Tag Archives: YA

Tuesday Review Day: Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

Susan Kaye Quinn’s Open Minds is another one that was on my 2014 Goals list that I’ve finally been able to cross off. I actually bought it quite some time ago because it was free for Kindle, but it, along with all of the other books I grab just because they’re free, sat in my Kindle library gathering theoretical dust. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading it, but I’m thrilled I did because it was a really great book.

Open Minds

Series: Mindjack
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Pages: 326
Rating: 4 stars

In 16 year-old Kira’s world, not being able to read minds makes you a freak. She has been waiting for her mind-reading powers to kick in so she can finally be a functioning part of society, but being 16 with no powers pretty much means they aren’t going to appear – she’s destined to be a “zero” forever. However, she soon discovers that while she doesn’t have the power to read minds, she does have the power to control, or “jack” them. With her fellow jacker Simon, she enters into a new world full of things she could have only dreamed of had she gotten the same powers as everyone else. But while at first her jacking abilities seem awesome, it quickly becomes apparent that there are those out there who would like to use the jackers for purposes much more sinister than just trying to fit in. Finding a fellow jacker to show her the ropes seems like a great idea at first, but that friendship ultimately lands her in places she thought could only exist in science fiction, places she must fight her way out of in order to keep her life and the lives of her loved ones in tact.

What I Liked:

1. That the mind-reading aspect was done well.  It was creepy, no doubt about that, but Ms. Quinn did a great job of making it seem like a perfectly normal aspect of every day life.

2.  Romance isn’t a big thing in this one, although it was still a functional part of the plot. Kira’s relationship with Simon was certainly flawed, but it gave her the opportunity to discover more about herself than she would have otherwise.

3. The reason she was different was very basic, no supernatural force necessary. Genetics were the driving force behind her differences, not some magic potion or monster bite.

What I Didn’t Like:

1. The physical descriptions of characters was somewhat lacking. We knew about hair color for a few, and some characters had some defining traits, like Raf’s Latino hotness, but for the most part there wasn’t really much to go on, nothing to really fuel the imagination and draw up pictures of the characters.

2. Minor thing: it was way too easy to get away with the whole Kestril confrontation. He knew exactly how powerful Kira was and how much control she could exert, so you’d think he’d be more on his guard.

3. The words the author created for the story – “demens,” “mesh,” “scrit,” etc. – were an ok touch but also kind of annoying. She described everything else about the world, so the language could have been explained, too.

I recommend this book to anyone who is into a more sci-fi young adult theme than paranormal. It doesn’t focus on a person who has super powers because they’ve been cursed/bitten/whathaveyou.  Kira, like everyone else in her world, was born with her powers. They just happen to be a bit different than the norm. It made for a really entertaining and quick read, so if you’re looking for something you can get through in a few days, this is a great option. It’s still free for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, and on Google Play, so if you’re curious it’s a great time to grab it.


Filed under Book Reviews, Cheap reads, Dystopian, Fiction, First in series, Mind control, Romance, Sci-Fi, Series, YA

What’s Up Wednesday: 100 Best Teen Novels

I love lists, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one. This one doesn’t need much explaining; it’s a list of the top 100 teen novels according to NPR’s Best-Ever Teen Fiction poll of 2012. Quite a few I’ve read, and several more are on my 2014 Goals list (which I’ve been sadly slacking on). Over 75,000 people voted, and this is what they came up with. No surprise what’s number 1! Hopefully this will give you some inspiration for what to check out next. 

I’m only listing the top 10 because it’s a really long list! List has been copied from here and all titles are linked. Happy reading!


Harry Potter Box Set

Harry Potter series

The adventures of Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, and his wand-wielding friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry, Ron and Hermione must master their craft and battle the machinations of the evil wizard Voldemort and his Death Eaters.


The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games series

In the ruins of a future North America, a young girl is picked to leave her impoverished district and travel to the decadent Capitol for a battle to the death in the savage Hunger Games. But for Katniss Everdeen, winning the Games only puts her deeper in danger as the strict social order of Panem begins to unravel.


To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from author Harper Lee explores racial tensions in the fictional “tired old town” of Maycomb, Ala., through the eyes of 6-year-old Scout Finch. As her lawyer father, Atticus, defends a black man accused of rape, Scout and her friends learn about the unjust treatment of African-Americans — and their mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley.


The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few more years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at the Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.


Hobbit or There and Back Again

The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.


Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye

With the author’s death, the classic novel about young Holden Caulfield’s disillusionment with the adult world and its “phoniness” will only rise in popularity — and controversy, since it is a favorite target of censors, who often cite profanity and sexual references in their efforts to ban the book.


The Lord Of The Rings

The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien’s seminal three-volume epic chronicles the War of the Ring, in which Frodo the hobbit and his companions set out to destroy the evil Ring of Power and restore peace to Middle-earth. The beloved trilogy still casts a long shadow, having established some of the most familiar and enduring tropes in fantasy literature.


Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

In a far future world, television dominates, and books are outlawed. The totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be burned by “firemen,” whose job is to start the fires rather than stop them. But one fireman begins to see the value of the printed word.


Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

Sixteen-year-old Miles’ first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.


The Book Thief

The Book Thief

Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel — a young German girl whose book-stealing and storytelling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

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Filed under Book lists, Fiction, Series, YA

A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest

This week’s review is on A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest, book 1 in the Shade of Vampire series. I’ve been looking for a new series to read for some time now, and I’m really happy I came across this one. Its been sitting in my Kindle library for months now, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. That’s one of the bad things about eReaders – I’ll see a book on sale super cheap (this one is $.99 on Amazon) so I’ll buy it and then promptly forget about it because it’s not staring me in the face like a physical book. By the time I actually get around to reading some of the books I buy they’ve usually been sitting in my library for months. I’ve probably got about 10 that are still waiting to be acknowledged.

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Author: Bella Forrest
Series: A Shade of Vampire
Published: October, 2012
Pages: 152
Rating3.5 stars

One evening after having an unhappy conversation with her best friend / crush, Ben, Sofia goes for a walk on the beach to decompress and feel sorry for herself. While there, she gets captured by a vampire named Lucas and is taken to reside in a vampire fortress called The Shade as a slave to his yet-to-be-awakened brother, Derek. Once Derek is awakened, he is drawn to Sofia because of her compassionate nature toward the other girls who have been taken captive. He chooses her to be his personal slave but treats her more like a princess than anything, protecting her from those in The Shade who would wish to harm her. After her first attempt at escape nearly results in her death, Sofia chooses to bide her time and hopefully come up with a newer more foolproof escape plan later on. After awhile, and although Sofia still harbors feelings for her old life, she slowly finds herself falling for Derek and begins to feel as though she would be unhappy without him should she be allowed to go free. When certain bizarre and unforeseen circumstances lead to her chance at freedom, she must make a decision that will change the course of her life, and the lives of those around her, permanently.

What I liked:

1. It was short. Normally that bothers me – the last time I read a super short series-opener was Morgan Rice’s Turned (see my review here) and I wanted to throw it (and the Nook it was on) out the window when I finished. This one managed to pack a lot into a short space, leaving me wanting to scoop up the second book as soon as I finished. This leads me to the second thing I liked…

2. Not a lot of filler. This goes hand in hand with its length. Because it was short, a lot of unnecessary talk and explanation was left out. A lot of times that kind of thing ends up seeming like padding, so even though this one was short, the lack of fluff made it good.

3. Sofia wasn’t a weakling. She fell in love with a vampire, but she didn’t become a completely different person (relatively speaking) in doing so. She made some pretty drastic changes to her life, but they were all because she wanted to and because she wanted to make the best of a crappy situation, not because she was talked into it by a good-looking vampire.

What I didn’t like:

1. Sofia’s LLI (Low Latent Inhibition) disease/disorder/whatever. I still don’t really see the point, other than it keeps her calm and focused. It seems more like a way to make her “special” and explain away her lack of freaking out than anything else. Hopefully it’ll get developed a bit more in the rest of the books.

2. The characters were pretty 2-Dimensional. They would say that they were sad/happy/angry/etc., but it didn’t really come through in the things they said and did. Maybe if the book had been a bit longer the characters could’ve been developed better, but as it was, they were pretty blah.

3. Talk and thoughts of escape were out the window pretty quickly. True, the likelihood of escaping from a treetop vampire fortress under a spell of darkness is pretty slim, but after Sofia’s first attempt at escaping, the reader no longer had any insight into plans to escape. Sofia said that she and the girls sometimes talked about it, but for the most part they seemed to write it off as impossible and focus on how to have fun in The Shade.

I’m usually pretty picky about vampire series. It’s really hard for authors to make them not cheesy, and while this one teeters on the edge of cheesy, it’s still pretty good. I’ve got a couple of other books lined up to read, so I’ll probably get to the rest of the series within the next month or two. Until then, this one is definitely worth checking out. It’s short, so even if you hate it, you won’t have wasted a huge amount of time on it.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, First in series, Paranormal, Romance, Self Publishing, Series, Vampires, YA

Touching Smoke by Airicka Phoenix

Last week I received an ARC copy of Airicka Phoenix’s book Touching Smoke, book 1 in the Touch series, through the Never Too Old for Y.A. and N.A. group on Goodreads. This book was fantastic. There’s no better way to say it. Here’s why:

        Garrison to Fallon: “Have you asked yourself why you want Isaiah as badly as you do?”

         Fallon (to herself): “I hadn’t, but then again, I was a seventeen year old girl and Isaiah was


Oh, and of course:

         “What would Buffy do?”

