Sunday, June 30, 2013

In My Mailbox (17)

It was a slow week for me, which is good so I can have a chance to catch up on all those library books I hauled back to my house the other day (which you can see in the background. I'm a teeny bit ashamed. But not really). This is a thing done by these people.

One book for review:
1. Because of Low by Abbi Glines. I haven't read the first one, but from skimming Goodreads and Amazon, it is supposed to be amazing, so I guess I need to get on this.

And one I purchased.
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth. I don't know what's taken me so long to get to this, but I bought it, and I'm sure I'll fly through it.

And a few on NetGalley:
3. Taste Test by Kelly Fiore. I'm participating in the blog tour for this one, so keep a look out for that in the next month or so.

4. Left Drowning by Jessica Park. Haven't heard anything about this, but the cover is pretty.

What do you think? Good reads? What did everyone else get this week?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Viral Nation

Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Pages: 320
Keywords: dystopia, infection, rebellion
Format Read: ARC from author/publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)

Summary: After a virus claimed nearly the entire global population, the world changed. The United States splintered into fifty walled cities where the surviving citizens clustered to start over. The Company, which ended the plague by bringing a life-saving vaccine back from the future, controls everything. They ration the scant food and supplies through a lottery system, mandate daily doses of virus suppressant, and even monitor future timelines to stop crimes before they can be committed.
Brilliant, autistic sixteen-year-old Clover Donovan has always dreamed of studying at the Waverly-Stead Academy. Her brother and caretaker, West, has done everything in his power to make her dream a reality. But Clover's refusal to part with her beloved service dog denies her entry into the school. Instead, she is drafted into the Time Mariners, a team of Company operatives who travel through time to gather news about the future. 
When one of Clover's missions reveals that West's life is in danger, the Donovans are shattered. To change West's fate, they'll have to take on the mysterious Company. But as its secrets are revealed, they realize that the Company's rule may not be as benevolent as it seems. In saving her brother, Clover will face a more powerful force than she ever imagined and will team up with a band of fellow misfits and outsiders to incite a revolution that will change their destinies forever. 

So this is like a mashup of sorts of Hunger Games and the Maximum Ride series. Cross a crazy-power-ridden government agency who is determined to keep people in their place with a band of kids who call themselves the "Freaks" and end up isolated trying to rebel against this crazy dictatorship that's been going on. Clover has grown up not contacting her dad, living with West, and she's always known she was going to go to the Academy. But then she gets drafted to be a Time Mariner instead, and at first is crushed.

But as she is trained she realizes it's a pretty important job, and an acquaintance meets her in the future on one of her missions, kisses her (without causing her to panic at his touch) and gives her a newspaper that claims her brother murdered someone. So automatically, the story gets super interesting. I really enjoyed the interactions between all the characters. The story was constantly moving and the characters were always involved and running around doing things. It was so fast-paced and exciting all the time, I was just waiting for some of the evil government leaders to do something crazy and for the Freaks to retaliate.

I do wish a few of the kids in the group would have been more developed. I really liked them all, but was having trouble keeping all the names (I think there were about 8-9) straight. I got confused a little bit, but I still really liked all the kids, and I definitely wanted to know more about them. I also wanted a little more backstory with her father and why exactly he couldn't be a guardian and live with them like a lot of families. I feel like that wasn't really explained as much as some other things.

This was a great dystopian YA novel with several twists in the plot and in the general characters/premise. It was different and quick, and a super enjoyable read. You know how I was having trouble coming up with good books I read this year? This is on the list now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

As You Wish

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 304
Keywords: genie, romance, art
Format Read: hardcover from publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)

Summary: Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing — to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again — until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes. 
Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well... and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life — and her world — forever. 

I've had this book forever, and this week when I was picking out what I was going to read, it was sitting on the top of my "A" pile. (Yes, I have all my books alphabetized.) So I grabbed it, and sure enough, I finished it that night. This book was so cute.

