Category Archives: Young Adult

The Pretenders (Pretenders, #1) by Lisi Harrison

Title: Pretenders
Author: Lisi Harrison
Series: Pretenders, #1
Pages: 293
Publisher: Poppy
Date: October 1, 2013



It takes place at a high school in New Jersey. Summer is over. Sophomore year begins tomorrow. Outfits are being planned. Lunch buddies are being secured. Texts are flying. All seems normal when…ping! Everyone in the sophomore class gets an email.

SUBJECT: The Phoenix Five: License To Spill.

Attached is a mega document.

A letter from a mysterious student starts the book. It explains that at the end of each year the school yearbook- The Phoenix- names the five most outstanding freshman. She (or he) always suspected that last years’ five (3 girls, 2 boys) were phonies. She (or he) always thought they tried too hard to be popular. But she (or he) never had the proof. Until now. She (or he) stole the secret diaries they were asked to keep by their English teacher. She (or he) has compiled them into a book.

This is that book.


I don’t even know where to start. There are so many things I didn’t like about this book that it’s hard to pick one.

Let me say first: the book is YA. I can see the appeal to teenage girls and if I was still a high school librarian, I would probably add it to the collection. However, personally, I had a hard time finishing it.

Now, why don’t I like it.

It’s written in first person which I generally don’t like.
Not only is it first person, it is first person from multiple viewpoints. Five to be exact. I never was able to keep everyone straight.
I was waffling between giving it a two or three-stars until I got to the end. It has a cliffhanger ending which I ALWAYS hate. Two-stars it is.

Anyway, as an adult reading this book, I can appreciate the idea that people hide things from others. Whether it is to impress or to stay unnoticed, people rarely if ever tell the truth about themselves. In this book, which is supposed to be a compilation of five students’ private journals, all those truths come out.

And that is the one thing I like about it. I like the idea that teenage readers (and yes, I am talking primarily about the girls) will see that everyone has something to hide. No one’s life is perfect no matter how it looks on the outside.

So, yes, I would put this in a school library, but I am not in the least tempted to read the sequel even though there was a cliffhanger ending.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Blogger Shame

I was supposed to have reviewed this book when it was released and did not.  I am trying to clear up my back log of reviews owed.


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Filed under Contemporary, Realistic, Young Adult

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1) by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, #1)The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: The Immortal Rules
Author: Julie Kagawa
Series: Blood of Eden, #1
Pages: 485
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date: April 24, 2012


To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.


This is my first Julie Kagawa book, but it won’t be my last. I have gotten tired of the entire Young Adult vampire genre and delayed reading this book for years. I thought to myself, been there, done that.

I was so wrong.

Kagawa brings an entirely different plot to the many, many vampire books that have saturated the market. Is there a romance? Yes, but barely and it certainly isn’t the focus of the book. Are there vampires? Yes, of course, but although she has kept many of the standard vampire themes, the world itself is completely different.

No, I’m not going to tell you how. Spoilers are not your friend. You really will have to read it for yourself.

I will share one passage that I got a kick out of. It’s almost a throwaway part, but because I know the traditional vampire tropes, it struck me as funny.

“At one point, I stepped in something soft like mud, and looked up to see the ceiling crawling with what looked like hundreds of winged mice. I didn’t mention this to Zeke as we hurried forward, though for some bizarre reason I felt a strange kinship with the tiny grotesque creatures.”

And no, she can’t turn into a bat and fly away . . . at least not in this book.

I am a high school librarian and I really only read this book so I could discuss it with my students. I never intended to read the sequels. Well, I am now. I have to know what happens to Zeke, Ally, and the rest of the characters. Some of them I want to be sure survive and others I want to make sure DIE!

I am so glad the next two books are already published. I would hate to have to wait to find out.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews

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Filed under Paranormal, Post-apocalyptic, Young Adult

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner

Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You’re in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids — the Runners — venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

This is the first in what I think is going to be a trilogy.  It is one of the nominees for the 2011-2012 Georgia Peach Award for Teens and one of the best so far.

There were so many things going on in this book that at first I had a hard time keeping track.  That is often the case when an author has to spend time world building.  I stuck with the book and I am glad that I did so.  It really turned out well although the ending is definitely a cliff hanger.

This is a book that I would recommend to readers who like The Hunger Games or The Knife of Never Letting Go series.

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Filed under Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult

WWW: WONDER (WWW, #3) by Robert J. Sawyer

Webmind, the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web, has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

Caitlin Decter, the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind, wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn’t act, everything, Webmind included, may come crashing down.

I did not get to read this book immediately after reading the first two because I had to wait for it to arrive.  While waiting, I read Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson.  This was another book in which the world’s technology becomes self-aware, but it took an entirely different direction.  I could not have picked a better book to read for contrast.

Although Webmind has proven the way he can benefit humanity, some members of the American government still want him destroyed.  The Chinese government may end up unintentionally doing the job for them.

This series addresses so many social issues, not just our reliance on the Internet.  Human rights, abortion, and religious views are all represented.

I actually had chill bumps while reading this book.  I cannot recommend this series enough.

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Filed under Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

WWW: WATCH (WWW, #2) by Robert J. Sawyer

Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer continues his “wildly though- provoking” science fiction saga of a sentient World Wide Web. Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH-the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they’re fully aware of Caitlin’s involvement in its awakening. WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind’s capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.

This is one of those series that I am so glad has already been completely released.  I cannot imagine having to wait on these books to come out one at a time.

Watch picks up right after the end of Wake.  The American government is out to kill Webmind and it is up to Caitlin to stop them.  I won’t give it away, but I loved the method that Webmind and Caitlin devise to save him.

China is becoming more and more a problem to its people.  If Webmind is to promote the “net happiness” of the human race, what is to be done?

This is a great trilogy.  I have book three, Wonder, on order.  I can’t wait to read it.

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Filed under Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

WWW: WAKE (WWW, #1) by Robert J. Sawyer

One of the foremost science fiction writers of our generation-(SF Site) comes to Ace with a trilogy of the Web’s awakening. Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math, and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something, some other, lurking in the background. And it’s getting more and more intelligent with each passing day.

I read this series on the recommendation of my friend Cindy.  Her recommendations can be iffy because I accuse her of reading “literary” novels rather than good books.  This, however, is a good book.

Mostly because of Cindy, I have been reading a lot more straight science fiction recently.  When I was a teenager, it was all I would read.  I don’t know what happened.

Anyway, this could be one of those “end of the world as we know it” books and in a way it is.  However, that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The entity that Caitlin discovers is young and hopefully can be taught to be altruistic.  That’s only if the American government doesn’t destroy it first.

I am so glad book two is already out.

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Filed under Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore

Being only half-vamp in a high school like Carpathia Night makes you a whole loser. But Danny Gray manages to escape the worst of the specists at his school. Thanks to genetic treatments he had as an infant, most people assume Danny’s other half is human. Which is a good thing.

Ever since the development of synthetic blood – SynHeme – vamps have become society’s elite, while wulves like his father work menial jobs and live in bad neighborhoods. Wulves are less than second class citizens; once a month they become inmates, forced to undergo their Change in dangerous government compounds.

For Danny, living with his vamp mother and going to a school with a nearly all-vamp student body, it’s best to pretend his wulf half doesn’t even exist. But lately Danny’s been having some weird symptoms — fantastic night vision; a keener-than-usual sense of smell; and headaches, right around the full moon.

Even though it’s easy to be in denial, it’s hard to ignore evidence. There’s only a month until the next few moon, and Danny’s time is running out.

Peter Moore speaks to adolescents in a voice that will have them laughing, set in a world that will get them thinking.

This is a completely different take on the vampire/werewolf legend.  No sparkles here, although the vampires are considered the superior race.  And that is where the problem really begins.  Vampires are more intelligent and more attractive than humans, but the societies are well integrated.  The fact that vampires only drink synthetic blood probably helps.

