Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

Something, Mabe by Elizabeth Scott
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's 'girlfriends' and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar . . . and that's just how she likes it. Of course, that doesn't help her get noticed by her crush. Hannah's sure that gorgeous, sensitive Josh is her soul mate. But trying to get him to notice her; wondering why she suddenly can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn; and dealing with her parents make Hannah feel like she's going crazy. Yet she's determined to make things work out the way she wants only what she wants may not be what she needs. . . 

First sentence: Everyone's seen my mom naked.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I love Elizabeth Scott, but I was a little disappointed by this novel. Something, Maybe is still a pretty good, fun read, but it's not as great as the other Elizabeth Scott novels I've read.

Since this is Elizabeth Scott, the writing is still great - vivid, beautiful and graceful. The characters are good - it is so easy to relate to Hannah. From the first page on, I understood all of her insecurities. The secondary characters are great, too. I loved the original family situation - I don't think I've read about anything like that before. Teagan is a great character too - not the typical best-friend-role.

***The next two paragraphs sort of contain spoilers, but that part of the novel was so predictable, I don't think it would make a difference to know this beforehand. Still, you have been warned.***
My favorite part of Something, Maybe is the romance between Hannah and Finn. He is just so cute, and I love how they treated each other.

I know, so far my review sounds really positive, so maybe it doesn't make sense I only gave this book 3 stars. I did enjoy this book - it's a fun read! But I did have one big problem with Something, Maybe: There is no real development, no character growth. Hannah doesn't deal with her insecurities at all - she's just as shy and self-conscious at the end of the book as she was in the beginning. Yes, she chooses Finn instead of Josh, but there's no real development there either - from the beginning on, the reader sees what a pretentious douche Josh is. I would have preferred if Josh had seemed a little nicer in the beginning, so that the reader could understand who he really is along with Hannah. The same goes for the Jackson-storyline: It is completely obvious her father is using Hannah for publicity, and there is no development, no resolution in that storyline either. This lack of development made it hard for me to see the point of the whole story.

Something, Maybe is a fun, quick (albeit predictable) read with good writing and characters. But since there's no real development or character growth, it's not my favorite Elizabeth Scott novel. If you haven't read anything by Elizabeth Scott yet, I wouldn't recommend this one, but if you're already a fan, this is a pretty enjoyable read.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

In My Mailbox #16

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where you can talk about the books you bought or received this week.

So this week I got...
Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Goodreads description:

Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.

This one reminds me of Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, which is a disturbingly good, emotionally wrenching read. Let's hope this one is just as great!

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

There are two sides to every breakup.
This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation.
Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet. It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days.
La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care.
But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot. Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

I hate to say it, but I have not yet read anything by Lauren Barnholdt! I've heard great things about her books, though, so I'm excited to read this one!

Teenie by Christopher Grant
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

High school freshman Martine (Teenie for short) is a good student, with a bright future ahead of her. She's desperate to be accepted into a prestigious study abroad program in Spain so that she can see what life is like beyond the streets of Brooklyn. She wouldn't mind escaping from her strict (though lovable) parents for awhile either. But when the captain of the basketball team starts to pay attention to her after she's pined away for him for months and Cherise, her best friend, meets a guy online, Teenie's mind is on anything but her schoolwork. Teenie's longtime crush isn't what he seemed to be, nor is her best friend's online love. Can Teenie get her act together in time to save her friendship with Cherise, save her grade point average so that she can study in Spain, and save herself from a potentially dangerous relationship?

I will be reviewing this one for the Teenie Blog Tour, organized by The Teen Book Scene, and it sounds great!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bookish Anticipation #1

Since I'm not doing Waiting on Wednesday anymore, I'm now doing this new feature with releases I'm anticipating. I'll do these kinds of posts about once or twice a month. What do you think?

