Saturday, August 31, 2013

My New Treasures #20

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.


Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Every Day by David Levithan (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

For review:

Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)


Hereafter (Shadowlands #2) by Kate Brian (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Divergent by Veronica Roth (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Leaving Paradise (Leaving Paradise #1) by Simone Elkeles (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Love Drugged by James Klise (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Sparks by SJ Adams (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Interview & Giveaway with Juliana Haygert (Breaking the Reins Blog Tour)

Today we have Juliana Haygert here for an author interview and a giveaway! This post is part of the blog tour for Bittersweet Junction, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours


1. Without spoiling anything, could you tell us what was your favorite scene to write in Breaking the Reins?
The monster truck race scene!
Let’s just say that the original scene was “hotter” than it is right now, but it’s still pretty hot ;)
2. What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
Bah, there are so many.
I would say for someone starting this journey now: study craft. A lot. You won’t always follow all the rules, but you should know them before you break them.
3. If you had to pair up your main character Hannah with any other character from any other book, who would it be and why?
Do I really need to? Lol That’s so unfair. She’s perfect with Leo. Period lol
Okay, okay … I would say with Trick from The Wild Ones by M. Leighton. Because he loves horses as much as Hannah does, and he has this yearning to tame a wild horse – which is similar to what Hannah does in Breaking the Reins.
4. What comes easier for you, description or dialogue?
Dialogue. When writing a fast dialogue scene, I skip all description and just follow the characters’ “discussion.” Then I come back to it, and try to slow down the scene and add the details.
5. How do you go about naming your characters?
I have a list of names I like (including their meaning) and I always chose a name for my protagonists from there. I also try not to choose very common names that are used in a lot of books (like Anna, for example).
6. What is one message you'd like readers from Breaking the Reins?
Hm, this is hard one. I guess I would like readers to take Hannah as an example of how strong they can be – to break free from domestic violence, to go after what seems an impossible dream, or whatever their hearts desire.

As part of the blog tour, the author is giving away a signed paperback of Breaking the Reins, an ebook of Breaking the Reins, a signed paperback of Destiny Gift, an ebook of Destiny Gift, and a $25 Amazon/B&N gift card, open internationally. Enter using the form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to check out all the other stops of the tour, and keep your eye out for Breaking the Reins, which has already been released.

Breaking the Reins by Juliana Haygert
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Horses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.
After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.
Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.
But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: The Truth About You And Me by Amanda Grace

Title: The Truth About You and Me
Author: Amanda Grace
Publisher: Flux
Release date: September 8th 2013
Pages: 264
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: BEA - I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured - and missed out on - in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.
There's only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen - because she hasn't told him the truth.
The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love the set-up of this story. The entire novel is told in letters from Maddie to Bennett, explaining and apologizing for her actions while narrating the story. This format - especially the way Bennett is always referred to as "you" - took some getting used to, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. It adds another level of emotional intensity to the story.

The main issue of The Truth About You and Me is a difficult one, but Amanda Grace handled it really well. It blurs the lines between right and wrong, and whenever I wanted to judge these characters for their actions, I just couldn't. The way Maddie's relationship with Bennett develops is relatable and realistic, making it so much harder to form an opinion on whether what happens in this book is right or wrong, which I really appreciated with an issue like this one.

The other storyline - Maddie's coming-of-age and her family problems - is good too. It's the type of set-up we've seen a million times before, but with an unusual twist because of Maddie's parents' characters. I especially liked Maddie's relationship with her brother. I kind of wish Maddie's personal growth had been elaborated on more towards the end, but it makes sense why it isn't, given the set-up and circumstances. One thing that bugged me, though, is the way Maddie kept being referring to and keeps referring to herself as a smart girl; I found that to be overdone and a little offensive, too.

Amanda Grace's/Mandy Hubbard's writing is so easy to get lost in; her stories are always absorbing and entertaining. Equal parts sweet, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking, The Truth About You and Me is another great read from Amanda Grace!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Review: Fire with Fire by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Title: Fire with Fire (Burn for Burn #2)
Author: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 3rd 2013
Pages: 528
Genre: Young Adult
Source: BEA - I received an advance copy of this book at Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance.
Not even close.
For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before.
And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her—it’s that he made her love him.
Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They’ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It’s the only way he’ll learn.
It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn...
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Burn for Burn was such a fun read, and Fire with Fire is just as entertaining. These books are perfect guilty pleasure reading - there's nothing deep or meaningful about them, but they're just so much fun to breeze through.

