Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Releases May 2011

I've decided to do this new feature to see what books are being released this month! This is in no way a complete list for any genre, these are just the books I'm excited to read.

New Releases:

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Release date: May 1st 2011

Goodreads description:

Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: May 1st 2011

Goodreads description:

Three days before her drama club's trip to Italy, Jessa Gardner discovers her boyfriend in the costume barn with another girl. Jessa is left with a care package from her best friend titled "Top Twenty Reasons He's a Slimy Jerk Bastard," instructing her to do one un-Jessa-like thing each day of the trip. At turns hilarious and heartwrenching, Instructions for a Broken Heart paints a magical Italy in which Jessa learns she must figure out life-and romance-for herself.

Shine by Lauren Myracle
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: May 1st 2011

Goodreads description:

When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice. Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.

The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy

Release date: May 3rd 2011

Goodreads description:

Three sisters. One life-changing summer. Calla loves summer because summer means Duncan. They’ve been best friends for years, but Calla has never worked up the nerve to tell him how she really feels. This summer, the summer before college, is Calla's last chance. iolet isn't much of a rule breaker in real life. But this isn't real life, this is summer, and Violet is determined to make the most of it. Besides, a little sneaking out never hurt anyone. And sneaking out with James is 100% worth the risk...even though James is completely off-limits. Daisy has never been the sister that boys notice, but when sparks fly with Joel at the first bonfire of summer, it seems so easy and right. So why is being his girlfriend so complicated?

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

Goodreads description:

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

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Release date: May 10th 2011

Goodreads description:

Who is the real McLean?Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Flawless by Lara Chapman

Release date: May 10th 2011

Goodreads description:

Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame. On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?
This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws.

Kane Richardds Must Die by Shanice Williams
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: May 12th 2011

Goodreads description:

After an unexpected transfer to the States for her senior year, Suranne's new friends give her just one instruction: stay away from Kane Richards. According to everyone, he's a heartless playboy concerned only for himself. With one glance, it's easy to see why he gets away with it. But things aren't always what they seem- especially when he sets his sights on her and whispers that she's "different." Despite all the red flags, Suranne considers whether or not his intentions are genuine or if she's simply another name on his list. In the process, she may just uncover the real Kane Richards. But, when it comes down to it, the real Kane Richards may not want to be found.

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
Release date: May 24th 2011

Goodreads description:

Abby acepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.
Until the accident. Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her. She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen. Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

Re-releases / Now in Paperback:

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

Goodreads description:

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

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
Release date: May 10th 2011

Goodreas description:

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.
Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.
Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it—especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.
As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
Release date: May 24th 2011

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...

That's what I'm looking forward to this May! Which May releases are you anticipating?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Follow Friday #12 / Book Blogger Hop #11


Follow Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee's View. Each week, one blogger is featured, and this week it's Marla from Starting the Next Chapter.

It also asks a different question each week. This week's question is: "Keeping with the dystopian and apocalypse theme that seems to be running rampant on, I have one very hard question for you: If you were stocking your bomb shelter, what books would you HAVE to include if you only had space for ten?"

Oh, God, that's a really hard question! There's too many books to choose from! I'm just going to look through my Goodreads read shelf and choose ten that I thought are really amazing...So, here they are, in no particular order:

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Looking for Alaska by John Green
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (or any Sarah Dessen novel, really)
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks (again, any Nicholas Sparks novel would be okay)

There are so many other books I love, but these are the ten I'd probably choose...

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: "Summer is coming quickly - what 2011 summer release are you are most looking forward to?"

Another hard question! There are so many summer releases I'm looking forward to! But if I had to choose one, it would probably be this one:

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Release date: June 14th 2011

Goodreads description:

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby. But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home two years later, a precarious and deadly balance waits. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Honestly, the cover would have been enough to make me add this one to my wishlist - I simply cannot stop looking at it; it's breathtakingly beautiful and tells a story on its own. Add to that the description! It sounds like the perfect blend of suspense and emotion - right up my alley!