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: October 18th 2011

Goodreads description:

Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?
Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Twisted (Pretty Little Liars #9) by Sara Shepard

Release date: July 5th 2011

Goodreads description:

It’s been a year since the torturous notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis’s disappearance was finally put to rest. Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily are older, but they’re not any wiser. The Pretty Little Liars have more secrets than ever - twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they’ve worked so hard to rebuild. Aria’s jealous of her boyfriend’s new exchange student. Spencer’s getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother. Hanna’s one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad’s Senate campaign. And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship.
Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable. The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore … eventually.

Score by Miranda Kenneally
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: December 1st 2011

Goodreads description:

What girl doesn’t want to be surrounded by gorgeous jocks day in and day out? Jordan Woods isn’t just surrounded by hot guys, though—she leads them as the captain and quarterback on her high school football team. They all see her as one of the guys, and that’s just fine. As long as she gets her athletic scholarship to a powerhouse university. But now there’s a new guy in town who threatens her starring position on the team…and has her suddenly wishing to be seen as more than just a teammate.

Faking Faith by Josie Bloss

Release date: November 8th 2011

Goodreads description:
After a humiliating "sexting" incident involving a hot and popular senior, seventeen-yearold Dylan has become a social outcast—harassed, ignored, and estranged from her two best friends. When Dylan discovers the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls, she's fascinated by their old-fashioned conversation themes, like practicing submission to one's future husband. Blogging as Faith, her devout alter ego, Dylan befriends Abigail, the group's queen bee. But growing closer to Abigail (and her intriguing older brother) forces Dylan to choose: keep living a lie or come clean and face the consequences.

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: September 6th 2011

Goodreads description:

Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new world in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis

Release date: November 14th 2011

Goodreads description:

Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend? As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side? Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob, Wherever You Go is is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light.

Lie by Caroline Bock
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: August 30th 2011

Goodreads description:

Seventeen year-old Skylar Thompson is being questioned by the police.  Her boyfriend Jimmy stands accused of brutally assaulting two young El Salvadoran immigrants from a neighboring town, and she's the prime witness.  Skylar is keeping quiet about what she's seen, but how long can she keep it up?  Jimmy was her savior.  When her mother died, he was the only person who made her feel safe, protected from the world.  But when she begins to appreciate the enormity of what has happened, especially when Carlos Cortez, the victim's brother, steps up to demand justice, she starts to have second thoughts about protecting him.  Jimmy's accomplice, Sean, is facing his own moral quandary. He's out on bail and has been offered a plea in exchange for testifying against Jimmy.  Sean must decide whether or not to turn on his friend in order to save himself.  But most importantly, both must figure out why they followed someone like Jimmy—someone who bullied people and advocated violence against others—in the first place.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël

Saving Zoë by Alyson Noël
Goodreads description:

It’s been one year since the brutal murder of her older sister, Zoë, and fifteen-year-old Echo is still reeling from the aftermath. Her parents are numb, her friends are moving on, and the awkward start to her freshman year proves she’ll never live up to her sister’s memory. Until Zoë’s former boyfriend Marc shows up with Zoë’s diary. At first Echo’s not interested, doubting there’s anything in there she doesn’t already know. But when curiosity prevails, she starts reading, becoming so immersed in her sister’s secret world, their lives begin to blur, forcing Echo to uncover the truth behind Zoë’s life so that she can start to rebuild her own.

First sentence: They say there are five stages of grief: 1.Denial 2.Anger 3.Bargaining 4.Depression 5.Acceptance.

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I hate writing bad reviews. Hate, hate, hate, especially since Alyson Noël is an established author. But I don't know what else to do -  there was absolutley nothing I enjoyed about Saving Zoë. By the end, I was annoyed by everything and just wanted to get it over with.

My first problem is the writing and style. Mainly, it isn't even written like a novel, more like the way an adult imagines a 15-year-old would speak, which annoyed me - yes, we say "like" too often, but writing a novel like that doesn't make the voice authentic, just annoying. Sometimes, though, in between that type of writing, there are a few passages attempting to sound deep, which just doesn't fit. Zoë's diary entries are just as annoying - that's just not how you write in a diary. As far as I know, when you write in a diary, you write about your feelings, and you don't use dialogue and long descriptions. There is almost no difference between the normal narrative and the diary entries, except things like writing "cuz" instead of "because". To me, it doesn't even seem realistic that Zoë kept a diary in the first place since she hates reading and anything academic.