Both Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian have writing styles that I always enjoy. They write books that are always entertaining, simple as that. Both writing styles flow really nicely and make the pages turn quickly, even though this book is so long. Their styles work really well together. The characters they have created in this series are intriguing: no, they're not the most complex characters I've read about, but their stories are engrossing, and that's what counts. None of them are characters I can entirely agree with, but they're relatable nonetheless, and I enjoyed reading about them.

The story, though, I didn't enjoy as much in Fire with Fire as I did in Burn for Burn. In comparison, I feel like the sequel was lacking a certain drive. In Burn for Burn, the girls were brought together by their revenge plan, which pushed the plot throughout the novel. At the start of Fire with Fire, the girls have nothing of the sort to keep them together, so I didn't really see the point of the novel of at first. They do develop another revenge plan over the course of the novel, but it didn't seem as strong as the one in the first book. I wished the other girls' revenge plans that were mentioned in the first book had been elaborated on more in the sequel, instead of continuing on with the one that was already started in Burn for Burn.

In Burn for Burn, I was pleasantly surprised that the supernatural aspect didn't play too important a role in the story. That is still the case for most of Fire with Fire, up until the very end. And the ending... I really don't know what to make of that. The way it's left at the end of Fire with Fire, I don't think it makes all that much sense, to be honest. But I'm assuming the third book in the series, Ashes to Ashes, will elaborate on that storyline and hopefully make it all start to make sense.

Despite these smaller issues with the story, Fire with Fire is most definitely a fun read. If you're looking for a quick, entertaining read that doesn't require much thinking on your part, you should definitely give this series a try!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Title: Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2)
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release date: September 13th 2013
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult historical
Source: I received a free advance copy of this book at BEA - thanks!
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While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I think I would have enjoyed this book a whole lot more if it weren't connected to Code Name Verity. I probably wouldn't have read it at all if it weren't for Code Name Verity, but still. Code Name Verity is an amazing book, so of course I had to read the companion. And I really liked Rose Under Fire, too - I just think it pales in comparison to Code Name Verity.

What I loved most about Code Name Verity was the cleverness of the set-up - you have no idea what's going on and it doesn't start to make sense until the very end, making Code Name Verity an entirely suspenseful read. In Rose Under Fire, though, the set-up has the opposite effect: Rose is telling us about her time in Ravensbrueck after she has made her escape, switching back and forth between past and present, so we already know how things are going to turn out. I loved how Code Name Verity worked as both a historical novel and something like a thriller, and the thriller aspect was more or less missing in Rose Under Fire.

That being said, though, the historical aspect is still exceptionally well-done, just like it was in Code Name Verity. The details are thoroughly researched and expertly integrated into the story; Elizabeth Wein is most definitely a great writer. The stories of these girls are fascinating, in a completely horrifying way, and I loved getting to know all of them. I especially liked seeing how the characters in Rose Under Fire relate back to the story in Code Name Verity.

Rose Under Fire is a good historical novel, educational, emotional, and fascinating to read. But in comparison to Code Name Verity, I found it underwhelming. It lacks the spark and the thrill that every word in Code Name Verity held for me. The story felt a lot more basic than the captivating, crazy-plot-twists one we got in the first novel. I liked Rose Under Fire, but I will not be forcing everyone I know to read it, the way I've been doing with Code Name Verity.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release date: September 17th 2013
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA - I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book so much. Leila Sales's style perfectly balances laugh-out-loud moments with more meaningful, insightful ones. Yes, this is a book about a suicidal girl, but it's also incredibly entertaining; I laughed out loud more times than I can count. Just as many times, though, the writing made me pause and think about the very serious issues presented here. Leila Sales's writing flows so nicely, and it works really well with Elise as our main character. There is something about Elise that I loved so much. She is sarcastic and fun but also honest and refreshing. I loved every second of this novel.

The bullying storyline is one I was not looking forward to. Books about bullying usually make me hate basically everyone involved, which in turn makes me feel like a horrible, insensitive person, meaning I end up hating myself too. And stories relating to popularity are usually cliched and plain annoying. But in This Song Will Save Your Life, it totally works. Characters in stories like this one often feel one-dimensional and cliched to me, but there are no villains in This Song Will Save Your Life. Emily, Amelia, Sally, and Chava are all relatable and seem like real people.

