Saturday, June 28, 2014

My New Treasures #33

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.

I got a couple of egalleys from NetGalley and Edelweiss over the last few weeks:

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez
Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

What books did you get this week?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4)
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: December 3rd 2013
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: Bought
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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…
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I've been having kind of a hard time with YA romances lately - the last few that I've read all seemed too cheesy for me, and I couldn't really enjoy the romance storylines. I had begun to doubt whether YA contemporary romance was still the right genre for me, thinking I might have outgrown the idealistic romantic notions sometimes represented in the genre. That's why I'm so glad I picked up another Miranda Kenneally book - I can count on her to show me what I love about YA contemporary romances! Racing Savannah reminded me that, when it's done well, I do absolutely love romance. That's why Miranda Kenneally is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!

Even though all the Hundred Oaks books are set in the same place, it feels like Miranda Kenneally has created another world in Racing Savannah, and I love this world of horse racing that we get to catch a glimpse into with this novel! I know nothing about horses or farms or racing, but after finishing this novel, I feel like I got to live in Savannah's world for a little while. I loved getting to know a world so different from mine - these racehorses are fascinating to read about! I also appreciated how this setting provided a basis to present issues of class difference, a topic that Miranda Kenneally handles with admirable grace.

As in all of her previous novels, Miranda Kenneally has created some dynamic and lovable characters in Racing Savannah. Savannah is easy to relate to, and you can't help but feel for her. I didn't love Jack quite as much as the previous Hundred Oaks boys because his character lacks some of the heart I loved about the other boys, but he's a solid addition to the Hundred Oaks group nonetheless. As always, the secondary characters are fun to read about as well, and especially Rory always brought a smile to my face.

Companion novels are probably my favorite format because I love seeing characters I enjoyed reading about in previous books reappear, and that was definitely the case in Racing Savannah. The fourth book in the Hundred Oaks series is set a bit later than the first three, so we get to see the main characters from the previous books all grown up, which I really loved. Some of Savannah's interactions with these previous Hundred Oaks characters seemed a bit contrived, but I didn't mind because I loved getting these little tidbits of information as to how all these characters I've grown to love ended up.

Racing Savannah is a solid addition to the Hundred Oaks series I love. You can count on Miranda Kenneally's books to have great humor, cute romance, character's you'll love and relate to, and life lessons that are thought-provoking but never preachy. I can't wait to read to read the next installment in the Hundred Oaks series, Breathe, Annie, Breathe!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: July 8th 2014
Pages: 320
Genre: adult contemporary
Source: BEA 2014
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Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.
Maybe that was always besides the point.
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.
When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.
That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .
Is that what she’s supposed to do?
Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved Rainbow Rowell's YA books Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, but I still tried to keep my expectations low for Landline, since this is adult fiction and bound to be different from the YA Rainbow Rowell has written. Thankfully, that wasn't necessary, because I loved Landline too! It's definitely different from Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, but it's amazing in its own way.

I just love Rainbow Rowell's writing. Her humor shines through in this novel, making the whole book entirely pleasant to read. But even though it's accurate, I don't think "pleasant" is giving Rainbow Rowell enough credit - her writing is also poignant and thought-provoking. Despite all of these marriage issues not really being something I'm concerned with at the moment, the novel did make me think a lot about relationships and love and life and all that good stuff. Rainbow Rowell's writing is just so engaging and entertaining and poignant and perfect.

I loved Georgie's voice and character. This goes along with Rainbow Rowell's writing style, but I loved the narrator's humor and self-deprecating way of speaking. Georgie is so easy to relate to, and I really felt for her. I loved the secondary characters, too: Seth, Georgie's mom, and Heather all have really entertaining stories that contribute a lot to the main plot. The only character that I didn't really get to know is Neal, which is kind of problematic, since he's kind of the second most important character, but also makes sense because the novel is about Georgie and Neal spending time apart. 