The characters are also annoying. All of them have one or two characteristics - Abby is the bossy one, Jenay the optimistic, fun one, Echo the smart one, Zoë the outgoing, wild one, etc. - but none of them have actual personalities, no individual quirks whatsoever. They all just personify that one characteristic. For the characterization, the author only used telling, and no showing. I couldn't relate to Echo at all - I didn't even get any giref from her. Mainly, she doesn't seem like she misses Zoë at all, and then there are two or three passages about the "gaping hole" Zoë left in Echo's heart. Usually, I love reading about dealing with grief, but I didn't get anything like that from this novel - not from Echo and not from her parents. Marc is the only character with a bit of a personality, but I didn't really get his relationship with Echo either. Echo starts going out with her dead sister's boyfriend, but never once feels guilty about it.

There is no development, character growth or suspense; there isn't even much of a plot. That's not saying I need books to have loads of action - I love books that are mainly about inner processes and character growth - but since there is none of that, either... For me, the book never really got started. What Echo tells us about her life in the beginning has little to do with her sister's death, just teenage life. I thought the story might pick up once she starts reading Zoë's diary, but there's almost nothing in there the reader doesn't already know: only that she was killed by an Internet predator. The reader just gets to read about another boring teenage life, just with a different voice.

I didn't really get the point of the whole novel - it didn't make me feel anything, and it has no message other than warning readers of Internet predators  - which, honestly, I think is kind of stupid - most of us who use sites like that aren't as stupid as the characters in Saving Zoë and know not to meet up with random people sending creepy messages. The ending didn't really do anything for me either - other than what happens to Jason, there is no relevation. I'm not even sure you can call it a relevation - the guy is creepy from the beginning on.

I don't know what else to say about Saving Zoë. I just didn't enjoy it - writing, plot, characters, none of it. Obviously, I don't recommend it, but I've read a few reviewers who like the same types of books as I do give this one positive reviews, so decide for yourself whether or not to read this book. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Giveaway of "The Wayfinder" by Darcy Pattison

Yesterday we had a guest post by author Darcy Pattison (Finding my Way into Fantasy), and today we have a giveaway! Darcy was so generous as to offer a signed copy of her novel, The Wayfinder, for a giveaway!

The Wayfinder by Darcy Pattison
(Amazon / Goodreads)


Young Winchal Eldras is a Wayfinder, one of the gifted few of G'il Rim who have the ability to locate anything: a lost ring, the way home, a blue dress in the marketplace, a lost child. "Finding" is a valuable talent in this city that sits dangerously close to the Rift, a mysterious, unexplored chasm. When the Rift claims his little sister in a bizarre accident, though, Win is reduced to a Wayfinder who's lost his way.
But suddenly there's no time for grief—the plague has come to the Heartland. And only healing water from the Well of Life, on the other side of the Rift, can stop it. A prophecy commands that Win must make the terrible journey to seek the Well. But no one has ever braved the dangers of the Rift and returned to tell about it! To make matters worse, Win suddenly has a traveling companion in Lady Kala, a prized-and royally stubborn—Tazi hound with a few gifts of her own. A Wayfinder with no direction can't possibly manage this imperious creature from the King's kennels, much less save a civilization on the edge of destruction.
Or can he?

Here's the book trailer:

Contest rules:
- Open to US only
- Contest ends Tuesday, June 7th - the winner will be contacted by e-mail the next day.
- We are not responsible for items lost or damaged during shipping.
- You can get one extra entry by liking Darcy Pattison's Facebook page.

One winner will win a signed copy of The Wayfinder. If we get more than 50 entries, there will be two winners!

Enter by filling out the form below. Thank you and good luck!

