The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

Mini reviews of YA books

on April 25, 2017

Hello everybody and a happy Tuesday to you! (I know, I know, it’s a stretch; Tuesdays suck only slightly less than Mondays…) Today I want to share with you some mini reviews for YA books that I have read over the past month or so. The first two I didn’t enjoy as much as I’d anticipated, but the third one I fell in love with. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books – I’d love to discuss them with you 😊


The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance

yellowroom

When Anna receives a letter telling her that her father has died, she finds it hard to feel anything much. She hasn’t seen him for years and can barely remember him. She certainly has no interest in meeting the person who sent the letter: her dead father’s girlfriend, Edie. Anna has her own problems to deal with, including a secret she desperately needs to keep buried.

When Leon, a creepy boy from school, begins threatening to reveal Anna’s secret, Anna’s life starts spiralling out of control. With her own mother distracted and distant, she finds herself turning to the warm and eccentric Edie for support.

But what Anna doesn’t realise is that Edie has some secrets of her own.

My rating: 3 stars

I have very mixed feelings about this book. There were lots of things I LOVED about it; the characterisation was EXCELLENT, and although I was left a little bit underwhelmed by the plot, I still remember all of the characters and their quirks, because they were all so colourfully painted.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I felt disappointed with the last 30% or so. I LOVED the first half. The creepiness of some of the characters in this book was spot on. Leon, the boy who was blackmailing our main character, Anna, was the PERFECT villain. I just wanted to strangle him, he was so vile and condescending. The pacing and atmosphere of the first half was excellent too. But then…

I felt the final quarter of the book was RUSHED through. I had barely blinked and the book was over and all wrapped up. The tension building beforehand had been excellent, but the climax happened way too fast. I wasn’t left with unanswered questions, but I almost wish I had been, because everything seemed too neat, and was resolved far too quickly. I felt too much like I had been *told* the conclusion of a story, if that makes sense. Too many threads were tied up for it to seem real.

If I was rating the first half of the book alone, I would give this book 5 stars, but as a whole, I’ve gone for 3, because the resolution felt a little bit like a rapidly deflating balloon. I was left with a ‘meh’ feeling, which is a shame, because I had such high and floaty hopes at the beginning.


Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

unconventional

Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing…until author Aidan Green – messy haired and annoyingly arrogant – arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi’s life is thrown into disarray.

In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned. Things like falling in love…

My rating: 2 stars

I wanted so much to love this book, and I had SUCH high expectations. This book has been described as the British answer to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – I mean, who wouldn’t have high expectations after such a statement? Sadly, this book is nothing like Fangirl, because Fangirl’s strength is in its characters, which just so happens to be this book’s weakness…

I loved the premise of this book, and as somebody who enjoys going to conventions, I felt it had been written especially for me. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as well executed as I’d hoped.

The protagonist of this book did not stand out for me, I felt like the side characters were all the same person, and I felt no chemistry whatsoever from the romance storyline. There was so much focus on the running of conventions that I didn’t get a feel for ANYONE’S personalities OUTSIDE of the fact that they ran conventions, and although the book was trying to make the point that Lexi (our main character) didn’t know who she was outside of conventions (because they had been her main focus/priority her entire life), all this did was make her come across as a bland character with nothing *more* to her than… well, conventions. I mean, there wasn’t even any mention of what Lexi was a fan of, besides the love interest’s book… As somebody whose entire life/personality is based around conventions, I at least expected more geekery from Lexi, and I was left disappointed.

There was also way too much telling instead of showing in this book. For example, we were told that Lexi struggled to do her school essays because she had so much work to do for her dad, but we never saw her struggling, and we never saw this negatively impacting her schoolwork. In fact, we never saw her at school full stop. There were barely any scenes outside of the conventions, and, as a result, it just felt a bit like Lexi didn’t exist when she wasn’t at a convention. Ugh, I have used the word conventions too many times in this review and now it doesn’t sound like a real word.


Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

vendettacover

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion next door, Sophie Gracewell’s life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nic, Sophie finds herself falling into an underworld governed by powerful families. When Sophie’s own family skeletons come to life, she must choose between two warring dynasties – the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

My rating: 4 stars

Finally, a book I wasn’t disappointed with! Oh, how I adored this book (despite it’s cringey cover!) I went to Waterstones a couple of weekends ago, specifically looking for some fluff. As somebody who loves dark books too, I got an awesome combination of fluff and darkness when I picked up this YA mafia romance.

This book was EXACTLY what I needed – it was romantic, thrilling, intriguing, contained many a bad boy, and had some awesome family drama too.

I also LOVED Catherine Doyle’s writing style – it flowed so nicely that I forgot I was reading a book. She created some brilliant characters, and they were all so easy to imagine because of their body language. Very few authors pull this off, but I LOVE it when a writer can make me imagine a living breathing person by doing an excellent job of describing their movements (i.e. how they walk, what they do with their hands, their facial expressions when nobody is looking, etc.). I believed the Falcone brothers were real people because of the way Catherine Doyle used their bodies and made them move around each scene; they leapt off the page for me.

Props to Catherine, also, for making Sophie a strong main character, who felt fear intensely, yet still fought back, and for making her best friend, Millie, a memorable, hilarious character, who wasn’t just a sidekick, but felt like a lead in her own right.

I read this book super-speedily because I loved it so much, I devoured the second book in the trilogy (which had SO many good twists), and I’m now whizzing through the third. Highly recommend if you’re in the mood for fluff with a dark-and-dangerous edge, containing hot Italian bad-boys you may or may not swoon over.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Hope you all have a week as lovely as your lovely selves. ❤

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8 responses to “Mini reviews of YA books

  1. Could not agree more about ‘Unconventional’! For such a cool setting, I wish there’d been more to it! And Vendetta’s been on my TBR for a really long time, and it’s great to see it have such a glowing review so hopefully I’ll pick it up soon! – Maddie x

    • mudandstars says:

      Absolutely – I wish we could have seen more of the panels and events. For me it didn’t feel like the experience of a convention because we only saw behind the scenes. I know that was kind of the point, but ya know… 🙂 I hope you’ll love Vendetta as much as I did! The second book is even better. Also completely unrelated, but I really enjoy watching your booktube channel! 🙂 I am so envious of the amount of books you guys manage to read in a month! x

  2. Marie says:

    Oh yay, glad to hear you enjoyed Vendetta – it was such a fun book to read! I read it a while ago but haven’t gotten around to reading the sequel yet… Hoping to soon ahah, you made me want to keep on reading this right now!

  3. […] Catherine Doyle. I binge-read her Blood for Blood trilogy (YA mafia romance, FYI) and I completely fell in love with it. I loved her writing style, her characters, ALL THE DRAMA AND ACTION AND DARKNESS, and, most importantly, the swoony, swoony romance. Highly recommend this trilogy if you’re looking for some excitement. You can read my mini review of the first book here. […]

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