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Results 1 - 25 of 75
1. Middle Grade Round Up: Mini Reviews

I don’t get around to reading as much middle grade as I’d wish to, but I’ve really lucked out so far this year. Every middle grade I’ve read has been so charming and heartwarming. A real highlight has been Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger, but today I’m bringing you two other 2015 MG’s I’ve really enjoyed.     Title: Echo Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan Rating: 3.5 A lovely story and beautifully told, this book tells the tales of 3 different children in different times and place in the world all connected by one magical harmonica. Friedrich in pre-WWII Germany is first hand witness to the slow motion horror of Hitler’s rise to power and gradual degradations to his family.  Mike in a Depression era orphanage fights to keep his little brother from being adopted without him. Ivy in WWII era California comes up against the harsh racism of segregated education and the horror of... Read more »

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2. What We Saw: Review

If What We Saw isn’t already on your radar for September 2015 releases, it should be. I can’t say that I enjoyed it – the book, for the most part, centers on the rape of a high school student by a group of her peers and its effect on her community – but it’s a good book and an important one, and you should read it. If you’ve ever wanted a book that unpacks and critiques rape culture, What We Saw is here and it’s a good start. Here’s the premise of What We Saw: high school junior Kate Weston wakes up the morning after a party with little memory of what happened the night before. While Kate’s concerns are initially about herself (did she drive herself home? Is her car across town? Does Ben Cody, longtime good friend and fellow scholar-athlete, like her?), her focus quickly shifts. The next day at... Read more »

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3. Challenger Deep: Review

Challenger Deep is a difficult book to read, but it’s worth it. I’ve been excited about Challenger Deep since I heard Neal Shusterman and his son, Brendan, speak about it at NCTE and ALAN. They both spoke pretty openly about the family’s experience with mental illness, and also mentioned that some of the artwork Brendan had created during his illness had been incorporated into the final novel. I’ve been really interested in seeing what the book would look like since then. More complex representations of mental illness can only be a good thing when it comes to YA lit, and I’m happy to say that Challenger Deep absolutely satisfies on that count. Challenger Deep takes the form of two alternating narratives: Caden Bosch’s day-to-day life with his friends and family, which is becoming increasingly disrupted by his mental illness, and his other life as the artist-in-residence aboard a ship. The ship is headed... Read more »

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4. The Invasion of the Tearling: Review

The Invasion of the Tearling is not the book The Queen of the Tearling was for me. (This is to say that I was not excitedly texting everyone I knew at 4 a.m. telling them to GO READ THIS BOOK.) In part, this is because The Invasion of the Tearling is a much more ambitious, a much darker, and a much harder book to read than its predecessor. One of the criticisms I remember seeing quite a bit around the interwebz for The Queen of the Tearling was the lack of clarity around The Tearling’s backstory. “What is this crazy dystopian medieval fantasy land and why are we given very little information about how it came into being?” For those of you who had those feels, let me tell you that a good 50% of this book is dedicated to answering precisely those questions. The Invasion of the Tearling alternates... Read more »

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5. The Awesome: Review

Imagine being a 17 year old hunter-in-training, going about your business vanquishing poltergeists, mucking up vampire politics, and getting into other general supernatural hijinks.  You know, the usual. Now imagine the one obstacle in your way to becoming a fully fledged hunter: losing your virginity (it turns out vampires go crazy in the presence of virgin blood). This is the dilemma for our heroine, the magnificently irreverent, snarky, and confident Maggie. It’s hard enough to navigate the realms of normal adolescence. Add in several layers of paranormal complications, and many years of homeschooling, and our Maggie finds herself at a disadvantage in swiftly accomplishing this goal. The conversation in which Maggie’s hunter mom, Janice, informs her of this unique challenge sets the stage for one of the highlights of the story: the beautifully complicated yet loving mother/daughter relationship. The two are close, but have plenty moments of conflict and misunderstanding.... Read more »

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6. One Good Dragon Deserves Another: Review

If only a perfectly nice dragon could be left well enough alone to manage his curse removal business with his partner (and crush) the human mage, Marci. Unfortunately for Julius, his family is far too big and far too, well, draconic to ever let him be. And clan seer Bob claims to have big plans for him. This does not at all add up to a quiet lifetime of removing tank badger spirits (don’t ask) from the erstwhile cursed. This series is just so much awesome fantasy fun. Picking up shortly after the events of Nice Dragons Finish Last, Julius and Marci are giving it their best to scrape by running a curse removal business when major events start happening that throw the two into a situation way beyond their means. Estella, seer, daughter of the Three Sisters and long time enemy of the Heartstriker clan has put into motion... Read more »

