Tag Archives: YA Reading

Gallant by VE Schwab

V.E. Schwab is one of my favorite authors. I have read almost everything she has written, with a few outlying short stories and graphic novels still on my TBR list. When I hear that she has a new book coming out, I preorder it as soon as I can because I want to support her writing (books do better when they are preordered) as well as I want to read whatever she writes as soon as I possibly can.

Gallant is a gothic ghost story. It follows the story of Olivia Prior, a young girl who was left as a baby on the steps of an all girls school with only her mother’s journal. Her life changes when she gets a letter from an unknown uncle asking her to come live at the family estate, Gallant. But when she arrives, she finds out that this uncle has been dead for over a year, and there was no way that this letter would have come from him.

There are a lot of themes throughout the book. Communication is an obstacle for Olivia as she is mute, but she is able to mentally connect with the ghouls she encounters which is a bit of foreshadowing to how everything is connected. In true gothic tradition, the house, itself, becomes a character that reveals her own history, and eventually reveals the family secret hidden behind a door in a wall that is falling apart.

The use of senses, what Olivia hears, smells, tastes really brings the story to life. It’s paced well and the character arcs are easy to follow. However, it’s not this author’s strongest book. It seems to fall between middle grade and ya at times. It feels more like a short story than a novel. The plot is pretty predictable, similar to ghost stories shared around the campfire. It’s eerie, for sure, and not something I would read with the lights off, but it was simpler than I expected, plot-wise.

It’s a fun read. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys this author or enjoys a good ghost story.

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All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

This book is heavy and complicated and stunning. There are some trigger warnings, which the author includes at the beginning of the book. Some of them are abuse, sexual assault, and prejudice. It doesn’t get detailed or graphic, but you know what is happening, and you go through the journey with the characters as they come to terms with them.

The two main characters, Sal and Noor, are seniors in high school. Sal is an amazing writer who lives with his parents at the motel that they run. His mother is sick and his father is an alcoholic and their motel is not doing well. Noor lives with her uncle after her entire family dies in an earthquake in Pakistan. While she wants to study to be a doctor, her uncle would rather she stay at home and work in his liquor store.

The book switches between each of their points of view and also Sal’s mother, Misbah, who has a few chapters dedicated to her history and perspective. It deals with so many different kinds of loss and the way people deal with it. The writing is fluid between the different points of view, which keeps the pacing steady as you move from one twist to another. Even when things are revealed, they are not tied up neatly.

It’s really easy to get invested in the characters, even to the point of frustration in their choices. While the ending does bring closure, it is messy and complicated which makes it more real. Noor’s character arc is difficult and my favorite as she deals with abuses in her life, including prejudice at school being an immigrant. The way she comes to terms with different aspects in her life in her own time is really beautiful.

I also liked how faith played a part in all of their lives. They spoke about prayer and faith and how it played a part in their culture and family. It was fascinating to learn about the Muslim faith and how imperfect and yet steady it could be in their lives. This coming of age story is definitely a great recommendation for teen and young adult audiences with the trigger warnings that were mentioned.

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Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: A Review

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you have not read the Vampire Academy series, I do not recommend this as your first book.  This is clearly a spinoff of the original series and answers questions left when that series ended.  However, if you loved that series, I think you will love this new book!

It follows the alchemists after the last book of the VA series ended.  Sydney Sage had befriended the main character of the VA series which labeled her as a “Vamp Lover” and almost sent her to the re-education center.  Instead, she is given one last assignment to prove that she hasn’t fallen away and is able to do her job.  There are other characters as well in the book that came from the previous series, namely Adrian, Eddie, and Jill.  They have to take Jill (who is Moroi royalty) into hiding because of an assassination attempt on her.  Eddie is her Dhampir guardian, and Adrian is there to help keep up the facade.  They pose as a family at a private school, and while Jill makes the difficult transition, Sydney uncovers other mysteries including a series of unexplained deaths and students at the school portraying tattoos that give them power, like the Alchemist’s tattoo.

There is some profanity in the book, which was surprising to me since this is a young adult book, so that was a little disappointing.  There are religious undertones since the Alchemists have a very strong faith in God and heaven.  She even has a conversation with someone about what was more important, eternal life or chasing after immortality on earth.  That someone preferred the chase since he felt he had more control over it (which in the end he didn’t), which I think is a good observation of our society as a whole.

Overall, it’s a pretty good book.  It’s a quick, fun, and easy read if you are looking for something light to read between two heavier subjects.  Although, again, if you haven’t read the Vampire Academy, definitely check that out before diving into this book!