Book Review: Young Adult (YA) Fiction

Book Review: Clouded by Envy by Candace Robinson

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Clouded by EnvyClouded by Envy by Candace Robinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In my quest to become a more well-read and genre-diverse connoisseur of great literature, I often pick up a book that I think will be one thing yet turns out to be something quite different in a wonderfully shocking and engaging way. I’ve read several novels written or co-written by Candace Robinson in the past, but when the opportunity to read her upcoming release, Clouded by Envy, arose, I had to jump on it — initially from the cover alone. What is that!?! I bet you want to know… it’s gorgeous and captivating and peculiar and oddly sensual, don’t you think? Throw in the always-intriguing concept and deadly sin of envy (I’m Roman Catholic, so my repression requires me to love it) and you’ve got all the makings of a fine book. Guess what? It totally lives up to that hype!

I’d classify it as science-fiction, fantasy, young adult, re-appropriation of a few fairy tales, and life advice. There are two worlds. There are twins who were abandoned by their parents. When they’re magically transported to a human environment, and they only look human at certain points in their lives, there’s bound to be a plethora of page-turning scenes, intense thrills, heart-stopping emotions, and a few eye squints — at least for me because I kept finding myself trying to guess how it could possibly end given the different themes encircling this complex story.

Robinson excels at capturing the young adult voice of someone yearning to escape and find whatever’s missing in their heart or mind. She draws you in based on the sadness of what’s happening to a seemingly kind and lovable character, then tosses you to the wolves with a scene so crazy or shocking, you no longer know what to believe. After being tossed around a bit, you develop your own sense of connection and wait for the next shoe to drop. In this case, the characters often forget to wear shoes, so it’s kinda fun to see how that eventually plays out (just including a little side humor so after you read the book, you’ll get what I am saying here).

If you like something different, or something you know well but that’s been turned upside and written from the perspective of a non-human creature, you’ll enjoy this novel. It’s on the shorter side in page count which makes it easy to get through in a few hours one afternoon or evening. It’s also something you can put down and pick up again without feeling lost. The story is told in alternating perspectives from the twin protagonists, but there’s a few other character POV’s sprinkled from time to time so you see what’s happening in totality. What a ride! I look forward to seeing everyone’s thoughts and reactions when it’s officially released in early 2019. I got lucky and received an ARC (thank you) which made me quite happy… this is the 4th or 5th book I’ve read by the author… always leaves me thirsting for the next one.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Not Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh

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If you aren’t following a blog called Bound To Writing, you should be. Author Jennifer Leigh, better known as Jenn, and I have both had pets named Ryder, so we’re bound to be connected through our writing. I picked up her book over the weekend and finished it in one sitting. Let’s get to the review so you can decide if you want to read it, too!

Not Like Everyone ElseNot Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not Like Everyone Else is a suspenseful young adult novel by Jennifer Leigh published in 2018. It is the first novel I’ve read by the author, but she has a few others and is a very prolific blogger on her website @ Bound to Writing. I’d been following her blog for about a year and finally purchased a copy of the book earlier this month. I wanted something on the shorter side but with a thriller feel to it, and it has well-served that purpose.

Ryan has left her abusive boyfriend, Corey, about a year after living together and graduating from high school. She has wavering self-confidence, lost some friends, and shares a typical love/hate relationship with her parents. While they support her, they’re also very pushy in her opinion. As she navigates the dating world and takes on a new job, she re-connects with a former frenemy from high school who now wants to be friends. We see Ryan’s life meander for a few weeks where she begins to show us there are some peculiar things going on around her. Either she’s leaving information out from her story, someone is stalking her, or there’s a middle ground where several interference factors are playing out.

After a boy she went on a date with goes missing, everything begins to fall apart. Ryan is either a killer, the next to be killed, or has information she doesn’t realize she has. Although the novel is mostly told from Ryan’s POV, we are treated to several chapters from the killer’s POV – and we don’t know who it is. We do know (s)he has a passion for torturing victims for specific reasons, but it takes about 90% of the book before we learn the truth. One of the best aspects of this novel which definitely added to the suspense is how the story is told in present tense. We are stepping through the entire plot / action (except for a few memories) as they happen to Ryan and some of her friends. It is here I found myself intrigued by the plot because the cast isn’t very large. There are 4 or 5 supporting characters plus a handful of seemingly innocuous background players. The author is smart, so the killer has to be someone we know. It’s not gonna be some random crazy shocker that makes no sense. And in the end, it does time together well with a believable and scary conclusion.

I played artful detective trying to guess. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the inability to decide who to trust among the characters, including the narrator herself. When it finally comes together, there’s an explosive chase scene and emotional turbulence. A lot of the novel is a psychological thriller with some added physical intensity. Leigh’s writing style is straightforward and clean based more on the action rather than grandiose descriptions. It works in a suspense novel. It was a quick read and I wanted to keep turning the pages to figure it all out.

I will read more from her book list in the next year and look forward to seeing her style and characterization develop to keep drawing us in further. Kudos to the author for keeping me entertained last night and possibly even awake in the middle of the night when my door creaked open for no reason!

About Jennifer Leigh

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with BloglovinView all my reviews

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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4.5 stars to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I found this book on the shelf in my building’s resident library and brought it home. I’d wanted to sample a Green novel but wasn’t sure which one. ‘Let It Snow’ was also there, so I took it, too! I added both to my Monthly Book Bucket List on my blog, and this was the book followers selected in my September Reads poll. Thank you so much. I adored the novel and was very excited to see so many other fans.

Cancer and death are rough topics. Kids or teens with the disease are even harder. Throw in an author whom Hazel is dying to meet (pun intended) and her first love, could this have any more tug on our heart strings? Maybe a little, hence the 4.5 stars, but I’d still recommend this book as one to get to when you can. I read a few of the negative reviews where they talk about the characters feeling like cardboard or the plot being too much too handle. For me, I thought it was all quite powerful and had lots of depth. There were a few surface qualities, but they’re easily overlooked when 90% of the book is definitely solid.

I knew there would be death. I wasn’t sure who, and I was somewhat surprised by when and how. I also was shocked at the incident with the author in Amsterdam. I never saw it coming — neither the initial meeting or the one weeks later. Wow! He’s got quite a personality… I’m not sure I’d have the strength to deal with writing about this topic in a book. It’s painful and horrifying. I wouldn’t want to interview patients with cancer as I’d feel too much of the emotion and the fear. I don’t think I’d do it justice in my words, but many times, Green conveys exactly what I would think if it had been me. Kudos to him for doing it justice on many levels.

The metaphors are strong. The language is simple. The messages are clear and direct. In the end, I found the whole thing charismatic (in terms of liking the characters) and emotional, though it didn’t actually make me cry like a few other books have in the past. I’m a little off in my reviews this week, probably because I’ve been reading a book a day and can’t seem to come up with the right words afterward. That said… I’m glad I read this one and definitely look forward to another Green novel. Suggestions on what’s next? Oh, I guess I need to see the movie, too… right?

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves by Robbie Cheadle

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I’m in absolute awe thinking about the creativity within the Cheadle family. Their culinary and literary talents are fantastic. In one of their newer books, Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbookRobbie Cheadle and her children take us on an extraordinary journey to the sugar crystal caves which are in danger of melting. Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet save the day showing us how much they love the world they live in. I need to try one of these recipes in the fall… all the creations look delectable. The stories are adorable. It’s the perfect way to bond with children on a lovely weekend where you stay in to have fun! Come check out all the fun with this book on the Children’s Book Readathon on my blog this week. Thanks!

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For more great creations from Robbie, check out past posts:

Book Review: Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries by Robbie Cheadle

Children’s Readathon – Robbie Cheadle’s Biscuit Art Sailing Boats

Children’s Readathon – Robbie Cheadle’s Fondant Art

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Charlotte’s Web by EB White

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Charlotte’s Web was selected as one of the young adult book’s to read on the Children’s Book Readathon I’m hosting on my blog this month. This classic by E.B. White has been seen countless times on television, but how many of us have actually read the book? This is my second read and review, but I’m glad to dive back in as you discover so much more the second time around. It also reminded me White wrote Stuart Little, too! I’d either never known or forgotten.

Death is not easy. Dealing with it as a child is painful. On a farm, there is death all the time. It’s a natural process, but Fern is not ready to let her father slaughter a runt of a pig. Although she successfully convinces him to let her raise the pig, once Wilbur–her name for her new pet–is old enough to become food for others, she tries even harder to convince her father not to slaughter him. Wilbur gets a new home at Fern’s uncle’s place where they promise to keep him for a few months until they need to do something like potentially eat him! That’s when Charlotte the spider comes along and weaves her magic to save Wilbur’s life. From talking animals to life lessons, this classic is a treasure. I cry every time I see it on the television, and now I can say I’ve cried when I read it. Poor Charlotte… she’s truly the epitome of a selfless creature.

White built perfection in this story. It’s harsh but not cruel. It’s sweet but not sappy. It’s realistic yet fantastical. I adore it. Everyone should experience this first hand. I’m so glad it won the poll for our readathon

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

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As part of a Children’s Book Readathon on my blog, we voted and are reading some classic young adult novels this week. Come join us! Today’s review is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe/The Chronicles of Narnia 6 Vols, the 2nd book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis. I read this book as a child several times, then again as an adult before the movies came out. This was probably my fifth time, but it’s one of my top ten all-time favorites.
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Set in England during the war, 4 children are sent off to a peculiar, older man’s country home for safety from German bombs. Shortly after they arrive, the youngest finds herself embroiled in a small game of hide-and-seek leading her to take refuge in a wardrobe. Eventually her siblings follow suit and they enter a magical world where mythical creatures and animals are all stuck in winter. They try to find a way out, learn they’re meant to co-rule the land, and find themselves captured and in a different kind of war. I’m being vague as everyone knows the story or if they don’t, I shall not ruin it for you!

C.S. Lewis as a brilliant imagination. I fall for these characters every time. I could read it repeatedly without ever bring bored. I’ve read the whole series once before, but I’m considering doing it again. I always forget that this is actually the second book in the series, too. Aslan is one of my favorite all-time heroes. The witch is also one of my favorite enemies. Between the bonds of siblings, trusting strangers, the similarities between the war inside the wardrobe and the one in reality, this book tells so much more than the journey on the surface.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

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As part of a children’s book readathon I am hosting on my blogNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry was voted as a winner in the poll. We assigned this stellar Newbery Medal winner to this week and have been sharing all our reviews. Normally I’m not a fan of reading literature that delves into this subject matter, but given it was written for young adults / children, I thought it would be less painful. While it was definitely less harsh than a few other books I’ve read on the topic, it was still quite emotional. To think what cruel people condoned because of differences in humankind is atrocious, but this book was wonderful.

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Lowry provides the right balance of positive and negative emotion ensuring readers aren’t swept up entirely in pain. The beautiful tale of unconditional love and support versus horrible actions and words from soldiers standing guard in a foreign country really conveys the message to kids around ten years old. There were atrocities in the past and we can’t hide them, but we can showcase them as tastefully as possible. Kudos to Lowry. I can’t wait to take on more of her books later this year / next year!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.