Thursday, January 31, 2013

Two-Year-Blogoversary Giveaway

Hi. My name is Hannah, and I fail at blogging.

So guess what, guys! I forgot my own blogoversary! Ultimate blogger fail - yaaay! The only reason I remembered at all is because a friend found out I blogged and asked how long I'd been doing this and then I went with my standard answer of "about a year and a half" until I noticed that... WAIT. It's January! That means I've been blogging for a full two years! Soo, yup. I fail.

My actual two-year-anniversary was January 13th, so today is technically my two-years-two-weeks-and-two-days blogoversary, which also sounds kinda cool, so we're just gonna pretend I was planning on having this cool blogoversary all along and didn't actually forget my real two year blogoversary. Just go with it.

Regardless of the exact amount of time I've been doing this, it's been awesome - the books, the people, everything. I know you can't really tell from looking at my blog right now, but I love blogging. Which is why, even though I'm not posting as regularly as I used to (stupid college), I definitely want to keep doing this. I'm still trying to find my balance between academics, social life, sleep, and blogging, and even though I can't guarantee the consistent content I used to have, I promise I'll keep trying, because I definitely want books, this blog, and this community to stay a part of my life. And if you're still reading my blog, sticking with me despite my blogger fails, thank you so, so much. I love you - I really do.

Okay, enough of the sap, and on to what you're really here for: the GIVEAWAY!!!

I am giving away a pre-order of one of the 2013 releases I'm most excited about. Here's the books you can choose from:

Giveaway rules:
- Must be 13 or older to enter.
- Open to wherever Book Depository ships (check here if you're not sure whether it ships to your country).
- Open for one month; giveaway ends February 
idnight. 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. Good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: October 5th 1992
Pages: 313
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.
Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I'm a little late to the world of Melina Marchetta fandom - I didn't read Jellicoe Road till last year. But of course, I fell in love with Jellicoe Road; I loved it so much, I didn't even write a review, because I don't think my words could ever do that book justice. And now that I've realized how amazing Melina Marchetta is, I'm reading all of her other books, starting with Looking for Alibrandi. Which is amazing, of course.

Compared to Jellicoe Road, I found Looking for Alibrandi surprisingly light, for the most part. This novel, unlike Jellicoe Road, doesn't have a set of issues it actively addresses; it just tells a story. This lets Josie's character take center stage; her sense of humor, her slightly infuriating but, for the most part, lovable melodrama, and her insightfulness shine through Melina Marchetta's writing. And her writing, of course, is amazing - it's both heartwrenching and funny, and simply beautiful.

I think my favorite part of the novel was reading about Josie's family. Josie's relationship with her dad is so well-done, and I love how naturally it develops. The drama between Josie and her mother and grandmother is great too, and everything about the family's history is so, so good. It seemed boring at first and I didn't get why we were reading so much about the grandmother's past, but once it's clear how all of it relates to the present, it's obvious that the whole storyline is pure genius. I never should have doubted Melina Marchetta.

Then there's the romance. The description on the back of the book makes this sound like any other love triangle, but that's not the case at all - it's a love triangle without the annoying drama. Yes, it's predictable, but that's not the point; it's about the realistic and natural way Melina Marchetta develops these relationships. Jacob is the perfect imperfect love interest, and Josh... oh, Josh. I loved these characters. And I loved the characters in Josie's group of friends, too - friendship is not the most important theme in Looking for Alibrandi, but I loved reading about their distinct personalities.

I could imagine that a lot of people will dislike the last 30 or so pages of the book. I said Looking for Alibrandi is a lighter read than Jellicoe Road, and it is - until these last few chapters. The things that happen towards the end broke my heart so much, made me want to scream at the author how she could do this to us. But I also kind of loved it - it's not exactly a sad ending, it's just perfectly melancholy, and it conveys so much raw feeling. And I always prefer endings like this one to unrealistically happy ones.

I don't even know what it is about this novel - I just loved it so, so much. It's not about any one storyline, it's just such a beautiful, honest portrayal of life, love, loss, all of it. Melina Marchetta is pure literary genius.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Bookish Anticipation #21

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.

