Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop

September 1st-7th 2012

Welcome to Parallel Words YA! This is a family-friendly young adult book review site where we review great young adult books in  the fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal and science fiction genres (including dystopian fiction).

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Thanks for visiting. While you're here, have a look around. Tell us what you like. 

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Red Glove by Holly Black (Curse Workers #2)

Story Synopsis:

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose. (from

My Review:

I know the traditional thing to do when reviewing a sequel is to compare it to the original. I think, in this case, that won't work. I read White Cat two years ago while curled up fetal on my bed, trying to distract myself from food poisoning. I'll say this much about it: My brain now associates that book with extreme abdominal discomfort, yet I still think it was a good read, which should tell you something about how fantastic a read it truly is.

On to Red Glove, which I read during a lightning weekend trip across the continent. I was tired, a little hungover (wild weddings will do that), and being accosted by arm-rest hoggers, crying babies, tight connections, other people's loud headphones, and an evil woman who crumpled my garment bag. Bitch. Red Glove took all that madness and made it bearable.

One of these days, I'm going to read Holly Black's books for pleasure alone and not as a distraction from pain and irritation, because they're worth much more attention than what I'm giving them.

What I'm getting at, with all this venting about flights, is that Red Glove is a fantastic book. I blazed through it. Granted, I didn't have much else to do, now that it costs $6.71 to watch a movie on a plane. But I would have kept reading even if the movie had been free. Cassel is a great main character - unique and compelling. The secondary characters are also engaging and well-developed. The writing is both descriptive and casual; the story dark and disturbing with frequent bursts of humor. It sucks you in and doesn't let go. Black's ability to take our world, add one magical twist, and still keep things completely relatable, is impressive; the fact that her magical twist has very real implications for the real world is even more so.

As with White Cat, the central mystery is a little predictable, but in Red Glove it took me a bit longer to crack it. Also, I don't know Lila's character very well, even though she's the romantic interest and a driving force in the plot. In White Cat she's a cat, in Red Glove she's cursed. We almost never see her as her true self, so who is she? I hope that the third book gives readers the chance to know her better.

Overall, highly recommended, especially if you're sick or facing a flight.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Rated by: Blair

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: UnLunDun by China Melville


‘UnLondon is at war. We’re under attack. And it’s been written, for centuries, that you – you – will come and save us.’

Stumbling through a secret entrance, Zanna and Deeba emerge in the strange wonderland of UnLondon. Here all the lost and broken things of London end up, and some of its people, too – including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas and Hemi the half-ghost boy. UnLondon is a place where Routemaster buses have legs, where Librarians are ‘bookaneers’, intrepid adventurers dedicated to hunting down lost books, and postmen spend years tracking the mobile addresses of the ever changing Puzzleborough. But the girls have arrived at a dangerous time – UnLondon is under siege by the sinister Smog; it’s a city awaiting its hero.

China makes extraordinary use of the ordinary is this wildly inventive fantasy adventure. (  From Goodreads)


UnLunDun or 'UnLondon,' is a young adult fantasy named after the alternate realm where the book is set. I read this book because my niece told me that “I had to read it!” All the while I was reading she would come up to me every few hours and hover over my shoulder saying, “what part are you on?” “couldn’t you just die?” “and then he... and isn’t it so amazing?” That alone would make me give this book five stars seeing the excitement and joy from her but the book also stands on its own.

Un Lun Dun is a fabulous, fast-paced story of an unexpected hero who comes into her own. It’s filled with loveable yet strange characters who take you on a journey of discovery and adventure where you meet even stranger characters and situations. The main characters compassion and genuine concern for those around her gives her the ability to problem-solve in unique and practical ways, showing that sometime the best solution is usually the simplest.

The writing is impeccable and the languaging flows so well that you are fully engulfed in the book. I was quite surprised several times when I looked up and was not in UnLondon.

My rating on this book is five stars, definitely one that is not to be missed.

My Rating: 5 Stars

Rated by: Jessica

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Last Days of Freedom Giveaway Hop!

This hop is hosted by I am a Reader, Not a Writer and The Elliott Review.

While you're here, have a look around our site. We're still new, so feel free to tell us in the comments below what you'd like to see here.

