Tag: YA

Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley
290 Pages
Published: June 6, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came. Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

Kim’s Review:

Well that certainly was a doozy of an emotional roller coaster! I don’t think I’ve cried like that during a book since Wonder! And it started from the very first page. Rachel exudes a hopelessness that I have never experienced in my life. Her brother died very suddenly in the place that they both felt confident and comfortable, the ocean. So now that she both hates and loves her home by the sea, she decides to move back to her hometown to live with her aunt to hopefully get through her grief. Even aside from Cal’s death, the boy that she confessed her love for through a letter, completely ignored her and stayed with someone else. I was sad while reading all this! It actually put me in a weepy mood!

Henry, unfortunately started out as an annoying teenager who thinks he actually knows what love is and that his whole world has ended because his high school girlfriend dumped him yet again. That is the only reason I gave this book 4 stars. His insistence that Amy is absolutely his soulmate while she claims that she loves him, but also loves someone else, got really irritating really fast!

What I loved about this book was the appreciation of secondhand books and bookstores! Being able to find the lives and memories of others in the pages of used books is such a beautiful thought and Crowley captures it perfectly! Watching Rachel work through her grief in the midst of the memories from so many people brought tears to my eyes. George, Henry’s sister, is the one who tore my heart out of my chest and stomped on it! I can’t give much more detail without giving away the ending of the story, but I had tears coursing down my cheeks because of the regret and love that George has to live with. I wish I could put into words all the things that I felt while reading this book! Overall, this was a quick read, but an emotional one. There is some language and some adult themes, but definitely ok for older teens. I would recommend this to book to anyone who has lost someone, or wants a beautiful story of love, or just wants an interesting read.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Prisoner B-3087

Author: Alan Gratz
272 Pages
Published: March 1, 2013

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon:

Survive. At any cost.
10 concentration camps.
10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.
It’s something no one could imagine surviving.
But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner — his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will — and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Kim’s Review:

Such a great book!! Though a work of fiction, this book has all the realistic emotions that memoirs like Night and All But My Life elicit. The perfect book for a teenager to read for a look into the mind and heart of a young Holocaust survivor. Written as a simple record of events, Yanek becomes the teenage everyman of the Holocaust. He’s forced to grow up far sooner than any child or teen should. He is faced with death, torture, hatred and an uncertainty about his future, and all that tragedy colors his world view. That kind of major effect on Holocaust survivors, especially the younger ones, is rarely discussed in books. And with Yanek being so young, kids would be able to identify with him in a way that would be difficult in the books written by adult survivors. I would say every teacher from 6th grade and up should have this book in their library. In fact, had I known about this book when I was teaching, it would have been required reading for every single one of my students. 5 stars, easily!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Sunday Series Review: The Gemma Doyle series

This week Kim reviews the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray. She liked it and recommends this series to anyone who enjoys Fantasy and Historical Fiction.  This is also YA, and teens will be teens and sometimes we know what Kim thinks of teens  in these books by now!  😉

Author: Libba Bray

Books in the Series:
A Great and Terrible Beauty
Rebel Angels
The Sweet Far Thing

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s rating of the series: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon:

A Great and Terrible Beauty: It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

Rebel Angels: Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain. The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship. But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother’s greatest friend, now Gemma’s foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

The Sweet Far Thing: It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds. The Order—the mysterious group her mother was once part of—is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

Kim’s Review:

I read the whole series! And the third book is like 800 pages! I did enjoy these books. The story was unique, and I like some of the characters. The sad thing about this series is that I hate all the main characters. Gemma is like grass in the wind. No matter what her gut or her brain tells her, even when she knows that something is wrong, even when she knows the right way is the complete other direction, she lets everyone else dictate what she does. Her friends can easily manipulate her. The people that she should respect and listen to are ignored completely and often scorned, but whenever her friends start whining, she lets them have and do whatever they want.

Felicity and Pippa are nothing but spoiled brats who see Gemma as someone to use and manipulate and that never changes. Ann is nothing but a whining doormat. Whoever decided to gift these girls with magic and the fate of the realms needs to have his/her/its head examined. Thankfully there are other characters that I like much better, who saved the story for me. Kartik is my favorite! He stays steady and consistent throughout the whole series. Although his loyalties do shift, he never waivers. Mother Elena and Brigid are sweet women who genuinely care about the people around them. Even Circe is a consistent character that I ended up respecting by the end! The story itself is very intriguing.

Unfortunately, it went far too long because just when Gemma figures out what needs to be done, the other girls convince her to wait and do something completely unnecessary for another 30 pages. I think there is a lot that could be shaved down. I do like the subplot of true feminism. That girls shouldn’t be viewed as pretty breeding stock, but as people who are capable of thinking and providing for themselves. There is real sexism in these books and Bray does a great job of using the characters to fight against it. Overall, this is an interesting series that I would recommend to anyone who likes Fantasy and to some who like Historical Fiction.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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