11/23/13

Stained

Author: Cheryl Rainfield 
Pages: 304 
Publisher: Harcourt 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port wine stain covering half her face, all her life she's been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she's abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It's that-or succumb to a killer.









Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Sarah has grown up knowing she wasn't anyone's idea of beautiful. With a large port-wine stain covering half her face, she knows that whenever someone looks at her, it's all they see. 

One day, when Sarah is on her way home from school, she's abducted - and the key to her survival may just be her birthmark. Because it's given Sarah strength to fight her entire life, and strength is exactly what she's going to need to escape her psychotic captor.

My Thoughts: This novel pulled me in and didn't let me go until the final page. I couldn't tear myself away from Sarah's struggle - couldn't put it down until I knew how it all worked out in the end. I finished in a little under six hours and did not regret a minute spent reading.

This novel was a really big change from the usual YA I read, but still a great read. Witnessing Sarah's strength during her capture and the way she kept herself going was inspiring. I liked the way that the characters were all flawed in some way - it made them seem like real people instead of stand-ins or fakes. My heart went out to Nick, who had to struggle with a difficult home life but refused to give up hope when it came to Sarah coming home. The characters were amazingly realistic and well-written.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys edgier contemporary YA, as well as survival stories. I'll definitely be checking out Cheryl Rainfield's other books in the future!

11/17/13

Hero

Author: Alethea Kontis 
Pages: 304 
Publisher: Harcourt 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance. 




Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Saturday comes from a family of amazing people. Her sisters all have their own unique powers, and she has... well, nothing. 

Or so she thinks. Until an unexpected burst of magic causes her to make an ocean appear in the backyard. Tempted by the promise of an adventure, she hops aboard a pirate ship - probably not her best idea - and finds herself kidnapped and enslaved to an evil witch. 

With a daunting to-do list and an impossible romantic situation, Saturday sets out to stop total destruction of the planet. But will the girl with no magic be powerful enough to save the world?
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the first novel in the series, and this installment was a great addition. Saturday was a great main character, and very easy to connect to - everyone has those moments where they questions where they fit into their own family. I loved that she was so stubborn and insisted on being independent. 

There was a fair amount of action in the book, which I really enjoyed. Our heroine kicks some major butt, but there isn't so much action that it gets boring or monotonous. I can't wait to get my hands on the next installment so I can find out what happens next (there may or may not have been a minor cliffhanger).   

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal fantasy as well as romance and adventure. This series is definitely one to check out!

Celebrating Pride and Prejudice

Author: Susannah Fullerton
Pages: 240
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary: A beautifully bound, beautifully written book exploring the life of Jane Austen and the reaches of her most famous novel, Pride & Prejudice.

I enjoyed this novel immensely. This novel tell the story behind the road to publishing one of the world's most famous classics, and details the way the book has touched the lives of millions. I went in not expecting to learn much, but finished the book with a plethora of knowledge about Jane Austen's amazing novel. I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has read and enjoyed Pride & Prejudice, and to anyone looking to learn more about Jane Austen and her works.

11/10/13

Full Ride

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix 
Pages: 343
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Format: Paperback (ARC) 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Becca thought her life was over when her father was sent to prison for embezzlement. It didn't help when he used her as his excuse: "How else is a guy like me supposed to send his daughter to college?" She and her mother fled their town and their notoriety, started over, and vowed never to let anyone know about their past. 

Now a senior in high school, Becca has spent the last four years hiding in anonymity. But when it's time to apply to colleges and for financial aid, her mother gives her a rude awakening: If she applies, her past may be revealed to the world.



But Becca has already applied for a full-ride scholarship. And as she begins to probe deeper into the secrets of her past, she discovers that she and her mother might be in danger of more than simple discovery - by revealing the truth about their past, she might be putting their very lives in jeopardy.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Becca thought it was the end of the line for her familly when her father was sent to prison for embezzlement and she and her mother were forced to pack up and move to Georgia. Now with college application time looming, she has a choice to make: use her past to her advantage and get into a good school, or keep quiet and stay under the radar like she's been doing for years.   

As she digs deeper into her past, Becca realizes she and her mother are in a lot more danger than she ever imagined. And by looking into her past, Becca may have brought about even more....

My Thoughts: I've been a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix since childhood, so when I found a copy of Full Ride waiting for me in the mailbox, I was more than a little excited. Needless to say, this story-telling pro did not disappoint.

I felt that Becca's character was very well-written and dynamic. Becca's reactions to the amount of stress she was under felt very realistic to me. I was rooting for her the entire time; the poor girl just wanted to get an education!  

The plot twists and turns and keeps you hooked. I loved following Becca as she dug deeper and deeper into her past. This was definitely one of those books that you can't put down from start to finish. I really enjoyed the flashback chapters and how they let you get to know Becca, and the first-person narrative really helped you connect with her. The emotional complexity of the character felt very real to me: even though Becca knew her father had done a horrible thing, she still couldn't seem to let go of him. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary lit, and anyone who (like me!) is a huge fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix.