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Holders #1

The Holders

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17-year-old Becca spent her whole life protecting her brother from, well, everything. The abandonment of their father, the so called 'experts' who insist that voices in his head are unnatural and must be dealt with, and the constant threat of being taken away to some hospital and studied like an animal. When two representatives appear claiming to have the answers to Ryland's perceived problem, Becca doesn't buy it for one second. That is until they seem to know things about Ryland and about Becca and Ryland's family, that forces Becca to concede that there may be more to these people than meets the eye. Though still highly skeptical, Becca agrees to do what's best for Ryland.

What they find at St. Brigid's is a world beyond their imagination. Little by little they piece together the information of their family's heritage, their estranged Father, and the legend of the Holder race that decrees Ryland is the one they've been waiting for. However, they are all--especially Becca--in for a surprise that will change what they thought they knew about themselves and their kind.

She meets Alex, a Holder who is fiercely loyal to their race, and for some reason, Becca and Ryland. There's an attraction between Becca and Alex that can't be denied, but her true nature seems destined to keep them apart. However, certain destinies may not be as clear cut as everyone has always believed them to be.

Becca is lost, but found at the same time. Can she bring herself to leave Ryland now that he's settled and can clearly see his future? Will she be able to put the the feelings she has for Alex aside and head back to the US? And can Becca and Ryland ever forgive their father for what he's done?

320 pages, Paperback

First published March 3, 2013

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About the author

Julianna Scott

4 books213 followers
I've spent my entire life thinking up stories and imagining new worlds to spend my mental time. Eventually I figured I should write some of the stuff down so that others could read and escape for a while with me.

Thanks so much for visiting! I love Goodreads and all my GR friends, and while I do not often extend a friend request, I do accept nearly everyone who tries to friend me, so don't be shy! I'd love to meet you! :-)

~ Julianna

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 221 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,992 reviews298k followers
January 23, 2013
I really gave The Holders a hard time. There were countless opportunities for this novel to go in disappointing directions and make me hate the book and characters forevermore but, I have to say it, my low expectations were completely flattened by a story I really enjoyed, characters I loved, and a romance that felt genuine. There are some faults - one of which I think could be big for some readers - but I was so into this little world that Ms Scott has created that I didn't mind overlooking some of the downsides.

The story is about Becca and her brother, Ryland, the latter of which often hears voices shouting or whispering in his ears. After years of Becca protecting her brother and his secret "condition", one day two men turn up at their home and claim they know what is wrong with Ryland. They claim that he is just one of many gifted people and belongs with his own kind at St Brigid's in Ireland. Becca is torn between wanting her brother to find others like him and wanting to personally keep him safe, so her compromise is that Ryland can go to Ireland as long as she accompanies him. And so begins their adventure into a secret world of special powers, ancient vendettas and - best of all! - Irish countryside. I've seen a couple of negative reviews comparing this all to X-men, which I have never seen/read and can't comment on but be prepared for the possibility that you might have a different reaction to this if you happen to be an X-men lover.

Anyway, I thought I knew exactly where Scott was going with her main set of characters - outsider protagonist, hot guy and perky blonde girl who seems a bit too friendly with hot guy - I was thinking "I seen this all before, I know what you're doing" but I ended up having to take it all back. Becca is a likeable, well-rounded character who cares for her family above all else (think Penryn from Angelfall), she is not immune to a sexy guy but she has her priorities in the right place and she's definitely no pushover. Also, Alex is sweet and wonderful and I find it so adorable that he's the one who gets embarrassed easily instead of having the usual constantly-blushing heroine. I found their relationship so easy to root for.

Plus, I thought there were a number of secondary characters that really stood out to me and added touches of humour to the book. Mr Anderson and Mr Reid's constant bickering was hilarious, I found the dialogue between them to be absolutely superb. Jocelyn is a particularly interesting character too and I look forward to finding out even more about him in the second installment. And Min is delightful, her role as a grandmother figure to Becca worked really well. All round, I think it is definitely the characters that hold this novel up and make it something more than just another typical urban fantasy book.

*sigh* I'm going to have to say it and there's no way to say it in a good way so here goes... the plot is predictable. It just is. You don't have to be a genius or to have read a million paranormal books to see a number of things coming a mile off. The twists are not really twists to anyone with a few brain cells. But I hope that, rather than seeming entirely negative, this gives you an idea of how strong the characters and other bits are that I still really really enjoyed this book despite it's predictability. The Holders' strength is in the getting there, the "hows" and the "whys" rather than the "whats".

One more thing. I don't usually comment on errors such as spelling or grammatical mistakes - especially in ARCs - but this advance copy of mine had more than just a few instances that I thought could have benefited from some tighter editing. Hopefully, the finished edition will have fixed these problems.

But, whatever, this was a good book. It's been a while since I finished the first in a series feeling so excited about where it was heading. I'm so looking forward to book two!
Profile Image for Melissa.
361 reviews624 followers
May 23, 2016
I feel like I'm going to be in the minority here. You see, I finished this about a week ago, probably less, and I had thought about giving it a 3.5...but now I just can't

I can barely remember anything about it. It was just lacking. In every sense of the word.

The Holders was predictable to the point of irritating, the romance was cringe-worthy, the characters were flat and unremarkable and as much as this wanted to hint towards a plot centered on a sister who fiercely protected her brother, I found it to solely rotate around a girl who was infatuated with an older boy who did nothing but blush 24/7. The foreshadowing needed work, the ending was anything but impressive and the writing, well lets just say it left a lot to be desired.

le sigh, I'll just go back to rereading ACOMAF...

Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
851 reviews3,880 followers
January 20, 2018

Actual rating : 4.5 stars

Warning : the plot is VERY similar to X-men at first but it didn't bother me, because I get the impression that the author actually acknowledges it by several references. Secondly it's just.... so FUN, and if some readers find that fun is cheap, I don't : after trying a tons of books lately, I can say without doubts that fun isn't easy to find. Moreover, there are some magical additions that appealed to me (alchemy, for example) and the great villain, Darragh, while sharing some particularities with both Magneto and Sylar from Heroes, seems to be more complex that I imagined at first (but we'll see in the future). Finally, I don't mind inspirations of other works when it's well-done and when the author uses them as a background to create a compelling and original story. In my opinion it was the case here, and the way the story unfolded satisfied me.

But perhaps the most important thing to consider is the fact that The Holders managed to get me involved in Rebecca and Rylan's story at any time during my read : I was hooked from page one, and that's something because I started almost 10 books yesterday. Yes, 10! So freaking annoying. The writing style was compelling, and the pacing pretty fast, as there wasn't any dull moment and I couldn't have stopped reading for the life of me.

Sure, some of the plot twists were glaringly obvious, yet instead of spoiling my read, they made it an almost better experience because the knowing created an expectation in me that improved my read, you know? Therefore strangely, I never minded the predictability.

As for the settings, most of the story takes place in St Brigid, a special academy standing in Ireland. While I appreciated the fact that the descriptions weren't all over the place (I never had a huge patience for that, to my literature teachers' dismay) I have to admit that while quite atmospheric at times it never reached the level of others books set in Ireland I read. Indeed the settings aren't the main focus here, as we don't get to travel and wander a lot. Therefore don't expect to be transported otherwise you would be disappointed. This being said, I remained curious along the way, eager to catch any occasion to learn something about it, so it's almost a win for me. And to be frank, I read enough fantasy to be satisfied on that count, and this kind of book is refreshing, not to mention that everything actually makes sense (you would be surprised to see how many books TRY to create a world-building and FAIL because it's just too confusing and messy).

As far as the characters are concerned, the only thing I can that is that I loved them because they all were very likeable and felt genuine. Indeed Becca's voice was refreshing and believable for a 17 years-old-girl : she can be immature at times but never dumb or annoying. What defines her the most is her strong love and mean to protect her brother and her mother, and for this I loved her.
"It's just a school," the younger man interrupted, in what I can only imagine was his best peacekeeper voice. "I promise."
"You promise? What are we, twelve? Next I suppose you're going to pinky swear me that this will all be for his own good, and expect me to let you take him?"

Well, yeah, she can be kind of ill-tempered sometimes, but it's for a good reason, I promise! Pinky swear :P

Alex has been designed for us to crush on him and strangely... I crushed on him. Hey, I never said I was immune to an adorable superpowered guy who can create illusions larger than life. I mean, seriously, the guy must rock on dates. Duh. Moreover, he's loyal, caring, blushes all the time and frankly? So sweet and kind and AWW, I adore him.

