Saturday, December 28, 2013

My New Treasures #22

My New Treasures is a semi-regular feature here at Paperback Treasures to showcase all the books I received over the previous week (or however long it's been since I've last done one of these). It was inspired by Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
In Honor by Jessi Kirby (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Canary by Rachele Alpine (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
My Beautiful Failure by Janet Ruth Young (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler (Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Friday, December 27, 2013

End of the Year Book Survey

The annual End of the Year Book Survey is hosted by Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner and you can find out all about it here. I didn't get to read as many books as I'd hoped this year because college, but I thought I'd take part anyways to highlight the great books I did get to read this year.

Best in Books 2013

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)
Favorite contemporary: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales - everything about this one is SO GOOD.

Favorite non-contemporary: Every Day by David Levithan - I still have that book stuck in my head.
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles - I just didn't think this one was as good as her previous books.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 
Take Me There by Carolee Dean - this looked like just another romance (not that that's a bad thing!), but it turned out to be surprisingly dark and serious, which I loved.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - not to bloggy people since everyone had already read it, but to IRL people once I finally saw how great this book is.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
I only started a couple of series this year, and I didn't lovelovelove any of them. I did really like The Lying Game by Sara Shepard though!
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Jessica Verdi - My Life After Now is so good.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Fall from Love by Heather London - this one is new adult, a genre I've been hesitant to try, but I loved Fall from Love!
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.
9. Book You Read in 2013 That You Are Most Likely to Re-Read Next Year?
I almost never reread. Some of the only books I've really loved rereading have been Sarah Dessen's books, so I know I'd enjoy reading The Moon and More again!
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr. Because Sara Zarr.
13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Every Day by David Levithan - that book made me question my thoughts on so many things.
14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
15. Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2013?
If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: We all want everything to be okay. We don't even wish so much for fantastic or marvelous or outstanding. We will happily settle for okay, because most of the tie, okay is enough.
- David Levithan (Every Day)
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read in 2013?
Longest: Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.
17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
The big relevation in Code Name Verity.  
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
James and Beth from Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos.
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
I honestly don't really read books solely based on another person's recommendation because not many of the people I know IRL read the same books as me. I did listen to my then-boyfriend, though, when he insisted I'd read The Da Vinci Code - something I wouldn't normally read - and I ended up liking it a lot.
21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
Contemporary YA. Always.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Gyver from Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt.
23. Best 2013 debut you read?
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi. I can't wait for more from this author!
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
I didn't read a lot of dystopian or paranormal, so I don't have many books with worldbuilding to go off of. But one book that made me feel like I was in the MC's place and that had very vivid descriptions of her world is The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider.
25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger. Kody's books are always fun.
26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
I cry at lots of books, so this doesn't really narrow it down enough for me. But the one that made me cry the most was Code Name Verity.
27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez. 

Looking Ahead...
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. (Actually, I'll probably read that one within the last couple of days of 2013.)
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick, The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder, and The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi.
3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy.
4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?
I don't think there's a series ending coming out in 2014 that I'm dying to read, but I'm looking forward to finishing the Divergent and Delirium trilogies.
5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
I'm going to try to get better at managing my time in college so that I can actually read during the semester and become more active in the blogosphere again. 

What were your favorite books of the year?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review: Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

Title: Truly, Madly, Deadly
Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: July 16th 2013
Pages: 262
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Sawyer Dodd has it all. She's a star track athlete, choir soloist, and A-student. And her boyfriend is the handsome all-star Kevin Anderson. But behind the medals, prom pictures, and perfect smiles, Sawyer finds herself trapped in a controlling, abusive relationship with Kevin. When he dies in a drunk-driving accident, Sawyer is secretly relieved. She's free. Until she opens her locker and finds a mysterious letter signed by "an admirer" and printed with two simple words: "You're welcome."
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Truly, Madly, Deadly sounded right up my alley. I love when books combine mystery - in this case, the murder of Sawyer's boyfriend - and a more personal, emotional storyline - Sawyer dealing with the trauma of her abusive relationship. Sadly, however, not all parts of the novel impressed me: most of the mystery storyine is well done, but the emotional aspect is very underdeveloped.

