Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Fire and Flood, Me Since You and The Secret Diamond Sisters

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Fire and Flood, Me Since You and The Secret Diamond Sisters

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I've had great feedback on my mini-reviews, so here are three more February releases. We have a breakneck plot-driven story, a tear-jerker, and a fun and fluffy read -- something for everyone :)


Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1)
by Victoria Scott
To be published by Scholastic
on February 25, 2013
Mini synopsis, adapted from Goodreads: Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air.
Then she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

My mini take: I'm a huge Amazing Race fan. Fire & Flood took the Amazing Race concept and jacked up the stakes. Each contestant is competing to win a cure for a gravely ill family member.

I can't say I connected to Tella right off. Her brother is dying, and she's whining about how she can't find a decent Greek salad in her new town.  Fortunately, she did become less grating as the book went on. The other unique aspect of Fire & Floodwere the Pandoras. At the start of the race, each contestant chose a Pandora, a sort of high-tech animal companion, to assist them along the way. At first I was pretty skeptical of this concept, but it also grew on me.

That said, this is definitely more of a plot-driven than a character-driven book. The plot centers around the race, and the world building and character development have to be squeezed in around the edges. I had a lot of questions: what's wrong with Tella's brother? Why are all these people sick and why can't they get these cures? When does this book take place, anyway? Answers are offered up along the way, but I had to be a little patient.

Recommended for: readers looking for a fast-paced read that's a new spin on the "kids compete to the death" concept.


Me Since You
by Laura Wiess
Published on February 18, 2014
by MTV Books/ Simon & Schuster 
Mini-synopsis, adapted from Goodreads: Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived. If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus.  Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?

My (mini) take: Me Since You is a realistic and poignant story of a family dealing with and trying to move forward after a senseless and horrible loss. I really liked the fact that the story didn't try to fast forward through the recovery process and rush the characters to a happily ever after. I was even more happy that that romance was NOT presented as a magical antidote to sorrow and loss. There were a few moments of speechifying and statistics quoting, but overall, this felt authentic and real to me. And I was pleased that one of my favorite parts of the story -- something that I thought was just added for atmosphere -- ended up having a lot of significance to the plot.

Recommended for: readers who like YA books about grief and loss.


The Secret Diamond Sisters
by Michelle Madow
To be published by Harlequin Teen
on February 25, 2014
Mini synopsis, adapted from Goodreads:Savannah. Courtney. Peyton. The three sisters grew up not knowing their father and not quite catching a break. But it looks like their luck is about to change when they find out the secret identity of their long-lost dad—a billionaire Las Vegas hotel owner who wants them to come live in a gorgeous penthouse hotel suite. Suddenly the Strip's most exclusive clubs are all-access, and with an unlimited credit card each, it should be easier than ever to fit right in. But in a town full of secrets and illusion, fitting in is nothing compared to finding out the truth about their past.

My (mini) take:  The Secret Diamond Sisters was 100% sparkly, escapist fun. Three teenaged sisters are plucked out of obscurity and taken to live with their casino mogul dad in Vegas. Yes, a lot of this is pure girly wish fulfillment: "Here are three Black Amex cards; go have fun!" But I have to say, I did come to like all three sisters. There's rebellious Peyton, responsible Courtney, and naive Savannah, all of whom react to their new lives in different yet believable ways.

There are other characters, too, many reminiscent of those in Gossip Girl. There's a smoking jacket wearing high school playboy -- hello, Chuck Bass! There's a fashion-obsessed girl in love with a guy who seems oblivious to her infatuation - hello, Blair Waldorf! There's a public school transfer who thinks all these spoiled kids are beneath him -- hello, Dan Humphrey! There's also a blog (XOXO!!) that comments on all the goings-on at the beginning of each chapter. But it's a formula that works, if you like that kind of story. I'm not going to lie: sometimes I really do :)

Recommended for: readers who have been missing the crazy shenanigans of the Gossip Girl gang.

Two of these titles will be coming up for grabs on Freebie Friday, so stay tuned...

26 comments:

  1. I loved Gossip Girls. I never read the books but I was hooked on the show. I'll definitely be checking this one out.

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    1. If you liked the books or show, definitely try the book!