Burning by Elana K Arnold
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: June 11th 2013
Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It's good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he's headed to San Diego, where he's got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don't have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.
Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash--especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala's been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben's cards is the day that everything changes for her. . . and for him.
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: May 21st 2013
Ashleigh's boyfriend, Kaleb, is about to leave for college, and Ashleigh is worried that he'll forget about her while he's away. So at a legendary end-of-summer pool party, Ashleigh's friends suggest she text him a picture of herself -- sans swimsuit -- to take with him. Before she can talk herself out of it, Ashleigh strides off to the bathroom, snaps a photo in the full-length mirror, and hits "send."
But when Kaleb and Ashleigh go through a bad breakup, Kaleb takes revenge by forwarding the text to his baseball team. Soon the photo has gone viral, attracting the attention of the school board, the local police, and the media. As her friends and family try to distance themselves from the scandal, Ashleigh feels completely alone -- until she meets Mack while serving her court-ordered community service. Not only does Mack offer a fresh chance at friendship, but he's the one person in town who received the text of Ashleigh's photo -- and didn't look.

The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: July 2nd 2013
Sixteen-year-old Annabelle Jacobs never asked to be famous, but as the daughter of Janie Jacobs, one of the biggest TV stars in the world, she is. Growing up is hard enough. Having to do it in public because your mother is a famous actress? Even harder. When your mom crashes and burns after her DUI mug shot is splashed across the internet? Definitely not fun. Then your mom falls for a guy so much younger than she that it would be more appropriate for you to be dating him? That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen.

How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: May 1st 2013
Grace and Kya always do everything together, and nothing can get in the way of their friendship. They have a pact: Sisters Before Misters. Buds Before Studs.
Only Grace knows what Kya's been through, or how much she needs someone to stick by her. No Matter What. Besides, Kya keeps life exciting-pulling Grace into things she'd never dare do on her own.
But inch by inch, daring is starting to turn dangerous. And Grace will have to decide how far she can go to save her friendship with Kya...before she ends up losing everything else.

Over You by Amy Reed
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: June 4th 2013

Max would follow Sadie anywhere, so when Sadie decides to ditch her problems and escape to Nebraska for the summer, it’s only natural for Max to go along. She is Sadie’s confidante, her protector, and her best friend. This summer will be all about them. This summer will be perfect.
But that’s before they meet Dylan.
Dylan is dangerous and intoxicating, and he awakens something in Max that she never knew existed. No matter how much she wants to, she can’t back away.
But Sadie has her own intensity, and has never allowed Max to become close with anyone else. And Max doesn’t know who she is without Sadie.
There are some problems you just can’t escape.

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: May 7th 2013
Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.
To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: June 11th 2013
On Day 56 of the pandemic called BluStar, sixteen-year-old Nadia's mother dies, leaving her responsible for her younger brother Rabbit. They secretly received antivirus vaccines from their uncle, but most people weren't as lucky. Their deceased father taught them to adapt and survive whatever comes their way. That's their plan as they trek from Seattle to their grandfather's survivalist compound in West Virginia. Using practical survival techniques, they make their way through a world of death and destruction until they encounter an injured dog; Zack, a street kid from Los Angeles; and other survivors who are seldom what they seem. Illness, infections, fatigue, and meager supplies have become a way of life. Still, it will be worth it once they arrive at the designated place on the map they have memorized. But what if no one is there to meet them?

The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: April 18th 2013
When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.
I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”
But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
(Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon)

Release date: June 4th 2013
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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Review: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Title: Bittersweet
Author: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: January 3rd 2012
Pages: 378
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.
So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life...and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.
It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I'm a huge fan of Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah, so I was really looking forward to reading Bittersweet. Somehow, though, I didn't end up loving her newest one as much as Sarah Ockler's earlier novels. It was a pretty good read, but it didn't have the same spark as Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah.

The main reason I didn't love this book as much as I wanted to is the main character, Hudson. I just couldn't connect with her. She's so melodramatic, makes such a big deal out of everything. It annoyed me to no end how she could never make up her mind and blamed herself for everything that went wrong in her life. Yes, I get that Hudson is a realistic 16-year-old girl character, but, well, her behavior is also infuriating, and I just couldn't get past that.