If anyone else had written the plot, the time travel-esque thing would have probably seemed cliched and kind of ridiculous. But Rainbow Rowell's writing makes it work: everything about the magic phone seemed realistic (even though it's obviously not), and I loved reading about it. I really enjoyed the rest of the plot, too, and loved getting to see the two periods in their relationship play out at the same time. The only thing I didn't love was the ending: it just seemed a little too perfect and happy for me. Then again. I wouldn't have wanted the story to end any other way, so I guess I can't complain.

Landline didn't speak to me quite as much as Rainbow Rowell's YA novels did, but I did really enjoy it. Landline is an equally entertaining and thought-provoking story that will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face. If you haven't read anything by Rainbow Rowell, that needs to change right now, and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Through to You
Author: Lauren Barnholdt
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: July 8th 2014
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: Edelweiss - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy.
Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.
Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings.
Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Good-girl/bad-boy romances are very hit-or-miss for me - I'm not a huge fan of the story art, but when it's well done, I do enjoy it. Sadly, Through to You does not belong in the well-done category: it exemplifies every issue I take with the story arc, and then some, making this a very frustrating read for me.

I'm just going to say it: the way Penn treats Harper is emotionally abusive. I know there are lots of people who won't take this claim seriously and call my use of the world abuse exaggerated, but I firmly believe that this relationship is an abusive one. Penn is irrational and has outbreaks of anger during and after which he completely ignores and disrespects Harper. Harper needs to walk on coals to make sure not to set him off. The power balance is completely in Penn's favor: he calls the shots and decides when to ignore Harper and when to expect her to be at his beck and call. The two of them talk about Penn's life exclusively, and Penn gets annoyed whenever Harper tries to bring up whatever is going on with her. None of these things are okay, and to market this unhealthy relationship as a romance is problematic in so many ways. I understand that this is the point of the novel and that they (supposedly) figure their issues out over the course of the story, but Penn apologizing and promising to do better does not make his behavior okay. Presenting his apology as a happy ending for the couple is problematic to say the least, and I don't even want to think about what kind of message this novel sends about gender roles, relationships, and power dynamics.

With an emotionally abusive relationship presented as a romance, I really couldn't enjoy any part of this novel. The characters frustrated me so much - I understand that Penn's going through a lot, but that does not justify the way he treats Harper, or some of the other people in his life. I couldn't see him as the "hero" of the story because his behavior is simply unacceptable. Harper's character had a lot of potential: I really liked her, but I kept hoping for her not to go back to Penn, so of course I was disappointed. The characters outside of this relationship seemed interesting and had potential, but the story focuses so much on the "romance" that their stories are never fully explored.

I don't have anything else to say: there's nothing technically "wrong" with the novel, and I did enjoy Lauren Barnholdt's writing. But an emotionally abusive relationship that isn't addressed as one is kind of a dealbreaker for me, and I cannot consider this a romance. Because of the highly problematic portrayal of relationships and power dynamics, I cannot recommend Through to You. I did really enjoy Lauren Barnholdt's Two-Way Street, though, and I've heard good things about her other novels, so I'd recommend reading one of those instead.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Title: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Publisher: Razorbill
Release date: June 12th 2014
Pages: 279
Genre: Young Adult horror
Source: Teen Author Carnival 2014
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Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wait, what just happened? Did that really just happen? I just finished reading The Merciless, and I can't get over that shocking ending. Or any of the horrifying stuff in this book, really. I am so creeped out, I don't even know what else to say. This is the first true horror novel I've read, so I'm obviously not the best judge, but that was probably the most disturbing thing I've ever read.

The first 30 pages or so of The Merciless read like the typical YA story, albeit with a very creepy atmosphere. After that, though, this novel turns into something unlike anything I've ever read before. This "exorcism" is horrifying - the details we get about the torture these girls perform on Brooklyn are disgusting, but I couldn't stop reading. For most of the novel, the reader feels like they, along with Sofia, are stuck in this house with these ruthless psychopaths, and it's absolutely terrifying. (I just have one question for Sofia: where was your cell phone during all of this? Why was calling 911 never an option???) Just when I thought it was done and we were safe... wrong. It only gets scarier and gorier from there. And that ending just completely blew my mind.

