Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday ~ The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

A book I cannot wait to read is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin!!

Here's the (amazing!fantastic!superb) cover and the synopsis (via Goodreads):

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.

She's wrong.


Aside from having a cover that would make any sane person interested in this book, that synopsis is so, so, so intriguing.

Anything that can make me wish for summer to be over (so it will be the book's release month) has to be pretty powerful . . .


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is out September 27, 2011 from Simon & Schuster



(want, want, want!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We'll Always Have Summer ~ Jenny Han eARC review

We'll Always Have Summer (Summer #3)
Simon & Schuster
April 26, 2011

There's only two boys that Belly has ever loved, both with the last name Fisher. After two years with Jeremiah, Belly is sure she's found her soul mate. She's almost sure she's completely over Conrad, too.

Never mind that Conrad hasn't gotten over Belly, she's happy with Jeremiah. Jeremiah who knows Belly's the girl for him.

When Jeremiah and Belly decide to take a big step, to make things between them forever, Conrad realizes he's running out of time. Either support Jeremiah and Belly's decision . . . or finally tell Belly how he feels.


We'll Always Have Summer is the best, strongest book of this trilogy. The relationships that have been built over The Summer I Turned Pretty and It's Not Summer Without You are used, developed, ended, extended in We'll Always Have Summer.

Readers who have read the first two books will love the way the series is concluded. This last book is the best of the series and fans should be more than happy with how things are resolved. Jenny Han doesn't forget any of what her characters went through in the other books or ignore events that would make a simpler story.

All of the characters get a resolution with We'll Always Have Summer and its ending. While more from these characters would definitely be welcome, things aren't left hanging or open ended for characters we've come to love. They all get an ending. (A more than satisfactory one.)

If you even kind of liked the first two books in this series, do read the third one--it's an amazing conclusion.

10/10


Thank you to Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab for the eARC of this novel.

Monday, April 25, 2011

family ~ Micol Ostow ARC review

family
EgmontUSA
April 26, 2011
384 pages

Amazon/Goodreads/Book Depository

Micol Ostow's family is loosely based on the Manson Family murders (and Charles Manson's cult) of 1969. family's main character (and narrator) is seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen a girl who's run away to escape abuse when she meets Henry (the stand-in for Manson). Told in free verse poetry, family
chooses to examine Mel's past as well as her introduction to and life in Henry's 'family.'

The 'family' lives together, sleeps together, eats together and shares everything. They gather food for their meals, wash the clothes, everyone has a chore, something to do.

To really be a part of her new family--and succeed at leaving the old one behind--Mel has to take part in everything Henry and his 'family' have to offer.

No matter how far they might go . . . or what she Mel might be called to do in the name of the family.

Because family is told through Mel, we only get her perspective on things. She usually feels . . . disconnected or removed from everything, including that which is happening in her life. It's easy to see why a girl who had suffered abuse like Mel and left to be free, would fall in with Henry.

Mel's disconnection from things makes sense given the situation, but at times it keeps the reader from really connecting with the story. We never quite get why Henry is so enigmatic and attractive to all of these people. Why it is that everyone's so willing to do what he says.

family is more a look at a girl in Henry's family than it is a look at Henry's (re Manson's) family. Readers do understand how (if not why) things operate in the group and the poetry gives a real sense of who Melinda is--and how she got that way, though. The glimpses into the way that the family operates, do give the reader the opportunity to see the little ways (that are not so little in the end) that members are controlled--the girls especially. It's Melinda's immersion in the family--and therefore her lack of reaction to most of these things--that while sometimes give them more impact, also the reader from finding out more.

Those looking for a true telling of the Manson murders--or the people involved--via YA fiction, might be slightly disappointed. But if you go into family realizing how much of it is a story about a girl who thought Henry was going to save her . . . and then found the dark side to everything, it's a great read.

MIcol Ostow's poetry is beautiful (and capitalization choices that I love). Even if you aren't one to normally read verse novels (YA or otherwise), do give family a chance.

8/10

thank you to Jennifer and EgmontUSA for my advance copy of this book.



Apologies if any of the formatting on this entry is weird--Blogger's acting funny

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carmen ~ Walter Dean Myers ARC review

Carmen
EgmontUSA
April 26, 2011


Walter Dean Myers Carmen is set in Spanish Harlem. With enough twist on the tale that you don't have to know Carmen to like this story (but not so much that if you already do, you can't love this, too).

Carmen is the girl in the neighborhood-the city even-who draws every guy's attention, she's hot as the soaring temperature. When Carmen falls for Jose she's sure he's not like the other guys she's around every day--he's not a gangster, in trouble with he law. Jose seems like a good guy.

But Jose has a temper.

