Thursday, October 02, 2014

New Releases October 2014

New releases:

Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir: October 7th
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez: October 7th

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard: October 7th
They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire: October 7th

Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Mackie: October 14th
Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot: October 14th

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer: October 14th
Damaged by Amy Reed: October 14th

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle: October 21st
Get Happy by Mary Amato: October 28th

What October releases are you most excited about?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Title: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
Author: Sara Farizan
Publisher: Algonquin
Release date: October 7th 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: NetGalley - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
High-school junior Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. Her Persian heritage already makes her different from her classmates; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when a sophisticated, beautiful new girl, Saskia, shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual. Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Just like with Sara Farizan's debut, If You Could Be Mine, I absolutely loved the idea for Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel, and I believe that both books are important stories to tell. But sadly, also just like with If You Could Be Mine, I had some issues with the execution and some details about the story. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel wasn't a personal favorite, but I did enjoy parts of it, and I most definitely think it's a really important book to have been published.

Leila's character had a lot of potential, but I think Sara Farizan could have done more with her. I understand that her sexuality is the main focus of the novel, but just being gay doesn't make up a whole person. There are other aspects of her life that we get to see - like her Iranian heritage, and her interest in theater - but the focus is still definitely on her being gay. I wanted to know more about Leila, not about her sexuality, her heritage, or her interests, but just about her as a person.

The story started out great, but it lost focus after a while. I understand that that's kind of the point - there isn't supposed to be any one most important storyline, since this is just Leila's coming-of-age - but I still wish the different storylines hadn't gone off in such random directions. My favorite storyline is probably the theater one - I really enjoyed getting to see Leila in this setting. My least favorite one, though, would have to be the romance: the romance, and the happy ending, seem kind of forced, and I don't think the love interest's character or Leila's relationship with her are strong enough to carry the story.

Just like in If You Could Be Mine, the secondary characters were probably what I enjoyed most about Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel. I really appreciated how Leila has such a diverse group of friends, meaning from different parts of the stereotypical high school groups. I didn't like all of them, but you're not supposed to, and I loved that all of them are intriguing in their own way. 

I had a couple of really small issues that don't even really warrant a paragraph on their own, so I'm just going to randomly list them. For some reason, a couple of Leila's friends are always referred to with their first and last name, which seemed really random. Also, if you have big boobs, buying bras at Forever 21 is not a thing that can happen. (Unless I've been going to the wrong Forever 21s.) And I took issue with some of Leila's opinions: in some ways, her coming out translated to now openly objectifying women, which is not cool.

Sorry that this review is so all over the place; I really don't know how to come up with anything coherent to say about this book. I really enjoyed the idea and some parts of the novel, but others are just very underdeveloped. Like I said, it's not going to be a personal favorite, but I do think that this is a very important book, so if you enjoy LGBT stories, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel is definitely a book you should give a try.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir

Title: Bleed Like Me
Author: Christa Desir
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: October 7th 2014
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance eGalley of this bookfrom the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers--even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.
Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.
But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks--until he poses the ultimate test.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Bleed Like Me is not an easy read. The terrible situation Amelia is in, and the even worse decisions she makes to try to get out of there, are hard to read about, but the book itself is very well-done. Bleed Like Me is a raw, gritty, and somewhat disturbing read, but it's most definitely worth it.

Especially the relationship between Amelia and Brooks is hard to stomach. I disliked Brooks from the beginning - he won't take Amelia's repeated no for an answer and resorts to stalker-ish methods to get her to go out with him, setting off every single warning bell in my brain. And once they're together, it only gets worse - he is ridiculously possessive and controlling, making this a very destructive relationship. Especially the way she lets him cut her, rather than her cutting herself, is disturbing and upsetting to read about. Amelia is entirely dependent on Brooks, which is just as scary. But even though, from where I stand, I could clearly tell that Brooks would only end up hurting her, I still (at least to some extent) understood Amelia's dependency on him, considering how crappy everything else in her life is. Brooks, too, isn't just a villain - even scarier than his actions is the fact that the horrible things he's been through have made him this way. The whole thing is disturbing and difficult to read about, but exceptionally well-written.

