Through the Lens – Shannon Dermott

31834006Through the Lens by Shannon Dermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Published: August 25th 2016

Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B00AC2NSXM

Blurb: Being a twin isn’t all that bad, nor is it all that good. Being the fat twin makes things a little worse. Seventeen year old, Jessa Shelby has been all but ignored. Trimmed down, but not skinny like her sister, she has decided to make her mark in her final year in high school.

Things begin anew the summer before her senior year when she makes friends with Ethan Hart, a boy with a twisted past, and Allie, his near celebrity status girlfriend, while taking pictures with her new prized possession. Hanging out with them opened her eyes to a lot of new possibilities including Josh Macon, whom she’s secretly crushed on all through high school. No longer the ‘fat girl’, Josh now seems interested in her too.

Long before the day comes to graduate, Jessa finds herself gasping for air. With her vision clouded from tears born of pain as the straps from her precious camera tighten around her throat, clarity sets in. They say that just before you die your life flashes before your eyes. And on the threshold of death claiming her, she finds that partially true. Her flash begins as if to explain just how she ended up on Death’s door. With mere moments left, she has to wonder if trust had come at a very high price.

Every now and then I get it in my mind that I want to read a bit of a thriller. Nothing scary, just something that will keep my on the edge of my seat, trying to guess what is going to happen. That was what I was imagining when I picked up Through the Lens.

What I Loved: This story did keep me captivated. It starts off with the end…so when it jumps back to the beginning I spent the entire book wondering; who, what, when, where, why? (Yes, I did just list all the W’s…but it’s true, I spent the entire book making hypothesizes).

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book, which is kind of rare for me. Usually, I have a few I like and a few I don’t, but everyone in this book seem to have their place and played it well. I loved Ethan’s mystery, and Jessa’s new found popularity, Josh’s appeal and Jenna’s jealousy.

Not So Much: I didn’t exactly get the thriller I was hoping for. Yes, I did contemplate the ending from the very beginning, but there was no real ‘danger’ or any thing overly suspenseful about the book until close to the end. It was more of a typical YA with troubled teenagers just learning to “life.” Some of the characters did have a little extra baggage than others, but there wasn’t the cat and mouse game I was hoping for.

The Verdict: Even if it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, I still loved this book! The characters really make this book, 100%. There is some mystery to it as well, and a lot of different kinds of foreshadowing that keep you guessing the entire book. This book has some mild partying, drinking, and off-scene sex, nothing graphic though. Still upper YA in my opinion.

I received a copy of Through the Lens  from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have received no other compensation, other than the joy of reading, for my opinion.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Defending Taylor – Miranda Kenneally

Title: Defending Taylor
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Genre: YA – Coming of Age, Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published Date: July 5, 2016

Buy Link:  https://amzn.com/B01BX1PIPQ

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

My Review:
Defending Taylor was one of those books that was difficult for me to put down. This was another one of those Netgalley books I picked up as a summer read, and while it wasn’t exactly about summer at all, it fit the bill rather nicely.

What I Loved: All of the characters were interesting and fun. Taylor is pretty typical as far as ‘near adults’ go, she is unsure of her place and of her future destination in life; couple that with an epic mistake on her part, and you’ve got enough drama to fill an entire lifetime. She deals with it though. I really could see her perspective on why she made some of the choices she did, even though in my head I was screaming “noooooooo…..”. I cannot, however, say I would have done anything any differently. Beyond that, Taylor’s character was honorable. I loved how she worked through problems, relied on her friends and family when she didn’t have a solution – but in the end she came up with good solid solutions, and went after what she wanted.

The relationship between her and Ezra (well, first off..who doesn’t love a MC named Ezra?! I think that if he were the antagonist, I would have fallen for him just for the name! 😉 ) was hot! I love the pre-existing condition of their feelings for each other before the book starts, it made their quick moving relationship easier to take that way.

Not So Much:
I will forever list sex in a YA novel in this spot…and I apologize, but I’m just not a fan. I also felt kind of weird about Taylor’s parent’s personalities. At times they are over-bearing, a bit uppity (which makes sense considering their position), and completely detached from all things concerning their kids; and then other times they seem like a completely normal family where talking isn’t so hard, and understanding and forgiveness isn’t such a huge deal. I don’t think that this was a growth progression throughout the book as much as it was an irregularity. Specifically in Taylor’s dad; he is so understanding and willing to let things go as soon as Taylor decides to really have a conversation regarding college, however most of the evidence leading up to that point indicated that the conversation should have gone way differently.

The Verdict:  

      

I did enjoy this book. I feel like Taylor as a person is a character that I will always admire. She really stands out to me in the YA world as someone who has her head on straight, she knows when she needs help, but she also makes good decisions (most of the time). I’ve already mentioned that this book isn’t exactly clean – it’s not overly descriptive (unless you count talk of using condoms), but there’s no denying it’s there, so my recommendation is that this book isn’t really a good one for any younger teens.

Book Review: The Neverland Wars – Audrey Greathouse

Title: The Neverland Wars
Author: Audrey Greathouse
Genre: YA – Fantasy, Fairytale Retell

Buy Link: http://amzn.com/1634221710

Blurb (from Goodreads):
Magic can do a lot—give you flight, show you mermaids, help you taste the stars, and… solve the budget crisis? That’s what the grown-ups will do with it if they ever make it to Neverland to steal its magic and bring their children home.

However, Gwen doesn’t know this. She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl with a place on the debate team and a powerful crush on Jay, the soon-to-be homecoming king. She doesn’t know her little sister could actually run away with Peter Pan, or that she might have to chase after her to bring her home safe. Gwen will find out though—and when she does, she’ll discover she’s in the middle of a looming war between Neverland and reality.

She’ll be out of place as a teenager in Neverland, but she won’t be the only one. Peter Pan’s constant treks back to the mainland have slowly aged him into adolescence as well. Soon, Gwen will have to decide whether she’s going to join impish, playful Peter in his fight for eternal youth… or if she’s going to scramble back to reality in time for the homecoming dance.

My Review:
I’m in love with Peter Pan stories.  I can’t get enough of the different takes of the classic fairy tale.  I fall into these patterns a lot; Beauty and the Beast is my favorite to read, but I’ve also done Cinderella, and Red Riding Hood multiple times.
What I Loved:  A popular theme in Peter Pan retells has been that Hook is not the ‘bad guy’ and Peter Pan is.  I haven’t minded these role swaps, and find them a lot of fun, I’m thankful that someone has decided to keep the playful, adventurous Peter Pan in character!   I loved the descriptions of him behaving perfectly youthful and curious, while at the same time showing his burden for the home he loves and the desire to keep it protected from those who wish to use it for their own gain.
Gwen’s character was so perfect, even before Peter and Neverland come into play in this book, you can see the internal battle that she faces between wanting to be teenage and enjoy the things teenagers enjoy, while at the same time keeping that carefree freedom that only comes with being a child.  As she does venture into Neverland, that internal battle is even stronger.
Not So Much: Given the title, I thought that there would be more of a ‘war’ happening, as far as action.  What we have is the tip of a story, an introduction to characters and the promise of more adventure.  I know this, because I verified by checking out Audrey Greathouse’s website, but that wasn’t until I finished the story, so while now I’m pretty satisfied, while reading I was a little let down about this.

The Verdict:        
I liked this book, but I predict that I’m going to LOVE sequel!  This book is very YA appropriate, and honestly, I’m considering buying the book and putting it into the hands of my 11 year old daughter.
Note:  I received this book from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.