Tag: Young adult

Undertow (2013) by K.R. Conway

Undertow (2013) by K.R. ConwayUndertow by K. R. Conway
Published by Kathleen R. Conway on September 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 390

Luckless Eila is unknowingly the last of her kind: Rare. Gifted. Breakable. Stunning Raef is her kind's historic enemy: Soulless. Lethal. Lost. A legendary death 160 years before would set their lives to collide, forcing a beautiful killer to become a savior, a simple wallflower to become a warrior, and ruthless destiny to become a death sentence. SUMMARY: Eila Walker knows luck is not a friend, so she is downright shocked to inherit a million-dollar Cape Cod home. And yeah, her new town isn't perfect: the cheerleaders are heinous clones, the local undertow can kill ya, and her Great Grams was supposedly fried by lightning in the harbor square. Still, Eila is hopeful her luckless days are in the past . . . until history decides to repeat itself. When drool-worthy Raef O'Reilly becomes her friendly, yet weirdly protective shadow, Eila thinks life is pretty darn perfect - until she is hauled beneath the waves by an unnatural undertow. Revealing coal-black eyes and iron-like strength as he rescues her, Raef can no longer hide what he is . . . or what she can do. Eila, last of her kind, can supposedly channel the power of human souls, while Raef is more adept at stealing them. Even worse, the legend about her ancestor isn't such a myth, since Eila's grandmother was one kick-butt warrior until her lightning-like power backfired. A power that is written all over Eila's DNA. Determined to stay one step ahead of a dangerous clan that is hunting her, Raef, along with three unlikely allies, will do all they can to protect her. But as hidden pieces of their brutal histories unravel, Eila begins to understand just what went down in the harbor square. She soon realizes that following in her grandmother's fearless footsteps may be the only way to save those she loves . . . including Raef.

Suggested Age Range: 14 and Up

When I read that one reviewer described this as Dawson’s Creek meets The Goonies meets Jaws, I thought: Ok.


I wasn’t disappointed. This was an entertaining read! And there are definitely some fascinating dimensions that lend themselves to the notion of spirituality in the narrative.

Illuminations of Spirituality in Undertow:

For example, the book opens with a glimpse into the last moments of the life of Eila’s 4th great-grandmother. This opening scene establishes an air of mystery in the narrative. As the reader, you assume there’s something significant about Eila, the protagonist, due to the fact that her great-grandmother possessed some kind of supernatural ability. They’re family, right, so maybe there’s a link in their gifting and abilities? But, Eila doesn’t know anything about this supernatural aspect of her 4th great-grandmother’s life in the beginning of the story, so she doesn’t even consider the fact that she might be special.

This was a part of the story that I appreciated—this mysterious (at first) family history of Eila’s. It added a depth to the narrative that drew me in as a reader. It also reminded me of the potential strong connections between family members. There is definitely a kind of spiritual connection between Eila and her great-grandmother—eventually you realize she is dreaming her great-grandmother’s last moments. Over and over again. There is something Eila must know, and it seems to me almost a kind of transcendent moment when she is having these dreams that reflect the perspective of her great-grandmother.

To me, that’s a spiritual thing—when we can place ourselves in the shoes of someone else. This dimension of Conway’s story definitely leaves room for discussion about spirituality! And you know I’m into that.

Who Should Read This Book:

If you like any kind of YA Urban Fantasy, pick this book up. Seriously—give this series a try. You’ll probably want to read the second book. I know I want to—and there’s a prequel coming out in March, Cruel Summer. Conway’s characters are really well-developed, and the prequel focuses on two of the characters in Undertow, providing a deeper glimpse into how these two (Kian and Ana) met.

I really enjoyed the pace of this book—the end of chapters left me wanting to continue onto the next. Even though there is some resolution at the end of the first book, I definitely closed it wanting to know more. In some ways I wished the end had been a little longer with more wrapping up. There are quite a few open-ended issues that promise readers there are further installments to come.

One thing I did notice is that the characters don’t always use contractions when you think they should—but I’m looking forward to see if this changes in the second book or in Cruel Summer. That was really the only thing I noticed during my reading of Undertow that I would have changed.