Concerning the romance, I realize how easy it would be for me to take all the information at once and shows something else entirely. The truth is, if some aspects are part of what I usually don't like in romances, here it worked. In my opinion here lies the talent of an author : when the peeves we can see in a book feel so right that we don't care nonetheless. How could I bother about objective complains if in my heart I wouldn't have wanted the story to be different? It would be so unfair of me - I won't.

First Becca's instant-crush on Alex, which could have been extremely annoying, strangely wasn't because she kept it in check, let's say. She's well aware that she isn't supposed to daydream about him and frankly, her take on the situation was refreshing. Yes, she has a crush. So what? Who never had? I might had a crush on him too As soon as it never morphs her in a somewhat pathetic and dumb heroine, but she stays focused on her goals, how can I complain? And as I already said, the guy is charming, and as we get to see their relationship growing from friendship to... something else, I didn't mind.

Hey, guess what? It even contains a plot twist I never like but I was so engrossed in their relationship that I didn't care and shipped them hard nonetheless.

Finally, as I said earlier, this story also deals with family bounds and friendship. First of all, I absolutely adored the heart-warming relationship between Becca and her brother : it's when I read books like this that I realize how much I have changed these past few years. When I was a teenager and my early 20s, I wasn't a kid person - like, at all. They annoyed me, and I didn't get all the fuss was about them, frankly. And then, well, I became a teacher, and most of my daily interactions are with children. What did I realize? That I liked talking with kids - that they were often more open-minded than the adults around us and that we underestimated grandly what they could understand. Therefore while I would have hated the addition of the little brother some years ago, I have to admit that today, I loved it, even more because in my opinion he talked like a 10 years old and not as if he was 5 (yes, because unfortunately that happens often in books)

Moreover, the friendship between Becca, Chloe, and really, all the side characters we meet was adorable and smile inducing : It won't surprise you to know that I love when my heroines care about their family and have actual friends. Because in the end, what this story says us is that even though you're different, there are people out there who care about you and who love you for who you really are - it can seem cheesy, but in our cynical world, sometimes it's good to remember it, don't you think?

► To sum up, The Holders came as a surprise as it kept me enthralled until the very end. Does it really deserve 4.5 stars? I don't know. Do I care? Nope, because it got me out of my reading slump and for this I'm really, really grateful.

Above that, contrary to many series I read lately, I won't be able to wait before starting the sequel : that says it all, doesn't it?

For more of my reviews, please visit:
August 3, 2015

"I look forward to it," I laughed. "Then maybe I'll get the chance to do something for you, for a change."
"Ah, Becca," he sighed, lowering his face so his nose brushed against mine, raising the hairs on my arms. "You have no idea how much you do for me."

Awww this was just too cute. If ever there was a need for a lighthearted and sweet book, this would be it. It's never too over-the-top and it doesn't try to be something it's not-it just is. I am horrible with my rules and expectations and what I will and will not read-but when my great friend, followed by my other great friend loved it, I knew I had to give it a try.

I can't say it was perfect-Obviously it wasn't because I didn't rate it a 5-but it was great, all the same. I think a large part of enjoyment in stories stems from just falling in love with the characters. In this case, where the story didn't quite reach my standards, the characters overshadowed that. I really really liked the plot-really. But I have these little...hmm...annoying quirks? Tiny things in a story can make me cringe and cause minor annoyance where annoyance doesn't quite belong. I was never once not into this story, but minute things here and there would suddenly make me think, why? Why did this have to happen, why is it going this way, why can't it just do what I want it to, damn it....and that's just a personal hang up.

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I just have to say this up front-I adored this book. I gave it four stars without batting an eye. My enjoyment was never ending and I couldn't wait to read it when I couldn't be sitting on my ass and had to do normal human things, like, say, work. But it also doesn't mean I didn't want more.

He shrugged with a smile. "I'm used to the idea, I guess."
"Wait, OK, so now I have to know, how old are you?" I asked, bracing for the answer.
"How old do you think I am?" he countered, his smile turning wry.
"I don't know, one hundred and four?"
"One hundred and four! What about me screams 'old man', may I ask?"
"I don't know, so younger?"
"Yes, younger!"

I think it's safe to say that I was completely obsessed with Alex-he was absolutely adorable. Loyal, funny, brave, kind-he really was a knight in shining armor. Right when we meet him we can see that he is going to be a very addicting character. From his personality, to his upbringing, all the way to his voice (whispering, quiet, kind, reassuring, supportive), Alex is the complete package. I adored everything he was willing to do for Becca and her little brother, Ryland. He was a self-sacrificing type, and we see that from beginning to end-I have always fallen hard for these types of male leads.

As I watched him now, staring off into the falling snow, for the first time I could see how lonely he was. He didn't have what he truly wanted, what he needed. Even with all the people around him every day, when it came to the ways that mattered most, he was alone.

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But the real obsession begins when we see something deeper forming between Becca and Alex. He is always there for her, always around, always doing something that makes my heart melt-it's ridiculous. But then we get to see his pained side, his tortured side....and it made me heart ache in a totally different way. I think this is when I well and truly fell for him (not that that was ever in danger of not happening). It broke my heart to see him in pain, but more than that, it helped me to connect with him on an even deeper level...and I love that.

But with all that, this is one of the biggest things that bothered me. If you don't want to see my biggest problem with the whole story (no, for real, it's not Alex, seriously), then don't read the spoiler. It is, indeed, a rather large spoiler and I can't talk about this without everyone knowing what happened. So...proceed with caution. And I feel like such a bitch, but I'm sorry, I've always hated this direction in books, and it just made me so sad that this story did it, too. It's not bad AT ALL....and it's done wonderfully, beautifully, even mixing in with my favorite parts of the story....but I wish it could have went a different direction, somehow. but in the back of my cynical witchy mind I was like...sigh. Ugh.

And then the writing-while edited well (big pet peeve of mine) and not bad at all, it was written in one of my least favorite writing styles of all time. Which means all my gripes, all my problems with this story (it seems like a ton, but there were very few) are literally speculation and only personal problems, not actual issues with the book itself, because it's actually wonderful and deserves more attention than it has gotten. I just don't like when there are bits of cheese sprinkled in with the writing and self-assurances and...like I said, I'm being petty, because it was wonderful and addicting.

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I know I sounded negative-sometimes I do this, and I don't know why. I love a book, I read it within 24 hours because it's just that good, and then I bitch and complain more than I try to impress. It's not right, because everyone wants to know why I gave it a four, and here I am pushing what's wrong with it. But here, I can make it simple-

-Creative story-line
-Beautiful setting
-Amazing male lead with whom I am obsessed with
-Wonderful cast of characters
-Quick and fast-paced plot

I was addicted from page one, and these reasons are exactly why. A book doesn't have to be perfect to be exactly what you need and are looking for. I cannot wait to start the second book this weekend, and I only hope it's as good as the first. These are amazing, fun, and alluring characters, I hope anyone who gives this a try will like it as much as I did.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
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Profile Image for Julianna Scott.
Author 4 books213 followers
February 2, 2013
They always say you should write the story you want to read--so that's what I did. :-)

So, yeah, this is my book, and I kind of love it. But then, if I couldn't love it, I certainty would never expect anyone else to.

For my 'review', such that it is, I have taken inspiration from the lovely Laura Lam and the equally lovely Dana Collins, and have decided to use both pictures and quotes from the book to give you all a peak inside THE HOLDERS. Hope you enjoy! ;-D

THE HOLDERS is the story of Becca who has spent her life protecting her brother Ryland from the judgments of everyone around him. When two visitors come offering to 'help' Ryland, Becca is more than skeptical. However, one of the the men, by the name of Alex, is able to make a very persuasive case, transporting her here...

without ever leaving her room.

THE HOLDERS is set in Ireland and the grounds of the campus and surrounding provide the setting for several scenes in the story. While none of the following photos were specifically described, they were the inspiration...

To be a Holder means you have an ability, which is a special skill inherited from a family member. To be able to control and use these abilities, every Holder must have a charm called a Sciath. Each Sciath contains a gemstone that is directly related to the ability of the wearer. Below is an example of a Sciath belonging to a young woman named Chloe, who has the ability to walk thorough time. Now if only she was good at it...