When Escamillo comes to town, the rapper, producer, singer, businessman has every one's attention. And Carmen has his.

Carmen's fed up with Jose always needing to get his way; she's a girl who does her own thing no matter what anyone says.

Jose's not going to get her out of her rough neighborhood--but Escamillo just might.

If only Jose were willing to let that happen.

Carmen is written as a play--complete with dialogue, stage directions, and scene descriptions. The scene descriptions and stage directions make reading a lot of fun because it's very easy, even with the short length and lack of exposition. It leaves you wanting to see the story performed.

Sometimes it's a little hard to keep all of the characters straight when dialogue is doing back and forth. Carmen would make a great book for school reading (or performing ;)) where each character can be assigned to someone. That's likely where this book can be enjoyed the most--where there's a bit of performance and all of the characters will be most easily distinguishable (due to being read by different people) allowing everyone to really follow the whole story with no confusion.

It's still the classic Carmen story at it's base, but has been changed enough to really be interesting to a different (younger?) audience.


It's great that you can still get such a sense of who the characters are in a short book (that is written as a play, too).

I'm thrilled that I read Carmen and it left me wanting to explore more versions of Carmen--both literary and performance/movie ones :)

7/10


thank you to Jennifer at Goodman Media and Egmont for my review copy of this book

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holly Schindler Interview + Playing Hurt review

I absolutely loved Holly Schindler's first book A Blue So Dark (my review), so when I found out about her second book Playing Hurt (review below) I knew I just had to read it...

Then Holly was great enough to be putting together a blog tour I got to be part of :)

Here is an interview with Holly Schindler and then my review of Playing Hurt (along with a bit about both of her books). Enjoy!



Which of your characters would drive you nuts on a road trip and why?

This is such a great question…Thing is, when I brainstormed, I couldn’t really think of anyone that would completely rub me raw.

I think that when you invent characters for your novels, you might create individuals who are quite different from you, but no one who drives you crazy—writing a novel’s a pretty long process, and I don’t think you’d ever choose to spend so much time with a character you can’t stand to be around.

Who, of your characters, would you most have liked as a college roommate?

Probably Aura from A BLUE SO DARK. Her voice just sounds so much like my own…

To draft that book, and to complete all subsequent global rewrites, I took my glasses off. (I’m terribly nearsighted…with my glasses off, all print disappears from my computer screen. If I can’t see it, I can’t second-guess it.) By not censoring myself AT ALL, Aura turned out to think the most like me, in some sense.

So—especially when I was younger, in college—I think I probably would have seen eye-to-eye with Aura.

Are you similar to any of your characters now? How about in high school?

Really, I see pieces of myself leak through with all my main characters—even Clint! I think anytime you write using “I,” you just naturally let bits of your humor, your observations, come out.

Where do you do most of your writing?

I do have an office, but do most of my writing all over the place. Really. All. Over. The. Place…As this video reveals:



What is a fictional character you think you’d get along well with?

I adore passages in books where the author lets you into a character’s head, and you have these “Me, too!” moments. The character thinks something, wonders something you’ve thought or wondered yourself. That’s part of the reason so much of A BLUE SO DARK takes place in Aura’s head, and we get to hear her thoughts on everything from her lab partner to her crush, Jeremy, to her fears about her own mental health…Because that’s exactly the kind of thing I adore reading…

Favorite scene in PLAYING HURT to write?

I really, really loved writing Chelsea and Clint’s first kiss…Every time I had to proof the book, I was happy to come back to it…

What food would you pair with A BLUE SO DARK? PLAYING HURT?

For A BLUE SO DARK, I instantly think of a roast (the book includes a scene in which Aura puts a roast on for dinner). And for PLAYING HURT, I think of walleye (Clint and Chelsea catch walleye on their fishing trip).

Your favorite YA novel as a teen? Now?

When I was a teen, YA was a pretty slim genre. Primarily, it was a skinny little singular shelf in the library. As a reader, I basically graduated from kids’ chapter books to adult reading (pretty big jump, I know)…But there were exceptions: loved Judy Blume’s YAs, for example. Really loved TIGER EYES.

Now, though, YA is an enormous genre with so many subgenres—everything from paranormal to adventure to mystery, literary, romance. That’s really the beauty of YA, I think. It just encompasses so, so much…


And thank you to Holly for answering all of those questions--it seems like more now than when I came up with them ;-)



Playing Hurt Jacket Copy:

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.

As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey
player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?




A Blue So Dark Jacket Copy:

Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.



My review of A Blue So Dark is HERE--I cannot say enough good things about that book, I recommending it strongly!



And I'm today I'm reviewing Playing Hurt--because I have the jacket copy right up there, I'm not going to provide my own synopsis and will instead jump right into the review . . .


