Archive for the ‘ YA ’ Category

Book Review: The Secret Eater by Ros Jackson

The secret Eater Review at Quintessentially Bookish

Release Date: July 15th 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 80

The Secret Eater

From the book jacket:

Kenssie is a demon who feeds from secrets. Lately pickings have been slim, and she has grown so weak that her shield of invisibility is slipping. As the servant of a demon who eats embarrassment she already feels like she’s the laughing stock of the demonic world. But the scorn of someone who thinks that Hawaiian shirts are the height of cool is the least of her worries.

A powerful fear demon is dead set on making her his slave, a position that carries seriously short life expectancy.

She has no friends.

No powers.

No clue.

Her only hope of escaping a life of terror lies in stealing a grimoire she’s never seen from the clutches of a vindictive group of master demons.

Plot:

I really can’t add anything; the book description explains almost the entire plot.

Overall Thoughts:

I was really into this book up until it very abruptly ended.  It’s a novella, so of course it will be short, but there was potential for so much more story.  There are a couple of story lines that really weren’t resolved or used fully; we don’t even really find out what is happening to Kenssie.  That’s really my only complaint with this book – that I wanted more.  I wish the author had considered writing a full length novel.  Short of that, I would have liked an ending that felt more final.  As it is, it felt a bit incomplete.  I kept looking for another chapter or even another page to wrap things up.

Aside from that, it was a good story.  The idea of demons (and really neat, quirky demons at that) that feed on human emotions and secrets is a nice change from the usual paranormal fiction out there.  I also appreciated that it wasn’t yet another romance; there was an actual story involving a female character that didn’t center on catching a boyfriend. It’s such a fun read I finished it all on my lunch break.

Characters:

Kenssie is hilarious. She actually kind of reminds me of a Meg Cabot heroine (which is very high praise from me).  She’s a great combination of naive, snarky, and mischievous.  I was rooting for her immediately, even when I knew she was doing something that would get her into trouble.

The secondary characters were all super interesting, but sadly not as developed as I would like.  I wanted to know more about each of them and of their history and the world of the demons.  Again, this just goes back to me wishing this was more than a novella.

Setting:

It’s set in modern day London, though the setting isn’t as important to most of the story as other aspects.  When there is need for it, the setting is described in more detail, but for the most part the setting wasn’t very noticeable.

Writing Style:

Jackson isn’t an incredibly descriptive writer, but she is great at dialogue and inner thoughts.  Kenssie has a very clear voice and the book reads like she is telling the reader the story.

Extras:

Demons that actually look and act demonic.

Favorite Line:

Are you intellectually subnormal? Tick yes if someone had to explain those words to you

Read This If You Like:

The Mediator Series by Meg Cabot

Devilish by Maureen Johnson

The Trylle Triology by Amanda Hocking

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.

Find Ros Jackson online: Goodreads // Amazon // Website

Book Review: Light by Michael Grant

Light Review at Quintessentially Bookish

Release Date: April 2nd 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Gone (#6)
Pages: 411

The Lost One

From the book jacket:

It’s been over a year since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

In the time since every person over the age of fourteen disappeared from the town of Perdido Beach, California, countless battles have been fought: battles against hunger and lies and plague, and epic battles of good against evil. And now, the gaiaphage has been reborn as Diana’s malicious mutant daughter, Gaia. Gaia is endlessly hungry for destruction. She yearns to conquer her Nemesis, Little Pete, and then bend the entire world to her warped will. As long-standing enemies become allies, secrets are revealed and unexpected sacrifices are made. Will their attempts to save themselves and one another matter in the end, or will the kids of Perdido Beach perish in this final power struggle?

Plot:

There has been a string of cover blurbs that did a great job of outlining the plot in my reviews lately. This one is another.

Overall Thoughts:

I wrote about this book a few weeks ago in my Waiting on Wednesday post because I was excited to see how the series would be concluded. It so far had been one great, crazy ride and the finale did not disappoint. Grant is the type of writer who can take impossible situations and make them seem completely reasonable. Because of this, he was able to take the series into directions that would have seemed absurd in the hands of a less capable writer. This ability is continued in the final installment. Ending a series like this in a way that is satisfying, yet still respects the plot and character progression is tricky. I had no idea how he would pull it off, but he managed to wrap up every storyline completely.

Characters:

Whenever I read science fiction, I’m reminded of the quote from Jane Austen Book Club: “Science fiction books have people in them, but they’re not about the people.” Though this is certainly true of many in the genre, this series is just as much about the characters as the action. The characters are not a cypher for the audience or a tool to keep the action moving; rather the action is a way to guide the characters’ development. Told from many points of view, each character has his or her own complete story of growing up and dealing with life in the FAYZ. Not every story ends well, not every character makes the right choice, but each character’s motivations and thoughts and feelings are very clear.

