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 She spends her 9th grade year withdrawn and rarely speaks, especially to adults.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.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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I just finished Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, and well…Wow! I’m on an emotional high from the ending right now. This is the third and final book in the Shadow and Bone trilogy.

The book starts slow…very slow…as Alina, the sun summoner, is stuck below ground healing, far away from the sun which gives her the strength to be able to heal. The Darkling obviously survives Alina’s attempt to kill them both at the end of book 2, and he has taken over Ravka. The King and his family (including the pirate prince, Nikolai) are forced into hiding.

Thanks to Alina’s friends, a hodgepodge of rogue Grisha and Mal, they are able to outwit the Apparat and escape his underground prison. They set out to find the third amplifier to increase Alina’s strength…what they believe to be the only way in defeating the Darkling, his monsters, and the Unsea. No way will I spoil the surprise regarding the third amplifier!

Alina must choose her path. Will she become the future Queen of Ravka and serve as a nominal wife to Prince Nikolai? Does she embrace her inner desire to be all powerful and reign beside the Darkling as his balance of good and evil, light and dark? Or does she relinquish power and return to her past (and her heart) by choosing Mal? And what will her choice cost? There is always a price to pay. I have to admit that I was surprised by her choice.

The ending…bittersweet! My heart aches, but I’m happy too.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

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The tagline on Graduation Day is “The final test is the deadliest.” That’s the truth! Although Cia is still the same smart strategist that has gotten her thus far, she faces some difficult decisions in this novel. I have to admit, this is not what I was expecting for the finale of this series. Cia must wrestle with moral and ethical questions like…Is murder sometimes okay? Is it better to kill a few people in order to save the lives of thousands? I’ve never pictured Cia as a cold-blooded murderer, but in this novel she has to decide if that is indeed what is best for her country. Sometimes leaders have to make difficult choices. Isn’t that what the testing trained her for?

The President gives Cia an assignment. Like Cia’s father, the President urges her to trust no one. However Cia knows that she can not accomplish this task alone, so even though she loathes the testing, she finds herself creating “tests” for her “friends” to see if she can trust them…one with possible deadly implications. Where did our compassionate Cia go?!

The ending answers some questions we have, like where are the “redirected” testing students and Tosu City applicants who fail the entrance exam sent? Frankly, I thought they just killed them which never made sense to me. However, there are many questions that spring from the ending. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I will say that Charbonneau left the story wide open for another book. While there is resolution to the problems of this novel, the problems facing the country still exist. Of course, Cia, no doubt is the person to fix them.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Anna and the French Kiss is such a fun read! This would be classified as YA Romance or Realistic Fiction. Anna’s newly wealthy father who writes sentimental novels decides to send Anna to school in Paris for her senior year in high school. Though she wants to stay in Atlanta to be with her friends, she grudgingly obliges her father. Once in Paris, she quickly makes friends who help her “cope” with Parisian life and language. The highlight of the novel is Anna’s relationship with the hunky American/English/French, St. Clair. Unfortunately, he already has a girlfriend.

Great book! A Nice summer diversion!

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