Quotes from THE HOLDERS:

“You promise? What are we, twelve? Next I suppose you’re going to pinky swear me that this will all be for his own good, and expect me to let you take him?” ~ Becca

His eyes never left mine, and I got the strange impression that he was really listening to me. Most people don’t listen. When you listen you hear the sounds and the silences. You hear the words people say, and the words they don’t say. Real listening takes more effort than most people are willing to give. ~ Becca

I had the feeling that Chloe wouldn’t have cared if I was a two-headed murderer straight out of prison, as long as I was under thirty and had boobs. ~ Becca

“The day we came to get Ryland – the way you fought for him – it was amazing. When I told you that I wish I’d had someone like you watching out for me, I meant it.” ~ Alex

I self-consciously tucked my hair behind my ear in a vain attempt to look as though I hadn’t just gotten the crap kicked out of me by Mother Nature. ~ Becca

“I wanted you to love me.” He held my eyes for a second then looked back down, his ears on fire. “But on your own, because you wanted to, not because you felt like you had to.” ~ Alex

"Any right he had to be the guy sitting on the front porch with a shotgun waiting for me to come home from a date, was forfeited over ten years ago!” ~ Becca
"Were you all farmers in Kansas at some point?" ~ Alex

"Is breá liom tú ró, mo lómhara. Tá tú gach rud a dom.” ~ Alex
[That one you'll have to look up. Muah Ha... ;-)]

Want some more? Care to read the first chapter? Check it out here!
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,883 reviews5,802 followers
July 24, 2016
**4.5 stars**

I really enjoyed this fun UF book. One warning that may turn people off from this story: It is VERY similar in concept to X-Men. Very. It is basically an Irish, YA, romantic version of the story. The plot involves a boarding school for children with special powers (Holders), and their leader is a man who can control people's minds. Sound familiar? AND their arch nemesis is super-powered Holder who thinks the human race should be subservient to all of the Holders. Now, what I like about this book is that it doesn't deny that it is similar to X-Men. In fact, they make some references to the comic books (not by name) and at one point say comments about people having "laser-beam eyes". I wasn't bothered by the take off of the idea of X-Men; in fact, it excited my inner geek.

Similarities aside, "Holders" is a great, fast-paced book. I was immediately drawn into the story and I could not put this book down. I was even able to overlook the first person POV and the glaringly obvious plot twists that were supposed to be shocking but I saw coming from a mile away. I overlooked a lot of little flaws and found myself loving this book anyway. I can see why some people wouldn't like this one but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

**This book was provided by Net Galley in exchange for an honest review**
February 6, 2016
So I wanted to reread this book another times which makes it the third time. It was still as good this last time as it was the first which definitely says something about this series and Ms. Scott's writing.


Becca Ingle is a 17 year old genius. Already graduated high school two years prior there are only a few things in her life. Her mom, younger brother Ryland, and when she should go to college. Putting this on hold to take care of Ry, she stays home to protect him from all of the people who want to take him away so they can "help" with the voices in his head. This changes when two representatives come to their house saying that they could really take care of him. Becca argues until she soon realizes that they might not be all bad.

Taking the both of them to St Brigid's in Ireland, Becca learns about who they are and about her father who left them shortly after Ryland was born. She learns about the Holder race and their legend saying that they have been waiting for Ryland for centuries. However things change when a surprise comes up shocking everyone especially Becca.

While going through with this surprised, Becca is spending more time with Alex. He is very loyal to the Holders and for some reason Becca and Ryland. There is definitely an attraction between them but she feels that she can't be with him because of who she is.

Now all she has to do is survive their expectations, her relationship with Alex, and her awful Gaelic class.

What I liked

The characters. Becca was a strong leading lady which I have been very glad about in this series. She does not give up and cares deeply for her brother even when sometimes it seems like he doesn't. She is so kind and determined. I also loved Alex. He is a great guy, which Becca points out, and he is so sweet. He puts others before him, like Becca does, trying to make sure that what he is doing is best for them even though it hurts him.

The romance. There romance was perfect. They were hesitant in the beginning and Alex was so sweet even though I just wanted him to tell her everything. There were some great scenes between them and I couldn't stop reading.

The action. There was a lot of action in the first book of the series. With moving, finding out the truth, and trying to stop the evil Darragh. Even when they were just talking, I couldn't tear my eyes from the pages.

What I didn't like or could have been better

The only thing that could have been better was having the second book in this one so I didn't have to get up for the second. So therefore this book was perfect.


This book was great with its wonderful characters, relationships, and action. I would recommend this to any YA fantasy and romance readers. I'm sure that other who wouldn't even like this normally should give this series a go. You won't be disappointed.

Now onto the next one!
January 21, 2013
There is so much I could say about this book, however I will focus on my favorite aspect of it: it was simple. That is not to say the plot or particularly the lore of the story was simple, not at all. But is also wasn't some 'wham bam lets fit as much as possible in this book so that people will think it's great' book like so many are lately. YA has become so big that everyone seems to think they have to come up with something bigger, and better, and louder, and more outrageous, etc. to have a hit. That just isn't true. All you have to do is tell a good story. Have a good story, even if it is simple, and write it well, and people won't be able to stop reading. That is what THE HOLDERS has. At the end of each chapter you have to keep reading because you just have to know what comes next, and it isn't because of a cliffhanger, or unrealistic drama, or some other trick. It is just a captivating story.

Was it a lot like x-men as so many people have mentioned? To some extent I suppose. Did I care? Not one bit. And honestly, the x-men similarities aren't that bad really. Yes these people have powers, and yes there is a school involved, but honestly that's about it.

The other thing I couldn't get enough of was the male lead Alex. He has to be the best romantic interest for a female main character I have seen in years. He is a wonderful guy, who is sweet and affectionate and utterly swoon-worthy without having to be dark and broody, or pushy and overbearing, or a condescending jerk. I was also wildly thankful that Scott did not spend half of every other page reminding us of how incredibly hot he was. In fact, it was never mentioned at all. She basically described him as well dressed, boy next door, attractive, and even that was only done once. The romance between the leads was based on actual attraction and respect(also rare in YA) and grew naturally from friendship, in which case the attractiveness of a person doesn't matter. (To be fair there was a 'magical' element to the romance too, but it does not impact the realism or validity of the relationship.)

All in all, fantastic read, and I anticipate the next installment to be even better!

(ARC obtained via PB-ARC tour.)
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,773 reviews572 followers
January 16, 2013
Becca is a smart, mature teen girl who has devoted much of her life to protecting her younger brother, Ryland, who hears voices and is often picked on by others, from the well-meaning social services to his peers. One day Ryland is offered the opportunity to attend a special academy in Ireland where he will have a chance to feel 'normal' among others like him. Becca's mother is mysteriously all for this, THEN Becca finds out that the headmaster of the school is none other than her long lost father who had deserted his family many years before.

There is no way Becca is going to let her brother go alone, so off to St Brigid's they go, only to discover the school is for a special race of people called Holders. These people have varied gifts or powers and Ryland is their prophesied savior. He is the only one who can unlock the powers of a special relic when he holds it. Problem is, nothing happens when he is given the relic. Fed up, Becca grabs for it and the story heats up from there! Lives are threatened, deceit abounds, trusts are tested!

I think one of the draws to this book was Becca. She demonstrated maturity with her ability to think on her feet, protect her brother and not suffer from being all teen-angsty! Even her attraction to another Holder was handled well! No single character was over the top, they all played well off each other, making me think this is going to be a great YA series with a broad appeal!

This ARC edition was provided by NetGalley and Angry Robot in exchange for an honest review. Pub Date March, 2013
Profile Image for Sharon.
856 reviews
February 5, 2013
More of my YA reviews can be found at www.obsessionwithbooks.blogspot.com

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

The Holders was kindly provided to me by Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot in exchange for my honest review.

17 year old Becca Ingle cares deeply for her 10 year old brother Ryland, who hears voices; she has always protected him from anyone who has wanted to test or institutionalise him, until two men arrive on their doorstep with an explanation for what is happening to Ryland and provide an opportunity for him to attend an academy based in Ireland where he will learn to control what they say is a special ability, for he is what is known as a Holder and is actually hearing people's thoughts.

Becca sees the opportunity provided but only agrees Ry can go if she can accompany him despite knowing she will be in the close vicinity of her estranged father who abandoned them as children and now runs the school.

