Mini YA Reviews: Kelly Keaton, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovonoff

Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Goodreads / Librarything

Ari can’t help feeling lost and alone. With teal eyes and freakish silver hair that can’t be changed or destroyed, Ari has always stood out. And after growing up in foster care, she longs for some understanding of where she came from and who she is. Her search for answers uncovers just one message from her long dead mother: Run. Ari can sense that someone, or something, is getting closer than they should. But it’s impossible to protect herself when she doesn’t know what she’s running from or why she is being pursued.

She knows only one thing: she must return to her birthplace of New 2, the lush rebuilt city of New Orleans. Upon arriving, she discovers that New 2 is very…different. Here, Ari is seemingly normal. But every creature she encounters, no matter how deadly or horrifying, is afraid of her.

Ari won’t stop until she knows why. But some truths are too haunting, too terrifying, to ever be revealed.

Thoughts: Everything about this book was rather great: the heroine (Ari) was believably tough; the love interest was mature and swoonable; the mythology was extremely well incorporated; and the setting, the weird-and-wonderful New 2, was everything I could want from a paranormal New Orleans. I liked that Ari actually had a believable reason for being so kick-ass (bail bonds woman!) and, despite spending the book on her own, actually had a good relationship with her parents… makes for a welcome change!

The reason I didn’t love this book was the length. It was too short, offering an agonising hint of a book I could have adored. Kelly Keaton didn’t give me enough time to properly connect with the characters or the verse. So, even though I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I haven’t run out to get the sequel.

That said, this book did have one excellent quote that I have saved for posterity:

“I’m not some 300 year old pervert who kisses teenage girls, okay?”


Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Goodreads / Librarything

Everywhere Silla Kennicott turns she sees blood. She can’t stop thinking about her parents alleged murder-suicide. She is consumed by a book filled with spells that arrives mysteriously in the mail. The spells share one common ingredient: blood, and Silla is more than willing to cast a few. What’s a little spilled blood if she can uncover the truth? And then there’s Nick–the new guy at school who makes her pulse race. He has a few secrets of his own and is all too familiar with the lure of blood magic. Drawn together by a combination of fate and chemistry, Silla and Nick must find out who else in their small Missouri town knows their secret and will do” anything” to take the book and magic from Silla.

Thoughts: Even though I was impressed by Gratton’s writing and uncensored approach to YA, Blood Magic did leave me with a rather bad taste in my mouth. Why? Well, there was a scene of rather horrible animal death that served absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Had this served some sort of narrative purpose, I might have been able to put the scene into context… but it didn’t. All it did was serve to make me loathe the main character.

But could I be convinced to read something else by Tessa Gratton? Perhaps. She is an excellent writer, and is rather good at writing horror-ific novels… a bit too good, if creating disturbing scenes that make me want to put the book down in disgust was what she was going for, I suppose.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovonoff

Goodreads / Librarything
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

Thoughts: This debut novel actually did have some promise to it. The world was fantastically scary; that wonderfully scary cover is actually relevant to the plot of this book. So, I guess if you’re looking for a good Halloween read, you should check this book out.

But in terms of actual character development, The Replacement was a complete dud. Mackie was just one big disconnect: all tell, no show. I never got a fix on his character… probably because he didn’t seem to have one. And none of the other characters were any better. There’s usually at least one in every book that I want to see more of, but not in this one. Had the book ended with everyone dying, I would have been completely unperturbed.

Bottom line? Out of these authors, the only one whose work I am certainly going to read again is Kelly Keaton. I think that, perhaps, her adult work might be a bit more fleshed out. As for Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovonoff, I will only pick up their stuff again if I see super-stellar reviews from people I trust.

Top Ten Books on my Winter TBR pile

Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish): 10 books on my winter TBR pile. This year, I am going to finish the Debut Author Challenge. Come Hell or high water, I will succeed. That means I need to get 6 more debut books off my TBR shelves before the end of the year! And once I’m done with those I am going to get to those fabulous sequels that somehow I never have time for.

The Debut 2011 Authors:


1. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton – I’ve heard nothing but brilliant things about Tessa’s work, so I fully expect Blood Magic to live up to the hype it has gotten. So much so that I even bought this book in hardback!

2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand – I’ve read reviews of Unearthly written by people who usually dislike YA PNR, especially the type with angels! So, I am sure I am going to love it.

3. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini – I’ll be honest, I’m not that excited about Starcrossed… am I off my head for being skeptical?

4. Die for Me by Amy Plum – Oh, Paris. I am expecting Phantom of the Opera and fully expect to get it!

5. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton – Another urban fantasy author breaks into the YA market! I love it when adult authors write for YA audiences, so I expect very good things from Kelly.

6. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – This book is stunning and yet utterly disturbing. I simply can’t imagine not adoring it.

The YA sequels I have been longing to read:

7. Muse by Rebecca Lim – I adore Rebecca’s Mercy series (read my reviews of Mercy and Exile) and cannot wait to start this. If it weren’t for the Debut Author priorities, I would be all over this book right now!

8. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater –  I KNOW. How could I not have read this book?? I really really really adore this series, and I cannot wait to start Forever… no, really!

9. Defiance by Lili St. Crow – It makes me sad and excited to know that this series is complete – can’t wait to see what violence Dru has been up to!

10. Rip Tide by Kat Falls – I absolutely adored Dark Life, which unfortunately didn’t get the praise it deserved. Still, cannot wait to start on the sequel! (Btw, make sure you buy the US version of this book. The UK cover is something awful!)