Skip to main content

Shorter Musings: YA Realistic

Sometimes I read a book, and I even enjoy it, but I don't have much to say about it. I jot down a few thoughts and then I move on. When these start to pile up, I put them together in one post.

Here are some YA Realistic books I've read recently.

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford 
I really enjoyed this book as a historical fiction on Soviet Russia and as a story of cultural collision. The setting is rendered incredibly well. The story has a true sense of place, and that was my favorite part of the book. I did have a hard time with the characters. I just couldn't trust Aloysha and felt that Laura was being too naive and trusting and I never connected with either as a result. Their relationship felt rushed and superficial even though it developed over the course of a semester.

The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare had so many elements that could have been so good: the large loving Italian family, the boy and girl from different worlds romance, the art. All of it fell short for me though. Way too many pages were spent on Ella's imaginary conversations with dead artist Edward Willing. Most of the characters never make it beyond stereotypes. Alex had potential to be swoon worthy but not enough time was spent developing him or their relationship.

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
I really enjoyed the concept of this one. It was unique in many mays and a perfect set up. It's not camp, but having the kids doing a job that takes them away from their parental supervision for a summer, places them in dorms together, and has them competing. It's a perfect formula for crazy antics, swoon worthy romance, and drama. And Strohmeyer strikes the right balance between all of these. Zoe is a wonderful heroine, able to keep up with her demanding boss, the stress of attending to so many teen actors playing fairy tale characters in one place, and hold her own when it comes to charming guys who are not all they seem to be. (I LOVED that Zoe always used her mind and thought through scenarios first.) At the same time, she is dealing with the loss of her mother after years of battling cancer. While the book is fun and lighthearted, this gave it an extra layer of depth and complexity. I also very much liked Zoe's romantic opposite as well as the other supporting characters. My one problem is that the surprise twist didn't really seem all that feasible to me.

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
So. Much. Expository. I think I really could have loved this book if not for that. Yes, I realize then it would be an entirely different sort of book, but that highlights best why this book just wasn't the right fit for me. I actually like to see scenes unfold, hear conversations in my head, live with the characters as I read. The long passages of exposition in this made that impossible and distanced me from both Sam and Emily. Added to that were all the details about all the countless people who don't really matter to the story being told. I get that Sloan was trying to make the reader feel the connectedness of the cosmos and all that, but there was too much of that and too little focus on the characters who mattered. As a result Emily is flatter than a pancake and Sam is too perfect to be real. It is a good story idea and I adored Emily's family and Riddle. It was for them that I kept reading to the end. 


Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the

Jinx's Fire

I have been a big fan of Jinx and company from the very first book, which felt like such a perfect Brandy book. The conclusion of Sage Blackwood's trilogy, Jinx's Fire , finished the story beautifully and is definitely my favorite of the three. Spoilers for first two books abound. Read those first: Jinx Jinx's Magic The Urwald is in danger from more than one direction and has no hope of defending itself if there is not unity amongst the people. Jinx, Sophie, Elfwyn, Wendell, and a dedicated group of others are working to make this happen as quickly as they can. Time is running out. At the same time, they are still dealing with the threat of the Bonemaster from within, and the Urwald's magic is fading. Where is it going? Can it be restored? And where has the Bonemaster put Simon? Jinx is the only one who can find the answers to these questions, and harnass the Urwald's power to save them all, but only if he is willing. Jinx has some serious attitude in this


Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein