Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review: Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Title: Flirting in Italian
Author: Lauren Henderson
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: June 10th 2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: NetGalley
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I started out liking this book. The set-up is interesting - Violet finds a portrait in an art museum of a person who looks exactly like her, and she wants to find out who that is, and if she's somehow related to them. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that this book is new adult, since it takes place the summer after high school (or the British equivalent), which I'm always a fan of. At the beginning, I was very intrigued where the whole story is going.

But then, sadly, it started going downhill, for me. Violet's character annoyed me. I'm not even sure why, but something about her just bugged me. She's melodramatic and makes a huge deal out of every little thing, which frustrated me throughout the book. There were a few moments I could relate to, but most of the time, something about Violet's personality just annoyed me.

The romance aspect is weak, in my opinion. Luca is hot, but that's all he has going for him. I never had a clear picture of Luca's personality, or why he did what he did - some of his actions made no sense to me whatsoever. I didn't feel any chemistry between him and Violet, which killed the romance storyline for me.

Then there's the mystery. That storyline held a lot of promise, but I'm not a fan of the execution. That's mainly because of the ending. The ending is what I disliked most about this book. The ending... well, there is no ending. There's a revelation that tells us absolutely nothing we didn't know before but is presented in a very dramatic way, and then... nothing. Apparently, there's going to be a sequel to this book, which I did not know coming in. I know I can't really judge this, since I haven't read the sequel, but I just think that's unnecessary. This story is not enough to be a series - if the pace had been a little faster, and some unnecessary scenes had been cut (this book has plenty), it could have all been wrapped up in this one book, which I would have preferred. The way it is, I felt that this whole book was kind of pointless, since we find out exactly nothing.

The one thing I did like are the secondary characters. Violet lives with three other girls, and I really liked getting to know each of them. Each girl has a unique personality, and seeing these four interacting was definitely entertaining.

Flirting in Italian did not work for me. I found the romance and the MC flat, and while I could have liked the mystery, there's no resolution, which made the whole story somewhat pointless, to me. Despite some slow parts, though, Flirting in Italian was somewhat entertaining, so if you're looking for a quick read, maybe give this one a try. Expecting a good mystery and a nice romance, though, I was very disappointed.

Do you have any recommendations of books with more exotic settings like this one?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Review: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Title: This Is Not a Test
Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release date: June 19th 2012
Pages: 320
Genre: YA; paranormal/science fiction
Source: NetGalley/author
Add to Goodreads Purchase from Amazon
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wow. Why do I do that to myself? Each of Courtney Summers's books is a punch in the stomach. Actually, no - each of Courtney Summers's words is a punch in the stomach. After finishing This Is Not a Test, I am... broken. In the best possible way.

So, obviously, This Is Not a Test is not the kind of book I usually read. I stick to contemporary YA, and anything paranormal or science-fiction-y doesn't really interest me. But this is Courtney freaking Summers we're talking about, so I decided not to care and read the book anyways. I was a little worried, though, that I wouldn't like This Is Not a Test because it's not the depressed girl contemps we know from Courtney Summers. But, guys? There was no need to worry. This book is fantastic.

I think Courtney Summers must be some kind of genius. This Is Not a Test is unlike anything I've ever read. I don't even know what genre it belongs to. It's not a zombie-book, and it's not contemps, either - it's the classic Courtney Summers story of a seriously messed up, depressed girl... and there are zombies. The whole thing is just crazy good. With this book, Courtney Summers can appeal to both fans of the dark contemporary YA she normally writes, as well as to readers looking for page-turning, hold-your-breath action. The balance between the two is perfect.

Courtney Summers can write a depressed girl like nobody's business. The voices of her MCs come from that deep, dark place inside of me - she writes those dark thoughts I can't even admit to myself. I didn't like Sloane, per se, but I was fascinated by living inside her head.

And then there's the writing. Courtney Summers's writing is really something special. It amazes me, what she can do with so few words. The writing is sparse and the style is immediate - you feel like you're right there with the characters, like everything is happening right now. You have to keep reading, have to watch the story unfold, and you can't turn away until you've finished the whole book.

Me being the reader that I am, I liked the emotional aspect of the story a lot better than the zombie/action aspect. I don't want to say too much - I like how vague the description is, how you don't know in the beginning what is going on with Sloane - but it's so well-done. Because of the sparse style, you don't find out every detail, every reason behind it, but it works. Sloane's story is real - she's not trying to explain anything to us, she's just telling us what's going on, and we get to learn about her life that way. The reader gets just enough information to be invested in the story. With another book, this might have been something I'd criticize, but it's actually something I've come to love about Courtney Summers books.

That's not to say I didn't like the zombie-aspect, too. The fast-paced action had me flipping the pages way past my bed-time, and I loved every minute of it.

This is Not a Test is classic Courtney Summers... with zombies. With Sloane's dark inner conflict perfectly balanced with gripping action, this book can be whatever a reader is looking for - and more.

Who are some authors that can make you feel something with just a few words?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bookish Anticipation #15

Bookish Anticipation is a feature I do every once in a while to spotlight future releases I'm excited for. It was inspired by Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday. You can check out more of my Bookish Anticipation posts here.

Over You by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: August 1st 2012
After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.

Butter by Erin Jade Lange
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 18th 2012

A boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make Scottsdale High history. He’s going to eat himself to death live on the Internet – and everyone will watch.
He announces his deadly plan to an army of peers and expects pity, insults or even indifference. Instead, he finds morbid encouragement. When that encouragement tips the scales into popularity, Butter has a reason to live. But if he doesn’t go through with his plan, he’ll lose everything.

Lindsey Lost by Suzanne Marie Phillips
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 13th 2012
Even though Micah's one of the stars of a local sports team, he knows that his older sister Lindsey is the real deal ‐‐ a runner so good she has a chance of making it to the Olympics. The two of them urge each other on, and are each other's best support. Then the unthinkable happens: Lindsey is murdered, and Micah is found with her body. But Micah can't remember what happened, no matter what their parents tell him, no matter what the police say. He cannot remember what happened. Did he witness his sister's murder ‐‐ or commit it? Can he uncover the truth before his life is sentenced to end, too?

Miss Fortune Cookie by Lauren Bjorkman
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: November 13th 2012

When the sensibly timid Erin starts an advice column inspired by fortune cookie wisdom, no one at her ultra-competitive high school guesses her identity. This gives Erin the freedom to write whatever makes her laugh. Until someone actually takes her advice.

League of Strays by L. B. Schulman
(Amazon | Godreads)

Release date: October 1st 2012

When Charlotte Brody, a lonely 17-year-old student at a new school, receives an invitation to join The League of Strays, she's intrigued by the group's promise of "instant friendship." The League does provide companionship--and even a love interest--but Charlotte grows increasingly uncomfortable with its sinister mission to seek revenge against the bullies of Kennedy High. When escalating acts of vengeance threaten to hurl her down a path of remorse, Charlotte must choose between her new friends and the direction of a future she's never fully considered.

Flawed by Kate Avelynn
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: Juy 10th 2012

Sarah O’Brien is only alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago—James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely. Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.

Sam Donavon has been James’s best friend—and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on—for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realize James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact...

The Dead Girls Detective Agency by Suzy Cox
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 8th 2012

When Charlotte comes to after being pushed onto the subway tracks, she is informed by a group of teenage girls that she is dead…they all are. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency. With the support of these dynamic girls—including fashionable Lorna, who can’t wait to find out if the devil actually wears Prada, and nerdy Nancy, who insists on staying in limbo to help out other girls—Charlotte follows leads and tracks down clues to solve her own murder.

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: October 25th 2012
When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that—he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in—and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 18th 2012
The start of a brand-new young adult trilogy about three very different girls who overcome their differences and band together to seek revenge on those who have wronged them, uncovering a supernatural secret about what brought them together and why in the process. Each book will rotate back and forth between the perspectives of all three characters.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release date: February 1st 2011
Pages: 441
Genre: YA; dystopian
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Ninety-five days, and then I'll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It's hard to be patient. It's hard not to be afraid while I'm still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn't touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don't.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I just love the whole idea for this book. The idea of considering love a disease that must be cured is genius - such a unique way of looking at it. That, combined with all the glowing reviews, and the fact that Lauren Oliver's debut, Before I Fall, is absolutely amazing, meant that my expectations for Delirium were through the roof. And for once, my expectations were met!

The unique premise fascinated me throughout the book. Even though the book is mainly Lena's story, the plot is perfectly balanced with interesting world-building that really made me think. I loved the insight we got into this world with the help of the little snippets of The Book of Shhh. All these references and the way they seemed to rewrite history provided a unique worldview that fascinated me as a reader.

