Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Things I Can't Forget (Hundred Oaks #3)
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release date: March 1st 2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: Bought
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Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…
This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt--with her.
Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks books, and Things I Can't Forget is no exception! I was a little wary of this one because religion plays such an important role in the story, but I shouldn't have doubted Miranda Kenneally. She handles the topic, along with all the other stories, in a respectful and thought-provoking manner, and I loved it.

To be honest, I did not like Kate at first. At all. She has very strong beliefs about what is wrong and right - which is fine - but she has a hard time dealing with others not abiding by those rules, making her thoughts and sometimes words and actions very judgmental. I kept wanting to shake her for trying to instill her beliefs in those around her. Then again, I understood her in some way, too, and she made me question my own actions: her beliefs are pretty much opposite of mine, but in a way, I do the same thing, because I judge people like her, who have beliefs different from mine. Anyways, she was a very interesting head to inhabit, and a somewhat unusual narrator in contemporary YA, which I really enjoyed.

I also loved the romance. Matt is perfect, and I mean that in a good as well a bad day: he was so much fun to read and swoon about, but he's also too good to be true and maybe unrealistic. Realistic or not, though, I really enjoyed his relationship with Kate: it's a little too intense for my taste, but it develops in a very natural way, which I enjoyed reading about. I wish we had gotten to know some more about his past, though - maybe some mistakes he's made, to make him less perfect.

The summer camp setting added a lot to the story. I've read a couple of books set at camp, and the camp counselor thing added a new perspective. I really liked how this brought Kate into contact with so many people she never would have interacted with in her day-to-day life. Of course I loved seeing Kate develop a friendship with Parker (yay Parker!), but I also liked each character's individual story. I wish the focus had been less on romantic relationships between the counselors, and more just on friendship, though, even if I appreciate how Miranda Kenneally wanted to portray many different kinds of relationships.

Miranda Kenneally is an author I've come to count on for fun, quick romances that touch on deeper issues in a subtle and thought-provoking way. I loved Things I Can't Forget, and I can't wait to read Racing Savannah!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: 34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues

Title: 34 Pieces of You
Author: Carmen Rodrigues
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 11th 2013
Pages: 325
Genre: Young Adult contemporary mystery
Source: Bought
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There was something about Ellie... Something dangerous. Charismatic. Broken. Jake looked out for her. Sarah followed her lead. And Jess kept her distance, and kept watch. Now Ellie’s dead, and Jake, Sarah, and Jess are left to pick up the pieces. All they have are 34 clues she left behind. 34 strips of paper hidden in a box beneath her bed. 34 secrets of a brief and painful life. Jake, Sarah, and Jess all feel responsible for what happened to Ellie, and all three have secrets of their own. As they begin to confront the darkest truths about themselves, they will also find out what Ellie herself had been hiding all along... 
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I've been dreading writing this review because I honestly don't know what to say. 34 Pieces of You is exactly the kind of dark contemporary I love: well-written, character-driven, and emotional. But for some reason, I couldn't connect with it. I think it's at least partly my fault: I read this on a plane, beyond tired, and probably wasn't as concentrated as I should have been. This could have been a good book, but I didn't pay it as much attention as it deserved, and therefore didn't enjoy it as much as I could have.

I think part of the problem was the narrative. There's three different narrators, and lots of different times at which parts of the store take place. It was hard for me to keep track of who was talking and when this was taking place, so I kept having to check back to the beginning of the chapter. I especially found it confusing to have to tell apart Ellie's and Jake's family from Sarah's and Jess's, to remember which parents and family situations belonged to which pair of siblings. The voices are different, and I liked getting to know the three narrators, but it was still confusing in parts, although, again, this was probably due to my lack of concentration.

I also thought it was strange how much the title, cover, and description focus on those 34 strips of paper. To me, that just seemed like a very small part of the story; mystery is much less important to the plot than the description makes it out to be. The story is good as it is and doesn't need more mystery or anything; it just bugs me that the marketing of the book presented it as such when that's not really the case.

