Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Reviews: Teens Need Reads Too


I love me some YA titles. Terri is always making fun of my choices, mainly because when I go looking for books to read, I find the most depressing world-building setting I can find. Dystopian is my drug of choice with YA novels.

This week’s selection of young adult goodies though doesn’t have a single post-apocalyptic world setting. Instead we have a restaged Pride & Prejudice; an enrapturing Persephone-paranormal myth; and a humorous, but dark modern twisted Fairy Tales story which will make you very glad to be as common as you are.

Although Terri laughs at my YA obsession, fortunately she hooks me up with great reads through her daughter. Since we clearly have very similar reading tastes where YA novels are concerned. And if I’m not mistaken, Jacob Black.

EPIC FAIL by Claire LaZebnik. The warm comfortable read of Pride & Prejudice, but without that awkward proposal scene by Mr. Collins. (That was creepy.) If you can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy in any of his incarnations, this book is a joyful read. You’ll find yourself cruising along in the story of Elise Benton and Derek Edwards as they flounder around in the pitfalls of high school and Hollywood society. And the Lydia character never fails to make me long to strangle a teenager more. Charming, fun, and sweet.

EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton. My new favorite teen author. I’ve bookmarked her author page and liked her on facebook just so I can legally stalk her. Her next book in this series will come out in January and I’m already hyped for it. Aside from the fact this is yet another series (which doesn’t bother me, but I know how people can be afraid of commitment and tired of series in general), it had the trifecta of story perfection: deep world-building, powerful heroes and heroines, and sweet, terrible tension. This book is like the myth of Persephone with the Matrix and a couple horror flicks thrown in. It breaks your heart on the first page and continues to break your heart until the very end. The world-building is so deep that I marveled at how long this book took to create—it did not feel like a first or second draft sort of creation. This felt like a book of the heart that had been nurtured for some time. I want to write a book like this. Magnificent.

KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross. The funny and dark twisted Fairy Tales. The heroine finds out she’s a real-life Sleeping Beauty, and that everyone in the town where she’s gone to find her parents is basically a part of a fairy tale in some form or another. There is a Snow White “group” that are particularly hilarious to read about as they help Mira. While the heroine (Mira) would like to find her parents, Blue just wants her to leave before his brother ends up killing her. It took me a while to figure out which fairy tale Blue and his brother were from. It’s clear Blue and Mira have an ill-fated romance ahead of them, since she’s due to die from an unknown “prick” and he’s doomed to kill her, because his kind always kill those they love most. I do love the dark and twisted. A great read. If you know your fairy tales, you might want to give it a try just for giggles. Dark and funny.

Please give one or all of these a try. They are all engaging reads, though some are happier than others. *laughs* You won’t be disappointed.

Do you read YA novels? Why or why not? Who is your favorite recent new find author?

34 comments:

Elyssa Papa said...

I love YA and New Adult. Have you read Rae Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns? It's about an overweight princess who is destined for great things . . . except she totally doesn't expect anything of herself and thinks she's totally unworthy. It was one of my favorite books of 2011.

Hellion, you MUST read Easy by Tammara Webber. I love love love LOVE that book. It's a college-set YA and it is just wonderful. I also bought Webber's movie YA trilogy--I haven't started it yet--but I really, really love her voice so much.

I've been eyeing Kill Me Softly---I really like fairy tale retellings (no surprise as Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite TV shows) . . . and I have Grave Mercy by Robin LeFever (sp.), which is about a girl assassin in the 14th century. I'm especially fond of female assassins, lol.

Maureen said...

Since I am no longer a YA, I have read only two YA novels... The "So You Want to Be A Wizard" by Diane Duane...the series that JK Rowling credits with inspiring her. An American wizards series!

And "Bloody Jack: Being the Curious Adventures of 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy" by L. A. Meyer... Love Bloody Jack, especially as she is really a girl, sailing the high seas, having adventures. My kind a' girl!

TerriOsburn said...

I guess from the blog people could figure out I don't read YA. LOL! But not because of some prejudice. There are just too many books and not enough time as it is. But Kiddo is CRANKING through them like crazy. She loved EPIC FAIL so much she reread it last week in one day.