The suspense is what I liked best about Truly, Madly, Deadly. The scary atmosphere is really well-done, and it had me wondering about the different suspects. The mystery turned out to be a lot more complex than I was expecting - I thought it would just be about finding out who had killed her boyfriend, but it's a lot more complicated than that. There are various murders in Truly, Madly, Deadly, all committed to "help" Sawyer, which kept me on my toes throughout the novel. Even when I was having problems with other parts of the story, the suspense is what kept me reading and what made me finish the novel within a day.

Despite the well-done suspense, there is one part of the mystery that I didn't like, which was the ending. The culprit became obvious to me fairly early on in the novel, but I kept hoping I was wrong, that Truly, Madly, Deadly wouldn't use this cliche. Sadly, though, the cliche turned out to be true: a predictable culprit with predictable motives. Asides from the predictability, the implications of this reveal of the murderer also frustrated me because it could be seen as regressive in regards to a social issue. (Sorry for being so vague, but I can't really talk about this without revealing the ending.)

Looking at Hannah Jayne's website, I can see that she is a mystery writer, so it would make sense that this would be the strongest part of the novel. Not knowing that going into the novel, however, I was expecting the emotional side of the novel and the character development to be a lot stronger. I was really looking forward to the interplay of the mystery with the trauma of Sawyer's abusive relationship, but the latter was poorly underdeveloped. The story doesn't start until after Kevin's death, and we only see their relationship in flashbacks, so it makes sense that the main focus wouldn't be the abusive relationship. But I still find it unrealistic how little Sawyer is traumatized by the abuse she has undergone. Especially the two new love interests (who seem to only be introduced to have more suspects for the mystery) frustrated me because Sawyer's relationships with them do not seem to be affected by her past all that much. The emotional implications of other issues in the novel are underdeveloped as well: the other murder cases deal with suicide, bullying, and sexual harassment, but these issues are never really addressed; they're simply used to move the mystery along. I understand that the mystery was the main focus, but I still would have liked to see the emotional effects be elaborated on more.

Truly, Madly, Deadly reminded me a lot of the Pretty Little Liars series - both have good suspense, but are still relatively lighthearted in regard to the emotional effects of these events and issues. I enjoyed the mystery, but I would have appreciated a more in-depth look at the emotional implications, characters that are more than plot tools and potential suspects, and a less predictable ending.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: Positively Mine by Christine Duval

This review is part of the book blitz hosted by Xpresso Tours. Read my interview with the author here!

Title: Positively Mine
Author: Christine Duval
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Release date: December 19th 2013
Genre: contemporary New Adult
Source: Review copy provided by author - thanks!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test was unexpected. Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide.
An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.
Note: This book was previously self-published under the title Freshman Forty.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm really starting to enjoy the new adult contemporary genre! I feel bad about it, but I'm generally a little wary of self-published books - yes, there's a lot of good ones out there, but the fact that a publisher has put effort and money into someone's work makes me trust traditionally published books a little more. But I've been reading quite a few self-published new adult novels for blog tours and such, and I have to say, I'm impressed! They've started to convince me to give more self-published books a try, since there's so few traditionally published new adult books out there. Anyways, I've really been enjoying these self-published new adult novels, and Positively Mine is no exception!

I love pregnancy novels. I know tons of people don't like them or have gotten sick of them, but I always enjoy them. I'm not even sure why, because, yes, it's been done a million times before, but for some reason, teenage pregnancy is a topic that I just cannot get sick of; it's fascinating to me, this impossible decision and everything related to it. I was especially excited to see pregnancy play out in the college setting, giving the character more freedom than a teenager still living at home. And I loved everything about pregnancy in this novel - Laurel's struggles are portrayed honestly and relatably, and I loved being there with her on this journey.

