Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

In preparation for Apollycon this month, I was trying to read as many signing authors as I could beforehand. I’ve had it on my shelf for way too long so it was way past due. As soon as I finished, I was immediately kicking myself for waiting as long as I did.

I will say, I did have an ulterior motive for having this on my shelf. I read it for my teens. As you know, I am always on the look out for things that they will read. They are quite picky, so I find myself reading YA books with them in mind, every single time. I’m happy to say that I think they’ll like it. Only one scene that’ll make my anti-romance daughter cringe but I’m okay with that.

SYNOPSIS
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

Because this is listed as a #1 in a series, many people, including myself are leery about starting an unfinished series. But fear not, these books are interconnected standalones. Which basically is another reason I’m a dummy for waiting so long. I went in thinking I needed to wait til closer to book two since it was gonna be a cliffy. I was wrong. If you, or someone you know, enjoy action packed fantasy YA books, then grab a copy and pull up a chair.

Very exciting and adventurous. I thoroughly enjoyed all the banter. Some parts had me outright giggling. The friendship bond these characters had was so refreshing. They were a family. I wanted to be a part of it. This ragtag group of fugitives will have your emotions all over the place and loving every moment of it.

At some point during this haphazard journey, she’d fallen in love with a bespectacled kleptomaniac, a star-crossed seducer and his displaced princess, and, most of all, an infuriating blue blood who used to call her Rattail. She learned that home was a fluid thing, and whether on a planet, on a satellite, or on a rusted bucket of a ship, this crew was her home.

~Melpomene

Buy Starflight HERE

Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

28686840

For a long time, young adult novels pretty much ran the gamut from surviving a bully to falling in everlasting love.  Thankfully times have changed somewhat.  Today’s authors are giving us stories full of believable characters, not just those who fit into a stereotypical mold of the perfect teenager.

Libby has A LOT of things going against her.  She’s overweight, significantly so.  She’s never had a boyfriend.  Her mom is dead.  She’s been homeschooled for the past several years and is way out of touch with the high school scene. She has no friends and has been bullied in the past.  And, oh yeah, she achieved national notoriety when she had to be cut out of her house because of her weight.

But she also has a lot going for her.  She has a loving father.  She’s lost a ton of weight since that infamous incident.  She’s funny, kind, smart, and resilient as all get out.  And she’s back in school after so many years away.  Of course there are struggles, but Libby’s up for the challenge.

And then there’s Jack.  As one of the popular, cool kids he’s the exact opposite of Libby on the outside.  But he has his problems and insecurities, too.  His swagger and confidence comes from a place of insecurity and shame.  He’s covering up a secret that he’ll do anything to protect.

Although Jack and Libby seem to have nothing in common, they’re unwillingly thrown together as the result of a cruel prank.  They find friendship first, and then something more.  Is it possible that two such different people can actually be happy together?

This is kind of a sappy romance book, which I’m usually not a fan of.  But I loved Libby’s spunk and her spirit.  She’s strong and confident as she flies in the face of everyone’s idea of the perfect teenager.  I would only wish that all young girls could have such confidence.  It’s very good most of the time.  Granted, there are parts of the story that were highly unbelievable for me just because I know how society treats people who are different.   It’s certainly something to wish for, though.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Holding Up the Universe

 

Review: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

01lon There’s something about a Katie McGarry book that makes me wanna buy 10 copies and pass them out to all the teens I know. She is the queen of the ‘coming of age’ genre. I hope my daughter will start to like romance so I can pass all of these along to her.

Ever since Violet’s dad died, she’s wanted to leave the MC world and move on in peace, but she’s stuck. Her mom won’t leave, so she’s has to stay and try and protect her brother, and her heart, from the world that stole her dad from them.

Chevy has loved Violet for as long as he can remember but this life isn’t what she wants. Heck, this life stole his dad from him also, so he’s not sure if this is the life him either. When he’s 18 he needs to make a formal decision, but he’s not sure what to do. But when he and Violet get threatened, he must make a choice, even if it changes everything. His life will never be the same, no matter what. He loves her so much, but if she needs to walk away, he has to let her, even if it kills him.

Violet has always been my best friend, but it’s more than that. She’s always been a piece of me, and without her the world was cold, a bitter freeze that cut to the bone.

I loved Violet. She was willing to give up the boy she loved, in order to not have him choose. But when the past catches up with her, she must make some very hard decision about this “family” of hers, in order to protect them. She stood up to the men who, in her eyes, got her dad killed, and that had to be terrifying for her. But she was done and I commend her. She didn’t take crap from any of them, even if it scared her to death.