Jinn appears to Viola (he's a jinn, which is essentially a genie, but she calls him Jinn because she's weirded out that he doesn't have a name) because she's desperate to feel like she belongs. Which, okay, I get, but I don't get how she can be wishing so badly that she conjures a jinn because she's got her whole life ahead of her, but that's okay. The book got so good I ended up not caring.

She's an artist, and she struggles with painting for passion, and as the book develops and she becomes better friends with Jinn, she begins to develop that skill to do so. It was great watching Viola grow as a character. Of course, at first, she thinks she wants to be popular and have the boy and hang with all the cool kids in school. The interesting spin was that Jinn didn't have to deal with this old version of Viola on his own — he befriended her best friend and former boyfriend, Lawrence (who was actually gay, but it still hit Viola hard). I really enjoyed the friendship between Jinn and Lawrence, it made this book more than just a cutesy fluff book, it added some actual dimensions to the characters.

As far as the plot, yes, it was extremely predictable. But this book was SO FREAKING CUTE I didn't care. None of the predictability actually mattered because I was just so in love with the premise and Jinn and Lawrence. Definitely a super fun summer-y read.

Sound good? Add it on Goodreads, see what else Jackson Pearce has done, or follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books in 2013

This is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is
Top Ten Books Read in 2013 (so far)
These are in no particular order, just doing a big conglomeration of happiness. And I feel like I've got quite a few coming up on my to-be-read pile that might squirm their way in here and nudge out a few. (And I'm only doing 7 unfortunately. I haven't read too many kick ass books this year yet, which is disappointing. But I have a lot up next that I'm hoping will win my heart back.)


1. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This is my all-time favorite book, and I reread it this year. So good. Everyone should read this, especially book lovers.
2. Paper Towns by John Green. John Green book 1 of 2 on this list. His prose is phenomenal. And I love how his premises are ordinary, but he makes his characters and their growth extraordinary.
3. Under the Dome by Stephen King. I'm in the middle of this right now, and the mini series premiered last night. Haven't watched it yet. But guys, this book is outstanding. It's long, but so worth it.


4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I know this made a lot of people's lists. But it is a perfect representation of how love kind of takes over everything else, and nothing else matters. 
5. As You Wish by Jackson Pearce. I just finished this yesterday, and my review should be up soon. It's not particularly literary or complicated, it was just super cute and I flew through it in a day. 
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This is pretty much a given. I think I actually read this in the winter time of 2012, but I just had to put it on this list. 


7. The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. This was another super fun, super cute read that was just downright hilarious. 

Hopefully soon I'll have better things to put on this list. I didn't realize I hadn't read too many great ones until I tried to make this. That's sad. Oh well, hopefully soon.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Paradox of Vertical Flight

The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 272
Keywords: pregnancy, road trip, coming-of-age
Format Read: ARC from author in exchange for honest review (thank you!)

Summary: On the morning of his eighteenth birthday, philosophy student and high school senior Jack Polovsky is somewhat seriously thinking of suicide when his cell phone rings. Jack's ex-girlfriend, Jess, has given birth, and Jack is the father. Jack hasn't spoken with Jess in about nine months — and she wants him to see the baby before he is adopted. The new teenage father kidnaps the baby, names him Socrates, stocks up on baby supplies at Walmart, and hits the road with his best friend, Tommy, and the ex-girlfriend. As they head to Grandma's house (eluding the police at every turn), Jack tells baby Socrates about Homer, Troy, Aristotle, the real Socrates, and the Greek myths — because all stories spring from those stories, really.

I must have more! Take me to Goodreads and Emil Ostrovski's website!

I don't know what I was expecting out of this. I loved the cover when I first saw it and thought, "Yeah, I have to read that!" Guys, this book was seriously awesome. It's hard to earn top marks from me, and this one nearly did it.

On page 2, the author referenced Kafka and "Metamorphosis," so I was already in love and super impressed that that made it into this YA novel. Then, as if it couldn't get more awesome on the scale of pop-culture references, he also managed to include Star Wars, the Wizard of Oz, Medal of Honor, Harry Potter, and old Greek philosophers. And it all made perfect sense. SO COOL.

