Thursday, September 29, 2011

Review: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

Title: The Unwritten Rule
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 224
Release date: May 16th 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Sarah and Brianna have always been friends, and it's always gone like this: guys talk to Sarah in order to get closer to Brianna. So even though Sarah met Ryan first, she's not surprised that he ends up with Brianna (even though Sarah has a massive crush on him). The three of them hang out, and Sarah and Ryan's friendship grows until one night an innocent exchange between them leads to a moment that makes Sarah realize that Ryan might be interested in her after all. But if there's one unwritten rule, it's this: you don't mess around with a friend's boyfriend. So Sarah tries to resist temptation. But with the three of them thrown together more and more, tension builds between Sarah and Ryan, and when they find themselves alone together at one point, they realize they just can't fight how they feel anymore...

First sentence:
I liked him first, but it doesn't matter.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love Elizabeth Scott, but I was a little worried about this book. Even when they're well-done, I often don't like books where the main character is cheating on her boyfriend or knows the guy she's with has a girlfriend and is cheating by being with her, just because I have a really strong opinion about that kind of thing, especially if the two girls are friends, like in The Unwritten Rule. However, I ended up really enjoying this one!

What made this book work are the characters. I didn't think I'd be able to connect with Sarah because, well, she's kissing her best friend's boyfriend, but she turned out to be easy to relate to. She's just a normal girl, and she feels really, really bad for liking Ryan. It's not like she starts liking Ryan as Brianna's boyfriend - she's had a crush on him for years! I loved her as a character, and the thing with the sneakers is adorable. I'm split on Ryan's character. I didn't think I could like him because he's a cheater, but I loved the scenes he has with Sarah. They're adorable together. I have to say, though, I was a little frustrated with him at times - he should have just told both Sarah and Brianna the truth from the beginning on, then they wouldn´t be having any of these problems., she's such a complex character. I kept going back and forth between hating her and sympathizing with her, just like Sarah. At times she really frustrated me with the way she treats Sarah, basically saying no worthwhile guy could ever like her because she's not pretty, but at times I felt for her - she can´t help being like that, considering what her parents are like. That conflict made Sarah´s conflict about Ryan all the more real.

The writing and whatnot is all great, but I'm not going to say much more about that - I'd just be repeating what I´ve said in all my Elizabeth Scott reviews.

***This paragraph contains spoilers!***
There is one part where Sarah and Ryan really frustrated me, though. After Ryan and Brianna break up, Sarah and Ryan immediately spend the night together, and Sarah doesn't really feel bad about it, since Brianna and Ryan broke up. I thought that was kind of strange - isn´t there also an "unwritten rule" about going out with your best friend's ex? At the very least, they should have waited a while. I was disappointed that the issue of being with your friend´s ex wasn´t touched at all - the entire time, Sarah and Ryan assume that once he breaks up with Brianna, they can be together without a problem, which I think is wrong.

***This paragraph also contains spoilers - sorry for being so spoiler-ish in this review!***
I'm split on the ending. One the one hand, I'm happy Sarah and Ryan end up together because they're an adorable couple. On the other hand, I really don't like the message the ending sends - no matter what, being with your best friend's boyfriend is still wrong. It's so sad to see Brianna and Sarah's friendship end, but I like that not everything works out for Sarah - even though I could understand her, she should have to live with the consequences of what she did.

I don't have much more to say about this - The Unwritten Rule is another great, quick, enjoyable read by Elizabeth Scott, who is quickly turning into one of my favorite authors (I can't believe I hadn't read any of her books until this year)!

One more random, unimportant thought: This cover freaks me out! When you have the book the right way around, so that the face is up-side-down, the model looks content and pretty. When you hold the book up-side-down, so that the model is the right way around, the model looks sad and mad, and, well, not as pretty. Am I going crazy, or has anyone else noticed that?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Positively by Courtney Sheinmel

Title: Positively
Author: Courtney Sheinmel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing                     
Pages: 224
Release date: September 15th 2009
Genre: MG; contemporary
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Since the day Emerson Pressman and her mother were diagnosed as HIV positive, nothing has been the same. When her mother dies of AIDS, Emmy has to go live with the father and stepmother she barely knows, and she feels more alone than ever. Now she has to take pills by herself, and there is no one left who understands what it's like to be afraid every time she has a cold. But when her father decides to send her to Camp Positive, a camp for HIV-positive children, Emmy begins to realize that she's not alone after all, and that sometimes, opening up to other people can make all the difference in the world.