The secondary characters are just okay. Most of them are fully-developed, but I didn't love them like I'd hoped - I just have higher standards for Sarah Ockler. For example, there's the romance storyline, which didn't work for me - so much unnecessary drama! There's a sort of love triangle between Josh and Will, except, well, not really, because it's made obvious from the start that Josh is the one Hudson wants. And Josh is just kind of... meh. He's sweet, but he's too perfect to be realistic, and we don't get to know him well enough. Will is a good character and I liked his backstory, but I didn't get the point of the whole storyline with Will. I can't say too much about this without spoiling anything, but all the drama about the one misunderstanding was unrealistic and completely unnecessary - that's just something you find out about a friend, and I don't see something like that causing so much drama.

The family storyline didn't wow me, either. How Hudson kept blaming herself for her parents' divorce just bugged me. I know it's realistic and kind of the point, but it still frustrated me to no end. And I didn't really get how the family drama made her quit skating - the way it's presented, it just didn't make sense to me. I didn't love the parents' characters, but I guess we weren't supposed to. We were, however, supposed to like Hudson's little brother, Bud, and I guess he is pretty cute. But, to be honest, I thought his whole character was kind of trying too hard to be cute - why do so many YA MCs have such genius younger siblings!? Can't they ever just be normal and annoying!?

And then there's the drama between Hudson and Dani. Dani's a good friend to Hudson most of the time, but I also found their fights kind of melodramatic. I thought it was kind of strange how needy Dani was towards Hudson, always getting mad when Hudson had other plans, since, supposedly, Dani's the one with a social life outside of Hudson.

Despite all this negative stuff, there were a lot of things I loved, too. I'm still a huge fan of Sarah Ockler's writing - even when I didn't love the plot, the beautiful writing carried the rest of the novel, for me. I love the atmosphere Sarah Ockler has created here, with the small town feel and everything related to winter - I just love strong seasonal settings, and this one really made me feel like I was there alongside Hudson, experiencing winter in Watonka. And of course I loved everything relating to cupcakes because, well, cupcakes! Yum. Hudson's experiences as a waitress were fun to read about, too, and I loved the insight we got into Hudson's life as a figure skater, since that's something I know nothing about.

There were a lot of things I loved about Bittersweet, but large parts of the plot and the main character just didn't work for me; it was too predictable, melodramatic, and cliched for me, and I was expecting more from Sarah Ockler. Still, it's a cute read, and Sarah Ockler's writing is still amazing. Bittersweet wasn't my favorite Sarah Ockler novel, but I'll keep reading whatever she writes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bout of Books Wrap-Up

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

Soo, I more or less failed at this readathon. My goal was to read 8 books, and I only read 4:
  • Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
  • Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
  • Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
  • How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
But I'm pretty much okay with that - I had more going on that week than I'd expected, and four books in one week is more than I'm usually reading these days. And I had lots of fun taking part in the community part of the readathon - the Twitter chats are always awesome!

If you took part, how did you do in this readathon? What was your favorite part?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: The Wedding Cake Girl by Anne Pfeffer

Title: The Wedding Cake Girl
Author: Anne Pfeffer
Publisher: Bold Print Press
Pages: 232
Release date: July 24th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Source: Received a finished copy from the author in exchange for an honest review - thank you, Anne!
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
Seventeen-year-old Alexandra spends so much time helping others realize their dreams that she never has time for her own. An expert ocean diver and reluctant maker of wedding cakes, she longs to leave roses and frosting behind to study oceanography. Alex’s mother won’t have it—needy and dependent, Mom can’t run the family wedding cake business on her own.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was really surprised by how much I loved The Wedding Cake Girl. I know I shouldn't be, but I'm often kind of wary of small press or self-published books; my expectations are just always lower, even though I know these smaller titles can be just as great as the ones by the big publishers. But I shouldn't have worried - Anne Pfeffer's debut, Any Other Night (or Loving Emily, as it was called back when I read it) was good, and The Wedding Cake Girl was even better!

I'll admit that I didn't start out loving The Wedding Cake Girl, and that's mainly because of the main character. Alex just bugged me in the beginning, whining about her life but not doing anything. But the character growth she goes through is great; she really grew on me, and towards the end, I couldn't help but love her.

