Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: The Day I Killed James

The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

It wasn't supposed to end up like this. But it did. When Theresa brings James to a party as her date, it’s just for the night . . . and he knows that. But when everything goes horribly wrong, James drives his motorcycle off a cliff—and Theresa knows she’s responsible for his death. Theresa tries to run away from the pain, becoming a new young woman with a whole new life. She meets people, of course, but she never really makes connections—she’s too scared she’ll hurt them, too. But what Theresa discovers is that you can try to run away from the pain—but you can never really run away from yourself. The only way out is through.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I’m split on how to rate this book.  I did not like the first part at all, but I loved the rest of the book.

The beginning was extremely confusing. There were normal chapters about the days before James died and there were journal entries, which said “Day I’m writing this” and “Day I’m writing about”, which were partly about the time before and partly about the time after James’ death. The order of these chapters and journal entries seemed random to me, and the narrative of the journal entries seemed forced as it was exactly the same style as in the normal chapters.

I would have liked it better if the author had either written in chronological order or had just started at the time directly after the accident and worked with regular flashbacks. Actually, I think she could have left out the time directly following James’ death completely, as that part didn't help the plot at all, in my opinion. There could have just been a first part dealing with the death and a second part dealing with Theresa’s life in her new town.

I guess the reader was supposed to sympathize with James, and later on I did, but in the beginning I just thought he was creepy – what’s a good-looking, 20-something-year-old guy doing obsessing over some high-school-girl? He was basically stalking her – he came over and just sat outside Theresa’s house, he washed her car without being asked to, and he painted her name on his motorcycle, and I didn't understand what he even saw in Theresa.

I didn’t understand Theresa’s emotions – she felt guilty, but it took her over 70 pages to finally, for the first time be sad that James was gone. I also thought the other characters, such as Theresa’s father, Frieda, and Randy were underdeveloped.

With that out of the way, I really did enjoy the rest of the book, even though the change in point-of-view from a first-person- to a third-person- back to a first-person-narrator was kind of strange. After I found out more about him and his past, I felt sorry for James, especially after the scenes at James’ mom’s house, which were really well done and made me cry. I felt Theresa’s guilt, which Catherine Ryan Hyde handled really well, showing how she tried to isolate herself and pushed others away of fear of hurting them, too. The book used showing instead of telling most of the time, too, which I enjoyed.

I loved the storyline with – well, I don’t even know what to call her; her name is Cathy but first tells Theresa her name’s Georgia, and is then usually referred to as “the kid” or “the juvenile delinquent”. Anyways, her story was terrible and heartbreaking, and I loved the relationship she had with Theresa and how they helped each other deal with their issues.

I’m still not sure whether I gave this book the right rating – I definitely had my problems with it, especially at the beginning, and even considered to stop reading it. I’m glad I didn’t, though, as the rest of the novel was a great, emotional read with a great moral. So, if you think you can get past the first part, give this book a try, as the rest is worth it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox #5

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...

The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

It wasn't supposed to end up like this. But it did. When Theresa brings James to a party as her date, it’s just for the night . . . and he knows that. But when everything goes horribly wrong, James drives his motorcycle off a cliff—and Theresa knows she’s responsible for his death. Theresa tries to run away from the pain, becoming a new young woman with a whole new life. She meets people, of course, but she never really makes connections—she’s too scared she’ll hurt them, too. But what Theresa discovers is that you can try to run away from the pain—but you can never really run away from yourself. The only way out is through. This compelling tale of love and loss is about broken hearts—and how to begin to repair your own.

I have not yet read anything by this author, but I'm excited to read this one - the title pulled me in immediately, and the storyline sounds right up my alley, too.