First sentence:
When my mother died I imagined God was thinking, "One down, and one to go."

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'd heard basically nothing about this book, but since it cost only 4€ at The Book Depository I decided to just buy it, without knowing all that much about it. When It arrived and I read what it said on the back of the book, I was surprised to read it's for ages 9 to 14. I read it anyways, and the fact that it's MG, not YA like I'd thought, didn' bother me much. Yeah, there are some explanations about what HIV and AIDS are, which I wouldn't have needed, and Emmy makes some immature decisions, but it's not like that never happens in YA. Anyways, what I'm trying to say is, don't let the fact that this is for a younger audience discourage you - Positively is a great book!

What's so great about Positively are the emotions it conveys. Emmy's story is heartbreaking. Struggling with HIV is heartbreaking as it is, and the fact that Emmy is only thriteen makes it even sadder. Emmy's feelings, both about her mother's death and her own disease, are raw and real, and I could feel them all easily, making me cry several times throughout this book. But Positively isn't only a sad book - it's also hopeful, the message making me smile throughout the book, too (well, more at the end, but whatever).

I loved the whole idea for this book - I've never read about someone being HIV positive, and how that affects every aspect of your life. The idea of having Emmy go to Camp Positive is great, too. At times, though, I was kind of bored by the plot - nothing all that much happens, and I think a few things could have been cut, especially since this book is actually for people younger than me, who I'm assuming, in general, get bored easier.

The writing, though, is what held my attention. Courtney Sheinmel somehow managed to make the voice authentic for a thirteen-year-old girl, but still have the writing be beautiful, vivid and insightful. Emmy's voice is great, and her way of expressing herself is just beautiful. It´s so innocent, despite what she's gone through, and that really showed the cruelty of a child having to face something as grave as AIDS.

I don't have much more to say about this book, but I definitely recommend it. I'm sad to not have seen it around more. Even though it's MG and about a thirteen-year-old girl, I think it's suitable for YA readers, too. It's a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful story.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Character Book Picks by C.K. Kelly Martin (My Beating Teenage Heart Blog Tour)

Today we have C.K. Kelly Martin here for a guest post! This post is part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin. You can find out more about the tour here. Make sure to visit all the other stops of the blog tour if you'd like to know more about My Beating Teenage Heart!

These are book recommendations from the characters of My Beating Teenage Heart.

Ashlyn – I fell in love with Jenny Han’s series that began with The Summer I Turned Pretty. I could never really pick whether I wanted Belly with Jeremiah or Conrad, they were both so loveable! Every one of Carrie Ryan’s Forest of Hands and Teeth series books kept me up reading all night too. Also, I read Let’s Get Lost by Sarra Manning four times. I love all her books but that one was my very favourite. My sister recommended this book called One Day (by David Nicholls) last summer and it became another of my favourites. I love the idea of seeing what Emma and Dexter’s relationship was like on a single day every year.

Breckon – Usually I like stuff that has a slight sci-fi or paranormal element to it. One of my favourite books is Charles Burns’ graphic novel Black Hole. It’s set in an alternate reality Seattle in the late 1970s where a STD causing weird physical mutations has broken out in a group of teenagers. Another fantastic graphic novel was The Last Man Volume 1 (by Brian K. Vaughan) about the only man left on earth after a plague kills all the others leaving an otherwise strictly female population. World War Z by Max Brooks, a book about a zombie apocalypse, was also really cool and I like a lot of Stephen King too – especially his classics, The Shining and Salem’s Lots. As far as realistic stuff goes High Fidelity by Nick Hornby was fantastic and Jules lent me this other great book called A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers.

