A Batch of YA Mini Reviews

I’ve had these written up and sitting around for a while and I really think it’s time for me to publish them. It may look like I’ve had the two ARCs for years because of their publication dates but I only received them last year, so I’m not that horrible.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Published in 2011 by Walker Books.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (Slovenian hardback).

Genre: MG urban fantasy/magical realism?.

My rating:

I enjoyed Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking trilogy a lot. I even saw him when he visited a book festival in Ljubljana – he’s one of the few authors who did. I read both that trilogy and A Monster Calls in Slovenian translations, which are very good. But while I liked A Monster Calls, I didn’t love it like I expected to. Maybe my expectations were too high?

In any case, this is a good story about a boy dealing with grief, it’s an important story to have if you need to offer it to a child/young person dealing with a similar situation. I guess we all deal with loss in our lives, in one way or another; hopefully not too often, but such is the way of life. I thought Ness did a credible job of working through the issues of denial, anger, and helplessness that come with such a life situation. I know a lot of people absolutely adore this book, so I urge you to give it a try, especially if you’ve already read Ness’s other stories and liked them.

The artwork is also absolutely brilliant, I think the story wouldn’t be half as good without it. Jim Kay is the man who’s working on the illustrated versions of Harry Potter, but his style is completely different here, it’s dark and scary.


Thorn by Intisar Khanani
Published in 2012 by Intisar Khanani.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: author via NetGalley. Thank you Intisar Khanani for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA fantasy/fairytale retelling.

My rating:

Uh, this is one of my old ARC debts… I read Thorn last year as a part of the Fairytale Retelling Challenge, though I never got around to reviewing it. *sigh* I find it hard to write about books I neither actively liked nor disliked, I never know what exactly to write about them. I did enjoy Thorn, it’s a retelling of “The Goose Girl”, where a princess is unlawfully replaced by an evil impostor and has to prove her worth even though she’s now stripped of her royal status. I liked the story, it doesn’t rely on privilege and birthright to show a character’s strength, but I felt like the author didn’t really add anything important to the original story. The plot is essentially the same, only the decor is different. I liked the slightly Oriental vibe, but I found the princess’s reliance on God to be overwhelming, I prefer it if characters primarily believe in themselves and other people. It’s just one of those personal pet peeves, what can I say. I also missed more fantasy elements – I know fairy tales don’t necessarily feature them but this story did, to an extent. So I wished for a more pronounced world-building and/or magic system. This wasn’t a bad story but I wish it was executed more thoughtfully.


Shadows (The Rephaim #1) by Paula Weston
by Text Publishing.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via NetGalley. Thank you Text Publishing for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA paranormal fantasy.

My rating:

Well, what can I say, I’m a sucker for YA paranormals. Ever since I read Twilight, I’ve been searching for good stories (YES, I know, it’s horrible of me to say that but it’s true. I refuse to feel ashamed.) that would break the mold. And… Shadows doesn’t, really. I mean, it’s always nice to read a story where angels aren’t the good guys, though I think Laini Taylor took excellent care of that with her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Shadows is decidedly darker, more violent and kind of mysterious, but it has the requisite hot guy who knows too much about the heroine, the jealous ex-boyfriend (who is also gorgeous, hello, he’s an angel!) and a heroine who kicks ass even though she can’t remember where she’s learned it all. I liked the twin angle – she’s grieving/missing her twin brother, I think that if the story will develop that part, it might get really good. I’ll probably pick up the sequel one day, I’m just not in a huge rush to do so.


Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Do you have any fairytale retelling of paranormal fantasy recs for me?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I’ve heard such good things about A Monster Calls but I’m not sure I can handle it.

    • Well, it is pretty dark and emotional, but if it helps, I ALWAYS cry when books are sad (like I was a red-eyed, sniffly mess when I read The Fault in Our Stars) + I read it now that I’m pregnant (extra weepiness) and it only got me sniffling, not full-out crying. But if the situation with grief is something that is very fresh to you, it might affect you more, if you know what I mean. I’d give it a try if I were you, it’s good.

  • I was definitely one of those readers who adored A Monster Calls! I wasn’t sure what to expect going in since it’s not my usual kind of read, and maybe that’s what helped me. I think the fact that I waited until the right time to read it was key too – being in the right mood to read this one went a long way. In any case, I’m glad you liked it but sorry you didn’t LOVE it as much as you were hoping!

    • I remember your review! It was one of the reasons I bumped the book up my reading queue, so thank you for that, it was good! :) We can’t all love it in equal measure but I’m really glad I read it – as I said, I think it’s an important book.

