Category: YA

Review: Prince in Disguise

Prince in Disguise

If you’re like me and can’t get enough of the royals (and yes, I’m setting my alarm super early on May 19th . . . but I’m also setting my DVR in case I sleep through it), you’ve been trying to read everything in that genre possible lately. Ever since The Royal We, I’ve been looking for a book that gives me the same feelings and is in a similar vein. I finally think I’ve found it in Stephanie Kate Strohm’s Prince in Disguise. It’s funny, charming, and just quirky enough to separate it from other YA romance novels.

Dylan is a Mississippi teen trying to live privately and quietly. Which is impossible to do when her big sister, Dusty, wins a reality show called Prince in Disguise and the entire family has to go to Scotland for the filming of the royal wedding. Dylan spends her days trying to hide from the cameras and keep some family secrets secret . . . and spend as much time as possible with Jamie, the cute groomsman who has an impressive knowledge of bookish quotes. If she’s not careful, the cameras will turn on Dylan and make her the center of attention.

This book is just what my heart and mind needed. A sweet YA romance with a little royalty thrown in and quirky, believable characters. While the plot is predictable, it’s predictable in a completely satisfying way, and the characters are so well written that I cared about what happened to all of them. This is such a fun book, and if you’re wanting to get in the mood for the royal wedding on May 19th, this book is the perfect way to do it!

Prince in Disguise has everything-great characters, a ridiculous reality show, impossible situations, and a cute romance. I wouldn’t change a thing about any of it (except maybe to see more of Florence, the royal mother in law, who is a force not to be trifled with), and I was a little sad when the book ended because I wanted the story to continue. I absolutely loved this cute book! It’s a YA romance that I think appeals to all ages.


Review: For Every One

For Every One

Thank you to Kid Lit Exchange for the review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

The truth is
our dreams could be
as far away as forever
or as close as lunchtime.
Tomorrow you could
wake up and read
this letter on a billboard.
Or you could wake up
and have forgotten
who wrote it.

I have not read a lot of poetry or books in verse in my life. To be honest, I can’t even name one. But now I can, and it’s Jason Reynolds’ For Every One. I read this short book, a poem that started as a speech Reynolds gave at the Kennedy Center to celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, from cover to cover, not looking up once. It is that good, that moving, and that inspiring.

This is the most straightforward and honest poem (I’ll call it a poem, but it’s really a speech in verse) I’ve ever read, and I really think anyone can relate to it. It is about Reynolds’ own struggle with his dreams and how hard it can be to follow those dreams, but how important it is to keep going. He honestly states that he doesn’t hold the key to success, and isn’t quite sure how to make dreams come true. The most important thing is to have a dream and to keep going on the path towards that dream, no matter how beaten down you may become. Just having a dream is important, and sometimes holding on to that dream through life is the most difficult thing to do, and the most critical.

Whether you are about to graduate from high school or college or graduated 15 years ago, For Every One is an important book and a much-needed reminder that we should never stop dreaming. I recently bought a copy of this for a friend who is going through a hard time, and I really hope it helps her to remember that our dreams will never die as long as we keep holding tight to them. It was a good reminder for me, and inspired me to pick up a couple of dreams I thought were no longer possible. If you need some inspiration, know someone who needs a little push, or need an amazing bookish gift for a graduate, please consider this book. Reynolds gets it exactly right. And if, like me, you don’t usually read verse (and don’t usually enjoy it), I really think this will change your mind. It certainly changed mine.



Review: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything

Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it.

We all feel isolated at times. Like no one really understands what we’re going through and that there’s no one to talk to. In Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, that isolation is explored in detail through a teenager with a devastating disease, her protective mom, and a nurse who just wants to see her patient happy. This YA novel is beautifully written, an interesting concept, and really nails that teen angst without getting TOO angsty. (I realize that I’m the last person on the planet to read this book, but I’m glad that I did! Movie is up next!)

Madeline has lived her life in a white room in a white house with her physician mother for almost her entire life. Her only contact is with her nurse, Carla, and whatever she can see outside her bedroom window. She was diagnosed with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency) as a young child, which basically means she’s allergic to everything. Her house is airtight, she can only eat certain foods, books are delivered brand new and plastic wrapped, she is homeschooled, and she can’t have any contact with anyone in the outside world. Enter Olly, her new next door neighbor, a boy who runs up walls, wears all black, and isn’t intimidated by Maddy’s condition. From the moment they see each other, a connection forms, and he will either save her life or be the downfall of it. Maddy has to decide whether she wants to play it safe and keep her health intact, or take a risk to be with the boy she loves.

This is a very solid YA novel, and I think anyone can relate to the feelings that Maddy has about wanting to take risks in order to live her life to the fullest. She loves her mom and Carla, and wants to do what she’s supposed to do, but she also wants to experience all the things that life has to offer. If you can’t fall in love and be with that person, are you really living?

The writing is wonderful, but I did find the plot a bit predictable, including the big twist. (And it is a great twist!) There were a few plot holes that bugged me as well, but overall I’m glad that I read it. I am extremely glad that Maddy is a diverse character (half Japanese, half African American) that teens everywhere can identify with. I really loved Maddy herself. She’s sweet and smart and strong and a thinker-what more could you want in a lead character?