Jules – High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (I borrowed it from Breckon – it’s one of his favourites too). The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky gets to me every time I read it. Other books I love and keep coming back to – Bringing up the Bones by Lara Zeises, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

Skylar – I like books with adventure and aliens the best, like Nim’s Island (by Wendy Orr) and Dude Where’s My Spaceship (by Dan Greenburg). I would love to be on a deserted island with cool animals just like Nim! Dude Where’s My Spaceship is so funny. There are lots of books about Klatu, Lek and Ploo and I love them all. Freckle Juice (by Judy Blume) and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) were really good too. 

Make sure to check out all the other stops of the tour, and keep your eye out for My Beating Teenage Heart, which will be released September 27th 2011.

My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing—no memories, no self—and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.
Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breath. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.
Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bookish Anticipation #5

Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: March 6th 2012

Gabby Gardiner wakes up in a hospital bed looking like a cautionary ad for drunk driving and lacking a single memory of the accident that landed her there. What she can remember, in frank and sardonic detail, is the year leading up to the accident.
As she takes us through her transformation from invisible girl to on-trend Girl Who Dates Billy Nash (aka Most Desirable Boy Ever), she is left wondering: Why is Billy suddenly distancing himself from her? What do her classmates know that Gabby herself does not? Who exactly was in the car that night? And why is Gabby left alone to take the fall?
Putting the pieces together will take every ounce of Gabby's strength. As she peels back the layers of her life, she begins to realize that her climb up the status ladder has been as intoxicating as it has been morally complex...and that nothing about her life is what she has imagined it to be.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: January 2nd 2012

I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Release date: January 2nd 2012

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.
Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: February 14th 2012

When seventeen-year-old Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington’s Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty-per-cent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when she tells her mum’s best friend, ‘Aunt Sarah’ that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie was not her biological mother after all... Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, hitching along on her ex-boyfriend’s GAP year to follow her to Los Angeles. But all does not go to plan, and as Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply-buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonising decision of her own - one which will be the most heart-breaking and far-reaching of all....

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: December 27th 2011

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: February 7th 2012

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this—especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality. Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends—while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. Ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.

Slide by Jill Hathaway
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: January 3rd 2012

Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered. Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body. Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane. Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Love? Maybe. by Heather Hepler
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: January 5th 2012

Just because Piper’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day does not mean she’s a romantic. In fact, after watching her father and then her stepfather leave, she’s pretty sure she doesn’t believe in love at all. Then her friends concoct a plan to find them all Valentine’s dates, and somehow Piper finds herself with the most popular guy in school. But true love never follows a plan, and a string of heartfelt gifts from a secret admirer has Piper wondering if she might be with the wrong guy.

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: December 27th 2012

Leah has the life most high school girls would kill for—popularity, glowing grades, a rich, athletic boyfriend. So why does she feel like she can’t breathe? And why can’t she stop thinking about the boy from the country club? The one who isn’t her boyfriend, the one that her mother would never, ever approve of, the one that her perfect older sisters would never, ever look at twice. The one who is always looking back at her. Irresistible attraction, smoldering glances, the bad boy and the good girl—Kiss Crush Collide has everything that a steamy forbidden romance should, and then some.

The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: January 3rd 2012

Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. And they’ve always agreed on one goal: to get out of tiny Paris, Texas, and see the world. The school’s foreign exchange program seems like the perfect escape: Piper will go to the original Paris; Mei will go to China; Cassidy will go to Australia; and Izzy, unable to afford the program, will stay at home. To add spice to their semester away, and to stay connected to their best friends, the girls start The International Kissing Club, a Facebook page where they can anonymously update one another and brag about all the amazing guys they’re meeting. After all, these girls are traveling abroad: amazing guys abound at every turn! But sometimes fun, flirty vacation flings turn into more serious romances, and sometimes you don’t return from abroad the same person you were. Will the girls’ relationships—and their friendships—be able to survive?

These are some future releases I'm anticipating. Have you heard anything about these? What new books are you anticipating?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Title: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 192
Release date: January 1st 2006
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
So you're a guy; you're at a band show and your ex, the girl who dumped you, walks in with the new guy. Looking for a safe exit, you ask the girl you happen to sitting with to be your girlfriend for five minutes . You're a girl; you're at a get-together and your least favorite female strolls in. The stranger sitting next to you asks you to be his five-minute date. So what do you? You lock lips . Nick and Norah's instant connect begins a roller-coaster "first date" that takes them through Manhattan and into themselves.

