Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This or That with Kyle from Pieces of Us (Pieces of Us Blog Tour)

Today we have Kyle from Pieces of Us here for a this or that interview! This post is part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser.You can find out all about the tour here. Make sure to visit all the other stops if you'd like to know more about Pieces of Us!

This or that with Kyle:

Sunrise or sunset?
There's beauty in both.

Half-empty of half-full?
Things stopped being half-full when you turned nine.

Summer or winter?
Lake houses are summer, safety is summer. Definitely summer.

Movies or TV?
The darkness, getting lost in the crowd and your thoughts. Movies, it is.

Outdoors or indoors?
Indoors if you're the only one home. Otherwise, outdoors.

Being in a crowd or being alone?
Either, as long as it's without Mom or Alex.

Being able to change the past or living with your mistakes?
If you could change the past, you would feel like living.

Superpower: Being invisible or being able to fly?
Disappearing would be heaven.

Margie Gelbwasser on writing Kyle:

When I was a kid, I went to upstate New York to a bungalow colony. It was a bunch of little houses that people stayed in for the summer, and we all went there with our grandparents. The lake houses are based on this. When we were there, there were two brothers. The older one was a player and all the girls wanted him. He was fourteen. The younger one was five. Whenever the older one got a girlfriend, he encouraged the five year old to grab her boob or hit her on the butt. The girls thought it was funny. The younger brother thought it was funny. I was nine and thought it was strange. When I started writing PIECES OF US and about the lake houses, those brothers popped into my head. I wondered what would happen if the situation escalated through the years, if it was darker. Originally, Kyle's story was there but in the background. However, the more I wrote, the more extensive the drafts, the more Kyle came through. I see PIECES OF US as his and Katie's story. I also see Kyle as the most innocent of the four and who I feel for the most. To me, there's more hope for Kyle's future than any of the others.

I loved Pieces of Us - you can check out my review here. It will be released on March 8th.

Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser
(Amazon | Goodreads)

At home in Philly, Alex is angry. Angry at the dad who offed himself rather than stay around; angry at the mom who goes from one guy to the next without a thought for her family. Alex may be a player and a bully, but his little brother Kyle will do anything for his approval.
At home in the suburbs, Katie is Miss Popularity, the golden girl that everyone expects too much of, the one who will always be the prettiest and best in her parents eyes, and everyone else’s. Her shy little sister Julie just wants a bit of the attention that Katie gets so easily.
But during their summers at lake houses in Upstate New York, all four teens have a chance to leave their old identities behind. They can be anything here.
Here, no one knows the truly disturbing nature of Kyle and Alex’s dysfunctional relationship. No one knows that the girl Katie pretends to be is a lie. Julie never worries that Kyle is only spending time with her to get to her prettier sister. And the secrets that are threatening to destroy each of them seem are safe. But secrets have a way of getting out…

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Title: Pieces of Us
Author: Margie Gelbwasser
Publisher: Flux
Release date: March 8th 2012
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley - thank you to NetGalley and Flux Books for providing a free eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Two families. Four teens. A summer full of secrets. Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives. Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it. Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.

First sentence:
I first met Alex (or Sasha, as his grandparents call him) the day the chicken man came to the lake house.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I liked Margie Gelbwasser's debut, Inconvenient (review), so I was really excited to read her sophomore novel. Add to that the gorgeous cover and awesome-sounding description, and I was sure I'd love Pieces of Us. And while I did love it, it's really, really different from what I'd expected.

The writing is what I liked best about Inconvenient, and it's what I liked best about Pieces of Us, too. Margie Gelbwasser just has a way with words and a great sense of how to give unique situations important symbolic meaning that will stick with you for a long, long time. Every sentence is graceful and rich. Her style is beautiful and vivid. The writing is what makes Pieces of Us work, even in the parts where I had problems with the plot or characters. Margie Gelbwasser created a great sense of atmosphere - even when nothing much is happening, you feel like you're right there with the characters. The atmosphere is tragic and dark, to the point of being somewhat depressing. The great writing even made the unusual narrative work - one of the perspectives is written with a second-person narrator, which is weird in the beginning and takes some getting used to, but is actually pretty genius, when you think about it, and skillfully executed.

The description makes it sound like Pieces of Us takes place over just one summer, but it really covers more than two years of summers and the time in between, too. That made me like the plot a little less, because the pacing is pretty slow and some parts are kind of boring.