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Finding my Way into Fantasy" - Guest Post by Author Darcy Pattison

Today we have YA and childrens' book author Darcy Pattison here for a guest post on writing fantasy and the process of writing! Among other books, she's the author of The Wayfinder.

The Wayfinder by Darcy Pattison
(Amazon / Goodreads)


Young Winchal Eldras is a Wayfinder, one of the gifted few of G'il Rim who have the ability to locate anything: a lost ring, the way home, a blue dress in the marketplace, a lost child. "Finding" is a valuable talent in this city that sits dangerously close to the Rift, a mysterious, unexplored chasm. When the Rift claims his little sister in a bizarre accident, though, Win is reduced to a Wayfinder who's lost his way.
But suddenly there's no time for grief—the plague has come to the Heartland. And only healing water from the Well of Life, on the other side of the Rift, can stop it. A prophecy commands that Win must make the terrible journey to seek the Well. But no one has ever braved the dangers of the Rift and returned to tell about it! To make matters worse, Win suddenly has a traveling companion in Lady Kala, a prized-and royally stubborn—Tazi hound with a few gifts of her own. A Wayfinder with no direction can't possibly manage this imperious creature from the King's kennels, much less save a civilization on the edge of destruction.
Or can he?

So here's the guest post!

Finding my Way into Fantasy

“What is a ‘way’? If you don’t know where you are, it is something you have lost.  If you don’t know where you are going, it is something you are looking for.  And if you do know, it is something you can show someone else.  One of the most ancient skills that we possess is the ability to find our way from one place to another: wayfinding.”

That is the beginning of Vicki McVey’s book, The Sierra Club Wayfinding Book.  It was, in part, the inspiration for my book, The Wayfinder. After I finished writing The Wayfinder, I started thinking about how well the metaphor of wayfinding works for authors, too. 

Wayfinding for Authors

In my story, “wayfinding” is a special skill you either have or don’t have. If you do have the skill, then it can be developed and trained until the Finder is capable of finding anything.

Authors have a talent for Finding  a Story. It’s a skill that can be developed and trained. How does an author know where to go to Find a Story?

When authors get a Finding for a story, there are only two directions: toward the story, or away from the story. There may be false starts in the story, but sooner or later, the author recognizes that they were false starts. The truer the Finding and the more skilled the author, the stronger the story.

How I Find a Story

The first step in writing fantasy is the exercise of the imagination.  If you know the process of writing, this is the pre-writing stage.  My imagination tends to be stimulated by the combination of odd things. Just bits and pieces of things that strike me as important or unique or simply memorable for some reason.

Darcy Pattison

The question of how do we find our way around is fascinating to a person writing fantasy, because in fantasy, the setting of a story determines much of the story.  Many authors start with a strong character and build a story from there.  I tend to start with the combination of an idea and a setting.  For The Wayfinder, I knew that I wanted a wayfinder who would find his way through dangerous lands.  Ah–dangerous lands.

Already the setting is important to me. The Wayfinder takes place in the city of G’il Rim, which is located on the edge of a great rift–something like the Grand Canyon, but maybe even grander.  How would this location affect their lives?  What does it mean for a person’s life to live on the edge of something like that?  Would they be scared of heights?  What sorts of animals would live there, what sorts of plants would there be, what sort of climate? How would all those things affect the community living there?  What would they build with–stone, adobe, wood? What would they eat?  What traditions would develop?  What myths would mothers tell their children?  I make lots of notes, sometimes scribbling in notebooks that I never look at again, but it’s necessary for me to start to build up an idea of the lands where the story will take place.

In every good story, the main character has to have an important problem. What sort of problem could be dramatically played out in this type of setting?  What dramatic moments could I envision in this setting?  In other words, the setting and the character and the character’s problems are intertwined.  The story I tell could only happen in this particular setting–changing the setting would change the problem and the story.