All the other aspects of the story are okay at best: Sofia's character could have used some more exploration, and the rest of the characters aren't really developed at all, outside of this situation. The romance is just kind of randomly thrown in there and isn't all that complex or realistic. The whole story, especially the ending, values shock value above in-depth exploration. But while I was reading, none of that bothered me: I was too busy freaking out about what was going on. If you're looking for a thrill, the horrifying story will definitely make up for these weaknesses.

Really, that's all I have to say. If you're looking for strong characters, The Merciless isn't for you, but if you're a fan of horror, or (like me) want to give the genre a try, I would definitely recommend this novel. The Merciless is horrifying, disgusting, creepy, scary, and so, so intense. I know for sure I'm going to have nightmares tonight. If you're looking for something thrilling and horrifying to read, The Merciless is definitely the book for you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Starting a Feminist Book Blog and Looking for Contributors!

Are you a feminist? Do you like books? If both apply to you, please keep reading because WE NEED YOU.

Racquel from The Book Barbies, Jessica from Fly to Fiction, and I decided that we want to start a feminist book blog. If you read my blog regularly, you've probably noticed that many of my reviews lately include something like a feminist-rant section because, even when I love a book, I often have issues with the portrayal of gender (and race and sexuality). I include this stuff in my reviews because I have really strong feelings about these issues, but I still feel kind of weird writing about them here because Paperback Treasures is just a book blog, and I want it to stay that way. That's why I was so happy to find out that Racquel and Jessica feel the same way, and why I'm so excited to hopefully be starting a feminist book blog where we could talk about these things in more detail.

The problem is, though, that we don't want to do this alone. Considering we all already have our regular book blogs, we don't have time to start another blog by ourselves. That's where you (the hypothetical feminist bookish person I'm talking to) come in. We are hoping to get more people to join us so that each of us could post maybe once a week, making this a not-too-big time commitment.

The plan is for this to be a blog where we can discuss the books we read from a feminist point of view. All three of us read mainly YA, but it doesn't matter what genre(s) you read - any genres could be reviewed on this blog, and it might even be beneficial to have someone who reads and writes about about other genres.These posts won't be full reviews (since we'll still be writing those on our regular blogs); we were just going to focus on the feminist critique. That would mean writing about the portrayal of gender and gender relations, and also about the diversity of the characters (i.e. are there any characters who are LGBTQ+? is there any racial diversity? and are these characters portrayed realistically and respectfully?), and anything else related to social activism. "Feminist critiques" makes it sound really formal, but really, this would all be in a very informal, laid-back style.We'd also like to use this blog to discuss articles on the Internet relating to books and issues of gender or diversity. 

That's pretty much all we know so far - now we're just looking for people who would be willing to contribute! Like I said, ideally this would be an each-person-posting-once-a-week type of thing, but of course that depends on how many people we get. And if you would like to contribute but think you couldn't post that often, just let us know and we'll see if we can figure something out. Any contributions would be welcome! 

If you're interested in contributing or just hearing more about this, please email me at hannah11200 (at) hotmail (dot) com, or tweet me @PbackTreasures, or just leave a comment here. Or if you know someone you think might be interested, either point them in the direction of this blog post, or let me know who they are so I can ask them if they'd be interested.

Thank you so much for your help, everyone!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #28: Summer TBR

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 Books on My Summer TBR

I decided to split this into two top-five books instead of one top-ten: first the top five summer releases (that I don't have ARCs of) that I'm most excited about, and then the top five books on my actual TBR already that I hope to read this summer. So here goes.

Top Five Summer Releases I'm Excited For

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Let's just get this obvious one out of the way - I'm assuming this one is going to be on pretty much everyone's list. Stephanie Perkins writes amazing contemporary romances, and I can't wait for this one!