Pieces of Us is a lot darker than I'd expected. I thought there would be someting about all of their pasts and problems, but I thought there'd be some romance, too (as in, the two older siblings are going to fall in love and the younger siblings too and they're all going to live happily ever after). And while there are some romantic-interest type relationships, there is no romance in that sense - the novel offers a very pessimistic view of love. The whole story has a dark and gloomy atmosphere, and what happens is dark and tragic, too. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but some terrible, terrible things happen in Pieces of Us, making you think about how anyone could be so cruel. If I had to pick one word to describe Pieces of Us, it would be "haunting." I could definitely see this being too dark for some people, but it worked for me because, well, I'm weird and I like dark stories. What you're reading is horrible and so wrong, but you can't help reading and wanting to know what happens next. 

The characters are so complex; I don't even know how to describe them. I really liked Julie in the beginning, and her issues with their mom and not being able to live up to Katie are easy to relate to. But later, she makes some really bad choices, and I got frustrated with her after a while. With Katie, it was the exact opposite. I didn't like the carefree and selfish Katie we meet at the beginning of the story, but once the "nightmare that change her life" happens, I could easily sympathize. What she has to go through is terrible, and her helplessness shines through, so that you can't help but feel for her. Towards the end, her bad decisions frustrated me again, though. Alex, though, I just hated throughout the novel. Of course having your father kill himself and that other stuff I can't talk about is all terrible, but ugh! That's no excuse to be such a total and complete ass. Kyle is the character I liked best, since he's the only one who seems to want to do the right thing. I really liked him and found him easiest to relate to.

I know what I said about the characters doesn't sound all that positive, and it's true that they're not all that likeable and make some bad decisions, but it somehow works. They're all fully-developed, realistic characters with complex backgrounds and problems. Their emotions are raw and the relationships are so complex and real. It's strange - I usually need to like the MC in order to like the book, but in Pieces of Us, I didn't mind not really liking the characters. They're so well-written and complicated and real that it doesn't matter.

I absolutely love the cover and title of Pieces of Us, so much more now that I've read the book. Pieces of Us is the perfect title for a story about such broken people, and I love how the swings on the cover tie into the story.

Pieces of Us is a strong, haunting story with graceful, atmospheric writing and complex characters with even more complex relationships. It's hard to pin down - it doesn't have one set topic, just four broken people living in a broken world. I don't think it would work for everyone simply because it's really, really dark - there's an overall sense of desperation and a very pessimistic view of humanity that makes this book hard to read. It worked for me though, and I encourage you to give it a try, if you think you can handle it. Pieces of Us is unlike anything I've ever read before.

If you've read this book, what did you think?

Come back tomorrow, when Kyle stops by the blog as part of the Pieces of Us blog tour - which is perfect, since he's my favorite character!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in our Stars
Author: John Green
Publisher: Dutton
Release date: January 10th 2012
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.
Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.
Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

First sentence:
Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, probably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Oh. My. God. The Fault in Our Stars is so freaking amazing. There are no words to describe it. I knew I was going to love it, since John Green is one of my favorite authors, and everything about The Fault in Our Stars looked amazing, but wow. It exceeded my higher-than-high expectations. I don't even know what to say - nothing I could write could ever show how truly amazing this book is.

John Green's style is unique, so, so great. He conveys his awesome sense of humor in his writing - you can't not laugh at least once while reading a John Green book. His writing is serious, too, though, emotional, thought-provoking and just plain beautiful. This book is the perfect mixture between literary and entertaining - you want to read it as fast as possible to find out what happens; but at the same time, you want to savor every sentence and never let the book end. John Green can make you laugh, cry and think about the meaning of life all within one page.

Hazel is such a great MC. I was a little worried about John writing from a girl's POV for the first time, but it worked perfectly. Hazel's sense of humor and her way of thinking are unique and interesting. I loved her from the first page on.

And then there's Augustus. Oh, Augustus. Even his name is amazing. When I first read the name Augustus, I thought it was weird and kind of ugly, and now... Augustus Waters has to be the hottest name ever invented. And that's just his name - the actual person is even better. Augustus is unlike anyone I've ever read about - there's no way to describe him, he's just perfect. He's perfect without being perfect, which is the best kind of perfect. Hazel and Augustus are adorable together. The way they treat each other is so sweet, and their bantering is hilarious. 

