Welcome to yAdult Review, a space where two girls review novels from across the genres, from YA and MG, to fantasy and sci-fi, to historical fiction and mystery, with a sprinkling of non-fiction too. We hope you enjoy your stay here as much as we enjoy ours.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

16034235Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Release Date: May 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star (3.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world. – Goodreads

Review:

I read this book when it first came out and I was not kind. It was not a book for me. Wrong book, wrong time blahblahblah bullshit. In all honesty I’m not even sure I finished it. I have no memory when it comes to this book. Then all of my friends loved and adored it. Was I missing something? I had to be missing something. I knew this but then books come and go and this stayed on the back burner. Nothing personal. Just time and grad school and life. Finally two of my favorite book pushers got together in the same town, flailed about it and fiiiine, I gave it a second shot.

This Celaena is not the Celaena I remember reading the first time around. This one is snarky. She’s bad ass. She takes no shit. I love it. I understand the book has not changed, but me, the reader has. Or finally, right book, right time. I joke with my friend Lauren I can only read this genre when I’m on a plane. That’s the only moment I can get sucked in. So the fact I got caught up in this book while on the ground speaks volumes.

Celaena was chosen to fight, as she is an assassin and seriously this girl takes no shit. She doesn’t watch her mouth, she doesn’t care about what she wears, and it’s awkward for her to sleep on a bed. She doesn’t even look twice at  the Crown Prince because puhlease there are more important things to be on the look out for. (Although, of course this slightly changes later on!)

Throughout the novel, Celaena love of books constantly gave me hearts in my eyes. What Celaena wasn’t aware of was when she came to court, that everyone would seemingly view her as the Prince’s harlot and she didn’t want that, there was more to her than that (and of course the fact it wasn’t true!) She hated being seen as Ms. Prim and Priss. She’s a bad ass and she’s fine who who she is. There were 23 men between her and freedom and she barely blinked. As someone who reads a fairly heavily amount of YA, it was fascinating to read a female character that she knew what she was getting into and she was fine with it. She wanted to be closer to her own freedom, even if that meant killing.

What was also fascinating to me was the dynamic Celaena has with men in this book. To be blunt: she doesn’t care for them. Her purpose is to get out of slavery. The Captain of the Guard, Chaol, and the Prince, Dorian, are just in the way of her victory. While yes, they are attractive that just is stopping her from the one thing she wants. Freedom. In her way are a gaggle of men who also want to be the King’s Champion. The 23 also have something that they are worth fighting for. They are just underestimating her because what everyone was told was that she’s a  “jewel thief.” Because of this they without blinking underestimate her because what can a simple jewel thief do. And she uses that to her advantage, as she should! Then she shows them. While she is supposed to fly under the radar, and she does try, she also gets them all to shut up with a simple bow and arrow.

That being said, the Assassin is not perfect at everything, she sucks at pool and it annoys her that she isn’t perfect. Particularly because she was caught by Dorian. One half of the slow burn love triangle. A love triangle that I was actually okay with. Where love triangles rarely work for me this one did because it was slow and realistic. If at the beginning Maas would have had Celaena jump one of the boy’s bones I would have had problems believing it because she was so focused on her training. Slowly though, as time moved on, a realistic interest in both boys occurs. However, there is a point where the love triangle makes me start to shake the book because it started to seem forced. It seemed Maas tried to turn the triangle into something it wasn’t.

That being said, I will be reading Crown of Midnight because I heard it was even better and I also know if I don’t there are at least three people who will come to my house and force me into reading it.

Magnolia by Kristi Cook

16059149Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over. – Goodreads

Review:

Oh this book. HEARTS IN MY EYES FOR THIS BOOK. I honestly did not expect to love Magnolia as much as I did, but Jemma and her personality sucked me in.

Magnolia is the story of Jemma, who from the moment she was born was set up to be with Ryder Marsden. Their families have been BFFs for years, but nothing has really worked out where the two families could become one, until Jemma and Ryder were born, within six weeks of each other. Their parents were BFFs throughout college and in the case of their fathers, their whole lives. Jemma wants none of it.

In eighth grade, Ryder was a jerk to Jemma in front of his friends and that has stung her and she holds a bit of a grudge. The thing about Jemma and Ryder is they are teenagers through and through. As an adult, I wanted to slap them and tell them to just talk, but things don’t work out that easily when you’re teenagers. Heck, they don’t work out that easily when you’re an adult! While a lot of their problems would have been worked out if they just talked, there was something sweet and organic about the way they did work out.

Magnolia takes place in Mississippi in the middle of storm season, Jemma’s parents go out of town for a family emergency and they tell her if anything goes wrong to contact Ryder. Ryder is always there for her, in a friendly way. During this storm however, slowly they begin to get closer and understand each other better than they ever did. They bond over how similar their lives are and how much they hate that their lives have been planned out by their mothers. Ryder will be the perfect SEC quarterback and Jemma will be the perfect deb who is also a Delta Gamma. These are things that they aren’t sure they want themselves, but their mothers are super sure that this is THE PLAN.

