Tag Archives: YA Lit

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

With a nostalgia that lends itself to The Breakfast Club, the novel One Of Us Is Lying opens with a detention starring familiar stereotypes:

  • Bronwyn Rojas is the typical brain who is involved in everything from student government to prom committee.
  • Cooper Clay is the jock with college and pro baseball scouts hot on his trail that everyone, from students to teachers to parents, love. He is the all-American boy-next-door.
  • Addy Prentiss is the beautiful blonde homecoming queen with the super hot boyfriend.
  • Nate McAuley is the druggie of the group. You know, the one that no one wants to claim to know.
  • Simon Kelleher is the typical nerd. He is also the one who spreads all the juicy gossip, especially if it will hurt someone.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. A Propensity to Discuss review.

All of the students in detention claim that they are there because they were framed. Someone slipped a phone into each of their backpacks to be found by a technophobic teacher everyone knows searches backpacks for phones, and they all still have their own phones. The story moves quickly to mayhem because before detention is even half over Simon is dead of an allergic reaction.

When the rest of the group is called in to answer a few questions from the police the mayhem begins to look like murder with Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy, and Nate all at the forefront of the list of suspects.

Simon, you see, had nasty gossip app called “About That” which he used to spread hurtful gossip about fellow Bayview High School students. Of the four suspects, only Nate has ever been called out on Simon’s app and that had to do with a drug arrest that is pretty much common knowledge. But they all have secrets that none of them would want to get out. Except the police don’t know about those, and if Simon had known, he surely would’ve used that against them already. Right?

So why in the world would any of them have murdered Simon? They have no motive, but that doesn’t stop the police from suspecting them. And since the police seem to have tunnel vision toward the four of them, Bronwyn knows they have to find out for themselves who really killed Simon, which may prove difficult since so many students who had been hurt by his gossip had plenty of reasons to hate him.

Karen McManus is quite the storyteller. She is a master of giving just enough information to lead you into the next twist only to bring you to the realization that you still don’t know the truth. For me, these leads and twists intensified my need to know the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story.

While I would not classify this as a psychological thriller, it does play mind games with you as you try to figure it all out what actually happened. You may get close to figuring it out, but as the story is told through the alternating points of view of each of the suspects, you are left with only what each character wants you to know or believe and finding out the truth about who did it is quite a shock.

As YA (Young Adult) novels go, this one is a bit lengthy and there is quite a bit to keep up with, but I really came to like and admire the characters. They have so much depth to them and are far more than what meets the eye.  – which I find true to life. So many stereotypical people I have gotten to know I’ve truly crushed my initial idea of them from their stereotype. It is the human equivalent of not judging a book by its cover. Don’t judge a person by their stereotype, get to know them or you never know what you are missing out on!

I highly recommend this book, not only to young adults but also to adults. It is a well-written story that covers issues that we see today often in the real world. People are scapegoats and are “convicted” by the media, their peers, and public opinion without anyone having all the facts or arrests, much less officially in a court of law. It certainly leaves you with a lot to ponder.

Book Details

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I whole-heartedly recommend these linked products!

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

One of the things I’ve come to realize in life is that an old saying really rings true: Perception is reality.  However reading Without Merit by Colleen Hoover has also made me come to realize another truth:  Perspective can change everything.

In all honesty, after I purchased this book I realized that it broached a topic that I really had never considered reading in fiction before. That being said I almost didn’t read it. Wow! What a mistake that would have been!

It wasn’t even the first chapter that drew me into this book. It was actually the dedication.  How crazy is that?  But I knew with such a fascinating dedication the rest of the book had to be amazing. And I was certainly not disappointed.

Colleen Hoover has a magical way with words. I really could have finished this book more quickly than I did, but there were so many phrases that I read again and again. They just pulled me in and created such a beautifully written story, even though the subject was not so beautiful.

Merit Voss lives with her irritatingly perfect siblings (although 4-year-old Moby is pretty sweet), her father and his new wife while their once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement. Oh, yeah, her dad’s new wife used to be her mom’s nurse. And they live in a repurposed church they call Dollar Voss. Then there is the very quirky Merit who collects trophies she didn’t win and barely speaks to anyone in the house except Moby.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. A Propensity to Discuss review.

