Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kiss, Crush, Collide, by Christina Meredith

Leah is just like her sisters.  The youngest of three, she often feels like her life is predetermined, and she sees in future in the paths of her sisters.  She feels as if she has no control of that path, until she meets a boy who will rock her world.  Will she be strong enough to be her own person, despite what it may cost her?

This is kind of like a Harlequin romance for teens.  The story is not awful, but also not exceptional.  The characters of not developed to a deep, meaningful level, just enough to keep the story moving at a decent pace.  This is a standard young adult type book; in terms of the writing it is quite appropriate for young adults, but not enough story or drama to really pull in an adult reader.

I really did like Leah's character, and felt she was pretty relatable.  I think many young female readers will connect to her yearning to be her own person; personal identity is a real struggle for so many young adults.  However, the Porter character is so much of a mystery to me.  I mean, we do not even know his real name for half the book, he barely speaks.  I just do not "get" him I guess.

All in all, this book was just O.K.  Nothing earth shattering, and not likely to draw many adult readers.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Spellbinder, by John Booth

It's 1860 England, and magical ability is a matter of national defense.  A special military force is comprised of people with various levels of magical ability, but Britain's most prized possessions are the Class A Spellbinders, the most skilled soldier.  Which is why a teenage Laura is shocked to learn that she, in fact, is a Class A Spellbinder, and will be sent to a school in a top secret location, both for her own protection and to receive training.  She is accompanied by her new friend, Tom, a skillful Healer.  It becomes apparent upon their arrival at the school that all is not as it seems, and they are in grave danger.

Magic.  Steampunk.  British military.  Espionage.  Teenage hormones.  What a combination.  I loved every minute of it.  John Booth once again creates a vivid storyworld with his revision of the Victorian British Empire as it might have been with the help of magic.  I am beyond impressed with the rich, detailed backstory Booth weaves in order to set the story up, particularly because he does so in a way that does not detract from the plot.  This is the first book in a new series, and I am so excited to see where the author goes with this series.

I found the characters to be just as vivid, and felt, quite quickly, as if I actually knew them.  It was thrilling to me to see such strong female characters written by a male author.  I liked seeing the surprising twists that occurred with some of the characters throughout the book, and it made me excited for the possibilities in the later installments in the series.

There are obvious similarities between this book and the Harry Potter series (especially the later Potter books), but there is a lot of unique content to the book as well.  I think fans of steampunk and fantasy fiction will appreciate the series.  While some themes are mature and adult, it seems no cheekier than many other young adult books I have read, and would be appropriate for most teen readers.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Never Eighteen, by Megan Bostic

Austin is a 17 year old boy; he will never be 18.  He knows this because he is battling a terminal illness.  As Austin comes to terms with his fate, he is determined to make a difference in the lives of those around him.  He decides to take time out to right some wrongs, accomplish some goals, and make sure those who love him know he loved them back.

Grab your tissues, because you are going to need them.  Perhaps it was the fatalistic beauty, or perhaps having a 17 year old nephew named Austin made this hit too close to home.  Whichever it was, this book was like a knife directly into my heart.  As I neared the end, I literally wept in my bed.  This book is so incredibly touching.

I absolutely loved Austin's character, and all the things he stood for.  Here is an incredibly brave, and beautifully flawed young man on a journey.  I really enjoyed learning about Austin through the visits he made and the goals he accomplished.  I felt like he was written in a very realistic manner.  I really enjoyed watching Austin complete his bucket list of sorts, and I found him to be very endearing.  While we meet many lesser characters through Austin's activities, I never felt overwhelmed with characters or storyline.  In the end, this is Austin's story.

I thought that this book handles some really tough topics adeptly.  Terminal illness, rape, divorce, teen death, drug addiction, teen sexuality... many authors will not touch one of these topics, let alone take them all on.  I feel like because this book did not shy away from the difficult topics, it will really resonate with teen readers.  These issues are real, and teens face them every day.

I was really moved by this book.  The writing is simple and straightforward, yet the story and characters are touching and poignant.  A really powerful read about making the most of the life you are given, this book will appeal to both teen and adult readers.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program.