Jemma, for years played the perfect daughter. While she isn’t the textbook Southern Miss., she is very nearly perfect. Cheerleader, good younger daughter, loving sister, A-student, she is sick of her life being planned for her. She wants to go to NYU, she wants to do film school and be her own person. Her parents don’t understand this. They want her to be that perfect mold of a daughter that worked out so well for their eldest. As a reader, Jemma wasn’t perfect, I spent most of the book frustrated at her because I kept yelling “USE YOUR WORDS” to her, even though Jemma is by far one of the most self-aware characters I’ve ever read. There was a point during Magnolia that Jemma was questioning some of her life choices up to that point and she questioned herself if it was a form of rebellion purely because of  boredom and this box her mother constantly puts her into?

This book was such a refreshing read from what I was reading around this book. I started it at 10:30PM one night and stayed up to after 1AM finishing the book. I miss reading books like that. I want more books like Magnolia.

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson

16429619The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1) by Mary E. Pearson
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt
Source: Publisher
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love. – Goodreads

Review:

One of the joy of having friends in the book world is they are excellent book pushers. It’s not only clear I would know about a lot less books (obviously) but I would never have picked up this book. My friend Ksenia pushed this book and she pushed it hard and am I glad. I understand, yes, it’s her job, but this was so far out of my comfort zone it would have never dawned on me that I would enjoy it and you know what, I really did.

Princess Lia’s life has been set up for her from the moment she was born as the First Daughter, she had no choice in the matter, until she decides, yes, she has a choice.  And then chapter two happened! Lia is not the ordinary princess, sh’e pretty bad ass and willing to work when needed. Which made this a super fascinating book to me as a reader. I’m very much over books in which girls fawn and boys do everything for them. Lia made it clear that she did not need a man to survive, the assistance of her maid? Yes, but anyone else? No.

What also made this a fascinating story to me is the fact that it’s told from three point of views. Lia, Rafe, and Kaden. What the three don’t know, but the reader does, is that one of the men is the Prince that Lia ditched and the other was here, to this distance village, to kill her. I wasn’t sure it would work because it is a little out there, but it does and then the reader starts to root for a particular guy and it becomes questionable, is it the Prince? Is it the killer? Even being in their mind, you still don’t know. Speaking of the love triangle, while it worked for The Kiss of Deception, it did not work personally for me, it almost bogged the story down for me. That is also partly because I’m over love triangles. I know, a YA reader who is sick of love triangles, what is that madness, but I am. It got to the point I didn’t really care what boy she chose, but I was more interested to find out who was the killer and who was the prince. Which had me guessing for quite sometime.

However, the story still was an enjoyable read for me. What works is the bonding and growth that occurs between the characters in this story purely because of the turmoil that they have been put in. Lia starts the story, as an extremely boring, flat character, for me. But by the end she is so badass that I’m glad I continued on reading the book because she wants to fight for what is hers. I went from wanting to skim this book to devouring it needing to know what happens. I cannot wait for book two.

 

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

15826648Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true. – Goodreads

Review:

My life with my dear friend Erica is based on few things: a little bit of food, a lot of snark and book recommendations. Erica has never recommended me a book that I didn’t like. It’s a joke between us by this point because she has such spot on recommendations for me it’s nice.

This book was no different. I resisted reading it for months because it wasn’t a me book and what if I hated it? How could I look Erica in the face if I hated it? My worries were silly and not needed. Where the Stars Still Shine sucked me in right away. For various reasons. The first is this is a story I cannot remember reading before. What happens when you’re on the run with your mom and you get caught and are sent back to your father who always loved you and is trying? Callie’s mom has always loved her in her own way, but she was also a mom on the run who often looked out for herself and only herself. While Callie hates to think of her mom as selfish, she ultimately was selfish and now Callie has a dad who is trying to love her while not scaring her away.

It is a world that Callie really doesn’t know what to do with. She doesn’t know how to function when not on the run and putting down roots is something that confuses her. Why does she want to become comfortable with people if she she’ll just leave? Callie’s family loves her and seems to all live in this new city where her father lives. It’s the type of small town where everyone seems related but it’s big enough that people can still date.

While Callie adjust to having a dad, his wife and two brothers, she also has to adjust to the giant Greek family she comes from. The giant family who while thrilled she is back, is not only waiting for her to crack like her mother did, also wants her to be the child she was when she left and she’s not. If Callie is being honest with herself, she doesn’t know who she is. She has a cousin who jumps into the role of BFF, even though Callie didn’t ask, and the boy, Alex, that everyone asks her to stay away from but she doesn’t, because Callie has had to fend for herself for so long and have so many walls up, she doesn’t know any different.

This book swept me up and I didn’t want it to end. I hate that I feared it, because there was nothing to fear, it was everything I ask for in a YA novel: family, friends, finding yourself, love and the not perfect ending, but one with hope.

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

18459190Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: ALAMW2014
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run – Goodreads

Review:

I have been a fan of Laurie Faria Stolarz from the moment my bff put her books into my hands. They are not my typical light fluffy reads, but I still adore them. That also isn’t meant to be as negative as it sounds! Promise! They just are not my usual reads, but it is good for me to spread my reader wings!