That's it for my answers! What about you? Leave your answers or links in the comments!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.

First sentence: When I was little, my dad used to tell me, "Will, you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose."

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love John Green, so I was excepting to enjoy his parts of the novel, but I hadn't read anything by David Levithan before Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and didn't know yet whether I'd like his parts. I immediately fell in love with John Green's Will Grayson. His hilarious, self-deprecating style fit this character perfectly. Will Grayson is awkward in a very relatable way, and I always enjoy those kinds of characters.

It took me longer to start liking David Levithan's Will Grayson, and while I know that's superficial, a main reason for that was the all-lowercase writing. That type of writing already annoys me online, and I didn't think I could take a whole book written like that. David Levithan's Will Grayson was hard to like, for me, and it was hard to relate to his angry, angsty (is that a word?) personality. Later on, though, his character grew on me, and I started to like him more once I understood the point of writing all lowercase. Actually, if I'm completely honest, I didn't really get the point - I thought it was to show how little he cares, with the depression and all. In the back of the book though, there's a conversation between John Green and David Levithan, where David Levithan explains his reason: His Will Grayson sees himself as a lowercase-person, especially since he projects himself mainly online (those are David Levithan's words, just so you know, not mine). That explanation made me appreciate and understand his Will Grayson more. And I started liking him even more once both Will Graysons met.

Anyways, as I expected from John Green, the writing in this novel is amazing. The metaphors are great, the writing is lively, and, I don't know how else to explain it, but his style is just so easy. David Levithan's writing and style matched John Green's perfectly. One of the things I like best about John Green's writing is how much it can make you feel, and David Levithan mastered that, too. This novel is  so hilarious it makes you laugh out loud at parts and so deep and touching it really makes you think at others.

The characters are great, too. All of them are complex and realistic, as well as their relationships. One of my favorite parts of the book was Tiny Cooper. I'm not sure why I enjoyed him so much - I'd imagine him to be obnoxious and kind of annoying if I met him in real life - but as a character he's just genius, and loads of fun to read about. I love how lightly this novel deals with homosexuality - not in a preachy, annoying "Oh my God, I'm gay, what will I do?" way, but in a realistic and honest way - some people are gay, and that's the way it is, so deal with it.

All in all, this is a great read - hilarious but with a touching message of acceptance. The writing and characters are great. I'm already a fan of John Green, and I will definitely read more by David Levithan in the future!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #14: Don't Stop Now

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...

Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Publication date: June 7th 2011

Goodreads description:

On the first day of Lillian’s summer-before-college, she gets a message on her cell from her sort-of friend, Penny. Not only has Penny faked her own kidnapping, but Lil is the only one who figures it out. She knows that Penny’s home life has been rough, and that her boyfriend may be abusive. Soon, Penny’s family, the local police, and even the FBI are grilling Lil, and she decides to head out to Oregon, where Penny has mentioned an acquaintance. And who better to road-trip across the country with than Lil’s BFF, Josh. But here’s the thing: Lil loves Josh. And Josh doesn’t want to “ruin” their amazing friendship. Josh has a car and his dad’s credit card. Lil has her cellphone and a hunch about where Penny is hiding. There’s something else she needs to find: Are she and Josh meant to be together?
I love books about roadtrips - they're always so much fun! This one sounds interesting and I like the idea for the cover.
What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Goodreads description:

When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in Heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. With love, longing, and a growing understanding, Susie watches her family as they cope with their grief, her father embarks on a search for the killer, her sister undertakes a feat of amazing daring, her little brother builds a fort in her honor and begin the difficult process of healing. In the hands of a brilliant novelist, this story of seemingly unbearable tragedy is transformed into a suspenseful and touching story about family, memory, love, Heaven, and living.

