Saturday, June 30, 2012

Review: Torn by Cat Clarke

Title: Torn
Author: Cat Clarke
Publisher: Quercus
Release date: December 22nd 2011
Pages: 378
Genre: YA; mystery
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt. Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares…
Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down.
Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever...
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love when a book just completely surprises me! I wasn't expecting much from this book. It had been gathering dust on my TBR-pile for ages, and I'm so glad I finally picked it up - I really enjoyed Torn!

The beginning is a little slow, but once we get to the trip... wow. The plot is so good - horrifying but good. On the cover it says "A secret to horrific to tell, too terrible to keep..." which sounds melodramatic and had me rolling my eyes when I first saw it. I thought the girls would play some kind of prank on Tara and something would go wrong - I thought they'd feel guilty and all of that even though it was an accident, something that wasn't their fault. But the phrase on the cover isn't exaggerating - what Alice, Cass, Polly and Rae do is seriously, seriously messed up. The whole thing is completely horrifying - so horrifying I just had to keep reading.

But even though what they've done is so terrible, I didn't hate Alice or the other girls. Somehow, in a twisted way, Cat Clarke made me feel for them despite everything. Usually, with a story like this one, I'm thinking 'tell the truth - the truth is always the best way to go'. But in Torn, I was just as conflicted as Alice. I had no idea what she should do, how she should get out of this mess. The suspense is just so well-done!

I liked the rest of this book, too. I liked the family set-up - Alice's mom died a while ago, and she's living with just her father. I really liked reading about Alice's relationship with her father - it's refreshing to have an MC who actually gets along with a parent! Even though I hate myself for it, I even liked the romance. Shortly after the trip, Alice starts going out with Tara's brother, Jack. Normally, that kind of thing would have me screaming at the book, totally angry at Alice for being so incredibly stupid. But I couldn't blame her, because Jack is seriously adorable! So even though I didn't want to, I liked the romance, too.

I was a little disappointed by the ending - I want to know what exactly happens! - but I get why the author wanted to end the book this way, so I don't mind too much.

Every stroyline in Torn is pretty good, but the one I loved the most is still the suspense. What happens in this book is so, so terrible, but I loved reading about it. I definitely recommend Torn, if you're in the mood for a mystery that'll have you flipping the pages so fast your eyes can't keep up!

What's one book you've had absolutely no expectations for and ended up loving?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 12th 2010
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary YA; magical realism
Source: Bought
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Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was expecting this book to be good. Everyone seemed to have loved it, and it's a Printz Honor book, so it's got to be good. I was expecting it to be well-written and literary - but I wasn't expecting it to be so perfect for me.

I don't even know what it is about Please Ignore Vera Dietz that made me love it so much. It's just so honest and perfect. I know, this going to sound so, so cliched and stupid, but... this book speaks from my soul. While reading, I really felt like A.S. King had written this book just for me, made everything just the way I like it. When I'd finished the last page, all I wanted was to go back to the beginning and read it over again. And again. And again.

The narrative in Please Ignore Vera Dietz is so unique. Most of the book is written from Vera's POV. Vera is such an amazing character. She's quirky and unique and so easy to relate to, even when I didn't agree with her decisions. But in between Vera's chapters, we have a few chapters with other POVs, like Charlie's. Charlie is a great character, too - I didn't like him, but I liked reading about him. That goes for Vera's dad, too. We even get to read from the POV of inanimate objects, which sounds weird but is kind of awesome. The pagoda was my favorite character. Okay, no it wasn't... I just wanted to say that because, well, when else could you say something like that?

I'm not even sure you can classify this as contemporary, since we get to read from the POV of inanimate objects and a dead guy. There are some ghost-like or afterlife-like elements in Please Ignore Vera Dietz - which I know, sounds strange, but trust me, it works. I don't think it even matters what to classify this book as - I think it'll work for fans of any genre.

I'm a huge fan of new adult books, and while Please Ignore Vera Dietz is set in high school, it reads a lot like new adult. Vera's eighteen and works full-time, outside of high school, and we read a lot more about her working than about her going to school. That aspect made me love the book even more!

There's just something about A.S. King's style and Vera's voice that made me love Please Ignore Vera Dietz so, so much. I want to hug this book and never let it go. I can't think of anything I could write that would do this book justice. Just read it.