Each Holder has a special ability - telepathy, telekinesis, alchemy etc. and teaching Becca about the school and each power is Alex Bray who has the ability to project images on reality, he is also the main love interest.

I enjoyed each of the main characters, Becca was full of snark and tended to react before thinking but she was also caring and protective. Alex was a sweetheart but probably too perfect, this guy was ideal - so calm and loveable and complimented Becca well, his past was really quite sad.

I initially thought the romance was too insta-love but there was a reason for it which was revealed as the story progressed and made the connection between Alex & Becca all the more believable but in the initial stages I thought it was too much too soon.

We get some great secondary characters, some of the Holders such as Mr. Anderson and Mr. Reid provide some welcomed comic relief, Min was a sweet motherly figure and Chloe is a wonderful new best friend to Becca. We learn a bit about the bad guys but don’t really get to see the main villain act out so I’m curious to learn more about him/them in the next installment – Ms. Scott has set the story up nicely and given us enough background information for the next book.

My main complaint with The Holders is the predictability, I was able to guess what was going to happen early on in the book, it was just a matter of reading along to see it all play out - it may also have been because a lot is revealed about the book in the synopsis which doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination.

The pacing flowed well and Ms. Scott's writing was crisp and enjoyable. With a threat looming, I am intrigued to see what is to come of Becca now certain things have been revealed and with a powerful Holder out to control the human race things are looking to get quite interesting.

Overall, a promising start to this new series.

Thank-you to Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot for providing me with copy of The Holders to read and review.
Profile Image for Bailee.
92 reviews67 followers
January 29, 2013
It's hard to forgive and forget. It's hard to give up the role of protector. It's hard to know whether the choices made are the right ones or the wrong ones. Becca knows all about these hardships and it's something she battles with from the moment they arrive at St. Brigid's. If only that was the only thing she had to face.

I really love this story and here's my reasons why.

The Holders by Julianna Scott tells the story of Becca, a seventeen-year-old, as she protects her brother Ryland from the people that seem to only want to take him from her. Ever since he began hearing voices or rather thoughts, psychiatrists and doctors have been constantly trying to take him away but of course, it is for his own good. They can help him. Becca doesn't buy it. So when she comes home from work to find him hiding because their mother has decided to send him away, she is extremely angry. But these two men claim to be different. She is about to find out just how much. Determined to not leave Ryland alone with these men, she convinces them to let her come along until he is settled. But quickly it becomes clear that as relationships, friendships, and feelings of security developed, the desire to go home is blurred to the point that she questions whether she should leave at all. Will she? Or rather, can she?

Becca is strong willed, feisty, protective, and very loving. I guess the whole love and protect thing intertwines but I think love is the a very soft emotion while protectiveness can be a hardening emotion. From the beginning, I could tell how much of a parental role she had taken in her family. If her father wasn't going to be there to protect them, she was going to do his job. Her attitude is less stubborn and more strong willed, she isn't outright stubborn just to be stubborn and she is open to all the other options out there but once she's formed an opinion, her ideas are hard to sway. Honestly, I love her. I like that she is an open, forgiving person. It's not to say that she can't hold a grudge, because she can, but she doesn't get upset over the little things that people typically freak out over. She is the type of character that I love reading and wish that I could be more like.

I was excited that the romance or rather the potential romance was introduced basically from the beginning. I mean, it's not like I am all about the romance but when there is some, I like when it's set up right and not delayed until the middle of the story. Plus, it's a great subplot throughout the whole story. Alex actually had a big part outside of being the love interest of Becca and I love that. It's hard when the love interest is simply the love interest and that's their only purpose. During the story, I got to realize what role he played in the Holder world and why his loyalty to the race is so important. The blossoming relationship between Alex and Becca takes a toll on him though sometimes I think his actions are completely necessary. Anyway, he's gorgeous and wonderful. Totally swoon worthy.

I think Becca has a tense relationship with both her parents but it's pretty understandable. Sadly, her mother didn't play as much of a part as I would've liked and in fact, after awhile she isn't really mentioned. I think I would've liked to see more of the dynamic of the mother daughter relationship. Although, her father, Jocelyn (LOL it's such a girl name), plays a lot bigger part despite the fact that Becca hates him. Her father abandoned her as well as her mother and brother just after Ryland was born and that cut her pretty deep. Mostly because he hadn't told them he was leaving like a normal person, no instead he had left a letter meant to tear her mother apart. How can she forgive that? She is forced to face him once again when she travels to St. Brigid's and all of the hurt resurfaces. Throughout the story, she determines he doesn't care that much for her and he is controlling like he knows what she should do with her life. She worries that he wants her to be like him and that is why she pushes him away.

Chloe can be described as Becca's best friend. She is super bubbly which makes her just plain entertaining to read. I've met a lot of people who fit her description and it can be overwhelming as well as exhausting, for it is hard to keep up with them. Chloe is great though, I was glad that Becca wasn't surrounded by men the whole time and that she had a girlfriend like Chloe. They balanced each other out very well.

Ryland is a great little brother. In the beginning he is super shy and scared of everything which makes him depend on Becca a lot throughout the beginning. But once they arrive at St. Brigid's, he grows into a greater person. He has found people that understand him and his condition and with a charm made to help him control his powers, the voices disappeared. He finally has a chance to be normal. I love that I got to see how much he grew through that short period of time. I love that he didn't necessarily need Becca to fight his battle or protect him from everything.

Min, Mr. Anderson, Mr. Reid, and Cormac are all Holders that either work at St. Brigid's or work with the Order, which is basically a whole bunch of powerful Holders. They all provide needed comedic relief for the tense scenes when I knew that Becca might break down or collapse from being overloaded with information. I love all the wisdom and power that these characters bring to the story even if they don't play a huge part. It's a wonderful group of characters and I adore them all.

The bad guys honestly didn't play that much of a part in most of the story besides being mentioned. Even when a threat of danger is mentioned, the real bad guy didn't play any part in it. The character, though, is set up in such a way that I can't wait for him to be introduced in future stories and see what happens when all my favorite characters must make hard choices. All of the bad guys have been set up wonderfully and the anticipation will kill me until I get to actually read the next book.

I really love this book. I want the sequel... if only. It's an addicting read that keeps you hanging on until the last page and leaves you entirely enchanted with the whole story. If you weren't planning on reading it, I think you should. It's a must read. Don't miss this story!
Profile Image for Candy .
626 reviews44 followers
January 27, 2013
For the past year I've picked up more than a few Strange Chemistry titles featuring strong heroines, mature and strengthened by their independence. Without a doubt, Julianna Scott's The Holders is no exception! When I first began reading I had high expectations to be thoroughly intrigued, but I didn't expect the urge Scott's writing built in me to read furiously until the end. I fell for the characters, the plot, and the beautiful presentation of Ireland.

Rebecca Ingle, 17 years old and self-charged with protecting her younger brother, Ryland, is a force to reckon with. Scott opens the novel showcasing the most admirable trait that any character can have and Becca has loads of: fierce loyalty. The voice she's created for young Becca is honest and strong; even when she's afraid of change or danger she still comes across as real. I thought it was extremely interesting how her rage, which could be considered a flawed trait in certain scenes, was perfect because it came out in her protective streak over the ones she loved.

The voices Ryland hears in his head have alienated him and made him the target of several offers to be locked up in mental facilities. Becca is completely against them all until her family is approached by representatives from a school in Ireland. Alex Bray convinces her that her brother is special and that the voices he hears are a sign of his emerging power. St. Brigid's Academy becomes a beacon for Ryland who may finally find the help he deserves. Becca tags along in hopes that she can be there for Ryland until he settles down and to make sure he's truly safe. The transition reveals the truth about why Ryland is special for a Holder and what his role is in a centuries old prophecy.

The Holders could remind readers of X-Men, or even Kate Kaynak's Minder, but the fantasy elements are just a touch more intricate. Not to mention the fact that the Holders race began after regular humans were blessed by an Irish goddess many centuries ago. The idea of humans with superpowers is nothing new, but it's the little things about the Holders' society and control of power that sets Scott apart from the rest. I am so thankful this is only the beginning of a series because I couldn't imagine not being able to read a continuation of Becca's story. The Holders is a novel too entertaining and emotionally charged to pass up!