In the beginning, I also had some issues with the writing. It felt clumsy and amateurish to me, and it just didn't flow the way I wanted it to, made it hard for me to get into the story. I don't know if the writing improved over the course of the novel or if I just got used to the style, but I ended up liking the writing later on. It's not the most obviously beautiful writing, but it fits the story; it's simple and moves the plot along nicely.

And the plot, I loved. It sounds pretty basic, but I just love the way Anne Pfeffer developed the story! The family storyline is good - I always like reading about a character finding herself and learning to stand up for herself in a situation like this one. I wish we could have gotten some more insight into why Alex's mom acts the way she does, but I still liked reading about how Alex's relationship with her mom developed.

And then there's the romance. I'm picky about romance storylines and for once, the romance was just the way I liked it! It may seem predictable in the beginning, and you, like me, will think you have it all figured out, that it's the typical love triangle with the obvious ending. But it's not - I loved all the twists that I didn't see coming! The boys' characters are really well-developed, and I loved getting to know them. And I especially love the unconventional way Anne Pfeffer decided to end things!

Another part I really liked is the setting. Alex lives on an island off of Southern California, and it all just sounds so beautiful! I think I should have read this in the summer instead, to keep my jealousy in check. Either way, I loved all the island-y stuff, the descriptions of Alex's diving, all of that.

I'm not even sure what made this novel so great. Maybe it's just the simplicity - no one thing made me fall in love with the novel, but all the simple subtleties made me love it nonetheless. The Wedding Cake Girl is a sweet coming-of-age story, and I loved it!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Review: Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos

Title: Out of Reach
Author: Carrie Arcos
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: October 16th 2012
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon
When Micah disappears from home, his sister Rachel decides to secretly take matters into her own hands. Armed with Micah's best friend Tyler, she travels from the hazy, lazy suburbs of Southern California to the seedy side of San Diego's beach communities following the clues that Micah left behind. As each lead arrives at a dead end, she is left to piece together the puzzle that is her brother's life. And the sketchy characters Rachel and Tyler encounter make Rachel wonder if she can reach Micah before it’s too late.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What first caught my attention about Out of Reach was the cover - it's stark and beautiful and powerful. And luckily, that's what the whole novel was like, for me!

I loved reading about Rachel on her search through San Diego. The atmosphere is so well done; Carrie Arcos's writing made everything come to life. I felt like I was right there along with Rachel and Tyler, going from seedy beaches to seedier houses.

Interspersed between the scenes of searching for Micah, we have flashbacks to how everything started, and the transitions are seamless. The addiction storyline is handled really well. It's not exactly my area of expertise, but it seemed authentic to me, Micah's downward spiral, his time in rehab, his relapse, and the effect all of it had on Rachel and the rest of the family. It was downright scary to read about Micah - a character we grew to love - losing himself like that.

Rachel is a really good main character. She is kind of typical, the good-girl little sister, not the most unique character I've read about, but with this story, it works - I can't explain why, it just does. She really grew on me over time, showing some different sides to her that I hadn't been expecting in the beginning, and by the end, I loved her and didn't want to stop reading about her life.

At first, I was kind of wary of the whole romance storyline; for the first half of the novel, Tyler just seems too perfect. He's a great musician, a great artist, sweet to Rachel, good at dealing with all these people - he just seemed to good to be true. But towards the end, he showed some vulnerability that made him seem a lot more real to me. And I really appreciated how the author left things between Rachel and Tyler.

I'm not sure what to make of the spiritual aspect. It's not a huge part of the novel, but it's definitely there. It's not exactly preachy, but it is sort of going that direction. I didn't mind too much, but it wasn't my favorite part of the novel, either.

I loved the ending. I know there will be lots of people who will complain about it, who would prefer a happy ending. But I'm never a fan of unrealistically happy endings, so I thought this one was perfect - it has just the right balance of melancholy and hope and closure, and I loved it.

With a beautifully honest story and a powerful message, Out of Reach is a bittersweet but hopeful novel that made me ache in all the right ways. I can't wait to read more from Carrie Arcos!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Bout of Books 6.0

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

I didn't find out about this until Saturday because, well, I haven't exactly been active in the blogosphere lately, but when I saw there was gonna be another Bout of Books Read-a-thon, I knew I had to take part! Here's what it's all about:

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, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th 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 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

I took part in a Bout of Books readathon this summer, and I loved it, so I'm definitely taking part again! The timing is perfect, since my semester starts January 14th, and this will help me get some more reading done before I have to get back to studying. And I get to cheat - I'm switching time zones, so my week will be 6 hours longer! More time to read - yay! (Not really, since I'll spend about 30 hours travelling and feeling like death. But still.)