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7. The Stolen Moon: Review

I’m so glad I started the new year off right by reading The Stolen Moon. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this sequel ever since I devoured its predecessor, The Lost Planet, in one sitting last January. Well, I loved this installment even more. There are scenes of breathtaking action, as well as heart aching tenderness, against the backdrop of an ever expanding and politically complex universe. More please and thank you! We pick up not long after where we left Chase safely onboard the starship Kuyddestor and reunited with his sister Lilli. With still no memory of his old life, his parents, or how he got into this predicament, there are still plenty of answers to pursue. And as it turns out new danger is lurking just out of sight. As a reader who is largely driven by characters and how much I do or don’t connect with them this book was... Read more »

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8. A Darker Shade of Magic: Review

Hello! Do you like humorously told fantasies, unique magic, complex heroes, heroic villains, parallel worlds, and London(s)? Of course you do. You are a person of quality and good taste. So, great news! This book has all of those things. I mean, honestly, it had me at “parallel Londons!” Each London is distinct and wondrous in its own way. I loved being able to follow the characters through to the different worlds. Even our own dreary, magic-less* Grey London is a joy to visit. Red London is vibrant, opulent, and full of life. White London is gorgeously dark, creepy, and dangerous. Atmospheric, beautifully detailed, and rich in the character of its worlds; Schwab writes in such a way that I felt like I could step off from the main story and wander around in her various Londons exploring for days. This is world building done right. And give me a... Read more »

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9. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda: Review + Guest Post

When you take the chance on doing a cover reveal for a book you haven’t read yet, it’s a leap of faith: not only that the artwork is going to be eye-catching, but that the book is going to be awesome. When we hosted the cover reveal for Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda last year, I had a good feeling about the synopsis, but I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy the book! It’s a funny, sweet story about a boy who falls in love with the stranger who’s writing him letters–a stranger who seems to know Simon’s heart better than he does himself. I liked that in this coming out/coming of age story, Simon is sure of his own sexuality, even though he’s painfully vulnerable because he’s not sure how everyone around him will react to his being gay. The book features... Read more »

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10. The Storyspinner: Review

It can be hard to stand out in the saturated YA fantasy market. It seems that inevitably there will be an outrageously evil king/powerful noble, a lost princess, and the recovery of unknown powers. And those elements are all present here, but in the hands of a skilled author they are more than welcome. In taking such an overly done story and making it interesting and original, I am happy to say that Becky Wallace succeeds in spades. I admit that I stumbled a bit in the beginning of this novel. Even though I am such a veteran fantasy reader, I need maps. They help me orient myself to the world and understand everything so much better. My mind races too much when introduced to foreign proper names and concepts to just let me be and enjoy the reading experience. I am a “constant flipper.” Yes, index finger permanently marked... Read more »

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11. An Ember in the Ashes: Review

I couldn’t put Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes down. This is a statement of fact: I picked it up late at night when I couldn’t sleep, started reading, and had to force myself to go to bed approximately 300 pages later. (Wendy can vouch for me here as the lucky recipient of some early morning “OH MY GOD THIS IS SO GOOD” texts.) I can’t remember the last time this happened and it was excellent. It reminded me of how I felt about reading as a teenager, which is to say that I was engrossed in Sabaa Tahir’s imaginary world. And that is basically what I want to reiterate, now that An Ember in the Ashes is out and ready and waiting to keep you up at night. Oh my God, you guys. This book is so good. It’s not a perfect book (more on that later) but it is... Read more »

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12. A Court of Thorns and Roses: Review

In the deepest winter forest an arrow is shot in desperation. The quarrel finds its target, but the consequences are far reaching and unexpected. Feyre, youngest daughter of an impoverished nobleman, has unintentionally killed one of the Fae and broken the treaty between humans and Fae. Now she must trade her life for that of her slain foe. Caught between death or handing herself over to live in the lands of the Fae, never to return to her family, Feyre surrenders. This is a totally new fantasy world, completely separate from that of Throne of Glass. Feyre lives on an island resembling Great Britain that is divided among human ruled lands and the realms of the Fae (many blessings upon Bloomsbury for including a map for those of us “constant flippers”). The humans live in constant fear of the Fae, and the Fae live in constant fear of the ever... Read more »