Playing Hurt
Flux
March 8, 2011
312 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

Like with A Blue So Dark I liked Playing Hurt in the beginning but didn't find it completely and totally engrossing . . . that happened later on, though!

I really enjoyed the alternating chapters (one from Chelsea and then one from Clint). Not only did it introduce you to the characters before they met in Minnesota, but once they were both in the same place, you get different points of view on the same event.

They're two characters that you really grow to caring about--both together and individually.

The more their relationship grows and the more the story progresses, the more a reader absolutely cannot put down this book. Holly Schindler knows how to write books that get better and better with each page--and I truly cannot wait until her next YA book (and I have to say, I wouldn't be sad if she wrote some adult books, too).

Clint and Chelsea are two characters that I think I might find myself missing--something that hasn't really happened since I read Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

9/10




And, of course, Holly's website, blog, & on Twitter @holly_schindler

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Not Summer Without You ~ Jenny Han review

It's Not Summer Without You (Summer #2)
Simon & Schuster (reprint)
April 5, 2011
305 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

This is the sequel to The Summer I Turned Pretty--review and synopsis have spoilers upon spoilers for The Summer I Turned Pretty. Stop reading this and read the review for TSITP if you haven't read that book yet, please :)

Belly is finding out what death means. Death of both a relationship and a close family friend, Susannah. Conrad's not talking to her (or anyone really) and her mother's still grieving deeply for her best friend. Belly's life of perfect beach summers has come apart.

When she gets news that Conrad's left school and Jeremiah asks her to help him bring Conrad back, she has no choice but to accept.


As with my review of the first book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, this review is based on the audio book version. Jessica Almasay's narration is amazing and, once again, stronger in the same places where Jenny Han's writing also is--where the emotion is the highest.

Unlike the first book, this sequel did not have the same problem (as TSITP) with confusing the reader when flashbacks happened in the middle of scenes--whether it was because of a growth on the writer's part, production of the audio book, or a combination is unknown but it made the listening/reading experience more enjoyable.

After one book already with Belly, Jeremiah, Conrad and their mothers, readers already know--to an extent--who the characters are and are invested emotionally in them and what's happening so It's Not Summer gets going right from page one. It's almost a necessity that you read The Summer I Turned Pretty first, less for plot reasons and more for character reasons.

Jenny Han is able to create relationships for Belly especially that leave the reader wondering if maybe she hasn't been looking at the wrong person. You don't always know if Belly's wondering the same thing but it's something to definitely keep the reader, well, reading.

And the family relationships in the this book--and this series--are rivaled by few if any other books. It's a glorious summer read that still has so many serious issues it should feel weighed down and dragging, but it never does.

It's Not Summer Without You will leave you counting the says until you get to read the third book! (Which is somehow even better and I'll review very soon!!)


9/10

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Am J ~ Cris Beam review

I Am J
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
March 1, 2011
352 pages


Jeni.

It's the name that stops J cold. The name he's trying to escape.

J was wrongly born a girl.

Now a teenager and betrayed by his body, J's quit wishing he would wake up and truly be a boy, be male. Now he covers up with extra shirt and baggy clothes.

He's trying to be J. But some people keep calling him Jeni.

But when his best friend does something he never expected, he decides it's time to stop hoping and time to start acting. No matter the cost, he's going to truly become J once and for all.



The best thing about this book is that you become so connected with J and his struggle that you forget whether J was born a boy or a girl--when there's mention of J's first communion necklace from her grandmother, the reader thinks, "Wow, that's a forwarding thinking or really understanding grandmother--oh, wait!"

It's less a confusion for the reader (though it is a confusion) and more a testament to how easy it is to relate to a character that on the surface you might think it would be hard to relate to (a transgender teen).

J's journey to make himself a 'real boy'--and not just one who wears multiple t-shirts and keeps his head down so people won't see he's having to pretend for now--introduce him to so many people, situations and places. The journey never feels contrived or like parts of it are happening just to show readers how something is for transgender teens if x, y, or z happens, it all fits together. But I Am J is educational--informative--at the same time.

This might not be a topic a lot of people in the target audience (or outside of it) would read a nonfiction book on, but reading this novel you still get a sense of the hardships and you still come away caring more than you did before you read it.

All of that is not at all to say that I Am J is not still a very enjoyable novel to read. It has characters that draw you in, relationships that are real and complex, and dramas (not drama queen dramas, but real life dramas) that keep you reading through to the end.

I requested this book (when offered) after seeing a segment on this episode of 20/20 (very different from the book but it piqued my interest), I hope maybe you'll read it after reading some reviews :)

9/10


Huge thank you to Sara (and Ames) at Little Brown for this book for review :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair ~ Elizabeth Laird eARC review

The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
April 18, 2011
435 pages

It's 17th-century Scotland and sixteen-year-old Maggie Blair is living with her more than cantankerous grandmother in a cottage. Her grandmother--Maggie's only family--is a midwife who earns the town's ire by believing in superstitions, not attending church, and not being very nice.