I'm hoping to get these 8 books read this week:

  • Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
  • Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
  • A Long Way from You by Gwendolyn Heasley
  • How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
  • WinterTown by Stephen Emond
  • Awkward by Marni Bates

I'm really looking forward to getting some reading done, and to the Twitter chats, which were awesome last time!

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?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Review: What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

Title: What Happens Next
Author: Colleen Clayton
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: Ocotber 9th 2012
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Add to Goodreads | Purchase Amazon
How can you talk about something you can't remember?
When sixteen-year-old cheerleader Cassidy "Sid" Murphy ends up on a ski lift next to handsome college boy, Dax Windsor, she's thrilled; but Dax isn't what he seems. He takes everything from Sid - including a lock of her perfect red curls - and she can't remember any of it. Back home and alienated by her old friends, Sid forms an unlikely friendship with Corey "The Living Stoner" Livingston (slacker, baker, total dreamboat) and finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now if she can just shed the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so Sid thinks.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I'm not really sure what went wrong with What Happens Next. It's not a bad book, but I can't help but feel disappointed, and I'm not even sure why. I did like a lot of things in What Happens Next, but ultimately, it just left me feeling kind of underwhelmed.

A large part of why I didn't connect with this story, I think, is that I never clicked with our main character Sid. To me, Sid never seemed like a real person; she just personified a bunch of issues (the rape, her problems with her body perception, and the eating disorder that results from these). While there are a few unique things about Sid, I never felt like we got to know her apart from these issues. Especially her issues relating the way she sees herself and her body annoyed me; they didn't feel real, more like representations of what everyone going through something like this supposedly feels. I can't even explain why it felt that way to me; it just did.

There's three main relationships in this novel: the one Sid has with her family, the one between Sid and her friends, Kirsten and Paige, and the romance between Sid and Corey. And, to be honest, all of them felt kind of flat to me, too. The family just felt too picture-perfect, with the super-supportive mom and the trying-too-hard-to-be-adorable little brother. Kirsten and Paige really pissed me off in the beginning, but that storyline gets better later on, and I like the support they provide for Sid towards the end. Still, it bugged me how their abandoning Sid when she needed them was never really addressed. Corey is a pretty good character, but I'm just not a fan of the whole new-guy-swoops-in-to-save-everything storyline. I don't think Corey as a character is explored enough; for example, something comes out about him towards the end that I would have liked to go into more depth about, but we don't really get to know much about his background. In general, the characters and their reactions to Sid's situation seemed too black and white for me; they're either pissed at Sid, or completely supportive, and I would have preferred to see something in between as well, to see them process and deal with the situation as well.

That being said, there were parts of the novel I enjoyed, too. I really liked Sid's voice and Colleen Clayton's writing style; it's authentic and flows nicely. Even when I had issues with the plot and the characters, the writing pulled me along and made it easy to get lost in the story.

I also really liked seeing how Sid dealt with her trauma. Her ups and downs, and the way this affected her day-to-day life, was fascinating to read about. The ending, though, I didn't love as much; it just seemed a little too happy, too pseudo-therapeutic, and too message-driven to me.

All in all, while I did like the basic story and thought the novel had a lot of potential, many aspects of What Happens Next fell short for me. I couldn't connect with the main character, parts of it didn't feel authentic to me, and I would've liked the secondary characters to be more dynamic. Still, I don't discourage you from giving What Happens Next a try - I personally just didn't connect with the story as much as I'd hoped.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Releases January 2013

Happy new year, everyone! Let's see how 2013 is starting out, book-release-wise...

New releases:

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 1st 2013

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

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

Release date: January 1st 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: January 1st 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?

Catherine by April Lindner
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 2nd 2013

Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?
Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.
Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.