While picking out her latest trophy, Merit meets Sagan, who is smart, gorgeous, funny, and artistic, all the things that make him the perfect guy. And then she realizes that he is unconditionally off-limits. And Merit slides a little further into self – and family – loathing. She positively despises all of the secrets that the Voss family keeps and the day that she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix, she can no longer hold her tongue.

Once Merit lets loose and puts all of the secrets out there for the whole family to reckon with, she intends to leave, but that plan failed and now she has to reap the consequences of her actions and the possibility of losing the one person she loves.

I cannot believe I almost missed this book! What a tragedy that would have been! Colleen Hoover takes plain old ordinary words and weaves them into captivating and enthralling phrases that you will want to read again and again. For example: “…and it suddenly feels like I have swallowed his heart because I have all these extra beats in my chest.” Or this: “Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.” YES! So true, and so beautifully written!

This novel has a great deal of truth hidden in the lies of the Voss family and by reading it, you may realize, as I did, that perspective can change everything. Though it is written from the perspective of a teenager, making it a YA novel, it is absolutely something that adults will love as well. Have a few tissues handy!

Book Details:

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4 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

This post contains affiliate links. I would never include an affiliate link on any product that I would not completely endorse. So if you choose to purchase through this link, I get a small payment that does not affect your price at all. And I wholeheartedly recommend these linked products! If you click on the link and make a purchase, I receive a small payment, but it does not affect your cost at all. 

Perfect. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Perfect Cecilia Ahern

Perfect by Cecilia Ahern

She was once thought of as Perfect. By her boyfriend, by her teachers, by her sister and by her classmates. Then she was branded as Flawed

One of the last things Celestine North’s mom told her to do was run. Run from Bosco Crevan Celestine ran and hiding at her grandfather’s farm put his life in jeopardy and sent him to Highland Castle. So Celestine is on the run again.

She desperately wants to find Carrick, but instead, he finds her. He takes her to a “safe” place, but they both know that being safe and hidden is not what they want. But leaving safety is a tough decision when your face is plastered on every newscast and billboard as a dangerous criminal and there are whistleblowers looking for you everywhere. 

Perfect. A Propensity to Discuss review.

And then there is the issue of trust. The only people she knows with absolute certainty that she can trust are her mom, dad, and sister and she can’t risk her life or theirs to be near them. She is basically on her own, with Carrick by her side, even when small doubts about him trickle in. She has become the face of a very quiet, very hopeful revolution and it is not something she takes lightly. But the thought that she has no one to trust terrifies her, almost as much as Mary May and Bosco Craven do.

Cecilia Ahern has created a Perfect sequel to the unputdownable Flawed (click here for my review of Flawed) I received this book last night and finished it this afternoon. It was also really unputdownable for me. It was so good that I may go back and read both of them again, and I very rarely, if ever, re-read books. There are just too many others to get out there waiting. But this series, to me, is that great!

Flawed and Perfect are absolutely my favorite dystopian story ever. And I love dystopian novels and have read more than my fair share of them. These are not-to-be-missed books!

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

The Female of the Species. A Propensity to Discuss review.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

I have a confession. You have probably noticed, but here goes. When I find an author that I like, I read everything they have written and will write in the future.

That said, having read and loved A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis, I knew I would have to read her other books. So I just finished The Female of the Species and it did not disappoint.

It has been said that we all have our own demons to face and we can either fight or flee. For the main characters in this story, the demons seem to be close to winning. Close, but not quite victorious.

The Female of the Species. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Alex Craft’s demons rule her life. Her older sister, Anna had always been her protector. She protected Alex from the world and from their alcoholic mother. Alex’s mother saw only her absent father in Alex and poured on to her all the anger that she could not show to her AWOL husband. But Anna was murdered and Alex bears the burden of her death as an albatross around her neck. She talks to no one. She has no friends. She goes to school, comes home, eats, studies, reads, and sleeps and does it again the next day. She has a mere existence, not a life.

Jack’s demons lie in the poverty that his parents can not overcome. He loves them, knows they do everything they can to make life better, but there is just no getting ahead. So leaving this town by way of a college scholarship is the demon that dominates his need to be the best in athletics, in classes, in life. Branley, his best friend since childhood knows everything about him and even though other people come in and out of their lives, Branley is one of the constants in Jack’s life, even when he knows it isn’t for the best.

Peekay’s demons are in her nickname. She is a “PK” or Preacher’s Kid. Peekay has a strong faith but living up to being a PK in a very small town where everyone knows your business is extremely difficult. And when her long-time boyfriend Adam leaves her for Branley, she is back to just being Peekay, having lost the title of Adam’s girlfriend. Her biggest demon is that she doesn’t allow herself to be who she is, just who everyone else needs her to be.

The Female of the Species. A Propensity to Discuss review.

Dark and emotionally challenging with some brutality, but with a lesson in vengeance, forgiveness, and acceptance the story of Alex, Jack and Peekay’s battle against their demons is a book that everyone needs to read. Whatever your own demons, this book shows how cathartic it can be to rid yourself of your demons, even if the cost of doing so is beyond what you can imagine or think you can handle.

When you consider the extreme contrast in setting, characters, and plot between this book and A Madness so Discreet, it is impossible to compare one to the other and to ensure that if you like one of them that you will like the other. However, McGinnis’ writing is quite mesmerizing. “Every day the sun rises and the wind bottle empties and his sits there wondering where his life went wrong until it sets again.” Her writing is beautiful, even when the subject isn’t. This is absolutely an author I will continue to read.

 

5 Stars. A Propensity to Discuss Review.

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Check out all the books I have reviewed on the blog by clicking this link.

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"With friends like these, who needs enemies?" A Propensity to Discuss Post

Escape Theory by Margaux Froley

You know the old saying “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” That is a somewhat recurring theme in Margaux Froley’s novel Escape Theory.

Devon Mackintosh has her own fair share of “friends” one might call enemies. Only she doesn’t really know it in the beginning of her junior year.

What she does know is that Jason “Hutch” Hutchinson is dead. Suicide. A mix of oxy and beer and she will never see him again.

As a peer counselor, Devon is tasked with talking to Hutch’s closest friends and helping them to work through the emotions of losing a friend and in such a terrible way. But when questions arise about the night of the suicide and Hutch’s actions days and weeks prior, Devon becomes convinced that Hutch was murdered.

Enter all the “frienemies.”

Matt: Hutch’s best friend and acquaintance of Devon. Is he hiding something? He sure has a lot of nervous energy pent-up inside him.

Isla: Hutch’s former girlfriend and friend of Devon. She seems to be slipping deeper and deeper into an abyss. Could it be that she is hiding something, too?

Presley: Devon’s best friend. Becoming more convinced each day that Devon is obsessing.

Grant: The good friend from sophomore year who wants something more this year.

Cleo: Neither friend nor acquaintance of Devon’s sophomore year, but a student assigned to her peer counseling sessions. She knows lots of gossip and secrets and is ever ready to share.

Raven and Bodhi: Sister and brother and new acquaintances of Devon’s. They have a curious connection to Hutch that Devon cannot quite understand.

As the secrets continue to come out during her counseling sessions Devon becomes more and more convinced that Hutch did not kill himself.

While Devon makes great strides in learning the truth, to be honest, sometimes she jumps way to quickly to the wrong conclusions, even though it is often so obvious that her conclusions are wrong.

While her ability to arrive at the truth is admirable and a great outcome, the scene where this plays out is somewhat of a letdown as this climax is rather brief and anticlimactic.

However, Devon is a character that is so easy to come to know and love, as is Hutch, even though he is only around in flashbacks of freshman and sophomore years.

The second installment of the series is already on the shelves and on my reading list already. A really good YA book that could shape up to be an awesome series.

Add to a great book the narration of Amanda Dolan and you have a really great of YA novel/audio combination. Dolan’s voice is comforting and thrilling at just the right moments. Her ability to distinguish characters is spot on, making it extremely clear which characters are speaking without even hearing them named. Given this work and her reading of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, she is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators.