The pacing was also spot on. The narrator was Jack, who stole his son at the beginning of the novel because he just couldn't bring himself to say goodbye on the spot like that. His narration constantly switched between telling the readers what was actually happening and his thoughts and imaginary conversations he had with his son, Socrates. These conversations were brilliantly hilarious. Jack imagines the baby discussing all sorts of philosophy and existential topics and is surprised that the baby doesn't respond back, so he makes up his responses. It was so witty and quick-paced I forgot it was supposed to be a baby talking, and then Jack would mention it, and it was hilarious again that he was having these imaginary conversations.

It was so impressive the sheer amount of stuff Ostrovski tackled. Between teen pregnancy, adoption, parental ties, and the idea of a ceiling on the Earth and religious/philosophical beliefs, it's a wonder now that I didn't get overwhelmed or bogged down. But the writing was so colloquial and it all flowed together so well, it was easy to breeze through while still questioning life along with Jack.

Definitely worth the read and purchase, especially for something light and summery but still with big-picture questions.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

In My Mailbox (16)


Lots of happy things in my mailbox this week that I have already started digging into!
As always this is hosted by The Mod Podge Bookshelf. (Look, I actually figured out who it was now!)

Also, in addition to these, I made a library trip this week (always a dangerous move on my part). Go help me figure out which one to read first!

1. Bossypants by Tina Fey. Got this on Amazon. I've been holding off reading it until I had really bad 30 Rock withdrawal, which is why it's taken me so long to read it. This week, though, I really missed me some Liz Lemon. So I shopped.

2. The Fifty Year Sword by Mark Danielewski. I'm in the middle of House of Leaves, and the style alone is just  so unique, I went ahead and bought this from Amazon while I was on there.

3. Star Crossed by Jennifer Echols. So much love for all her books. Holy shit I was excited when she sent me these. And they're SIGNED! With such cute little happy notes!

4. Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols. I've started this one, and it most certainly will not be long before I finish. Already so many good things I love about it.

5. The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman. This one's up next after Dirty Little Secret. And Tracy wrote me such a lovely card stuck inside the book! (over mutual love of English gardens and studying abroad in general. Europe is great, guys.)

6. The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce. A surprise that showed up a few days ago! Haven't heard anything about this one, so we'll see how it goes!

7. Viral Nation by Shaunta Grimes. I got this through NetGalley, and the premise seems great, but the few pages I've read on my Kindle are littered with grey numbers and the lines are broken up weirdly, which is super frustrating. Anyone else having that problem? It might just be the galley version. Hope so.

8. Data Runner by Sam A. Patel. Another NetGalley book. Seems cool. That's all I've got.

What did everyone else get? Link up and I'll go look! I love looking at all the exciting books everyone got.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Extremities

Extremities by David Lubar
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 208
Keywords: death, revenge, mystery
Format Read: ebook via NetGalley

Summary: A group of high school girls takes revenge on their sadistic gym teacher in the most fitting way possible. Two stowaways find themselves on a ship for the dead. An ancient predator stalks the wrong victim. Here are thirteen tales of death, murder, and revenge.

This will be a relatively short review because it was a collection of short stories. And I flew through it in about an hour. At work. Hiding in the back of the frame shop so I could steal a few stories in between customers. Holy crap. This book was terrifying.

And not in an "Are-You-Afraid-of-the-Dark-"ghost-terrifying. In a these-are-real-people-who-were-pushed-over-the-edge terrifying. Sure, there were a few paranormal stories, my favorite of which involving a girl who meets a guy and they go on some dates at a diner and she finds out a secret. But it's the last page of each story that makes it the creepiest. It's not the paranormal that's the scary part, it's the last three lines of what they're going to do about it.

I didn't know this going in. And the first story about the girls and their gym teacher blew me away. Wow. My eyes I'm sure were so wide open by the end.

This one comes out in about a month, definitely put it on your radar for nighttime campfire ghost stories. Seriously. They're perfect for them.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Library Madness

So I went to the library today. That's always dangerous with me. I went in with 4 books written on a post-it. I got way more than that. So here they are — and hopefully reviews of them will be up in the near future.

1. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
2. Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
3. Middle Ground by Katie Kacvinsky


4. Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier
5. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
6. It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han



7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
8. Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
9. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

10. The Marked by Inara Scott
11. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
12. In Honor by Jessi Kirby


13. He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott
14. The End Games by T. Michael Martin
15. Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser
16. Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss


Whoops! So much for controlling myself and not going crazy at the library. What you do think? Good list of summer reads? I tried to pick mostly light stuff because I'm trudging through "Under the Dome" right now and need a counter.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

14

14 by Peter Clines
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Permuted Press
Pages: 350
Keywords: sci-fi, parallel universe, physics
Format read: ebook via NetGalley (Thank you!)

Summary: Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches. There are some odd things about Nate's new apartment.
Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn't perfect, it's livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don't nag at him too much. 
At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela's apartment. And Tim's. And Veek's. 
Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything. 

This was my first sci-fi read of the summer, and it was wonderful. It's not very often I give a full 5 stars to a book, but this one earned it. It started off with just the right amount of intrigue that I was pulled in, and Clines gave the perfect amount of hints and mystery along the way. Beginning with Nate's weird black lights and the green cockroaches, and adding some more weird quirks like no wiring along the way, my intrigue began to grow.

The characters themselves were what stole most of the book for me. There were quite a few, but not too many to be overwhelmed about keeping track of all the names. It was basically just the people in this building (another thing I loved — that the whole book essentially takes place in this one location). Each one (though with a couple stereotypes mixed in) was interesting as an individual character, but as well as having their own reactions and ways of dealing with one another. I enjoyed that Clines mixed it up, and had several groupings, so it wasn't always the same three characters exploring. They all rotated, so we got to know each one separately. And of course, they had weekly meetings on the roof with beer. I enjoyed that.

I also was surprised — I mean really surprised — by certain turns of events, involving characters, plot lines, and the general things that happened in the book. Which is so exciting. I love when a book makes my eyes bulge in shock from what just happened. This one did it.
And there was clearly thought that went into the book. It wasn't just a bunch of random stuff strung together that equalled one weird thing. Everything had a place and a reason for functioning the way it did, whether people believe it can happen or not, it was all planned out extremely well.

My reaction? Read it. Immediately.

Monday, June 17, 2013

chaperones

Chaperones by Megan Karasch
Publication Date: June 13, 2013
Publisher: CreateSpace
Keywords: travel, photography, love triangles, Europe
Format Read: ARC via NetGalley (Thank you!)

Summary: For Andrea Lieberman, life began at 26. Growing up with parents so protective they made a convent seem like a Sandals resort, she developed a catalog of phobias so large, even going into a church seemed like risky business. Finally, Andrea had had enough; she wanted to live rather than fear dying. Without hesitation, she accepts a photography assignment for a magazine traveling through England and packs up her camera, her pepper spray, and every insecurity she accumulated since birth. Excited but petrified to reveal the news to her boyfriend, he intercepts with news of his own — a marriage proposal, leaving the lingering question of their impending nuptials as she travels abroad.
Upon touching down in England, Andrea flops around like a fish out of water. The magazine's staff — the idiot, the slut, and the mute — offer little comfort outside of a pint of beer until she's assigned two blokes as travel companions — a tight-arsed copywriter and a drop-dead gorgeous art director with movie star charm. These two men help Andrea push herself beyond her comfort zone while testing the limits of her fortitude and her relationship with her boyfriend. The photographic journey becomes a comedy of errors thanks to unforeseen obstacles at every turn. As Andrea struggles to complete the assignment, she discovers the most revealing picture she develops will be of herself. 

You can find Megan Karasch on a pseudo-website, a site for her other book, follow her Twitter or Facebook.

In the beginning, Andrea is such a despicable character. In fact, I'm not sure how anyone could have been dating her in the first place. She's the epitome of bad American tourist. Seriously bad. And English people are overwhelmingly kind, even to annoying lost Americans in their country. But Andrea was so far beyond bad, it was ridiculous. But, of course she does the right thing and declines to accept the proposal and hops on the plane (still wondering how she was allowed to do so) and begins to grow throughout the course of the book (THANK GOODNESS). 