*ARC provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Also posted on Lovey Dovey Books
Profile Image for Rebecca McKinnon.
Author 17 books239 followers
December 3, 2012
This is one of those books I have a hard time putting down. I (*ahem*) read it in a day. Then I nearly cried because I couldn't jump right into the next book in the series.

So many things about this book grabbed, and held, my attention. Becca's love for her brother, and the way she'd do anything to protect him. The way she has an opinion about her father, but is careful not to allow that to influence her brother's feelings toward him. The way she tries to protect her mother. The fact Becca and Ryland go to Ireland! The way the relationship between Becca and Alex is believable. The way Alex speaks fluent Gaelic. The idea of the Holders--who they are, their history, what they're trying to do now. A great villain, even if we haven't laid eyes on him.

I excitedly await the next book in the series . . . and every one after that.

This is a pre-release review. Thanks to the publisher, Strange Chemistry, for the ARC.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,114 followers
February 22, 2013
Harry Potter meets Skippy Dies meets, I dunno, the Boxcar Children? A story of magical powers mistaken for mental disorder, when the child is transported to a Irish boarding school with his sister to be with others of his kind. That might sound like a storyline you've heard before, but the pacing and the teenage romance is well done and I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
November 16, 2013
Actual rating 2.5

You tried so hard to not be a cliché but in the end that was all you were.

This is the only Strange Chemistry title that I’ve read that disappointed me. I say this with a heavy heart because honestly, I expected a lot from this book. The synopsis intrigued me and the cover was gorgeous. Alas as we all know, never trust the summary or the cover. They can be misleading.

Ryland has been hearing voices all of his life, people think he is crazy but Becca isn’t so sure. The book begins with people trying to take Ryland ‘to a school that would be better for him’. Becca, being the good sister she is fights for him and ends up agreeing to let him go so long as she can come with.

She starts off as a great female lead, someone who is protective of her brother and mother, not stupid (she graduated at the age of 15 so she is pretty damn smart as one might expect) and even though she has a crush on Alex she actually does have her priorities set straight. When she learns about the world of holders, she doesn’t accept it right away but displays a good dose of skepticism Personally, I think the only reason she ends up believing all of this is because it would mean her brother isn’t actually crazy, as she had always believed in the back of her mind.

The author pulls of Ryland’s character too, he acts like the way a 7 year old should, like a brat. The author doesn’t try to make him mature for his age, even with the voices in his head. He remains an innocent 7 year old who is a tad bit perceptive.

Other than the interesting world building that is mostly everything ‘good’ I can say about this book.

Going back to what I said right at the beginning, this book is a big fat cliché. It tries not to be, there is a shy guy, a ‘not special’* female lead, the female lead is willing to check herself into a nunnery if she becomes one of those girls who drool over a guy they just met, but underneath all of this there are layers of clichés.

This book has soul mates

Run away fathers

Angry teenagers

Girls who have never had any girlfriends

A girl who feels like she finally belongs

*You get what I mean. There isn’t much that makes this book different. The one thing that I thought worked for this book gets taken away as well. I was so excited to see a female lead who wasn’t special, it’s one of the reasons I wanted to read this book, I wanted to see how this girl would help her brother through everything, but in the end my dreams remained unrealized. The girl turned out to be special. She was a speshul flower. Extremely powerful. One of a kind. You know the drill.

It might have been slightly easier to swallow if there weren’t some inconsistencies here. The author first builds Ryland up to be special but in the end he remains ‘ordinary’. He was said to be extra-ordinary because even at such a young age he was able to pick up on some thoughts. He hadn’t been awakened yet, so he shouldn’t have had so much power. But all of this is filed away and he was labelled ordinary.

I was also bothered by how easily she bonded with Chloe. As for Chloe herself, she reminded me of the energizer bunny. She was way too hyper and she got on my nerves. I did not like her.

The only characters I liked in this book were Mr. Reid and Mr. Anderson, now if she made those two Anam, that would be interesting but I’ve never seen a book that actually does anything like that, so I won't get my hopes up too high.

Becca and Alex’s relationship was insta love. The author tried to disguise it in the beginning but if you’re telling me, anam or not, that within 2 weeks, ‘they’ve always loved each other’ then I don’t know what to say. Although I’ll admit that the romance didn’t bother me as much as an insta-love usually might. I wouldn’t say it worked, but it wasn’t a nightmare.

If it hadn’t been with all my issues with this book, I probably would have enjoyed the plot a lot more, but as it was, I was concentrating too much on my annoyance with these characters to actually care so much about the plot.

My favorite part in the book was when she stood up to her father, aside from that I didn’t really care so much.

With all that said I just feel the need to point out that Saol is just a fancy word for soul (if you’ve read the book you’ll know what I mean).

Even with all my issues with this book, I am hooked. I probably will read the sequel because I do want to know what becomes of these characters but honestly I won't go out of my way to recommend this way to anyone. Unless you don't mind the cliches, then definitely give this a shot.

This review has also been published on my blog
Profile Image for Ari.
366 reviews47 followers
February 11, 2013
The Holders captured my attention not wanting to put my Kindle down!! There was never a dull moment in this story. Becca is a fierce, loyal, and strong young woman, who would do anything for her brother, Ryland. He hears voices that no one else can & over the years of his young life, people have suggested mental facilities but Becca isn't having none of it. That is until a school in Ireland come calling for him claiming to help Ryland. Becca puts up a fight, but she agrees to go, making sure Ryland will be safe. While there she learns of the Prophecy of the Holders, which everyone believes Ryland is 'the chosen' one. A test later & they find out it's really Becca!! Oh, this story has adventure, romance, & treachery!! I love when an author grabs & holds your attention like Scott has done. What I also liked was that even though you know there will be another book, the author did such a great job at wrapping up the story without a cliffhanger. Well done. I look forward to reading more about Becca's journey.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,952 reviews1,294 followers
June 20, 2014
This might not have been the best time for me to read The Holders. The first (and only) season of The Tomorrow People just finished broadcasting here in the UK, and I’m sad it’s over, because my landlady and I were having so much fun heckling its ridiculous characters and plot twists. Seriously, Stephen is supposed to be a high school student but has the ripped body of a mid-twenties man and never gets IDed at a bar (Robbie Amell is older than I am)? Anyway, The Tomorrow People seems to be the CW’s latest attempt to catch the YA/fantasy bloc with its own little take on mutants, and it’s predictably terrible. It did not leave me well-disposed to a book like The Holders, which seems to promise much the same.

It’s like X-Men set in Ireland: people with special powers come to take away Becca’s younger brother, Ryland, because he can hear people’s thoughts. They want him to go to a school for special people (sound familiar?) and Becca comes along to make sure he settles in all right and isn’t tortured or experimented on. She’s a good sister that way. Except as the novel develops, we learn that there’s more to being a Holder than learning how to master one’s mutant power. There are enemies, and apparently Ryland has a destiny.

So I really didn’t want to like this novel. It’s a testament to its quality, then, that despite such determination on my part, I ended up liking it anyway. Between Becca’s frank and honest voice, a decent plot, and a good twist halfway through to shake up the status quo, Julianna Scott manages to win me over. It hasn’t quite wowed its way among my favourite books of the year, and I’m hard pressed to really identify something that stands out about the book as special … but it is a strong use of all its ingredients, and that alone is worth some praise.

For The Holders to work, you have to be invested in Becca. At first she seems like the stereotypical 17-year-old girl who has had to hold her family together in the years since her father’s departure and her mother going to pieces. She has graduated high school early but deferred college to instead work some jobs and stay near home and Ryland. This has all come at the expense of any kind of life for herself, and most of the book—particularly the oh-so-predictable romance between her and Alex—is about Becca starting to realize that she has to let Ryland find his own way and start looking out for herself.

Fortunately, Becca’s refreshing frankness elevates her above the stereotypical. She is honest with herself. She doesn’t mope or swoon like some of the more egregious heroines that grace the pages of YA fiction these days. When she realizes she has fallen for Alex—first as a crush, then as something more series—she is pragmatic. She recognizes she can’t change that feeling, but she’s damned if she will let it interfere with everything else in her life. I like this attitude, because it acknowledges her feelings and simultaneously moves them to the backburner without invalidating them.