Now that I've finally discovered A.S. King, which of her books should I read next? Which of her books have you read, and what did you think?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Bookish Anticipation #16

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.

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: October 9th 2012

Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she's stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.
Told in the alternating voices of Alex and Thea, Adele Griffin's mesmerizing new novel is the story of a sibling rivalry on speed.

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: December 11th 2012
From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: December 4th 2012
Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.
But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.
With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose...

 Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamora
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: November 13th 2012

About a high-school senior, who, in the aftermath of a car accident that kills her boyfriend and throws her carefully planned future into complete upheaval, retreats to the deep woods of Maine to live with the artist father she barely knows and meets a boy who threatens to pull her from her safe, hard-won exile.

My Beautiful Failure by Janet Ruth Young
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: November 13th 2012
The haunting account of a teen boy who volunteers at a suicide hotline---and falls for a troubled caller.
Billy is a sophomore in high school, and twice a week, he volunteers at Listeners, a suicide hotline. Jenney is an “incoming,” a caller, a girl on the brink.
As her life spirals out of control, Jenney’s calls become more desperate, more frequent. Billy, struggling with a deteriorating relationship with his depressed father, is the only one who understands. Through her pain, he sees hope. Through her tears, he feels her heart. And through her despair, he finds love. But is that enough?

I Swear by Lane Davis
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 4th 2012

Leslie thought she had no other options. After years of abuse from her classmates, Leslie took her own life. Now, her abusers are dealing with the fallout, even though, in their eyes, they are not to blame that she couldn't handle another day. Leslie chose to take her life. She chose to be the coward they always knew she was. Even as criminal proceedings look into the systematic cyber bullying and harassment, the girls vow to keep their stories straight and make Leslie seem weak. But as the events leading up to her death unfold, it becomes clear that although she took her own life, her bullies took everything else.
Told in alternating perspectives and through flashbacks, this timely novel sheds light on the victims of bullying and the consequences bullies face.

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: November 8th 2012

Colin Fischer cannot stand to be touched. He does not like the color blue. He needs index cards to recognize facial expressions. But Colin is Wayne Connelly's best--and only--hope of proving his innocence after Wayne is accused of blowing up a birthday cake in the school cafeteria. Colin and Wayne quickly set off on a journey to prove Wayne's innocence, but neither realizes just how far their investigation will take them or that it will force Colin to consider the greatest mystery of all: what other people are thinking and feeling.
Colin Fischer is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes. He's a boy with Asperger's syndrome who sees clues in the unlikeliest of places, and whom readers will root for right up until the case is solved . . . and beyond.

34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 4th 2012
There was something about Ellie...Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance--and kept watch.
Now Ellie's dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are thirty-four clues she left behind. Thirty-four strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. Thirty-four secrets of a brief and painful life.
Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they confront the past, they will discover not only the darkest truths about themselves, but also what Ellie herself had been hiding all along...

After Hello by Lisa Mangum
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: September 4th 2012
What if the first day of your relationship was the only day you had?
Seventeen-year-old Sara is a seeker. She’s always on the lookout for the perfect moment to capture with her ever-present, point-and-shoot camera, especially on her first trip to New York City.
Sam is a finder. He has a knack for finding what other people can’t—a first-edition book or the last two tickets to a sold-out Broadway show. In New York, there is always something interesting to find.
When Sam and Sara’s paths cross, neither one of them is prepared for what they will find out about each other—and about themselves when they form an unlikely partnership in search of a seemingly elusive work of art. They have one day to find the impossible. Fate brought their talents together, but what happens when time runs out? Will love be able to overcome fate?

Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak
(Amazon | Goodreads)

Release date: October 2nd 2012

When Claire’s best friend Richy went missing, he disappeared without a trace. But when Emily Dickinson’s dress goes missing from the Amherst museum, she knows exactly where it is: in her closet. As Claire and her student teacher, Tate, attempt to figure out what do to about the dress, they begin to uncover the truth behind Richy's disappearing act. Following a trail of clues across state lines, Claire and Tate attempt to find the person that Claire knows in her gut is responsible for his disappearance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Before You Go by James Preller