First sentence:
The day begins in the middle of the night.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Why did I wait for such a long time to read Rachel Cohn/David Levithan book? I'd heard their books were great, but waited until now to read one, which I now know was a mistake - Nick & Norah's Infinte Playlist is amazing! At first I was discouraged by its short length, but that wasn´t a problem at all - it´s a short read, but I felt like I spent years in Nick and Norah´s world.

I loved both main characters. Norah is easy to relate to and feel for. She's a likable character and I got her from the beginning on. Nick... Oh, Nick. He's just adorable. He´s so perfect, I wanted to pull him out of the book into real-life to have him all for myself. I loved the whole tone of the book; Nick and Norah´s voices are sweet and real, with great humor. There´s just something about the style that had me laughing out loud. I also love how, despite the humor, a subtle message of acceptance shone through, without being preachy.

But my love for Nick and Norah as individual characters is nothing compared to my love for Nick-and-Norah as a couple. They have great chemistry and are positively swoonworthy. Somehow, even though the book only covers one night, it seems like their romance develops gradually and naturally. I loved the whole idea for Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and the unique beginning and development of their relationship. I can´t even think about these two without smiling - this whole book just made me happy, made me want to hug somebody. I hate myself for not being able to explain this better - Nick and Norah are just so adorable!

Even though Nick and Norah are the only characters that play a really important role in this book, the secondary characters are great, too. I love how much we found out about Nick by reading about his relationship with his bandmates and Tris, and about Norah by reading about her relationship with Caroline, her parents and Tal. I didn`t quite get Norah's relationship with Tris, though. In the beginning, Tris is the girl Norah hates most in the world (it even says "least-favorite female" in the description), and then later, it turns out Norah, Caroline and Tris are actually sort of friends. I liked reading about Norah and Tris as almost-friends, but I didn´t get why in the beginning it seems like they're mortal enemies.

One thing that sort of annoyed me in this book, though, is the excessive use of swear words. Of course I don't mind that these characters swear - that's normal - but how often they swore seemed overdone to me, and that annoyed me after a while.

All in all, this is one heck of a book, despite its short length. Nick and Norah are a couple I'll continue to swoon about. This is the best romance I've read in a while, possibly all year. I'm looking forward to reading more by these two authors!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Title: The Sky Is Everywhere
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 272
Release date: March 9th 2010
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

First sentence:
Gram is worried about me.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I´d heard so many great things about The Sky Is Everywhere that I had pretty high expectations. And for once, my expectations were met - this book is heartbreakingly beautiful!

I loved the writing, it's beautiful and vivid. I even enjoyed Lennie's poetry. Usually, I hate when in between the acutal novel there's writing by the main character. It either doesn't sound authentic and seems like it's just the author´s poetry instead of the main character´s because it doesn't match his/her voice, or, if it is authenic, it's amateur-ish and not interesting to read, in my opinion. The Sky Is Everywhere is, I think, the first book where I liked the main character's poetry. It's beautiful and emotional and heartbreaking and made me feel Lennie's grief even more. I loved the whole thing with Lennie writing on napkins, trees, walls, takeaway cups, etc.

The characters are great, fully-developed and multi-dimensional. I could imagine all of them easily, with their unique, fun quirks. I loved the unique family dynamics. Gram and Big are great, enjoyable characters, and I loved reading about the situation with Lennie's mom and finding out about her along with Lennie.

What I loved most, though, are the incredible emotions The Sky Is Everywhere conveys. I've been going through some stuff pretty similar to what happens in this book, so maybe it's different for me, but I cried loads while reading this. Sometimes I didn't know whether I was crying for Bailey or about the real-life situation, but either way, Bailey's grief is portrayed really well, and the whole story is heartbreaking.