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13. End of Days: Review + Giveaway

  Well, it’s the end of an era isn’t it? I wasn’t even a little bit nervous that this book would fail to deliver on all the promise of its predecessors and I am so happy to tell you that I was right in my confidence. If you are looking for heart pounding action, a fierce but all too human heroine, the swooniest of swoons and, of course, intense creepiness you will find it, and more, in End of Days. Like World After, End of Days picks up almost immediately where its predecessor left off. Penryn is reunited with both Raffe and Paige, but they are still plagued with problems. The world is still a mess, overrun with angels, humans, and other monsters. Raffe still needs his wings back and Paige needs help steering back to humanity. As is to be expected this book is super creepy. You thought you’ve... Read more »

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14. Devoted: Review

I don’t know how to convince you to read Devoted, but I think you should. It’s not the sort of thing I usually pick up – I do read broadly, but my favorite books are more likely to be sci-fi or fantasy than contemporaries – but I’m glad that I did, in this case. Devoted hasn’t seemed to receive much attention so far and I’m not sure why? Because this book is an excellent, though very quiet, character study. And in addition to this, it’s beautifully written and it engages with many issues that are central to young adult literature. It’s a good one, you all. (And I don’t think you need to be religious or Christian to read it; do not be scared off by the title or the synopsis. I grew up in an interfaith household that was super different from this, and liked it anyway.) The central premise is as follows:... Read more »

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15. Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: None but read Anna and the French Kiss first
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Released: September 29, 2011
Website: http://www.stephanieperkins.com/


Book Summary:
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

First off I should have read Anna and the French Kiss before reading this one. Lola and the Boy Next Door is not a sequel but a "companion" novel. It takes place after Anna and the French Kiss. Anna and St. Clair play a minor role in this story but obviously I now know how their story ended without having read their book.  Having enjoyed Lola I'll be going back and reading Anna and the French Kiss ASAP.

Lola and the Boy Next Door was one of those feel good, make you smile, read in a day kind of books. I loved the quirky characters in this story. Cricket was by far my favorite, he is just so sweet. I'm a succor for the boy next door turns into much more than a friend story line.

I'm not a fan of sex in young adult books. However if it is going to be there I wish it were always written the way it was in this book. It was done without the blow by blow details. Statements such as I lost my virginity on my seventeenth birthday work for me. I know it happened but I don't have to skip paragraphs or pages as every step is detailed. Of course there is still the issue that Lola was just 16/17 and her boyfriend was 22. I wasn't a fan of Max and appreciated Lola's parent's concerns and attempts to monitor and limit Lola's interactions with him.  I don't usually enjoy reading about gay characters but I loved Lola's parents.




Rating: 4 Stars - Great Book

Content: Some language including a couple F words, there is sex but it's never graphic or described in any details, just things like - on my birthday I lost my virginity or I put my shirt back on, a few crude comments and some innuendo, Lola's parents are 2 gay men.

Source: Download from Overdrive

2 Comments on Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, last added: 2/24/2012
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16. Book Review: Stork by Wendy Delsol

Title: Stork
Author: Wendy Delsol
Series: Stork #1 of 3
Publisher: Candlewick
Released: October 12, 2010
Website: http://www.wendydelsol.com/

Book Summary:


Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.

Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life.

So this one gets point for originality. I've seen a lot of myths, lore, legends, and folktales tackled but have yet to read a book based on storks, you know the "where babies come from" kind of storks.   I've gone back and forth between giving this book 3 or 4 stars and finally went with 4 simply due to unique spin this book put on the folktales.  Of course this book did contain many of the typical YA fantasy/paranormal story-line elements you'd expect but it had enough inventive differences to make it memorable. I was however a little weirded out by the way the Stork Society called each other to gather for a meeting, it kind of made my skin crawl just thinking about it, perhaps that aspect was a little too original.

This is the first book in a series and I'll likely pick the next book up from the library to see where this story-line goes.  If you enjoy the young adult genre and are looking for something a little different give this one a try.




Rating: 4 Stars - Great Book

Content: Some language, storks deliver babies so sex is implied and a couple of the candidates (including one teenager) are not married.

Source: Library

Also by Wendy Delsol:

2 Comments on Book Review: Stork by Wendy Delsol, last added: 2/25/2012
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17. Book Review: Awakened by Ednah Walters

Title: Awakened
Author: Ednah Walter
Series: Guardian Legacy
Publisher: August 22, 2010
Released: Pill Hill Press
Website: http://www.ednahwalters.com/


Book Summary:
Most teens turn sixteen and get the license to drive, but Lil Falcon gets the license to kill demons. Orphaned as a child and raised by an eccentric grandfather, Lil is concerned with surviving high school and is unaware that she's a Guardian-a being with super powers charged with killing demons and protecting humanity. When she meets Bran, a mysterious boy with amazing abilities, his psi energy unlocks her latent powers. But Bran has a secret that can ruin their growing relationship, and the truth she discovers may destroy everything she believes in unless she finds the right balance between love and sacrifice.

When originally given the chance to review this book I turned it down. I took one look at this cover and dismissed the book. I really had no desire to read it thinking it was likely going to have content I'd find objectionable.

However over the past year or so I've had many interactions with author Ednah Walters. A recent plea for me to review the sequel to this book opened a line of discussion in which I was assured there wasn't anything really objectionable in this book so I agreed to read it.

They say don't judge a book by it's cover and for me that applies to Awakened. My initial judgement of this book based on the cover was far from accurate. Other than a couple mild swear words there wasn't anything objectionable in this book. In fact it was far cleaner than most of the young adult books I've read lately.

I found the mythology of the Xenithians and Hermonites to be both unique and intriguing. The glossary of terms, characters and lineage at the beginning of the book came in handy more than once as the story unfolded. I'd expected this book to be more romance than anything else but the romance was just a part of the story line.  This book was a fast paced good verses evil tale that was full of great characters and relationships. I will definitely be picking up the next book Betrayed.




Rating; 4 Stars - Great Book

Content: Cleaner than most YA I've read lately- just a little mild language

Source: From Author for Review

5 Comments on Book Review: Awakened by Ednah Walters, last added: 3/2/2012
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18. Book Review: Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Title: Best of Me
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Series: None
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Released: October 11, 2011
Website: http://nicholassparks.com/

Book Summary:


THE BEST OF ME is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks. Now middle-aged, they've taken wildly divergent paths, but neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever altered their world. When they are both called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter, they will be forced to confront the choices each has made, and ask whether love can truly rewrite the past.

I'm a sucker for Nicholas Sparks. I've read EVERYTHING he has written and enjoyed all of it. I think he is a great writer. However if you haven't read a Nicholas Sparks book don't start with this one, it's not his best. Try A Walk to Remember, The Notebook or The Last Song as an introduction to his work. If you've read his books and enjoy them then read this one too.

Since I've read all of his books I was totally prepared for the emotional manipulation and classic Nicholas Sparks life is not always the happily ever after we may think it should be ending. Good thing I was prepared because he dished it out in droves in this one.  I thought Dawson Cole was a great character but I wasn't as taken with Amanda.  I'm a happily ever after ending person and the ending of this one was not the happily ever after I would have liked to have seen.  I saw it coming but still wish things could have somehow gone differently.

Sidenote: Prior to starting this one I had just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss. As Anna described the books her father writes I couldn't help but think of Nicholas Sparks.





Rating: 4 Stars - Great Book

Content: Language, violence, implied sex and other mature content that wasn't overly graphic however this is definitely a book for "adults".

Source: Library

5 Comments on Book Review: Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks, last added: 3/5/2012
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19. Ancillary Sword: Review

Breq is a spaceship. Or, rather, she used to be. Once the AI consciousness of the ship known as Justice of Toren, Breq is now contained in a single ancillary (the how and why of which is detailed in Ancillary Justice). Perhaps some more explanation? An ancillary is a human body (most often a civilian casualty) with a ship’s consciousness and some rather tricked out implants that make them super soldiers. Ancillaries are an extension of the ship and see and know everything the ship does. Ships have many ancillaries and they are all collectively the same entity. When a human becomes an ancillary the person they were is dead forever. Through such means the Radchaai Empire has been able to conquer and colonize much of humanity. Okay, that’s as simple a primer I can do without giving too much away! Man, I just love this series. Finally, finally! Here... Read more »

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20. Exquisite Captive: Review