Werewulves (not a typo, that’s how they spell it) however, are not even second class.  They are slightly higher than animals.  They are considered the least intelligent and are required to register before their first turning.  If they don’t, they are “moonrunners” and can be shot on sight.  Every month during  the full moon, all registered wulves are shipped to compounds and many of them never return.  Many vampires and humans believe they should be exterminated, or at the least, should not be allowed to associate with “civilized” people.

I kept thinking of blacks in America before the civil rights era and Japanese containment camps during World War II.  There is even a mention of Nazis and it is not in a negative way.

I would recommend this book simply on the basis it was a good read.  The addition of the societal aspects make it even more compelling.

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Filed under Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.

I did not mean to like this book.  It is a National Book Award Winner and nominated for the Georgia Book Award and therefore, to me, it is important literature.  Which must mean, I will not like it.  I rarely like things that win awards.

However, this book is an exception.  It is written in first person by an eleven years old girl with Aspergers syndrome.  She is trying to make sense of a world in which her beloved older brother has just died and her father is falling apart.  Fortunately, she has a wonderful counselor in her school to work with her.

Although there are no laugh out loud moments, there are scenes that make you smile . . . and there are scenes that bring tears to your eyes.

I cannot say why, but I really did like this book . . . even if I didn’t mean to.

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Filed under Contemporary, Realistic, Young Adult

Nightshade (Nightshade, #1) by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers.

But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

This book has been nominated for YALSA’s Teens Top Ten list as well as Georgia’s Teen Peach Award, so my expectations were high.  Unfortunately, I was not all that impressed.  I had difficulty keeping the characters straight.  There were two wolf packs (soon to be three), the Keepers, the Guardians (another name for the wolf packs), and the Searchers.  The wolves answer to their alphas, who answer to their Masters, who are Keepers . . . I think.

Actually, the book did begin to work for me after the first hundred pages, but I hate to have to keep flipping back to see who the different characters are.  The storyline is unique and I can see a lot of twists and turns coming.

There is a love triangle (Twilight, anyone?  Vampire Academy?  House of Night?) which I find tiresome.  That just means there is no way everyone is going to have a happy ending.

And speaking of the ending, there’s not one.  The sequel, Wolfsbane, is due out on July 26, 2011.  Will I read it?  I am sure I will one day, but I am in no rush.  I will probably wait for the next two or three in the series to be released and read them all at once.

I am really tired of cliffhangers!


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Filed under Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

All Shook Up by Shelley Pearsall

When 13-year-old Josh finds out that he has to stay with his dad in Chicago for a few months, he’s not too thrilled. But when he arrives at the airport, he’s simply devastated. His father—who used to be a scatterbrained but pretty normal shoe salesman—has become . . . Elvis. Well, a sideburnwearing, hip-twisting, utterly-embarrassing Elvis impersonator.

Josh is determined to keep his dad’s identity a secret, but on his very first day at his new school, a note appears on his locker. It’s signed Elvisly Yours, and instead of a name, a sneering purple smiley face. The secret is out, and when his dad is invited to perform at a special 50s concert at his school, Josh is forced to take drastic action. From award-winning author Shelley Pearsall comes a hilarious novel about discovering the important (and sometimes painful) difference between who you want to be—and who you really are.

This book probably deserves five stars, but the problem is with my taste in books rather than the book.

I am not sure what to say about this book.  It should definitely appeal to all the kids whose parents have ever done something that embarrasses them.  I guess that means everybody.

I really liked how Josh came to realize that everything was not about him.  I couldn’t blame him for being self-centered.  I think that is human nature and it is especially strong in a teenager.

I grew up as an Elvis fan and I still enjoy his music.  That’s another thing this book will do for you.  It will make you want to pull out your old 45s.  I wonder if they still make turntables?  -grin-

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Filed under Contemporary, Humor, Young Adult