I loved our main character, Lena. One of the reasons I don't read dystopian books too often - well, I've been reading quite a few lately, but I don't usually read a lot of them - is that I cannot seem to connect with the MCs. MCs in the dystopian genre always seem to be so heroic and special; they're the one who saves the world. But I want MCs who are normal - easy to relate to, and not someone who's braver and stronger than I could ever imagine anyone real being. And Lena, for once, is easy to relate to. Some might complain that she's boring, but I loved her. The way she sees the world is realistic, considering her background, growing up in this world and learning about love the way she did. Often, I find that in dystopians, the MC tends to question the government too quickly to be realistic, but in Delirium, the development is gradual, which I really appreciated.

Delirium is a lot closer to contemporary than most dystopians I've read. There's not too much action - it's just about Lena's story and the world she lives in. That might be a problem for some people, maybe people who read more paranormal and dystopian and whatnot, but for a lover of contemps like me, that's perfect. And in the end, we get our fair share of action - leaving me dying to read Pandemonium.

I didn't love the romance at first - I found the set-up a little strange, and didn't really get Alex's immediate attraction to Lena. But once the two of them get to know each other, I loved them together! They have such great chemistry, and seeing them struggle to be together in a world like this was fascinating to read about.

I loved Lauren Oliver's writing in Before I Fall, and I liked it in Delirium, too, but I think the descriptive style fits a little better to contemporary than to dystopian. When I read contemps, I look for descriptive, vivid, emotional writing like Lauren Oliver's, but for a dystopian, I think a little less details wouldn't have hurt, since the beginning is a little slow.

Still, I really liked Delirium. It's one of those books you can just get lost in - I almost missed my stop when I was reading this book on the bus because I was so inmersed in the story. I will definitely be reading the rest of the trilogy!

What do you think would happen in a world without love? How terrible would the consequences be? Are there also postive sides to an order like that?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My New Treasures #5

My New Treasures is a weekly feature here at Paperback Treasures to showcase all the books I received over the previous week. I do not take credit for this idea.

I only got one physical book this week, so instead of doing a vlog, I thought I'd show you the ebooks I received over the last two weeks.These are all from NetGalley.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Amazon | Goodreads) (Already read and liked it. Wasn't as amazing as I was expecting it to be, but it was pretty good.)
Circle of Silence by Carol M. Tanzman (Amazon | Goodreads) (Really liked it - and it has a quote from my review of dancergirl! Yay!)
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian (Amazon | Goodreads) (I'm kinda mad about two awesome contemporary authors teaming up and writing something not-contemporary, but I'll read anything these two write.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: May 3rd 2011
Pages: 487
Genre: YA; dystopia
Source: Won from MaryAnn from Chapter by Chapter - thanks!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow. Why did I wait so long to read Divergent? Because of the huge hype around this series, I was expecting it to be good. But Divergent isn't just good - it's mindblowing. The whole idea is crazy, and so, so good. All the factions and what they stand for is so well thought-out - this book completely blew my mind. The plot is fast-paced and intriguing - there wasn't a single scene in this book that didn't leave me dying for more. (Which is probably why I read it in a day, even though it's so thick.)

It's great how, even though the fast-paced plot is what it's mainly about, this book also made me think. I don't think any dystopian book before has confronted me like this, made me think about what I would do in Tris's position, as much as Divergent did. The whole time while I was reading, I was trying to figure out which faction I would choose, what I would do in this world.

Tris is a fantastic heroine. I loved her - one of my favorite MCs in a long time. She's the definition of a kickass character. She's not the kind of character I normally relate to - Dauntless is probably the last faction I would have chosen, and I'm nowhere near as brave as her - but I could connect to her anyways. I just loved Tris so much - YA needs more characters like her!

And then there's Four. Wow. I don't know what it is about him, but there's this certain energy to every scene with Four - I can feel the tension and the chemistry between him and Tris. I felt electrified while reading about him - I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

This book is just... perfect. Perfectly plotted and well-written, and the characters are some of my new favorites. What more could you want? Now I'm dying to read Insurgent - but luckily, I won't have to wait long, since I read Divergent so late.

What do you think when you see a book has as many pages as this one? Does that discourage you or make you more excited about the book? What's your preferred length for the books you read?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Judging Books By Their Covers #3: Roads & Cars

Judging Books by Their Covers is a feature I do every once in a while to showcase some book covers. Each post, I choose one category and some book covers that fit into that category, and talk about whether or not I like those covers. You can read some earlier posts in this feature here.

