Tag: Young adult

Mini Review: I’ll Meet You There (2015) by Heather Demetrios

Mini Review: I’ll Meet You There (2015) by Heather DemetriosI'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Published by Macmillan on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Family, Love & Romance, Parents, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Goodreads
four-stars

If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom--that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she's ever worked for is on the line.Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise--a quirky motel off California's dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Likes:

-Demetrios highlights the effects of PTSD on a soldier, his friends, and the community he returns to, and she doesn’t sugarcoat it. This is a very real and significant condition for many soldiers returning from the Middle East, and I like that the book points out how important it is to support these returning soldiers—male and female. In that sense, this book has a call to action, and I love that. When books motivate the reader to think differently about an issue or to act differently or to do something, I’d say that is a powerful book. And I’ll Meet You There is in that category, in my opinion.

-Sky and Josh! I love the way their friendship develops and evolves into something more. Both of them have their own brokenness, but they are aware that the connection between them is important. Though there are bumps along the way, I think they both understand that some relationships are worth fighting for.

“It felt so good to be full, but there were parts of me that still felt empty and hungry, and I could tell it was the same with Josh.”

-Sky and her art! I like that Sky turns to collage at many points in the story—when she’s happy, and when she’s sad. Art is therapeutic for her, and I can relate to this. Collage is one of my outlets, and I’m always clipping images and words out of magazines for a new creation.

“The mess of my life, of Creek View, of the summer, had been transformed into something beautiful.”

-California references. Since I grew up in California and actually had family living in Fresno, our family took road trips often to the central part of the state. It was cool to read about these places and be able to visualize them easily—in fact, when I started this book I was actually driving on Highway 99 the very next day!

Why I Think You Should Read This Book:

-Heather Demetrios is another author I’m going to watch closely because I think her Contemporary YA is excellent—I recently posted my review of Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You and I admitted that I don’t read a lot of Contemporary YA. I feel like I’ve lucked out recently because both of these books were beautiful and though they both took me a little longer to read (due to other reading obligations, etc.), I absolutely applauded their conclusions, and I would definitely recommend them.

This book is heartbreaking in parts and raw, but it’s worth it. Her story doesn’t make the world out to be a cheery place all the time, but there is hope embedded in the narrative.

**Be aware that there is quite a bit strong language in this one—if that’s something you’re concerned about, you might want to preview the book first. Of course, I understand why she included the language in the story—it reflects the way Josh and Sky talk and express frustration, etc. But there is quite a bit of it, just to warn you.

I’ll Meet You There is wonderful! It may be difficult to read in parts, because of its content, but you won’t forget these characters soon, and you’ll close the book recognizing that hope and love can win in the end.

Today is the Monthly Classic Middle Grade Discussion at The Midnight Garden for The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’m excited, and I’ll be heading over there as soon as I finish my reading. Look for a special post from me tomorrow!

four-stars
What Katie Read

Review & Giveaway: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway (YA Bound Book Tour)

Review & Giveaway: Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway (YA Bound Book Tour)Cruel Summer by K. R. Conway
on March 16th 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 231
four-stars

Kian O’Reilly is flawless as a killer. Well-practiced in the art of making murder look like an accident, he is selfish, wealthy, and totally arrogant as a soul-stealing immortal. But when he ends up stranded on Cape Cod with a stolen car and a dead drug dealer in the trunk, he thinks his luck couldn’t get any worse. That is, until Ana Lane shows up.

Gifted as a mechanic and surfer, feisty Ana is not a fan of the entitled Frat Boys who show up every summer, messing with local girls. Believing Kian is one of those typical rich brats, she fixes his car and ruthlessly dismantles his cocky ego . . . which intrigues the dangerous soul thief.

Determined to spend more time with the prickly mechanic, Kian sets out to understand what makes Ana so fierce. Soon, however, he uncovers the painful truth behind the real Ana Lane, and the decision to save her, may destroy them both.

Welcome to my stop on the Cruel Summer blog tour, hosted by YA Bound Book Tours! You can find the complete tour schedule here. There’s also a giveaway for the book at the end of this post, so be sure to enter.

Cruel Summer is a novella, written as a prequel to Undertow and Stormfront. However, it’s recommended that you read Undertow and Stormfront first. Cruel Summer is a standalone, so you can technically read it before those two, but because there may be a few spoilers (nothing too dramatic), I would recommend at least reading Undertow first.