I say that the romance is predictable, but to be fair, it’s also not over-the-top and melodramatic. There is a notable absence of a rival—either for Becca or for Alex’s affections—which precludes that most annoying of romantic tropes, the unnecessary love triangle. The angst is more organic and also related to the plot. And most importantly, Scott takes the time to explore other relationships. Becca has her first female “bestie” in the form of Chloe; and she also makes some progress repairing the relationship between her and her father. In all of these ways, Scott manages to make these characters feel like real people, rather than simply having a heroine and a love interest who come together amidst a story about mutant schoolchildren.

As far as the powers thing goes, it’s all actually a little tame, and I think that’s one reason I expected The Holders to underwhelm me. Without the flashiness of television special effects, even the most flamboyant scenes of action don’t exactly leap off the page. Holder competently executes the dynamics of having a power, the strengths and weaknesses and the types of personalities that often result (I thought that Taron’s understated brusqueness was a very subtle way to point out how telling if people are lying would definitely make someone more tight-lipped and asocial). The patterns and conventions are thus familiar to anyone who has read a comic book or been exposed to popular culture any time in the past half-century, and I think they would certainly appeal.

Alas, that’s all it is: a kind of general rehash of the typical mutant power plot. There’s even a Big Bad nemesis mutant, who used to work with Joceyln (our Charles Xavier to this Magneto), who now views Holders/mutants as superior to humanity and wants them to assume their rightful place. Sound familiar? Again, Scott pulls it off well, but she doesn’t bring much new to the table. One of the boons of the past decade in speculative fiction has been the willingness to deconstruct the motif of the superhero, to pull apart the idea of what superpowers would actually do to someone. And while this approach is not necessary to writing original superhero stories, it’s an example of how one needs to go beyond the basic idea that “some people have a power.”

The Holders ticks a lot of the right boxes. It has a protagonist with a good head on her shoulders who also manages to nurture an unannoying romance. It has a small but diverse cast of characters. And its plot, though somewhat slow at times, eventually builds to a twist I, for one, didn’t anticipate, which changes the dynamics of the story and propels it in interesting new directions. I will happily dive into the sequel at some point, but probably not right away. For people who like superhero stories told from the perspective of someone mostly on the sidelines, however, this is worth checking out.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Eve (Functioning Insanity Reviews).
407 reviews17 followers
February 17, 2013
Celtic lore, special abilities, good vs. evil, and the beautiful castle on the Emerald Isle. Sounds great right? Then buckle in for The Holders. This book comes out March 5th this is a review of the ARC as always thanks to NetGalley and Strange Chemistry.

We follow Becca to St. Brigid's where she can help Ry settle in and make sure she approves of it. Then there is the attraction to the handsome, sweet, man who convinced her to give this place a shot. She is drawn to him and she doesn't know why, okay minus the obvious she thinks it a silly crush, but he is a good man to give her answers.

I really liked Becca. I frequently forgot how old she was as she is very mature. It was refreshing to see a character like her, who is only 17 but is very well put together in a way that seems real. Now she does have her moments, most of which involve her father, Jocelyn, who skilled out on them when Ry was born. Understandable daddy issues, but the rest of the book she is very engaging and takes things in stride but she is also vulnerable, again real.

The rest of the cast are great as well and really play well with one another. I loved the bickering between Mr. Reid and Mr. Anderson, the girlish fun with Chloe, the grandmotherly affection of Min, the aloof and abrasive Jocelyn, and so many others. Alex, and his compassion and good heart, he is a central player and I fell for him. Each play their own parts but they are each memorable and rounded.

This story has a little of everything really. You have your drama, your adventure, your supernatural elements, some action, and oh my favorite a beautiful and believable romance angle. The characters bring the story to life, which I admit is slightly predictable for the most part but done in such a way its more about seeing how they get to that point than what that point is. The story does center around discovering a new reality, that there is a thing called Holders and everything that their world entails.

Along with the new world of Holders we also get to visit the Emerald Isle. Always been a place I've wanted to see and this sparked more ticket pricing on my end. Now we don't get too see much of the country itself but the pieces we get as well as the school itself are amazing. Mist take this chance to mention I also have a thing for castles oh the history, the stories, and dare I say it the possibility of secret passages. Sorry school girl moment.

I honestly cannot think of anything I dislike about this book. A little more explanation on certain areas sure, but as this is a series I figure some things were left vague on purpose. Becca and the reader can only take so much at a time. I will say this surprised me. I admit I've been socked on more than one occasion but I was expecting one thing and got something else, which was way better than I was thinking. More like hours not being able to sleep dreading it was more accurate. So happy I was wrong, though in hindsight the way it worked out so much better the way it was. Plus you know if I get that worked up over something that MIGHT happen then clearly I'm invested in the characters.

The Holders will hold you, pun intended, and not let you go until the last page and then you want more. I did just think of a dislike, I hate to wait as usual. So if you like mystical powers in faraway lands with good characters fitting a great story checks out The Holders, by Julianna Scott, March 5th.

Profile Image for Tara Gold.
300 reviews68 followers
December 10, 2012
Becca must keep a close eye on her ten-year-old brother, Ryland, because he's different from the other kids. When a recruiter comes from a special boarding school in Ireland with the promise of helping Ryland fine-tune his special abilities, Becca's not buying it -- until she realizes how truly special her brother is. Becca accompanies Ryland to St. Brigid's, where Becca learns about powerful abilities, family secrets, and a legend that may turn her life upside down. Along the way she meets the handsome Alex, her charming BFF Chloe, and a whole host of interesting teachers.

The Holders was a pleasant surprise! Fantasy usually isn't my thing, but I couldn't put this book down. Comparisons to Harry Potter oversimplify the story and the characters, but it is hard to avoid such comparisons. However, The Holders stands on its own two feet. The budding romance between Becca and Alex plays a huge part in this story (so romance fans, rejoice!) and the supernatural elements are less "magical" than in Harry's world.

The most surprising part of the whole story was how well Julianna Scott crafts her protagonist. Becca is strong and independent without being annoying or perfect. At eighteen, she's a little bit older than the average YA protagonist at the start of a series, which means she's outgrown some of the more obnoxious teen girl behaviors. Becca even acknowledges that she refuses to be fixated on romance or boys over her own goals. Family is more important to Becca than anything, and she's even a good friend to Chloe throughout the novel. Her constant bitterness toward her father, Jocelyn (yes. that's his name), was a bit taxing at times. Otherwise, I liked Becca. I think I'll keep reading when Scott releases the rest of the series so I can see how her character develops.

FINAL GRADE: B Not a top ten book of the year, but close! Any book I read this quickly has to be good. I'd recommend The Holders to fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, fantasy, and Twilight. I'd also recommend it to anyone who doesn't normally like fantasy or paranormal romance. Like Harry Potter, it could either be "gateway fantasy" or fantasy that defies the genre and works on its own. I would feel very comfortable adding this book to a middle or high school library, as the content is PG-13.
Profile Image for Christal.
936 reviews70 followers
February 26, 2013
See this review and others like it at BadassBookReviews.com!

The Holders by Julianna Scott was a wonderful surprise! I really enjoyed this book and think it will appeal to a large variety of YA readers. I’ve seen the story compared to the X-Men comics but, for me, the similarities are very surface-level. We have a school that enrolls people with special powers, called Holders, and there is a battle between those that want to protect the status quo and those that want the Holders to rise up and claim control of the human race. Other than that, I didn’t see enough similarities to complain about. (Nota bene: Yes, I have read many of the X-Men comics and have seen the TV shows and movies.)

Really, my only gripe with this book was the slightly shaky world building. Since it is the first book in the series, it had a lot to set up and sometimes the explanations weren’t all the way there, but I’m okay with that. Hopefully we will have plenty more books in this series where all the little details can be ironed out. The storyline could get a little predictable here and there, but I was having so much fun with the characters and Ms. Scott’s wonderful story that it didn’t bother me at all.

I loved all of the characters, but especially Becca, Alex, Chloe, and Jocelyn. Becca is very likeable, plucky, and well-rounded and Alex makes a nice counterbalance to her personality in many ways. They complement each other and every scene where they are together was very sweet. Chloe was a great friend and added a bit of comedy and normalcy into Becca’s life. We have so much more to learn about Jocelyn, and I think he is going to be a very interesting character. This is a very exciting beginning from Ms. Scott and I cannot wait to read more books in The Holders world!