I don't think she has these other two. Will have to load her up before she leaves for the summer. (In 2 weeks. *sob*)

Ely - An editor from TOR was at our local conference last month and said they're expanding a line of New Adult books. They think all the YA fans now will progress into New Adult pretty quick. And I believe them. So keep an eye on the TOR site for more New Adult books coming your way.

Janga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janga said...

I’ve read YA since I was a pre-teen. Now the almost-thirteen-year-old grand and I sometimes share book recs. I’ll probably still be reading YA when they wheel me into the nursing home because I can count on finding good writing and compelling stories that are different from my other reading in the genre.

I echo Ely’s praise for Tammara Webber. I haven’t read Easy yet, but I loved Good for You with its out-of-control, hot celebrity hero and VBS-teaching, Habitat-for-Humanity volunteering heroine. It’s on My Best of 2012 list, but it’s not one I’ll pass on to the grand. It’s written for a mature YA audience.

I also finally read Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens. You’ll love this one, Hellie. A planeload of teen beauty pageant contestants crashes. The survivors, led by Miss Texas, Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins, a homecoming queen with membership in FAF — Femmes and Firearms, must learn more than dance routines and makeup application. It’s a kinder, gentler, funny, female Lord of the Flies with snakes, reptilian and human, as the adversaries rather than one another. It is hilarious in places, but it is also satire with a potent sting and a great female self-discovery tale. I love Libba Bray!

MsHellion said...

Ely! Great to see you! I have put the Thorns book on my library reading list. It sounds like one of the ones I'd love; and I totally saw the book about the girl assassin yesterday on Amazon when I was perusing teen reads! *LOL* I was totally tempted by it!

My library doesn't have Tammara Webber, but I'll keep an eye out for her. I do love college set books too. :) Thanks for commenting today!

MsHellion said...

Mo, I'm sure it will not surprise you neither of those make my particular cut. *LOL* (You know I'm not sure Harry Potter would have worked for me in an American setting. It wouldn't have been exotic enough. I loved the British boarding school aspects of it.) And I tried to read the bloody Jack series, but I think she talks in dialect a lot and I didn't have the patience for it. *LOL* I don't think it matters if you're a YA or not. The themes are still universal: being misunderstood/seeking acceptance, love and loss, family, moving forward with your life... I would have thought you would like the dystopian worlds they offer. There's lots of dark and merciless stories available and lots of action. Like the Hunger Games. Insurgent. Monument 14.

MsHellion said...

Terri, your comment that there are too many books to read already always cracks me up, as if the rest of us don't have the same amount of books available and we're just taking the YA because that's what left. Your loss, that's all I can say. Angst and loss galore!

MsHellion said...

P.S. Terri, as long as I have your daughter to get my YA fix though, we're good. *LOL*

TerriOsburn said...

I meant too many books ALREADY IN MY HOUSE. LOL! Should have been more specific.

MsHellion said...

Janga, I did try BEAUTY QUEENS--because I love Libba Bray and it was right up my alley with the satire and stuff, but within about three chapters, I remembered why I didn't like Lord of the Flies. *LOL* However, there have been several YA books where it took me two or three tries before I finished it (Hunger Games, etc), so I imagine I will revisit it and praise its glories later! :)

And I'm with you, pretty sure I'll be at the nursing home reading these books. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Nah, I want adult themes in my reading. And sex. YA is too angst driven for me. But I love that there is so much out there for teens to choose from. Didn't used to be that way.

MsHellion said...

*LOL* YA does have adult themes--but I hear you about the sex. Still I sometimes get tired of it. Not IT itself, but I prefer the pull and push of first love or true love.

Yes, I think YA has really taken off and pushed some new boundaries, but I think romance has done so too. (I bet fantasy has as well, expanding and allowing more outside of their "norms.") I think this is the great thing about stories and publishing--there's MUCH MORE to choose from, but it's also the downfall. So much to pick from, it's hard to stand out and really become someone.

irisheyes said...