I'm split on the romance aspect. On the one hand, I thought Lennie and Joe are adorable together, and Joe's character is swoonworthy. On the other hand, I just don't think the romance is realistic. Joe seems too perfect to be real, and the descriptions of how amazing he is are overdone, just like Lennie and Joe's feelings for one another. It seemed a bit melodramatic how much they said they loved each other considering the short time they'd known each other.

The whole thing with Toby didn't really work for me. I wanted to understand why they did what they did, but I just couldn't. I also think the transition is too fast - they want to jump each other's bones wheneever they see each other, and then suddenly they agree to stop.

Even though I had some problems with Lennie's relationships with Joe and with Toby, this is one amazing book. Emotional and heartfelt, with beautiful writing and quirky characters - I definitely recommend it!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox #29

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.

Lie by Caroline Bock
(Amazon / Goodreads)

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.

I've been anticipating the release of Lie - it sounds right up my alley, and I love the cover!

 And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky
(Amazon / Goodreads)


Keek is not having a good summer. She and her boyfriend have just had their Worst Fight Ever (on the subject of her virginity, nonetheless), she’s been betrayed by a best friend, her parents are splitting up, and her mother is on the other side of the country tending to Keek’s newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. Oh, and Keek’s holed up at her grandmother’s technology-barren house with an abysmal case of the chicken pox. In Keek’s words, “Sofa king annoying.” With her world collapsing around her, Keek’s only solace comes from rereading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and typing on an old electric typewriter.
Keek—whose snappy narrative voice is darkly humorous and hysterically blunt—must ultimately decide for herself which relationships to salvage, which to set free, and what it means to fall in love.

Another book I'm really excited for! I've heard great things about And Then Things Fall Apart, and I loved interviewing Arlaina Tibensky for the And Then Things Fall Apart blog tour (you can read the interview here).

LoveSick by Jake Coburn
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Ted's drunk-driving accident has ruined his life. It cost him his basketball scholarship, ended his plans for college, and forced him into AA. But just when Ted has resigned himself to his new life, Michael appears. The wealthy father of a bulimic Manhattan rich girl has a tempting proposition. He has agreed to pay for Ted's college tuition, but there's one catch. Ted has to secretly keep tabs on his benefactor's daughter, Erica. A seemingly simple task, with only one minor problem: Ted never expected to fall in love.

I haven't seen this one around the blogosphere all that much, but it sounds interesting, and the cover is great, in a very creepy way!

From author for review:

That Boy by Jillian Dodd

There's Danny. Danny is a golden boy in every way. He has dreamy blue eyes and blonde hair that always looks perfect, even when it’s windblown or been stuck under a football helmet. He’s the boy every girl crushes on. The boy I get into trouble with, the boy I fight with, the hot quarterback no girl can resist, not even me. Being with Danny is like being on an adventure. He has a bright, contagious smile and abs to die for. He’s pretty much irresistible.

Equally crush worthy is Phillip. Adorable, sweet Phillip, who I have known since birth.  Phillip has dark hair, a perfect smile, brown eyes, and the sexiest voice I have ever heardtrouble, the boy who irritatingly keeps getting hotter, and whose strong arms always seem to find their way around me. And when he gives me that grin, I can never say no.

One boy will give me my very first kiss. One boy will teach me to make out. One boy will take me to prom. And finally, one boy will ask me to marry him. They will both be my best friends. But only one of them will be the boy I fall in love with. Only one of them is That Boy...

I got this one for review because I'll be taking part in the blog tour for That Boy sometime soon (late October, I think), and I'm excited to read it!

What did you get in your mailbox?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Review: Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Title: Sean Griwold's Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books                     
Pages: 288
Release date: March 1st 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object—an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas—it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him. The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking—er, focusing on—Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

First sentence:
Nothing creates a buzz like an Executive Deluxe day planner.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I´d heard basically only great things about Sean Griswold´s Head, and I loved the idea, so I was really excited to read this one. However, I was pretty disappointed. I still love the idea - the whole thing with the Focus Object is hilarious and adorable, and that ended up being what I most enjoyed reading about; Sean´s head as Payton´s Focus Object, how that turns into romance, etc. The romance is cute - I loved Payton and Sean together.