The pregnancy takes the main focus of Positively Mine, but there's some smaller storylines that I really enjoyed as well. The secondary characters are great - I loved reading about Laurel's relationships with Tori, her friend from back home; Mike, her friend-and-maybe-more at Colman; her dad and the rest of the family; Audrey, her friend from the young-mothers support group; even her obstetrician and her biology professor, who both end up being good resources for her. All of these relationships develop in a very natural way - there's issues, but there's never any unnecessary drama, which I really appreciated. The only relationship I feel was lacking was the one between Lauren and her babydaddy - I get that him not playing a role is kind of the point, but I wish we'd at least gotten to see her tell him.

What really made Positively Mine work was the writing. I don't even know what it is about Christine Duval's style, but it made everything flow so well. Positively Mine is a book that I never wanted to stop reading; I kept sneaking in chapters whenever I had a minute. And how badly I want to keep reading is really the best way of telling whether or not I'm enjoying a novel.

The only thing I found somewhat disappointing was the ending. Everything is explored in so much detail in the beginning, but the ending felt rushed. I wanted to know more about the delivery of the baby and what happens after - if we've spent that much time working up to this event, it felt strange to me to only have a couple of pages about the actual birth and everything surrounding it. Maybe it's just because I didn't want the book to end, though - I wanted to keep reading about what happens after Laurel gives birth. And I read that this book might be turned into a series, so that would explain the rushed ending as well.

Either way, Positively Mine is a book that I really enjoyed. Like I said, I love pregnancy books, so that probably influenced my opinion a lot - if you're not a big fan of pregnancy books, this one probably isn't for you; there are some other storylines, but they tend to lead back to the main issue, and the focus really is on Laurel's pregnancy. For me, though, that's particularly why I liked it. Positively Mine is an honest and engaging portrayal of teenage pregnancy that I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Author Interview with Christine Duval (Positively Mine Book Blitz)

Today we have Christine Duval here for an interview as part of the book blitz for Positively Mine! This book blitz is hosted by Xpresso Blog Tours. You can find out all about the blitz here.

This interview is an excerpt from Christine's Q&A with the Goodreads New Adult Book Club.

Hey Christine! I'm curious about where you got your inspiration for the idea behind Positively Mine? It was unlike any book I've read, in a refreshing way!
Hi Raquel, A couple years ago my dearest friend announced she was pregnant and at the same time my babysitter was going off to her freshman year of college. I don't know why but I started thinking, wow, if you were newly pregnant and heading away to college, you really could hide it from people back home (I know I have a weird brain). I've had 2 kids, so I know how the weight comes on and realized Laurel could easily hide it through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then I just let Laurel tell me her story.

Hi Christine, I really enjoyed Positively Mine. How did you weave together elements of fiction with such a strong sense of place that was based on a specific area of upstate?

Easy...I lived up in the Finger Lakes for 4 years. It is a beautiful place when the sun is shining but there are a ton of dark, grey, cold days. You live for the sunny ones but honestly, when I was there in college, my mom received more than her share of phone calls from me begging to come home just to see the sun. Ultimately, the good friends I made kept me planted but it is a long, hard winter (thus easy to hide behind a big coat).

Hi Christine! Really enjoyed Positively Mine! What is your writing process? Do you find you write better at certain times of the day or do you run to the computer when inspired? Also, how did you connect with your publisher?

Hi Holly, I am the most undisciplined writer that ever lived! I have no process. I drive a lot in my car and let the story unfold in my head and then go back home and recreate it when I have time. Still, that usually backfires because at that point my characters have changed their minds and all of a sudden I am writing a completely different story. A prime example of this is in Positively Mine. I never meant for Sheryl to end up pregnant. It happened as shocking for me as it was for Laurel! Seriously, I was writing and all of sudden she just cleared the room and announced it. I had no plan of this, no outline. Regarding Bloomsbury, I saw on NA Alley - a blog I follow - that they were starting Bloomsbury Spark and I sent an inquiry to Meredith Rich and a few months later the rest is history!

