Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst, Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White, and Thin Space by Jodi Casella

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst, Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White, and Thin Space by Jodi Casella


Happy September!  Can you believe it? This month will feature dozens and dozens of great new releases, so in the interest of getting everything covered, I'm doing some mini-reviews today!

Also, don't miss my stop on the September is for Sequels Giveaway Hop!



Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
to be published by Walker Children's Books
on September 3, 2013

Source: I received an e-ARC from the publisher for review. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.
Summary from Goodreads: Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic-wielding serial killer who still hunts her. The only thing she knows for sure is that there is something horrifying in her memories the people hiding her want to access—and there is nothing they won’t say—or do—to her to get her to remember. At night she dreams of a tattered carnival tent and buttons being sewn into her skin. But during the day, she shelves books at the local library, trying to not let anyone know that she can do things—things like change the color of her eyes or walk through walls. When she does use her strange powers, she blacks out and is drawn into terrifying visions, returning to find that days or weeks have passed—and she’s lost all short-term memories. Eve must find out who and what she really is before the killer finds her—but the truth may be more dangerous than anyone could have ever imagined.
My (mini) take: I think I read this blurb, saw the phrase "magic-wielding serial killer" and must have glossed over the part that mentions that Conjured is also an amnesia story. In my experience as a reader, characters with amnesia can be problematic. While I felt for Eve, her blankness made it hard to connect with her. Many of the other characters (such as Eve's handlers and Zack, the love interest) had very offbeat senses of humor. Their wackiness set against Eve's blankness did give the book a "Who's on First" vibe that was funny at times, but I wanted scary serial killer action, which didn't really come into play until the last quarter of the book. Eve is constantly being told she's in danger, but I never really felt that.

Finally, by the last few chapters, things got seriously creeptastic! The last of the book was excellent,  but it took a fair amount of patience to get there.  I think that readers who love WTF-is-going-on-here books like As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott or Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn will really enjoy this.


The Chaos of Stars 
by Kiersten White
To be published by Harper Teen 
on September 10, 2013

Source: I received an e-ARC for review. Please see my FTC disclosure on the right sidebar.

Summary from Goodreads: Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up. Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal. Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.
My (mini) take:  I am a big fan of both Paranormalcy and Mind Games so had high hopes for this one, but the story and the characters in The Chaos of Stars never really grabbed me. 

I enjoyed that the book switched from the more typical Greco-Roman mythology to Egyptian. But I found Isadora, the heroine, pretty hard to relate to. I love angry characters, but I think it's key to empathize with the "why" of the character's anger. Isadora is angry that her parents -- the Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris -- are expecting a new baby ahead of schedule. And she broods endlessly about the fact that she's mortal. Isadora goes to stay with her brother in San Diego, where her life suddenly gets perfect. Fun new BFF, check. Dreamy boy with blue, blue eyes and the hots for her, check. Amazing volunteer job designing a major museum exhibition, check. But she's still sulking, and that started to wear thin.

There's a tame mystery involving suspicious break-ins, and one of the characters is harboring a secret that was pretty obvious from the outset. In the end, it seemed to me that The Chaos of Stars couldn't decide whether to be a fun and breezy mystery or a more dark story about the inevitability of death and, as a result, just awkwardly straddled the two. To me, it felt a little glib for a story about a character whose central conflict is that she's trying to come to terms with her own mortality. But Kiersten White has a great, easy-to-read writing style, and if you love Egyptian mythology, you may want to give this a try.


Thin Space
by Jody Casella
To be published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse
on September 10, 2013

Source: I received an e-ARC for review. Please see my FTC disclosure on the right sidebar.

Summary from Goodreads:  Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.  But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets. As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.
My (mini) take: I went into Thin Space expecting a paranormal grief book and got something more like a cool paranormal suspense story. Marsh, still mourning the death of his twin in a car accident, wanders his New Hampshire town in bare feet, trying to locate a "thin space" where he can cross over into the world of the dead. He becomes convinced that one of these thin spaces is in the house of Maddie, the new girl at school, and he befriends her as a way to get access to it.

I loved the isolated New Hampshire setting and the whole eerie mythology behind the thin spaces. As I read, I began to wonder if a certain plot development would come to pass -- there are plenty of hints and, while it would have probably have been more fun if I'd been caught completely by surprise, it was still pretty fun to find out that I was right.

Because so much of the story is spent setting up a big reveal, Thin Space doesn't pack the same kind of emotional punch as other YA books that deal with the aftermath of a sibling's death, books like The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Saving June by Hannah Harrington,  or Personal Effects by E. M. Kokie. But Thin Space does have the spooky, fun vibe of a creepy story you'd tell at a sleepover, and I definitely enjoyed reading it.