 

Book Details:

Books in Keaton School Series:

  1. Escape Theory; (March 12, 2013)
  2. Hero Complex(October 4, 2014)
A – Z YA Books that I really like. A propensity to discuss blog post.

A – Z Books for Young Adults that I really like.

Here is a list of A – Z Books for Young Adults that I really like. I hope you will enjoy some of these, also! There is a wide range of topics and genres here, so hopefully, you can find something that interests you.

A – After by Amy Efaw – Wow. This book stays with you. Pretty sure your thoughts on this topic were set in your mind. See if this changes them!

B – Birthmarked Trilogy by Carah M. O’Brien – Sort of a futuristic historical story of a young girl who takes on the powers that be.

C – The Compound by S. A. Bodeen THE go-to book for boys (and girls) who do not like to read. Gets them every time!

D – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart – You just can’t go wrong with any E. Lockhart book!

E – Education of Bet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted – Very good historical fiction.

F – Far From You by Lisa Schroeder – Novel in verse. This was my first of its kind and I have read all of her books since.

G – The Giver (Series) by Lois Lowry – A classic book that is about to FINALLY be a movie! Everyone should read this book!

H – Hate List by Jennifer Brown – Think you know about school shootings? Read this!

I – I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson – A cute, easy to read book for younger YA’s.

J – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – Yes, the book is even better than the movie. As usual!

K – The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Once you get used to the writing style, you begin to really pull for the characters you meet here!

L – Light a Single Candle by Beverly Butler – Life without eyesight, but wonderful insight!

M – The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Sci-fi meets dystopia meets horror.

N – Notes From the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick – Laugh out loud funny!

O – Out of the Easy by Rutya Sepetys – Runner up for my all time favorite book! There is no way to say enough about how wonderful I think this book is!

P – Princess of the Midnight Ball (Series) by Jessica Day George – Retelling of old fairy tales. Wonderful books!

Q – Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter, need I say more?

R – Reason to Breathe (Trilogy) by Rebecca Donovan – Heart-wrenching series.

S – Stolen by Lucy Christopher – This, like several others, makes you take a look at both sides of an issue.

T –  The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan – All around awesome book!! Keeps you in the dark and strikes with a deadly blow!

U – Unwind (Trilogy) by Neal Shusterman – A very unsettling issue. Turns a current day topic on its ear and makes you think hard about the beliefs of others and possibly yourself.

V – Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn Sci-fi/Fantasy. Made me want a dragon!

W – What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles – The books written by Gail Giles always make you look at issues from more than one angle. A little scary, but very thought-provoking.

X – Xenocide (Ender Series) by Orson Scott Card – The Ender series is sci-fi futurism and is a really good series for guys and girls alike!

Y – The Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman – Coming of age and taking control of your life.

Z – Zoo by James Patterson Sci-fi at Patterson’s best!

The links on this page go to Amazon-Smile. I do not receive any kickbacks, promotions or privileges from this website. I simply chose this site because it is user-friendly, has plenty of reviews on each book and proceeds from Amazon Smile go to the charity you choose. My charity of choice for this site is the Wounded Warrior Project. Without the awesome men and women of our military, we would not have the choice to read anything we want. God bless our troops!

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The Hunger Games and Catching Fire

I have to say it….Have to discuss it….THE HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE!! Awesome…Unbelievable… Phenomenal….Ok, so maybe I get a little carried away, but Suzanne Collins has written such a powerful and moving story here, that the praise of these two titles should be loud and clear.

In what is described as the “ruins of North America” the capital needs to continually assert its power over the people in order to squelch any and all uprising. One aspect of this takes place in the capital city each year, televised for the entire nation to view. The Hunger Games. The object is to live and to live, others must die. The last one alive is the winner, returning home with a year’s worth of bounty and glory for their district…at least until the next year’s games.

The only negative? The third installment won’t be out until August of 2010.
The Hunger Games video from http://www.amazon.com can be accessed from http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m154XLKNYB5WH0