Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Contemporary YA

Wild Awake
Author:  Hilary T. Smith
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books, 375 pages
Publication Date:  May 28, 2013

From Goodreads:
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

Short Review:
I liked this book.  The author's writing style is incredible and the way she writes about Kiri's out of control spiral was so well-done, I could actually feel it happening through the writing.  It was much more serious than I was expecting, involving grieving and mental illness.  It took me awhile to like Skunk's character (the name and Kiri's description of him was a little off-putting), but I ended up really feeling for him and what he was going through.  Kiri is dealing with so much in this novel and she's definitely not the most reliable narrator and sometimes it was a bit confusing as to what was going on.  The scene in the beginning between her and Lukas...I was just cringing.  This book is realistic, messy, and heartbreaking at times.

The Book of Broken Hearts
Author:  Sarah Ockler
Publisher:  Simon Pulse, 352 pages
Publication Date:  May 21, 2013

From Goodreads:
Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

Short Review:
I enjoyed this book, it was a sweet, satisfying read, but it also was rather heartbreaking.  Jude had to deal with so much at such a young age, watching as her father loses his memory and knowing that at some point, he won't remember her at all.  I cannot imagine what that would feel like.  I really liked the slow building relationship between Jude and Emilio.  The scenes between them were great.  Jude was obviously attracted to him, but didn't want to get involved with him because two of his older brothers broke two of her sister's hearts.  But Emilio is patient and caring (although a little obnoxious and cocky in the beginning) and ends up being exactly what Jude needs.  They definitely have good chemistry together.

Pushing the Limits
Author:  Katie McGarry
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen, 392 pages
Publication Date:  July 31, 2012

From Goodreads:
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

Short Review:
I usually try and stay away from damaged characters, but I heard such great things about this book, I thought I would go ahead and read it.  I'm glad I did, but boy, they were both so damaged, it was just so sad.  But also uplifting because the book focused on them helping each other through a terrible time.  Noah's the bad boy and Echo is the formerly popular, now troubled girl.  Because they're both so damaged, they end up really understanding each other.  They just want to have normal lives again.  It was definitely an emotional read.

Posted by:  Pam


  1. Wild Awake and Pushing the Limits are both sitting on my shelves waiting to be read. After your reviews, I'm even more excited to get to them, especially Wild Awake! I love realistic fiction that's messy and heartbreaking even though it, you know, breaks my heart.

    Sara at The Page Sage

    1. Wild Awake is definitely a unique and interesting read. Hope you enjoy it! ~Pam

  2. I have e-galleys for both Wild Awake and The Book of Broken Hearts, but haven't been able to get to them. I really do want to read both. I've heard Pushing the Limits revolves around super damaged characters and I always have a hard time with books like that. Fun post!

    1. I don't usually do damaged characters, but Pushing the Limits was good. Actually, all three of these dealt with serious issues, so they were all a departure from the usual light and happy contemporary YA I have read. ~Pam

  3. I hear so many people describe Wild Awake as unique and messy, I like the sound of the former, but the latter really worries me. Pushing the Limits was an emotional ride, I agree. You really end up pitying the characters. Great mini reviews!

    1. I definitely need to space out my reading of these more emotional books. I would recommend Wild Awake, but just know what you're getting into (which I didn't). ~Pam

  4. I've been wanting to read Wild Awake for so long but I've just never gone through with buying it! Now I think I will definitely pick it up the next time I'm at the bookstore! I love those super emotional reads every once in a while!