Even more than the school storyline, I loved the whole clubbing and DJing scene. Elise's passion for music really shines through, and every scene at the club had this certain energy to it, conveying the glamour of it all and making the reader feel alive and vibrant. The characters at the club scenes are great: Vicky and Pippa are so much fun to read about. I really liked reading abut Elise's relationship with Char, too: it doesn't follow the typical YA romance storyline pattern, and it might not work for some readers, but I for one loved this refreshingly different approach.

I don't even know what it is about this book that made me love it so much. There is something about Leila Sales's writing that just works. Equally entertaining and insightful, This Song Will Save Your Life is a story of love: romantic love, love between family and friends, and most of all, learning to love yourself. I loved it, and I can't wait to read more of Leila Sales's books.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 19th and runs through Sunday, August 25th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 8.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - The Bout of Books team

I love the Bout of Books readathons, and I'm so happy to be taking part in another one! The timing is perfect because I need to get some more reading done before the start of my fall semester. Monday through Thursday, I'm hoping to spend a LOT of time reading. But I'm leaving for NYC on Friday, so I don't know how much reading I'll get done towards the end of the week - because of the time difference, my week will be 6 hours longer (ha!), and I'll definitely be reading while travelling, but once I'm in New York, I will barely have time to read.

Anyways, I'm hoping to get 7 of these books read this week:
  • Cherry Money Baby by John M Cusick
  • Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
  • Tandem by Anna Jarzab
  • Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  • Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart
  • Roomies by Sara Zarr
  • Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Books read:

1. Cherry Money Baby by John M Cusick
2. Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
3. Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Asides from reading, I will be participating in the first Twitter chat (can't do the second one because it's the middle of the night here or the third one because I'll be in NYC), which I'm really looking forward to.

I will be updating this post with my progress, and I will also be updating on Twitter.

Are you participating in the read-a-thon? What are you planning on reading?

Friday, August 16, 2013

A-Z Book Blogger Survey

I've seen the A-Z Book Blogger Survey all over lately, and it looks fun, so I decided to do one too! The A-Z Book Blogger Survey was started by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner, and you can find out all about it here.

Author You've Read The Most Books From

According to Goodreads, Cecily von Ziegesar. I used to love the Gossip Girl and It Girl series.

Best Sequel Ever

Since I read mainly contemporary, I don't read too many series. But I would have to say It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han.

Currently Reading

The Truth About You And Me by Amanda Grace.

Drink of Choice While Reading

I don't really drink while reading. I usually read on my bed, and where do you put a drink when you're reading in bed?

E-reader or physical book?

Physical book. I don't have an ereader. There's just something about a physical book that an ebook can't replace!

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

Well, I don't really see myself actually dating any YA love interest because they're all too perfect. But the one I would have been desperately in love with is Wes from The Truth About Forever.

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance

Code Name Verity. I'm not huge on historical fiction, but I'm so glad I gave this one a chance because it's amazing.

Hidden Gem Book

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer. A beautiful love story, so well-done, but no one has heard of it, sadly...

Important Moment in Your Reading Life

When I was maybe 14, I tried to stop reading YA and only wanted to read "serious" books. After that, it took me a while to get back into loving reading, and letting myself read whatever I wanted, and I'm so glad I finally did.

Just Finished

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales. It was amazing, so funny and moving at the same time.

Kinds of Books You Won't Read

Fantasy. I can take books with a little paranormal stuff, but straight-up fantasy, I just can't read.

Longest Book You've Read

Hmm. The longest of the Harry Potter books, I think.

Major Book Hangover Because of

None. I don't really get book hangovers. Finishing a great book makes me love reading so much more and makes me want to read more books as quickly as possible, so I get the opposite of book hangovers, in a way.

Number of Bookcases You Own

Three. I have two at home, and one at college.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times

All of Sarah Dessen's books.

Preferred Place to Read

At home, my bed, or my chair outside on the balcony. At college, I usually read in random niches and corners.

Quote That Inspires You
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
 - Oscar Wilde

Reading Regret

Ever being ashamed of liking the kinds of books I like and trying to read other books because of what people think.

Series You Started and Need to Finish

Pretty Little Liars. I really need to catch up on those.

Three of Your All Time Favorite Books

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, Gone Gone Gone by Hannah Moskowitz, Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles.