2. Random by Tom Leveen

Random sounds chilling and dark and amazing. I absolutely love the idea for this one.

3. In Deep by Terra Elan McVoy

I love Terra Elan McVoy's writing, and this one looks amazing. It sounds a bit darker than her previous books, so I'm excited how In Deep will turn out.

4. Like No Other by Una LaMarche

I loved Una LaMarche's debut, Five Summers, and I can't wait for her sophomore novel! Like No Other sounds like such a unique story.

5. On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence sounds like the cutest romance (sort of reminds me of My Life Next Door), and the early reviews have been glowing. I can't wait to read this one!

Top Five Books on My TBR I Need to Get to This Summer

1. Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

This is one of the ARCs I got at BEA that I'm most excited about. The idea sounds so, so good. I will be really disappointed if I don't end up lovign this one...

2. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place sounds like exactly the dark kind of contemporary I love, and I've heard great things about it already!

3. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

I absolutely loved Morgan Matson's previous books, so I'm super excited to read her newest one. And I love when books focus on friendship rather than romance, so Since You've Been Gone sounds perfect for me.

4. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jandy Nelson's debut, The Sky Is Everywhere, is one of my all-time favorites, so I'm so happy she finally has a new book coming out! This one sounds amazing as well.

5. Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

I recently read Corey Ann Haydu's OCD Love Story, and I loved it! Life by Committee sounds just as intriguing, and I've heard great things!

What books are you most excited this summer?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Top 5 Favorite Dads in YA

So I just saw Barnes and Noble's Fathers Day post, The 5 Best Dads in YA, and decided to steal the idea and make my own list - so any credit for this idea goes to B&N! I wish I had actually had this idea myself, and earlier, so I could have made one on Mothers Day, too, but oh well. Either way, absentee parents are often an issue in YA, so I wanted to honor those dads in YA who a) play an important role in the story and b) are awesome. So here goes!

All links go to my reviews of these books!

1. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

How to Say Goodbye in Robot is one of my favorite books of all time. Family is not the main focus, and even within the family part of the novel, we get to read more about Bea's mom's issues than about her dad. But even though he's not one of the central characters, I absolutely loved Bea's dad - he's so sweet and supportive, and their relationship is adorable to read about.

2. Stay by Deb Caletti

Stay is about a girl with a single dad. (Well, it's really about a girl escaping from an abusive relationship. But those are the family dynamics.) Having only Clara and her dad as the main characters (at least in the present part of the novel) gives lots of room to explore their relationship, and I loved it. Clara's dad is supportive and trying to be strong for his daughter but also has his vulnerabilities. I even loved the small romance storyline he gets in this one!

3. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer is about the impending death of the main character's father, so of course he plays an important role in the story. The whole family takes one last vacation together, which provides a really great setting to explore the family dynamics. The relationship between Taylor and her dad is exceptionally well-done: it's sad to see how it develops, since his health is deteriorating every day, but it's also really sweet to see how the two of them help each other out.

4. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King

I didn't want to include this one because it's on B&N's list, and I didn't want to steal any more of their ideas. (That's also why My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins aren't on here, even though those books have two awesome dads each.) But I couldn't not include Please Ignore Vera Dietz, because Vera's relationship with her dad is so moving to read about. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a very dark book and nothing in her life is perfect, so that includes her relationship with her dad. They definitely fight a lot, but the way they ultimately care about each other, after all they've been through, is evident in each interaction.

5. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Moonglass is another novel where the main character's mother has died, leaving us with a complicated father-daughter relationship. There's some tension surrounding the mystery of Anna's mom's death, but her relationship with her dad is strong enough to get through that. This is another father-daughter relationship that balances the conflicts perfectly with how much they care for and support each other.