The plot is tragic - I cried loads while reading The Fault in Our Stars. But it's awesome and crazy and fun, too - I loved everything Hazel and Augustus do together, everything about An Imperial Affliction, just... everything.

I can't even think of anything more to say - The Fault in Our Stars is too perfect for me to adequately express my love for it. My favorite of John's Green books, by far. With quirky, unique and lovable characters, and writing that is somehow hilarious, entertaining, literary, thought-provoking and emotional, all wrapped in one, The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful portrayal of what it means to be alive. It makes me want to never read any other book, and just reread this one over and over again.

If you've read this book, what did you think?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox #47

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.


The Fine Art of Truth and Dare by Melissa Jensen
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that’s just fine by her. She’s got her friends— the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She’s got her art— and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it’s hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they’re dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

This one just looks like so much fun!

Bunheads by Sophie Flack
(Amazon | Goodreads)

As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.
But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

Bunheads has been on my wishlist for ages, and I finally got around to buying a copy this week.


Kiss the Morning Star by Elissa Janine Hoole
(Amazon | Goodreads)

The summer after high-school graduation, a year after her mother’s tragic death, Anna has no plans – beyond her need to put a lot of miles between herself and the past. With forever friend Kat, a battered copy of Kerouac’s DHARMA BUMS, and a car with a dodgy oil filter, the girls set out on an epic road trip across the USA. Maybe somewhere along the way they’ll prove or disprove the existence of God. Maybe they’ll even get laid . . .
It’s a journey both outward and inward. Through the Badlands and encounters with predatory men and buffalo. A crazy bus ride to Mexico with a bunch of hymn-singing missionaries. Facing death, naked in the forest with an enraged grizzly bear . . . Gradually, Anna realizes that this is a voyage of discovery into her own self, her own silent pain – and into the tangled history that she and Kat share. What is love? What is sexual identity? And how do you find a way forward into a new future – a way to declare openly and without fear all that lies within you?

I didn't even know this one was on NetGalley until I saw it in someone's IMM last week, and then I immediately searched NetGalley and requested it. (For some reason, it's not classified as YA, so that's why I didn't see it before.) Anyways, I'm so excited for Kiss the Morning Star - grief and a road trip; what more could you want?

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Catching Jordan
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: December 1st 2011
Pages: 281
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Find out more:  Amazon | Goodreads

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

First sentence:
I once read that football was invented so people wouldn't notice summer ending.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I know you're probably sick of all the gushing 5-star reviews Catching Jordan has been getting, but I have no choice but to write another one of them - Catching Jordan is amazing!

Despite the great reviews it's been getting, I'd been wary of reading Catching Jordan. I don't know the first things about football - I'm a girly girl, the type Jordan would roll her eyes at. That wasn't a problem at all, though. There are descriptions of practice and matches where I thought I'd have no idea what's going on, but Miranda Kenneally managed to work around that - she explains everything you need to know, without it seeming like she's explaining anything. The way Jordan talks makes it clear whether what's happening on the field is good or bad so that even I got what was going on, at least enough to to get the main point, and Jordan's voice still seems authentic, as if she were talking to someone who knows football - she manages to make those explanations a part of the story, without seeming obvious.

Jordan is what makes this whole thing work. We're as different as can be, but I had no trouble relating to her. Her voice is great, so real and hilarious. I love how she can pig out with the guys one moment and talk about her feelings next, with revelations like "Oh crap. I sound like a girl!" at the end of an emotional scene to make sure it never gets sappy. I love how blunt she is. I can't even explain it, she's just so, so lovable. All the little things make Jordan a great character. The way she talks is unique, hilarious, and while she'd beat the crap out of me for saying this, adorable. How can you not love someone who says "My rock's splash kicked his rock's splash's ass." ? (That might not be the exact quote, I'm too lazy to look it up, but she says something along those lines.) Jordan is strong and in control, but she's vulnerable too, and the different sides of her are portrayed really well and make for a realistic, dynamic main character. The only thing I didn't like is that she's just a little too confident about her football-skills, in my opinion.