First sentence: My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I didn't really know what to expect from The Lovely Bones. I'd heard great things about it, but I never really got the concept before I started reading it. So if you're like me, and don't really get it, let me explain: the main character, Susie Salmon, who was murdered and is now in heaven, tells us about what happens to her family and friends after her death. I love the idea of using only one person's voice but being able to know everyone's thoughts and feelings by having the story be narrated by a dead girl. This concept gave the whole novel an incredible amount of layers.

 Alice Sebold's writing is amazing and captivating - every single word in this book is simply beautiful. I absolutely loved the characters in The Lovely Bones. To me, they're what brought this story to life. They were all fully-developed and complex - each of them is completely individual, but they are still realistic and relatable (well, almost all of them were relatable - I wouldn't say I could relate to Susie's murderer, but I don't think you'd want to relate to him anyways...).

What I liked best about this novel was how beautifully Alice Sebold portrayed raw, honest emotion. I could understand each of the characters' feelings. This novel really made me feel something. It was heartbreaking to read about Susie's fate, especially from her young and innocent voice, which will definitely stay with me. I felt all of her pain and despair, and the other characters' pain as well. This novel's message is beautiful.

I know this is just a tiny thing, but one thing that often annoys me in books is that the transitions between flashbacks and present time seem forced, and luckily that wasn't the case in The Lovely Bones. These transitions were seamless and the past and present complemented each other perfectly.

I did have some problems with this novel, though. I don't know if this is just me, but some parts in the middle were kind of boring, and it was hard for me to stay focused on the plot. Some parts were confusing, too - I didn't always directly get who Susie was talking about and what had happened - sometimes, I only figured out what happened by seeing how others reacted to it. (For example, I didn't get that the father was injured or that Mr. Harvey moved away until later on.) Maybe that's my fault, though, and I should read it again to really understand everything.

***This next paragraph contains spoilers!***
One scene I didn't get was near the end, when Susie comes back down to earth into Ruth's body and has sex with Ray. I just didn't see the point of that scene. I know it helped Susie move on, but I don't really understand how having sex with Ray could help her. I'd have thought that if she had another day on earth she should have done something more meaningful or something to help her family deal with their grief.

Even though I had a few problems with the novel, as some parts are boring and confusing, this is still a great read. The writing is beautiful, the characters are fully developed, and the whole novel is heartbreakingly beautiful, conveying great emotions. Definitely worth reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Review: Matched

Matched by Ally Condie
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

First sentence: Now that I've found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I love the idea for this book, so I had pretty high expectations. And the plot really was good - Cassia's world was interesting to read about, and the pacing was perfect. One thing I often dislike about dystopian novels is that there are no gradual transitions. In the beginning, the main character considers her world as perfect and would never question those in charge, and then, with no tranistion, she turns into a complete rebel and hates everything the society stands for. That was avoided in Matched, though - while Cassia trusted the Society in the beginning and rebeled later on, her journey was gradual and believable.

Some little facts, though, didn't match up, if I'm not mistaken. Please correct me if I'm wrong on these, but at one point, Cassia says Ky's adoptive parents are his uncle and aunt, while at another time she says they're not related. During Cassia's real-life sort, the Official explains that the "better" group is the one that will keep working at the factory, and later it's the "worse" group that stays and the better one that has to go. I know little things like that aren't really a big deal, but it just annoys me when the author doesn't have the little facts of her story straight. Maybe that's not Ally Condie's fault, though, but the editor's...

The plot was good, but I still didn't feel anything and never really connected with the novel. The main reason for that were the characters. They were flat and had absolutely no personalities. Maybe I can't really criticize that - these characters are controlled by the rules of society and couldn't really have their own opinions. But I still think they could have had some traits to make them more like people and less like plot devices - for example, something like being shy or being extroverted can't be controlled by society, or just some normal interests. I never felt like I got to know Em, Xander or even Cassia, which made it hard to relate to her. Xander was sometimes characterized as caring, etc. but the author only used telling, and without any showing it just wasn't believable. Ky is the only character who is a little distinct, but I don't think he has a real personality, either. Instead of standing for all the society's beliefs, he's against everything that comes from the society. I don't really think that's what makes a character seem like a person, either.