I was thrilled when I got a chance to read Welcome to the Dark House, as someone who watches a lot of Criminal Minds this sounded right up my alley. While this book had a lot going for it, what didn’t work, in my opinion was the fact there were so many points of view. The author makes it work for the story to a point, but after about 30% of the novel, I started to get confused about who’s mind I was in and what they were bringing to the story. Ivy and Parker were the clear stand out to Welcome to the Dark House and the book could have gotten away being just from their views.

I wanted more from them, less from the other four. There is more to Ivy that I want to know. About her family, her past and while Welcome to the Dark House touches upon it there so, so, so much more that Stolarz could have delved into that she seemed to skip over to concentrate more on the six characters as a whole, sadly to me however, it didn’t work. It wasn’t nearly fleshed out as it could be. A lot of questions I asked that never got answered (and maybe they will be in book two?) As much as I make it sound like this book was wrong, there was a lot of good going for it. Stolarz knows how to write realistic teens who you may not relate to, but you know. She also knows how to write to the point you are gripping the book and you need to know what happened next. I was intrigued, even when I was annoyed, I was intrigued. I cannot wait to see what comes next.

“Picture it, Sicily…” (I)

Actually this is not a Golden Girls recap, although props to you if you caught that. This is going to be a recap of some of my favorite picture books I’ve read recently!
20706273

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In this interactive and engaging read-aloud, bestselling author and award-winning artist Patrick McDonnell creates a funny, engaging, and almost perfect story about embracing life’s messes.
Little Louie’s story keeps getting messed up, and he’s not happy about it! What’s the point of telling his tale if he can’t tell it perfectly? But when he stops and takes a deep breath, he realizes that everything is actually just fine, and his story is a good one–imperfections and all – Goodreads

Review:

While at ALA in Las Vegas I had the chance to meet Patrick McDonnell on the recommendation of my BFFSarah who fangirled herself first. McDonnell does not disappoint and I quickly found out neither does Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. They have a solid line of picture books that I cannot believe I was not aware of. I want to read them all now. But this is the story of Little Louie, who wants his story to be perfect and as you can see from the cover, it is not perfect. He is not pleased. Super adorable quick read.

 
20980668

Pirate, Viking & Scientist by Jared Chapman
Publisher: 
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It:
Amazon | IndieBound

In this tale of a classic friendship conundrum, a determined little boy won’t rest until he proves his theory that you really can have more than one best friend!
Pirate is friends with Scientist. Scientist is friends with Viking. Pirate and Viking are NOT friends. What will Scientist do? Use his brain, of course! Scientist forms a hypothesis, conducts an experiment, observes his results, and tests his subjects again and again until he discovers the perfect formula for friendship– Goodreads

Review:

What do two people do when they have nothing in common but a third person? Fight! Of course! Thankfully their mutual friend is a scientist who is determined to make them get along and you know what, his formula for friendship is perfect and adorable.

 
18077827In New York by Marc Brown
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Marc Brown now calls New York City home, and with In New York, he shares his love for all that the city has to offer and all that it stands for, including the way it’s always changing and evolving. From its earliest days as New Amsterdam to the contemporary wonders of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building, to the kid-appealing subway, High Line, and so much more, Marc’s rollicking text and gorgeous illustrations showcase what he’s come to adore about New York after fulfilling his life-long dream to live in the city he fell in love with during a childhood visit.

This is at once a personal story from the beloved creator of Arthur, a useful primer for first-time travelers on what to see and do with kids in the Big Apple, and a perfect keepsake after a visit. It’s also a great gift for anyone who loves New York, the Crossroads of the World. New York! New York! It’s a heckuva town!– Goodreads

Review:

I don’t want to say that Marc Brown made my childhood, but he did. Arthur was my jam. And I told Marc Brown that when I saw him at ALA earlier this month. The chance to meet him was amazing and worth the line because he meant that much to me. While In New York is not Arthur, it is an excellent introduction to New York and what is there. Which, as this reader has never been to New York it was a fascinating read for me.

DNF Round Up: June

In a weird turn of event, I started to DNF books this year. Because of that, I am going to do a round up this month, because maybe you read one and enjoyed one and could tell me WHAT DID I MISSSS?!

21221953Never Mind the Bullocks: One Girl’s 10,000 km Adventure around India in the World’s Cheapest Car by Vanessa Able
Release Date: September 1, 2014
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Source: Edelweiss

Reason: DNF at 44%.

I was bored. Didn’t care. Found her to have clear white views on an Eastern country and not owning those views.  Dude, you’re a wealthy white woman in a third world country, you had to know things wouldn’t be perfect and while the writing was strong, I was too annoyed to continue on.

 

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Release Date: September 24, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Edelweiss

Review: DNF at 34%.

I may come back to later. Bored and don’t care. While I was interested in it and everyone in my life seemed to love and adore it, I could not get into it. Afterworlds is two books in one and I struggled to get into both of them. I felt Darcy acted like an idiot (she is a teenager) and the story Darcy wrote never grabbed me.

 


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