The links will take you to the Goodreads pages.

Today's category is: roads and cars!

You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith
Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

In Honor by Jessi Kirby
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes
Flirting In Italian by Lauren Henderson

Out of Reach by Carrie Jones
Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

I'm not so sure of what I think of book covers with roads and cars. I usually like the actual book, since this cover trend goes hand in hand with the road trip trend, which I'm a huge fan of, but just the cover... I don't know. I don't really like the covers for Two-Way Street, Flirting in Italian, and The Princesses of Iowa - these covers are kind of boring, in my opinion. I love the covers for Out of Reach (stark and eye-catching) and You Are Here (simply beautiful), though, so this kind of cover can go either way with me.

What do you think of book covers featuring roads and cars? Which cover is your favorite?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Title: Shine
Author: Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release date: April 27th 2011
Pages: 350
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads Purchase from Amazon
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.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I've read Lauren Myracle's Internet Girls series (ttyl, ttfn and l8r, g8r) and thought they were cute and fun, so I was really excited to read another one of her books. And while Shine is really different from the Internet Girls series - a lot darker and more serious - I really enjoyed it!

What I liked best about Shine is the setting and the atmospheric description of Cat's home town, Black Creek. The desriptions are so vivid the town almost seems like its own character. Life in a small Southern town is described so well I could easily imagine what it's like, and I like how many issues are addressed (poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, homophobia, etc.) without it ever sounding preachy - Cat's just telling us about her experiences, her day-to-day life, and seeing people destroy their life with meth or whatever is just a normal part of that. That makes it especially heartbreaking to read about - one story that stuck with me is the one of the guy who sells vegetables on the street; his story makes me want to bawl. The portrayal of Cat's life in Black Creek is raw and real.

Then there's Cat, our main character. I wasn't sure what to think of her at first, but she grew on me. In the beginning, she's a little hard to feel for because you don't know why she acts the way she does, but once you find out what happened, it works. I liked reading about her coming-of-age story and how she grows as a character. While I would have liked to know some more about her future - whether she does try to get into college and do something with her life and all of that - I kind of liked not knowing, and just being able to hope that she does get out.

The secondary characters are good. I loved reading about Cat's relationship with Christian, and how that develops over the course of the novel. Her aunt, though, I would have liked to know some more about - I never felt like I really got to know her. The rest of the "redneck crew" has distinct personalities, too, and I liked seeing how there's more than meets the eye to each of them. Jason, the love interest, is sweet, albeit a little bland. I didn't really mind, though - I like how there's a hint of romance without that being the main storyline, so it's okay that Jason isn't the most complex character.

I'm torn on what to make of the mystery storyline. It's not the traditional course of suspect after suspect, and I didn't find it too surprising who ended up being the bad guy. But somehow, I didn't really mind - I liked being there alongside Cat as she found out, even if I already knew, in the back of my head. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I found the character of the person who did it to be lacking some depth - I wanted to know more about what made him/her do it.

I'm not sure what to make of the ending. I can't even explain why, since I thought it was the right thing to do, but it just didn't sit right with me.

There were a few things I didn't like, but somehow, all-together, it just works. Shine isn't going on my favorites shelf, but I enjoyed reading it, especially the setting and characters. I recommed it if you're looking for something real, raw and gritty.

Can you think of any books where the setting is what captivated you most?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Jenny Torres Sanchez (The Downside of Being Charlie Blog Tour)

Today we have Jenny Torres Sanchez here for an author interview! This post is part of The Teen Scene's blog tour for The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez. You can find out all about the tour here

1. Checking out your website, I see you used to like thinking of other names for yourself, so you must like being allowed to invent names for fictional people! How do you go about choosing names for your characters?
I do like the naming my characters, but actually, I tend to keep them relatively simple. But I will “ feel out” a character’s name for a while, use the name for a scene or two and see if it feels right. If it does, I keep it.

