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.

The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari

24819554The League of Unexceptional Children by Gitty Daneshvari
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: ALA2015
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Are you average? Normal? Forgettable? If so, the League of Unexceptional Children is for you! This first book in a hilarious new adventure series is for anyone who’s struggled to be noticed in a sea of above-average overachievers.


What is the League of Unexceptional Children? I’m glad you asked. You didn’t ask? Well, you would have eventually and I hate to waste time. The League of Unexceptional Children is a covert network that uses the nation’s most average, normal, and utterly unexceptional children as spies. Why the average kids? Why not the brainiacs? Or the beauty queens? Or the jocks? It’s simple: People remember them. But not the unexceptionals. They are the forgotten ones. Until now!
. – Goodreads

Review:

The League of Unexceptional Children is the story of two unrememberable children, Jonathan and Shelley. Two kids from Washington D.C., who are meant to save the world. The thing is Johnathan and Shelley really don’t want to save the world. That’s meant for people who are meant to save the world and that’s not them. They’re unexceptional. They’re middle of the road. They don’t understand why they’re being recruited except, that’s exactly why they’re being recruited. They’re wanted because people don’t remember them.

With the use of humor and an excellent plot Daneshvari takes the reader on an interesting story. Unfortunately the characters were a little too unexceptional and I couldn’t wait for the story to end.

My friend Jen and I are obsessed with middle grade obsessed. So this book was a pleasant surprise at the Little Brown booth during this year’s ALA. However, sadly, this book was a bit of a let down. It just moved too slowly for me to get involved in the story.

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

20922826What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarstarstar (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Kate Weston can piece together most of the bash at John Doone’s house: shots with Stacey Stallard, Ben Cody taking her keys and getting her home early—the feeling that maybe he’s becoming more than just the guy she’s known since they were kids.

But when a picture of Stacey passed out over Deacon Mills’s shoulder appears online the next morning, Kate suspects she doesn’t have all the details. When Stacey levels charges against four of Kate’s classmates, the whole town erupts into controversy. Facts that can’t be ignored begin to surface, and every answer Kate finds leads back to the same question: Where was Ben when a terrible crime was committed?

This story—inspired by real events—from debut novelist Aaron Hartzler takes an unflinching look at silence as a form of complicity. It’s a book about the high stakes of speaking up, and the razor thin line between guilt and innocence that so often gets blurred, one hundred and forty characters at a time. – Goodreads

Review:

This book is a hard one to review, not because it’s a horrible book (it’s not), not because of the subject matter, or the writing or anything like that but because it was so well done. Hartzler used his first fiction book to tackle a tough subject, what happens if you’re at a party and someone is raped. Is staying silent the best thing? Should you question the status quo?

In What We Saw, Kate Weston is a normal teenage girl in a small down. She is trying to figure her life out in Iowa when everything changes. Not only does she get a boyfriend, someone she has known all of her life, but also a girl she knows accuses four boys from the basketball team of rape. Basketball in this town is God. It’s actually bigger than God, and these boys are looked upon as those who can get away with anything. They are literally untouchable.

With an unflinching writing style, Hartzler tackles not only high school, but also family, friendships, and what people do when they disappoint you. Kate was fine with her life. She was content with everything.

For a little while, I was just a girl watching her boyfriend playing backetball –excited and cheering -and wishing things could always be just that simple. —eARC 91%

But the more that people talk about the night of John Doone’s party the more Kate can’t just sit still. Even though her father request that she essentially stays complaisant she can’t. Kate actually becomes a vocal feminist for how wrong this is, particularly when it comes out that there was a video of the night, not just photos. And wait, where was Ben that night? Because he went back to the party right?

I found it fascinating that Hartlzer didn’t take the side of the girl who was raped. What We Saw is unnerving view of life on the outside, being one who wasn’t effected, but actually was effected more than they expected. Hartzler doesn’t take sides, what he does is create this world that the reader feels part of and feels pulled into. I started this book and finished it within 24 hours. Heck, even now I want to know more about what happened. I found it to be that good. This book won’t be leaving me for quite sometime.

A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram #1) by Lauren DeStefano

20499923A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Source: ALAMW 2015
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star (3.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed. – Goodreads

Review:

A Curious Tale of the In-Between is that middle grade novel I believe the world needs. Pram is a special person, she can talk to ghosts. For the longest time she didn’t even know that this was a particularly special skill.

I went into this book knowing nothing but my friend Erica recommended it to me. When I had the chance to get an ARC at ALAMW in Chicago I jumped on it and it was not a disappointment. I gobbled up the first 30% of the novel before I even knew it. There was a solid portion of the middle I’m sure others will find exciting, and while I didn’t, the three act did pick back up for me and left me wanting more of Pram and her world.

The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh


23467595The Truth about Twinkie Pie
by Kat Yeh
Release Date: January 25, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Source: Audiobook from Library!
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

“A quirky, heartwarming coming-of-age debut novel about a girl who s out of her element but up for the challenge”

Take two sisters making it on their own: brainy twelve-year-old GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei, a name she never says out loud) and junior-high-dropout-turned-hairstylist DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). Add a million dollars in prize money from a national cooking contest and a move from the trailer parks of South Carolina to the Gold Coast of New York. Mix in a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, a first crush, and a generous sprinkling of family secrets.