The plot is perfectly-paced, with just the right complexity of storylines and secondary characters to be entertaining without getting confusing or too out there. Almost every book has a storyline I don't like as much as the others, but I loved every scene in Catching Jordan! I thought Catching Jordan would be mainly romance, and while there's definitely some swooning in order, that's not the only thing going on - Catching Jordan is a richly layered coming-of-age story. The relationships between Jordan and her parents are portrayed realistically, and Jordan's relationship with her brother Mike is adorable. I appreciate how the issue of sexism is addressed, especially with the dad's character, without that being the main issue or the tone getting preachy. The teammates are great characters too - I loved the scenes with JJ and Carter. How they interact with Jordan is hilarious and so sweet.  I even liked Carrie and Marie and how they showed Jordan that girls don't all suck. All the characters are fully-developed and so vivid - I could easily imagine each and every one of them, even the small, inconsequential ones like Ty's little sister Vanessa.

The romance is everything you can hope for and more. I don't want to say too much about the romance because it turned out to be very different than I'd originally thought and I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but wow. Ty is a great character, and I liked reading about him and his family-issues. And while I liked him, my heart was with Henry from the beginning on. He's the classic boy-next-door, and he's so sweet to Jordan. The way these two interact is hilarious and plain adorable. I found myself hoping Jordan and Henry would turn into more than friends, and I'm glad Miranda Kenneally ended up exploring that option, too. For once, the dreaded love triangle works.

I loved Catching Jordan so, so much. It's the kind of book that reminds me of why I love reading. With one of the most unique and lovable main characters I've read in a long time, a fully-developed cast of secondary characters, and vivid writing, Catching Jordan is a sweet and hilarious story of finding your place in this world. I can't wait to read more by this immensely talented debut author!

If you've read this book, what did you think?

I did a this or that interview with Miranda Kenneally a while ago for the Catching Jordan blog tour, which you can check out here!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: New Girl by Paige Harbison

Title: New Girl

Author: Paige Harbison
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Release date: January 31st 2012
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley - thank you to HarlequinTeen and NetGalley for providing a free eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:

They call me 'New Girl'...
Ever since I arrived at exclusive, prestigious Manderly Academy, that’s who I am. New girl. Unknown. But not unnoticed—because of her.
Becca Normandy—that’s the name on everyone’s lips. The girl whose picture I see everywhere. The girl I can’t compare to. I mean, her going missing is the only reason a spot opened up for me at the academy.
And everyone stares at me like it’s my fault.
Except for Max Holloway—the boy whose name shouldn’t be spoken. At least, not by me. Everyone thinks of him as Becca’s boyfriend…but she’s gone, and here I am, replacing her. I wish it were that easy. Sometimes, when I think of Max, I can imagine how Becca’s life was so much better than mine could ever be.
And maybe she’s still out there, waiting to take it back.

First sentence:
The panoramic view outside the windows of the bus showed a world that wasn't mine.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I really don't know what to say about this book - I'm not sure whether I hated it or loved it, which is strange, because I usually already know while reading whether or not I like a book. The idea for New Girl sounded creepy in a good way, but I still wasn't sure what to expect, since I'd heard mixed things about Paige Harbison's debut, Here Lies Bridget. So I can't say my expectations were met or not met - I just have really, really conflicted feelings about New Girl.

Before reading New Girl, I didn't even know it's a retelling of the classic Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, and I probably still wouldn't know if someone hadn't pointed it out to me. Since I didn't read the original, I can't tell how New Girl ties into that story. I think it works as a stand-alone, though, since I didn't feel like I didn't get something because of not having read Rebecca.

The background of the story didn't make all that much sense to me. The new girl had wanted to go to this boarding school when she was thirteen, but her application was rejected. Now, four years later, her parents tell her they'd secretly been applying for her every year, and this year she got in. I'm sorry, but that's just... weird. Why would the parents just assume their daughter still wants to go, four years later, when she hasn't mentioned it since? And why would they think changing schools for your senior year is a good idea, when there's absolutely no reason to leave? I also didn't get why the new girl didn't just say she doesn't want to go - she's always talking about how much life at the boarding school sucks and how much she misses her friends and the weather back in Florida, but she never says anything to anyone and doesn't tell her parents she wants to stay in Florida, which I didn't get.

The situation at school doesn't make much sense, either. A spot opened up because Becca's gone, and that's why new girl can go to that boarding school. When she gets there, there's still some of Becca's stuff in Becca's old room and now the new girl's room, still all of her pictures hanging on the wall. Wouldn't her parents have picked that stuff up, or wouldn't the school have done something about it? What did they expect the new girl to do, live with Becca's pictures on her wall and Becca's sheets on her bed? How can the school possibly think that's a good idea? Isn't it obvious that would cause problems between Dana, Becca's old roommate and now the new girl's roommate, and the new girl? I don't think it's realistic how the school just didn't take care of that at all.