26 comments:

  1. I have Conjured to read soon and I'm hoping it will work for me as I did like both of the WTF books you mention here.

    Loved your thoughts on Chaos of Stars (really wanted to add "the" to the title again!) over straddling two genres-I hadn't viewed it in that light but it makes perfect sense. I just feel like so much more could have been done with the Egyptian mythology background and I was disappointed.

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    1. Ha -- I often forget the "the" because I usually think the titles are better without…

      Hope you like Conjured. It definitely had its moments, but I wished they'd come sooner!!

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    2. Okay, now I see what you are saying -- I renamed the book "Chaos of the Stars" instead of "The Chaos of Stars." Fixed it :)

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  2. They all sounds so good. I have Thin Space and can't wait to start it now. Great reviews.

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  3. I am intrigued by Thin Space, it sounds like I would like it

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    1. I think you would -- I know you like books about family issues and relationships!!

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    1. Ha -- I have no choice -- I have about 10 review books that release next week :)

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  5. I appreciate your mini-reviews -- these are books I haven't gotten to yet, and this helps me book talk them and decide if I actually have the time to read them!

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  6. I adore books that keep me guessing - looks like Conjured is one of those. I'm definitely grabbing myself a copy!

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

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  7. I'm glad you enjoyed Conjured. I've had it on my radar for a while now. :)

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  8. Oh, Thin Space sounds cool! (I'll def skip The Chaos of the Stars. I didn't like Mind Games.)

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  9. Conjured sounded so good but I'm don't think I can wait so long for the story to pick up, I would probably end up dropping it by the end. Though I'm so glad that you reviewed Thin Space because I haven't heard of it and I think this is the prefect book for me. I'm in need of some great creepy book. Wonderful mini-reviews, Jen!

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  10. I enjoyed The Chaos of Stars. I want to read the other two ... in fact, I think I have Thin Spaces. Conjured sounds interesting. I read Eat, Slay, Love by Sarah and liked it quite a bit.

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  11. I completely agree, memory loss books are a hit or a miss for me and that one sounds a bit frustrating. It's awesome that the ending redeemed the story though, let's hope I have enough patience to stick it through till then LOL

    I really want to read Chaos of the Stars, it's so hard to ignore that cover! The writing style sounds nice, and I do love mythology. Great mini-reviews!

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  12. Lovely reviews! I think I should try doing mini reviews next time.

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  13. I don't read fast enough to do mini-reviews, but even though you didn't love The Chaos of Stars, I'm still really excited for it. Although, not as excited as I am for the sequel to Mind Games.

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  14. Briliant idea with the mini reviews! :) Aw man, I had such high hopes for The Chaos of Stars! I loved Kiersten's Paranormalcy trilogy, so I hoped this book would have been as awesome. Same with Conjured- I don't really like the cover, but it sounds so good! Though I don't know if I have the patience for "WTF-is-going-on-here books"... XD Eh, I'll give it a shot! :)

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  15. Chaos of Stars has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews, not sure if I want to pick it up now. As for Thin Space, I'm glad you liked it!

    Great mini reviews, Jen! <33

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  16. I haven't heard of Thin Space but you have me curious, Chaos of Stars was unfortunately a DNF for me and I can't wait to read Conjured, I'm a bit worried about the amnesia aspect.

    Great mini reviews. :)

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  17. I've heard some negative things about Chaos of Stars, which is so sad since I love Kiersten White. I'll still probably read it, but it's not high on my list. Same thing for Conjured. I've got that one from NetGalley so I'll read it, but I don't know when. Thin Space is one that I normally might not pick up, but I probably will read that now. Based on your review it sounds a little different than I thought it was going to be.

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  18. The picture you used for the mini reviews, HAHA!

    I'm not sure how Thin Space slipped past me but I do like the sounds of it!

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  19. I've been so excited to get my hands on The Chaos of Stars but the reviews have been somewhat meh-but I LOVE books with Egyptian settings. I have Conjured and I'm looking forward to reading it soon for review. Thanks for the reviews!

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  20. I want my serial killer stories to be serial killer stories, so...I may take Conjured off my list, especially since I just checked and most of the star ratings are 2s. :/ I like the sound of Thin Space, though! Thanks for the min reviews, Jen.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  21. I actually don't even remember why I added Conjured to my TBR, but serial killers AND amnesia are two concepts I enjoy, so glad to hear that's what the book is about, even if the serial killer vibe isn't there until the end. Think I'll leave this one as a low priority on the pile. Thin Space, though, sounds kind of awesome. I just read The Sky is Everywhere, and while I loved the emotional aspect of that novel, I'd like to see it from the paranormal angle, as well.

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