And don't get me wrong, Andrea wasn't the kind of bad character that made me want to hurl the book across the room. She was the one that was fun to laugh at and desperately hope she changed. This was such a light-hearted and fun summer read, all I wanted to do was shake her awake so she would stop being so ridiculous and see what was happening right in front of her!

I also loved the pacing of the book itself. The dialogue was fresh and witty, keeping a quick feel to the story, and the interactions and events that took place did the same thing. They kept it moving without feeling like I was flying at warp speed through it. I also enjoyed all the scenery bits since I studied in England for half a year. So I felt like I bonded with Andrea because of that as well (though I don't think ANYONE could be as touristy as she was). She was a connectable character, and it was hard to not fall right into this book and laugh right alongside all the English people laughing. 


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Sunday, June 16, 2013

happy joy days: in my mailbox

I don't know about you guys, but I literally get flips in my stomach and jump up and down every day a book comes in the mail. Also, I think the mailman hates me because he physically has to get out of his car (our houses out here are so far apart the mailmen drive, not walk) to put the packages on our doorstep instead of in the mailbox like normal people. But who cares?!

I'm fairly certain the host of In My Mailbox has changed, but I'm lazy! So here's a link to the Story Siren!

So here's what I got this week:
The Impossibility of Tomorrow by Avery Williams (a lovely surprise from the folks at Simon & Schuster. Thank you!)

Awaken by Meg Cabot (an ARC that showed up in a lovely surprise Scholastic package, with the following two books. Words cannot describe how excited I was to find this on the step)

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington

Amber House by Kelly Moore and Tucker and Larkin Reed (Guys, this cover is seriously cool. You can't really see the title unless it's under light, then it SHIMMERS)

Linked by Imogen Howson (another lovely surprise from Simon & Schuster. These guys are awesome. And this cover is gorgeous.)

The Paradox of Vertical Flight by Emil Ostrovski (a signed copy from the author himself! I also adore this title, and can't wait to start. Thanks so much!)

GUYS. LOOK HOW PRETTY THIS COVER IS!

Look good? What did other people get this week? Link up and I'll go take a look!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

above

Above by Leah Bobet
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 386
Keywords: magic, paranormal, creatures vs. humans
Format read: ARC from publisher (thank you!)

Summary: Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee's wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above — like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers. 
But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape to Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe's history and the shadows' attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home — not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.

You can find Leah Bobet on her website or Twitter.

I don't do this very often, but I had to give up. I made it almost to the end. About 250 pages in. And I still have no idea what is happening. The narrator has apparently never learned to speak properly or use real words, which is fine in some cases. But that, mixed with his use of proper nouns was too much. Some random words (it seems like) are capitalized, and then on second reference aren't, and sometimes he's talking about a thing and sometimes a person. I can't keep straight which is which and it's all entirely too confusing.

The book also jumps the reader right in the middle, which again, is fine in some cases. But then the author never went back and explained the things or what was going on, contributing to the "me not understanding anything in this book" feeling. I feel like this was the fourth in a series and I missed all the important explanation books. But I didn't.

I also don't read the blurbs before I start books. That's a personal thing. I like to be surprised. But there's surprised and there's confusing. Nowhere in the book did it tell the reader that Ariel was a bee. I was shocked when I flipped it over. I was picturing this weird fairy thing. We were offered no explanations behind the characters' powers, and some descriptions only existed in the blurb. Which I don't think is the way to write a book. I was excited to read this, but was left extremely disappointed and frustrated. I felt stupid that I didn't know what was going on, which was maddening. Not worth it for me.