Thank you to Netgalley and Strange Chemistry for providing an ARC copy of this book!
Profile Image for ♡ ~ Francesca ~ ✎.
14 reviews17 followers
January 4, 2013
Sister. Friend. Daughter. Lover. Becca is all these things and so much more, you’ll slowly learn to know her piece by piece, page by page, chapter by chapter discovering she is a round character, a real person like you and me.
Adventure and mystery. Fear and bravery. Love and hate. Secrets and ancient myth. Friendship and family. Are you ready to join The Holders?
Caution: this book may cause addiction. Well, I’m fairy joking but sometimes pause the reading in order to do something else (like eating, sleeping, studying.. you know, stuff you can’t avoid) has been really difficult! I really loved this book, I do actually. The plot immediately caught my attention and I’ve been dragged into the story (Becca speaks for herself and that’s all-involving). Characters aren’t flat or fake, like sadly sometimes they use to be, but carefully and finely painted by the writer.
It took me a week to read it all, but you should consider that first of all I’m a slow reader (damn me! I like reading so much..) and last but not least English’s not my mother tongue (and I’m all but a foreign-language-genius, trust me; actually I must apologise for my mistakes, cause I’m pretty sure there are some, maybe a lot, in this review).
One more tip: the story doesn’t end with the book, so be ready to wait and pray for a sequel (I’m already craving).
[I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads]
Profile Image for Moze (SmartFolksRead).
49 reviews19 followers
February 20, 2013
Over the last few months I’ve been picking up a few Strange Chemistry novels, and so far none of their books have disappointed. The Holders by Julianna Scott is no exception and may be one of my favorites yet! I love nothing more than a book with a fun setting and St.Brigid’s Academy in Ireland is just that: fun, beautiful, and intriguing. I’ve read a plethora of books before where each person had their own super power, but never one where these powers originate from centuries ago when an Irish goddess blessed regular humans. Scott’s take on super powers and her crafting of the Holder society was both unique and fascinating. The history behind the society and the building of legends made the book more interesting and in depth. The world building was great and oh, did I mention the awesome characters? Cause they truly are pretty frigging awesome! Becca was spunky and smart, but at the same time loving and affection towards her brother Ryland. She cared about him and ensuring that he got the help he needed. Ryland was a typical nine year old boy…except for the fact that he can hear voices in his head and that makes him alienated. And Alex, oh man Alex was swoon worthy. A sweet boy who not only speaks Gaelic and has a sad, but endearing back-story? Sign me up! This was a fast read that I had done in less than a day, but left me wanting the second book before I had even finished the first one. For anyone looking for a fun fantasy novel, this one is for you!
Profile Image for Bethany.
125 reviews25 followers
April 10, 2013
I received a digital arc of this novel from Netgalley on behalf of Angry Robot Publishing

The Holders was a great book. It was well rounded and interesting. I loved the characters and their dynamics with one another. I loved Becca's fiery personality and how fiercely she protected her family.

I thought the concept of the holders was not necessarily original, but was done well and interesting nonetheless.

For me, this was a novel that had simplicity and predictability, but I still immensely enjoyed every moment of it. I think that has a lot to do with Becca, the MC. I completely admired her. I loved that she was level and not overly tough or overly soft. She was really strong when she had to be, but was still able to show true vulnerability.

My one wish is that the ending would have been a bit more climactic. The whole book, you're sort of waiting for the 'stuff' to hit the fan and then when it does it's pretty quick and over with almost as soon as it starts. All that being said, I still loved this book. It was one that was difficult to put down and I really hope the second novel is even stronger and more action packed.
Profile Image for Ingrid Jonach.
Author 7 books67 followers
October 4, 2012
You know that feeling you get when you are reading a really good book? It is kind of like having a chocolate cake in the fridge. You go about your daily chores, knowing that as soon as you are finished you can have a reward. That was what it was like reading The Holders. I looked forward to reading it like I would look forward to eating a triple chocolate mud cake with raspberry coulis. It was DELICIOUS!

This novel was reminiscent of some of my favourite young adult series - Evernight, Harry Potter and Twilight – and yet it stands alone in its thoroughly unique concept and storyline. I am SERIOUSLY excited to see the reception to this book when it is released. Julianna has created a beautiful relationship between the two main characters that I think readers are going to LOVE.

A word of warning: DO NOT read Chapter 27 in public. I read it while eating lunch in the food court, and ended up crying into my burger and fries.

I should also add my standard disclaimer that the reason I got my hands on this novel so early is because we share the same publisher.
Profile Image for Tim Dom.
3 reviews
February 13, 2013
Really loved this one, and to be clear, I didn't think I would. I assumed it would be way to 'girly', but it kept me reading, and the lore and back-story was well done and interesting. The guy, Alex, was super sweet without being lame or a doormat, which I greatly appreciated. (And is what I hear girls want) But what also impressed me is that he was never--not even once--described as hot. With every YA book I read being filled with heros that are apparently the epitome of physical perfection, this was a refreshing change of pace.

There was also great family drama, and some great secondary characters that added to the story as opposed to distracting from it. And no cliffhanger! (I know, crazy, right?) Yet it set up the next book very well, and I look forward to reading it.

Highly recommend this one.
Profile Image for Beth Ortega.
4 reviews
July 31, 2012
I was lucky enough to test read this book and I can't tell you how much I loved it! The plot and conflict was fresh and interesting and the world building was a true stand-out in a world of YA novels that feel like different shades of the same color.

Most refreshing of all was the romance between the main characters. It was was believable and perfectly woven into the plot without being overdone. Scott took the time to develop the relationship using real compatibility and affection, not simply using the 'she was inexplicably drawn to him' or 'inst-love'.

My only complaint is that the cover art is not available yet(at the time of this review) because I can't wait to see it. March can't come quick enough!

This one is not to be missed!
Profile Image for Mieneke.
782 reviews85 followers
March 1, 2013
While The Holders piqued my interest from the start due to the brother-sister relationship and hearing voices/mental illness mentioned in the cover copy, there were also some elements in the cover copy that made me wary. Two children off to boarding school, one of them a mysterious and prophesied saviour? How fantasy-clichéd can you get? So what I had absolutely not expected when starting The Holders was to be swept away by a main character with a voice all her own and a delicious romance. Because people? What a romance in this book!

For me, the strength of the book depended on its main character Becca. Told from her first-person point-of-view, the book drew me into Becca's world and her reality, which consists of taking care not just of her little brother, Ryland, but in a way also of her mother, who needs Becca's strength to keep from giving into agencies who want to institutionalise Ryland. I loved her fierce, protective nature, but what I loved even more was her cynical, not-quite-snarky outlook on life and people, not because it's such a good outlook to have, on the contrary, but because it fit with Becca's history of paternal abandonment and somewhat having to parent herself and Ryland. Much of Becca's development in the book is focussed on her discovering her own desires in life and letting go of Ryland and her feeling of responsibility for him. I think any eldest child from a troubled home would recognise the desire to protect their younger siblings and the difficulties of letting go and stepping away, I certainly did.

Scott establishes these complicated family dynamics in a short amount of space, while still getting the story started quickly, without any long introductions. The plot takes off in the first few pages. I enjoyed this balance and Scott knows how to pace her story very well, with the story moving forward at a good pace, but not letting the characters or the readers be overwhelmed by the speed of the developments. Coupled with Scott's smooth writing and Becca's distinctive voice, The Holders made for compulsive reading and if I hadn't had to work, I would have finished it in one sitting.

This was very much helped along by the feelings Becca develops for Alex, one of the Holders, who goes out and finds potential Holders and tries to bring them to St. Brigid's. They have lovely chemistry and the flirting is lovely. What helps a lot in keeping this romance from turning into tired insta-love, is the fact that at first it's presented as a simple crush and Becca is well aware of it, even mocking herself for being one of 'those' girls. It's only later that it develops and at that point it is clear that there is more going on than just regular girl-meets-boy-and-falls-hopelessly-in-love, but that there might be something else involved. In addition, Alex is a wonderful guy – perhaps a little too perfect, but that could also be because Becca chooses to see him that way and she is our window into this world – which makes Becca's crush on him even more plausible. I really enjoyed the romance element in The Holders and I look forward to seeing their relationship develop further.

Beyond Alex, Becca is surrounded by an interesting cast. Ryland is your typical little brother, annoying, but lovable and I completely bought the interaction between him and Becca. The adults at the school are all different and fun, but the one that stood out to me was Chloe. Her light-hearted, bubbly character and happy disposition provided a nice balance to Becca's more mature, rather serious take on the world. The one person who looms over the entire narrative but get little actual page time is Becca and Ryland's estranged father Jocelyn, who is headmaster at the school. I really liked where Scott took this storyline and how she portrayed Becca's inner turmoil and her difficulty in coming to terms with both her feelings and her father.