I really liked how the new girl's name isn't revealed until the very end. That aspect is skillfully written, so much so that I didn't even notice until I wanted to take notes on her character and realized I didn't know her name.

Other than that, the MC is an okay, bland character. She's not terrible, and I could feel for her, but she's not special, either - nothing noteworthy about her, really. I got annoyed with her a few times when she doesn't see why people are upset with her - of course it's not her fault, but you have to admit it's got to be hard to accept someone who's now sleeping in your missing friend or classmate's bed, hanging out with the people your missing friend or classmate hung out with, and liking your missing friend or classmate's boyfriend. She got upset when people blamed her and said she as trying to replace Becca, and while of course it's not her fault, I would have liked to see her show some more sympathy towards those who lost Becca.

This book is partially written from Becca's point of view, which I didn't know beforehand. She's a fascinating character. I didn't like her - she's a manipulative bitch who would do anything to get attention, only thinks of herself and doesn't care whom she hurts by trying to get what she wants - but I was strangely mesmerized by her, like the other characters were, too. I found myself enjoying her chapter's more than the new girl's, even though that might just be because of the mystery aspect - I wanted to find out what happened to her, and the mystery is really what kept me turning the pages.

The secondary characters didn't really do it for me, and the relationships between the characters are strange. I got annoyed at Max and the new girl and how they couldn't make up their minds. Usually, I'm a fan of forbidden romance, but the chemistry is missing; there's no spark to their relationship. And there's no chemistry between Becca and Max. I guess that's the point, but there's no real chemistry between Becca and Johnny, either, and Johnny is just a very bland character. Most of the secondary characters are bland and boring - Julia, Madison, Cam and Blake don't seem to have any personalities of their own. Dana is the only really interesting character - I would have liked to know more about her relationship with Becca and seen some more development in her relationship with the new girl. The whole crowd at the boarding school acted strangely, and the rumors they make up about Becca's disappearance are just weird. For example, they think she might be pregnant, but how would that work? The police and Becca's parents don't know where she is, and wouldn't she have gone home if she wanted to hide her pregnancy from the people at school? Those theories just didn't make sense to me.

I know, my review is not what you'd call coherent - just lots of paragraphs about something I liked and something I disliked about New Girl, with no real connections of the paragraphs. I'm sorry, but that's exactly how I feel about this book - there are things I loved and things I hated. While it's not going to be one of my favorites, mainly because the unrealistic background and bland characters, I do recommend this book - a strong, intriguing mystery storyline makes New Girl worth reading.

If you've read this book, what did you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Guest Post by Denise Grover Swank (Here Blog Tour)

This post is part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for Here by Denise Grover Swank.You can find out all about the tour here. Make sure to visit all the other stops if you'd like to know more about Here!

Today we have Denise Grover Swank here for a Teenage Garage Sale post! A Teenage Garage Sale post is basically just a guest post on what kind of things we’d find if Denise were to have a garage sale of items from her teenage years.

A yellow skateboard—My younger brothers and I all got skateboards and we spent most of the summer between my 6th and 7th grade year plowing down a huge hill in our neighborhood. It’s a wonder someone didn’t break anything. Oh, wait. My brother broke his clavicle. Twice. 

An Eight-Track stereo/record player—I saved every bit of money I could to buy that stereo during my seventh grade year. The Kmart clerk wasn’t sure how to handle all of my coins. I think I paid ten dollars in pennies. The stereo cost $100, which when I think about it now, was a small fortune. The first thing I listened to when I got home? Barry Manilow. Gawd, I’m old.
Sean Cassidy Albums—yes albums. Sean Cassidy, younger brother to former teen heart throb David Cassidy of The Partridge Family. Sean was in a very short lived show called The Hardy Boys. But the show lived long enough to plaster Sean’s face on more than a few Tiger Beat magazines. 

Eight-Track of Pat Benatar—Disco was alive and well when I was in high school until I heard “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” My taste in music has never been the same.
Spiral Notebooks, used—I constantly wrote in spiral notebooks, be it poetry, short story ideas or love letters. 

A brown beret—I took three years of French and loved anything that had to do with France. However, some things are better left to the French. 

Gauchos—God save the poor soul who thought those wide leg capri length monstrosities looked good. And have mercy on those of us who wore them. 