Hi Christine, I really enjoyed reading your book. Congratulations! Are you working on a sequel? If so when can we expect it by :) I would like to know how long did it take you to complete your book?
Thanks so much Beatriz! I am working on the sequel and hopefully will have it complete this winter, after Positively Mine is released. I wrote the first draft two years ago during a NANOWRIMO competition (National Novel Writing Month), where you are challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Then I put it away for December, picked it back up in January and had it complete to enter into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest around the third week of that month. But it has evolved quite a bit since that version thanks to a bunch of beta readers and a really good critique group who demanded more of my characters and more from the plot.
I'd recommend doing NANOWRIMO if you are just starting out writing your first novel. It really is an inspiring month and around the clock, through Twitter, there is someone in the world working on their novel. I remember I used to do word sprints in the middle of the night with a girl in South Africa. We'd turn on the timer and race write for ten minutes then compare how many words we wrote. With NANOWRIMO, it is all about quantity, not quality. You push yourself to write as much as you can and amazingly by doing that, you let your guard down and really surprise yourself with what you come up with. Plus, it forces you to look at your novel every day so it is always with you, you are always thinking about your characters. And, there's one right around the corner since it is an annual event. Best of luck with your project!

One of the things that struck me about your book is the very strong and distinct voice of Laurel. She feels very real. Is she based on anyone, or a group of people, you know?

She really isn't based on any one person or even a group of people. Some of the situations she finds herself in are based on real things. Not the pregnancy but the premature death of her mom, the places, the struggle to move on while her dad is building a new life with someone. I don't think there is one person out there who hasn't witnessed, whether first hand or via a good friend, someone who needs to accept a parent's new husband or wife. And the gossipy doorman...yeah. I think the choice to write the book in first person, present tense helped to strengthen Laurel's voice. It isn't an easy way to write because everything is happening to your character while you are writing it. I was very influenced by two books when I set out to create this story: Laurie Halse Anderson's "Speak" and Julie Buxbaum's "The Opposite of Love." I loved how Laurie was able to keep Melinda quiet the whole year in a believable way when she had such a big secret to tell. And, I love the way Julie balances strong emotion and humor as her main character Emily is forced to face her fears.

Check back tomorrow to read my review of Positively Mine!

Positively Mine by Christine Duval
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

It is four weeks into her freshman year of college, and Laurel’s first test was unexpected. Discovering she’s pregnant isn’t exactly what she had planned for her first semester, and while she intends to tell her emotionally-distant father, being away at school makes it all too easy to hide.
An imperfect heroine plagued by bad choices and isolated during what should be the best time of her life, readers are sure to identify with Laurel as she confronts teen pregnancy, in secret.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Review: Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler

Title: Afterparty
Publisher: Simone Pulse
Release date: January 7th 2014
Pages: 384
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher. Thanks!
Emma is tired of being good. Always the dutiful daughter to an overprotective father, she is the antithesis of her mother -- whose name her dad won't even say out loud. That's why meeting Siobhan is the best thing that ever happened to her...and the most dangerous. Because Siobhan is fun and alluring and experienced and lives on the edge. In other words, she's everything Emma is not.
And it may be more than Emma can handle.
Because as intoxicating as her secret life may be, when Emma begins to make her own decisions, Siobhan starts to unravel. It's more than just Dylan, the boy who comes between them. Their high-stakes pacts are spinning out of control. Elaborate lies become second nature. Loyalties and boundaries are blurred. And it all comes to a head at the infamous Afterparty, where debauchery rages and an intense, inescapable confrontation ends in a plummet from the rooftop...
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I wanted to like Afterparty. It sounded intriguing, like it would have fascinating, messed-up characters and interesting drama. Sadly, though, that turned out to be the problem with this novel: the characters, while messed-up and potentially intriguing, are underdeveloped and simply annoying, and the drama was overdone and repetitive instead of fun to read about.