When Grammy Elspeth finally pushes the townspeople--and Mr Macbean in particular--too far, she finds herself and Maggie accused on witchcraft.

Maggie is able to escape the death sentence she's given and makes her way to her father's brother, an uncle she's never met and who previously had no knowledge of her existence.

Her new home with Uncle and Aunt Blair should be a refuge for Maggie, but it is not to be. Uncle Blair, his family and the region are embroiled in a religious battle. One that is turning violent.

Will Maggie ever find the life where she's safe and, dare she say it, a little happy?


The Betrayal of Maggie Blair is as much about a young woman's finding herself as it is about witchcraft or relgion--more so, actually. It's similar to Avi's Crispin series, but... girl-er (not girlier, though, really).

If you read any of the Crispin books (or all of them) and found yourself wondering about Aude (the old woman in Cross of Lead) and wanting to know more about her or just wishing there was another book in the same vein as that series, Maggie Blair is your answer.

Grammy Elspeth reminds me in some ways of Aude and since I found Aude interesting it was really nice to read this book that gave Elspeth a little bit of a story/backstory.

The book is really about Maggie, though. It seems like every time she thinks she's got things set and maybe has herself settled, something throws everything into upheaval and she's forced to reexamine things or even start over. It was a lot of fun to read a book that was a coming of age story, historical fiction about a time I really should know more about, and one with suspense and quite a journey.

I do believe I'll be looking for more from author Elizabeth Laird.

8/10



(apologies for not posting this yesterday--apparently just taking my dog to the vet while I'm sick makes me forget things!)

Thank you to NetGalley and HMH for allowing me to read this :)

Boyfriends with Girlfriends ~ Alex Sanchez eARC review

Boyfriends with Girlfriends
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
April 19, 2011
224 pages


Lance is an openly gay teen, someone who's always known he was gay. He has yet to be in a true relationship, though, and is hoping to change that with Sergio, a boy he found through a friend of a friend online.

Sergio is recovering from his break=up with his last girlfriend and not ready for a committed relationship. Comfortable dating both girls and guys and identifying himself and bisexual, Sergio hopes that dating Lance will be different enough from his past relationship to help him move on.

Lance, though, thinks 'bisexual' is a cop-out used by gays (and lesbians) who aren't ready to be fully out . . .

On their first date they each bring their best girl friends. Sergio brings Kimiko, his best friend who knows she's a lesbian but has never had any sort of a girlfriend. Lance brings Allie, his girly girl bestie since childhood. With the same boyfriend for years, Allie thought she knew who she was, but now she can't get Kimiko in her boy's jeans and baseball hat out her head. What does this mean about her? Anything? Everything?

Are they all willing to stick around long enough to help figure each other (and themselves, in the process) out?


Boyfriends with Girlfriends deserves so much credit for addressing or at least touching on so many issues that really are of importance to young people of all ages right now. From homosexuality to bisexuality, family acceptance, self acceptance, and not being a YA book with not only upper middle class white teens or only fill in the blank teens. Not enough books right now are doing any of that.

The story itself doesn't quite live up to all of that potential, however.

Things--especially between Lance and Sergio--jump around a lot. We rarely get full scenes with the characters. This may be the writer's style (I have yet to read another of his books, so I don't know), but it detracts from the reader developing a relationship with the characters. More often than not readers get quick exchange phone conversations or chats in the car--or recaps. Everything feels too short and stunted for there to really be enough emotion. The book leaves you wishing things had been fleshed out more (even if it had been a fraction of the scenes) so that you could really connect with the characters.

There are more actual scenes between Kimiko and Allie than Lance and Sergio (or that's the way it seems) and as a result their relationship comes off feeling more believable and one you care about. Readers are able to connect with them more and invest in what happens to and between them.

At some points readers are left feeling like nothing's happening, but, upon reflection, I think that's because we don't get as many full scenes (that's the best I can describe it) as in other novels, only the short conversation pieces.

I did enjoy the way the novel portrayed that everyone's relationships are complicated, no matter who's involved in them or what their sexual orientation. Some things seemed a little . .. convenient, however, (spoilery for me to say what), and the style just didn't work for me.

6/10




Thank you to Galley Grab for providing the eGalley of this for review

Friday, April 15, 2011

Video Veneris ~ Enclave

One of the books I’ve been most looking forward to coming out (another one that snuck up on me!) is Enclave by Ann Aguire. It also has one of my favorite book trailers, too so I was really happy when I was emailed about sharing the trailer with you. I’d meant to do so already but it looks like I forgot . . .

