Waiting On Wednesday – When Audrey Met Alice

When Audrey Met Alice Book Cover When Audrey Met Alice
Rebecca Behrens
Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
February 4, 2014
Hardcover
304

First daughter Audrey Rhodes re-creates Alice Roosevelt's infamous antics in this fun, smart middle-grade debut.

First daughter Audrey Rhodes can't wait for the party she has planned for Friday night. The decorations are all set and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute-citing security breach and squashing Audrey's chances for making any new friends. What good is being "safe and secure" if you can't have any fun?

Audrey is ready to give up and become a White House hermit, until she discovers Alice Roosevelt's hidden diary. The former first daughter gives Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun...and more problems than she can handle.

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights new releases that you are eagerly anticipating. This week I am waiting on When Audrey Met Alice by Rebecca Behrens.

Why I Am Waiting

If you read here regularly, you know how much I love a good Middle Grade book (Rick Riordan is for sure in my top ten of favorite authors ever.) The idea of one first daughter finding another through her diary and learning how to have fun under the watch of the Secret Service sounds like so much fun. Reading debut’s is always exciting because you never know if you are discovering a favorite author.

 

Cover image and summary from goodreads.

 

Top Ten Tuesday–Top Ten 2014 Debuts

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they pick a fun topic for a top ten list. This weeks list is Top Ten 2014 Debuts.

I read so many debuts last year and discovered tons of new authors. There is something so cool about discovering the next up and coming series. In no particular order, here are the 2014 debuts that I am most excited about.

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

The Other Way Around by Sashi Kaufman

The Other Way Around by Sashi Kaufman

Andrew West goes to an all-girls school and he still can’t get a date. If that’s not bad enough, his Mom is the headmaster. Everyone seems to have the wrong idea about Andrew. His teachers think he’s a good student who doesn’t apply himself -he really is trying. The kids at his old school thought he was a goth. His cousin Barry thinks he’s gay.

When his Thanksgiving break goes tragically awry he decides to run away. He catches a ride with a strange group of older teenagers. The Freegans are street performers and dumpster divers. As Andrew travels the country with his new friends he leaves behind the expectations of others and discovers what he expects of himself.

Nil by Lynne Matson

Nil by Lynne Matson

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?
Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows Of Ave Lavender by Leslye Walton

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.
I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I’ve been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman’s heart.
Steal the Scarecrow’s brain.
Take the Lion’s courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

Summer On The Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Summer On The Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had.

All cover images and summaries from goodreads.

Splintered By A.G. Howard: Review

Splintered Book Cover Splintered
Splintered
A.G. Howard
Paranormal, Young Adult
Amulet Books
January 1, 2013
Hardcover
371
Library

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Splintered by A.G. Howard is an interesting take on the Alice In Wonderland story. It is a little dark and sexy while still capturing the wonder and strangeness of Wonderland. Overall, I found Splintered to be OK. The main character, Alyssa, is a bit annoying. She has had a tendency towards rash, sometimes silly, decisions.The romantic tension would have been solved if the characters just asked the most obvious questions. (This is something that kills me in books, TV, and movies, creating tension with situations that any sane person could solve in two seconds by speaking. So frustrating.) There are some scenes where the romantic plot, there is a kind of love triangle, is done well.      

The world created by A.G. Howard was the best part of Splintered. I enjoyed the adventure through this Wonderland and reading about her take on characters we have seen in the original story and the countless iterations. Very creative and interesting, it really saved this book for me.

Overall, Splintered by A.G. Howard is a solid debut but it just was not for me. I enjoyed the book, but did not feel a connection with the main character. Those who enjoy Paranormal Romance would be more likely to enjoy it. This is the case where the book is fine but just not for me.

Review: The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic By Emily Croy Barker

The Thinking Womans Guide To Real Magic by Emily Cory Barker

Title: The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic

Author: Emily Croy Barker

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

Publication Date: August 1, 2013

Source: eArc via Edelweiss

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

GoodreadsAuthorTwitter

AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound

Summary

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her “real life” against the dangerous power of love and magic.

Review

Occasionally, I pick-up a book that is getting great reviews and has an interesting premise, but it is not for me. The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker is one of those books.

The book starts by introducing us to Nora, who is not doing well in either her professional nor personal life. Her long-term boyfriend dumps her and announces he is marrying another woman. She is forced to interact with him at a wedding of all places. Then during an innocent hike, Nora stumbles upon another world.