Unapologetic Fangirl For

Umm. Everything?

Very Excited for This Release More Than All the Others

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. I need more Trish Doller in my life RIGHT NOW.

Worst Bookish Habit

I don't really think I have any. I'm really careful with my books. They're my babies. 

X Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book

Roadside Assistance by Amy Clipston.

Your Latest Book Purchase

I just ordered finished copies of two books I read as galleys and loved - Brooklyn, Burning by Steve Brezenoff and Personal Effects by EM Kokie.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book (last one that kept you up way too late)

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

What about you? Leave me a link if you've done the A-Z Book Blogger Survey, too!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bookish Anticipation #27

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.

Minders by Michele Jaffe
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Release date: January 30th 2014
Q: If the boy you love commits a crime, would you turn him in?
Sadie Ames is a type-A teenager from the wealthy suburbs. She's been accepted to the prestigious Mind Corps Fellowship program, where she'll spend six weeks as an observer inside the head of Ford, a troubled boy with a passion for the crumbling architecture of the inner city. There's just one problem: Sadie's fallen in love with him.
Q: What if the crime is murder?
Ford Winters is haunted by the murder of his older brother, James. As Sadie falls deeper into his world, dazzled by the shimmering pinpricks of color that form images in his mind, she begins to think she knows him. Then Ford does something unthinkable.
Q: What if you saw it happen from inside his mind?
Back in her own body, Sadie is faced with the ultimate dilemma. With Ford's life in her hands, she must decide what is right and what is wrong. And how well she can really ever know someone, even someone she loves.

Fake ID by Lamar Giles
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Release date: January 21st 2014
My name isn’t really Nick Pearson.
I shouldn’t tell you where I’m from or why my family moved to Stepton, Virginia.
I shouldn’t tell you who I really am, or my hair, eye, and skin color.
And I definitely shouldn’t tell you about my friend Eli Cruz and the major conspiracy he was about to uncover when he died—right after I moved to town. About how I had to choose between solving his murder with his hot sister, Reya, and “staying low-key” like the Program has taught me. About how moving to Stepon changed my life forever.
But I’m going to.

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker

 Release date: December 23rd 2013
When Callie's life is cut short by a tragic accident, she expects to find nothingness, or maybe some version of heaven.
Instead, her spirit travels to the Prism, an ethereal plane populated by the ghosts she thought were fictional. Here she meets a striking and mysterious ghost named Thatcher, who is meant to guide her as she learns to haunt and bring peace to the loved ones she left behind.
However, Callie uncovers a dark secret about the spirit world: The angry souls who always populate ghost stories are real, dangerous, and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on Earth, threatening the existence of everyone she ever cared about.
As she fights to save them, Callie will learn that while it may no longer beat, her heart can still love-and break.

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
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Release date: October 1st 2013
Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself. 

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
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Release date: November 12th 2013
Zoe has an unconventional pen pal-Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.
Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story-somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin
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Release date: November 12th 2013
LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That's the only thing left she can cling to.
AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can't even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won't talk about?
LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.

Six Months Later by Natalie D Richards
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Release date: October 1st 2013
Chloe didn't think about it much when she nodded off in study hall on that sleepy summer day. But when she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life. Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.
What happened to her? And why can't she remember?

Stained by Cheryl Rainfield
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Release date: October 1st 2013
In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.

See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne
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Release date: January 1st 2014
Riley Spencer never thought twice about keeping secrets from her parents--not big ones, at least. They didn't need to know that her math tutor was also her boyfriend and that cocktail dress she "borrowed" from her mom would be back before she missed it. But when she finds a birth certificate with the name Jane O'Callahan wedged inside her baby book, Riley must face the reality that her parents are the ones who might be lying to her.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Title: Living with Jackie Chan (Jumping Off Swings #2)
Author: Jo Knowles
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release date: September 10th 2013
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA - I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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This isn’t how Josh expected to spend senior year. He thought he’d be hanging out with his best friends, Dave and Caleb, driving around, partying, just like always. But here he is, miles from home — new school, new life, living with his Jackie-Chan-obsessed uncle, Larry, and trying to forget. But Josh can’t forget. So many things bring back memories of last year and the night that changed everything. Every day the pain, the shame, and the just not knowing are never far from his thoughts. Why is he such a loser? How could he have done what he did? He finds some moments of peace when he practices karate with Stella, the girl upstairs and his one real friend. As they move together through the katas, Josh feels connected in a way he has never felt before. He wonders if they could be more than friends, but Stella’s jealous boyfriend will make sure that doesn’t happen. And maybe it doesn’t matter. If Stella knew the truth, would she still think he was a True Karate Man?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Jo Knowles is one of my all-time favorite authors, and she's proven why with Living with Jackie Chan. Jumping Off Swings was my favorite of Knowles's books, so I was ecstatic when I heard that we would get to revisit one of Jumping Off Swings's main characters in this companion novel. And while I didn't love it quite as much as Jumping Off Swings, Living with Jackie Chan is another great one from Jo Knowles!