Honestly, though, those are just smaller complaints. The real problem is still that I just didn't connect with the characters or the story, even though most elements are things I usually love about books. Maybe I'll reread 34 Pieces of You one day under different circumstances, and I'll definitely read any future release by Carmen Rodrigues, but I just didn't love it this time around.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Release date: February 25th 2014
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan's friends. They are platonic and happy that way.
Eventually they realize they're best friends -- which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way. Guys won't ask Macallan out because they think she's with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can't help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

***This review includes slight spoilers. It doesn't give anything away that I didn't find completely predictable, but read at your own risk.***

This book frustrated me so much, even though I know it's not really the book but the way that it was marketed that is bugging me. I was really looking forward to a story that argues against the "guys and girls cant be just friends" bullshit; I wanted to read about friendship. But... Better Off Friends turned out to be a romance novel, and therefore plays into the "guys and girls can't be just friends" thing. It's not that I don't like romances - I love them! - but Better Off Friends just wasn't what I was hoping it would be.

I really enjoyed Macallan's and Levi's friendship: their banter is entertaining, and they had really good chemistry. I even liked them as romantic interests - I do think that it fit the story, and under different circumstances, I probably would have thought they were really cute. But because I was really, really hoping for a just-friends story, their cutesy behavior just annoyed me.

The novel felt a little tween to me, which didn't make me like the romance any more. We see the development of Macallan's and Levi's relationship from 8th grade to sophomore year, and I had been expecting them to be more in the older range of YA. Their young age made the romance even more frustrating for me - they keep going on and on about whether or not it's worth risking their friendship for a potential relationship, and having a happy ending that completely ignores the possibility of them not staying with their sophomore-year-in-high-school boyfriend or girlfriend just bugged me. But again, this is just my inner cynic that didn't want Macallan and Levi to be anything more than friends.

The secondary storylines had a lot of potential, but turned out to be underdeveloped. I really wanted to know more about Macallan's family situation: her grief for her mother and her relationship with her father, which is mentioned throughout the novel but never really explored. The other relationships Macallan and Levi have - both with friends and romantic interests - lack depth as well. I get that the relationship between Macallan and Levi is supposed to be the main focus, but I still wish these secondary storylines had been explored more.

Honestly, there's nothing really wrong with this book; it just wasn't what I was hoping for. If you go in like me, expecting a story that will defy the "guys and girls can't be just friends" stereotype, you will probably be disappointed. But if you're going in expecting a cute romance, you'll probably enjoy Better Off Friends, so I don't discourage you from giving it a try!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bookish Anticipation #34

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.

Far from You by Tess Sharpe
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Release date: April 8th 2014
Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.
The first time, she's fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that'll take years to kick.
The second time, she's seventeen, and it's no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina's murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.
After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina's brother won't speak to her, her parents fear she'll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina's murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
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Release date: May 27th 2014
Lesh and Svetlana, two teens from St. Paul, Minnesota, are adrift in a sea of social coterie, desperate for something to change. When they crash into one another in a drunken bicycle accident at two am, they don’t yet know how close they are to finding it. For now, Svetlana is simply looking for a fifth member to legitimize the Central High School Gaming Club, and Lesh is looking to escape his being grounded for said drunkenness by entering, reluctantly, the world of online role playing games.
Lesh’s gaming life takes an interesting turn as, unable to figure out how to speak to Svetlana, he “becomes” her in-game. When real life and in-game life inevitably become entwined, Lesh and Svetlana both start to realize that the lines they draw to keep their lives in order are not so easy to maintain. Especially when you no longer understand why you drew them in the first place.

Boys Like You by Juliana Stone
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Release date: May 1st 2014
For Monroe Blackwell, one small mistake has torn her family apart –leaving her empty and broken. There’s a hole in her heart that nothing can fill. That no one can fill. And a summer in Louisiana with her Grandma isn’t going to change that…
Nathan Everets knows heartache first-hand when a car accident leaves his best friend in a coma. And it’s his fault. He should be the one lying in the hospital. The one who will never play guitar again. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness, and a court-appointed job at the Blackwell B&B isn’t going to change that…

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt
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Release date: May 6th 2014
Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?
And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money--fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.
Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

 #scandal by Sarah Ockler
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Release date: June 17th 2014
Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.
By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.
There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...