The next quarter of the book should have been interesting. Filled with world building and magical creatures, instead it is a dull plod in which nothing happens. If I had not received this book for review, I would have put it down at this point. It was obvious at this point in the book, that The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic was not for me. The book is blurbed to be for those who enjoyed A Discovery Of Witches. This should have been my clue that the problems I had with A Discovery Of Witches might be present here. Mainly, that both books are overly long and lacking in action. Sticking with the book did lead to the much more interesting second half, but I generally do not think reading should be a chore and it felt like one until I got to where the action began. I wonder if it is this category of Adult Fantasy aimed at women where the authors do not seem to focus on world building and the characters feel flat. In 576 pages, I did not really know Nora until the very end. Understanding her motives and her life before being trapped in a different world, would have gone a long way to making me more interested in The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic. I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and never felt strongly about any of them.

Overall, I would say The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker is an OK book. It would be better if it was trimmed down and there was more action throughout. The character of Nora should have been more fleshed out before the very end. I only started to feel that I knew her in the last twenty pages of the book. In a book of this length, that does not have many characters, there is no reason for this. If you enjoyed A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness, you may enjoy The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. If not, I would skip it.   

I was provided a copy of The Thinking Woman’s Guide To Real Magic but all opinions are my own.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.

Review: Nantucket Blue By Leila Howland

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howard

Title: Nantucket Blue

Author: Leila Howland

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

GoodreadsAuthorTwitter

AmazonBarnes & NobleIndie Bound

Summary

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on–most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits–that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

Review

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland is the perfect book for summer. It evokes the feelings of being young and hoping the summer would be magical. That everything could change if you can get the right boy to notice you and spend the summer near the water. 

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland captures a summer in New England (and this New Englander loved the setting but I may be biased.) Cricket Thompson is in the summer before her senior year and is about to turn 18. She spends most of her time with her best friend Jules and her family until tragedy strikes. So what was meant to be an epic summer with her best friend, turns into a summer where she lives on her own and is forced to confront the feelings she has been hiding from.

Cricket is a very likeable and relatable character. She is hurt by her parents actions but is unsure how to handle it. As the child of divorced parents, I found this story line handled in a accurate way. Being almost an adult but having little control of those in your life can be difficult.

Nantucket Blue has a great love story where Cricket finally meets the right guy. This part of the book is so sweet and very swoon worthy. It also shows maturity on Crickets part when she has to choose between what is right in front of her and what she thought she always wanted.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland is a beautiful story about growing-up and learning to confront your problems. The love story is excellent and made it difficult to put down. The ending is ultimately satisfying and I was sad that it was over. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Nantucket Blue this summer. 

What You Will Find

  • Catty girls
  • Great setting
  • Cute boys
  • Great love story
  • Coming-of-age

I did receive a copy of Nantucket Blue via Netgalley but all opinions are my own.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.

Zenn Scarlett By Christian Schoon

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Title: Zenn Scarlett

Author: Christian Schoon

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Publication Date: May 7, 2013

Source: ARC from publisher

Challenge: Debut Author Challenge

GoodreadsAuthor

AmazonBarnes & NobleIndie Bound

Summary

Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she’s learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she’s feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn’t enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she’s started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can’t deny what she’s feeling.

Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what’s happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she’s actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients… or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year….

Review

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon is a fun and quirky sci-fi story about a girl who lives on Mars and is determined to become an Exovet (alien veterinarian). The first part of the book is full of descriptions of the exotic space animals that Zenn cares for at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic. To move to the next level in her training, she has to pass three tests. A mishap during the first test leaves Zenn questioning her sanity and those around her.

I really liked the character of Zenn, she works hard and is brave. She is smart and  passionate about becoming an exovet. The character of Hamish is interesting. He is pretty much a giant bug who acts as the cloisters care taker. He has difficulty thinking for himself and is constantly asking permission before doing the most menial of tasks. Zenn and Hamish have an sort-of friendship that gives Zenn Scarlett a bit of comic relief.

The middle of the book starts to pick-up as we learn more about the Martian political situation and why the neighbors of the cloisters may want it to close its doors. Zenn starts to put the pieces together and tries to find out who is behind the accidents and why. This was my favorite part of the story. I love a good mystery and Christian Schoon drops hints throughout the entire book to a much bigger, overarching story. 

Zenn does have a romantic interest in Liam, who helps around the cloisters. He is the only person her own age that Zenn has ever been friends with. I found this relationship sweet and it was nice to see Zenn open-up. (Liam is also a cat lover which to this cat lover, makes a guy so much more swoon worthy.)