The writing is always what's best about Jo Knowles's novels, and Living with Jackie Chan is no exception. Jo Knowles can create an atmosphere like no other - no matter what the theme, I feel like I could just burst out crying any second, because the words always convey such strong emotions. For most of the novel, though, I didn't even know if I wanted to cry out of sadness or out of happiness - Jo Knowles's writing is full of ALL OF THE FEELINGS. I don't even know what it is about the writing, but it's so full of THINGS, of life, and it simultaneously makes me want to cry and never stop, and hug everyone in my proximity. So basically, it turns me into a crazy person. In a good way. (Sorry about the incoherence. This is what Jo Knowles DOES TO ME, OKAY!!?)

I was a little disappointed when I heard that not all of the characters I loved in Jumping Off Swings would be returning as narrators, but now that I've read the novel, I really appreciate seeing only Josh live in another town, with different people. Because these people are awesome. Josh is living with his uncle Larry, who is kind of a nutcase, but a very lovable one at that. I really liked the developments in the family storyline. And then there's Stella, whom I loved. I could see some readers being disappointed by the lack of romance, but I for one loved Josh's and Stella's relationship just like this. I really appreciated the focus on friendship in this novel. Anyways, I loved the cast of characters in Living with Jackie Chan - they're all fully-developed and engaging.

I'm not sure what to say about the plot, because there really isn't that much of a plot; this is a very character-driven novel. I could see some readers having a problem with this - you could definitely complain that nothing happens. There really isn't much of one set topic, but I really liked it that way; this is simply Josh's story, evolving naturally instead of creating drama for the reader, something I really appreciated.

This is a must-read for fans of Jumping Off Swings. And if you haven't read Jumping Off Swings - along with the rest of Jo Knowles's novels - WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE??? Read them all. Now. Anyways. With evocative, atmospheric writing and flawed and relatable characters, Living with Jackie Chan is an honest and emotional story of learning to love your family, your friends, and yourself. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Title: You Look Different in Real Life
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: June 4th 2013
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star. Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film "Five at Sixteen," all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, just feels like a disappointment. But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.

 My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I'm not sure what to make of You Look Different in Real Life. I really liked Jennifer Castle's writing; she has a knack for keen character development. Still, I found almost all storylines underdeveloped, and ended up feeling just a little underwhelmed by the whole story.

You Look Different in Real Life has such a unique premise. The whole idea of the documentaries is, to be honest, pretty weird - honestly, I don't see myself wanting to watch those documentaries in real life, if they're just about these random 6- and 11-year-olds and their normal lives. But for the sake of the story, it totally works, and it causes for a great set-up, throwing such a random group of 16-year-olds together and exploring the history they all share.

What I liked most were the characters. Even though it might seem like it at first, none of these 5 are one-dimensional or cliched; the characters are complex and real. I can't even choose a favorite character, because I loved all of them - Nate, Felix, Keira, Rory, and Justine each have their story to tell, and I wanted to hear each one of them.

Maybe that was the problem, though. Maybe there's just too much going on. I wanted more depth to each character's storyline; they're all fascinating, but because there's so many characters and relationships to explore, I don't feel like any one thing got the spotlight it deserved.

I get that only getting such a brief insight into these characters' lives is kind of the point, that it's necessary for this kind of format. But it still made it hard for me to see the point of it all. I felt like there was something missing to bring all of these storylines together, to form whole with some kind of coherent message. 

This novel had a lot of potential, and there were parts of it I really enjoyed. But with so many interesting storylines, none of them got explored in enough depth, leaving me underwhelmed at the end. Jennifer Castle's writing and character development are great, though, so I'm definitely planning on reading her debut, The Beginning of After, as well as any future novels.
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