Don't forget to follow us on Bloglovin' since Google Reader is going down next month!
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Saturday, June 8, 2013

paradise rules

Paradise Rules by Jimmy Gleacher
Publication Date: July 12, 2011
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 292
Keywords: golf, scandals, virginity, summer vacation
Format Read: paperback from publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: It's only a week into summer break and already seventeen-year-old Gates has a) hustled millionaires on the golf course b) tried to stop his mother from having another nervous breakdown, c) promised to lose his virginity with his girlfriend, Mel, which would be great if he hadn't already lost it to his forty-year-old godmother, d) almost killed a man.
Yeah, Gates has a lot of secrets, but he's determined to keep his heart true. When he's not swinging golf clubs like a pro, he reads pulp fiction to old folks at the retirement home. And despite his occasional slip-ups — drinking before noon and sneaking glimpses through his sexy godmother's open negligees — Gates only has eyes for Mel. But she knows he's hiding something, and she's beginning to lose her patience. 
Just as Gates is about to spill his shameful secrets, he gets tangled up in a golf club scandal that jeopardizes his dreams of a normal life. He's never been a fighter, but this time he finally pushes back at the world — which could have been a breakthrough but turns into an epic fail. Probably because Gates fights back dirty. Now his life is on the verge of ruin, and he's got no one to turn to for help.
Or so he thinks. Because what Gates is about to discover might hit him with the most amazing shock of his life. 


Have to have more info? Jimmy Gleacher has his own website and the book can be found on Goodreads!

This was so vastly different from most young adult books that I read — you can just tell from the synopsis. I mean, the book starts with Gates's godmother walking around his house naked just so she can have sex with him. He's a sympathetic kid, and it's clear that he means well, but he can't help himself and falls prey to her multiple times through the novel. And if that wasn't bad enough, his mother should clearly not have custody of him (but she's the only one), has mental breakdowns and will disappear for days at a time, leaving Gates alone with his godmother and to fend for himself. He doesn't want to do any of this, and it's easy to sympathize with Gates (he's the narrator, so we can see that he's really trying to change and stop the situation) and want to help him out. But even when Gates was in situations he didn't like, his voice and narration was always funny, and you could tell most of it was said with a sarcastic air.

The author tackled rough subjects head-on — psychological issues, rape, divorce, alcoholism, and more. They're all here. And it was so interesting to see them from a seventeen-year-old male's point of view. It made it much more realistic. The approach taken as well was humorous, which added to the realism. It may not make much sense, but that's how Gates seemed to handle everything, with denial and a few jokes, so when problems emerged, he did the same. I was extremely impressed with how realistic this book was in terms of approaches to problems (especially when the parents have problems) and how their children, in particular, dealt with them.

And as a last little bit on the book — GOLF! This was the first YA book I've read (ever, that I can remember) that had golf as a side plot. Nice work! I love when authors mix it up, even with a sport I'm not interested in, but still manage to hook me to the book. Paradise Rules was so different and such a nice change of pace from the usual book you can pick up.


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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

3 willows

3 Willows by Ann Brashares
Publication Date: January 13, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 318
Keywords: summer camp, sisterhood, friendships
Format Read: Hardcover
Polly has an idea that she can't stop thinking about, one that involves changing a few things about herself. She's setting her sights on a more glamourous life, but it's going to take all of her focus. At least that way she won't have to watch her friends moving so far ahead. 
Jo is spending the summer at her family's beach house, working as a busgirl and bonding with the older, cooler girls she'll see at high school come September. She didn't count on a brief fling with a cute boy changing her entire summer. Or feeling embarrassed by her middle school friends. And she didn't count on her family at all...
Ama is not an outdoorsy girl. She wanted to be at an academic camp, doing research in an air-conditioned library, earning A's. Instead, her summer scholarship lands her on a wilderness trip full of flirting teenagers, blisters, impossible hiking trails, and a sad lack of hair products. 
It is a new summer. And a new sisterhood.
It's irritating when people compare an author's newer book to something they've already written. And I won't do that. But it was delightful to have some of the four girls I grew up with make cameos in this one. But moving on to the book.
Though the girls were separated for the majority of the novel, their stories actually flowed together with ease, and it made sense in the way Brashares wrote their lives. They were very rarely together, but the book focused on their developing friendship over the years, and it always reflected back to the beginnings of their friendship, and how basic relationships start at the true core and essence of people rather than small things that are happening throughout their lives. No matter what, these girls could always return to one another and keep up their strong friendships.