The Holders' plot contains many familiar elements – boarding school, a prophesy, the fated love, paranormal superpowers – yet for all this, the narrative never exactly felt stale and in fact, Scott manages to take some of these tropes in an unexpected direction. Apart from the twist a little past halfway through the book, that spins all the adults for a loop and sets all the carefully laid plans awry, I particularly liked Scott's take on the fated love. Her idea of Holders having an Anam, another person who holds a piece of their soul, but only rarely actually connecting to their Anam, was cool and reminiscent of the Valdemar lifebonds, featured by Mercedes Lackey. But where lifebonds are reciprocated, an Anam doesn't have to love the Holder that bonds to them, though one gathers that it is the norm for this to occur. I found that a fascinating concept, as what would happen if your Anam didn't love you or wasn't willing to throw everything over and follow you wherever? What I did wonder about and which hopefully will become clear in later books was whether Holder-Anam bonds are always male-female, or whether same-sex bondings are possible as well.

In the end, The Holders took me quite by surprise. It was an interesting look at family relationships, at growing up, and at letting go, mixed which a huge dollop of paranormal powered adventure and sweetened with a wonderful romance. While for now the story has reached a point of equilibrium where everyone can catch their breath and prepare for the future, this story is far from over and I really look forward to continuing The Holders' tale.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
Profile Image for Sandra "Jeanz".
1,174 reviews162 followers
February 23, 2013
I received an E-ARC of this book from Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review and opinion.
I have to be totally honest I find the gem on the front cover quite ugly, though that said I’d still pick up the book and read the blurb. Of coure there's a byline on the cover too, "How far would you go to protect the ones you love?" I love a good byline and I can say without giving a spoiler that Becca will go as far as she need to in order to protect her brother Ryland. The byline could also refer to someone else in the book, but why and who you will discover when you read it yourself.The blurb did pique my interest and I feel represents the book quite well. Upon reading the book, the “ugly gem” is explained in the book, Mmm not sure if I’d change the cover, some may find the ugly gem off putting. Then again the cover kind of grows on you in time. I just feel that the cover could have been even better than it is.
Now to the book itself, I enjoyed it, even more than I expected to, and even though at times I could see where the plot line was going. There are plenty of little twists that are more unexpected too.
Becca and Ryland are the main characters in this book. Becca is the older sister who has always had to look out for and protect her little brother Ryland who is different. Ryland hears voices. Becca helps their mother see off all the so called experts who want to help/lock Ryland away. Becca and Rylands father left years ago so Becca has grown up quite quickly and to say she is bitter towards her father is rather an understatement.
Finally two strangers turn up who do seem to have Rylands best interests at heart so Becca reluctantly agrees to accompany Ryland to this “super school”called St Brigids and is in Ireland. The one thing Becca dreads is seeing their father, you see, he is the head of the school. The one bonus about the trip is spending time with one of the “strangers” who Becca becomes closer to on the journey Alex.
So there’s lots of twists and turns, apparently Ryland is to be the great saviour of the Holders race. Yes Ryland is a Holder, like his absent father. Holders have special powers and at the St Brigid’s are protected and taught how to control them.
The book is well written and I did really enjoy it too. It was an easy paced, flowing read, with little mysteries revealed along the way.
Did I enjoy the book? Yes, Would I recommend the book? Yes, I think those who liked Harry Potter may find a new series to interest them here, though told in a more “grown up” way and the perspective of Becca, a strong female character. Would I read a BK#2? Yes I would, this book did leave me wanting to learn more and I love the developing relationship between Becca and alex as well as becoming attached to some of the older teacher characters. Maybe I’d like to see more of Becca and Rylands mum in Bk#2. Would I read more by Julianna Scott? Yes she’s an author I would both look out for and recommend too.
Profile Image for Alba BookPics.
477 reviews109 followers
March 2, 2013
Review on BookPics as well
My Thoughts?

I can't believe how many surprises I've had these last few months when books are concerned.
I'm always wary of accepting books for review from authors whose work I haven't previously read. But that's the point right?
Discovering new books to read and awesome authors to love.

And boy, did The Holders live up to what I expected from it.
I only read half of the book description before I said YES! To reading it.

Becca was an amazing character! One that definitely sticks in your mind long after you've finished reading the book.

-"Who told you was a big deal?"
"No one told me it is, but they keep telling me it isn't, and when something really isn't a big deal, no one ever says it isn't, they just don't say anything. People only say things aren't a big deal when they really are."-

This book touches so many topics in such a short time it's amazing!
The plot kind of changes from one point to the other but it doesn't affect the story as a whole at all.
From family issues, feeling protective of younger siblings, not having a father figure growing up, believing one beloved one has mental issues, to deciding what college or university to attend, what career path to take, ALL THE WHILE knowing deep down that you're definitely special, definitely NOT normal, and maybe even… Not even human?! GASP.

But I loved it! I loved the writing pace, the SETTING!
I loved loved the setting! I've always been a UK fan but whenever I'm transported to any of those countries while reading a book is… Is indescribable.

Becca will do anything, ANYTHING to protect her little brother Ryland, doesn't matter to what extents she'll have to go to do so.
She's the strong one in the family, she's always been… But. Wait. Will she be able to maintain that so far away from home?
Will she be able to keep her heart hidden and away from ever falling in love?
Alex is just -swoons- And maybe he's not even as old as one would think.

-I wanted him to want to let me in, not be unable to keep me out.-

The Holders is a really great story about love, family, friends, self-discover, and power. Tons and tons of power. With bits of laughs here and some tears there.

Kissing is just an added bonus.

As for my weaknesses?
The book cover? While it is definitely part of the story and has a huge huge role in it I have to admit, I'm not such a big fan of it.
I know it's bad but if I had seen the book on a shelf on my local bookstore I would have most likely skipped it… But yes, it IS in the book as much as it is on it.
And the tittle? It's perfect hehe, that's exactly what this is about.

I give this book,

5 fotitos = ~Sobs hard~Too good to be true!
Profile Image for Leah.
410 reviews65 followers
March 4, 2013
*This book was given to me by Strange Chemistry in exchange for an honest review*
I don't even know where to start with this review. This book blew my mind, I couldn't put it down! It is such an incredibly book and a hell of a debut! Congrats, Ms. Scott :). All I can say to begin is thank you for writing this book, and thank you Strange Chemistry for sending me this book. I definitely do not want to give ANYTHING about this book away in this review, meaning it's probably going to be fairly short unfortunately!

The novel's main protagonist comes in the figure of Becca, the elder sister to Ryland, a little boy who has been receiving constant visitors from psychological institutions because of his hearing of voices. Despite this, they are both certain that there is nothing 'strange' going on inside his head. Nothing a psychologist or school could fix anyway! Scott's introduction of her protagonist and her little brother was incredibly compelling. Becca was instantly smart talking, sassy, and certainly didn't put up with any rubbish from the institutions. The sibling relationship is evidently strong and I instantly liked her. It's always so refreshing to come across strong, female figures. Especially ones which are loyal to their loved ones and aren't afraid to stick up for what they believe in - even if it does occasionally get her in trouble.

“You promise? What are we, twelve? Next I suppose you’re going to pinky swear me that this will all be for his own good, and expect me to let you take him?”
- Julianna Scott, The Holders

The eventual persuasion of Becca by Alex allows Ryland to be taken to the school in which he will finally be able to embrace his gift. The arrival of the two siblings at the school throws their world into turmoil as they discover more about themselves and about their family's history than they counted on. They are flung into the world of the Holders - beings which have various supernatural abilities - and are given more responsibility than they could have imagined. Ms. Scott guides us through her magnificently crafted world of magic, conflicts and love introducting new elements such as Sciath's (an object to allow the user to control their abilities), ability-stealing villains and many twists and turns which keep the reader on their toes.

“I wanted you to love me.” He held my eyes for a second then looked back down, his ears on fire. “But on your own, because you wanted to, not because you felt like you had to.”
- Julianna Scott, The Holders

A tale of trust, responsibility and loyalty, The Holders is most certainly a book to read. This is one of the most captivating debut books that I have read for awhile and am in love. Please hurry up and write the next book, Julianna!
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