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Born with a port-wine stain birthmark covering her entire right cheek, Terra Rose Cooper is ready to leave her stifling, small Washington town where everyone knows her for her face. With her critical, reproachful father and an obese mother who turns to food to deflect her father's verbal attacks, home life for Terra isn't so great either. Fueled by her artistic desires, she plans to escape to an East Coast college, thinking this is her true path. When her father intercepts her acceptance letter, Terra is pushed off-course, and she is forced to confront her deepest insecurities. After an ironically fortuitous car accident, Terra meets Jacob, a handsome but odd goth Chinese boy who was adopted from China as a toddler. Jacob immediately understands Terra's battle with feeling different. When Terra's older brother invites her and her mother to visit him in Shanghai, Jacob and his mother also join them on their journey, where they all not only confront the truth about themselves, but also realize their own true beauty.

I've read so many great reviews of this book, so I'm excited I finally got it.

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:


When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daugh-ter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?

I loved Courtney Summer's writing in Some Girls Are (review), and I hope this one will be just as good!

Gone by Lisa McMann
(Amazon / Goodreads)
I'm not posting a description for this book as this is a sequel and I don't want to spoil Wake for anyone. Here's the Goodreads description for Wake instead:

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime. She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can’t control. Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant.

I really enjoyed Wake and Fade, so I'm escited to read the last book in the trilogy!

What was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On My Wishlist #6: You Against Me



On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City where you can talk about a book you want to read but haven't actually bought yet.

My pick for this week is...

You Against Me by Jenny Downham
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.

I liked this author's debut novel, Before I Die, and I hope this one will be just as good - the story sounds great!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow Friday #3 / Book Blogger Hop #3

 

Follow Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee's View. Each week, it features one book-blogger, and this week it's NaKesha of Totally Obsessed (be sure to check out her blog!).

It also asks a different question each week. This week's question is:

Share your current fav television show! Tell us a bit about it...

 
What? I can only pick one show? I don't have one favorite TV show, but one I love is 90210. I started watching it because people said it's similar to Gossip Girl, which I loved. I think it's much better, though - Gossip Girl's storylines have been getting too crazy, in my opinion, and, well, the character's have just gotten too old. But I still love 90210 because Matt Lanter is really hot it's so much fun, and I love the storylines so far this season, even though Annie's really been getting on my nerves.
Book Blogger Hop
The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word.
This week's question is:

Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?

No, I haven't wished that - I like my name. But I've only been blogging since the middle of January, so I might wish I had given my blog a different name sometime later.

Leave your answers to the questions or your link in the comments!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Love You Hate You Miss You

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elzabeth Scott

Goodreads description:

It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her. And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone now, and she doesn't want to talk about it. They wouldn't get it, anyway. They wouldn't understand what it feels like to have your best friend ripped away from you. They wouldn't understand what it feels like to know it's your fault.
Amy's shrink thinks it would help to start a diary. Instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. But as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past wasn't as perfect as she thought it was—and the present deserves a chance too.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


I regret not having read anything by Elizabeth Scott sooner – her style is amazing! I loved her writing – it reminded me of Sarah Dessen’s, who is one of my favorite authors.

The format of a normal narrative with letters to Julia in between was great – from the description, I thought there would only be letters, but I don’t think that would have been enough to show Julia’s emotions and development, so I’m glad the reader got the classic narrative as well, where Amy could be completely honest.

I loved the characters – none of them were one-dimensional, and they were all realistic and portrayed really well. It was easy to relate to Amy, her emotions and her grief. Julia was a great character, too. Her death was so heartbreaking, I cried within the first few pages – even though I didn’t know much of anything yet, I could picture Julia’s character – and her absence – perfectly. The reader never met her and only learned about her through Amy’s memories, but it was easy for me to understand her and her relationship with Amy.

Caro was another good, realistic character, and her relationships with Amy evolved naturally and realistically – I loved hearing about their history. The same applies to Patrick (who was adorable!) and his relationship with Amy.

The relationship Amy had with her parents was also handled well – not the typical parents-fighting-scenario, but a less-used family problem. Even though her emotions toward her parents weren’t typical, they were easy to relate to nonetheless.

I also enjoyed the transitions between the present and flashbacks – in my opinion, those often seem forced, but Elizabeth Scott made them seem effortless.