Finally, a paranormal romance where the focus is on the paranormal and not a human who unwittingly stumbles upon it. Exquisite Captive is a breath of fresh air. It has jinni in it. Jinni! This book is full of unique, immersive mythology, swooning romance, and the importance of free will. Although we briefly go into the heads of a few different characters, at the heart of it this story is about Nalia. Nalia is a jinni, and not just that. She is the last surviving member of the ruling class of jinni, called the Ghan Aisouri, meaning she is one of the most powerful jinni alive. After escaping the slaughter of her people by the fire-wielding Ifrit she is sold into the jinni slave trade, called the Dark Caravan, and enslaved to Malek, a man who never seems to age and refuses to use his third wish, which is the... Read more »

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21. The Body Electric: Review

Raise your hands if you enjoy any of the following: Conspiracy theories! Fighting the man! Technology in the future! Androids! What it means to be a human! …or embodied! …or an individual subject! Playing “catch that allusion” re: sci-fi as a genre! Because The Body Electric thinks about all of these things, and if these are things you are also interested in thinking about, you’re in for a good time, I promise. While I wasn’t totally in love with everything in this book (and I’ll get to that), the book does a lot of things right: it entertains many interesting questions, features solid world-building, and is written beautifully. And those aspects were enough to make my readerly experience a positive one. Here’s the premise: our heroine, Ella Shepherd, lives in postwar Malta in the new city of New Venice, the site of a new global government. Shortly after Ella discovers that she... Read more »

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22. Otherbound: Review

Otherbound is super interesting, you all. If you like incredibly original fantasy, detailed world-building, and diversity to the max in your reading, you should go pick up Otherbound. Here’s the premise: whenever Nolan blinks (or sleeps, or closes his eyes for any period of time whatsoever), he becomes trapped in Amara’s mind. He’s been diagnosed with epilepsy, but no medication seems to have much of an effect on his blackouts. These blackouts have been pervasive since he was a little kid, and have had real physical, emotional, and social consequences for him: he was hit by a car during one blackout and now wears a prosthetic leg; he feels helpless at his lack of control over his blackouts; he also can’t spend time with family and friends without worrying about whether he’s going to get pulled into Amara’s mind. Amara lives in a totally different world – the Dunelands – and has no... Read more »

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23. Every Breath: Review

There are perhaps some things you should know about me before I embark on this review: I am not traditionally a fan of either contemporary or mystery I am not a fan of the popular BBC series Sherlock nor any other Sherlock adaptation I really do not like bad boy love interests I freaking adored this book When I saw that my friend Gillian was absolutely losing it over the ship in this book I knew I had to get my hands on it ASAP! And boy, did she not let me down! It’s going to take something really special to get this SFF loving gal to even read a contemporary let alone love it. Congrats, Ellie Marney. You succeeded in spades. Man, how good is the characterization in this book? I loved Rachel so much. It’s rare that I think that a character in YA comes across as an... Read more »

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24. Beware the Wild: Review

    Well, this book was one deliciously creepy treat. It’s the sort of book that wholly transports from the first pages and ensnares the reader into its darkly magical web. At its best, the  gothic aspects of this story reminded me of Strange Sweet Song and its dark fairy tale feel brought to mind Cuckoo Song. Those are two of my favorite books of 2014 and I do not make the comparison lightly! Sterling Saucier (what a tremendous name, btw) is dealing with loss on several fronts. Immediately, her brother has disappeared into the town’s mystical swamp. Years earlier her alcoholic and abusive father left their family. Of course, his departure was not without significant scarring itself for both Sterling and Phineas. And the repercussions of that departure echo throughout the story. I was quite struck, actually, by how this was both a paranormal novel and a contemporary “issue”... Read more »

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25. Deeper: Review

If you’re a reader whose interests tend towards (angsty, challenging, occasionally sweet) romance, I can’t recommend Robin York’s Deeper enough. To be clear, this is absolutely not a book for young readers. Deeper definitely falls into the New Adult genre, and as such, is one of the best New Adult novels that I’ve read in the past year. (My favorite of the year is probably Leah Raeder’s Unteachable, which Wendy reviewed a few months ago.) Although I’m still trying to find my bearings in NA lit in general, I like Robin York’s work quite a bit. (This is probably because she is also romance writer Ruthie Knox, who is a person you should read if you like contemporary romances.) Anyway. Here’s what I liked about Deeper (despite what seems to me to be an awful-ish title, and not just because it’s also the title of a lesbian romance novel that is crazy bad). If you’re interested in NA and... Read more »

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