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.

Mini Reviews (I)

20613491Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1) by Josephine Angelini
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Source: ALA 2014
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected. – Goodreads

Review:

Oh Lily, I wanted to like you. I sympathized with you so much, until I realized how much of a Mary Sue you were and then I just wanted you off my page. The first two chapters of Trial By Fire when Lily is in present day Salem dragged for me so much to the point I debated DNF. While the book picked up when Lily entered New Salem, I found the whole book to be slow and not of much excitement to me.

What was of excitement for me, was Rowan. Rowan was snarky and didn’t really have time for Lily, but was also fiercely protective of Lily because he knew how Lily’s counterpart, Lillian, in New Salem really was. While I found Angelini’s writing to be strong, I also was bored throughout Trial by Fire, besides Rowan, I didn’t care about…anything.

 

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The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Release Date: June 6, 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Audio from library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.– Goodreads

Review:

This book is one of those that is impossible to review. Because to talk about it gives anything away, but I will admit that the audio was amazing and made me want to keep listening to it. I went into this book knowing nothing about it because all of my friends wanted me to be surprised and I’m glad. Because the layers that Carey creates throughout this novel, I was honestly shocked until the very last moment.

 

22693178A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11) by Jacqueline Winspear
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Harper
Source: ALAMW 2015
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Maisie Dobbs returns in a powerful story of political intrigue and personal tragedy: a brutal murder in the British garrison town of Gilbraltar leads the investigator into a web of lies, deceit and danger

Spring 1937. In the four years since she left England, Maisie Dobbs has experienced love, contentment, stability—and the deepest tragedy a woman can endure. Now, all she wants is the peace she believes she might find by returning to India. But her sojourn in the hills of Darjeeling is cut short when her stepmother summons her home to England; her aging father Frankie Dobbs is not getting any younger.

But on a ship bound for England, Maisie realizes she isn’t ready to return. Against the wishes of the captain who warns her, “You will be alone in a most dangerous place,” she disembarks in Gibraltar. Though she is on her own, Maisie is far from alone: the British garrison town is teeming with refugees fleeing a brutal civil war across the border in Spain.

Yet the danger is very real. Days after Maisie’s arrival, a photographer and member of Gibraltar’s Sephardic Jewish community, Sebastian Babayoff, is murdered, and Maisie becomes entangled in the case, drawing the attention of the British Secret Service. Under the suspicious eye of a British agent, Maisie is pulled deeper into political intrigue on “the Rock”—arguably Britain’s most important strategic territory—and renews an uneasy acquaintance in the process. At a crossroads between her past and her future, Maisie must choose a direction, knowing that England is, for her, an equally dangerous place, but in quite a different way – Goodreads

Review:

I have never hidden the fact that I adore Maisie Dobbs and this book is no different. What I didn’t adore was the fact in the first 5% of the book I was almost in tears because so much sadness happened to Maisie and I really, really, really, just want Maisie to be happy. But throughout this book, Maisie does learn to be happy. Or a new version of happy. My heart still hurts of course.

 

22557272The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Audio from Library
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. – Goodreads

Review:

My friend warned me when I started this novel. She told me I would have problems with it, but to stick it out til the end, so I did, because I trust her. But this was a very hard book for me to read. I couldn’t get into any of the characters. Everyone was the worst. I had problems finding that one thing that made me love the story. However, I will admit that Hawkins knows how to write a mystery. I was holding on til the very, very end in shock of what had happened.

 

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

5655218This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: May 27, 2002
Publisher: Speak
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star (3.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?– Goodreads

Review:

After the period where all I read was Sarah Dessen I had to take a break. From the fact the books started to run together and that  I needed to mix it up. The joys of being a mood reader is that this happens. The good news is that I’m three books away from having read all of them, much to the joy of my friend Sarah who has to deal with me in bookstores yelling about the fact the covers of Dessen’s books never match (Hi Sarah! Thanks for putting up with me!)

This Lullaby is the comfortable Sarah Dessen that we know, this book takes place in the same setting as her other ones, and deals with problems that everyone faces in their own way. Remy doesn’t believe in love. She has no faith in love, what she has faith in is that A + B = C, the sky is blue and that she has to get out of this town. While no one believed in her, she believed in herself and worked her way out of her small town. At the end of summer she is going to Stanford and will be free of her life and her mother’s failed relationships.

Of course this is easier said than done, Remy has good friends, she’s close to her brother, and as much as she wants to deny it, she’s close with her mother, the woman who Remy believes keeps marrying everyone. Remy actually doesn’t believe in love because of her mother. After the fifth marriage, Remy finds it hard to believe in true love. What Remy doesn’t expect in her last summer at home is Dex. Adorable musician Dex who seems through Remy’s hardass outside shell.