The writing is good, too. I was especially impressed by Payton´s PFEs/journal entries - often, journal entries in books seem fake to me, but in Sean Griswold´s Head, they´re realistic, and Payton´s voice is authentic and funny.

I know, this all sounds positive, and in the beginning, I did like this book, but after a while Payton got on my nerves. The characters are my main problem in this book. It´s not that they´re badly-written or anything like that, I just didn´t like them as people. At times I could relate to Payton, but most of the time she annoyed me - she´s so selfish and melodramatic! The way she reacts to finding out her dad has MS is strange - she doesn´t think at all about how it affects her dad, just about herself. I didn´t get Payton´s character - at times she´s the social-activist-type, then she´s a normal teenager thinking about unimportant stuff. She´s so patronizing of anyone who´s different from her, making fun of Sean for riding his bike to school and hating Sean´s friend because he only wears black. I didn´t get why she made the decisions she made, and I just couldn´t connect with her.

Jac is just as annoying as Payton. She doesn´t care about what Payton´s feeling and says she shouldn´t make such a big deal out of her dad having MS because she didn´t lose him like Jac lost her father because her parents are divorced and she never gets to see her dad. I couldn´t believe a friend would react like that - that is not the same thing at all, and it´s just not something you tell your best friend if she´s just found out her dad has MS. Payton and Jac´s friendhsip annoyed me - the entire time, they only think of their own problems and both tell the other one she´s being selfish - I wanted to sake them and make them see they´re exactly the same. That aspect really frustrated me. Sean is an okay character - at times he´s really sweet, but at others he´s patronizing, too, just like Jac and Payton.

One thing I appreciated is that Payton´s dad has MS, not cancer. For some reason, the only ways people die in the books I read are form cancer or in car accidents, which has really gotten on my nerves. So, thank you, Lindsey Leavitt, for choosing a disease other than cancer. It was interesting to read about the disease, and it seemed well-researched and realistic. Well, I can´t be the judge of whether it realistically portrays MS, as I know little about it, but it seemed authentic.

I know most of what I said in this review is negative, but I´m still giving it three stars - good writing, a pretty cute love story and a fun, original idea make this an okay read. It didn´t really work for me becuase I disliked the characters, and not connecting with the main character made it hard for me to get into the rest of the story, but whether or not you connect with a character is different for everyone, and I´ve read mainly good reviews of Sean Griswold´s Head, so maybe it´ll work for you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Pages: 263
Release date: March 3rd 2005
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:

Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

First sentence:
The week before I left my family and Florida and the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going-away party.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Re-reading Looking for Alaska showed me again what an amazing book this is. I love everything about it! John Green is one of my favorite authors, and this one is probably my favorite of his books.

I don't read too many books with male main characters (just because, well, most YA titles have female narrators), but if it's well-done, I really enjoy a male narrative, and there's no question John Green does male main characters well. He made Miles so easy to relate to for me, as a girl, but Miles still has an authentic teenage-boy voice. And Alaska. I just love Alaska. I don't mean Alaska as a person - I'm pretty sure she'd irritate me to no end if I met her in real life - but as a character, she's amazing. She's a mystery, and I'd love to get into her head for a while.

I really like the idea of splitting the novel into two sections, "Before" and "After". This not being the first time I've read Looking for Alaska, I knew what was coming, and dreaded it with every passing day (every day in the book, not in real life). Even when I read this for the first time, I knew something bad was going to happen, and that added so much suspense to the whole story.

I love the whole thing with the last words. It's a crazy but awesome idea. The last words are so interesting to read about, and lots of them are hilarious! That made me want to start looking up famous peope's last words myself... even though I know I never will because I'm lazy. Either way, I really enjoyed that aspect and found myself laughing at so many of the last words and crying later on when... well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but if you've read the book you know what I mean.

For me, the entire book is like that - one minute you're laughing and the next you're crying. It's incredible how much Looking for Alaska made me feel, and how it can be so hilarious and tragic and touching and insightful all at the same time. That's probably what I like best about John Green's writing.