Even at the early stages of pre-writing there is the addition of some question, some idea, some struggle with the larger questions of life–the theme.  And again, it affects the overall shape of the story.The Wayfinder’s theme is about the process of grief. In the story, Win (the main character) blames himself for his sister’s death, but must put aside his personal grief to go on a quest for a cure for the plague which is sweeping across his land.  Other themes are trust and loyalty, and wild vs. free.  By the time I’ve added odd ideas, setting, character, and themes, I’ve probably got a good idea of what the plot of the story will be.  And in fact, I do a lot of outlining in the beginning. 

Finally, the actual writing begins.  I can’t start before this because you don’t just tell a story with any collection of words. The images must fit the entire collection of ideas, it matters how you say something more than it matters what you say.

The Wayfinder begins: “The city of G’il Rim lay swaddled in f’giz, the densest mists of the year, they swirled up out of the Rift at the city’s back, covering everything with a thick blanket of damp fog.”

It matters that the city is swaddled in mists, not covered in mists, but rather covered with a “thick blanket of damp fog.”  What I want is to build an atmosphere and feeling about the city, and the specific words matter a great deal.  One of Sondheim’s songs says, “Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell.”  I want to weave a spell around the reader, so I must be very careful how I tell the tale.

So – the writing progresses. Throughout all this–the thinking and the research, there is a confidence and surety, or maybe a recognition of the fitness of this thing or that for the story.  The Finding for the Story is leading me surely toward the story.  When I wonder about adding this element or that, the only judgment that matters is this: Does it lead toward the story or away from the story?

Sharon Creech, the 1995 Newbery Winner for Walk Two Moons said, “Only after the book is completed can I begin to identify some of the seeds from which these seemingly arbitrary characters and situations come, but I am reluctant to dig too deeply. . . . The truth is: I don’t want to know the explanations for the mysteries of dreams . . . .”   Her stories remains a mystery even to her.  It’s an attitude that I don’t understand.  While I’m always surprised by what happens or by details that creep into a story unbidden, I want to understand my stories.  Only then can I control the images and produce the emotions that I want in the reader.

Thanks for the guest post, Darcy!

Darcy Pattison (visit her website or Facebook site), author and writing teacher, created the Novel Revision Retreat, in 1999 and now teaches across the nation. Translated into eight languages, her picture books and fantasy  novel  have been recognized for excellence by starred reviews, Book of the Year ards, state award lists and more. She is the 2007 recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Arts Award for Individual Artist for her work in children’s literature.

Tomorrow I will host a giveaway of a signed copy of Darcy Pattison's YA fantasy The Wayfinder - make sure to check it out and enter!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox #15

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren where you can talk about the books you bought or received this week.

So this week I got...

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody—be totally alone—then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.

I loved both Some Girls Are and Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers, but I have yet to read her debut novel. It sounds great, too, though!

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Release date: May 10th 2011

Goodreads description:

Amy Curry thinks her life lucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew—just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road—diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards—this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

This one has been on my wishlist for ages - it sounds right up my alley, and I've heard great things about it.´

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Release date: May 8th 2011

Goodreads description:

At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved — and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything — and everyone — in its path.
This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong.

The only other novel on abusive relationships I've read is Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, which I loved (but then again, it's Sarah Dessen, so of course I loved it), but the topic's really interesting to me. Plus, I love the cover of But I Love Him - it' beautiful and reminds me of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bookish Wishlist #1

Since I've decided to stop doing memes (other than In My Mailbox), I will now do this feature about once or twice a month. So let's have a look at some books I'm wishing for!

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them... turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a shelf in her favourite bookshop, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept them. But is Dash that right guy? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
From the authors of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist comes a warm and funny story that will leave you perusing bookshop shelves, looking for a red notebook of your own.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Goodreads description:

Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?

