Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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WARNING: SPOILER ALERT! I usually try not to give away the ending of a book, but the review below will give answers to If I Stay as well as Where She Went. Be forewarned! 

Through most of Where She Went I was very upset because I honestly did not believe that I was going to get my “happily ever after” ending that I love so much. I was really angry about that, but then I thought, “How brilliant!” because how often does a “realistic fiction” novel actually capture the essence of a first love break up? How many real life first loves actually stand the test of time and work out? So I had resigned myself to the fact that Mia and Adam would not end up together. Of course, this is a YA novel, and it does have the expected (but beautiful and touching and heart wrenching) ending.

I hated Mia through most of this novel. It was only the very VERY end that saved her. Where She Went is told from Adam’s point of view, and his love, loyalty, and passion for Mia is quite impressive! The novel takes place three years after If I Stay, and Adam is a famous rock star and Mia is a Julliard graduate and an up-and-coming cellist, famous in her circles. Mia broke up with Adam when she went to Julliard, and Adam’s world is destroyed. Through his pain at losing Mia, he writes numerous songs that launch his band into superstardom. One day, Adam walks by Carnegie Hall where Mia happens to be playing and attends her performance. Afterwards they spend the night touring unique places in New York and not discussing what is really on their minds until the very end when both are supposed to be on a flight in opposite directions – London and Japan. Their reconciliation, better late than never, is exhilarating!

I highly recommend If I Stay AND Where She Went!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Since the movie is coming out soon, I had to read If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This realistic teen fiction novel follows the story of Mia before and after the car accident that killed her entire family leaving her fighting for her life. Mia, a talented cellist working her way to Julliard, is in love with an up and coming rock star, Adam. Though complete opposites in nature, their music binds them as well as begins to drive them apart. In an outer body experience, she watches her friends and extended family talk to her while she is in a coma, and Mia understands that she may choose to stay (to live) or die.

This novel is emotionally heart wrenching, and I loved it! I made the mistake of reading the beginning of the sequel, Where She Went, which is told from Adam’s point of view and now that is all I can focus on. I am not satisfied with how the continuation of this story began, but I’m hopeful for a happy ending! These characters deserve that!

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door tells the story of Lola, a free-spirit and future costume designer, and the two guys in her life – the “bad boy” rock star who is 5 years older than Lola and her handsome and trendy next door neighbor who broke her heart two years ago. Lola must resolve issues of identity and truth before she can choose the boy who is right for her. This novel which takes place in San Francisco also brings back the two characters from Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and St. Clair now in college) which was a welcome treat!

A good story. Isla and the Happily Ever After (August 2014) will include characters: Anna and St. Clair as well as Lola and Cricket in addition to a new couple with the story taking place in New York and Paris. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson has been on my “to read” list for quite a while. Published in 1999, this award-winning novel is by no means a new release! This story will appeal to those who enjoy realistic teen fiction, specifically those books like The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Matthieu and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

In Speak, Melinda (who will be entering 9th grade) attends a before-school party where she drinks a little too much alcohol and is raped by a soon-to-be senior. She is scared, confused, and hurt and calls 911 but ends up running home. Everyone at the party knows she called the police and several students are arrested. (No one knows she was raped.) Melinda begins high school as a complete outcast, even abandoned by her “best” friends. She spends her 9th grade year withdrawn and rarely speaks, especially to adults. Her ex-best friend begins to date her rapist, and Melinda must find a way to tell her friend. Though the story is sad and dark, the novel ends hopeful for Melinda.

Other recommended novels by Laurie Halse Anderson include Wintergirls (eating disorders) and Fever 1793 (historic fiction/plague).

Snakeroot by Andrea Cremer

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Snakeroot is the continuation of the Nightshade series by Andrea Cremer. Normally I am a big fan of Andrea Cremer. I’ve read all of the Nightshade series plus the prequels Rift and Rise as well as Invisibility which she co-wrote with David Leviathan. But Snakeroot falls short of Cremer’s normally great stories. It has been a while since I’ve read the Nightshade series, so I had a difficult time remembering who Adne is, and this story pretty much revolves around her. Also, this book seems to have a difficult time getting started and does not get interesting until the end where it abruptly stops with no resolution, so another book is certainly forthcoming. I am not sure why the title of the novel is Snakeroot; though I seem to remember that word from another of the Nightshade books, I do not recall it ever mentioned in this book.

Snakeroot begins where Bloodrose ends. The rift is closed cutting off Bosque Mar from the world…or did it? Logan Bane learns how to communicate with the demon and that Adne is the key to bringing Bosque Mar back into full power. The Searchers lack organization and begin to fight one another. The wolf pack still lives in isolation (and are fully wolves), but Shay seems to have some knowledge of his human life since he helps Adne and Sabine.

If you are a Nightshade fan then you’ll probably want to read this book (I am a fan), but most likely you’ll be disappointed by the lack of story / action / romance, but maybe the next book in the series will get up to speed with Cremer’s usual talent.

Burn (Pure trilogy book 3) by Julianna Baggott

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I am not a fan of the Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggott. Books in the series include Pure, Fuse, and Burn. The series is set in a futuristic dystopian society where an evil man planned to destroy the majority of the population leaving only a few people alive to live in a dome (and a few other safe havens) where he hoped to create a superior race. When he sets off the bombs people not in the dome were either killed immediately or fused to whatever they were beside. For example our main character, Pressia, was holding a doll, and the doll was fused to one of her hands. Her soon to be boyfriend, Bradwell had been running through a field of birds when the bombs hit fusing the live birds to his back. The grossest fusings were those who were physically attached to other humans, including the vicious, tribal group of “mothers” fused to their young children (still alive on their bodies).