I ultimately enjoyed Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon. The last half of the book was much more interesting than the first half, so hang in for it. The writing was very cinematic and I could easily picture Zenn Scarlett as a TV show. Overall, I would have preferred more action and fewer animals but still found Zenn Scarlett to be a solid read. The ending has a cliffhanger and left me wanting to know where this story is going. I would definitely read the next book in this series

This book was provided for me to review by Strange Chemistry. All opinions are my own.

Cover image and summary from goodreads.

Pantomime By Laura Lam A Review

Pantomime by Laura Lam

 

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Title: Pantomime

Author: Laura Lam

Publication Date: February 5, 2013

Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Source: Netgalley

Challenge: 2013 Debut Author Challenge

GoodreadsAuthorTwitter

Summary

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilization long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

Review

Caution, the review below does contain spoilers.

Pantomime by Laura Lam tells the story of Gene, a noble who is born as a hermaphrodite and her life is spent being told how to behave and shuttled to countless doctors and specialists. The chapters alternate between Gene, in the past, and Micah, in the future, and tell the story of how Micah ends up a circus performer in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. The alternating stories gives the reader a feel for the dichotomy that is living without a clear identity. Gene is suffocating living as a girl and when she learns of her parents forced medical intervention, she knows she can no longer live this life.

Pantomime by Laura Lam captures the magic of the circus through Micah as someone who watches and later becomes a performer. There is a magic that starts to shatter the longer Micah stays. The impressive ringmaster is nothing more than a drunk and the magic is old technology that is all an illusion. At times, there are glimpses of real magic, such as a projection seemingly speaking to Micah, that no one else can hear, but we only really scratch the surface here. I wish there was more meat to the what is Micah/Gene and where he came from, than we get in Pantomime.

Pantomime by Laura Lam is very well-written and for anyone who is fan of the circus, they will be charmed by the descriptions here. The feel is fantastical and very light like the aerialist that Micah becomes. For me, it could be a bit slow at times but the ending certainly made up for that. Overall, Pantomime by Laura Lam is a lovely debut that I would recommend reading. It has a very different feel than many Young Adult books and leaves the reader with lots to think about.

 

What You Will Find

  • Magic and Beauty
  • Dealing with difficult issues
  • Strong lead
  • Tragedy
  • Finding yourself
      The cover image and summary are from

goodreads

    .

Waiting On Wednesday – That Time I Joined The Circus

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights new releases that you are eagerly anticipating. This week I am waiting on That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard.

Waiting-On-Wednesday_thumb2

That Time I Joined The Circus by J.J. Howard

Title: That Time I Joined The Circus 

Author: J.J. Howard

Publisher: Scholastic Point

Expected Publishing Date: April, 2013

GoodreadsAuthor Site

Challenge: 2013 Debut Author Challenge

Summary

A music-obsessed, slightly snarky New York City girl, Lexi is on her own. After making a huge mistake—and facing a terrible tragedy— Lexi has no choice but to track down her long-absent mother. Rumor has it that Lexi’s mom is somewhere in Florida with a traveling circus.

When Lexi arrives at her new, three-ring reality, her mom isn’t there…but her destiny might be. Surrounded by tigers, elephants, and trapeze artists, Lexi finds some surprising friends and an even more surprising chance at true love. She even lucks into a spot as the circus’s fortune teller, reading tarot cards and making predictions.

But then Lexi’s ex-best friend from home shows up, and suddenly it’s Lexi’s own future that’s thrown into question…

Why Am I Waiting?

I love books that incorporate music into the book (High Fidelity, I am looking at you). That Time I Joined The Circus takes place in Florida, where I live, which is always interesting and is set in a circus. A circus! How can that not be awesome? Unique and interesting enough to warrant a read,  plus I cannot get enough of a main character described as snarky.

 

What are you waiting on?

 

All cover images and summaries taken from goodreads.

Nobody But Us By Kristin Halbrook A Review

Nobody But Us By Kristin Halbrook

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Title: Nobody But Us

Author: Kristin Halbrook

Publication Date: January 29, 2013

Publisher: HarperTeen

Source: ARC from the 2013 Debut Author Challenge Tour

Challenges: 2013 Debut Author Challenge

GoodreadsAuthorTwitter

Summary

Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger….

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Nobody But Us, told in alternating perspectives from Will and Zoe, is an unflinching novel, in turns heartbreaking and hopeful, about survival, choices, and love…and how having love doesn’t always mean that you get a happy ending. Described as “beautiful, heartbreaking, and exhilarating” by Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF, Nobody But Us will prove irresistible to fans of Nina Lacour, Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr.