Title: Before You Go
Author: James Preller
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: July 17th 2012
Pages: 199
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley
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The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark; no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool when Jude was supposed to be watching her. He was watching her. He looked away for just a moment. He was only nine years old. And he’s never truly grieved for her, or for the emotional deaths of his parents, who refuse to talk about what happened. Seven years later, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then life spins out of control. Again.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Meh. This book did not work for me, and I think it's mainly because of the narrative. Before You Go has an omniscient narrator. I don't want to judge the book solely based on that, but I'm just not a fan of omniscient narrators. I like first person narrators, and third person limited sometimes works for me too. The closer we are to the main character, the better, and omniscient is just too far outside of my comfort zone. Even if that's not actually the case, this narrative makes it sound like it's all telling and no showing, affecting the style in a way I didn't like. The style is hard to explain, but the word formal comes to mind. It's so far removed from the story, and that made me feel distant from it, too. I feel bad for judging this book on that one choice, but I'm just not a fan.

I felt distant from Jude, and I never felt like I really got to know him. I didn't really think anything of him one way or the other - he was just kind of there, but there's no real personality, nothing I could like or dislike, relate or connect to. Two terrible things happen to Jude, but I didn't get emotional once and couldn't really feel for him. I felt removed from the story throughout, and for me, there was no emotion, despite the emotional topic.

The pacing is a little awkward. Sometimes the book jumps in time, and at other times, it's incredibly detailed, telling you every little thing that happens to Jude in a day. And I didn't care. I know, that sounds so cold and heartless, but I just... didn't.

The romance is also kind of... meh. It's a little like insta-love, even though I'm not sure that's an adequate description. The relationship between Jude and Becka doesn't move too fast; but Jude's feelings develop so quickly, him immediately knowing she's so special, which I didn't see. Becka, too, felt like a flat character, and there was nothing special about her, in my opinion.

Really, that's all there is to it. The narrative and style didn't work for me, making me feel distant and removed from every aspect of the story. Before You Go feels hollow; it just didn't draw me in. Maybe if you don't rely as much on feeling for the main character as I do, this could be a good read for you, but it didn't work for me. 

What do you think of the different narratives there are? Do you have one favorite or least-favorite, or do you think each one can work, depending on the story?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday #16: Characters Who Remind Me of Myself

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 Characters Who Remind Me of Myself or Someone I Know In Real Life

I'm just going to do characters who remind me of myself because I'm selfish like that.

1. Lily from The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff

I didn't love everything about this book, but I did love Lily, so much. Something about her quirky, weird way of thinking just resonated with me.

2. Emma from You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

I definitely do not identify with all of Emma, since some things about her pissed me off to no end, but some of her insecurites and thoughts are the exact same ones I have.

3. Lio from Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz

The entirety of Gone, Gone, Gone feels like Hannah Moskowitz went into the darkest places of my mind, took those thoughts I don't even admit to myself, and put them in a book.

4. Natalie from Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Lots of stuff about Natalie pissed me off, but I couldn't really blame her, because sometimes, I'm judgemental like that, too.

5. Beatrice from How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Sterling

Beatrice is one of my favorite MCs of all time - she's just so real! Her insecurities and her weird way of thinking remind me so much of myself.

6. Calla and Daisy from The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy

Calla is who I am now and Daisy is the insecure, awkward 13-year-old I used to be.

7. Macy from The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

This list wouldn't be complete without a Dessen girl - all of her characters are so, so easy to relate to, and Macy is the one I connected with most.

I couldn't think of more than seven for this list - sorry! What are some fictional characters that remind you of yourself or someone you know?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Review: Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Title: Love and Leftovers
Author: Sarah Tregay
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: December 27th 2011
Pages: 451
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Won an ARC from Kate at Ex Libris - thanks!
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When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Verse novels are incredible. I just cannot understand how an author can convey a story and so many emotions with so few words. But when it's well done, it definitely works. And the verse writing in Love & Leftovers is very well done. The writing is perfect - it flows nicely and lets you get lost in the story, but also makes you stop and think with some amazingly beautiful lines. I love that about verse novels. (And I love how productive I feel when I can finish a book in such a short time.)

I loved the writing, but I'm not so sure about the story. There were aspects of it that I loved, like Marcie's parents' divorce. That whole topic is handled very well - I liked reading about her mom, who is suffering from depression and struggling with, well, everything, since her husband left her. Marcie's relationship with her mother and its development is interesting to read about. So is her relationship with her father, who, as Marcie has now found out, is bisexual, and living with his new boyfriend. Marcie's dad, as well as his boyfriend Danny, are made of awesome and super-fun to read about.