The family storyline is unique, and I really enjoyed it. Well, I don't know if enjoy is the right word - more like, scared me out of ever wanting to have kids. Saying that Amelia's three little brothers are difficult would be a gross understatement - they are nothing but trouble. The complex and difficult family relations are intriguing to read about. I just wish we had gotten a bit more insight into the brothers' characters to make them a bit more realistic and multi-dimensional.

The only real issue I had with this book is the ending. I'm all for open endings, and I agree that tying up every storyline nicely in a happy ending would have been unrealistic for this kind of story. But I still wish we had gotten a bit more information about what happens after - the ending is very abrupt and doesn't really allow us to see how Amelia has grown, which I think would have been important to explore in more depth.

Despite the underdeveloped ending, Bleed Like Me is a book I definitely recommend. It's a disturbing story, but it's an important read just as much as it is a difficult one. If you like dark, raw, gritty books, Bleed Like Me is definitely for you. Now I just need to get my hands on a copy of Christa Desir's debut, Fault Lines!

raw gritty distubring

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bookish Anticipation #40

Bookish Anticipation is a feature I do every once in a while to spotlight future releases I'm excited for. It was inspired by Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday. You can check out more of my Bookish Anticipation posts here.

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
Release date: March 17th 2015
Kate Quinn’s mom died unexpectedly last year, leaving Kate grasping. But when the totally unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Moving in with a politically powerful family she never knew she had, joining a presidential campaign in support of a man she barely knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives—this is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, Kate must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Release date: March 3rd 2015
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow
Release date: March 3rd 2015
Francis is determined to forge his own way in school and life despite his loony, awkward, broken family...and noticeable lack of friends. Then he is diagnosed with leukemia. It wasn't part of his strategy, but there are moments when he can see the upside. After all, people are nice to you when you're sick.
While in the hospital, Francis meets Amber. She’s outspoken and sarcastic, and Francis falls for her almost immediately. Hard. Together, they take on the other cancer ward patients, overbearing mothers, and treatments with lively wit.
But Francis's recovery is taking a different path from Amber's. He's actually getting better. And although he knew who he was before cancer, before Amber, now he has no idea how to live—or how to let go…

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
Release date: March 24th 2015
Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?
When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Release date: March 17th 2015
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Release date: March 31st 2015
It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

What releases are you anticipating this week? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

Title: Kiss Kill Vanish
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: October 7th 2014
Pages: 432
Genre: Young Adult contemporary/mystery
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Valentina Cruz no longer exists.
One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.
She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.
She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is a hard book to review without spoilers. The description is really vague (it might not seem vague, but there is so much more to the story than you could tell from the description), and I think the mystery of not knowing is really important to enjoy this novel. So I'm going to try to not give anything away, but this means I might have to be pretty vague about some parts, so I apologize in advance.

The mystery had a lot of potential. There is tons of intrigue and secrets, and this whole world is fascinating to read about. Sadly, though, the pacing made it hard to really love the mystery: there are parts that dragged and could have been made a lot shorter, and then there are parts where there is just way too much going on. There are a ton of plot twists, which could have been really good, but because they're one right after the other, I kind of just lost track of what was going on. Especially in the last 100ish pages, things got kind of far-fetched and unrealistic, and Valentina became kind of irrational. This is really unfortunate because I loved all of the ideas - I just wish they had been spread out a little more to make the beginning more fast-paced and the later parts more plausible.

The characters are okay. I don't know I'd say I liked Valentina, but I did like reading about her. In the beginning, at least, it's great to see her figure out how to live by herself, without the wealth and privilege she's always known. Later on, though, she becomes a lot less independent and kind of irrational, like I said, so I didn't like reading about her quite as much anymore. There's also a romance storyline, and I'm not sure what to make of that: I really liked the banter between Valentina and the love interest, but I always just saw them as friends, so it seemed kind of weird to me when they randomly got together at the end.

I know this review doesn't really tell you anything, but that's how I feel about this book - my thoughts are kind of all-over-the-place. The mystery had a lot of potential, but I wish it had been fleshed out a bit more to make for a more plausible, realistic story. I'm not going to go around recommending this to everyone, but I'm not going to discourage you from Kiss Kill Vanish a try, either. It was just kind flat for me.
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