“Bone Gap” Laura Ruby

Rated 1 star * 2015. Baltzer + Bray (HarperCollins). 345 p.

BoneGapTheir mother abandoned Finn and his big brother Sean when she fell in love and moved out of state after their father’s death. In the two years since she left, Sean gave up his dream of becoming a doctor so he could take care of Finn. Everyone in the town of Bone Gap loves Sean and his quiet ways of doctoring as an EMT, while Finn suffers name-calling and abuse because of being unable to look anyone in the eye. He’s different, and the town doesn’t like someone to be different.

Beautiful Roza left Poland to study in America, never expecting to find herself kidnapped by an insane stranger on her final day of classes. She managed to escape and find a good home with Sean and Finn, but it didn’t take long for the stranger to find her. The only witness to her abduction was Finn but, because he didn’t get a clear view of her abductor, no one believes him. Finn and Sean feel abandoned once again.

Through alternating chapters from Roza, Finn, Sean and others in the small town of Bone Gap, Ruby weaves a tale of love, intrigue, fantasy and magic. Her meandering tale reveals that sometimes what we see with our eyes isn’t really there, while what we don’t see with our eyes is really there – or something like that.

Though this book won the 2016 YALSA Printz Award, I couldn’t get into it. I was confused half the time, as I prefer books to be more realistic than magical. I will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

“It’s a wonderful death” Sarah J. Schmitt

Rated 4 stars **** 2015. Sky Pony Press. 306 p.

It'sAWonderfulDeathRJ, Queen Bee and Mean Girl at her high school, never expected life to end at the age of 17. However, the Grim Reaper accidentally takes her soul when a fortuneteller uses her as a shield against him. Highly upset at the consequences of his mistake, RJ refuses to be processed in the afterlife. Instead she insists her soul be returned to her body, and creates a stink about being wrongfully taken to anyone who’ll listen.

A Tribunal of angels is convened to rule on her case, and she is given a task to return to three important occasions in her life that could alter her destiny. IF she manages to change the course of her life, and influence others for the good, they will grant her request. If not, she will be shut away for years until her real death date occurs somewhere in the future.

RJ is determined to ace her tests though the Tribunal doesn’t seem to want her to succeed. Changing the pattern of the selfish life she’d led on Earth is not going to be easy, but if she wants to live in her own body again she’ll have to figure out a way.

Schmitt has a very active imagination, describing Saint Peter, life after death, heaven, hell, and even angels in ways that would never be found in any religious book. Though some conservative types might find her descriptions of RJ’s experiences in the afterlife to be sacrilegious, I found them to be original, highly imaginative and quite humorous.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

 

“The weight of feathers” Anna-Marie McLemore

Rated 2 stars ** 2015. Thomas Dunne (St. Martin’s Press). 308 p.

TheWeightOfFeathersDark magic and superstition rule the world of the Palomas and Corbeaus, reminding readers of the long-standing Montague-Capulet and Hatfield-McCoy feuds. In McLemore’s fantastical version the Palomas and Corbeaus planted seeds of anger and mistrust amongst themselves 20 years ago, which grew into the current tangled web of superstition and hatred.

The Palomas have always travelled the countryside entertaining audiences with their life-like mermaid shows, while the Corbeaus did the same as fearless, feathered birds in trees. Born into this world of distrust, Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau learned to carry on the mantle of animosity that has long defined their families. In alternate chapters they tell their stories of anger, suspicion, loneliness and love.

I wasn’t a fan of this book as I found the action to be slow moving, which made me take longer than usual to read since I wasn’t “feeling it.” In addition many French and Spanish phrases and words scattered throughout should have been translated in a Glossary. Some were easily figured out using the context, but the meaning of many remained hidden as I didn’t have time to look them up while trying to read.

Thus, I will leave it up to readers 14 and older to decide if you want to read it or not.

 

 

“The door that led to where” Sally Gardner

 Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Published November 8, 2016. Delacorte Press. 277 p.

thedoorthatledtowhereA.J. has grown up with a missing father and an angry mother. With no future in England’s post secondary education due to failing exams, he takes on work as a clerk at a local law firm. There he discovers a strange key with his name on it and, through a series of circumstances, finds it belongs to a door that takes him into the past.

London of 1830 gets much getting used to, with A.J. soon involved in a series of mysterious deaths – including that of his own father. Discovering his father was also a time traveler leads to more mysteries that set the course for A.J.’s past, present and future.

I enjoyed seeing 1830’s London brought to detailed life, and also liked the title. It’s word play for a door that goes “where” rather than “nowhere” is quite clever.

I was not fond of the open ending which usually leads to a series, as I am not fond of books in a series. I also think the author should have had a glossary. Slang British words were used throughout the book, and a glossary would have been very helpful.