Ama's story was my favorite. I felt out of the three girls, she truly accomplished something that was difficult. She was non-outdoorsy girl who was not happy to be at a wilderness camp, but struggled and figured it out anyway. She remained mostly level-headed and true to herself throughout her summer, which was something Polly and Jo did not do, which is partly why I didn't like their stories as much.

Polly decided she wanted to be a model, lost a bunch of weight, and had issues with her mom that weren't totally resolved for me by the end. Her whole transformation was very naive and on the surface, and she even went to visit Jo unexpectedly. Now, Jo should not have been so cold-hearted toward her, but, in her defense, if I had a job and stuff to do and someone randomly showed up, I wouldn't stop my life for them. They both just kind of annoyed me for being so superficial and focused on the immediate present.

But the book was written extremely well (was there any surprise it wouldn't be?) and I was taken with it anyway, even though a few things about it annoyed me. There were a few things Brashares could have talked about more (what happened with Dia by the end and what happened with Finn in the past?), but overall, a good start to my summer reads.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

the pillow book of lotus lowensten

by Libby Schmais — published December 8, 2009 — Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Lotus Lowenstein's life is merde. She dreams of moving to Paris and becoming an existentialist. Yet, here she is trapped in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a New-Agey mom, an out-of-work dad, and a chess champion brother who dreams of being a rock star. Merci a Dieu for Lotus's best friend, Joni, who loves French culture enough to cofound their high school's first French Club with Lotus. At the first meeting, the cutest boy in the world walks in. His name is Sean, and he too, loves French culture and worships Jean-Paul Sartre. 
At first, Lotus thinks Sean is the best thing to happen to her in years. He's smart, cultured, and adorable. Unfortunately, though, Joni feels the same way. And having an existentialist view of love, Sean sees nothing wrong with enjoying both girls affections. Things come to a head when all three depart for Montreal with their teacher, Ms. G., on the French Club's first official field trip. Will Sean choose Joni over Lotus? And will Lotus and Joni's friendship ever recover?

This book was written in the form of diary entries, like a "pillow book" or the thing that she was reading in the book. It's not my favorite form for books to be written in, but it worked for this book, and it would have been weird if it weren't written in diary form.

In general, the book was pretty decent. The plot itself was interesting enough, and it moved quickly and didn't bore me. But the downside? I HATED Lotus. I mean, with a fiery passion hatred. She was dead set on moving to Paris (without ever having been there), becoming an existentialist (without knowing what that actually is), and living the Parisian lifestyle (though she's not actually French and doesn't even SPEAK French!). It was ridiculous. Enter Sean. He was basically a loner with no friends who wandered into their French club meeting, and started a thing up with both girls.

Then Lotus got mad that he was also with Joni when Lotus told Sean she was fine with it. How is he supposed to know she's not unless she tells him?

And then Lotus went on and on and ON about some French author's book and diet, but she didn't even follow it and was mad when she didn't lose weight. The main book was fine, but the fact that the main character was detestable in every way imaginable just dropped the whole thing for me. I just hated her.

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Blog Tour: Praefatio

by Georgia McBride — published May 21, 2013 — Month9Books, LLC

Welcome to the blog tour for Praefatio!
Happy June, everybody!

Now that summer is (pretty much) in full swing, let's get our reading on!

About Georgia McBride — Georgia loves a good story. Whether it's writing her own, or publishing someone else's, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of Month9Books, yalitchat.org, and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not blasting really loud music or reading. Born and raised in NYC, she now lives in North Carolina with four dogs, a parrot, 2 kids, parents, and a husband. Praefatio is her first novel.

Still want more info about all this stuff? Check out some links! They go places!

Praefatio on GOODREADS and BARNES AND NOBLE
Georgia McBride has her own website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and even a Pinterest!

And finally, I got to read Praefatio, and it was great! No, really, read the synopsis and my review below!