I also loved the whole idea of the Leftovers. Calling this group of friends the Leftovers is genius! Each of them is unique, and all of them together are very entertaining. I especially loved Katie, since she's basically two of my best friends mixed together. Emily is a very interesting character as well, and I would have loved to know some more about her story.

The only thing I didn't like about Love & Leftovers is Marcie. In the beginning, I could still relate to her, but for most of the book, she made me so. Freaking. Mad. I just wanted to shake her the entire time! She is whiny and annoying. She has the perfect boyfriend - seriously, Linus is every girl's dream. He's sensitive, adorable, and he writes super-sweet love songs for her! What more could a girl want!? Instead of appreciating that Linus doesn't pressure her into doing anything, she whines and goes on and on about how their relationship has no passion. And even if that's true... Marcie doesn't feel the need to tell Linus about this - instead, she goes and cheats on him with J.D. J.D. and Marcie together made me so angry. Argh! J.D. is the hot jock who's sweet to Marcie but who everyone knows has a steady string of girlfriends already. But Marcie doesn't care, and cheats on her adorable, perfect boyfriend back home with... this guy. Maybe it's just because I'm kind of in love with Linus, but God, Marcie pissed me off.

Sorry about that rant. Except for the fact that our main character and the whole cheating-without-real-consequences storyline frustrated me, I really did like this book. It's cute and fun, and the writing is lyrical and beautiful. I loved some of the smaller storylines, like Marcie dealing with the divorce, and her friends the Leftovers (who are all way better people than Marcie). I enjoyed this book, but my problems with the main character kept me from really loving this book like I wanted to.

What do you think of novels written in verse?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My New Treasures #8

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.

All of my June pre-orders got here this week, so I did another vlog!

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Amazon | Goodreads)
My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend (Amazon | Goodreads)
The Selection by Kiera Cass (Amazon | Goodreads)
The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder (Amazon | Goodreads)
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard (Amazon | Goodreads)
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma (Amazon | Goodreads)
This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (Amazon | Goodreads)
Reunited by Hilary Graham Weisman (Amazon | Goodreads)

What did you get this week?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Title: Bunheads
Author: Sophie Flack
Publisher: Poppy
Release date: October 10th 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads Purchase from Amazon
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?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

You know when everything about a book is just right? Those stories that suck you right in, make you not notice anything going on in the world around you, and, at least while you're reading them, make you completely happy? Yeah. Bunheads is one of those books.

Even though I'm a total talent-free-zone in everything related to music and dance, I love reading books about the performing arts. The world of dance in Bunheads is fascinating. I never knew how much work being a profesional ballet dancer has to be - these girls (and guys) have multiple performances a day! I loved reading about all the details about the world of dance, the little pieces of information that make it realistic, and finding out about the world behind the glitz and the glamour, especially when you consider that Sophie Flack danced for the New York City Ballet herself and knows what she's talking about.

Hannah is a great character. She's 19, which is awesome - yay for new adult books! I forget how great it is to read about an MC who's a little older than me. Hannah is easy to relate to and feel for, except for a few times when I grew frustrated by her decisions. I especially liked how Hannah isn't some crazy-talented, out-of-this-world-dancer - she's made it to the Manhattan Ballet Company, but she's in the corps, and she wants to be a soloist. I like that she doesn't just succeed each time she tries - she works hard, but there are still highs and lows, and I love when books are realistic like that.

The secondary characters are great, too. I liked reading about all of the bunheads and their relationships with Hannah. I thought Bunheads would focus more on romance, and even though I love Jacob, I'm glad it doesn't. I enjoyed reading about Hannah's life as a dancer as the main storyline and appreciated that the author didn't try to turn this story into primarily romance.

I also appreciate how the whole issue of eating disorders and dieting and all of that is handled. The reader gets too see how much pressure there is on a dancer, and we see that there are a lot of issues concerning this topic, without the tone ever turning preachy.

The only thing I didn't like is how many ballet terms are used throughout this book. Maybe I'm not the best judge, since I know absolutely nothing about ballet, but those terms just confused me. I don't really care what the moves are called - for me, it would be enough to know she's dancing, or for the author to describe what Hannah is doing, but all those ballet terms strung together didn't really help me, and I don't think they'll help the average reader.