Anyhow, here’s the trailer:

.

Makes you want to read the book, no? If for some reason not, here’s the synopsis:

"New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20's. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. enclaveAnd when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known."

And here’s a link to the author’s website with an audio interview and the first two chapters of the book for you to read!

Enclave came out April 12 from Feiwel and Friends ~~ Amazon/Goodreads/Book Depository

(if anyone knows how to make the quote thing in Windows Live Writer not put everything in a quote box, I’d love for you to tell me)




(Zeitghost Media emailed me about sharing this trailer with you and I chose to do so. The thoughts about it are my own.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Goddess Test ~ Aimee Carter eARC review

The Goddess Test
Harlequin(TEEN)
April 19, 2011
304 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

For several years, Kate's mother has had just a few months to live. You see, Kate's mother is dying of cancer and the doctor's have told Kate and her mother over and over again that it's only

a matter of months before Kate will lose her mother, a mother who's all she has. A mother Kate's put her own life on hold to take care of, forgetting about school, friends, and everything else for several years now.

But now they're moving back to Kate's mother's home town as her dying wish. It's going to mean a new school, new friends, new everything for Kate.

She's doing it, though, knowing that once her mother dies--and this time it probably will be soon--she can leave this tiny town and go back to New York where she belongs.

One night, soon after her arrival in town and starting school, a series of events leads to Kate meeting Henry. He claims to be Hades, the God of the Underworld. Of course Kate doesn't believe him, after all, who would? But then she sees something that might just prove his claim.

And Kate's made a bargain with Henry--or Hades--he'll keep her mother alive while she attempts to pass seven tests.

If she succeeds she'll become his wife--and a Goddess.

But if she fails...


The Goddess Test (which is thankfully, thankfully the first in the series--I'd probably go crazy if there weren't more to this, I love it so much), is not quite a retelling of any myth. It's more of a twist of the Greek myth with Hades and Persephone; it's half a retelling and half something entirely new. It also does not at all require you have any knowledge of mythology (Greek or Roman)--just rewards you a little if you do.

Certain things in the beginning seemed really just implausible and not how actual people would react--but it did get worked out later in the story.

It's actually hard for me to review this because I want to tell you all the ending and how it wove everything together and tied up all these little loose ends you didn't even recognize there were but that would be spoilery. That sentence might even be spoilery.

I can say that I wish there had been more we got to see of Henry. Things were told from Kate's perspective so we only got her side of things--and sometimes Kate would know things that it felt like the reader was being told but not quite shown.

This is definitely a book you need to read when you don't have any pressing deadlines! The closer I got to the end, the more I knew I wasn't going to be able to concentrate on anything else until I finished. It was just that good. Everything builds up to an amazing finale.

I'm dying to see more of this series and more from Aimee Carter (and so excited that she's going to have another series that sounds amazing!cakes). I have no idea how I'm going to wait for the next book in the series . .. time travel anyone?


9/10

Read with super, super thanks to NetGalley & HarlequinTeen


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday ~ Love Story

My Waiting on Wednesday for this week, is Love Story by Jennifer Echols. It’s due out in paperback July 19 from MTV Books. Here’s tlovestoryhe synopsis from Goodreads:


WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.

Erin Blackwell is headed to college in New York City to study creative writing and earn a living as a romance novelist. Her grandmother has other plans: she approves of the college, but she wants Erin to major in business and then come back home to Kentucky to run the family’s famous racehorse farm. There is no way Erin will agree. Studying in New York and writing her way into a career is her escape from the farm and the family tragedy that happened there. So Erin’s grandmother decides Erin really will live life as a starving artist. She takes Erin’s future job running the farm, her inheritance, even her college tuition, and gives them all to Hunter Allen.

Hunter has lived on the farm for years. He’s Erin’s age, he’s the stable boy, and he’s the romantic dream of every girl in her high school. But he was involved in the family tragedy. Erin has always given him a wide berth. And he’s a slick opportunist. She’s furious that he fooled her grandmother into giving him Erin’s birthright and sending him to Erin’s college.

At least she’s free of him in her creative writing class. So she pens a story that has haunted her lately, in which the horse farm heiress at the very first Kentucky Derby starts a forbidden affair with the lowly stable boy. Unfortunately for her, the day she’s sharing this story with her New York classmates, Hunter walks in. He’s switching to her class. And after reading about himself in Erin’s story, he writes his own sexy assignments that lure Erin into dangerous fantasies about what could have been between them, and what might be

And why do I want to read this book? Why am I so very, very much waiting for its release? Well, that’s a pretty simple one: Besides the fact that it has such an appealing synopsis, it’s Jennifer Echols! She’s definitely one of the authors I will read right away without even knowing what the book is about.