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Be sure to visit the other blogs on this great hop!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Story Synopsis:

In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called "unwinding." Unwinding ensures that the child's life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child's body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to easily be unwound.

With breath-taking suspense, this book follows three teens who all become runaway Unwinds: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents' tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing. As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Shusterman examines serious moral issues in a way that will keep readers turning the pages to see if Connor, Risa, and Lev avoid meeting their untimely ends. (from

My Review:




This book is AMAZING.

I need to stop and breathe for a second if I'm going to do any sort of logical review. Otherwise you're just going to get 300 words of fan-girl squealing. No one wants that.



In Unwind, Neal Schusterman takes the abortion debate to a  horrifying conclusion: Abortions are outlawed, and instead, teenagers can be "unwound". All their organs are donated, so that no part of them technically dies. The story follows three teens scheduled for unwinding.

It's gripping, it's breathtaking, its brain-blowingly amazing. Shusterman handles a complex and emotionally charged debate with deft skill, creating a book that will leave your fingers clutching the pages and your brain whirring as it tries to sort through all the implications. The characters are more than just stand-ins for the author to preach (as so often happens with morally charged books), but full-fledged entities with story arcs that will leave your heart pounding. I got choked up a couple of times. I really did. There's one scene in particular - one horrifying, gut-wrenching, eye-tearing scene - which I don't think will ever leave me. It's going into my personal list of "Top Ten Most Haunting Scenes". I'm still shuddering.

Even while creating believable characters and weighty storylines, Schusterman managed to do his science homework. In my non-blog life, I'm a neuroscientist. Speculative neuroscience in fiction tends to make me facepalm. It's ridiculous. Writers (screenwriters included) blather on and on without actually knowing any more about the brain than what can be read in the first sentence of a Wikipedia article. But Schusterman managed the neuro sci-fi bits excellently. Okay, there was one slight speed bump, but the story was good enough that I didn't care. Disbelief suspended, I totally bought into it. This book gets my Neuro Seal of Approval.

I started pulling out quotes that I wanted to put in the blog. I even went to far as to dog-ear a couple pages - a practice which normally makes me cringe. But in the end I dropped them all. The issues raised by this book go far beyond the abortion debate, and their weight is too much to get across in a few cherry-picked quotes. This is a book you need to discover for yourself. I don't care what side of the debate you're on, this book is a must-read.

My Rating: 5 stars

Rated by: Blair

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars by Nick James

Story Synopsis:

A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls. (from

My Review:

I love a good sci-fi. Give me a book brimming with crazy technology, imaginative ideas about outer space, wild physics, and spaceships. Tie it together with a compelling message about the real world, and you won't see me again until the book is done. But sci-fi has always been underrepresented in the YA market. With Curiosity landing and Kepler on overdrive, the time is ripe for some crazy sci-fi. So along comes Skyship Academy, blasting into the YA world like one of its own ubiquitous Pearls. It's a breath of fresh air. Which is ironic, since I don't think the characters get a single breath of fresh air over course of the entire book. Recirculated and processed air, if they're lucky.

Set 83 years in the future, James' comic-book inspired story envisions a world made bleak by terrorism and counter-terrorism. Earth is scorched beyond recognition. The only sanctuaries are the Chosen Cities on land or the Skyships above the clouds. It's a compelling yet terrifying vision of our future; one that makes you think twice about the paths we have chosen, or may very likely choose.

The story is told from two points of view - one in first-person present-tense, the other in third-person past-tense. Whether or not you like this will probably depend on your own personal taste. I admit I was a little disoriented by the first switch. But James' ability to write engagingly from both POVs is impressive. The style grew on me, likely in part because it's so unique. A side-effect was that I felt less connected to Cassius (3rd person) than to Jesse (1st person). Despite, or perhaps because of this, I ultimately found Cassius to be the more compelling character, and the one whose arc I'm most looking forward to reading in the sequel. Regardless of the POV, James' casual, engaging style pulls the reader in, and provides more than a few laughs - especially when we're seeing through the eyes of the quirky, relatable Jesse.

This book is thought-provoking and fun, packed with action and excellent world-building and complete with an ending I didn't see coming. The second book comes out on September 8th, so I only have to wait a month before finding out what happens next. It's going to be a long month.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Rated by: Blair