Who are your favorite dads in YA?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

Title: The Things You Kiss Goodbye
Author: Leslie Connor
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: June 24th 2014
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA 14
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Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.
But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.
Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.
When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

To say I had low expectations for this novel would be an understatement. It sounded like a very typical story about a love triangle, and I assumed it would be predictable. The Things You Kissed Goodbye surprised me by disproving both of those assumptions! I most definitely would not have predicted that ending, and the story is so much more than just a love triangle. So even though I had some issues with the melodrama and the later developments of the plot, I really enjoyed The Things You Kiss Goodbye!

When the synopsis claims that Brady changes and is no longer the "sweet boy" Bettina fell for, I assumed the two would have some issues and just weren't right for each other. What the synopsis doesn't tell us (and which I think it should, since it starts fairly early on in the novel), is that this is not just a bad relationship; it's an abusive one. Brady isn't abusive in the traditional sense, as he doesn't actually purposely beat Bettina, but he does hurt her physically, brushing it off as games, and he is most definitively emotionally abusive. I really enjoyed the exploration of this abusive relationship (although I guess "enjoy" isn't the right word for this kind of story) - Bettina's conflicted feelings are excellently done.

I really liked Bettina's relationship with Cowboy, too. I didn't think I could like this relationship because the fact that she calls him Cowboy would bother me too much, and I did think that part was kind of weird, but I still really liked reading about their budding friendship and potential romance. Cowboy is such a sweet character, and I loved getting little glimpses into his life. The chemistry between Cowboy and Bettina is great, and I just loved reading about them.

I love that Bettina's parents are fully developed characters. Oftentimes, when parents in YA are super strict, they are just unreasonable and unrealistic, and the novel doesn't even try to explain why. And I'm so glad that's not the case here. Yes, Bampas is incredibly strict, and his conservative and kind of sexist views bothered me. But we get some insight into his reasoning, and while of course I didn't agree with him, I at least sort of understood where he was coming from. Bettina's mom is a great character, too, and I loved getting insight into the parents' relationship. Understanding her parents made Bettina's story a lot more believable and relatable for me. 

So, basically, I loved everything... up until the last 100 pages. The whole ending just didn't work for me. I can't really talk about this in detail without spoiling anything, but everything just moved waaaay too fast. The change in Bettina and Cowboy's relationship is too abrupt and melodramatic, and Bettina's and Brady's relationship is resolved too quickly, just like Bettina's issues with her dad. There's a really big plot twist, and I just don't think that was necessary - it's an interesting idea, but because there's barely any time left in the novel, it is completely underdeveloped. That made it feel unrealistic and just melodramatic. The ending - by which I mean the last 100 pages - ruined most of what I enjoyed about the rest of this book.

I had a hard time trying to figure out how to rate The Things You Kiss Goodbye because I loved everything about the story, until a rushed and melodramatic ending just kind of ruins it. I don't really know whether or not to recommend this book - I really liked Leslie Connor's writing and all of the storylines are excellently done, at first. But the rushed and melodramatic ending substantially subtracted from the enjoyment I got out of the novel, and it did not do any of these characters or storylines justice.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bookish Anticipation #37

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.

Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo
Release date: August 28th 2014
Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:
Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.
At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).
Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Release date: September 9th 2014
In the next seventy-two hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for seventy-two hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for mandatory psychiatric watch. There, Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who’s there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.
A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen
Release date: August 12th 2014
Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?
Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.
Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously...

Random by Tom Leveen
Release date: August 12th 2014
Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.
He asks for a single thing—one reason not to kill himself.
The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he'll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can't help but suspect the caller is a fraud. But what if he’s not? Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.
With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger—and maybe redeem herself—leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Release date: August 5th 2014
In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin
Release date: August 7th 2014
Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her manysmall victories as she returns to high school in her home town and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow.

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard
Release date: October 7th 2014
In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke...until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire
 Release date: October 7th 2014
Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.
All because of the list.
Kenzie Summerall can't imagine how she's been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.
This is the power of the list. If you're on it, your life changes.
If you're on it this year? Your life ends.

What releases are you anticipating this Wednesday? 

