Tag Archives: YA

Once Upon a Time…

hazel_woodOnce upon a time, there was a girl named Alice who lived with her mother. They had no one home but many. They stayed with friends on couches and in space rooms always leaving when bad luck caught up to them.

One day her mother, Ella, got an email saying her mother was dead. She said to Alice, “We’re free.” But she didn’t say from what.

Time passed and they settled in Brooklyn. Ella met a man and married. They moved in with him and his daughter. Now Ella had a step sister and a stepfather. She went to private school and worked in a coffee shop.

Then one day Alice returned home only to perceive that things weren’t quite right. Her mother has gone missing, kidnapped. The best clue she gets is a message from her mother saying not to go to the Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate. Alice seeks help reluctantly from a classmate who is also a somewhat enthusiastic fan of her grandmother’s writing, Tales from the Hinterland, a collection of faith tales. Finch agrees to help her for his own reasons. Together they head for Hazel Wood. What follows is a dark fairy tale journey as they seek her mother. It will take them to Hazel Wood and beyond.

I have this book 4 stars out of 5. I really enjoyed the writing and the story. I liked Alice, faults and all. No one is perfect. This is not a retelling, but an original. If you like fairy tales with some darkness like the original Brothers Grimm, then this would be a good book for you.

An excerpt from the beginning of the book is here on Entertainment Weekly. There will be a sequel to this book as well as an edition of Tales from the Hinterland according to Goodreads.

The Hazel Wood was released January 30, 2018 from Flatiron Books.

I received a copy of this book through a giveaway on Goodreads. This is an honest, uninfluenced review.

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What would you do to fit in?

River would do anything but be herself.

The_GracesShe and her mother have recently moved to a new oceanside town. Her mother is mostly an absentee sort of mother. This leaves River free to pretty much do as she pleases. In which case what she pleases the most is to try and get in good with the Graces.

The Graces are a sort of elite family in the town. They are rumored to be witches. Their 3 children all attend River’s new school. Fenrin and Thalia are the slightly older twins. Summer is the same age as River and in the same grade. They are all teenagers. The other kids either want to be friends with the 3 or are slightly afraid of them.

River would do just about anything to become friends with the Graces except be herself. She develops a crush on Fenrin, the boy half of the twins. But, she doesn’t want anyone to know because that seems to be a certain way to get on the outs with them. So, she acts very carefully as if she doesn’t care.

Summer and River form the closest bond of all of them. River tries very hard to be whatever Summer wants her to be. This is in contrast to the way the 3 Graces repeatedly say that they share everything and don’t lie to each other.

River becomes sort of an anti-hero in the way that she creepily pursues friendship with the Graces. She puts on such a front that when she changes a little towards the end of the book, ¬†you can’t trust that she is really being herself.

Magic is an issue in the book. Fenrin, Thalia, Summer, and River all try to do magic with mixed results. Is it real or is it just going through the motions and coincidences?

The pace of the book is mostly slow and steady. It picks up closer to the end. There is a twist to the ending that I didn’t expect.

Still, I liked the book despite its slow action. I read on to see what River would do in her efforts to fit in. And I wanted to know if she ever got what she really wanted. I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars.

This book is considered to be a YA title. It’s due out September 6th 2016 from Amulet Books.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Travel to Anywhere and Anywhen with Nix

GirlfromEverywhere2Sixteen-year-old Nix has grown up on her father’s time traveling ship. So she truly is from everywhere and everywhen. Nix’s father Slate has never really gotten over the death of Nix’s mother. He needs a hand drawn map to travel back to the time before she died to save her. He doesn’t realize that doing so would imperil Nix’s very existence. Nix is torn between helping her father and self-preservation.

The map brings them to the right place, wrong year. They are approached by a group of men who want to trade the right map for a task. Nix must help her father with planning how to succeed at the task so he can get the map. She does so with the crew and the help of her best friend and possible love interest, Kashmir.

As the book progresses, another possible love interest is introduced. Seemingly Nix must decide between staying land bound with one or continuing her travels with the other.

I’m not crazy about love triangles. I would have preferred she only had Kashmir, but I can see where it makes for an interesting sub-plot. I enjoyed the time traveling and the possibility of traveling to places both real and mythological. There was good diversity in the makeup of the crew, and Slate makes for a good tortured captain. Kashmir gets some good lines. The action is slow in parts but really picks up towards the end. I liked the afterward that explains what is real about the history of Hawaii that Heilig used. Overall, this is a good book. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

This book has already been released in the US. It’s due out March 3, 2016 from Hot Key Books in the UK.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Review: Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

troublefriendofmineNo one says to Digby, “Trouble is your middle name.” That doesn’t mean it isn’t true in so many ways though. Digby is the first person Zoe Webster meets on her first day at her new school in the suburbs. Trouble soon follows. They both end up with detention for being late and are assigned to work on a project together.

Zoe’s parents recently split up. She and her mother move from New York City to a suburban type city. Zoe seems like a typical teenage girl in a lot of ways. She is self conscious, has a somewhat rocky relationship with her parents, and crushes on cute boys. But, she doesn’t quite fit in at her new school. Digby takes care of that in his own way becoming a close companion.

While they are supposed to work on a project together for school, it becomes clear that Digby has his own projects in the works. He seeks Zoe’s help as he explores the whereabouts of a missing teenager. He thinks if he can solve that, it might help solve the case where his sister was abducted when he was ¬†younger. The blurbs suggest that Digby is part Sherlock with some Ferris Beuller and Veronica Mars thrown in. I would have to agree. If nothing else, the word eccentric applies to Digby.

I really enjoyed the book. I particularly liked the characters of Zoe and Digby. The plot moved along steadily with sporadic forays into action as they hunted for the missing girl. The closer it gets to the end of the book, the action picks up more. Other characters get dragged into Digby’s wake. The book is well written and entertaining. I enjoyed the sense of humor shown in the dialogue which was somewhat sarcastic at times. I think there is room for a sequel if the author chooses. I would read it.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

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