Lies My Girlfriend Told by Julie Anne Peters
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Release date: June 10th 2014
When Alix's charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee's room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee's cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: "Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you."
Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life--secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she's been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee's phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.
Brought together by Swanee's lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they'd thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to--but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too?
17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen
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Release date: June 17th 2014
No matter how many boys Claire kisses, she can’t seem to find a decent boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t rather date her gorgeous best friend, Megan. Someone who won’t freak out when he learns about the tragedy her family still hasn’t recovered from. Someone whose kisses can carry her away from her backwoods town for one fleeting moment.
Until Claire meets Luke.
But Megan is falling for Luke, too, and if there’s one thing Claire knows for sure, it’s that Megan’s pretty much irresistible.
With true love and best friendship on the line, Claire suddenly has everything to lose. And what she learns—about her crush, her friends, and most of all herself—makes the choices even harder.

The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor
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Release date: June 24th 2014
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.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Anywhere But Here by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Title: Anywhere But Here
Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: October 15th 2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
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Ever since his mom died, Cole just feels stuck. His dad acts like a stranger, and Lauren, his picture-perfect girlfriend of two years, doesn’t understand him anymore. He can’t ditch his dad, so Cole breaks up with Lauren. She doesn’t take the news very well, and Cole’s best friend won’t get off his case about it.
Now more than ever, Cole wants to graduate and leave his small, suffocating town. And everything is going according to plan—until Cole discovers the one secret that could keep him there…forever.
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I was really excited for this book. It sounds straight up my alley, and the cover is great. Sadly, though, I was very disappointed. I actually really liked the beginning because many of the storylines had great potential. Over the course of the novel, though, everything turned out to be kind of melodramatic, cliched, and underdeveloped, which is why I didn't really enjoy Anywhere But Here.

The romance was probably the storyline that I liked the most at first: I was really excited to see this unique take on the love triangle story play out. After breaking up with his long-time girlfriend, Lauren, Cole starts talking to Hannah, the girl known as the school slut. This storyline had a lot of potential to explore Hannah's very interesting character, and especially the first scene in which Hannah opens up impressed me. Sadly, though, the romance went downhill fast, mainly because Cole is somewhat of a sexist asshole. His relationship with Hannah turns out to be pretty much exclusively physical and, instead of letting the "school slut" tell her story in any meaningful way, just encourages slut shaming because sex seems to be all that Hannah is good for in her relationship with Cole. The drama in Cole's relationships with both Hannah and Lauren is kind of crazy and unrealistic, making me very disappointed in the romance aspect of the novel.

The same goes for the family storyline. It seemed interesting at first, but things turned out to be too crazy and all over the place after a while. The whole thing with Cole's dad seemed very cliched to me. That would have been fine if the writing had added some depth to the overused storyline, but but it didn't. We got no insight into Cole's dad's thinking and motivations, leaving me very confused and unsure how to feel about the whole thing. 

I was also confused about Cole's view of his small town life and his future. At the beginning of the novel, Cole desperately wants to leave his small town behind, and decides that the way to do it is to go to film school far away. (Which in itself seems kind of random, since Cole has never tried to make a film before.) In order to get into film school, he makes a short film portraying how people are stuck in his small town, which he calls the Web. Along the way, though, he discovers that his town isn't so bad after all. The implications of that confused me, since his further plans for the future aren't really elaborated on after that. That revelation seemed very anticlimactic to me, considering the synopsis says that Cole discovers some big secret about his town.

Really, my complaints with all the storylines are more or less the same. They each have great potential but turn out to be melodramatic and cliched. The plot is too crazy and unrealistic, in almost every storyline. Especially the sexism in the romance made it hard for me to like reading from Cole's POV. Anywhere But Here was just disappointing all around.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My New Treasures #26

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.

NetGalley & Edelweiss:

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

What did you get this week?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal: Feral by Holly Schindler

Today is the cover reveal for Holly Schindler's upcoming YA, Feral!