One thing that annoyed me in this novel was Amy’s drinking problem. I’m not sure why – maybe it was just not developed enough for me to actually think of it as part of the main story, but it just seemed like a subplot that didn’t add much to the story. It felt disconnected from the main plot, and I forgot about it for a while until Amy said “I want a drink,” again. I know her drinking problem is necessary for Amy’s role in Julia’s death and the relationship with her parents, but I still didn’t like that part of the book.

Another problem I had with the book was Amy’s blaming herself for Julia’s death. I understand how she felt guilty, but it seemed a bit too extreme, thinking of herself as a murderer and wanting her parents to call her one too. What she did was bad and mean, but it didn’t cause Julia’s death. Her guilt felt overdramatic, even though I understood the rest of her emotions perfectly.

Despite those two problems I had with the story, Love You Hate You Miss You is a great novel with beautiful writing and well-developed, realistic characters. I’m definitely reading some of Elizabeth Scott’s other books soon!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #6: Forgotten

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that "spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

So this week I'm waiting on...

Forgotten by Cat Patrick
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

I love the cover, and the story sounds great, too! I'm not sure whether this is supposed to be supernatural or pychological, but either way, it seems really interesting!


What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Lovely Blog Award

Wow! I just got a "One Lovely Blog Award" from Janine at Me The Book Nerd - thank you so much!

Okay, so here are the rules for this award:
- Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
- Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.
- Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

The 15 blogs I'd like to give this award to are (in no particular order):

Bookmarked
The Flashlisght Reader
A Trillian Books
Dreaming in Books
YA Booklover Blog
Sonette's Bookworm Blog
Breathing Books
Book Lungs
Library Lurker
Ramblings of a Random Girl
BLKosiner's Book Blog
Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books
Pensive Bookeaters
Christi The Teen Librarian
Brave New Adventure

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: XVI

XVI by Julia Karr
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Goodreads description:

 
Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I hate giving a book with such a great idea such a low rating, but honestly, aside from the idea, there wasn’t a single aspect of the book I liked – it was executed very badly, and the plot was overdramatic and clichéd.

For one thing, there just weren’t enough explanations for the reader to really understand the world Nina lived in – we never find out how it was possible for society to change so drastically. The reader got plenty of information and explanations about minor things like how they don’t eat meat anymore in the future, but nothing about how it’s possible that society moved backwards so much that people are classified in “tiers” and women have basically no rights.

I was also annoyed by the characters and their relationships. Nina was not a relatable character whatsoever – her emotions switched from sad about her mom’s death to happy to worried to in love with Sal to sad because of Sal way too quickly without any sort of explanation.

Sandy seemed too superficial and selfish – when Nina’s mom died and Nina had to move in with her grandparents, she only thought about herself and how she won’t have a friend living close by anymore. I didn’t understand why Nina would be friends with her, they were just too different. The only explanation about their friendship is that they became friends because they both like animals, which, honestly, is ridiculous.

Nina’s relationship with her mom seemed to perfect – she told her mom everything, which I don’t think is realistic. I didn’t like Dee or her relationship with Nina, either – she was 11 but usually acted like she was 5. The relationship between Nina's grandparents was supposed to be funny, but it was trying to hard and just got annoying.

The dialogue seemed fake; they switched topics way too often, which made it all kind of random, and all the characters, in my opinion, were too open and always said whatever they were thinking. That would be fine if it were used as characterization for one or two characters, but each of her friends spoke like that.

The different storylines were all over the place. Nina’s obsession with Ed and Dee was overdone (I thought that if I had to hear “Cinderella girl” one more time, I’d have to scream), while the plot of finding her father, which I thought would have been much more interesting, wasn’t elaborated on until the very end.

I don’t know whether there will be a sequel for this book, and if there will, I can’t criticize this, but I had the feeling the plot didn’t really pick up until the end. I thought the book would be more about Nina turning sixteen and having to deal with what that entailed in her society, but she didn’t turn sixteen until the last chapter. The ending didn't offer any solutions, but (again), if there will be a sequel, I can't really criticize that.