That s the recipe for “The Truth about Twinkie Pie,” a voice-driven middle grade debut about the true meaning of family and friendship.” – Goodreads

Review:

The Truth About Twinkie Pie is a stellar middle grade novel that just made my heart warm and fuzzy. It’s about a girl who learns to grow and yet stay the same. It’s a story that broke my heart (because she has a sister who loves her so much) and made me laugh all at the same time. This book has everything that is A++ in books: complex characters, complex family relationships, real life issues and is completely relatable. It also has strong female friendships! Which is something, as you know, is very close to me.

GiGi is a girl from the south and she’s proud of that. She misses her mom and loves that her sister watches over her. DiDi, her older sister is trying her hardest to have GiGi grow up to be a solid person meant for the world. Never once did I question how much DiDi loved her sister. GiGi could drive her crazy and up the wall, but there was always trust and love between the two of them. I also enjoyed how Yeh shows that just because someone’s life looks perfect doesn’t mean it is. Her friends all look like they all have these “perfect” lives, but they are struggling with her.

GiGi considers her sister to be stifling and overbearing her sister is just loving her the only way she knows how. She’s convinced everyone is judging her and they’re not. They’re worried about their own lives, but when you’re in middle school that’s not how your brain works. I get that. I also get that no matter how much you love someone, you sometimes feel like you need a break from someone. Or even find someone that actually listens to you when you’re surrounded by people who mean well, but don’t listen.

This book really is everything. It’s enjoyable. It’s heartbreaking. It makes you think. It’s a must read.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

18692431Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: ALAMW 2015
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star (4.5)
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. – Goodreads

Review:

I went into this book knowing it had a lot of buzz. What that buzz didn’t tell me was how perfect the drawings were or how perfect Madeline was because she’s flawed, she lives in a bubble with only her mom and her nurse, but she’s real. Not once in Everything, Everything did I think “Oh. Madeline. She’s so cardboard cutout.” She was constantly more than that. Madeline also lead me to second guess a lot of things. Relationships, the life you’ve been living being safe.

Everything, Everything also made me question forgiveness, growth. What it means to be an adult. How friendships change, even those who are convinced will never change. Madeline and her mother are characters I want everyone to know about because their relationship was so authentically real. Between them being close, but also with Madeline growing up and apart from her mother.

You know those perfect books that are next to impossible to describe? That’s Everything, Everything to me. This book had everything: a character finding herself, a really good relationship with her mother, a really good relationship with the literal boy next door, a good relationship with her nurse. There was so many good portions I had to give up trying to pick the right quotes for this review because there were just too many of them. Ones that made me laugh, ones that made me sad (because I related to them), ones that made me have the swoons. Everything, Everything really is..everything.

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

23719270Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Source:  ARC provided by publisher. (Thanks!)
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate. In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation. – Goodreads

Review:

It’s always interesting for me to read books that take place in Arizona, as I live here. I have this problem with the movie Bad Santa (which was to take place in Phoenix, but was clearly not filmed in Phoenix) or Take Me Home Tonight which was not to take place in Phoenix, but has multiple Phoenix landmarks. Yes. I am that person. I went into Vengeance Road hesitant, because could Bowman get the feel of Arizona right? And I’m so happy to say she did.

Throughout Vengeance Road I felt like I was up north in Prescott near Whiskey Row (which still exists) or to the west near Wickenberg, which I drive through often (usually on the way to Las Vegas.) I loved that feeling.

Vengeance Road is Erin Bowman’s debut into the western genre after her original trilogy and it did not disappoint. Bowman told the story of Kate, a gritty 18 year old who lives in the Arizona territory. Her life has been hard and because her father recently died she is out for revenge. Through use of imagery, amazing characters, and language Bowman makes the world come to life.

Vengeance Road is truly a western. Bowman packs punches with bullets flying, treasure maps, Kate acting as a man to survive. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the fact that Vengeance Road took me awhile to get into. I struggled with Kate as a character and her story, but once I got into it, I could not put it down. I was dying to know how it was going to end and that end? Bowman surprised me in the best way possible.
Although I struggled with the book at the beginning, the book as a whole was an amazing. The characters were everything I wanted, the swoons were there, the twists were there it was worth a read and I’ll be heavily recommending it.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich


24396858The Dead House
by Dawn Kurtagich
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Little Brown
Source: ARC provided by NOVL newsletter
Rating: starstarblank_starblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Debut author Dawn Kurtagich is dead on in this terrifying psychological thriller!

Over two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…

…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.

But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?

The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.

The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known – Goodreads

Review:

This book sounds perfect. Horror that is told in transcripts, diaries, and notes. Yet, it fell extremely flat for me. I wanted to quit The Dead House multiple times. That may have been because this is the second book with DID (dissociative identity disorder or multiple personalities) that I read in about a three book period. I also had a hard time following the story. The natural rhythm of the story never worked for me.

There is also a lot going on in this story that you can’t really talk about because that gives away too much about the story but I was constantly putting this book down unsure of what was going on. Between plot, characters and pacing The Dead House fell extremely flat for me.

I also had problem with how many characters there were and I kept getting them confused and putting them together. I feel with more editing this book could have really shined.


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