I also thought A.J. and his friends were more like 16 going on 26, instead of “normal” 16 year olds. All of these issues, combined with spoiler complaints listed below, is why  I gave “The door that led to where” 3 instead of 4 stars.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

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Mrs. Meacock was the picture of health, ready to institutionalize Esme. Yet, two days later, she was rendered practically unrecognizable, just a few short steps from death. I find it hard to believe she had become crazy so quickly after being relatively sane for so many years.

I also thought the author should have unveiled the professor’s identity in a little more detail. I know he was a time traveler, but he knew a lot about A.J.’s history. Why did he know so much?

“Hotel Ruby” Suzanne Young

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Ebook. 2015. Simon Pulse.

HotelRubyAudrey and her brother Daniel have been completely lost since their mother died of a sudden stroke. Their father, unable to deal with his grief, decides it would be best if they went to live with a grandmother they barely know. On their way to grandma’s house they decide to stop overnight at the Hotel Ruby, a luxurious turn-of-the century hotel.

Once there, Audrey finds herself swept away by the very handsome Elias Lange while learning the mystery of the hotel, and the ghosts which are said to haunt the building. When the family decides to extend their stay she begins to notice that Kenneth, the concierge, seems to have some sort of hold over Daniel, her father, Elias and the staff. Soon Audrey is convinced they need to leave but something, or someone, wants them to stay. Welcome to the Hotel Ruby, where you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.

I felt like the “Hotel Ruby” was the 1976 Eagle’s hit song “Welcome to the Hotel California” come to life in book form, which is why I said you could check out anytime you want but never leave. I found the story of the hotel to be tragic, but thought Audrey spent too much time playing the tragedy card and apologizing for being such a bad girlfriend. By the end of the book she finally matured, but it was a bit tedious watching her get her act together, which is why I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars.

Recommended for 18 and older.

 

“I crawl through it” A.S. King

Rated 1 star * ARC. Ebook. To be published September 22, 2015. Hatchette Book Group (Little, Brown & Company.)

ICrawlThroughItI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

In short, choppy chapters readers are introduced to the meandering thoughts of four teens suffering from various life changing issues. Gustav builds invisible helicopters, China turns herself into various body parts, Stanzi invents imaginative and “out there” explanations of her world, while Lansdale impulsively lies about everything. They draw upon each other’s strengths, and use their pain to create a world only they can understand.

The garbled, upside down symbolic world in this book, fraught with hidden meanings, reminded me of the nonsensical worlds created by several other YA authors. I didn’t like any of those books, and I didn’t like this one. I like to read a book and have A + B = C. This was more like D – Z + 2 + * – # + ? = nothing.

It didn’t make any sense to me, and I couldn’t wait to make it to the last page. I’m sure there will probably be teens and librarians who will ooh and ah over this book, wanting it to win all sorts of awards. I’m not one of them. I’ll leave it up to you to Decide if You want to Read it or not.

Not Recommended.

“Shattered Blue” Lauren Bird Horowitz

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. The Light Trilogy, #1. Skyscape. To be published September 15, 2015.

ShatteredBlueI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Noa has been struggling to hold herself together after the death of her sister Isla; her only joy her little sister Sasha and writing poetry. Her dark days take on a little cheer when transfer student Callum shows up at Harlow Academy, and they seem to have an instant connection. Though Callum is a fae who has been banished from his world, and can only live through Light emitted by mortals that drains them of happiness, they fall madly in love.

This love is tested when Judah, Callum’s brother, comes into their world. Judah is brash and fierce, contrasted with Callum’s calmness and quietness of strength, yet Noa finds herself drawn to both of them. When a Hunter from their world captures Callum he sets into motion a chain of events, which will change all of their lives forever.

“Shattered Blue” continues the worn out storyline of love triangles between one girl and two guys, making me want to cry out “ANOTHER triangle?!” I also had some questions and concerns for the author, but don’t want to give spoilers in this section of the review. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, keep scrolling down to read my questions.

Despite the love triangle and a few issues mentioned in the spoiler section, the book was rather interesting and caused me to become invested in the characters. Their search to right the wrongs brought on by lies and deception ended in a huge cliffhanger ending, which sets the stage for part two of the trilogy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I am confused, and have many questions for the author. How did Judah’s missing ring get into Miles’ pocket when he wasn’t even in the same room as Fabian and Judah when they were fighting over it? What took Olivia and Miles so long to catch up to Judah and Noa when it seemed as if they would be hot on their trail when they saw them disappearing into the woods?

Lastly I want to go on record that I thought Callum’s explanation of what happened to Lily was too complicated to be believable, and was rather strange. Sasha wasn’t adopted, so I don’t know how his explanation fit into a pregnancy, as it didn’t make any sense from a practical point of view. I know it’s a fantasy and readers have to suspend disbelief, but this was rather hard to swallow.