Monday, June 09, 2014

Review: OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: OCD Love Story
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: July 23rd 2013
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he's her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.
But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can't stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic... and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a ton about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she's obsessed.
Bea tells herself she's got it all under control, but this isn't a choice, it's a compulsion. The truth is, she's breaking down... and she might end up breaking her own heart.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was not expecting to love this book. The frankness of the title and the cutesy colors made me worry that this would be an unrealistic, simplified portrayal of mental illness. The only reason I bought it, really, is that Books of Wonder had a signed copy and I can just never resist signed books. It had been sitting on my TBR pile for almost a year until I finally got to it, but I'm so glad I did because I ended up loving it!

My worries about this being a stereotypical and simplified portrayal of OCD were completely unwarranted. I guess I can't really judge if the portrayal is authentic, but it felt that way to me. I appreciated that Bea does not have the stereotypical super-clean OCD or anything like that; she has obsessions and compulsions that are a lot more unusual than that. I really liked that we got to see so many different variations of OCD through all the different members of Bea's therapy group. At times, the descriptions were so raw that this story was hard to read; it was scary to see how bad Bea's condition had gotten, and all throughout the book, I was terrified of the moment it would all come crashing down. 

Although the book is called OCD Love Story, the focus is a lot more on the OCD than on the love story, which I personally really appreciated. I really liked having Bea as the main focus and her romance with Beck as only a secondary storyline. Bea is a great protagonist: she doesn't just personify her disorder but has a real personality, and I absolutely loved her. I also really enjoyed her friendship with Lisha - she's in an interesting character, and the decisions she has to make are moral dilemmas that are fascinating to think through for yourself. The romance with Beck is great, too: I loved seeing these two go back and forth between enabling and helping each other. I wish we had gotten some more insight into both of their pasts though: I wanted to know more about Beck's sister and about the stuff that happened between Bea and Jeff, how these things triggered their OCD. I also wish Bea's parents had played a more important role in the novel; they were absent throughout most of Bea's struggles.

Despite these little things that could have been elaborated on more, I absolutely loved OCD Love Story. It's a great balance of educating readers about mental disorders through its nuanced portrayal of a character with OCD and of simply telling a great story. I definitely recommend it!

Saturday, June 07, 2014

My New Treasures #32: BEA Book Haul!

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.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han *signed*
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy *signed*
Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy *signed*
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord *signed*
The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi *signed*
Five Summers by Una LaMarche *signed*
The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
The Merciless by Danielle Vega (ARC)
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield (ARC)
Rooms by Lauren Oliver (ARC) *signed*
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (ARC) *signed*
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (ARC) *signed*
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by AS King (ARC) *signed*
The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor (ARC) *signed*
Famous In Love by Rebecca Serle (ARC)
Falling into Place by Amy Zhang (ARC)
Tape by Steven Camden (ARC)
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (ARC)
Landline by Rainbow Rowell (ARC)
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (ARC) *signed*
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson *signed*
How We Fall by Kate Brauning (ARC) *signed*
Tease by Amanda Maciel *signed*
YOLO (Internet Girls #4) by Lauren Myracle 
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart *signed*
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally (ARC) *signed*
The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris (ARC) *signed*
Clean by Amy Reed
The Jewel by Amy Ewing (ARC)
Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu *signed*

What books did you get this week? And which of these should I read first?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release date: February 26th 2013
Pages: 328
Genre: Young Adult historical romance
Source: Bought
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Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.
Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.
Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I know I'm pretty much the last person in the YA blogosphere to read Eleanor & Park, so saying this is probably pointless, but if you haven't read it, you need to - it really is as amazing as everyone has said. It's so many things that I don't even know how to describe it: it's weird and awkward and beautiful and just perfect.