Emma is simply not a character I could connect with. She had a lot of potential to be an interesting character, but it just didn't work. Her family background is underdeveloped: I would have liked to see more about her past and her mother, but that is only mentioned in passing, without any kind of insight into the emotional side of this storyline. Her relationship with her dad, too, is underdeveloped: we're always told how overprotective he is, but it seemed overdone to me, and we never get to see any kind of development in that relationship. A lack of development or character growth is one of my main problems with Emma: her struggle with whether to be "good" or "bad" could have been interesting, but it's very underdeveloped, and she goes from relatively innocent to crazy within a page. There is no real development; her fight with herself about being "good" or "bad" is simply repeated over and over again. Even with the underdeveloped characterization, Emma is a character that annoyed me to no end. She's very whiny and melodramatic about her issues: instead of solving anything, she just keeps whining and getting herself into the same stupid situations over and over again.

The secondary characters are just as bad. Siobhan could have been an intriguing character, if we had gotten to know her better and attempted to understand where she is coming from. But we never get any kind of background for her character; she's just "bad" for no reason. The same goes for Dylan: he's supposed to be perfect, but he annoyed me with his indecisiveness and the way that he uses Emma. The relationships are underdeveloped: how did Siobhan and Emma start being friends? How did Emma start liking Dylan? It's instalove, and the friendship equivalent of instalove, and it's all very melodramatic.

Asides from the characters, the preachy tone is what bothered me most about Afterparty. Emma's portrayal of what is right and what is wrong struck me as very judgmental: most of the things Siobhan wants her to do, while not the smartest decisions, aren't things that would make you a bad person. Having sex does not make you a bad person. Staying out late does not make you a bad person. Drinking does not make you a bad person. Smoking weed does not make you a bad person. Doing any drugs does not make you a bad person. No, they're not smart decisions, but Siobhan's drug abuse does not make her a bad person; it just expresses her issues. Emma acts like these things would turn her - and other people who have done comparable things - into a horrible person. Preachy messages like that always bother me. 

Afterparty sounded like a great read, but it just didn't work out for me. It might be because I'm just too old for such high-school drama types of books. Then again, some of the topics in the book aren't appropriate to the younger set of YA readers, so I'm not sure what age group this book could be good for. Either way, the melodrama, the annoying characters, and the preachy message made it impossible for me to like Afterparty.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bookish Anticipation #31

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.

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: April 29th 2014
Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: Februrary 4th 2014
Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: April 1st 2014
There is a pecking order to every family. Seventeen-year old Clare is the overprotected baby; Peter is the typical, rebellious middle child; and Luke is the oldest, the can’t-do-wrong favorite. To their mother, they are a normal, happy family.
To Clare, they are a family on the verge of disaster. Clare: the ambitious striver; Peter: the angry ticking time bomb; and Luke: a drug-addicted convicted felon who has been in and out of jail for as long as Clare can remember—and who has always been bailed out by their parents.
Clare loves Luke, but life as his sister hasn’t been easy. And when he comes home (again), she wants to believe this time will be different (again). Yet when the truths behind his arrests begin to surface, everything Clare knows is shaken to its core. And then Luke is arrested. Again.
Except this time is different, because Clare’s mom does the unthinkable on Luke’s behalf, and Clare has to decide whether turning her back on family is a selfish act…or the only way to keep from drowning along with them.

Bright Before Sunrise by Tiffany Schmidt
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: February 18th 2014
When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him.
For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance.

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: April 15th 2014
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

Tease by Amanda Maciel
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: April 29th 2014
Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.
At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.
During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: February 6th 2014
Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.
At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.
During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: February 6th 2014
Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.
But Emma can't tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.
Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn't have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.
Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

Friday, December 06, 2013

Review: Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Title: Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
Author: Evan Roskos
Publisher: Houghton Miffin Harcourt
Release date: March 5th 2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought a signed copy at Books of Wonder!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Sixteen-year-old James Whitman has been yawping (à la Whitman) at his abusive father ever since he kicked his beloved older sister, Jorie, out of the house. James’s painful struggle with anxiety and depression—along with his ongoing quest to understand what led to his self-destructive sister’s exile—make for a heart-rending read, but his wild, exuberant Whitmanization of the world and keen sense of humor keep this emotionally charged debut novel buoyant.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I had basically no expectations going into Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets. I hadn't heard anything about it; I just happened to see it at the bookstore and bought it because it looked like a quirky, interesting read. And that's exactly what it turned out to be - Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets is stunning in an understated kind of way.