I read Pure and enjoyed it okay…enough to want to know what happened to the characters. Fuse was okay too, but Burn was drudgery. I kept looking longingly at the huge stacks of books that I want to read and wondered why I was wasting my time with this book, but I was determined to see the characters through to the end. I did not enjoy this book, and I do not recommend this series. There are too many really great YA dystopian novels to waste your time here.

Michael Vey Battle of the Ampere by Richard Paul Evans

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Battle of the Ampere is the third book in the Miachel Vey series. I just tried to find out how many books are anticipated in this series and was unsuccessful. I will keep looking. I like to know what I’m investing in. I do know that Michael Vey 4: Hunt for Jade Dragon is coming out on Sept. 16, 2014, and I WILL be getting it!

In book 3 the “Electroclan,” as the small group of “electric” teens (and friends) call themselves, are separated for a time. Two (including Michael) are in the Amazon jungle and the others are in a Peruvian prison about to undergo a trial for terrorism for destroying the electric plant run by Hatch but that provided electricity to the majority of Peru (in book 2). Fortunately “The Voice” is still looking out for them and sends people to help them find safety as well as plan an attack to rid the world of the evil Hatch (now Admiral Hatch) and attempt to defeat the Elgen who seek world domination.

Michael Vey would appeal to fans of X-Men, I am Number Four series, and Maximum Ride series.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

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I have been waiting for City of Heavenly Fire for a LONG time now! This is the “conclusion” of The Mortal Instruments series (book 6); however, this is NOT the end! New characters were introduced, and frankly I was wondering why, and now I see…they are the beginning of a new series that incorporates both Infernal Devices AND Mortal Instruments PLUS new characters (Emma, Julian, etc.).

Jace is filled with “heavenly fire” from the angel, and now he is the only “weapon” that can defeat Sebastian who is devastating the Nephilim by turning them into his mindless followers. Sebastian is determined to have Clary, his sister, become his queen (sick!) and rule beside him in Edom, a realm in Hell. In order to confront Sebastian and save the world, Jace, Clary, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec travel to Edom to rescue their loved ones and have a final face off with Sebastian. In doing so, they learn who Sebastian’s allies are — disguised friends of the Nephilim.

This book is long (over 700 pages), but it was wonderful to be back in Jace and Clary’s world. They have fascinated me from the beginning in City of Bones, and even though I thought I was finally going to be able to say goodbye to them, I see that I will be continuing their story in Cassandra Clare’s new series, The Dark Artifices, book one Lady Midnight coming March 2015. At least the ending leads me to believe that they will continue in the next series. Simon has some unresolved issues, and Tessa and Jem from Infernal Devices are heading to Los Angeles to interact with the new characters, Emma and Julian. Clare already has me hooked on her next series!

Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Cress (book 3 in Lunar Chronicles) is my favorite summer book (at least as of right now)! I think this is actually my favorite thus far in that series as well. I certainly liked Cinder (Cinderella) and Scarlet (Little Red Riding Hood), but Cress (Rapunzel) was fantastic from beginning until the end. I can’t believe the 4th (and final?) book in this series, Winter (based on Snow White) will not be released until November 2015! Ugh!

Cress was introduced to us in book 2, Scarlet, where she aided Cinder by telling her that Levana planned to kill Kai once they were married and Levana became empress. In the book, Cress, we find Cress (based loosely on Rapunzel) held prisoner on a satellite all alone. She is an expert computer hacker and spy for Lunar, though she is secretly helping Cinder and her gang by “hiding” their ship from the radar. When Cinder finally contacts Cress, Cinder decides to rescue her, but it comes with a surprise cost and Scarlet is lost and taken hostage to Lunar, Wolf is hurt, and Thorne and Cress crash to earth in the satellite.

We get a glimpse of Princess Winter on Lunar who by refusing to use her Lunar powers is mentally deteriorating, but she aids one of our friends who needs help.

This novel is filled with high adventure, reconciliations, and snippets of romance. Highly recommend!

Monsters by Ilsa Bick

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Monsters is the third and final book in the Ashes trilogy. Let’s see…negative words that describe this book: LONG, gruesome, frustrating, grotesque, gore, and unnecessary (some parts). Positive words about Monsters: intense (if you like a lot of action, which I do) and complete.

We left Alex falling down a mine shaft in book two, Shadows. In the first approximately 50 pages, Alex is rescued from a very near-death experience in the mine by her “boyfriend” zombie (AKA chucky), Wolf (or Simon), only to get immediately caught in an avalanche, an after effect from the mine explosion where she finds herself buried in snow and to the point of suffocation. Like Shadows, Alex remains separated from her core group throughout the entire book which is very frustrating. They all keep thinking the other is dead, and people keep confirming that fact!

There is resolution in Monsters; however, I think I deserved a more fulfilling ending after I worked for a happy ending for almost 700 pages (plus book 1 and 2)!

Ashes is one of my favorite YA zombie apocalypse novels and I highly recommend it, but Shadows was disappointing when not only are Tom, Alex, and Allie separated but the teen zombies (or chuckies) become promiscuous. Gross! Monsters is just hard work for the reader. It is one problem after another…did I mention it was almost 700 pages! The reader can never (even at the end) kick back and be happy. It is definitely not that kind of book.

I will continue to recommend Ashes, and if readers are like me, they will have to see the characters to the end…difficult as that may be.

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