I adored This Lullaby. I though how Dessen wrote that last summer at home before college was perfection, from friendships, to Remy’s natural snark level, I found This Lullaby to be one of my favorites of Dessen’s world.

Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. Gaughen

16181625Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. Gaughen
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star (2.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince’s clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all? – Goodreads

Review:

While I adored the first two books in this series I struggled with Lion Heart. I recently described Scarlet as perfection, Lady Thief as strong! female! book and then I held up my copy of Lion Heart where it took me a month to read half of it. I would love to say books take me that long when I love them and never want them to end, but generally that happens when I can’t get into them.

Lion Heart was no different. I struggled with it. While I loved Scarlet, Rob, and the merry band of characters that I’ve known to love from these characters, I found issues with getting back into the story and fought my way through the story. About 60% through it picked up for me and I finally had that A-HA! moment. While I do wish it would have come sooner, I am so glad that I stuck around for this ending. Gaughen doesn’t hold back and lays it all out on the table in this final book. I never was sure who was going to survive and who was going to die. While many authors take the safe, easy route when it comes to final books Gaughen did not. From scenes full of love to scenes full of fighting the book did move quickly, even though it did take me so long to get into.

What I enjoyed was how much Scarlet had grown since the first novel, Scarlet. She is very much the same character who was willing to fight for what she believed in, but she also learned multiple secrets from her past that change her, even though Scar tries to resist those changes for so long. While Lion Heart was a solid conclusion to the ending of the series, I do wish it wouldn’t have taken me so long to get into.

Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After #2) by Tessa Dare

20605274Say Yes to the Marquess (Castles Ever After #2) by Tessa Dare
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Avon
Source: Audio from library!
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and… and…?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

*He starts with flowers. Ladies can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.
*He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.
*He doesn’t kiss her.
*If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.
*When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown and vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.
*And no matter what, he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.. – Goodreads

Review:

Poor Clio, she was proposed to one day eight years ago and has heard nothing from him since then. Clio had enough and is going after Piers to break off their engagement. The only thing is that his brother, Rafe, stands in her way and oh do sparks fly between Clio and Rafe. Of course, they are both in denial about it. Clio made it clear that she does not want to be connected to his brother, and Rafe is determined to make the two marry within the month.

To accomplish this, he decides to start wooing her, but in the name of his brother, because the marriage what happens. What neither of them expects of course is to start falling for each other. While they are blatantly honest with each other, the two do not expect to work and bounce ideas off of each other. Rafe loathes that Clio is his brothers. He wants her, but he’s always wanted what his brother has had, Clio is no different.

But it’s more than that! Rafe actually falls in love with Clio and not only does he fall in love with her, but he also starts to woo her. To the point, while listening to this book, I was sighing out loud. I think part of them always knew they cared for the other person, but Piers was constantly in the way. Although he wasn’t in the picture for eight years, Rafe is still aware of the proper boxes that everyone belong in. What Dare does well is write a strong, yet slow burn. It was so so good between Clio and Rafe that it got to the point I wanted to push them together and yell “KISS!”

What I also enjoyed was that Clio and Rafe are two excellent standalone characters. They don’t need each other to survive, but they are so much better with each other. While Clio wants to run her own brewery, what she enjoys is that Rafe doesn’t laugh at her when he finds out. Her family does, they believe that she’s lying to them, but Rafe doesn’t think it’s funny. He sees how much Clio can stand on her own and be her own person. What neither of them wants to believe however is how good they would be together.

One of the things I adore about Dare’s writing is that she isn’t afraid to write humor, snarky humor with realistic banter. It makes me want more of the characters and this period.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

22754644Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.– Goodreads

Review:

There are very few people who’s book taste I trust because they know what is an “ASHLEY BOOK!” My friend Jen is one of those people, who have A+ tastes (besides her love of me obviously), so when she loved this book, I knew I had to read it. And I did not disappoint. I was on vacation recently and during a torrential downpour in which we stayed inside for pretty much 24 hours straight, I devoured this book. As soon as I started I was drawn into Simon’s story. I wanted more. Heck, I still want more.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda starts off on a sour note; Simon is being blackmailed by a classmate named Martin. While Simon is gay, and he doesn’t want to make a big deal out of it, Martin does. Martin wants to black Simon into helping Martin getting a date, with one of Simon’s friends who has no idea that Simon happens to be gay.

Simon doesn’t care that he’s gay, he knows his family and friends who care that he’s gay, but what he doesn’t understand is why he must come out and announce it. None of his straight friends come out with “HEY GUYS! I’M STRAIGHT!”