I loved Holly Schindler's previous YAs, A Blue So Deep and Playing Hurt, so I'm really excited for her newest one. Here's what it's all about:
It’s too late for you. You’re dead.
Those words float through Claire Cain’s head as she lies broken and barely alive after a brutal beating. And the words continue to haunt her months later, in the relentless, terrifying nightmares that plague her sleep. So when her father is offered a teaching sabbatical in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out of Chicago, away from the things that remind her of what she went through, will offer a way to start anew.
But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire quickly realizes something is wrong—the town is brimming with hidden dangers and overrun by feral cats. And her fears are confirmed when a popular high school girl, Serena Sims, is suddenly found dead in the icy woods behind the school. While everyone is quick to say Serena died in an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it—for she was the one who found Serena, battered and most certainly dead, surrounded by the town’s feral cats.
Now Claire vows to learn the truth about what happened, but the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to discovering a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley. . . .
With an eerie setting and heart-stopping twists and turns, Holly Schindler weaves a gripping story that will make you question everything you think you know.
Feral will be released by HarperCollins on August 26th 2014. You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order it from Amazon, and stalk Holly on her website.

What do you think of the cover?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry

Title: The Summer I Found You
Author: Jolene Perry
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Release date: March 1st 2014
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Kate's dream boyfriend has just broken up with her and she's still reeling from her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Aidan planned on being a lifer in the army and went to Afghanistan straight out of high school. Now he's a disabled young veteran struggling to embrace his new life. When Kate and Aidan find each other neither one wants to get attached. But could they be right for each other after all?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The title and cover of this book are very misleading. I was expecting a light summer romance, but that's not the case at all: The Summer I Found You is a romance, but it's definitely not light. And it's not even set in the summer! I really don't understand why this book was marketed with a title and cover like that, wen the novel is set in the spring and the beach isn't mentioned once.

Asides from this confusion, I really enjoyed this novel! Or, I should say, I enjoyed Aidan's part of the novel, and that made it worth it for me. I've read a couple of books now that deal with PTSD have veteran main characters, and Aidan's story is intriguing. I really enjoyed reading about his struggles and getting to witness the journey he undergoes in The Summer I Found You. The only thing I thought was underdeveloped in regards to Aiden's character is his decision about what he wants to do in the future: that seemed really random, and I wish we had gotten some more insight into this decision-making process.

Kate, though, I just couldn't get myself to like. I found her situation interesting: I've never read about a main character living with diabetes before. But as a person, I just couldn't connect with her. The way she makes bad decision after bad decision about her health, and tries to keep her disease hidden from Aidan, frustrated me to no end. Throughout the story, I just wanted to shake her and make her realize how stupid she's being. My issues with Kate's character made it hard for me to like the romance storyline, too.

Even though I couldn't connect with Kate's character, I still liked the originality of her story, and I enjoyed Aidan's story enough to make this book worth a read. I'm still confused about the title and cover, though...

Saturday, February 08, 2014

My New Treasures #25

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.


Me Since You by Laura Wiess
My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

What books did you get this week?

Friday, February 07, 2014

Review: The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler

Title: The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky
Author: Holly Schindler
Publisher: Dial
Release date: February 6th 2014 
Pages: 240
Genre: Middle Grade; contemporary
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I loved Holly Schindler's previous books, A Blue So Deep and Playing Hurt, but I was still a little wary of The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky because I just don't read as much MG. And while this book definitely has a younger feel to it, which means it's not going to be a personal favorite of mine, I did really enjoy it.

Holly Schindler's writing is great, and while her style in The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is very different from the darker, more mature style or her YA books, it works really well with this reading level too. Auggie's voice is honest, real, and endearing, making this a very quick read. Holly Schindler has made this story equal parts entertaining and poignant, while also subtly incorporating an important message.

I enjoyed each storyline in The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky. Auggie's relationship with her grandfather Gus is the sweetest thing. I also liked the honesty in Auggie's relationships with her peers, especially her jealousy of getting ditched by her best friend. And of course the main storyline of Auggie standing up to the House Beautification Committee is great, too.

The only thing I didn't love is the ending. Things wrapped up a little too neatly and quickly for my taste. Holly Schindler had developed a good conflict between Auggie's neighborhood and the city council, and the resolution seemed underdeveloped and unrealistic. The same goes for the family storyline and the character of Auggie's mother: I wanted a more in-depth exploration of Auggie's feelings about this, even if the topic might be hard to explore in a middle grade novel. I also wanted to see a stronger ending to Auggie's conflict with Lexie, her ex-best friend, and Vanessa, Lexie's new BFF: I wanted to understand both of their characters better. The ending was too easy and happy for my taste, but again, that might just be because of the target audience.