Seventeen-year-old Grace Ann Miller is no ordinary runaway...
After having been missing for weeks, Grace is found on the estate of international rock star Gavin Vault, half-dressed and yelling for help. Over the course of twenty-four hours Grace holds an entire police force captive with incredulous tales of angels, demons, and war; intent on saving Gavin from lockup and her family from worry over her safety.
Authorities believe that Grace is ill, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the victim of assault and a severely fractured mind. Undeterred, Grace reveals the secret existence of dark angels on earth, and ancient prophecy and a wretched curse steeped in Biblical myth. Grace's claims set into motion an ages-old war, resulting in blood, death and the loss of everything that matters. But are these the delusions of an immensely sick girl, or could Grace's story actually be true?
Praefatio is Grace's account of weeks on the run, falling in love, and losing everything but her faith. When it's sister against brother, light versus darkness, corrupt police officers, eager doctors, and accusing journalists, against one girl with nothing but her word as proof: who do you believe?

In the beginning, this book felt like one of those "Game of Thrones" type scenario where I was very confused at what all was going on, and making a diagram and a timeline seemed like a good way to help everything out. So I slowed down, and managed to tackle it. And I'm extremely glad I did. Once you get past figuring out what's a flashback to interrogation scenes and what's the present, it's much easier to follow. The story is constantly twisting and turning, but after the first few times, it begins to flow together with ease, so I didn't have trouble following once I was hooked on the story. The fact that the whole thing covered only 24 hours was fascinating as well. It's such a short amount of time to cover, but with the flashbacks and the detail, the reader is really taken through every minute of those hours.

Another standout quality for this  book was a stellar main character. She was brash, courageous, and just crazy enough to be interesting but not insane. She always pursued what she wanted, regardless of other people's thoughts or judgements. I was skeptical of the whole Gavin situation developing, since he seemed a lot like a Mr. Rochester to me (lots of mood swings and a weird relationship with her where I just didn't quite trust him, but Jane Eyre did and it was irritating). But that's okay. Grace's dynamic qualities made up for it.

Between the characters, the myths, the intriguing weird war-angel-demon backstory madness going on, and the general awesomeness of starting off in an interrogation room (immediately upping the intensity), this book just kicked some major ass. It was a little confusing for about the first two chapters, but push through, my friends. You're in for a wild ride. This was worth the time, for sure.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Going Vintage

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Publication date: March 26, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 320
Keywords: contemporary, vintage, high school
Format Read: Hardcover

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:

1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous

But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

Everyone loves a book that they can fly through that is also well-written and adorable. This was one of those books. I loved it for several reasons:

The premise — this girl has been “cheated on” by her boyfriend with some internet cyber-whore, according to the main character. While I feel like she (may have) freaked out just a little bit too much without knowing all the details (later on, it’s fine to be mad, but she got mad really quickly without giving him any chance to explain what was going on). Nonetheless, I still loved the premise. Because then Mallory gives up technology altogether, and she decides to “go vintage.” I loved this. As many of my friends know (but you don’t I suppose, so let me tell you), I despise technology for the most part. Sure, I use things. But I VERY frequently do not take my phone with me places, prefer face-to-face conversation, and I very much hate when old things get destroyed to become more “modern.” All huzzahs for the vintage! She starts using a cord phone and bikes everywhere, which I love.

The characters — though I had several problems, I really enjoyed most people Mallory interacted with. Mallory herself was pretty cool — she made corny jokes (which are my favorite), had a good relationship with her family, and seemed relatively level-headed. I loved Oliver (I think that was his name – the pep club president), though I really wish he wasn’t the cousin of her ex. Though I understand this made for more of a conflict, but I still didn’t like it. I also liked how much I didn’t like Jeremy, her ex-boyfriend. He was whiney and complain-y and a perfect character to hate.

Though there were a few things (the whole grandmother plot line – too drastic and kind of random, didn’t really fit with the rest of the book) I didn’t like, I flew through this book and loved it’s adorable, quirky feel. Definitely a fun one, and a good book to start the (almost) summer with.