Charlie has always been Charlie, but in my second YA nove I changed the names of some characters a couple of times before they felt right.
2. Without spoiling anything, could you tell is what was your favorite scene to write in The Downside of Being Charlie?
I think my favorite scene to write was the snow scene. In this scene, Charlotte and Charlie are lying down on her front lawn, looking up at the sky as it snows. That scene is very vivid in my mind. I can see the inky sky and the blur of falling snow. There’s this quiet beauty to the whole thing, but this scene is also where Charlie and Charlotte start to get somewhat real with one another and it’s crushing to Charlie. I don’t know, somehow this scene just seemed very important. And I just really liked figuring out the conversation between Charlotte and Charlie in this scene—how much they would tell each other and how much they would still keep from one another.
3. What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
Produce, produce, produce. This became my mantra as I set out to write The Downside of Being Charlie because sometimes (and I was definitely guilty of this for many years) there is a lot of talk about writing, or a lot of reading about writing, or a lot of going to writing conferences and workshops, but there’s not a whole lot of actual writing, which is after all the most important part of writing. I don't discourage anyone from doing any of these things, but it should be in addition to writing. Because no matter how much prep work you do, the best way to become a better writer is to produce work. Work that serves as practice, that you can learn from, that you can tweak and make better and use to better understand what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. If you don’t produce anything, you won’t learn no matter how much you discuss it with other writers, or read about it, or attend the best conferences. And you won’t get better. You have to produce. You have to write.
4. I read you're a high school English teacher. How does that help you with your own writing?
My experience as a teacher definitely helped my writing. Seeing the drama and angst that is high school (after thinking I was done with it and blocking out most of my own teenage years) was really interesting. Seeing the struggles my students had, the way they behaved, the things they would say or wouldn’t say, really made me think about and appreciate the teen experience in a new way and made want to me to write about it. It helped me remember what it was like to be a teen and it gave me the opportunity to observe teens. But most of all, I think it reminded every day to give teens lots of credit. Sometimes it’s easy to generalize teens, and perhaps think that they don’t appreciate literature. But they do, and they have strong opinions about different issues but they’re also incredibly openminded, and they’re passionate. Being a teacher helped me (I think and I hope) write characters that are real, that I hope teens can relate to and they see themselves in.
5. If you had to pair up your main character Charlie with any other character from any other book, who would it be and why?
I would pair Charlie up with Vera Dietz from Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is one of my favorite books and I think both Charlie and Vera suffer quietly, I think both are very good about hiding things, but I think they would see this in the each other and somehow feel connected. I think they would understand each other and become really good friends.
Thanks fo the great interview answers, Jenny!

Make sure to check out all the other stops of the tour, and keep your eye out for The Downside of Being Charlie, which has already been released. 

The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
(Amazon | Goodreads)
Charlie is handed a crappy senior year. Despite losing thirty pounds over the summer, he still gets called “Chunks” Grisner. What’s worse, he has to share a locker with the biggest Lord of the Rings freak his school has ever seen. He also can’t figure out whether Charlotte VanderKleaton, the beautiful strawberry lip-glossed new girl, likes him the way he likes her. Oh, and then there’s his mom. She’s disappeared—again—and his dad won’t talk about it.
Somewhere between the madness, Charlie can at least find comfort in his one and only talent that just might get him out of this life-sucking place. But will he be able to hold his head above water in the meantime?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Crazy by Amy Reed

Title: Crazy
Author: Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 12th 2012
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: GalleyGrab
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place. As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting. He knows he can’t save her from her pain… but what if no one else can?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Crazy is written almost entirely in emails and IM messages, which I didn't know before starting this book. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's an original idea, and it gives us a unique insight into Connor and Izzy's relationship. I was worried this format would mean we wouldn't get to know the characters enough in how they really think, since we don't know whether they're being honest or whether they're telling the other person everything. But that part works pretty well - Connor and Izzy are very honest with each other and let the other one what they're thinking. I do think we got to know the characters well, considering the format, which means the author must have done something right.

But... I'm still not sure whether I like the format. Parts of it felt a little contrived to me - the reasons for writing as much in their emails weren't always clear to me. A lot of the book feels too much like normal narrative - writing an email, I'd assume you wouldn't be as descriptive as you'd be writing a novel, and I found how much these emails sounded like normal narrative to be a little unrealistic. The fact that towards the end, there is normal narrative and a few other formats in between the emails also felt contrived to me.

Then there are the characters. Like I said, we do get to know them pretty well, despite the format. Each of them has a distinct and realistic voice. But I still didn't love them. Connor is a pretty average character - he's a nice guy, but not all that special. His wimpy-ness got on my nerves a few times, but I didn't mind him too much. Izzy is very different and unique. I didn't particularly like her, but I don't think you're supposed to. The mental illness aspect is done very well. Izzy's descent into madness is realistic, and at times, downright scary.