Not only am I lucky enough to have met the author, K.R. Conway, but I very recently attended a YA panel that included Conway, Trisha Leaver, and A.C. Gaughen, among others. It was fantastic to see all these ladies together in a “Girl Power” panel at a library.

I loved Undertow (here’s my REVIEW), though I’m not a big urban fantasy fan, so when I saw the sign-ups for the Cruel Summer blog tour, I jumped on the bandwagon.

Illuminations:

First things first. I love all the references to REAL places on Cape Cod in the book! Whether it’s an ice cream shop or diner, you’ll enjoy the various locations and eateries the characters frequent. Conway specifically included the names of real places, and this is wonderful advertising for local businesses. I heard her say recently that you can actually have the people at some of these spots sign your book. How cool is that?

Cruel Summer starts off with a bang.

A body hidden in the trunk of a very expensive car procured by Kian himself. We open with Kian’s perspective—a character in Undertow as well. In Undertow we don’t really get Kian’s point of view, so featuring it in this novella allows readers to get to know Kian more. He is not human. He is a mortis, and that means that he can be very dangerous. But at the same time, readers will probably fall in love with Kian.

In the beginning of the book, Kian meets Ana, a tough mechanic with violet-streaked hair who is not to be messed with, and is unimpressed by Kian’s wealth and looks (though she soon realizes that she’s attracted to him). Ana has her own challenges to deal with—she’s got an abusive alcoholic father, and her friend MJ who works at an ice cream shop is probably the only friend that knows the truth of Ana’s situation. Until Kian finds out. And then things get pretty complicated.

What I found interesting is that not only is Kian a fascinating character as a soul-thief, and about 182 years old, but Ana has her own special abilities. She can read emotions. She senses something a bit off about Kian, but isn’t able to actually “read” him. I won’t give anything away, but the buildup to the reveal maintains a healthy pace to the narrative.

I really appreciated the switching of perspectives in this story–it didn’t feel disjointed. Rather, I enjoyed reading both Kian’s and Ana’s side of the story.

The dialogue and interaction between the two enriches the story by making you, the reader, want the two to acknowledge their feelings for each other. There are a few roadblocks to this happening. For example, Kian ends up staying the summer on the cape, but it’s much to the dismay of Ana, who doesn’t want to cultivate her feelings for this new friend. But as we all know, that isn’t necessarily going to stop these two from growing closer.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you like urban fantasy, are intrigued by the idea of killer humans with supernatural strength who feed on the souls of people, and want a quick read set on Cape Cod, this one is for you. If you read Undertow and/or Stormfront, I think you’ll be interested in knowing more about Kian and Ana, before they make their appearance in the other books. I really appreciated getting their perspectives—often you enjoy a book, but you wonder what was going on inside the head of those secondary characters. With Cruel Summer, I don’t have to wonder anymore—at least in terms of these characters’ back stories.

The Final Illumination:

Witty dialogue, a Cape Cod summer setting, killer soul thieves, and mystery are all dimensions of this story that had me turning the pages late into the night. I haven’t read Stormfront yet, but since Undertow ended on a kind of cliffhanger, that’s something I plan to get to soon.

I can imagine Conway’s series is popular with young adult readers–in Undertow she references the perils of high school and I can imagine Cape Cod teens would be very interested in Cruel Summer with its vivid shore settings and nods to local businesses and hang out spots.

Kian and Ana may not play center stage in the other two books, but I think getting their backstories and perspectives adds to the depth of a series that is sure to delight fans of urban fantasy, hungering for a bit of the paranormal by the shore.

“Dad used to say that the night sky was truly endless when you were out at sea. He said that when the water was dead calm and the moon was hiding beneath the curve of earth, it felt as though he was actually floating in space. On the blackest of nights, he said you couldn’t see where the ocean stopped and the universe began and suddenly you were one with the stars. On those night, you became your own constellation and a mere speck in a galaxy so vast, that no one else existed.”

** This is the prequel novella to UNDERTOW and is based on the story of Kian and Ana the summer they met. While it can be read at anytime in the series, it is meant to be read after UNDERTOW and STORMFRONT.** 

Add to Goodreads

Links for Undertow (Book One):

GoodreadsAmazon

Links for Stormfront (Book Two):

GoodreadsAmazon

 kr conway

About the Author

I have been a journalist for 15 years and serve on the Board of Directors for the Cape Cod Writers Center. I also drive a 16-ton school bus because I am ENTIRELY NUTS.