Not really getting to know any of the characters made the romance-aspect hard to like, too. The reader should have been able to feel Cassia's struggle of choosing between Ky and Xander, and especially the relationship between Cassia and Ky should have made me feel something, but it just didn't. I can't say I cared about what happened to the characters - the reader never got to build a relationship to any of the characters, and that's one of the key things that make me enjoy a book.

The writing was okay. For the most part, it was good, but it was very melodramatic, so melodramatic at times, in my opinion, it bordered on ridiculous. The dialogue was strange, too - stilted. It feels weird to criticize this - how am I supposed to know how people in the future will speak? - but it was so formal it sounded more like something from the past, not the future. Again, I don't know what the future will be like, but I think it would be more realistic if the language were less formal than it is today, just because of the development of language so far.

For the most part, I appreciated the information we got on Cassia's society. Often, in the dystopian novels I've read, those explanations seem forced; added to the conversations even though that's nothing the characters would normally talk about as they know what their society is like. In Matched, these explanations were integrated seamlessly into the flow of the story. I still would have liked to know more about how society changed from the world we know today to the world Cassia lives in.

I recommend this book to you if you like dystopian novels and the plot is what's most important to you, as that part was good. But if you're like me, and writing and characters are more important to you, I don't think this is the book for you - the writing is melodramatic; the characters have no personalities and are hard to relate to. I don't think I'll be reading the sequel.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox #12

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...

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

When Emily Carson's parents die in a plane crash, she's left with nothing but her mother's last words scrawled in lipstick on a tray table: "Emily, please forgive me."
Now it's fall and Emily moves to New York City where she attracts the attention of two very different boys: the cute, popular Owen, and her quirky chemistry partner, Anthony. With the help of some surprising new friends, Emily must choose between the boy who helps her forget and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately heal.

The title caught my eye, and I love the idea for this one. It sounds right up my alley with a mixture of grief and romance.

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Goodreads description:

Aspen Springs Psychiatric Hospital is a place for people who have played the ultimate endgame. The suicide attempt survivors portrayed in this novel tell starkly different stories, but these three embattled teens share a desperate need for a second chance. Ellen Hopkins, the author of Glass and Crank, presents another jarring, ultimately uplifting story about young people crawling back from a precipice.

I loved Crank, Glass and Burned by this author, and I've heard lots of people say Impulse is their favorite Ellen Hopkins novel, so I'm excited to read this one!

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I've heard great things about this one, and it sounds like the perfect summer read!

Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

An intriguing, compelling and moving new novel from the award-winning author of Finding Violet Park. When the good-looking boy with the American accent presses the dropped negative into Rowan's hand, she's sure it's all a big mistake. But next moment he's gone, lost in the crowd of bustling shoppers. And she can't afford to lose her place in the checkout queue -- after all, if she doesn't take the groceries home, nobody else will. Rowan has more responsibilities than most girls her age. These days, she pretty much looks after her little sister single-handedly -- which doesn't leave much time for friends or fun. So when she finds out that Bee from school saw the whole thing, it piques her curiosity. Who was the boy? Why was he so insistent that the negative belonged to Rowan?

I've picked this one up at the bookstore loads of times, but I never bought because (yes, I'm superficial) I don't like the cover at all. I love the idea, though, so I finally got around to buying it this week.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

On My Wishlist #14: Anna and the French Kiss

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...

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

Honestly, the story sounds pretty average to me, but since basically everyone who's read this is swooning over how cute this book is, I want to read it, too!

What's on your wishlist this week?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Follow Firday #11 / Book Blogger Hop #10


Follow Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee's View. Each week, one blogger is featured, and this week it's Caitlin from The Cait Files.

It also asks a different question each week. This week's question is: "What is on your current playlist right now?"

