Tag Archives: young adult

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is LyingA quintet of stereotypes from a John Hughes movie walk into detention one fateful Monday afternoon, but only four make it out alive.

Each of the survivors — the athlete, the cheerleader, the academic, and the drug dealer — had good reason to want to see the victim silenced. Simon Kelleher runs Bayview High’s infamous gossip blog app and his next post contained juicy details that could cause grief and heartache to each of the survivors. But was that post enough of a motive to kill Simon? And if it was, which one of these four is guilty of the crime?

The central mystery of who killed Simon and why drives Karen M. McManus’ debut novel One of Us Is Lying. And the story starts with teenage stereotypes, each of the characters doesn’t remain a stereotype for long. One of the highlights of the story is watching McManus build each of the characters through shifting point of view segments while both validating and challenging our initial assumption of each character. Whether it’s the academic, Bronwyn who was presented with a chance to keep her collegiate dreams of going to Yale alive or Jake, the drug dealer who is trying to overcome his family’s dysfunctional history, McManus’ narrative weaves the lives of the so-called Murder Club into something more than just your standard murder mystery. Continue reading

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Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: YA Edition

Bookish and Not-So-Bookish Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous. It allows book bloggers (and non-book bloggers) to write about pretty much anything, bookish or otherwise (i.e. share exciting plans for the weekend, rants on things they’ve encountered during the week, etc.).

  1.  Finished John Green’s new novel, Turtles All the Way Down, last night and I’m having mixed reactions to it.  On the one hand, the way Green puts us inside the head of his OCD character makes it a compelling, fascinating read.  On the other, it feels like a  YA novel where the teens are far too precocious and witty for their own good.
  2. oneofusFinally closing in on the end of the audiobook of One of Us Is Lying.  It’s entertaining enough, but I’ve got some issues with parts of it.  If you’re not familiar with it, the premise is that five kids walk into detention and only four walk out.  One kid dies from an allergic reaction to peanut oil and the other four are left looking like suspects.  Told from shifting first-person perspectives of the four surviving students (each one out of a John Hughes movie), I can’t help but get a bit frustrated at the adults in the novel, especially the police.  They’re fairly ineffective and seem to not be investigating anything beyond our four suspects for long stretches of the story.  Meanwhile, our suspects band together and start to Scooby Doo what’s really happened and happening.  I wonder if the audiobook with its ten-hour runtime is contributing to this.
  3. I see that One of Us Is Lying has been optioned as a tv-show.  I think it would work as a single-season mystery.
  4. Finally starting to get over the cold that Shortcake brought home from daycare.  It’s not been fun.  I hate taking prednisone because I feel like I’m about to bust out my skin and then I have insomnia.  I sometimes wonder if the cure is worse than the disease.
  5. The Vols need a new head football coach.  I like Butch Jones, but after Saturday’s debacle, I can’t see how he stays.  Nice guy who is going to get fired. That said, I do NOT want Lane Kiffin to come back like a subset of Vols’ fans want.  He’s a violation waiting to happen and he dumped us in the middle of the night to jet for USC.  I can forgive, but I won’t forget.
  6. After a week off from exercise due to illness, I got out and ran for the first time yesterday.  And it was glorious. Great weather for it.  Alas, my phone reset in the middle of my run, meaning that RunKeeper didn’t track the whole activity, thus bringing up the age-old dilemma of “If I ran but RunKeeper didn’t track it, did I really run?”
  7. So many shows I want to catch up on, so little time.  Seriously, I need to make a list and just starting being intentional about what I watch and catch up on.  First up may be finishing Stranger Things season so I can watch season two when it drops next week.  I’ve also got to find time for Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, most of the Netflix Marvel shows that aren’t centered on Daredevil and 13 Reasons Why.  And this list doesn’t include Game of Thrones (I stopped in season four)!

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Review: Coming Up For Air by Miranda Kenneally

Coming Up for AirEver since she dipped her toe into a pool, Maggie has been obsessed with being the water. Driven to be one of the best swimmers in her state and country, Maggie is training hard for her final year of high school and her college career as well as a shot at the United States Olympic team.

But in between keeping her grades up and swimming laps, Maggie can’t help but wonder if she’s missing out on something. Namely, dating, guys, relationships and the logistics of making out. As Maggie ponders this situation, she begins to see her best friend and fellow swimmer, Levi in a new light. So Maggie proposes that Levi teach her the basics of making out before she graduates from high school.