The Final Illumination:

So Urban Fantasy isn’t usually my thing, but when I read the premise of this book and saw that it was like Goonies meets Jaws, I was hooked, to say the least. Also, since I met the author at a high school writing club I was visiting and REALLY liked the feedback she gave me on my own writing, I thought, “I have to read this book!” I was excited to buy a copy and get it signed for my Over 30 Blogger Secret Santa partner, Sarah, over at What Sarah Read. I then promptly bought the Kindle version of the book for myself.

I loved that this was the kind of book I could read and read–I needed to know more. Would Eila ever find out what was going on? Would the mystery be solved? Would dangers be avoided? What was the deal with this guy who seemed to always show up?

I felt like Conway’s premise was a refreshing one—though there some echoes of other Urban Fantasy stories I had encountered, this didn’t seem like recycled material. And after Twilight, that seems to happen a lot.

I liked these characters—they were dealing with some very dangerous circumstances and people (beings) but they were also high school students who cared about pizza and dressing up and hanging out at the beach. There are some laugh aloud moments (when Eila “accidentally” spills a milkshake all over that cheerleader snob) and nail biting ones as well.

Know any teens who are into this genre? Definitely consider gifting them with a copy of Conway’s book!


What Katie Read

Waiting on Wednesday: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

New WoWHappy Wednesday! This week I’m highlighting an upcoming release for March. It’s a book by one of my favorite authors: Lauren Oliver.

You may be familiar with Before I Fall or the Delirium trilogy. Lauren Oliver’s books are unique, gripping, and I’m very excited about her upcoming YA release for this year. Thankfully, March is just around the corner. It’s interesting that this book is about two sisters–I just finished reading an ARC of Trisha Leaver’s The Secrets We Keep, which is about twin sisters and is another YA contemporary.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Pages: 368

Publication Date: March 10th

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller

Vanishing Girls

From GoodReads:

New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

Are you looking forward to Vanishing Girls? What book are you waiting on this Wednesday for? Click the Waiting on Wednesday button above to find out more!


What Katie Read

Top Ten 2014 Releases I Meant To Read But Didn’t Get To

Genres: Adult, Middle Grade, Young Adult

TopTenTuesday5 BorderDid you have books you were going to read in 2014, but just didn’t get around to them? Yep, that’s a problem many of us had. Because there are so many books. And so little time!

That’s what 2015 is for though–catching up on those 2014 reads.

2014 was a fantastic year for the world of Middle Grade, YA, and Adult publishing! There were actually quite a few 2014 releases I wanted to read but didn’t get to. Here are my top ten, and I have all of these with me at the moment as I’m planning to read them in the first part of 2015!

Which of these do you think I should read first?

As usual, this weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Welcome back to Bookish Illuminations! Remember you still have time to enter my big giveaway all month long!

This first book is one I’m so excited about reading because quite a few people have said it’s utterly fabulous fantasy!

snowSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Here’s another one I’m planning to read soon (January) and I am really looking forward to the unique premise of this one–a story within a story.

afterworlds Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield

I love Lauren Oliver and have several of her books to catch up on in 2015! And she has another one coming out, so I need to get busy. Panic_HC_JKT_des4.indd

Panic by Lauren Oliver

 Here’s a Middle Grade fantasy that I had been watching as soon as it shelves, but I didn’t have it in my possession until Christmas.

18668056The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove

Another Middle Grade with mystery and history that I currently have out from the library…

Under the egg Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Fantasy and fairy tales–yes, please!

stray Stray by Elissa Sussman

I won this in a giveaway last year, and I am dying to get to it. I love Little House on the Prairie and there’s a kind of an “appearance” by Rose Wilder in this one…

9780670025091_large_Pioneer_Girl Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen

Princess of Thorns is another title that so many readers and bloggers raved about so I’m looking forward to including this one in my fantasy reading challenge.

thornsPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

I bought my copy of this when I was in London this last September and I love that cover! I think this kind of book is perfect for a cozy winter’s night by the fire.

mysterious affairThe Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam

Last, but not least, I heard about this book on The Midnight Garden and still have it on my TBR. I’ve heard good things about it, so it’s another one for my 2015 fantasy challenge.

songbirdStolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Are any of these reads on your list? What are your top books for 2015 that came out in 2014, but you didn’t have time to get to? Share away!

What Katie Read
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