Not sure why I don't read YA. Probably a combination of Terri and Maureen's reasons. Piles of books on my TBR pile that I still haven't gotten to and I'm kind of used to the adult themes. Although I think the biggest reason is I'm always fearful of the non-HEA and that's definitely a no budge for me.

I work in an Elementary School library (K-5) and a lot of the award winning books are just so darn depressing. I'll admit right here and now that I'm a bit of an ostrich. I know these books are supposed to be inspiring and teaching lessons and so on but I just can't handle that stuff anymore.

P. Kirby said...

Actually, the YA I read usually has a lot of adult themes: drugs, sex, violence. Holly Black (e.g., Tithe) writes very edgy stuff. Typically, the sex isn't graphic, but it happens. Like Hellion, I like the push and pull of new love. Probably because as a married person, I feel a definite nostalgia for the sexual tension of new love. Sex I can have any time; but yummy sexual tension, not so much. :)

Recently, I enjoyed Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, and Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, the former being dystopic, the latter, paranormal (angels).

One of my favorite YA trilogies is Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials, which is full of way too many crunchy philosophical, religious and scientific underpinnings to be just YA.

TerriOsburn said...

I'm trying to remember the series that Kiddo loves. She loves CC Hunter (Christie Craig) Shadow Falls series. Read Hush Hush and Crescendo lately. The Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. Lauren Kate's Fallen series.

She's also read a couple Steampunk she loved. I think they're darker than what you might think for Steampunk. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare is the first in the Infernal Devices series. The same author also has the Mortal Instruments series, but kiddo hasn't gotten into those yet.

She read The Girl In The Steel Corset by Kady Cross (Kathryn Smith) and loved Dearly Departed by Lia Habel. I should just have kiddo do a YA guest blog, huh? LOL!

She ripped through all three Hunger Games books in about 10 days. Partly because she was borrowing them and she had to wait for each one from a friend.

MsHellion said...

Irish, I'm still making the argument about adult themes in YA. This is a new age of YA novels. It's not all Sweet Valley High anymore. However, I understand the less than happy ending--no one likes a Bridge to Terabithia if they can help it.

The EPIC FAIL is a sweet one to start with--you'd enjoy if you enjoy Pride & Prejudice (or the movies like I do! *LOL*)

MsHellion said...

Pat--my soul sister in YA novels--THANK YOU, THANK YOU! See, I'm hoping you are able to persuade them. Clearly they think I'll read anything. But see, someone who can back me up! *LOL*

I will have to try out the ones you suggested. I don't think I've read them yet!

MsHellion said...

Terri, did the mini-Terri like the Hush Hush series? I loved them, but I realize they might not compare to the Fallen series. It sorta depends on who you read first.

I haven't been able to get into Clockwork Angel one yet. I'm pretty limited on my Steampunk fascination.

I think have Dearly Departed on my list to read. *LOL* It'd be funny if kiddo did a guest blog. *LOL*

TerriOsburn said...

She liked them both, Hellie. Read Fallen first. There are others but she reads so fast I can't keep up. She's now started on the HP books. Done with book 1 in maybe a week. Haven't gotten our hands on book 2 yet. I need to get her that set to take for summer. I think she's going to have lots of time to read.

I'll see if she wants to write something before she leaves.

Janga said...

The Tammara Morgan book I mentioned earlier has sex and a happy ending, but it also has some issues that I'd be shocked to find in a romance novel. I don't think YA authors feel they have to adhere to conventions as closely, and their freedom results in some exciting books.

Janga said...

And I love the idea of your kiddo as guest blogger, Ter!

TerriOsburn said...

I have noticed the YAs have more freedom. Hardly anything is off limits. But then that's the age range of the characters. They're pushing boundaries and making mistakes. Well-adjusted, mature characters wouldn't exactly fit.

I found the trailer for The Perks of Being a Wallflower and can't wait to see the movie. Did you read the book, Janga? I want to find it for Kiddo.

MsHellion said...

But we're not writing about well-adjusted mature characters either. *LOL* That's the point of a character arc!

Believe me a lot of the teens in these books are more mature than their parents. (It's usually the sign of a YA novel is that unrealism. *LOL* I prefer the books that have normal parents and the kid is just mature with crazy situations.)

