expected to.

I think that this book really did a great job of portraying that sometimes our dreams aren’t all they’re made out to be, and that sometimes we may think that we know what we want in life, when in reality we don’t. I think that that is something that scares a lot of people, myself included. With my college graduation nearing in a couple months, I’m absolutely terrified that once I actually get into the field, I’m not going to love my profession. Only time will tell.

One thing that bothered me about this book was Lacey’s obliviousness to things that were blatantly obvious to everyone else. Over time, this changes though, and Lacey realizes what an idiot she’s been about many things, and things start looking up for her.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars. At First Blush goes on sale April 4.

Girl In Pieces – Book Review

Summary:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Review:

This book was my favorite read of 2016. The subject matter is heavy, and dark, but so important and done so well. Going into this book, I didn’t really know just how dark it was going to get. Charlie’s character has been through so much, and so have the people that she knows. This book made my heart heavy with sorrow for those who go through life feeling like they are alone and that things will never get better.

The writing in Girl In Pieces is absolutely beautiful. It is written in a diary-like style. In the beginning of the novel, the entries are short; Charlie doesn’t trust whoever it is that she’s writing to (herself, her therapist, just a diary?) with the truth of what happened to her. She is a selective mute, traumatized by her experiences. Over time, Charlie opens up, both to people in her life and to the reader. The writing manages to get so much emotion across without much effort.

I think the most important thing about this book is that it reminded me you never really know what people are going through, underneath whatever face they put on for the public to view. It reminded me to be kind to others, because you never know what might tip someone over the edge. Everyone should read this book.

I gave Girl In Pieces 5/5 stars. For me, it’s a definite must read.