This novel had great potential but was executed very badly. I did not like the writing and never cared about the characters, and most aspects of the story were lacking. I would not recommend this book, but since it has gotten mainly good reviews, maybe it just didn’t connect with me personally.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox #4

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...

Ominous (A Private Novel) by Kate Brian
(Amazon / Goodreads)

I'm not posting a description for this  book, as it's part of a series and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Instead, I'll post the Goodreads description for the first book in the series, Private:

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'm both excited and sad about this book. I loved the Private series, but lately, the storylines have been getting unrealistic and far-fetched, especially in The Book of Spells. I hate that these girls are witches - to me, that ruined the whole series, as that means it doesn't take place in this world anymore. I'm not sure whether or not to see this series ending, as I don't want even crazier storylines to destroy these books. However, I'm still sort of sad to have to say goodbye to these characters, which I really love! I hope the last book in this series won't disappoint me!


XVI by Julia Karr
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.

I'd seen this book around on other blogs loads of times, but I never bothered to read the description - I figured this would be a book about the 16th century, and I don't really like historical fiction, so I just skipped past it. (Which was a pretty stupid assumption, now that I think about it.) But then I did read the description, and it sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it!

Fade by Lisa McMann
(Amazon / Goodreads)

I'm not posting a description for this book as this is a sequel and I don't want to spoil Wake for anyone. Here's the Goodreads description for Wake instead:

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime. She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can’t control. Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant.

I recently read Wake and really liked it, so I'm excited to read the second part of the trilogy!

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elzabeth Scott

Goodreads description:

It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her. And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone now, and she doesn't want to talk about it. They wouldn't get it, anyway. They wouldn't understand what it feels like to have your best friend ripped away from you. They wouldn't understand what it feels like to know it's your fault.
Amy's shrink thinks it would help to start a diary. Instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. But as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past wasn't as perfect as she thought it was—and the present deserves a chance too.

I hate to admit it, but I have not read anything by Elizabeth Scott. I know her writing is supposed to be great, but the plots usually only sounded average to me. Love You Hate You Miss You sounds pretty interesting, though, and If I like this one, I'll probably read her other books too!

What was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Blogger Hop #2

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word.

This week's question is: What book(s) would you like to see turned into a movie?

Hmm...that's a hard question. I'm almost always disappointed by film adaptions of books I love (read my "Books vs. Movies" post here). Most books I read have more inner conflicts, character development, etc. than real action, and those kind of plots are hard to convey in movies. The writing and the style of the author is what usually makes me fall in love with a book, and that would be missing in the movies.

Anyways, here are some books I'd like to see turned into movies - even though I can't promise I'd like them:

Paper Towns by John Green
(Amazon / Goodreads)

While John Green's style is what makes his books so amazing, the dialogue, characters and storylines are also great and, even though it would be hard, I think it would be possible to make his books work as movies. (I don't only mean Paper Towns but all of John Green's books - I just like this cover best so I chose this picture.)










Private by Kate Brian

I love this series, and these books rely more on "action" and less on emotion than most books I read, so I think they'd be suitable for movies. They were turned into a web-series a while ago, but I didn't like those at all - maybe that was just because of the low budget, though, so a movie-version could be better.



Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

This is another series I love, even though they're not the type of books I normally read. Again, this plot relies more on action, so I think the books could be turned into movies without the problem of having to convey much chracter development, etc. (Not to say these books don't have character development - they do, it's just not the main storyline.)



I'm interested in hearing what your answers are! Leave your links or answers in the comments!

On My Wishlist #5: The Sky Is Everywhere



On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City where you can talk about a book you want to read but haven't actually bought yet.

My pick for this week is...

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads des 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.

This book sounds perfect for me - grief and romance are two of my favorite topics in books. It has gotten some glowing reviews, so I hope I'll get to read it soon!

What's on your wishlist this week?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Follow Friday #2

 

Follow Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee's View. Each week, it features one book-blogger, and this week it's Aaron (Book Addict) of Dreaming About Other Worlds(be sure to check out that blog!).