All in all, Everything, Everything is a beautiful book, and Nicola Yoon is an extremely talented writer. If you enjoy reading about the human spirit and what people will do when placed in impossible situations, I think you’ll like this one. It’s a quick read, and will definitely make you think!



Review: Caraval


Remember, it’s only a game . . .

To say I enjoy fantasy books is an understatement. I love them. But there has been so much wonderful literary fiction and historical fiction out lately that I haven’t read as much as I would like. When I saw that Caraval by Stephanie Garber was finally available on audio from Overdrive, I immediately checked it out. I’ve seen it all over bookstagram and was so ready to disappear into a creative, fantastical world. (If you love fantasy too, check out THIS blog post from Alisa at Worlds Within Pages-she’s reading ONLY fantasy in February!) Caraval falls on the side of very light YA fantasy, but I really enjoyed it, and I’m glad I listened to it.

Scarlett and Donatella Dragna have been stuck on an island their whole lives, living in isolation with their cruel, controlling father. All Scarlett has ever wanted is to escape her life and see the mysterious Caraval, a once-a year show that takes place in a new, secret location every year. Unless you have been to Caraval, you don’t really know what happens there, but she knows it has to be wonderful. This year, Scarlett receives a personal invitation to attend from the Caraval director himself, Legend. When she gets there, Scarlett realizes that Tella has been kidnapped and that Caraval is a game-this year the game is to find Tella. The winner gets a wish . . . and maybe Tella. Scarlett has to find her sister before the game ends, and before her father figures out what she’s done.

Do you remember those murder mystery dinner party games in the 80s and 90s? Where everyone at the party gets a character, and no one knows who did what, and everyone has to figure it out together? (I’m pretty sure there was even a Golden Girls episode about it.) That’s what Caraval reminds me of, in the most fun way. A mystery that guests are thrust right into. With a slightly higher creep factor, of course, since they’re actually trapped in an entirely different place. This book is truly pure fun, and I had a great time disappearing into this book on audio every chance I got. Some of the writing is a bit over the top, but I was there for the plot so I didn’t really mind.

If you want a quick, fun fantasy book, give Caraval a try. I think listening to it as an audiobook is perfect-the narrator narrated a portion of one of my favorite books of 2017, Echo, and she did a wonderful job here. She’s a great narrator and really gives each character their own personality, and I really hope she narrates the sequel, Legendary, which comes out in May!



YA Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Thank you to Texas Reader Girl for loaning me her Advance Reading Copy of Girls Made of Snow and Glass!

Heartless. But that’s what I am, she thought. That’s what I’ll always be.

Let me start off by saying that I am an unabashed fan of fairy tales. I watched The Little Mermaid so many times as a kid that I wore out the VHS tape (Oh, yes. I had it on VHS. Twice.) and we had to wait until it came out of that precious Disney vault to replace it. I love fluffy fairy tales and the Brothers Grimm. All are fair game, including re-tellings. I really enjoy fantasy fairy tale re-tellings. (Is that a thing? Let’s make it a thing.) Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust is a re-telling of Snow White, and this is a perfect fit for that long-winded genre.

Mina, whose glass heart has never beat and who is convinced she is unable to love anyone, moves from the southern kingdom to Whitespring Castle in the north with her magician father at the age of sixteen. She hatches a plan to make the king fall in love with and marry her so that she can experience true love for the first time. Lynet, the king’s daughter, is the spitting image of her dead mother, and for good reason: the magician created her out of snow for the king after his wife died. Mina, the only mother Lynet has ever known, has been a strong, loving role model all of Lynet’s life. When the king makes the decision to pass the crown of the southern kingdom to Lynet, instead of to Mina as promised, Mina’s feelings about her step-daughter begin to change, and Lynet must decide what is more important: wearing the crown or keeping her relationship with Mina.

I loved this book! It was an excellent re-telling of Snow White, as well as a good story that was easy and fun to disappear into for awhile. Parts of it were a bit clunky and a little too simply written, but it was the perfect tone for a YA novel. The plot was well-developed, but so were the characters. I kept trying to guess what Mina and Lynet would do next because I felt like I knew them so well. The descriptions of the two kingdoms (Whitespring in the north and the southern kingdom) were beautiful, and I wish I could visit them both. I absolutely loved how Bashardoust took details from the original story (like the magic mirror) and twisted them to create a whole new perspective. The inner struggles of both women were well thought out, and it all leads up to a thrilling ending. If you enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, or stories about female relationships, this is THE book for you!

Girls Made of Snow and Glass will be published on September 5, 2017!

My one caveat is that this book is being marketed as a feminist fairy tale, and I didn’t find the story to be very feminist. The female characters were definitely strong, and represented roles not usually portrayed in fairy tales, including the palace surgeon being a woman. But all of the women were still reliant upon men to be successful. This didn’t alter my enjoyment of the story at all, I’m just not sure it should be marketed as full-on feminist.