TerriOsburn said...

To me there's a difference between imperfect characters and immature. All characters are imperfect. If they're interesting anyway. But I don't mean immature as an insult. The trouble a 16 year old stumbles into is usually different than a 36 year old stumbles into. (Though I realize, not always. LOL!)

Lisa said...

I happen to be in the midst of a YA reading frenzy. My favorite dystopian series after The Hunger Games, is Lauren Oliver's Delirium and Pandemonium. The series premise is before all the teens in the country have the chance to fall in love, they have to undergo an operation to remove all their emotions. It's so good, because being the romantic I am, love prevails. I'm also with Ely on anything by Tammara Webber. I definately recommend Slammed and Point of Retreat by Collen Hoover.

MsHellion said...

Uh-huh, Terri, whatever you want to tell yourself to feel better. *LOL* They're about the same difference; and Harry Potter was dealing with life and death and evil and goodness. And a lot of YA novels are the same. A lot of them are dealing with fitting in and culture shock--that's not something we necessarily escape when we get older. If so, then what's the big deal about turning 30 or 40?

I'm just saying you're missing out.

MsHellion said...

Lisa, I'm so with you on Delirium and Pandemonium! It appealed to my romantic self too about cutting yourself off from love and emotions for the common "good". And beautifully written too. That one and the Matched series--they're both with love themes like that.

irisheyes said...

I just did something in my previous post I ranted at someone recently for doing. I'm making a judgement without reading the book first. Since I've never read a YA, that is a BIG No-No, IMHO! The only hard and fast rule I have is a HEA, so if you tell me there's one than I'll go ahead and try a YA.

I'm going to try some of the ones you've mentioned here, Hellie. Epic Fail sounds good along with the one Janga mentioned.

I'll get back to you on whether you've got a convert here! LOL

MsHellion said...

I also think YA novels keep you in touch with adolescent themes and how teens are handling them--or what they're thinking. It doesn't replace TALKING with your teen by any means, but I think reading books can make you more empathetic with other "cultures" even teenage culture and make you better equipped for talking with your teen. Also, if you like the book, you can give it to your teen or vise versa. It's a way to connect. My mom and I connected through romance novels when I was a teen, I'm sure she wished we had read non-sex-heavy teen books to connect. I think she would have read them so we could talk about the issues and themes. I know she would have loved many of the ones I loved. (Though she might have banned HP for fundamentalist purposes. *LOL*)

MsHellion said...

I need to add to Irish--Hurrah! But that means you can't read Everneath (not an immediate HEA) and the Kill Me Softly has a HEA, but there was a couple things that didn't tie up right away, so i'm left to wonder. It's good, but I'm not sure it'd have the neat ending you want.

Maureen said...

Perhaps, in the greater scheme of things, I'm just not reading them because it's just an entire 'nother genre I'll have to ignore in order to have time to write... Or it will cut into my TV habit. Or the other reading stuff I want to read and never take the time to read...

The few I've picked up...geez, I don't know what it is that just doesn't gel with me... Too immediately introspective? Too self-centered driven?

I just don't know!

P. Kirby said...

*Returns to jot down title suggestions.*

Different strokes for different folks. I will say this: I don't find the writing and themes in "good" YA novels any less mature than those in so-called adult books. As Hellion notes above, there does seem to be a freedom in YA to merge genres and tackle complicated issues that is lacking in adult genres; a lack of adherence to convention. Yeah, some YA is quite twee. (Although my fave manga, Dramacon, is totally twee and wonderful.) But some of it is rather deep, and manages to be profound without the excessive exposition and blah-blah-blah of adult books.

Or maybe I never really grew up and out of my teenage angst. :)

Maureen said...

I wrote a blog for another blog...yeah, I do that sometimes...and addressed how female authors seem to lead the way through the genres and what challenges a reader...

In my lifetime, I've watched ladies take over scifi and move onto fantasy, then to urban fantasy, to paranormal, then to YA... All the while taking over mysteries completely, and making a dent in romantic suspense or just straught suspense.

With me and YA, I don't know if it's subject matter or maybe just characters...could be I just prefer adult characters...