I just loved Bunheads. Like I said, it's one of those books that's just right. I loved being immersed in the world of a professional dancer, and I loved going along with Hannah on her journey. I definitely recommend it, especially if you, like me, enjoy books about the performing arts!

What do you think of books about the performing arts? What are some of your favorites?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Never Enough by Denise Jaden

Title: Never Enough
Author: Denise Jaden
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: July 10th 2012
Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: GalleyGrab
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Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special…even if that means betraying her sister.
But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow. Never Enough was so good. Really, that's basically all I can think right now. I liked Denise Jaden's debut, Losing Faith, but I wasn't quite as impressed as most people seemed to be. And the description for Never Enough sounded pretty average, nothing I haven't read before. But Never Enough really took me by surprise - I ended up loving it!

I love sister stories. I only have a younger brother, but I've always wished I had an older sister, so I enjoy reading sister stories like this one. Loann and I clicked from the first page on. She's easy to relate to, and I felt for her. Her relationship with Claire is so well-done. It's complex and deep and just... wow. Even when they don't get along, their bond is so strong - it's just amazing.

Reading this family's story is heartbreaking. This is hard to talk about without spoiling anything, but it's so sad to see how Claire's issues tear apart the entire family. It was eye-opening to see how much is changed by this one thing. I would have liked to know more about the parents, but I don't mind too much that we don't know more, since that's kind of the point.

Then there's the... well, I don't even know what to call it. It feels wrong to call what Loann and Marcus have romance, because their bond is so much deeper than that. For all of you out there who are sick of insta-love, Never Enough is for you! The relationship between Loann and Marcus develops so, so slowly - in a good way. Their bond is incredibly deep. I don't even know what to say - these two together just made me so happy!

I also loved reading about Loann's photography! Photography is fascinating to me, and I really enjoyed reading about everything Loann did with her camera.

The only storyline that I thought was a little underdeveloped is Loann's relationship with her two (ex-)best friends. I would have liked to know more about the fallout and why it happens, since I never really got what motivated Loann's ex-best friend to do what she did. I also would have liked more about where they stand towards the end.

I liked the second part of Never Enough better than the first one - in the beginning, I found myself bored a few times. I much preferred the faster pace of the ending to the slow beginning. The ending of Never Enough is perfect - it's sad but hopeful at the same time. Even though it's heartbreaking, it made me feel strangely fulfilled when I turned the last page.

In a word, this book is powerful. I am in awe of Denise Jaden's grasp of relationships - how she managed to create such deep bonds between her characters, how she made me feel each of Loann's emotions, is beyond me. This is an important book - I can't recommend it enough!

What do you think of sister stories? Can you still not get enough, like me, or do you think they've gotten too repetitive and would prefer for some other sibling relations to be dealt with in YA?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Title: Like Mandarin
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers
Release date: March 8th 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
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It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.
When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I think I'm in love with Kirsten Hubbard's writing. Her way with words is simply beautiful. I'm usually a pretty fast reader, but it took me ages to get through Like Mandarin, because there are so many parts where I just had to stop and read a sentence again and again because every word is just gorgeous. The descriptive, vivid writing is what makes Like Mandarin work, even the parts where I was bored by the plot.

I love Grace's character. You know when a character just gets you? How they think all the things you've thought, too, but would never want anyone else to know? Yeah, that's Grace for me. She's so easy to relate to and feel for. Grace has a great, strong voice - I don't know why, but I don't normally imagine someone speaking the words I'm reading, but in Like Mandarin, I could picture Grace easily, and it felt like she was talking to me. 

Then there's Mandarin. Even though I didn't particularly like her, I got her too. I got what Grace sees in her, and my feelings for Mandarin are similar to Grace's. There's something tantalizing and strangely seductive about her character - I wanted to know more and more about her and her life. She's a complex, fascinating character, and I loved reading about each side of her.

I really liked the family storyline in Like Mandarin, too. I always love when family plays an important role in a YA book, especially when there's such an unusual set-up as the one in Like Mandarin. Beauty pageants and small-town life aren't exactly my areas of expertise, so it was nice to read about a world so foreign to me. Taffeta is a great character, and I just loved every scene that included her. I enjoyed finding out more about the mother and her background too, and seeing how Grace's relationship with her mom evolved over the course of the story.