Why these quotes? Because they demonstrate how much of an idiot that Fallon Braeden isn’t.  Especially the Buffy one because, well, anyone who’s ever met me should know how much I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series, definitely not the movie). It really confirmed the awesomeness of this book for me. But I’m sure that doesn’t matter to anyone else, so, on to the more important stuff.

The other day, my high school students got into a discussion about the difference between love and lust. The general consensus was that the intense I’ll-die-without-you “love” teenagers often feel is more likely a product of lust rather than love. It develops quickly, and often is very brief. But when they’re in it, the world stops and they’ll be with each other forever. I remember how it was; I (unfortunately??) haven’t entirely blocked out high school. But oh, how I knew my 10th grade boyfriend and I would be together forever! We met, fell in love (big, OMG love), and broke up within the span of 4 weeks. It was super.

Why do I bring this up? Because Fallon said exactly what I should’ve been thinking at 16 or 17. “I was s seventeen year old girl and [insert hottest boyfriend ever’s name] was gorgeous.” That about says it all. Could it be love? Sure. After two days? Probably not. It’s more likely because he’s hot and there’s an intense physical attraction (it turns out that wasn’t the case, but kudos to her for acknowledging the possibilities). This is one of my biggest gripes with YA series, and almost killed Twilight for me. It’s still my guilty pleasure, though. I can’t help it.

Touching Smoke was about a 16 (almost 17) year old girl named Fallon and the mysterious biker who has been tracking her, Isaiah. Fallon has been on the run with her mother her entire life, bouncing from one private school to the next and living in dirty hotel rooms. It all comes to a halt after Isaiah finally catches up to her and her mother (after her mother runs him off the road to escape him). Isaiah has been following Fallon around for a good deal of time when the book begins, and she feels an odd pull toward him, although she’s never even seen his face or spoken to him (I had to do an eyeroll at this one, but I took it back later). After he rescues her from evil flame throwing mutants and a guy who can multiply himself to create his own army, the two make a break for it.

It turns out Fallon has some pretty bizarre personality traits that she hasn’t quite figured out yet, like having to eat every few hours or else she turns into an evil monster who wants to rip her mother’s throat out. After being nearly killed several times for reasons still unknown to her, Isaiah, who has some interesting powers of his own, lets her in on a good chunk of her life story. The basic gist was, she was created by a God-playing scientist named Garrison as the perfect weapon, but her mother has kept her hidden from him her whole life. Now, he wants her back and Isaiah is helping prevent that from happening. They end up being taken captive by Garrison and his cronies and they both discover that their uniqueness goes far beyond special powers.

What I Liked:

1. Pretty much everything.

2. Other reviews I read called Fallon self-centered, bratty, etc. I honestly found her quite realistic under the circumstances. If I were in her place, learning that my entire life had been an epic lie, I’d probably be a bit obnoxious and uncooperative, too.

3. I liked the different take on paranormal. They weren’t supernatural creatures, they were man-made humans, which in my mind is even creepier. Phoenix isn’t the first author to do this, obviously, but her take on it was new, which I liked.

What I Didn’t Like:

1. Fallon’s bizarre eating thing wasn’t really explained until kind of far into the book. Until it was explained, it just randomly showed up. It was obviously important, but it was annoying not knowing what the point was. It was also a bit inconsistent. After just a few hours without food, she’s ready to tear her mother’s jugular out, but she manages to survive on just a few french fries later on once she’s with Isaiah.  And does she wake up every few hours to eat?

 2. Fallon’s draw toward Isaiah was really annoying and childish in the beginning, so I was a little concerned that that was the way she was going to be toward him the entire book. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, but it got on my nerves enough that, if I were the type to not finish books after the first few chapters due to annoying protagonists, I would’ve missed out on a great book.

3. Fallon doesn’t seem too concerned as to why she and her mother have been on the run for so long. She accepts it as part of life and isn’t super crazy about it, but she doesn’t question it as much as you’d expect, even internally.

4. Fallon’s mother was a Brat. Yes, she was trying to protect her daughter, but for crying out loud, just tell the damn girl the truth already; there are guys throwing FIREBALLS at her! And come on, you almost run a guy off the road because he’s trying to keep tabs on your daughter, then when said daughter throws a piss fit because she is inexplicably drawn to him and wants to make sure he’s ok, you let her out of the car on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and DRIVE OFF?!?!


Yeah, no. Just. No.

Overall Rating?

4.5 stars

The time it took to really get the information I needed to fully enjoy the book took away from it a bit, but the fact that I was disappointed when it ended made up for it. I’d encourage anyone into YA paranormal to give it a try. And to be fair, my annoyance with Fallon’s mother isn’t going to affect the rating because honestly, if an author is causing a reader to feel this strongly about a minor character, she’s probably doing something right.

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.com

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Romance, Series, YA