Clarity by Kim Harrington
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift. And a curse. When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case--but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother--who has supernatural gifts of his own--becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Goodreads description:

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Please Ignore Vera Deitz by A.S. King

Goodreads description:

Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Choker by Elizabeth Woods
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria.
Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in. But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Goodreads description:

Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart. She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition. Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Do you like this new feature? And do you like the amount of books I chose to show on this post, or would you prefer either more or less books per post?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Should I Keep Doing Memes and Blog Hops? (Part 2)

So about a week ago, I asked you guys whether I should keep doing memes and blog hops here, and I asked you to vote on some polls. So let's have a look at the results!

- 67% of you like reading memes, 17% don't.

- Most of you want me to do two or three memes a week, only a few said none, one, four or five.

- Out of the memes I do, you guys like In My Mailbox the best (84%). Follow Friday and Book Blogger Hop aren't very popular (11%). Waiting on Wednesday and On My Wishlist are in the middle (WoW: 63% - OMW: 37%).

- 60% of you want me to post only 2-3 times a week with quality content, while 20% of you want me to post every day with filler posts such as memes.

- I also got some comments, and most of them said I shouldn't feel pressured to post every day, so I'm going to count those like votes towards only posting quality content. Two also said they like memes that bring attention to new books, so that's sort of like votes for WoW posts (and, to some extent, IMM and OMW).

Thanks for voting, everyone! I know some (okay, most) of the percentages don't really make sense, but that's because you could choose more than one answer and you could select "other" and write you own answers.

So what do I make of these results?

Two things, in my opinion, are obvious: I'm going to stop doing Follow Friday/Book Blogger Hop, and I'm going to keep doing In My Mailbox.

Whether or not I should keep doing Waiting on Wednesday and On My Wishlist, though, is more difficult. If I keep doing both of them, I'll have three memes a week, which I still think is too much. It'd be weird to do only of those memes, though - they're basically the same thing, just WoW is for not-yet-released books and the books I feature on OMW are already published.

What I don't like about those two memes is that they're so short - I just put the cover of a book, add the synopsis and links to the book on Amazon and Goodreads, write one or two sentences about it, and done. That's exactly the opposite of quality content, which most of you said you want.

My idea to solve that problem would be to stop doing the actual memes WoW and OMW, but to do similar posts featuring more books, just not as often. I'd make a feature about something between 5 and 10 books, one for books that have already been published and one for books that aren't released yet, and post them once or twice a month.

What do you think? Is that better than doing the actual memes?

If I decide to do those posts (which, at this point, I'm pretty sure I will, unless one of you guys has a good argument against it), I'd need names for those features. I've been thinking about names, but I can't really think of anything good. Right now I'm considering "Bookish Wishlist" and "Bookish Anticipation", but the second one sounds kind of stupid, in my opinion. Maybe I'll just use something like "Releases I'm Anticipating" and "Books I'm Wishing For"... What do you  think? Which names are better? Or if you can think of any better names, please leave a comment and let me know, too!

Thanks for helping me with this, guys!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schidler
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.

First sentence: When I was ten, I took my best friend Janny on our family vacation.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So many people call books they really like "pageturners" - when reading a good book they want to know what happens next as fast as possible and can't put the book down. For me, though, the opposite is true: I'm usually a pretty fast reader, but when I really like a book, I read more slowly and want to take in every word. That's how A Blue So Dark was for me - I had to slow down to take in every beautifully written word. Holly Schindler's prose is great - lyrical and beautiful. Sometimes it bordered on melodramatic, though.

I love the whole idea for this novel. I didn't know too much about schizophrenia before reading this book, but I think mental illness is fascinating. I really liked the snippets of information at the beginning of every chapter. I can't judge whether or not the descriptions of Aura's mother are realistic, but they definitely seemed believable. The connection of creativity and mental illness is interesting, too, and a really original idea for a Young Adult novel.

The characters in A Blue So Dark are all complex and realistic because of their flaws. Aura is determined, brave and independent, but not perfect and still easy to relate to. I felt all of her emotions. The mother, like I said, was described really well. I loved the contrasts between how Aura saw her as a child and how she sees her today with the schizophrenia, and the description of her "episodes" are so real they're almost scary. The relationship between Aura and Janny is great and dynamic as well - she's the perfect dysfunctional friend. Another character I loved was Nell, even though she doesn't play a that important role - she's so strong and admirable.