RIght now, I'm listening to a lot of Dashboard Confessional, A Rocket to the Moon and Secondhand Serenade!

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: "If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?"

Yes! I always do that. Once I've finished a book, if I liked it, I immediately add the rest of that author's books to my wishlist. If I've read more than one book by an author, I often don't even read what the book is about before buying it because I'm so sure I'll like it.

That's it for my answers! What about you? Leave your answers or links in the comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: Losing Faith

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but. As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

First sentence: The statue has got to go.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The premise for this one sounds right up my alley, and it's part of the Contemps challenge, so I had pretty high expectations for Losing Faith. Maybe that's why I was so disappointed by it. I don't even know exactly why, but this was just an okay read for me.

This book was hard for me to get into in the beginning, mainly because of the characters. Brie was so self-absorbed and obnoxious, and her best friend, Amy, and boyfriend, Dustin, were even worse. The only character I could picture myself liking was Faith, but she died within the first few chapters. I didn't really get Bree's and Faith's characters - from the synopsis, I thought Faith was going to the popular, pretty one and Bree the quieter one. However, Brie describes herself as more social and prettier than Faith. The only reason she feels less loved than Faith and considers faith "the good daughter" is becuase of Faith's beliefs. I don't know why, but that just seemed kind of strange to me.

It took me a while, but I did get into the story eventually. Brie showed great character growth throughout the book, and I really started liking her once she started hanging out with Tessa and Alis. Both Tessa and Alis were great, complex characters. Tessa's family situation was interesting to hear about, and I think she would have made a great protaginist, too (for a different type of story, of course). Alis' family situation was also unique and interesting, and he himself was a great character. The development of his relationship with Brie was realistic, and natural, and he was just so cute!

At first, I thought how Brie's parents dealt with the loss of their daughter would have been interesting to read about, and their reactions did seem realistic, but I would have liked that storyline to be elaborated on more, especially the changes in their relationship with Brie towards the end, which seemed to abrupt, in my opinion.

Aside from the characters Alis and Tessa, which I loved, the writing was probably my favorite part of this novel. For me, that's what carried the sometimes lacking plot - it was just so beautiful and vivid!

The whole plot was different from what I thought it'd be - Brie's dealing with grief wasn't nearly as important as the mystery aspect of the novel, which I didn't know from reading the description. Even if the mystery is the main plot, I would have liked to know a little more about Faith's grieving process - she rarely ever seemed sad about losing her sister. While the build-up of suspense was really well done, I would have liked the resolution to be a little less obvious. Brie figures out how Faith died around the middle, but there's no confrontation until the last few chapters, so the time between that was just kind of boring.

I'm not sure how I feel about the religion aspect of this novel. From the synopsis, I didn't even know it would play an important role. I generally dislike when books get preachy about religion, and that wasn't the case here; it was closer to being preachy against religion - I don't wnat to spoil it for anyone, but the group that portrays Christianity in this book makes it seem like a bad thing. I was surprised to read that the author is a former church secretary and youth group leader, considering how negatively she portrays religion in this book. I was more confused than anything about this aspect.

The ending is another part of the novel I have mixed feelings about. It wrapped up the story a little too neatly, in my opinion, without really giving any answers.

I'm not sure whether or not to recommend this book to you - there were parts I really enjoyed, like the characters and the writing, while others, like the lack of suspense later on in the story, the confusing statements about religion, and the missing elaboration on interesting storylines, really subtracted from my enjoyment of the book.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday #13: Pearl

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...

Pearl by Jo Knowles
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

Bean (née Pearl) and Henry, misfits and best friends, have the strangest mothers in town. Henry’s mom Sally never leaves the house. Bean’s mom Lexie, if she is home, is likely nursing a hangover or venting to her friend Claire about Bean’s beloved grandfather Gus, the third member of their sunny household.
Gus’s death unleashes a host of family secrets that brings them all together. And they threaten to change everything—including Bean’s relationship with Henry, her first friend, and who also might turn out to be her first love.