It also asks a different question each week. This week's question is: If you are a fan of Science Fiction what is your favorite book? If you haven't read Science Fiction before...any inkling to? Anything catch your eye?

Honestly, I don't think I've read any Science Fiction - it's just not my thing. I prefer stories that take place in our world, or at least one similar to ours.

Leave your answer or your link in the comments!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Lock and Key

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

 Goodreads description:

 "Ruby, where is your mother?" Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future—it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?


My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about Sarah Dessen’s writing. Even if the story were lacking, I would probably love it anyways, just because her writing is so incredibly beautiful. And Lock and Key showed me again why Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. Actually, now that I think about it, if I had to choose only one favorite author, it would probably be her.

What I love most about Sarah Dessen’s books, along with the absolutely beautiful writing, are her characters. The main characters are always so relatable and normal, without ever being boring. That was the case with Ruby, too. While I don’t agree with her negative way of thinking at all, it was effortless for me to relate to her, and I understood each of her thoughts and decisions. I liked some of the other main characters from Sarah Dessen's other books better, though, just because they were more similar to me and therefore even easier to relate to.

The other characters were great, too – Sarah Dessen always manages to make each of her characters, even the minor ones, so deep and complex. I liked Nate  and thought his storyline was very well-done. I also thought Cora and her relationship with Ruby were realistic, and I loved Jamie – he’s just so cute, possibly even more so than Nate, which is kind of strange.  The Harriet-subplot and the parallels between her character and Ruby I liked as well, along with the scenes at the jewelry store.

Another thing I love about Sarah Dessen’s books is how they’re all somehow connected and how characters from other stories reappear – I love finding out what happens to them after we leave their story. For example, Cora, Jamie and Nate live in Wildflower Ridge, the neighborhood Macy’s mom from The Truth About Forever designed, and Ruby’s sort-of-boyfriend’s roommate is Rogerson from Dreamland. There were more, of course, which I can’t remember right now, but I love finding those connections. The imagery was great, too, like always – I loved the story to the key, the fish, Laney’s run, etc.

I had a problem with the storyline of the family, though, which was a big part of the plot. While I liked hearing all those different definitions for Ruby’s project, I thought Ruby’s mom’s character was underdeveloped. The reader never got to know why a mother would lie to and abandon her daughter like that, which made that part of the novel hard for me to understand. The idea to look for their father was never elaborated, either.

I was a bit disappointed by the ending - I don't want to spoil it to anyone, but it lacked explanation, in my opinion. I would have liked to read more about Nate's new life and about Ruby's decision.
All in all, this book is definitely worth reading, just like all of Sarah Dessen’s novels. The writing and the characters are amazing, even if the mother is underdeveloped. My favorite Dessen-novel remains The Truth About Forever, but that might just be because I sort of possibly maybe have a literary crush on Wes, who is, well, the perfect guy. Anyways, I recommend this book for any fan of Sarah Dessen, but if you haven't read any of her other books yet, I'd recommend reading some of her other ones first.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #5: The Day Before

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that "spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

So this week I'm waiting on...

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
(Amazon / Goodreads)
Publication date: June 28th 2011

Goodreads description:

Amber's life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of her family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself. Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell that he's also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets. The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she's drawn to him. And the more she's troubled by his darkness. Because Cade's not just living in the now--he's living each moment like it's his last.

Even though I have not read anything by this author yet, I've heard that her writing is great, and this story seems right up my alley (unlike most of her earlier novels). A love story mixed with troubled characters sounds perfect for me - I hope I'll get to read it when it comes out!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Willow

Willow by Julia Hoban
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy—one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

First off, let me say that I love this cover - cutting a picture of a girl into strips fits this book perfectly. Actually, it's not just the cover - the whole design is great, I also love the "cuts" at the beginning of each chapter.

The book itself is riveting; I couldn't put it down. Before, the idea of cutting seemed kind of ridiculous to me and I couldn’t understand why anyone would do that to themselves. Not to say that I now think cutting is good, but I definitely understand the motivations for it better now – the way Willow described it, it just made sense. This book taught me lots about cutting I didn’t know before, or just hadn’t thought about – I never understood that it’s basically an addiction.

