I’ve decided I am going to end 2015 with no reviews left undone. So to kick off that pledge here are a few fast YA reviews – one contemporary and two fantasy.
Finding Paris, Joy Preble
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss
Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn’t going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.
Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared? When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.
What kind of sister just takes off and leaves her only sibling with no money and no keys? In the middle of the night! I’m pretty sure Holly would beat me up if I tried – like that time she punched me at Marshall Field’s back in the mid-80’s – but I digress. I really was disposed not to like Paris after she took off on Leo, even though I liked that she pushed her to talk to cute Max. I came around a bit when the scavenger hunt seemed like a fun romantic plot and then back to not liking her as well when things got serious.
While this hit some standard YA issues – sucky mom, series of step-dads, teens managing multi-state drives without issues, overall I thought it was still well done. I was definitely caught up until the end to see what happened to Paris. I was half right on my prediction of the ending, so I was glad I didn’t have it all figured out. I probably would have loved this when I was a teen and I did like Paris and Leo both in the end.
Silver in the Blood, Jessica Day George (Silver in the Blood #1)
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source- Galley from ALA Midwinter Meeting
Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.
So, Romania – you’d think it has to be Dracula yes? Why didn’t I think of that before I started reading? Oh well, while Vlad certainly is not without mention but not the focus of this new series. I enjoyed the culture shock for Dacia and Lou as they traveled from New York to their maternal homeland of Romania. Unfortunately I felt like I knew what was coming for Dacia and her cousin way too often in this book. It got a little frustrating constantly be predicting the story correctly.
What I really appreciated about this book was the friendship between Dacia and Lou. Their relationship was what made this work for me. I hope that loyalty doesn’t suffer due to the romances as the series continues. Actually this book was made up of a lot of strong women – even if I didn’t like them all – which was pretty great. I hope the series gets stronger because this was a concept with a lot of potential.
Sweet Unrest, Lisa Maxwell
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 8th 2014 by Flux
Source: Galley from ALA Midwinter Meeting
Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.
When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.
As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.
Is it just me that find voodoo totally fascinating? Sweet Unrest had a lot of potential – voodoo, ghosts, multi-generational feuds! I really liked the historic romance despite the sad story, but the modern love didn’t hook me in. The instalove was a bit much for me. On her own I liked Lucy, but Alex was almost more creepy than romantic for me. The mystery intrigued me and I loved the voodoo aspect. Definitely worth checking out if you like ghost stories or New Orleans based books!
Thank you Balzer & Bray, Bloomsbury Childrens and Flux for these advance copies in exchange for an honest opinion!