In addition to working jobs that should come with a warning label , I hold a BA in Psychos (Forensic Psych), torment the tourists about Jaws, and occasionally jump from the Town Neck bridge in an attempt to reclaim my youth.

I live on Cape Cod with two smallish humans who apparently are my kids, my fishing-obsessed husband, two canines (adept at both flatulence and snoring), and a cage-defiant lovebird that sleeps in a miniature tent. Nope – that’s not a type-o. The bird is quite the indoor camper.

Author Links:

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

Book Tour Organized by:

YA Bound Book Tours

Now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

four-stars
What Katie Read

YA Contemporary Review: The Start of Me and You (2015) by Emery Lord

YA Contemporary Review: The Start of Me and You (2015) by Emery LordThe Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on March 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it's never too late for second chances. It's been a year since it happened-when Paige Hancock's first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school. . .and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her-the perfect way to convince everyone she's back to normal. Next: Join a club-simple, it's high school after all. But when Ryan's sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Illuminations:

ATTENTION: Strong recommendation for New Emery Lord YA ahead!!

Was I ever surprised at how much I loved The Start of Me and You…

The book opens after Paige has lost her boyfriend, who was killed in a swimming accident, and she’s still working through her grief. But she determines to put her best foot forward with the new school year, and she wants to open her heart again. Maybe to a new relationship. Ryan Chase shows up, and seems to be the guy Paige hopes to be pursued by. But a surprising decision to get involved with “Quiz Bowl” (trust me—you’ll love it!) introduces Paige to new friendships and faces. What ensues is fantastic—though Paige may not see it at first.

Paige, Max, Ryan, Tessa, Kayleigh, Morgan…these are characters I came to care about, and Lord describes an amazing friendship among the girls. Sure, they have their bumps along the road in their friendship (and that makes it more realistic) but this group of girls has been through thick and thin, and they’re intentional about being there for one another.

“In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”

Emery Lord’s dialogue: I love it. I can’t remember the last time I read a book where I was so aware of how fantastic the dialogue was between characters. In a way, I felt like I was eavesdropping on a hangout between friends. The banter wasn’t choppy, but authentic and humorous at times. This was definitely a strong point in the book for me.

Paige’s relationship with her grandmother is another connection in the book that is extremely significant for her. It’s lovely to watch how her grandmother encourages her, and helps her to gain insight into those situations and relationships in her life that are a bit tricky to navigate. There’s the situation with Paige’s parents—though divorced, they begin dating! This requires a lot of adjusting for Paige, but in fact, it’s another opportunity for her to grow.

Who Should Read This Book:

Here’s a confession. I haven’t read Open Road Summer. I know! I’m sure you’re shocked—apparently this debut of Lord’s is fabulous and most people became solid fans of the author after they read it. I have every intention of reading this now that I’m finished The Start of Me and You. This is a fantastic YA Contemporary that features endearing characters you can’t get enough of, a storyline that builds gradually into a satisfying resolution, and themes readers can relate to (even if they’re older!).

I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary—you’ll see I tend to stick to fantasy and historical fiction in the YA realm, though in Middle Grade I read more Contemporary. Because of this, there are still a lot of the YA Contemporary “greats” I need to read.

I would say, though, that if you do read this genre, you’re probably already familiar with this author, or you’re going to be. Emery Lord depicts appealing but flawed characters we grow to care about. Her settings are vivid, and at least in this one, there are lots of visits to coffeeshop bookstores! That alone makes me excited…

The Final Illumination:

I have to admit to you—I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this YA read depicting the journey of a girl as she works through the death of her boyfriend, deciding to open her heart to friendship, love, and new experiences. Though the story’s pace is slow at first, I didn’t want to stop reading. And as the narrative progressed, I began to speculate on who would end up with whom, but that didn’t take away from the pleasure I found in watching it all play out.

This book is strong and authentic in its depiction of relationships among friends and between boy and girl. If you’re looking for a story that has drawn refreshing and endearing portraits of relationships in different stages–whether friendships or blossoming romance, this is the book for you.

I grew to really love Paige as a character—to watch her craft her “perfect plan” for the new school year, and to then see how this plan unfolded, bringing surprises and unexpected twists along the way. I have to admit that I was sad when I turned the last page of the story—I had grown to love the trips to the bookstore café, the friends dropping by with coffee, the movie nights with the entire gang. This is a fabulous book, readers—please do pick this one up when it releases on March 31st!

five-stars
What Katie Read
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