I love seeing Chevy, Violet, Oz and Razor together. They grew up together and they may not be blood but they’re family. I love these characters. They’re not perfect, but, to each other, they are.

Violet and Chevy must look inside themselves to find the right path. The decision will not be easy, and will make them question everything they thought they knew about who their family is and why things happened the way they did. So many new revelations that I didn’t see coming. But in the end they both have to make tough calls in the name of love and hope they make the right ones.

~Melpomene

Release date Jan 31, 2017
Preorder Long Way Home HERE

Review: The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

20760053

I can’t remember the last time I read a book with such a fitting title.  I mean, when you’re talking about navigating the world of high school as a confused and misguided teenager,  it truly does become the most dangerous place on earth.

The story really begins a few years before.  Something very tragic happened in middle school.  And while certain people were definitely to blame, very few will admit it.  Fast forward to high school.  Same kids, different problems. Switching back and forth between several characters, we hear it all.  Bullying, both face to face and online.  Drug and alcohol use.  Hooking up.  Hooking up with teachers.  Being ignored by parents.  Just because your parents are loaded doesn’t make these problems, and a myriad of others, any less damaging. Some people are resilient and able to move on.  Some people pretend they’re okay but they aren’t really.  Who you are in high school and what you choose to do can determine the rest of your life.

This story is dark. It’s depressing.  And it leaves little hope for the state of the American teenager in today’s world. But it’s also very realistic as much as parents and other adults might want to think otherwise.  The issues presented are happening.  Maybe not all at the same time and in the same school but still.

I must also caution that, although this is described as a young adult book, I would leave it for older and more mature teens only.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Review: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

25546710

A couple of years ago, I discovered the magical world of ARCs.  Oh the joy in receiving a book before the “rest of the world”, being able to dive into it before anyone else can get their hands on it.  But the best part of reading advanced copies for me is finding new authors with outstanding debut novels.  Such is the case with this one.

Hawthorn has never been one to follow along with  everyone’s idea of normal. She doesn’t fit into any group at school, has one good friend, a hippie for a mom, and an active imagination.  So when Lizzie Lovett mysteriously disappears, Hawthorn takes it upon herself to find out just what happened to the town’s golden girl.

But she takes things a bit too far, as with most things she does.  Working in the diner where Lizzie was employed, visiting the woods where she was last seen, getting friendly with Lizzie’s boyfriend…all in the name of solving a missing person’s case.   And of course, she gets more than she bargained for.

This is an interesting book to review.  I’m not quite sure what it is.  A mystery, sure, but not in the truest sense.  A story of teen angst and drama, possibly.  But aren’t all teens full of angst and drama?  A romance…maybe a tad.  In any case, it’s good.  Hawthorn is funny, and she’s admirable as a leading teen character.  And the ending is satisfying with every question being answered.  A good story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

 

Review: Gregor the Underland Chronicles

51b3olstikl-_sx381_bo1204203200_

As a teacher, I’m often asked for kids’ book recommendations.  And I’m always looking for great books to offer to kids.  One series that always gets top mention is the Gregor Chronicles.

Written by Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame, this is a milder, gentler series for younger readers not quite ready for that world.  With Gregor as our hero, we are taken to a world hidden deep beneath the streets of New York City.  His adventures bring him into contact with giant rats, bats, and roaches among others.  There are legends to be followed, and destinies to be realized.

It’s not without violence, however, as there are deaths along the way.  However, I was able to read and recommend this series to second graders with no hesitation. And older readers have no fear. This is still one of my favorites to read MYSELF.

The boxed set makes an excellent gift and truly should only be bought that way as eager eyes are sure to zip through the first volume and immediately look for the next.  Happy reading!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Gregor the Underland Chronicles

Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Illustrated Edition

51mii4p2yyl

Even in this age of ebooks, even with my dedication to my Kindle, there’s a place for real, actual books. And this is one of those places.

Simply beautiful.  That’s the only way to describe this newish addition to the Harry Potter family.  I say newish because this first one came out last year with the second volume available now.

Some people will say that an illustrated version of these timeless stories messes it up by putting another person’s visions in our heads.  I disagree. Because chances are, if you are buying these hardcover books for yourself or for a loved one, you’ve already read the original stories multiple times.  And you’ve seen the movies. So for me, these books are just another take on a much loved story.  And they absolutely do justice to the originals.

So grab these amazing books.  They make great gifts. And it’s okay to gift yourself from time to time!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets