Sunday, June 7, 2015

Intensely Seasoned Snack Size Reviews

Those YA books sure can pack a punch! I've read several intense/intriguing books for the young adult crowd, and here are some of my snack size thoughts to chew on...

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
Rating: Spring
Currently: $12.21 on Amazon (Hardcover)

I loved, loved this book's witty and clever references to a plethora of Disney movies and characters! The author did a great job of balancing familiar elements with characters that came into their own in this intriguing dual world of "good vs. evil."

I was a little uncomfortable with the darkness and heaviness of this book, although I suppose that's to come with the territory of such a premise, where Disney villains are banished to an island together and imprisoned there. The glimpses of light and hope, though - such as the friendships forged and the sacrifices made, especially toward the end - were sweet and made the read meaningful, despite my uncertainties.

(Side Dish: I discovered that this book is actually a lead-up to a Disney channel original movie. I wasn't super impressed by the trailer I found after experiencing the scope and characterization of the book. You can check it out HERE, though, if you're interested!)

* * *

Rook by Sharon Cameron
Rating: Spring/Summer
Currently: $12.78 on Amazon (Hardcover)

Wow. This book kept me up until dawn one night and then took up hours of the next day! It's a very engaging story, although also quite violent and troubling. What would happen if we lost all our technology we depend on? What would we do if history repeated itself with something like the French Revolution? Thought-provoking, intense, and romantic, Rook is another excellent story by Sharon Cameron - one that ignites the imagination and sparks meaningful contemplation about the nature of humanity and the choices we make.

* * *

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Rating: Spring/Summer
Currently: $12.78 on Amazon (Hardcover)

Rosamund Hodge has done it again - created a terrifying and utterly enthralling world that tests the limits of her characters' devotion, endurance, and love. Crimson Bound is quite a different story from Cruel Beauty, one that features a heroine driven by guilt and fueled by the desire to make a difference despite her bad decisions. The story is quite disturbing in parts, but it also raises some important questions and thoughts to ponder about what it means to be human, the burning desire to live, and the need for defiant hope and forgiveness. It's a beautiful - sometimes startling and surprising - and meaty read that draws on spiritual and mythological elements and themes. And yes, there's a little bit of romance in there, too. :)

Appetizers: Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite...
  • "Do you think that doing the right thing will always be pretty?"
  • "He grinned at her, and it felt like there was no space or barrier at all between them, like his smile was happening inside her heart."
  • "This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope."

* * *

Bonus Middle Grade Review!

I'm with Cupid by Anna Staniszewski
Rating: Spring
Currently: $7.99 on Amazon (Paperback)

This was a fun and yet serious read. I was intrigued by the premise and how Marcus and Lena came to learn and appreciate new things about love and death due to their switch in roles (matchmaker and soul collector). Marcus was a total sweetie! His tender heart, his love for his grandpa and Lena, his attachment to the old-fashioned dating book - all completely endearing. The story line involving his grandpa really hit home and offered a compassionate look at a difficult and heartbreaking emotional reality.

I had a little less fondness for Lena's character, but she had her moments. I don't know if I necessarily like the ambiguity of the supernatural and afterlife elements, but I still enjoyed the story and the characters' growth. I'm with Cupid is cute, sweet, sad, and clever. An overall enjoyable middle grade read - with a cliffhanger epilogue!

*With thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing me with an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Book releases July 7, 2015.

"Seasoned" or "unseasoned" is in reference to my book rating system. Thanks to Juju of Tales of Whimsy for the inspiration regarding mini reviews!


Sparks of Ember said...

They all sound interesting, though the Disney movie feels like they are trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Ever After High books/movies.

Amber Holcomb said...

Sparks of Ember,

Ah - that could be! The movie trailer comes across as be honest. But I think the characterization in the book was very interesting, and I loved all the fun Disney references. :)

Hope you enjoy these if you check them out!


Rissi said...

Sounds like a great group of reads, Amber! Thanks a ton for sharing your recent finds. Curious about Crimson Bound and the Disney book (and movie) could be a fun "escape" read. :)

Amber Holcomb said...


It is! And happy to! :)

Crimson Bound is definitely intense and dark, but Rosamund Hodge's writing is so beautiful and poignant. Hope you like her books if you give them a try!

And The Isle of the Lost is a fun escape read, for sure! It's on the dark side due to the fact that the story focuses on the villains, but overall a fun reading experience. :)

Glad to have caught up on some reviews finally, hehe! Thanks for the comment, friend!