So, that’s one of the books that I absolutely cannot wait to read! Looking forward to seeing what everyone else is ‘Waiting On’ :)

(Love Story on Goodreads/Amazon-where, currently, it's only $6.98/Book Depository)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty ~ Jenny Han audio review

The Summer I Turned Pretty
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
April 6, 2010
304 pages
(I’m linking the paperback version-with the Amazon link-and giving that info b/c Amazon does not have the audio for sale currently)
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository/Audible


Belly (technically her name is Isabelle but no one calls her that, especially not at the summer house) lives her life for the summers.

Each of her summers, since the very summer i turnedfirst, fifteen-year-old Belly has spent with her mother, her older brother Steven, their mother, their mother’s oldest best friend Susannah and her two boys Jeremiah and Conrad at the beach house in Cousins.

Those weeks at the beach with everyone together are the best of Belly’s year. The days she counts down to and the ones she wants never to end.

But this year everything’s changing. With Belly fifteen and each of the boys just enough older than her, everything is suddenly different. But suddenly seems like everything changing might not be all that bad, at least not all the time.


The Summer I Turned Pretty is definitely a book about growing up. Told with a lot of flashbacks of Belly, Steven, Jeremiah, and Conrad’s time at the beach together as they grew up, readers get a sense not only of who they are now, but how they got there.

We know how their relationships formed and what they used to be like around each other before they became teenagers. Before ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ mattered and they were just kids who enjoyed the summer with each other.

Maybe it’s just the audio version, but the way the flashbacks would start and stop seemingly in the middle of scenes left at least this one reader momentarily confused several times.

The idea, though, that the group only sees each other over the summer does call for flashbacks so that we can see the different adventures—and mundane activities- they’ve had.

When both author Jenny Han and narrator Jessica Almasy really hit their stride, however, is when the story gets emotional. The writing really pulls the reader in and you feel exactly what the characters is feeling and Almasy’s narration brings you to tears. (This is especially true around Chapter 42.)

(On a personal note, I’m very happy I listened to the audio version of this because now I not only want to read the second book in this series very, very much but I am looking for more audio books from the same narrator.)

Rating: 7/10 (because it started off slow but the ending really pulls you in and won’t let you go until you agree to read the rest of the series!)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rage ~ Jackie Morse Kessler eARC review

(Sorry for the latter half of last week having no reviews or posts—I got sick from the thing going around )-: )

Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2)
Graphia
April 4, 2011
228 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository



The second in Jackie Morse Kessler’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse series. The first book Hunger was about an anorexic girl and her ‘audition’ or job interview as Famine, one of the other Horsemen while Rage introduces Missy, a teenage cutter who just might be the next War.

Death, in his Kurt Cobain mask, is back as the ringleader again, the one who introduces Missy to the existence of the Horsemen and the possibility of her joining them.

A strong soccer player who hopes to be her teams starting goalie next year, Missy doesn’t have much else going for her. Wearing black to school everyday she’s tired her best to cut herself off from the biting comments from the other students.

The one thing that Missy has found helps is cutting. A secret she keeps from everyone—her teammates, her family, and the friends she no longer really has, it’s the thing she thinks she can control.

Until Death shows up and gives her another opportunity.


Rage had a lot, a lot of parallels to Hunger: (the obvious being a teenage girl who has a problem but doesn’t quite acknowledge that she has a problem), both girls give the horses names and thank them (which surprises the horses) and take note of the fact the horses don’t need to be brushed, etc like regular horses; etc

Some parallels (including Famine’s contempt from War and vice versa) makes sense given the Horsemen’s character and their personality but some of it makes a reader feel like they’re reading the first book again, only slightly varied.

Missy is a harder character to connect with, however, than Lisabeth was. It’s almost as if there is a brick wall between Missy and the reader. Several times there’s a crack in the wall or a hole, but it never quite comes down.

The other, secondary characters, seem to be written entirely as Missy perceives them (negatively, that is) so they have very little to no redeeming qualities.

I love the intention of this series. More books need to address the topics of self injury (cutting), bullying, and eating disorders. This second book just never quite connected, though. The first book was much stronger and felt very real (and personal).

I know I’m going to read the third book, though, because the series and its concept shows too much promise not to.


5/10

Read thanks to NetGalley and the publisher

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

White Cat & Red Glove eARC ~ Holly Black Reviews

(Apologies for this not being posted first yesterday and then earlier today--migraines are not fun thing.)

White Cat

Margaret K. McElderry
February 8, 2011
336 pages
(linking to the paperback because the audio is much more expensive)
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository


Seventeen-year-old Cassel Sharpe is the oddity in his family, the only one who's not a curse worker.