Maybe it's because of the format, but I still felt somewhat removed from the story, even though it was interesting to see how her disorder changed Izzy. Honestly, I had a hard time seeing the point of this story. I feel bad for saying that, since I'm definitely not someone who says every book needs to teach us something, or anything like that - a book is just supposed to tell a story. But for me, I didn't really see a point to the story; it didn't touch me in the way I'd hoped it would. I felt like an outsider - I wasn't living inside the story like you do when you're really feeling a book.

Technically, most of this book is very well done. It's a realistic portrayal of bipolar disorder with two interesting characters. But emotionally, personally, Crazy didn't do much for me, and I didn't end up loving this book like I'd hoped I would. Still, if you're looking for an interesting story with a unique style, you should give Crazy a try.

What do you think of unique styles like this one, books written entirely in emails or IM or anything like that? Do you appreciate the originality, or do you think these books don't allow you to get into a character's head the way traditional narrative does?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Blogger Confessions #8

Book Blogger Confessions is a new meme hosted by All-Consuming Books and For What It's Worth. You can find out all about it here

Every second week there is one topic that has something to do with book-blogging that you can discuss on your blog.

This week's topic is: Memes. Love em or hate em? How many do you participate in? Which kinds do you like best? Do you feel like there are too many?

I think when you start blogging, memes are great. I did lots when I first started - Waiting on Wednesday, Follow Friday, On My Wishlist, and In My Mailbox. They're a great way to get your blog out there when you're a new blogger, and they helped me a lot in the beginning.

Now, though, I'm not a huge fan anymore. I don't like being so dependent on other blogs, and I think it's important not to overdo it with the memes - make sure your blog has original content. Making your blog stand out is hard when most of your posts are memes. I've replaced most memes with original features. Instead of On My Wishlist and Waiting on Wednesday, I do my Bookish Wishlist and Bookish Anticipation features, and instead of In My Mailbox I do My New Treasures (although that change wasn't because I wanted to not do memes anymore but because of the recent drama). I like that this way, I can be more independent in how and when I post. Make sure to still credit the people who came up with it, though! 

The only memes I still do now are Book Blogger Confessions and Top Ten Tuesday - I like these two because they let you post original content with each post, and because you can't do these by yourself, since they give you a topic each week.

So that's what I do on my blog. Now, for what I like on other blogs... it's the same thing, really. I like memes, as long as you don't overdo it. I'd say no more than two or three memes a week. I think some memes are better than others - basically, the more thought you have to put into your post, the better. I like memes like this one, since you can see people spent some time writing the post. I don't want to sound rude, but I'm not a fan of memes like It's Moday, What Are You Reading? and Teaser Tuesday - those are often just a picture and a few sentences. If it's just filler, then I prefer not posting at all.

So, that's what I think of memes. They're great when you're just starting out, but once you've established yourself a little, I think you should try to do your own thing. If you're putting some thoughts into it, memes can be great, but if it's just filler, I'd just prefer not posting - quality always beats quantity.

What do you think of memes?

Bout of Books Read-a-thon Wrap-Up

The Bout of Books Read-a-thon is over!

Books read:

1. What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen
2. Circle of Silence by Carol M Tanzman
3. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
4. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
5. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
5.8. We'll Always Have Summer by Janny Han (I almost finished this one last night, but I have about 40 pages left. I didn't want to not count it at all, though, so I'm counting it as .8 books!)

I didn't reach my goal of 8 books, but considering I didn't really start reading until Thursday, I think I did a pretty good job. And even though I didn't reach my goal on the bookish side of things, I'd definitely say this read-a-thon was a success for me. I got to know so many new people on Twitter, in the Twitter chats and just tweeting about my progress - it was awesome! That was definitely the best part of Bout of Books, for me.

The next read-a-thon is supposed to be in August, and as long as it's early August (I'm starting college in the middle of August - eek!), I will definitely be taking part again!

If you took part in Bout of Books, did you reach your goal? What was your favorite part?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My New Treasures #4

My New Treasures is a new weekly feature here at Paperback Treasures to showcase all the books I received over the previous week. I do not take credit for this idea.


Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach (Amazon | Goodreads)
Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Amazon | Goodreads)
Social Suicide by Gemma Halliday (Amazon | Goodreads)
Hooked by Catherine Greenman (Amazon | Goodreads)
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