I love when books combine serious issues with a hint of humor, blending dark topics with lighthearted scenes seamlessly. Our narrator James is a perfect example of this: he's struggling with his own depression, his complicated relationship with his parents, and with finding out what happened to his sister, all of which is presented in a very emotional and relatable way. Yet there are still scenes that brought a smile to my face, especially the ones between James and his best friend Derek, and between him and the girl he likes, Beth.

The brother-sister relationship in this novel is very well-done - I love when YA books focus on family! Going along with James, trying to figure out what happened to his sister and why she got expelled, is fascinating - Jorie is an intriguing character, and I loved trying to understand her. In a way, I wish we could have known even more about her, but I also appreciate that this is simply James's story.

James's relationship with his peers is just as interesting to read about. These storylines have a very mature feel to them - James has trouble fitting in at school and only has one friend, but this isn't really presented as an issue: that's just the way it is. I really appreciated this drama-less depiction. I loved James's relationship with Derek simply because Derek's problems are so entertaining to read about. And then there's James and Beth. At first, I was afraid this would be the overdone loner-falls-for-misunderstood-popular-girl storyline, and it does have some of those qualities. But this isn't really a romance: James and Beth are just friends. The innocence and purity of their relationship is something I really enjoyed.

But Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets isn't really about James's family, or Beth or Derek. This is simply James's story. It's not about what happens, but more of a character study. The lack of action and the understated feel of this novel might make this a hard sell for some readers, but I for one loved it. If you like character-driven novels that balance serious issues with light-hearted humor, you should definitely give Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets a try!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday #26: 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read

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.

This week's topic is: Top Ten Book 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read

1. The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi

I absolutely loved Jessica Verdi's debut, My Life After Now, so I can't wait to read her sophomore novel!

2. What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Another author whose sophomore novel I'm dying to read - My Life Next Door was amazing, so I'm really looking forward to What I Thought Was True.

3. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Jenny Han's contemporary romances are so good, and I can't wait to read another one!

4. Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

I haven't read anything by this author, but Maybe One Day sounds right up my alley - I love when YA books focus on friendship instead of romance!

5. The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

The Edge of Falling sounds crazy and unique. And it's written by the author of When You Were Mine, so of course I'm reading it!

6. See Jane Runby Hannah Jayne

See Jane Run is one of my most anticipated 2014 debuts. I love when YA contemporaries incorporate mystery and family stories, and See Jane Run just sounds so good!

7. Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren E. Morrill

Being Sloane Jacobs sounds just as adorable as her debut, Meant to Be!

8. The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

Road trip. Friendship. Family issues. The author of The Probability of Miracles. What more could I possibly want?

9. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

I love the idea for this one! There's a million books about cancer and bucket lists, but I haven't read anything on what happens if you don't end up dying and need to face the consequences of doing the crazy stuff that's on your bucket list. Can't wait to read this one!

10. The Geography of Me and You by Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith's novels are always cute and fun, and I can't wait to read her newest one!

What 2014 releases are you most looking forward to?

Sunday, December 01, 2013

New Releases December 2013

New releases:

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: December 3rd 2013
They’re from two different worlds.
He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.
With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

 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.

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: December 24th 2013
When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.
As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Release date: December 31st 2013
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

New in paperback:

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: December 3rd 2013

Rae's always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her...and the less she wants to give.
As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous.
Then a tragedy lands Rae in the ICU. Now, hovering between life and death, Rae must find the light amid the darkness…and the strength to fight for life and the love she deserves.

Empty by KM Walton
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: December 3rd 2013

Dell is relentlessly teased about her weight, and she’s devastated when a tender moment with her long-time crush turns violent. Distraught and isolated after the attack, Dell’s depression—and life—spins out of control.
Finding that food no longer eases her pain, Dell turns to her mother’s prescription pain pills. But what starts as a quick fix rapidly escalates. How far will Dell go to make the loneliness, the self-loathing, the heartbreak, the shame, and the name-calling stop?

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: December 10th 2013

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?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...