His mother, grandfather, and two older brothers all make their money by performing illegal curses but Cassel, left without any such talent resorts to being a con man. While his wit and charm to get him far (and make him money) he never quite fits in with them.

Somewhere he does fit in better as a non-worker, though
is at Wallingford Prep, the fancy boarding school he attends where, like most of the rest of society, being a 'worker' is seen as a bad thing.

Quickly, however, nightmares with a white cat that eerily resemble Lila, the family friend (and his good friend) and crime bosses daughter that was murdered years ago, his own family's ties to organized crime and more threaten to pull Cassel into the world from which he's tried so hard to escape.


I listened to this book on audio--originally because I was giving it a bit of a test run before recommending it to my brother (he listens to more audiobooks). I was sure that since he loves Zombieland and Jesse Eisenberg narrated the audio, I would have a good shot. (I also really liked Tithe, but I'll admit that was a secondary factor.)

I have to say, though, I did love this book--the narration and the story!
Holly Black has created a world where everyone wears gloves all of the time to protect their hands--well, to protect other people from their hands. Certain people (largely those in certain families) are 'curse workers.' They can performs curses (memory, luck or other curses by touching people with their bare hands.

Cassel, the main character in White Cat is from a powerful worker family, but has no ability himself. And that's pretty okay with him. He's figured out how to con people, very well.

He's even gotten away to his prestigious boarding school and is doing pretty well until nightmares start invading his mind.

And that's when Cassel starts having trouble but we start to learn more about his family and the story really comes alive. I love the world Holly Black's created and how it's so close to our own, but so very different. It's sort of the Godfather meets Harry Potter (with a pinch of something really dysfunctional).

That's all forgetting that the ending will leave you happy that you read this when Red Glove has already been released (unlike I did!)!!

Rating: 8/10


Red Glove
Margaret K. McElderry
April 5, 2011
336 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository


**This will contain a lot of spoilers, right from the start, for White Cat the first book in the Curse Workers series so stop reading now if you haven't read that one yet!!**





You've stopped reading if you don't want to be spoiled for White Cat, right? Okay, good. Because this would have spoiled you: Cassel discovered that his brother's were working his memories so that he would forget that he's not really a non-worker after all.
Rather, Cassel is the most powerful kind of worker there is.

By simply touching someone with a bare hand he can turn them into anything he wants. It's how Lila became that white cat. (And Lila, a girl again.) It's also how however many other people became however many other things Cassel can't remember.

Everything should be close to right for Cassel, too, except his mother worked Lila to love him so he's avoiding her--as much as he hates it--because he does love her and whatever she's feeling is just magic. And his brother, Barron, thinks he and Cassel have the Hallmark card of brotherly relationships because that's what Cassel wrote in his 'memory notebooks.'

Now, Cassel's oldest brother has been murdered and the Feds want Cassel's help. Their only clue? Video surveillance of a woman in red gloves. Will Cassel even be able to help?

And what about the Mob guys who've discovered just how useful Cassel is? All the while he's trying to not get kicked out of Wallingford and discover if maybe, just maybe some of Lila's feelings could be real.


Red Glove is a little similar to White Cat in that Cassel is trying to solve some sort or another of a mystery for most of the story, but I think that's also why I love it. He and Sam are great together while they're recklessly disregarding the rules (or in Sam's case, half recklessly half carefully) and deciding which way makes them look the coolest.

It was nice to see the characters from the first book brought back where appropriate and to see so many of them grow during this second book. Cassel, especially, seems to have grown from the events of the first book, but he's still the character everyone fell in love with during White Cat. He might be more grown up now and more jaded about his family, but it works on him.

With Cassel, there's a level of snark and cynicism that, while it would likely be very off putting on an older character, is really charming because he's still a high school student.

The mystery Red Glove keeps readers guessing. There are a few times when the 'who' is almost revealed or the reader thinks it is . . . but then it's not. It's not done in a manner that feels like a tease or unsatisfying, more in a way that feels even more satisfying at the true conclusion.

So much more was revealed in this book (especially towards the end) that I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

Rating: 8/10



(thank you to Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab for the egalley of Red Glove--and my library for the audio version of White Cat!)

Monday, April 4, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes ~ Maureen Johnson review (+ a bit of Anna & the French Kiss)

13 Little Blue Envelopes*
Harper Teen
September 26, 2006
368 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository/Kindle version currently (as of 4.5.11) $0.00

and

Anna and the French Kiss
~ Stephanie Perkins
Dutton Juvenile
December 2, 2010
384 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

Ginny's young aunt Peg has always been a bit of an oddball. She's pick up and leave any job if it got too boring or she felt too comfortable. But now she's been out of touch with her sister's
(Ginny's mother's) family for several years. It's after these few years that Ginny receives a package.