As a side note, don’t you think everyone should have to come out? Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it should be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying. —50%, eARC

What I loved about this book, and I loved a lot of things, was the fact at its heart this is a story about friendship. The friendship between Simon and Blue (who’s privacy he is fiercely protective of), his friendship with his family (who are a bit weird, but they’re his weird), and his group of friends who are changing (because it’s high school and everything is changing.) Simon vs The Homo Sapien Agenda hurt, but it hurt to read in a good way. This is easily a universal story which everyone will be able to seem themselves in, even those parts that hurt.

I didn’t know it was possible to laugh so hard at a book and debate crying as often as I did. Please note the only reason I didn’t cry was because I was surrounded by dogs who already tried to tackle me when I made a single noise. While I got a copy of this from my public library, I cannot wait to purchase a copy for myself.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

18333999Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Source: Netgalley
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they’ll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone’s heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she’s been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for. – Goodreads

Review:

This book has been on my radar…forever. I’ve had multiple friends read it, but I never got to it. And then I went to Amy Spalding’s book launch when I was in Los Angeles in April and her reading it sold me on the book. While I read this book, I would actually go back and listen to the audiobook of Spalding reading it because I enjoyed her reading it that much.

Ted Callahan was a complete gem. Full of humor, wit, friendships and family I wanted more of it. I wanted more of Riley, who was so painfully realistic I wanted to hug her at multiple points throughout the novel. While she could read juvenile, but I related so much to her. Seeing the boy that you’re in love with and then having to speak to him?! THEN WHEN YOU DO IT’S WORD VOMIT. Oh Riley, I understood why you had problems talking to Ted. I had problems talking to my own Ted. I thought I hid it so well. HAHA. Everyone knew. And look, I’m still alive!

Riley is trying to figure out life. Not just in the teen sense, but in the sense her BFF, who is in Riley’s band, is dating a fellow band member and now Riley feels left out. Riley and Reid, the other band mate in the four piece that is not dating, bond and become closer friends through a notebook where they write fairly inappropriate things.

I’m not sure the last time I laughed as hard as I laughed at Kissing Ted Callahan (and other guys.) While Riley is trying to figure out her life, her family and friends are too, and it’s painful and uncomfortable, but so, so, so real. What I enjoyed more than the laughter was the fact that Spalding made friendship as important if not more important than the love story, and you guys know my feelings on strong female friendships!

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass

10507293The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.  – Goodreads

Review:

After not one but two of my BFFs told me “ASHLEY READ THIS SERIES THIS IS A SERIES FOR YOU.” I have decided to give it a shot. Thanks library for your audiobook.

The Selection starts out easy enough. America Singer, lives in a caste system and has a chance to get out of the lower caste system. Of course America doesn’t want out of the system, she enjoys her life, her family, and the boy that she’s in love with, Aspen. A line that sets the feeling of the world she lives in is:

I hope you marry for love, and not a number.

That stayed with me throughout listening to The Selection and how much the caste system stayed with them. There seems to be two types of people in this world. Those who want to be chosen and those who just want to live without being part of the party. While America signs up (because of her mom), she has no interest in marrying the Prince. She just wants to be with Aspen, even though part of her knows that will never happen. Of course, it’s no surprise to the reader that America is chosen for the competition. America obviously does not care. She isn’t even putting that much effort into it, she’s actually just being herself, which is actually working in her favor when it comes to the public.

While America is dreading the thought of this game show spectacle and arranged marriage, Prince Maxon is fine with it. His parents met this way and they are perfectly happy. What I enjoyed was Prince Maxon calling America out on her bullshit, particularly when she doesn’t even try. I mean, day two the Prince asks if she has feelings for him. DAY TWO.  I am all for love at first sight, and believe in it when it comes to me and a particular banjo playing hipster musician, but that is not the point.

What I found interesting was the dynamic between all the girls, and of course the dynamic between the Prince and America. The Prince, of course, knows just about nothing about the life in his country. The fact people have gone hungry is a shock to him. A legit shock. While I found use of particular tropes overrated, I did enjoy that the Prince and America seemed to organically fall in love. It wasn’t forced, there was a friendship, there was even jealousy. Although it has been used before, it was still nice to read.

The two of them are always there for each other, what America doesn’t expect is people from her past to appear at the castle and rock that friendship her life to the core. This book is nothing special and that is probably why I enjoyed it. It does have its problematic moments, and I believe if I would have read it instead of listening to it as an audiobook I probably would have quit. The narrator was A++ which helped me not quit.


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