 The description of the cutting was disturbingly real. Actually, I can’t say whether it was realistic, but it seemed real and it was definitely disturbing, as I could imagine all of it clearly (even when I didn’t want to).

The characters were great – I could easily relate to Willow, and I felt each of her feelings, even the guilt for “killing” her parents, which was obviously not her fault. She seemed a bit selfish at times, though, when she didn’t see anyone else’s problems as real problems.

I absolutely loved the ending - it showed Willow's journal and her growth as a character perfectly. Despite the heavy subject, it showed hope at the end. Not to give anything away, but the last sentence was really sweet and made me smile.

Guy was an extremely well-developed character, even though he seemed a little too perfect and deep at times – I don’t really think teenaged guys like that exist. But that’s what I love about fiction, so I shouldn’t be complaining.

The character I liked best was probably David, Willow’s brother she now lives with. His character and his relationship with Willow were great and realistic, especially at the end. Some of the minor characters were underdeveloped, though, for example Cathy, David’s wife, and Willow’s friends, who seemed a bit too shallow at times.

The writing was rich and powerful, but I had a problem with the third-person, present tense narrative. Sometimes it seemed more like a report than a story, not because it lacked feeling, just because of the style. Maybe that’s just my opinion, though – I usually prefer first-person and past tense narratives, and some other reviewers have said this narrative fit the story well.

I also found it problematic that Willow and Guy never seeked help from a professional about Willow’s cutting, or at least tell an adult – Guy was too easily persuaded to keep Willow’s secret from David, in my opinion.

All in all, this book is definitely worth reading. The topic of cutting is explained really well, and the characters and writing are good, too. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for Julia Hoban’s next novel!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox #3

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...

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

After her mom vanished in a stench of drugs and alcohol, Ruby continued to live in the family house alone. Finally found out, the introspective teenager is sent to the luxurious home of her older sister, Cora, whom she hadn't seen in ten years. Everything there seems unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and supremely weird: her fancy new room; her lavish new wardrobe; the exclusive private school where she never quite fits in. Most mysterious of all is Nate, the friendly boy next door who seems to have a deep secret of his own.

I have no idea why, but I have not yet read this book. I love Sarah Dessen and thought I'd read all of her books, but I recently noticed that I'd somehow overlooked this one. I'm sure I'll love it, though, as Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors.

Willow by Julia Hoban
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Seven months ago, on a rainy March night, sixteen year- old Willow’s parents died in a horrible car accident. Willow was driving. Now her older brother barely speaks to her, her new classmates know her as the killer orphan girl, and Willow is blocking the pain by secretly cutting herself. But when one boy—one sensitive, soulful boy—discovers Willow’s secret, it sparks an intense relationship that turns the “safe” world Willow has created for herself upside down.

I absolutely love this cover, and the story sounds great, too - it's gotten some glowing reviews. With me, you can't really go wrong if you mix a messed-up girl, grief, and romance.

Wake by Lisa McMann
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can’t control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant
.


I don't usually like paranormal books that much, but I've heard great things about this trilogy and it doesn't seem like it completely leaves this world, so I decided to buy this one.

What was in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On My Wishlist #4: By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead



On My Wishlist is a weekly meme hosted by Book Chick City where you can talk about a book you want to read but haven't actually bought yet.

My pick for this week is...

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers”. While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.
Then, a boy named Santana begins to sit with her after school while she’s waiting to for her parents to pick her up. Even though she’s made it clear that she wants to be left alone, Santana won’t give up. And it’s too late for Daelyn to be letting people into her life…isn’t it?

I haven't read anything by this author yet, but this book sounds interesting in a disturbing kind of way. I've read a few books about dealing with the aftermath of suicide, but I don't think I've read anything like this before. Plus, it's got a love story with sort of messed-up characters, which sounds perfect for me. I hope I'll get to read it soon!

What's on your wishlist this week?
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