***This paragraph contains spoilers!***
The ending - ugh! Yes, it's the perfect way to end the book, and it wouldn't be right to have a real solution, but I just really want to know! Was it an accident or was it suicide?

I don't know what more to say - just wow. If you haven't read this book yet, you should read it immediately - it's one of my favorites. John Green's style is amazing and unique, and it can make you feel so, so much. And it making me feel something is all I really want from a book.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

Title: Nothing Like You
Author: Lauren Strasnick
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 224
Release date: October 20th 2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything—so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.
But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect... and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had.

First sentence:
We were parked at Point Dune, Paul and I, the two of us tangled together, half dressed, half not.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

First off, I love this cover - it´s so beautiful! I could stare at it for ages. However, the actual book is only okay, in my opinion. I like the main idea, but some storylines just didn´t work for me.

The writing is, well, okay. At times it´s good and insightful, but at others it´s too choppy, in my opinion. Lots of chapters started with sentences like "School." "Lunchtime." or "Mid-November." - maybe it´s not that big of a deal, but to me that made it seem too much like the scene in theather or of a movie and not enough like a novel. Some parts I liked, but others I thought should have been more fleshed-out, like Holly´s feelings, and it just went back and forth between liking the writing and disliking it.

The entire book was like that for me - some storylines I really enjoyed reading about while others I just couldn´t get into. I´ll start with the positive. One thing I loved is the friendship between Holly and Nils. I loved reading about their shared history, and their bickering and the way they treat each other is so cute. I wanted to shake them to make them see they´re perfect for one another.

The characters are great and fully-developed. Holly is easy to relate to (with one exception - I´ll get to that later), and I felt her grief. Nils is a great and dynamic character. Saskia is interesting, too, and she has her own problems. Holly´s dad´s situation is heartbreaking but realistic. All characters are multi-dimensional and complex... except for Paul.

Holly and Paul´s relationship is one of the storylines I couldn´t get into. I know I´m supposed to feel Holly´s conflict of wanting to be with him but knowing it´s wrong, but honestly, I just thought Paul was an ass - I couldn´t get why Holly put up with him. I grew more and more frustrated with him as a character and Holly´s not standing up to him as the book progressed.

I´m split on what to make of Holly´s friendship with Saskia. The way it develops doesn´t seem realistic to me - Saskia´s supposed to be popular and Holly has exactly one friend, but Saskia just comes up to her and suddenly wants them to be friends. Later on, though,  I loved the scenes they had together, and thought their friendship was sweet.

I loved reading about Holly´s family situation and her dad. The way he interacts with Holly is both sweet and heartbreaking, and that aspect really let me feel both of their grief for Holly´s mother. I also loved how Holly found out more about her mother thorugh her drama teacher and that whole storyline.

I didn´t get the ending - it almost seemed non-existent to me. I thought it was just the end of a chapter and turned the page, but then saw the book was over. I re-read the ending, but still - nothing really happens. I can´t explain it - of course I don´t want a solution to all of Holly´s problems, but it just felt like something was missing at the end.

I had some problems with a few of the storylines, but overall Nothing Like You is still a sweet and worthwhile read. I don´t know whether or not to recommed this book - there are some things I really liked and others I couldn´t get into at all. Maybe that´s just me, though - I think a lot of my dislike for some of the storylines came from me not being able to sympathize with Paul or his relationship with Holly, so that might be different for you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox #28

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.


Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
(Amazon / Goodreads)

It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond?
No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.
Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.
But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

I've been wanting to read this author's debut, Like Madarin, for a while now, but since Wanderlove is available on NetGalley, I guess I'll read that first. This one sounds interesting, too!

The Sweetest Thing by Christina Mandelski
(Amazon / Goodreads)

In the world of Sheridan Wells, life is perfect when she's decorating a cake. Unfortunately everything else is a complete mess: her mom ran off years ago, her dad is more interested in his restaurant, and the idea of a boyfriend is laughable.
But Sheridan is convinced finding her mom will solve all her problems - only her dad's about to get a cooking show in New York, which means her dream of a perfect family will be dashed.
Using just the right amount of romance, family drama, and cute boys, The Sweetest Thing will entice fans with its perfect mixture of girl-friendly ingredients.

