Mini Reviews: YA Roundup

Mini Reviews

I read a ton of YA books last year and, while some of them were very good, a lot of them were hit or miss.  This year I’m trying to get back to my adult paranormal roots a little bit more, but that doesn’t mean I am totally going to ignore my new YA leanings.  Today I’ll give you a peek into the YA books (and one NA novella!) I’ve been reading lately and let you know which ones are worth your time!


uninvitedUninvited by Sophie Jordan
Book #1 in the Uninvited series
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Publication Date: January 28th 2014
ARC Provided by Edelweiss and HarperTeen

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Christal’s Review – 3.5 Skulls – B-

Uninvited had an interesting premise, that killers can be detected by testing positive for the HTS gene, but it ultimately didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from other YA dystopias.  The first part of this book came off kind of “rapey” as Davy was constantly told she was too sweet and innocent to survive the new “kill gene” world without a protector.  Once the carriers made it to the training facility, the story picked up but I felt like I was reading a version of Divergent.  A lot of this novel just felt recycled from similar stories.  I did like the writing in this novel and I think the open ending leaves the next book with a decent story to tell; I just hope that it becomes something unique and different.  I do think I will read the next one to see how everything ends.

Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½



PantomimePantomime by Laura Lam
Book #1 in the Pantomime series

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: February 5th 2013
Kindle E-Book Purchased from Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads: R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.

But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

Christal’s Review – 3 Skulls – C+

Even though my love for Strange Chemistry is unending, I somehow missed this 2013 release until I saw it’s sequel, Shadowplay, up on Netgalley.  Laura Lam’s Pantomime is a very odd story about life in the circus.  Some people might consider this next bit a spoiler so I am going to go ahead and hide it. Hey people? This is a spoiler--Fair Warning!

While we have the stories of Micah and Gene told in alternating chapters, Gene’s story is in the past and Micah’s story is in the current.  The stories continue on until they finally meet and we learn the connection between Gene and Micah.  It wasn’t hard to see it coming, but it was an interesting twist.  I just felt like not much else happened in this book.  While the writing was beautiful and descriptive, it was a little too overly long and flowery.  The back stories are filled in and the two timelines finally meet, and just when the book seems to be picking up, it ends.  I don’t think I will be continuing on to Shadowplay anytime soon, but if you are looking for a historical read with social commentary and a hint of paranormal, this might be the book for you.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. Pantomime
2. Shadowplay



Running on EmptyRunning on Empty by Colette Ballard
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: November 25th 2013
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Tulip Teen

Synopsis from Goodreads: What does it feel like when you die—in those final moments? Do you feel the physical pain, or just the pain of your regrets? What does it feel like when you realize you can’t answer these questions because you’re not the victim?

You’re the killer.

River Daniels lives an ordinary life as a high school junior growing up in the confines of rural Texas until her boyfriend’s brutal attack leaves her both a murderer and a fugitive. When River’s closest girlfriends come to her aid, they make a hasty decision to not only help her, but leave their own troubled lives behind and join in her escape. The girls manage to elude police for months, but with every near-miss, River’s life spirals further out of control, until she finally hits rock bottom. Realizing she must stop endangering her friends and find evidence proving she acted in self-defense, the girls decide to make a risky move. River must face her ugly past and the one person she was protecting the night her world caved in, the guy she has loved for as long as she can remember

Christal’s Review – 2.5 Skulls – C-

Running on Empty was kind of a disappointment for me.  From the synopsis, I thought the majority of this book would be about River’s time on the run.  Unfortunately, that only takes up a few chapters and we spend the rest of the story subjected to the “romantic” back and forth between River and Justice.  River really annoyed me.  She was so whiny and obnoxious that I wanted her to get caught.  Overall, I enjoyed the first 50% or so of this book, but I just didn’t buy it when the romance kicked in.  I think Colette Ballard has a great way with words, but I just can’t with good faith recommend this one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Tulip Teen for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½



ImposterImpostor by Susanne Winnacker
Book #1 in the Variants series
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Crime Fiction
Publication Date: January 2nd 2014
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Hodder Children’s Books

Synopsis from Goodreads: Tessa is a Variant with extraordinary abilities. She could be a hero, but all she wants to do is fall in love …

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. There she trains with other Variants, such as long-term crush Alec, who each have their own extraordinary ability.

When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. Tessa hates everything about being an impostor – the stress, the danger, the deceit – but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep.

Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Christal’s Review – 2.5 Skulls – C-

Imposter was not nearly as good as it should have been.  It had a great premise, kind of X-Men meets Veronica Mars, but the execution just didn’t hold up.  I hated the back and forth between Tessa and Alec.  I didn’t get any hints of actual chemistry between them.  Also, Tessa actually felt very immature.  She was always complaining about how no one thought she was strong enough or could handle herself, but I couldn’t blame them.  Nothing she did projected confidence and I couldn’t see why anyone, let alone an older guy like Alec, would be interested in her.  She also acted like she hadn’t had any training, even though she had been at the training facility for two years  This book barely avoided a DNF from me, so I also can’t recommend this one.

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder Children’s Books for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½



Until Fountain BridgeUntil Fountain Bridge by Samantha Young
Book #1.5 in the On Dublin Street series
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: June 18th 2013
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Penguin Publishing

Synopsis from Goodreads: Ellie Carmichael had a crush on Adam Sutherland, her brother, Braden’s, best friend, for years, and although Adam treated her with proprietary concern he made it clear he thought of her only as a little sister.

Over the years, as Ellie’s crush develops into love, her romantic idealism makes it difficult for her to move on. To make matters worse, as she’s gotten older, Adam’s attitude has changed toward her. His affection for her is now joined by attraction, but his loyalty to Braden, and his fear of losing the only family he has, stops him from claiming Ellie the way she wishes he would.

But one night his attraction is put to the test, and as much as Adam would like things to remain the same everything changes between them in a simple brush of the lips.

Soon lust, love, jealousy and heartbreak combine to force change upon their relationship… and Adam discovers the hard way that life is too damn short to spend it on regret.

Christal’s Review – 4 Skulls – A-

Until Fountain Bridge was a very sweet twist to a story we already know.  It was told via flashbacks between Ellie and Adam and I really liked all the little ancedotes that fleshed out their history.  I think the people that enjoyed On Dublin Street will like this novella as well, but I don’t think it needs to be considered required reading.

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Publishing for providing an ARC copy of this book!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1.5. On Dublin Street
1.5. Until Fountain Bridge
2.5. Down London Road
2.5. Castle Hill
3.5. Before Jamaica Lane
4.5. Fall From India Place (Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by NAL)

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