The package from Peg, who has recently passed away, includes a letter for Ginny, little blue envelopes, some money and a task.

Following the four rules (which include no communication with back home and no guidebooks) straight laced Ginny is to set off on a journey as dictated by her now deceased aunt. Each
destination will have a task for Ginny and the instruction to open another envelope with another destination.

Ginny knows this is Aunt Peg who devised this so it's not going to be your average travel experience but she decides to do it because she's always been so fond of her aunt.

Let the travel adventures begin.


Ginny wasn't allowed to have guide books on her adventure, that was one of the rules. If I ever end up on a trip to England or any part of Europe where guidebooks are disallowed, I am definitely, definitely taking 13 Little Blue Envelopes. With it Johnson has created a substitute guidebook any girl would be more than happy to follow (a few things maybe aside).

There's enough adventure, twists and turns, friendship, cute boys, humor, crazy Europeans,
crazy Americans in Europe, grief and longing, heartbreak, things to know about travelling, and things you really wish you'd known to do when you went to X, Y or Z (or now plan to do) to make this book so close to perfect.

It doesn't just rely on grand adventures or the traveling, though, there's a real story to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Ginny really has lost her Aunt Peg and she's figuring out what that means for and about her. And what it means about what she knew about her aunt, as well. Nestled in this little road (or air) tripping book is a story of self discovery, too.

Honestly, if you know someone who's planning on going to England or Europe or just dreams of it, definitely, definitely get them this and Anna and the French Kiss. Both are books that will have you booking a plane ticket in no time.

(But they're also two of the best self discovery books I've ever read!)



9/10 for 13 Little Blue Envelopes



(Last Little Blue Envelope review is coming in a few days--Harper sent me the ARC!!

And I do hope to figure my way enough around my love of Anna and the French Kiss some day soon, so that I might actually review it--if not just know I think you should read it. )



*I reviewed the old edition (with the blue cover, but I'm using the graphic of the new cover so you can recognize it if you decide to buy it!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Red Riding Hood

There are two Red Riding Hood notes I have for you today....

The bonus chapter of Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakely-Cartwright is up on
the book website: RedRidingHoodBook.com

Annnddd Fire & Ice Photo has a great contest going on for a fine art print with Red Riding Hood. It's a gorgeous print, so you really should want to enter. Here's that post....


(Here is my review of Sarah Blakely-Cartwright's Red Riding Hood--the one that's a novelization of the movie directed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke: REVIEW)

Following

I still have Goodreads, Twitter, and GFC (see right sidebar) but now I have some other places you can follow me . . .

Follow my blog with bloglovin

and Facebook's not counting anyone for whatever reason (people's pages show them as 'Liking' my page but my page doesn't show them . . .)

okay--Facebook and I don't agree, here's the link Book Sp(l)ot Reviews on Facebook


I've also added an email subscription. The box is also on the right sidebar :)

See, there's tons of way to keep up with me now! (Trying to make it as easy as possible--not to overload you, I promise.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

So Much Closer ~ Susane Colasanti Early ARC review

So Much Closer
Viking Children's
May 3, 2011
256 pages
Goodreads/Amazon/Book Depository

Brooke has finally worked up her courage to tell Scott she’s in love with him. Whether it’s a good idea—or whether he knows

she exists or not—isn’t really relevant. The timing is perfect, the school year’s just ended so they’ll have the whole summer to start a relationship.

Only one thing gets in her way . . . Scott is moving from their suburban New Jersey town to New York City.

Never quite one to be rash, Brooke is taking action this time. She’s going to NYC, too, moving in with her estranged father in his New York City apartment.

When she learns Scott might already have a girlfriend, it’s up to Brooke to figure out what she’s really doing in New York—and how she’s going to deal with the facts.


At first, Brooke’s story—and Brooke herself—are a little confusing. The story lends itself to more of a young adult, post college setting when you first hear it, than a high school teenage setting.

Girl chases boy from one city to another on a lark because she fancies herself in love with him is not something you usually read a book or watch a movie about a teenager doing.

The great thing, however, is that it works. Instead So Much Closer not working because it’s about a teenager, it works that much better.

So Much Closer went from a book where I wasn’t sure if Susane Colasanti had some how misjudged her character and/or audience to one where I realised it was about a character who had misjudged herself.

While it begins as a love story—or a hoped love story, So Much Closer becomes a tale of personal discovery and friendship.

I can’t wait to read Susane Colasanti’s backlist to tide me over until her next new release. I’m so, so glad I received this advance copy through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers program!

9/10 (and it's no April Fools')


Thank you to LT's Early Reviewer's for my advance copy.

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