Friday, July 29, 2011

Nancy Werlin

I have a large backlog of reviews that need to be written, so I'm knocking out a bunch by featuring a specific author today. :)
Nancy Werlin!

This was Nancy Werlin's first book, which is glaringly obvious in some ways, as her writing has drastically improved since this book's publication. Instead of the supernatural books she's recently been putting out, this squarely fits into the realistic YA box. The book itself pushes the envelope, even looking at the title, with more provocative language than you'd see in many books. It all serves an important purpose (no pointless swearing or anything like that), and in the end, emphasizes the importance of certain scenes with that content, making it far more realistic than many YA books on the market. I spent a great deal of time while reading this book thinking about how drama-starved we are as readers. Werlin's book moves along at a slow pace, I will say that, but it depicts the average life of an average teen, making it a book readers can truly relate to. The main character, Alison, has her own set of challenges, as does everyone else, but they're not overdone for the sake of gratuitous drama, and for that, I have to thank Werlin. Some of the story gets buried beneath the many messages this book tries to send, and the middle seemed to drag on endlessly, but the end result is really worth it. Some of the plot points end on ambiguous, unresolved notes, but the ending of the story was breathtaking.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Killer's Cousin

I don't have very much to say about this book. I think it was probably the weakest of Werlin's books that I've read so far. The story moved along slowly, annoyingly so, with more filler than necessary. The writing was choppy, in contrast to the beautiful, evocative writing Werlin was so incredibly capable of in Impossible and Extraordinary. On one hand, it almost seems like it was written by an entirely different author, but on the other hand, it truly goes to show how much an author's writing develops as time passes. The book picked up in speed and interest toward the end, and did come to a satisfying conclusion, but by that point, I was honestly sick of reading the book and didn't care.

Rating: 2/5

The Rules of Survival

Oh, the amount of adoration I have for this book. It's an intense story about an incredibly intense topic, but at this point, Werlin's writing had really developed into something worth reading. The characters all seem to come to life in a way her previous books had failed to capture. Much of the story in this book is a mystery, and Werlin does a fantastic job at writing suspense between the lines. I could easily see this being written as a horrid cliche attempt at suspense, but it wasn't! I've rarely encountered such fresh stories and storytelling. The survivor angle is inspirational and brings everything full circle at the story's emotional conclusion. I would have liked to have heard more on the reasons behind his mother's issues, but that is the only complaint I have about the book, and as far as complaints go, that one's pretty nitpicky.

Rating: 5/5


Extraordinary is Werlin's newest book, and delves into, if such a thing were to exist, a realistic fantasy. I've heard tell that one of the new Things in YA literature has been faeries, but this has been one of the only ones I've bothered to read, and I'm very glad I did. It's rare to find a book, particularly in this day and age where every other YA book published is a "Paranormal Romance", that brings back memories of those old bedtime fairy tales, but this book captures that very essence. It was an immersive, enthralling reading experience, and refreshing to read, similar to Impossible. Two things of note: I really like that the main character's Jewish faith is important to her, and that importance is portrayed in the book without being preachy at all. (The same can be said of Alison in Are You Alone on Purpose?) The other thing that I really found meaningful was the importance of Mallory and Phoebe's friendship. While there is a romance story present, the fact that Mallory and Phoebe's story is the one that holds more importance is telling--again, it's hard to find good YA fiction nowadays, where romance is not the driving factor. Kudos to Werlin, for those things and for once again writing a fantastic novel.

Rating: 5/5

Also by Nancy Werlin:

Sunday, July 24, 2011


written by Ally Condie

Seriously, if I read one more YA dystopian novel where a significant plot rotates around a love triangle... This felt like reading The Hunger Games all over again, except where Suzanne Collins made the vital distinction of making it a survival story first, romance second, Condie did not. This book certainly focuses on a fascinating premise--what would living in a utopian society where each citizen's life was meticulously planned out be like, and what would its eventual downfall be? The book capitalizes on the "matching" phenomenon of the society intensely, this idea that a government would determine an individual's perfect romantic match. Most other aspects unfortunately fall to the wayside. There are hints of a brewing revolution, cracks in the system, but nothing comes to fruition until the last few chapters. Matched would have been a much more interesting book if the main story focused on the societal flaws and brewing revolution rather than Cassia and her dramatic triangular love life. It's Peeta vs. Gale all over again, except where Collins emphasized the fact that her books were not romance novels, Condie shoves the romance down the reader's throats. I'm incredibly excited to see where the sequels go with the story, because it does seem like the major plot is going to go from being the romance to the revolution, but I do still wish that had been the case in this book.

Rating: 4/5

I got this book from...:Amazon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope

The Last Little Blue Envelope
written by Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

I always thought the prequel was awkward and over-romanticized. I felt like I was reading a travel guide rather than a YA novel. Even from the start of this book, though, I could tell that Maureen has had time to develop her voice as a writer, and I found the sequel to be much more enjoyable than its predecessor. I loved the little added twist known as Oliver who was added to the story of the 13th envelope. He was a great addition to the quirky little cast of characters Maureen had previously set up. This book managed to pick up plot details that were left unsolved in the previous book, which made for a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. I ended up completely loving the sequel, and I’m incredibly glad Maureen decided to give it another shot. Totally worth it.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book from...:Amazon

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cryer's Cross

Cryer's Cross
Written by Lisa McMann

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

I went into reading this not having read a plot summary. Lisa McMann had mentioned the book in a Pittsburgh event she did, and I’ve had it on my to-read list since then. I read it in the middle of the night alone on a train, which, in retrospect, not the greatest setting to be reading a horror story. McMann is great at crafting straightforward, simplistic in a sense, plots. Her cards are laid on the table early on, and the reader knows what they’re getting into, for the most part. She does keep some secrets which make for great reveals later on in the story, but there’s no getting lost in too many plot threads or unnecessary verbage. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. I’m not sure what McMann’s plans are for this story, but I do hope it remains a standalone. It functions well as a one-read story, and was great for reading on the train.

Rating: 5/5

(Random note: Did any of you read that one Goosebumps book with the Haunted Schoolhouse? I was continually reminded of that while reading this story!)

Friday, July 1, 2011


written by Meg Cabot

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Since every other YA author has made their opinion heard on the trend in YA vampire novels...Meg Cabot decided to join the trend, responding not with a line or two on the subject, but with a whole new book series. I don't want to bore you all with the never ending T-word comparisons, but yes, they exist, and no, Meg, the ending of the book doesn't really make up for it. This is a really difficult review to write, to be honest. I would rather have written it after reading Overbite, but that hasn't come out yet. I'm really not sure what the set-up in this book is going to be leading up to, so it's hard to make any sort of judgments. Half of this book seemed to be passive aggressive jabs at Twilight, though, with the other half emulating the very novel it appeared to mock. Although, I haven't read Dracula, so I'm not as educated as I should be about the background behind this book. It does appear to fall into many of the typical vampire tropes. I do give Meg props for the short, action packed chapters. Unlike many of the recent authors I've been complaining about, the woman really knows how to fill out a story and keep it interesting. I just wish the stories she wrote could go back to what she does best--adorable fluffy YA goodness.

Rating: 3/5

I got this book from...: LibraryThing Early Reviewers