What could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

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Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittay Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)A Study in Charlotte?

I see what you did there.

Clever title aside, this Sherlock Holmes homage is an interesting and entertaining story that features the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the original Holmes and Watson. Being a young adult novel and requiring the requisite romantic angst, this time around it’s Holmes’ descendent Charlotte and Watson’s descent, Jamie.

Brought together at a private school in Connecticut, the duo soon finds themselves at the center of a series of murders that take a page from some of Holmes and Watston’s most stories chaos. As the prime suspects in each of the cases, Holmes and Watson must join forces to try and figure out what’s going on and who the real culprit it.

As a way to introduce a new generation to the Holmes universe, A Study in Charlotte works extremely well. Both Holmes and Watson have some of the traits of their famous literary descendants and the connections between the two families and their shared history are just some of the interesting aspects of the story. The fact that a Holmes has moved from using cocaine to crystal meth is an interesting development in the story and the fact that Watson has a temper that sometimes get the better of him is another.

Brittany Cavallaro knows her Holmes-lore and sprinkles it judiciously. As the first novel in a trilogy, I’m intrigued enough by some of the larger plot threads and the characters to want to pick up another volume and continue to read more about the modern Holmes and Watson.

The book also makes me eager to dust off my original copies of the Holmes story and visit them again as well.

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Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zetner

Goodbye DaysCarter Briggs knows about the power of the written word. Not only can he entertain and touch his three best friends with his stories and jokes but a simple text message to them could have been a factor in the auto collision that took their lives.

Wracked with guilt and hurting from the loss of the fellow members of the Sauce Crew, Carver faces the difficult task of trying to move forward with his life. It doesn’t help that the twin sister of his one his friends and a high-powered judge and father to another friend hold Carver responsible for the death of his friends. And both want to see Carver “pay” for his actions.

Jeff Zetner’s Goodbye Days chronicles Carver’s journey to come to terms with the death of his friends and the impact it has not only on him but those around him. Carter’s witty, self-aware narration is honest, authentic and, at times, utterly raw. Zetner ably captures the conflicting emotions Carver experiences, including several panic attacks that send Carver looking for help beyond what his family and friends can offer. Continue reading

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Review: Defending Taylor by Miranda Kinneally

Defending TaylorWhen her senior year at her prestigious private school comes crashing down on her, Taylor is expelled in disgrace. Covering for her boyfriend, Taylor figured her powerful senator father’s reputation and influence would be enough to help her survive being caught with a backpack full of prescription medication.

Turns out she was wrong.

Now she’s home, forced to go to the Hundred Oaks High School and starting over. She’s got daily visits with her guidance counselor to make sure she’s staying away from the drugs and trying to recover from this huge hit to her goal of getting into Yale and following in the family business.

But what if the life that Taylor had planned out for herself isn’t necessarily the one she wants or needs?

Miranda Kenneally’s latest Hundred Oaks Defending Taylor novel examines this question and gives us a fascinating character study into Taylor and the people who inhabit her life. Taylor’s frustration at her family, her situation and her ex-boyfriend spill over time and again and are well explored. As with Kenneally’s other novels, the characters and situations in the novel feel completely authentic and are well realized. Taylor’s struggle to find her role on her new soccer team is well done, as is her confusion over her feelings for that one boy who broke her heart years before but has suddenly turned back up. Turns out that like Taylor, he’s harboring his own secrets from his family and the two find themselves back in each other’s orbit with feelings beginning to resurface. Continue reading

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Reviews: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything

Madeline lives a fairly contained life. She’s home schooled, rarely ventures beyond the the walls of her house and has little contact with the outside world beyond her mother and her nurse, Carla.

Madeline has a very rare condition that makes her extremely susceptible to any kind of germ. Her immune system can’t fight them and so Madeline has to live inside her sterile, clean home, experiencing the outside world only by looking out the window and the books she reads (all brand new and properly sterilized, of course!)

She’s perfectly content in her world until one day a new boy moves in next door and Madeline has become intrigued by him and his family. Suddenly, her world seems a bit smaller and Madeline is willing to do and risk whatever it takes to get to know this boy and possibly fall in love with him. Continue reading

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