Friday, November 29, 2013

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Genre: YA Mystery
Expected Publication: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 384

Small towns are nothing if not friendly. Friendship, Wisconsin (population: 688) is no different. Around here, everyone wears a smile. And no one ever locks their doors. Until, that is, high school sweetheart Ruth Fried is found murdered. Strung up like a scarecrow in the middle of a cornfield.

Unfortunately, Friendship’s police are more adept at looking for lost pets than catching killers. So Ruth’s best friend, Kippy Bushman, armed with only her tenacious Midwestern spirit and Ruth’s secret diary (which Ruth’s mother had asked her to read in order to redact any, you know, sex parts), sets out to find the murderer. But in a quiet town like Friendship—where no one is a suspect—anyone could be the killer.

*A review copy was provided from the publisher for me to review*

Never in my life have I met a character like Kippy Bushman. And never in my life have I ever related more and found humor in the awkward behavior as in this book. Kippy Bushman, if she were an animal, would definitely be my spirit animal, okay? Many books have tried and failed to accomplish the awkward trope, making the character more cute than awkward, which has always bothered me. Like, no one barely reacts to something awkward that a character does, and if that character were me, I would have been given hell over it. Kippy was absolutely awkward it was perfect. And I totally got it, too. And she was so determined, too, in everything that she did. She definitely wasn't a dull character.

I can't tell you the last time I read a murder mystery novel. It certainly has been a while. Usually, you don't see teenagers gallivanting around town as they try to pick up clues, because let's face it, teenagers aren't going to be the ones to solve murders or be taken seriously. So, obviously, it's not a realistic genre for YA. However, with a strange balance brought to you by the author, the whole clue-searching thing didn't seem all too far fetched.

I was pretty much hooked right from where Kippy accidentally puts salt instead of sugar in cookies meant for the reception after her best friend's funeral. Right from there I knew that I would absolutely enjoy this novel. And not all of Kippy's story is light, fluffy, and awkward. There's a lot of emotions and darkness. A lot of the characters are pretty messed up. Kippy's still emotionally unstable from her mother's death,  Davey Bushman, Ruth's older brother, has PTSD, and being that they're not the norm is this small town, they've almost been exiled. And it's fascinating to see all the dynamic of it all.

I was definitely kept guessing throughout the novel. I became wrapped up in Kippy's emotional tale and along with the dark humor, this novel easily became one of my favorites of the year. Kathleen Hale is a debut author, and while her first book doesn't come out until January 7th, I'm hungering for other works by her.

4.5 Splashes

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Warrior by Ellen Oh

Warrior by Ellen Oh
Genre: YA Fantasy
Expected Publication: December 31st, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 327

First an outcast, now a hero.

But her fight rages on.

Kira, the yellow-eyed demon slayer who fiercely protected her kingdom—and the crown prince—has been proclaimed the Dragon Musado of the prophecy. With the defeated the evil shaman.

But it wasn’t enough.

Hansong is in chaos. The Demon Lord’s minions have infiltrated the city, treason is brewing among the military ranks, and Kira is buried by the overwhelming loss of her parents. She’s also plagued by the annoying feelings that blossom whenever she’s around Jaewon. But she is determined that nothing will stop her from finding the second treasure needed to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy. Not even the army of half-breed demons hot on their trail. If only she could learn to trust others…

Her father always said one person can change the world. Will it be Kira?

*An advanced copy was provided for me to review*

I thrive for anything imaginative, new, and epically badass.  And yay for me, I found all these elements in Ellen Oh's Dragon King Chronicles. Since when do you get to find a book series that focuses on Asian culture rather than more of a European/white dominant one? Or one that doesn't focus on a romance or turn primarily into one? I don't think I've read anything like these books, which is the best thing ever.

I truly love Kira. She's a very consistent character who does, while it might not seem like it since she's such an experienced fighter and mature character in general, learn valuable lessons. She's such a strong and noble character who doesn't enjoy moping around too much (which tends to be a popular trend in strong YA characters. I love emotional breakdowns, but I despise constant moping.) I also love how much Kira values her family! She'd do anything for them and her friends, which basically is almost a majority of the plot, besides the whole find-the-prophecy-treasures thing.

I can already see how people will be discontent with the lack of romance, but to me it's perfection. To begin with, I'm not big on romance, but for Kira, she's not either. She experiences love through her family and she's completely inexperienced when it comes to loving *whispers* boy-men. So when she does find a boy-man, she doesn't know what to do or how to act and she doesn't like that. Also, she doesn't need some significant other to lean on, and for her to suddenly fall in love would be uncharacteristic and, in my opinion, would ruin the plot. And with what little the author has given us, not only do I want more for later on, but I ship them harder!

Warrior is almost like the show Supernatural, what with the demons taking over and going all apocalyptic on all the humans. And Kira and her buds must braves these dangers to save the world, essentially, while many don't believe what is happening or believe in Kira, for that matter. I enjoy how the plot (not only for its somewhat Supernatural elements) is set and with it's quick pace, I flew through the pages and was finished with the book in under a day. 

The Dragon King's Prophecy will possibly always be a favorite series of mine. Oh transports readers right into a Korean fantasy setting, with rich culture and interesting characters. Kira poses as a strong and independent character that doesn't come off as the cliche martyr of the story. And with Warrior's ending, I'm left wanting more. So obviously, I can't wait to see what happens next and I hope that others will enjoy this book as much as I did.

5 Splashes

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