One thing I didn't get was Aura's situation at school. In general, I enjoyed Holly Schindler's sparse writing style, but I think a little more explanation for that storyline would have been helpful. I didn't get that whole thing of Aura being a "gypsy". If it had been elaborated on more, it might have added something to the main plot, but like this it didn't really do anything for me. The same goes for the relationship between Aura and Jeremy. The reader only got to know a little about that, and I didn't think that helped the main plot. In my opinion, that storyline should either have been elaborated on more or the author should have just left it out completely - like this it just seemed like she wanted to add a love interest for no real reason other than having a love interest. I did think the thing with the skateboard was cute, though.

Despite those little problems, this is a great read, portraying raw emotion on a difficult topic with beautiful prose and great characters. I definitely recommend it, and I'm looking forward to reading more by Holly Schindler in the future!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

Note: I already published this review on Thursday, but Blogger deleted it (along with the comments), so here it is again!

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Halley has always followed in the wake of her best friend, Scarlett. But when Scarlett learns that her boyfriend has been killed in a motorcycle accident, and that she's carrying his baby, she's devastated. For the first time ever, Scarlett really needs Halley. Their friendship may bend under the weight, but it'll never break--because a true friendship is a promise you keep forever.First sentence: Scarlett Thomas has been my best friend or as long as I can remember.

My rating: 4 out of 5

If you've read some of my other reviews, you probably know that I love Sarah Dessen. Her writing and characters are amazing. What I really enjoyed about this one, though, is how seamlessly she blends so many topics together. There's Halley's friendship with Scarlett, Michael's death, the pregnancy, Halley's romance with Macon, her relationship with her mother, .... Each one of these storylines is great on its own, but Sarah Dessen also managed to connect them so that they support each other and form a perfect whole.

Like I said, Sarah Dessen's writing is great - graceful, beautiful, vivid, and just enjoyable. It shows some flaws in Someone Like You that it doesn't have in some of her newer novels, but the writing is still better than most books I read. Her characters are what I like best about her novels, and those are great in Someone Like You as well. Halley is incredibly easy to relate to and feel for, and I loved the story behind her name. The supporting characters, like always, are complex and realistic, as well as their relationships. Halley's mother and her relationship with Halley is dynamic and understandable. I loved Halley's and Scarlett's friendship - of course it isn't perfect and of course they fight, but in a way, with those imperfections, it is perfect - the kind of friendship every girl wants.

Just like Halley, in the beginning I loved Macon - how he always snuck candy into her bag or pocket is just so cute. And just like Halley, later on I had the same doubts she had. Even the small characters are realistic and easy to imagine, like Marion and Steve/Vlad (I loved that whole storyline), and Michael, whom we didn't even get to "meet" as Someone Like You starts with his death (I loved the romance between Scarlett and Michael - the whole thing with the kiwis is just adorable). Even Cameron is a great character, and I would have loved to read more about him and his relationship with Scarlett. The new guy falling in love with a girl pregnant by her dead boyfriend would be really interesting to read about, and if Sarah Dessen ever did a follow-up novel (which I don't think she will, but still), that should be it.

One thing I don't quite get is the title. "Someone Like You" makes you think this is a love story, and I don't think that does this novel justice - it's so much more than that, and Halley's romance with Macon (in my opinion) isn't the most important part of the novel - her friendship with Scarlett is. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the title refers to that friendship, and not the romance - then it'd be cute. It still makes you think of a sappy romance, though, which doesn't fit.

I don't really have that much more to say about Someone Like You - I don't want to keep repeating myself in every Sarah Dessen-review I write. She has a way of understanding and portraying teenage life perfectly and shows that again in Someone Like You, with great writing and characters. Definitely worth reading, and a must for every fan of Sarah Dessen. Still not as great as some of her newer novels, though, so if you haven't read anything by this author, you should probably start with some of her newer ones.
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