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  2. I really want to read Me Since You. I have been hearing good things about it and the cover captivates me.
    - Holly @ Holly's Reading Hollow
    http://hollysreadinghollow.blogspot.com/2014/02/giveaway-cress-by-marissa-meyer-swag.html

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  3. I'm kinda of looking forward to some sparkly, escapist fun with The Secret Diamond Sisters. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm just finishing up Fire & Flood- I love those Pandoras, and want one for myself :)

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    1. We've had a rough winter, and it was just the kind of escape I needed!

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  4. I'm almost finished with Fire and Flood and so far I'm totally into it. The Pandoras could have been totally ridiculous, but I'm so glad they turned out totally awesome instead. I was worried.

    Me Since You seems like one of those books I'm probably going to wait a long time to read before I finally pick it up and say "Why did I wait so long to read this?!" I always do that with sad books.

    And you actually made me want to read The Secret Diamond Sisters. That book hasn't appealed to me, but I am jonsing for Gossip Girl so... Maybe!

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    1. I'm the same with sad books. I sort of worry about reading them!
      Secret Diamond Sisters was a lot of fun if you don't take it too seriously.

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  5. I really enjoyed Fire & Flood. I found it hard to put down. I have heard other mention Tella's character too but it didn't really bother me much. Patience was definitely a must on the WTF is going on. lol I really want to read Me Since You too!

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    1. Ah ... Me Since You is sad. But these three presented a good balance of book types.

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  6. Sounds like you really liked this one! Many people have been loving Fire & Flood, especially the fast-paced plot and everything that was going on. Me Since You was such a good book and I cried when I was reading that! Seriously, it's a seriously emotional read. Fantastic reviews, Jen! <33

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  7. Fire and Flood was pretty fun! I agree it's def. a plot driven book and I was left with a lot of question, too. I hope they,re addressed in the sequel - at least some of them. I also really enjoyed Me Since You! Such a powerful story but very very sad! :( I've heard mixed things about the last one but the Gossip Girl mention does make me want to read it! I miss that show!

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    1. I didn't think I missed it but then when I was reading this book I got a little nostalgic!

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  8. I've been interested to read Fire & Flood but I was weary that it might be a bit too much like The Scorpio Races. Then again, I haven't read The Scorpio Races yet, so all I'm going off of is the synopsis of both books. But you had me at The Amazing Race. Me Since You sounds like it is written really well, but I'm just not sure...I have issues with issue books. But maybe I'll check it out at the library sometime. And I'm with you--I'm a fan of Gossip Girl and its formula, so I'll have to check out The Secret Diamond Sisters. Great mini reviews, Jen!

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    1. It's not like The Scorpio Races at all. SR is really atmospheric and literary, while F and F is much more plot-driven and commercial. It's all about what kind of book you are looking for!

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  9. Glad to hear about The Secret Diamond Sisters, which I have for review. This is exactly the kind of book I love sometimes and, with the blog entries in between chapters, I'm now really excited to check it out!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it -- can't wait to find out.

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  10. You're absolutely right, The Secret Diamond totally sounds like Gossip Girl! Might be a fun read but it sounds so close I'm not sure whether I would give it a shot. Fire & Flood sounds like a fascinating read, kind of Hunger Gamish but I'll still pick it up. Great reviews Jen!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. It was a little Hunger-Gamish and I'm getting kind of weary of those books. But if you are looking for a fast-paced read, this fits the bill!

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  11. Fire and Flood sounds interesting. I have read other reviews and I am definitely intrigued.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Me Since You made me cry hardcore at the end. Fire & Flood. I can not wait to read. And other book Diamond sisters looks good.

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  13. Great minis! I'm about to start Fire & Flood and I can't wait. Me Since You is definitely going to make me cry, so I've been putting it off, but I'm most thrilled to see your review for The Secret Diamond Sisters. I wasn't planning on reading this at all, but I do miss Gossip Girl, and especially Chuck Bass, so I'm in! :-)

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  14. Ooh, Fire and Flood definitely sounds intriguing! I'm definitely gonna read it! And huh, I've never watched- or read- Gossip Girl, but The Secret Diamond Sisters does sound fun, so I might give it a try!

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  15. I have Fire and Flood but I haven't read it yet. I'm reading The Secret Diamond Sisters and I'm so glad to hear you... enjoyed it? I haven't read much yet, so I hope it gets better!
    Thanks for these mini reviews! :)
    Lis @ The reader lines

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