Despite my issues with the ending, I really liked this book. With a great balance of entertainment and a poignant, inspiring message, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky is a cute read I really enjoyed.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Review: Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Title: Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess
Publisher: MTV Books
Release date: February 18th 2014
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Me Since You was hard to get into, for me. The description is rather vague, and I didn't know much going into the novel, and this makes sense now that I've read it: nothing really happens for the first 100 pages or so.  I'm still not really sure how I feel about that - on the one hand, it works with the story, letting the plot develop in a very natural way. But on the other hand, this makes the story drag, because there seemed to be no real drive for the first part of the novel, and I think parts of it could have been cut to move the plot along a little faster.

Once the plot gets started, though, I really enjoyed the story. This is hard to talk about without spoiling anything, but I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say that this novel deals with grief. The emotions are exceptionally well-done, and I felt Rowan's raw grief throughout. The whole story is heart-wrenching; one of the most honest portrayals of grief I've ever read.

What I didn't love, though, are the characters. Even though I felt Rowan's grief, I don't feel like I ever got to know her outside of these emotions. The reader knows nothing about her interests, her goals, anything, which made it hard for me to connect with her. Considering the development of the story, I think it would have been especially important to get to know Rowan's parents' characters, but they stay one-dimensional as well. Even though she doesn't play a central role in the second half of the story, I would have liked to see some more in-depth development of Nadia, Rowan's best friend, too. The only character I somewhat liked is Eli, the romantic interest, but again, he is reduced to what he has been through, rather than who he is as a person, and what it is that him and Rowan connect, aside from their shared experience. The whole novel is very focused on how the characters move on from the traumatic events in their past, but we never get to see them simply as people.

Me Since You is a good book; I just didn't connect with it personally as much as I wanted to, mainly because of the slow-moving plot and the one-dimensional characters. I do still recommend it, though, if you're looking for something that deals with grief, because the depiction of grief in Me Since You is authentic, raw, and heart-wrenching.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

My New Treasures #24

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.

For review:


Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

What books did you get this week?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

New Releases February 2014

New releases:

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

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

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

The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly Schindler
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Release date: February 6th 2014 
August “Auggie” Jones lives with her Grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” Auggie is determined to prove that she is not as run-down as the outside of her house might suggest. Using the kind of items Gus usually hauls to the scrap heap, a broken toaster becomes a flower; church windows turn into a rainbow walkway; and an old car gets new life as spinning whirligigs. What starts out as a home renovation project becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time. Auggie’s talent for creating found art will remind readers that one girl’s trash really is another girl’s treasure.

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

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Release date: February 18th 2014
Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.
Even when she isn't sure what to say. Even when Olivia misses months of school. Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.
The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Release date: February 25th 2014
Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.
When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

The Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook
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Release date: February 25th 2014
As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared—they were both adopted.
Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact...until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it’s urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom—but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party.
Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora’s loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honor her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora’s who is also looking for a way to respect Nora’s legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she’s really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics…

New in paperback:

Tilt by Ellen Hopkins
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Release date: February 12th 2014
TILT is the story of three teens inter-related through their parents' family relationships and friendships. As their parents pull away, caught up in their own dilemmas, the kids' worlds tilt, through love--good and bad:
Mikayla, almost eighteen, is over-the-top in love with Dylan, who loves her back jealously. But what happens to that love when Mikayla gets pregnant the summer before their senior year, and decides to keep the baby?
Shane turns sixteen that same summer, and falls hard in love with his first boyfriend, Alex, who happens to be HIV positive. Shane has lived for four years with his little sister's impending death. Can he accept Alex's love, knowing his life, too, will be shortened?
Harley is fourteen—a good girl searching for new experiences, especially love from an older boy. She never expects to hurdle toward self-destructive extremes in order to define who she is and who she wants to be.

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg
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Release date: February 25th 2014
Don't mess with a girl with a Great Personality.
Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).
Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.
The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it. 

What February releases are you most excited for? 
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