The description focuses a lot on the romance, but what I loved the most were Eleanor and Park as individual characters. Eleanor's story had me hooked right away: what she's been through and is still going through is so horrible, both with her family and with the bullying at school. The way that Eleanor describes what happens at her house is so subtle and honest, making it very realistic and even scarier. I wish we'd gotten to know more about the family's past, especially about Eleanor's relationship with her mother before she started dating Richie, and about Eleanor's father. But in a way I appreciated that this is just a snapshot from Eleanor's life. At first I didn't know if I would be able to relate to Eleanor, but I grew to care for her so much over the course of the novel: her vulnerability is so honest and so sad and I just wanted to get her out of this world and make everything right for her.

Park is a great character, too. His issues aren't as glaring and as in-your-face horrible as Eleanor's, but they're fascinating nonetheless. His family dynamics are really interesting: I loved reading about his issues with his dad, but also seeing how his parents step up and do the right thing when it matters most. Park is kind of an ass at first, but I still understood him, and I loved seeing his character growth over the course of the novel.

Then, of course, there's the romance. The way that their relationship develops is very subtle and unconventional. At first, I didn't know how to feel about it: in a way, it's cute, but it still bothered me that their fascination with each other begins way before they ever have a real conversation. Even once they're already together, they're relationship is based more on Park comforting Eleanor by means of distraction, rather than them actually talking about what is going on. This is something that would have ruined most fictional relationships for me, but somehow, it works in Eleanor & Park. Their connection seems real despite this lack of communication, and it makes it even better when Eleanor finally admits to Park what has been going on. I don't even want to call this a romance because Eleanor and Park's connection goes so much deeper than that. Their relationship is unlike any I've read about, and it's just so good.

I could see how some people might be disappointed by the ending, but I for one loved it. Yes, it's sad, but it fits the story. I love melancholy endings like this one, sad but also kin of hopeful, and I always appreciate when stories end in a realistic way rather than unnaturally happily. 

The only issue I have with this book is the cover. The idea is cute, but it really bothers me that Eleanor doesn't fit her description in the story. Cover-Eleanor is way too skinny and her hair is not crazy enough to be book-Eleanor, and I wish they hadn't mainstream-ized her like that. If this is what the cover designers did to her, I'm kind of scared to see what Hollywood will do to her in the movie version...

Like basically everyone else, I just loved this story so much. It's unique and depressing and hopeful and perfect. After this and Fangirl, I'm definitely a Rainbow Rowell fan, and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Title: Being Sloane Jacobs
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte
Release date: January 7th 2014
Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.
Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.
When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was really excited for this one - Being Sloane Jacobs sounded like such a cute read! And it did end up being cute. But... cute is about all Being Sloane Jacobs has going for it. The story is really cheesy, and the characters are not developed enough, so Being Sloane Jacobs turned out only okay for me.

The whole set-up is a stretch of reality. The two girls with the same name randomly run into each other on their way to their respective skating camps, which is fine. But they also have the same color hair and eyes and wear the same size clothes and shoes, which is where I think it just got too convenient. The fact that no one has seen them before at their camps - even though they're supposedly such great stars in what they're doing - didn't seem too realistic, either. I also don't get why they wanted to switch places at all - I understand their reasons, but they're not emphasized enough to justify doing something so risky.

I tried to ignore the unrealistic and cliched parts, though, and to just enjoy the story. Both stories have really good set-ups: they're unique and interesting. Despite all my other problems with the novel, you can't deny that it's fun. Being Sloane Jacobs reads really quickly and is entertaining throughout.

But despite enjoying it on this very basic level, I had issues with the characters and their development. Honestly, part of it is that I just couldn't tell the two Sloanes apart. With the same name, the voices would have had to be very distinct in order for me to differentiate, and sadly, they're not, and I had to keep reminding myself which one I was reading about. Most of the secondary characters are pretty unremarkable: they're very much the stereotypical types, with the cute guy, the enemy, and the friend roles that don't go much deeper than that.

Being Sloane Jacobs is a quick, cute, entertaining read, but it's lacking the depth and the dynamic character development that would have made me really love it. If you're just looking for a quick, fun read, give Being Sloane Jacobs a try - just don't expect anything more than that.
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