I even loved the descriptions of Washokey. The gorgeous scenery is one of the things I loved most about Wanderlove, and I was a little worried about Like Mandarin, since I thought descriptions of a small town in Wyoming could never live up to those of countries all over Central America. And while they aren't quite as great as the ones in Wanderlove, they're still beautiful. With the help of Kirsten Hubbard's words, I could picture Washokey perfectly. Small-town life is described so well - I felt like I was right there with Grace.

The plot, really, is the only aspect of Like Mandarin that isn't mindblowing. I was a little bored in parts of the novel, since not much happens, and the writing is mainly description and little dialogue. Even though it's amazing, if you're a reader who needs action and a fast-moving plot, Like Mandarin probably isn't for you.

Kirsten Hubbard really does have a way with words. Her writing is the best I've read in a long time. The characterization is rich and vivid, along with the descriptions of small-town life. Like Mandarin is the portrayal of two very different characters, and what growing up means for both of them. I didn't love it quite as much as Wanderlove, simply because the idea for Wanderlove is more unique and fascinating, but Like Mandarin is a stellar novel.

Who are some authors whose writing can't get enough of, who have such a beautiful writing style you don't even care about the plot as long as you can read more of their beautiful words?

Summer Releases Giveaway

Today is officially the first day of summer, and I feel like doing a giveaway, so I thought I'd do a giveaway of the summer releases I'm most excited about!

Here are your choices:

My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Never Enough by Denise Jaden
Flawed by Kate Avelynn
Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols
Guitar Notes by Mary Amato
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Fingerprints of You by Kirsten-Paige Madonia
Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Two or Three Things I Forgot to Tell You by Joyce Carol Oates
If I Lie by Corinne Jackson
Personal Effects by EM Kokie

Giveaway rules:
- Must be 13 or older to enter.
- Open to whereever Book Depository ships (check here if you're not sure whether it ships to your country).
- Open for one month; giveaway ends July 20th at midnight. The winner will be contacted by e-mail. He/she has 48 hours to respond, or a new winner will be chosen.
- I am not responsible for items lost or damaged in the mail.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Claire

Review: Don't You Wish
Author: Roxanne St. Claire
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release date: July 10th 2012
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley
Add to Goodreads Purchase from Amazon
When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father—and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school.
In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire—if usually absent—father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen.
But on the insde, Ayla is still Annie.
So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I honestly was not expecting to like this book. I requested it on NetGalley back in my request-anything-that-looks-kinda-good phase (I've gotten better at only requesting what I really want to read now), and I thought I'd just read and review it because, well, I had to. But I ended up actually ejoying it!

The beginning of Don't You Wish is so much fun. There's really no other word to describe it - this book is pure fun. Yes, it's totally superficial and all about popularity, money, and looks, which would not be my thing at all, normally. But... I don't know why; I can't explain it, but I loved it in Don't You Wish. It's just so fun, perfect for guilty pleasure reading! This book reads so quickly! It's about 370 pages, which isn't too short, but I read it in less than three hours. It's a quick read you can just breeze through without stopping.

Annie is a pretty good MC. She's not the most complex character ever, but she's nice and easy to relate to, which I think is enough for a story like this one. The romance is cute, and Charlie is adorable - again, it's not the most meaningful relationship, but it works well with the story and left me satisfied overall.

Towards the ending, the book slows down a bit, and I didn't enjoy it as much. There's a lot of stuff about how Annie could get back to her old life and how all of this happened. All the explanations of the physics behind traveling from one universe to the other were kind of boring, for me, and I wasn't all that interested in the technical stuff. The ending is cliched, but I didn't mind, since that's just the kind of story this is.

Okay, so Don't You Wish is not a great or meaningful piece of literature. It probably won't stick with me, and I think it would work better for the younger set of YA readers. But if you're looking for a quick read, something fluff and fun, you should give Don't You Wish a try - it's definitely entertaining.

What are some books that you are embarrassed to admit you kind of loved? Any vapid, silly books you don't want people judging you by but actually liked?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cover Reveal for All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen

Today is the cover reveal for All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen!

So that's the cover for All the Broken Pieces! I love it - it's eye-catching and unique!

All the Broken Pieces is coming from Entangled Teen in December 2012. Here's what it's all about:
Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.
Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?
This book sounds creepy in the best way possible. You can add it on Goodreads, and pre-order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

What do you think of the cover?
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