A 1976 Mustang, yellow with black leather seats and a custom installed eight-track player—I seem to have a thing for eight-tracks, huh? They were our CDs back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The Mustang was my second car. My first was a Plymouth Cricket. Never heard of it? Yeah, neither had I. I bought it for $600 with my own money from my part time job at Wendy’s. It died about a month later, prompting the purchase of my used Mustang. It didn’t have air conditioning, but a couple of guy friends installed the stereo for me. I loved that car.

Thanks for the great guest post, Denise!

Make sure to check out all the other stops of this blog tour, and keep your eye out for Here - it's already been released! You can read my review here.

Here by Denise Grover Swank
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.
Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Character Tweets by Jess Rothenberg (The Catastrophic History of You and Me Blog Tour)

Today we have Jess Rothenberg here to do some character tweets for the cast of The Catastrophic History of You and Me! This post is part of The Teen Book Scene's blog tour for The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg. You can find out all about the tour here. Make sure to visit all the other stops if you'd like to know more about The Catastrophic History of You and Me!

So here are the character tweets!

Hey @BrieLikeTheCheese! What’s-a-happenin-hot-stuff? 

@HolyJeansBoy Uh, is that pizza on your face or are u just happy to see me?

@BrieLikeTheCheese Definitely pizza. (I’m saving it 4 later.)

@HolyJeansBoy Of course you are. Silly me.

@BrieLikeTheCheese Knock, knock.

@HolyJeansBoy #KillMeNow. 

@BrieLikeTheCheese #ALittleLateForThatAngel. Knock, knock.

@HolyJeansBoy Who’s there?

@BrieLikeTheCheese Banana.

@HolyJeansBoy Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.

@BrieLikeTheCheese Come on, just play along.

@HolyJeansBoy Banana who?

@BrieLikeTheCheese Knock, knock.

@HolyJeansBoy Patrick! 

@BrieLikeTheCheese No, see, when I say “knock, knock” YOU say “who’s there?”

@HolyJeansBoy OKAY. W-h-o’-s t-h-e-r-e?

@BrieLikeTheCheese Huh?

@HolyJeansBoy I SAID—

@BrieLikeTheCheese Knock, knock. 

@HolyJeansBoy #SomebodySaveMeeee 

@BrieLikeTheCheese Banan—HEY. Who moved my slice of cheese?? 

@HolyJeansBoy Hm, no idea. *crunches loudly on pizza* Must have been @TheHaminator.

@BrieLikeTheCheese Knock, knock.

@HolyJeansBoy Who’s there?

@BrieLikeTheCheese Orange.

@HolyJeansBoy ….

@BrieLikeTheCheese C’mon, we’ve been thru this. You’re SUPPOSED to say—

@HolyJeansBoy ORANGE WHO?!!

@BrieLikeTheCheese Orange you glad we’re 2gether for all eternity? <3

Make sure to check out all the other stops of the tour, and keep your eye out for The Catastrophic History of You and Me, which is out today!

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

(Amazon | Goodreads)

Brie's life at sixteen: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally. But now that she's in heaven, Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend knows a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul who's been D&G (dead and gone) much longer than she . . . and who just might hold the key to her forever after. With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

Top Ten Tuesday #6: Books I'd Save If My House Was on Fire

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish with a different topic for a top-ten list each week. You can find out more about it here.

The links will take you to my reviews (if available).

This week's topic is:

 Top Ten Books I'd Save If My House Was on Fire (or any other disaster struck)

This topic is evil. EVIL. I don't want to think about losing my books to a fire! My poor babies! I can't stand the thought of evil flames killing all my beautiful books! It was almost impossible to make this list - I can't save only ten! But, anyways, here is my list:

1. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Cornelia Funke is the first author I ever met in person, and I can't imagine losing my signed copy of Inkheart to a fire. (That's the German cover, the one I have.)

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I love this book so, so much. It makes me want to change every 5-star-review I've written to a 4-star one so that this one can have the 5 stars all to itself.

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Just because.

4. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

This is the book I've read the most times - I just love The Truth About Forever. My copy is already worn from having been read so often, but I could never let go of it.

5. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer is an all-around gorgeous book. The actual novel is gorgeous, and the cover and design are gorgeous too. Whenever I pass my bookshelf, I want to take this book off the shelf and hug it - I just love Twenty Boy Summer.

6. Saving June by Hannah Harrington

The same goes for Saving June - another book I want to hug and never let go.

7. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

...And for Jumping Off Swings. You guessed it, I want to hug this book too.

8. Hold Still by Nina LaCour

The reason I want to rescue Hold Still is that this one isn't just an amazing novel; it also has gorgeous artwork in it! I'm not usually a fan of pictures in books, but the art in Hold Still is so beautiful!

9. Sweetearts by Sara Zarr

I just love this book so much. Such a beautiful, heartbreaking story.

10. I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler

I've said this before, but I have a thing for Sourcebooks Fire books. The covers and design are all so beautiful, and I'm Not Her is my favorite of their books.

So these are the ten books I'd save if my house was on fire, even though it hurts my soul to know the rest of them would burn. Anyways, what ten books would you save if your house was on fire?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox #46

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.


Choker by Elizabeth Woods

(Amazon | Goodreads)

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

This one has been on my wishlist for ages, and the release of the paperback gave me a push and made me finally get around to buying a copy. I hope I'll love it as much as everyone else did!

Shine by Lauren Myracle
(Amazon | Goodreads)

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.

I really liked the Internet Girls series by Lauren Myracle (even though it's been a while since I read them), and I'm excited to read another one of her books!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(Amazon | Goodreads)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

*hides in corner* I know, not having read The Hunger Games means I should be exiled from the world of YA lovers, and I'm sorry! I don't know why, I just never got around to buying it, until now. I'll have to read it soon to experience its amazing-ness for myself.

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Title: Graffiti Moon
Author: Cath Crowley
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: February 14th 2012 (first published in Australia on August 1st 2010)
Pages: 264
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: NetGalley - thank you to Knopf and NetGalley for providing a free eGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.
His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.
Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.
But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

First sentence:

I pedal fast.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First off, I love the cover for Graffiti Moon - it's gorgeous! It fits the book perfectly, with the night lights and graffiti-like writing and everything. And it's just so cute!

I knew absolutely nothing about this book when I started it. I hadn't even read the description. So even though the "But the one thing Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes" makes it obvious what's going on with Shadow, it wasn't obvious for me. The plot is great; a little slow in the middle, but other than that, it's interesting. The ideas of what happens to Lucy and Ed are crazy and hilarious and just so much fun.

This book is like a mixture of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (my review), and Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff (my review). The idea is similar to Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist - a guy and a girl on a crazy adventure through the entire city for one night - and the characters Ed and Leo (especially Leo) could be street kids from Brooklyn, BurningGraffiti Moon has Brooklyn, Burning's beautiful writing, too. And since I love both Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Brooklyn, Burning, of course I loved Graffiti Moon, too!

The writing is what's best about Graffiti Moon. It's gorgeous, so vivid you can imagine everything perfectly. I even loved Poet's poetry. I rarely like when a book's characters write poetry in between chapters - the style either doesn't fit to the character's voice and is basically just the author's poetry, or it fits to the character but is, well, not good. The poems in Graffiti Moon, though, are amazing. Cath Crowley manages to make them authentic but also plain beautiful.

The descriptions of the graffiti are amazing. When I think graffiti, I think vandalism, just something sloppy and ugly sprayed on a wall to get attention or annoy the people who own that wall. But that's not the case at all in Graffiti Moon. The stuff Shadow and Poet do sounds amazing, and it's real art. I could imagine their pieces easily because of the descriptive and beautiful writing, and the pieces sound gorgeous. I wish my town had graffiti artists like Shadow and Poet.

The characters are great. All of them are different and unique, but you can understand and connect to each one of them. Lucy's insecurities and hopes are easy to relate to, and her quirkiness put a smile on my face. Even though Ed is extremely different from me and makes some stupid decisions, I didn't have any problems relating to him and feeling for him, either. The only thing I didn't get is why Ed agreed to go looking for Shadow in the first place. The relationship between Ed and Lucy is great - the way they interact is sweet and hilarious, very entertaining.

I loved the little sub-plots, the secondary characters Leo, Jazz, Daisy and Dylan. All of them are quirky and interesting to read about, and their relationships added a lot to the story. I liked the less important characters like Lucy's parents, Ed's mom, Al and Bert, too - all of them are fully-developed and unique characters.

Graffiti Moon is a surprisingly enjoyable read, considering I knew nothing about it beforehand. With vivid, atmospheric writing, quirky characters, and a hilarious plot, this story will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. Graffiti Moon is a beautiful portrayal of love, friendship, and finding yourself.
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