Setting:

The setting is just as much a living character as the people are. With Grant’s descriptions, it’s so easy to picture the dome, the city, the mutants, and destruction. By choosing to set it in a coastal California town, he was also able to use the geological advantage of including a beach, desert, forest, and lake, all of which provide different locations appropriate for different occurrences in the plot. He created a world that was perfect for his story.

Writing Style:

Grant’s writing style is straightforward, but also very pretty at times. I had a difficult time choosing a favorite line because there were so many powerfully written sentences. He is able to write both action and internal and external dialogue with equal ability. I was also impressed with his ability to write from the perspective of characters of different genders, races, and sexual orientations with equal capability.

Extras:

Mutants, super powers, aliens, this book is filled with all kinds of crazy, awesome features.

Favorite Line:

There were heroes in the FAYZ…And there were villains. Most of us were a bit of both.

Read This If You Like:

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Book Review: The Lost One by L.G. Pace III

The Lost One Review at Quintessentially Bookish

Release Date: March 8th 2013
Publisher: Lobon Publishing
Series: Sahae (#1)
Pages: 254

The Lost One

From the book jacket:

There are things that go bump in the night, and things that do more than bump. Behind the world that we know is the world of the Sahae, a shadowy reflection of our own. Once the dominant species on the planet the Sahae fell from power due to infighting and left mankind to its own devices. In just a few short millennium man has risen as a power to thwart the Sahae and now they have returned to reclaim their place of power.

Eric Green is an unknowing part of this mysterious world. Half human, half Sahae he is lost between two worlds. One that would see him destroyed the other that would use him for their own ends. An orphan that spent his entire life feeling unwanted and fundamentally broken Eric has finally found a real home with the Greens in Seaverville, IA. No sooner has he settled in to his new life than mysterious things begin to happen. From his unexplained martial prowess to an unbelievable visitor from his past his world has been thrown into chaos..

Now faced with the truth of who and what he is Eric must survive long enough to figure out where he fits into this new reality…if a place exists for him at all.

Plot:

Left on the steps of an orphanage as a baby, Eric has never known anything about his past.  He spent his life being shuffled from one foster home to another, due to the night terrors and unusual occurrences that follow him.   When he met the Greens, he thought he had finally found a home, until a visitor from his past appears to inform Eric that, not only is he not entirely human, he’s in danger because of that.  Eric must learn how to protect himself and his family all white trying to figure out exactly who he is and what his past means.

Overall Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this story and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.   Pace takes the idea of Fey-like characters and changelings but expands it in a new direction by creating “hybrids” wanted by both species.   He manages to create a mythos for this species and their history with humans, but still ground the story in the action surrounding Eric.  This combination results in a a very compelling story that left me wanting more.

At times the story didn’t feel as modern as it was meant to, however.  The combination of the dialogue, the actions of the characters, and the way technology was presented and referenced felt a little old-fashioned.  This attitude worked for the Greens, but didn’t really feel authentic for the rest of the characters.  It wasn’t a consistent issue, though, and it didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of the story.  It was just something I noticed and found distracting in the moment.

Characters:

Eric is a very sweet boy who is much less flawed than he could be considering his past.  He’s special and powerful enough to make him interesting, but he doesn’t verge into Mary Sue territory.  The reader is really rooting for him to survive and figure out his place.

Martin is far more sympathetic than any of the other Sahae.  He manages to maintain the superior attitude that seems to be the defining characteristic of the Sahae at this point in the story without being unlikeable in any way.  The Sahae in general are really neat characters, especially since they are so diverse.  Including technology as their weakness was a neat little detail that really added to the mythos around them.The way their magic is interpreted as something external is also very interesting and I hope more of this will be explored later.

Setting:

I really don’t have much to say about how the setting was portrayed.  Aside from the brief descriptions of Sahae, the story could have taken place anywhere.  The presence of large amounts of technology was certainly important, but they were never really described in a way that was particularly striking.  With the exception of this extreme level of technology, the town in which Eric lives is very generic small town.  However, what little glimpses we got of Sahae really left me wanting more.  I’m hoping future books in the series will give us more of a look at it.

Writing Style:

Pace’s style is very clear and almost formal at times.  However, though he doesn’t use very flowery language, his writing is still very descriptive and the reader is able to really picture the scene.  He balances action, exposition, and dialogue very nicely, for a story that is smooth and engaging.  My only complaint would be that his formal style seems to extend to deeply into the dialogue.  It’s often structured so properly that an English teacher would certainly be proud, but it doesn’t read the way that people actually speak.  While it might work for the older characters, such as Mr. and Mrs. Green or Martin, it sounds unrealistic for the teenagers.  This is part of the issue that leads to the old-fashioned feeling I previously mentioned.

