Monday, February 9, 2015

Mini Reviews #28

In my new Mini Reviews post in February I'm sharing three daring YA reads with you. ON THE EDGE by Allison van Diepen was one of my favourite books last year. AFTER HOURS by Claire Kennedy is a debut novel, coming out in June 2015. And LIES I TOLD by Michelle Zink is released in April 2015.

On the Edge by Allison van Diepen

"Maddie Diaz never should have taken that shortcut through the park. If she hadn't, she wouldn't have seen two members of the Reyes gang attacking a homeless man. Now, as the only witness, she knows there’s a target on her back.
But when the Reyes jump her on the street, Maddie is protected by a second gang and their secretive leader, Lobo, who is determined to take down the Reyes himself. Lobo is mysterious and passionate, and Maddie begins to fall for him. But when they live this close to the edge, can their love survive?" (Goodreads)
   At first Lobo's identity is a mystery for Maddie. Mystery is always a good strategic element to catch a reader's first attention. It takes some time for Maddie to find out who her secret hero is. But when she does, she finds out everything. Lobo's past is moving and his loyalty and passion should win over every last indecisive reader. His and Maddie's love story is emotional and intense and one of those live-in-the-moment kinds that can only get better with each page.
   The Miami setting Allison van Diepen picked is perfect for ON THE EDGE. Criminality, gangs and the threat they pose to Maddie and Lobo make the story a fine thrill ride.

5/5 ***** ON THE EDGE - An enticing and thought-provoking YA read with a unique message.

This book is a statement and appeal for civil courage and awareness. Allison van Diepen makes the issue of human trafficking the central theme of her new YA book. Being the author of seven teen novels, one notices her writing routine and her feel for a good story. Maddie and Lobo's smouldering romance is skilfully woven into a rousing story filled with high criminal energy, team spirit and the fight for justice.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: November 25th 2014
Length: 304 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, thriller, gangs, criminality, romance, Miami
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary  
On the Edge Excerpt  
Author's Homepage

After Hours by Claire Kennedy

"Isa, Xavi, Peter, and Finn know that a job at the high-end Waterside Cafe isn't just about waiting tables. It's about the gossip, the hook-ups, the after-hours parties and, most of all, it's about Tips. Tips--the high-stakes game based on dares. Whoever completes the most dares wins the collected money. A sum that could change a wasted summer into a Summer to Remember." (Goodreads)
   AFFTER HOURS was a fast read for me, because at first all four characters presented us with engaging personal stories, secrets and wishes. I was quickly drawn into the game of Tips, too. It held many possibilities to steamy and entertaining dares. I thought Claire Kennedy's debut could be a hot YA read,  maybe even as good as some of my favourites.
   To sum up, I can say that my initial adoration for the story, Isa and Finn's initial attraction and Xavi and Peter's forbidden romance, quickly turned into incredulity halfway through AFTER HOURS. I have no understanding for Claire Kennedy turning the game into a shady, sleazy business. 
   Characters are allowed to make mistakes. I get that. But they should also get the chance to learn from them. Finn's secret was almost repulsive and Isa was a total drama queen. Xavi and Peter were too naive to be good for them.

2/5 ** AFTER HOURS - Exaggerated dares, impossible teenage behaviour and ignorant characters.

This debut, I had been looking forward to with excitement, turned out to be a letdown in the end. With Isa, Xavi, Peter and Finn we've got four narrators. So much fun, I  had thought! But none of them lived up the my expectations, given many opportunities to behave responsibly and never embracing them. This story was simply too messed up for me to recognize the special debut spark I'd seen in the premise.

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publishing Date: June 16th 2015
Length: 256 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, game, restaurant
Source: Edelweiss

Lies I Told by Michelle Zink

"What if, after spending a lifetime deceiving everyone around you, you discovered the biggest lies were the ones you've told yourself? Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family. But it’s all a lie.Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. Grace has never had any difficulty pulling off a job, but when things start to go wrong on the Fontaines' biggest heist yet, Grace finds herself breaking more and more of the rules designed to keep her from getting caught...including the most important one of all: never fall for your mark." (Goodreads
Grace and her brother's past is a sad one. Sympathy points for that! Now their adoptive parents are using them, all for a lousy coup. I couldn't take these people seriously sometimes. The parents were simply infuriating characters!
   Grace's story is also about learning how to be an ordinary teenager and have fun, make new friends. I was curious how a life built on lies would be for a teen. Her life style came across as a daring social experiment I wanted to see the result to, but in the end all the plotting and deceiving and espionage were too much for me and her family's means to reach their goal only seemed ridiculous. 
Grace and Logan were a cute couple, but their love was a victim to Grace's lies, too.
   One thing that kept me reading was Grace's relationship to her brother. Because in the moments the two of them got to talk about their feelings I finally felt like I was witnessing a real and honest connection between two people in this book.
   I would be happy about a sequel to LIES I TOLD. It could turn the story in a different direction and possibly encourage me to rethink my opinion about this first book. Not sure if there will be a sequel though.

2,5/5 **/* LIES I TOLD - A big con, betrayal and the struggles of a teen torn between right and wrong, family and love.

Grace's story is based on deception and lies. My first instinct was to feel compassion for her, the poor girl who was coerced into criminal operations. That changed quickly some chapters into the story and a few rather uneventful, overly descriptive pages later. I read LIES I TOLD as a standalone and while the story had potential, I was disappointed that it missed out on the morale in the end.  

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publishing Date: April 7th 2015
Length: 352 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, lies, deception, fake identity
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads Summary  
Author's Homepage


  1. Yay for loving On the Edge :D Great reviews sweetie. <3 But aw, I'm sorry you had many issues with the next two books :\ I'm not sure any of these books are for me, hih, but love reading your thoughts on them :)

  2. I debated about requesting After Hours but decided not to because I got worried that with four narrators, there might be too many perspectives. Looks like I made a good choice. Great reviews, Sarah!