  • Maraia

    I didn’t know you met Patrick Ness—so cool! What was he like in person? Someone on Twitter compared his picture to an older version of Joey from Friends, and now I can’t get that out of my head. XD

    A Monster Calls is the only one of these three I’ve read, but I loved it. I’m planning to reread it before the movie comes out. Have you seen the trailer?

    I think you’ve already read the few paranormal books I actually enjoy, and I don’t always get along with fairy tale retellings, so I don’t have many recs for you. But any of Marillier’s retellings are worth reading, of course.

    • Um, Ness is pretty cool. I saw him at two different events the time that he was here, and the first was really good because he was chatting with an entire hall full of teenagers, most of whom were proficient enough in English to have a meaningful conversation with him (our schools do something right, it seems! Or is it internet? Hm…). The other was a bit more stilted because they had simultaneous translation set up, so most of the people would laugh at his joke AS HE TOLD IT in English, and then we had to wait for the translator to do her job (she did it very well, but still). He’s actually pretty handsome, in a boyish kind of way – he has dimples. He talks about being gay a lot. I don’t know, I liked him? I heard he has a pretty high opinion of himself, though, and doesn’t like anyone criticizing his books. But nobody’s perfect, right? :)

      I have to check out the trailer, I was avoiding it before I read the book and then I forgot about it.

  • Gosh, yet another bleh review for Thorn by Intisar Khanani – such a shame! I think the cover caught my eye a few months ago when I first glimpsed it on NetGalley, and I was curious. Kind of glad I didn’t request it now.

    • I know… I fell for the pretty cover + a blogger with otherwise really good taste in YA wrote a glowing review for it, so I gave it a try. Eh. There are lots of better retellings out there, it’s just a pity because the story did have potential.

  • Sebastian

    “A Monster Calls” was my first Patrick Ness book and I loved it to pieces. It was so perfectly sad and the artwork by Jim Kay (who is really nice, btw^^) is just amazing.

    I couldn’t really imagine how a movie version of this book could work but after seeing the trailer I’m super excited for it and I’m pretty optimistic that they don’t mess it up :D

    • “Perfectly sad” is a great description of this one! I liked how Ness dealt with anger and sadness and the feeling of being powerless in the face of such a personal tragedy.

      I only just watched the trailer now (thank you for reminding me!) and… well, I’ll just have to watch it? I kind of imagined it to be quieter, less EPIC if you know what I mean? We’ll see. I like the idea of Felicity Jones as the mom and Sigourney Weaver as the grandma, what great casting choices! And the kid seems cool, too. :)

      • Sebastian

        Yes, it’s definitely epic!

        I so hope to get to see the English version somewhere BECAUSE LIAM NEESON’S VOICE!! I actually had goosebumps when I watched that trailer :D

        • Liam Neeson’s voice is great – it’s funny how much more aware you are of it when you can’t see his face (like with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit). :)

          Oh and I didn’t even think of it but of course you get all your movies synchronised, right? In Slovenia, only kids’ films are synchronised, so I don’t know if this one will be, too – I hope not. In any case, there’s usually the option of seeing the original version, too. Do you get that option? I remember seeing and English cinema when I was in Munich…

          And you have me thinking about how films for adults would work in synchronised versions – what do they do with musicals like Les Miserables?! Do they translate the entire thing?

          • Sebastian

            Yes, they’re all dubbed over here.

            I don’t know any cinemas which show only the original versions but a lot of cinemas have special days where they show one movie in the English version, so let’s hope they pick “A Monster Calls” somewhere.^^

            Usually the dubbings are pretty good, we have a lot of great German voices who fit really well. Sometimes I even feel tempted to watch the German versions because I really love some of the German voices, there are usually always the same speakers assigned to the same actors.

            The German version of “Les Misérables” is mostly not dubbed though, just the very few parts where they don’t sing are in German which is very weird because it really wasn’t necessary to dub just a handful of sentences in a 2.5 hour movie :D

          • I know German/Austrian voice actors are really good. I heard people were devastated when a voice actor doing the voice of some well-known American actor died unexpectedly and had to be replaced. I wonder if it’s funny for actors to see their films in German? :) Imagine seeing your own face move and hearing a different voice come out (and in a different language)!

            Oh, my, that has to be weird. I mean, if people read the subtitles for the songs, they would have been fine to read the subtitles for the dialogue, surely. :)

  • livingbelowtheclouds

    Yesterday I ordered A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and I can’t wait to read it!

    Rafflecopter username: Joana Bento

    • Hi, Joana! :)

      I hope you enjoy A Monster Calls! It’s a really good book.