This sounds adorable, just like the cover!

If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
Jasmine Evans knows one thing for sure, people make mistakes. After all, she is one. Jaz is the result of a one-night stand between a black football player and a blonde princess. Having a young mother who didn't raise her, a father who wants nothing to do with her and living in a small-minded town where she's never fit in hasn't been easy. But she's been surviving. Until she sees her mom's new boyfriend making out with her own best friend.
When do you forgive people for being human or give up on them forever?

I loved Janet Gurtler's I'm Not Her (review), and I'm excited to read her new book!


Vengeance (Private #14) by Kate Brian
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Since this is part of the Private series and I don't want to spoil it for anyone, I'll give you the description for Private instead of the one for Vengeance.
Fifteen-year-old Reed Brennan wins a scholarship to Easton Academy -- the golden ticket away from her pill-popping mother and run-of-the-mill suburban life. But when she arrives on the beautiful, tradition-steeped campus of Easton, everyone is just a bit more sophisticated, a bit more gorgeous, and a lot wealthier than she ever thought possible. Reed realizes that even though she has been accepted to Easton, Easton has not accepted her. She feels like she's on the outside, looking in.
Until she meets the Billings Girls. They are the most beautiful, intelligent, and intensely confident girls on campus. And they know it. They hold all the power in a world where power is fleeting but means everything. Reed vows to do whatever it takes to be accepted into their inner circle.
Reed uses every part of herself -- the good, the bad, the beautiful -- to get closer to the Billings Girls. She quickly discovers that inside their secret parties and mountains of attitude, hanging in their designer clothing-packed closets the Billings Girls have skeletons. And they'll do anything to keep their secrets private.

I love the Private series, and I'm sad to see it end, but excited to read this last book in the series!

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Title: This Lullaby
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 345
Release date: May 27th 2002
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

First sentence:
The name of the song is "This Lullaby."

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love Sarah Dessen, and This Lullaby is one of my favorites of her books. What makes this one special, in my opinion, are the characters. Remy is different from the usual Sarah Dessen narrators (not that I don't love those, too) - often, they're self-conscious and shy, but Remy is pretty much the opposite; confident and cynical. If you don't like whiny, insecure characters but want to read a Sarah Dessen novel, this one would probably be the one for you. Remy, despite her cynicism and hard shell, is a lovable character, and I loved seeing what goes on in her head. Towards the end, I got annoyed by some of Remy's decisions (during the confrontation with Dexter, especially), but they still somehow made sense. I didn't agree with her, but I still loved to read about her.

Even though I love Remy, that love is nothing compared to the love I have for Dexter. Dexter is, well, perfect. Not in the too-perfect-to-be-real way - he has lots of imperfections, but those are what make him perfect. I can't even explain his character, he's just so adorable; one of my favorite fictional characters ever. He's clumsy and crazy and has such an incredibly positive attitude. I can't make him sound as amazing as he really is - just read the book, if you haven't. I couldn't imagine anyone not loving Dexter.

The romance is great. It's just so, so realistic, one of the most realistic romances I've ever read. It really annoys me when characters in books fall in love instantly, and that's not the case in This Lullaby at all. Their love develops and grows at a realistic pace. Dexter's and Remy's relationship is so much fun to read about - the way they interact is adorable (although it might just be that I love Dexter so much that it makes me think the way he treats Remy is adorable).

I love the family dynamics in This Lullaby, and how they affected Remy. Remy's relationship with her mother and brother are interesting to read about, and the love stories between her mom and Don and between Chris (her brother) and Mary Anne added another dimension to the novel.
I could talk about the writing and all the other things I love about this book, but they're all things I love about every Sarah Dessen book, so I'm not going to repeat all of that. Just know that if you haven't read a Sarah Dessen book, you are seriously missing out.

I don't really have anything more to say. Sarah Dessen is amazing, and this is my second-favorite of her books (second to The Truth About Forever), so of course I recommend it! It's got great characters and writing, and one of the most realistic romances I've ever read. If you've never read a Dessen book, what are you waiting for?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...