I haven't read any of this author's work yet, but this book sounds great - I love this kind of stories! I hope I'll get to read it soon!

What are you waiting for this week?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Goodreads description:

Craig Gilner is a gifted 15-year-old boy who works hard to get into a fiercely competitive high school, then crumbles under the intense academic pressure. Blindsided by his inability to excel and terrified by thoughts of suicide, Craig checks into a psychiatric hospital where he finally gets the help he needs. Vizzini, who himself spent a brief time in psychiatric "stir," invests his novel with great emotional honesty. A graceful, skillful, and witty handling of a sensitive issue, this is an important book we heartily recommend for older teens.

First sentence*: It's so hard to talk when you're trying to kill yourself.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the quotes on the back of this book says this is "a book about depression not the least bit depressing," and that description fits this novel perfectly. I know it seems wrong and, well, kind of impossible, but this book is hilarious. The clever and original style had me laughing at loud (and earning stares from strangers) during almost every chapter.

There's just something about Craig's voice - he doesn't take himself too seriously, and he thinks of the world in ways I had never considered before. His way of speaking is amazing; he has original terms for every part of his psychological state and development: the Tentacles, the Anchors, the Cycling, the Shift, fake shifts....Those terms are catchy and made it so easy for me to really understand his mental illness. He was easy to relate to from the beginning on. Especially his feelings on academic pressure I could relate to - I think that's something all of us have felt, albeit not as extremely as Craig.

The secondary characters were great as well, especially the ones at the psychiatric hospital.They were complex, original, vivid and entertaining. Obviously, all of them had some type of mental illness, and while most of them were pretty messed up (sorry, can't think of a better way to say that), they all stayed real and understandable. Especially Noelle was a great character, and I loved her realtionship with Craig.

I'm not sure, though, how I feel about the characters outside the facility. The parents were okay, but Craig's friends were kind of strange. Him being in love with Nia, his best friend's girlfriend, was helpful to explain his situation in the beginning, but I don't really get what the later developments of those relationships added to the main plot - they were just kind of off-putting.

At first, I didn't really get the cover of this book, but now that I know the story behind the brain maps, I love the cover! I loved reading about Craig's art and how that helped him. Especially knowing Ned Vizzini spent some time in a psychiatric hospital like Craig did, and knowing he started writing this novel a few days after he was released, makes this part of the story even more realistic and enjoyable.

The writing was great - raw and unpretentious. There was one little thing that annoyed me, though: Quite often, instead of writing "(dialogue)," said (character), or something along those lines, the author wrote "(dialogue)," (character) is like. If there was some deeper meaning to that way of writing, I'm sorry, but I just didn't get it, and honestly, that was kind of annoying. That's just one little thing, though.

Overall, It's Kind of a Funny Story is a great book. Ned Vizzini someow managed to mix a fun, self-deprecating style with a great, life-affirming message.The voice and the characters are great. I definitely recommend it - even to those, who usually steer clear of such heavy topics.

*I've decided to add the first sentence of books to my reviews - I think they're usually really important for a book, and the first sentence or paragraph often already determine whether or not you're pulled into a story, so they can help you decide whether or not you're interested in reading the books I review. Let me know in the comments whether I should add the first sentence of books to all my future reviews!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In My Mailbox #11

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...

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

Goodreads description:

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

I've heard great things about A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler, and I'm excited to finally read one of her books! Plus, I absolutely love this cover!

Saving Zoe by Alyson Noel
Goodreads description:

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

I haven't read anything by Alyson Noel yet, but Saving Zoe sounds right up my alley!

Something, Mabe by Elizabeth Scott
(Amazon / Goodreads)

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

I loved Love You Hate You Miss You, Living Dead Girl and Bloom by this author, and I'm excited to read another one of Elizabeth Scott's books! 

What did you get in your mailbox this week?
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