Extras:

The combination of magic and technology is really neat.

Favorite Line:

 To restore takes far more energy than to create which, in turn, takes for more energy than to destroy.

Read This If You Like:

Switched by Amanda Hocking

Tithe by H. Black

Wondrous Strange by L. Livingston

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for a review. I did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions here are my own.

Find L.G. Pace III online: Goodreads // Amazon // Facebook

Throwback Thursday: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

I thought if you could do Throwback Thursday on Instagram, Tumblr, or the Disney Channel, why not here?  So, Throwback Thursday here at Quintessentially Bookish is going to feature books I loved as a child or teen.  This week’s selection is:

 

 

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

True

A vicious captain, a mutinous crew —
and a young girl caught in the middle.

An ocean voyage of unimaginable consequences… Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was just such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago. Be warned, however: If strong ideas and action offend you, read no more. Find another companion to share your idle hours. For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it

I loved this book as a child.  I read it over and over again, imagining running away to be a seas captain myself.  Charlotte is such an interesting character and I loved her spirit.  Even with all the terrible things that happen to her, she remains strong and true to herself.  This is a great book for any young girl (or boy) to read.

Favorite Retellings

I just finished reading Meg Cabot’s Abandon series, which is great meta-retelling of the Persephone myth.  I love a good retelling or re-imagining of a familiar story, especially when the author puts a creative new twist on here.  Here are some of my favorites (including two that are re-imaginings of an actual person’s life).
Devilish by Maureen Johnson
Retelling of: Faust

The only thing that makes St. Teresa’s Preparatory School for Girls bearable for Jane is her best friend Ally. But when Ally changes into a whole different person literally overnight the fall of their senior year, Jane’s suddenly alone—and very confused.

Turns out, Ally has sold her soul in exchange for popularity—to a devil masquerading as a sophomore at St. Teresa’s! Now it’s up to Jane to put it all on the line to save her friend from this ponytail-wearing, cupcakenibbling demon . . . without losing her own soul in the process.

 

 

 

 

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Retelling of: Alice in Wonderland

When Alyss Heart, heir to the Wonderland throne, must flee through the Pool of Tears to escape the murderous aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story and he is searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland so she may eventually battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.

 

 

 

The Thirteenth Princess by Diane Zahler
Retelling of: The Twelve Dancing Princesses

Zita is not an ordinary servant girl–she’s the thirteenth daughter of a king who wanted only sons. When she was born, Zita’s father banished her to the servants’ quarters to work in the kitchens, where she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret.

Then, after Zita’s twelfth birthday, the princesses all fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends–Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier–Zita follows her bewitched sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams. But something more sinister is afoot–and unless Zita and her friends can break the curse, the twelve princesses will surely dance to their deaths.

 

 

 

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Retelling of: The Island of Dr. Moreau

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

 

 

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Retelling of: Hamlet

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family’s traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.

Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

 

 

Ophelia by David Wroblewski
Retelling of: Hamlet

He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.

In this reimagining of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia’s happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret.
 

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Retelling of: The Biblical story of Dinah

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s society.

 

 

 

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
Retelling of: The life of Jesus

The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years — except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more — except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala — and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

 

 

My Father Had a Daughter: Judith Shakespeare’s Tale by Grace Tiffany
Retelling of: The life of Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith

William Shakespeare was father to three children: Susanna, his oldest, and twins Judith and Hamnet. This is Judith’s tale… In this wonderfully inventive novel, Grace Tiffany weaves fact with fiction to bring Judith Shakespeare to vibrant life. After a family tragedy, Judith discovers a copy of her father’s new play, which seems to make light of her grief. Furious, she follows him to London, intent on sabotaging the performance–but instead, she discovers that she and her father have more in common than she imagined… Through Judith’s eyes, we glimpse the world of her famous playwright father–his work, his family, and his inspiration–in a richly atmospheric tale from a bright new literary star.

 

 

 

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
Retelling of: The life of Alice Liddell Hargreaves

Part love story, part literary mystery, Melanie Benjamin’s spellbinding historical novel leads readers on an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole, to tell the story of a woman whose own life became the stuff of legend. Her name is Alice Liddell Hargreaves, but to the world she’ll always be known simply as “Alice,” the girl who followed the White Rabbit into a wonderland of Mad Hatters, Queens of Hearts, and Cheshire Cats. Now, nearing her eighty-first birthday, she looks back on a life of intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. First as a young woman, then as a wife, mother, and widow, she’ll experience adventures the likes of which not even her fictional counterpart could have imagined. Yet from glittering balls and royal romances to a world plunged into war, she’ll always be the same determined, undaunted Alice who, at ten years old, urged a shy, stuttering Oxford professor to write down one of his fanciful stories, thus changing her life forever.