Review

This review contains spoilers please read at your own risk.

This is a really difficult review for me to write because I wanted to love Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook but I just could not. There are quite a few reasons why and they start with Will. From the beginning, he rubbed me the wrong way. His dialogue is difficult to read (the frequent use of the word aint is grating to me), he is controlling and violent, and he reacts the wrong way in just about every situation. Later in the book when we learn more about the terrible tragedies that have filled Will’s life, his behavior is more understandable but it takes a long time to get to that point and it still did not excuse his over-the-top behavior. In a book billed as a love story where 90% of the book centers around two characters, disliking one can make for a difficult read. Had I not received this book as part of the Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour, I would have put it down knowing it just was not for me.

I do not know if I am just not the target audience for Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook but it really left me cold. I did not believe the love story. Will and Zoe seem like two small children who are making huge mistakes. It is difficult to understand why Zoe could so easily make excuses for Will and his violent outbursts. Yes, Will had a horrific time growing up and it is tragic, but he overreacts violently in most situations. I think most 15 year olds would find this kind of behavior frightening, not loveable. I know that Zoe growing up with constant abuse probably has a different definition of normal behavior than most, but she seems to be able to have normal relationships with some people (her best friend Lindsay and a librarian that takes a special interest in her) that I found this perplexing.

The second half of the book did pick-up. It gets much more exciting and believable. The insights into Will’s life, meeting the women who his mother abandoned him with and learning more of his story is helpful. It gives us a better picture of how Will got to where he is. The complete lack of stability makes it understandable that he is unable to react normally to any situation. I love when Zoe starts to think for herself and make her own choices. She is by far the smartest of the two and a lot less annoying. She, I actually felt sorry for. Living with an abusive father who killed her mother in a small town where everyone knows, but no one does anything to help her, is completely tragic. At 15, that is more than anyone should have to deal with. Zoe proves herself to be smart but her age belies common sense and I kept yelling at her to get away from Will because being with him is a terrible mistake.

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook does bring up interesting issues such as the effects of living in foster care can have on a child. How some, especially those who are not yet adults, could see that running away would be a better solution to being in a foster home. That small choices can lead to catastrophic conclusions. It may be my age but connecting with Will and Zoe was difficult for me. I do think that Kristin Halbrook is a talented writer whose next book I would read.

 Cover image and summary from goodreads.

 

 

 

 

The Cadet Of Tildor By Alex Lidell A Review

The Cadet Of Tildor By Alex Lidell A Review

The Cadet Of Tildor by Alex Lidell

Title: The Cadet Of Tildor

Author: Alex Lidell

Publication Date: January 10, 2013

Publisher: Dial

Source: ARC from the 2013 Debut Author Challenge ARC Tour

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Summary

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown’s inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

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Review

Are you looking for a book that has adventure, political intrigue, and a kick-butt heroine? The Cadet Of Tildor by Alex Lidell is it. It begins with Cadet Renee de Winter, who is also a noblewoman, arguing with her father about her attendance at the elite Academy Of Tildor. Renee dreams of being a fighter and serving the Crown but her father has other plans for her. Risking everything, Renee decides to go to school and eschew the safety of her familial home.

At school, Renee proves to be a loyal friend and hard worker. As a woman in the male-dominated fighter track, she has to work twice as hard. Renee spends hours training to compensate for her smaller size and weaker muscles. This extra training catches the eye of Savoy, the commander of an elite force who is called to teach at the academy, to mentor and befriend Renee.

The Cadet Of Tildor is full of political intrigue where a new king is forced to negotiate peace while two competing criminal organizations nip at his heals. This story is not one of good and evil but one that is complex and full of interconnected relationships. Renee is forced to navigate these groups to try and fulfill her mission. Alex Lidell does a great job of writing fully formed characters that are as flawed as real people and operate in a world where our choices can reverberate in the world around us. There are no good and bad guys, but people who do all kinds of things for many different reasons.

The Cadet Of Tildor by Alex Lidell will be loved by fans of fantasy and those that like their heroine smart and brave. It is a very strong debut that was impossible to put down. I need to know what happens in this world, with these characters,  and will gladly purchase book two when it comes out.

What You Will Find

    • Kick-Butt heroine who you would want to be friends with
    • Action and adventure
    • Complex political situations
    • The perfect amount of magic
    • Excellent world building

 

 

Summary and cover images from goodreads.