Shadowlands by Kate Brian
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived … and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.
Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013
When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Crash by Lisa McMann
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013

Jules lives with her family above their restaurant, which means she smells like pizza most of the time and drives their double-meatball-shaped food truck to school. It’s not a recipe for popularity, but she can handle that.
What she can’t handle is the vision. Over and over, Jules sees a careening truck hit a building and explode... and nine body bags in the snow.
She has no idea why this is happening to her or if she’s going crazy. It hardly matters, because the visions are everywhere--on billboards, television screens, windows--and she’s the only one who can see them.
But it’s not until the vision starts coming more frequently, and revealing more clues, that Jules knows what she has to do. Because now she can see the face in one of the body bags, and it's someone she knows. Someone she’s been in love with for as long as she can remember.

The Wrap-Up List by Steven Arntson
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013

In this modern-day suburban town, one percent of all fatalities come about in the most peculiar way. Deaths—eight-foot-tall, silver-gray creatures—send a letter (“Dear So-and-So, your days are numbered”) to whomever is chosen for a departure, telling them to wrap up their lives and do the things they always wanted to do before they have to “depart.” When sixteen-year-old Gabriela receives her notice, she is, of course devastated. Will she kiss her crush Sylvester before it’s too late?

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013

Lizzie wasn’t the first student at Verity High School to kill herself this year. But the difference is, she didn’t go quietly.
First it was SLUT scribbled all over the school’s lockers. But one week after Lizzie Hart takes her own life, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s own looping scrawl. Photocopies of her diary show up in the hands of her classmates. And her best friend, Angie, is enraged.
Angie stopped talking to Lizzie on prom night, when she caught Lizzie in bed with her boyfriend. Too heartbroken to ask for an explanation or to intervene when Lizzie got branded Queen of the Sluts and was cruelly bullied by her classmates, Angie left her best friend to the mercy of the school, with tragic results.
But with this new slur, Angie’s guilt transforms into anger that someone is still targeting Lizzie even after her death. Using clues from Lizzie’s diary and aided by the magnetic, mysterious Jesse, Angie begins relentlessly investigating who, exactly, made Lizzie feel life was no longer worth living. And while she might claim she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, her anguish over abandoning and then losing her best friend drives Angie deeper into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Then You Were Gone by Lauren Strasnick
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013

Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend, Dakota, walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.
Now Dakota is missing, and all that remains is a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.
Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s growing more convinced each day that Dakota is still alive.
Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.
Or maybe it’s too late for them both.

Salvation by Anne Osterlund
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 10th 2013

Salvador Resendez--Salva to his friends--appears to have it all. His Mexican immigrant family has high expectations, and Salva intends to fulfill them. He's student body president, quarterback of the football team, and has a near-perfect GPA. Everyone loves him.
Especially Beth Courant, AKA the walking disaster area. Dreamy and shy, Beth is used to blending into the background. But she's also smart, and she has serious plans for her future.
Popular guy and bookish girl--the two have almost nothing in common. Until fate throws them together and the attraction is irresistible. Soon Beth is pushing Salva to set his sights higher than ever--because she knows he has more to offer, more than even he realizes.
Then tragedy strikes--and threatens to destroy everything that Salva has worked for. Will Beth's love be enough to save him?

Return to Me by Justina Chen Headley
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 15th 2013

Three months before Rebecca Muir is set to begin college, her father reveals a secret that tears the family apart: he is leaving them.
In an instant, Rebecca’s life crumbles—she has to rely on her mother now, when her whole life she’s been her father’s girl; she’s not sure she can trust her high school boyfriend; and her carefully planned-out life suddenly feels all wrong.
Reb’s journey takes her across the country and back, and is for anyone who has experienced uncertainty or betrayal. This book will inspire readers to overcome life’s challenges and come out triumphant on the other side.

Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 29th 2013

Bonnie and Clyde meets Simone Elkeles in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.
They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.
Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....
When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

New in paperback:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Release date: January 1st 2013

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.
Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 3rd 2013

Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the pain meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv. The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all. 

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
Add to Goodreads | Purchase from Amazon

Release date: January 8th 2013

Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad's consulting job means she's grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she's learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place--possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home.
But in the year since her brother Oren's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as "Sapphire"--a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can't get the murder out of her mind.
As she attempts to piece together the mysterious "butterfly clues," with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined--a world, she'll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother's tragic death.

What January releases are you most looking forward to? 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...