Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Being that today is July 31, there are a couple of special birthdays in the literary world to celebrate. I would like to wish a very Happy Birthday to the one and only JK Rowling, who with her fabulous writing style and vivid imagination has created a world in which kids and adults alike can get lost. 

I would also like to wish a Happy Birthday to Harry Potter, Rowling's main character, whom with a generation has grown and found that it is ok to get lost in books, and root for the hero, even if he is fictional.

 I love these books and am enthralled with Rowling's writing, and I cannot wait for the day that I can introduce my children to this magical world. They have started a bit with the movies, but as we all know, as good as the movies are, they books are that much better, and I can't wait to read them with my kids.

Teaser Tuesday: Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, 
hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read;
  • Open your book to a random page;
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page;
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
 This week's teaser comes from:
Taken by Storm (Raised by Wolves #3)
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
It was an odd thing for a werewolf to do, to bury an animal that should have smelled like prey, but the horror of what had been done to the little dog in the red collar had left a mark on _______ that was visible on her face even now. (page 187)
This had been removed due to the fact that it could be a spoiler. I haven't gotten that far yet, so don't want to ruin it for anyone just in case. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Monday, what are you reading?

This great meme is hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Each week will share with you the books we are reading, just finished reading and those books we are planning to read this week. 

This week I am reading:

Taken by Storm (Raised by Wolves #3)
 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)
by Lauren DeStafano
Narrated by Angela Lin

I just finished reading:

The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater

(review closer to publication date)

So, what do you think?  Any of these on your TBR list? Any you are thinking of adding? Let us know what you are reading and looking forward to reading.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: Drain You by M. Beth Bloom

Drain You by Beth M. Bloom
Paperback, 400 pages
Release Date: July 24, 2012
Published by: HarperTeen

Description (from Goodreads):
Every night I'd lie there in bed and look out at the hills behind our house, listening. I knew there'd be consequences.

Actions meant reactions. Sunrises meant sunsets. My fear was too permanent, lasting longer than eyeliner, something I wore every day and didn't wash off.

Quinlan Lacey's life is a red carpet of weird fashions, hip bands, random parties, and chilling by the pool with her on-and-off BFF Libby. There's also her boring job (minimum wage), a crushed-out coworker (way too interested), her summer plans (nada), and her parents (totally clueless). Then one night she meets gorgeous James, and Quinn's whole world turns crazy, Technicolor, 3-D, fireworks, whatever.

But with good comes bad and unfortunately, Quinn's new romance brings with it some majorly evil baggage. Now, to make things right, she has to do a lot of things wrong (breaking and entering, kidnapping, lying, you name it).

There's normal, and then there's paranormal, and neither are Quinlan's cup of Diet Coke. Staying sane, cool, in love, and alive isn't so easy breezy.

After first reading the synopsis, Drain You sounds like an interesting debut, with a fun main character and romance. After reading Drain You, I found that the book sort of just fell flat for me.

I had a hard time liking Quinn. At first I thought she was kind of awesome, with her different style and quirky attitude, but as the story progressed, I really stopped liking her. Quinn just wasn't very nice, to her friends, especially them, and to her parents. She had this cold attitude, and that made it hard to relate to her or even tolerate her. 

I honestly didn't like James either. From the moment he was introduced, I just thought he was creepy. An example of his creepiness is when he was at her house waiting in the front lawn for her to get home, when he should not even know where she lives, they met like twenty minutes before, that is CREEPY, not charming. 

Whit is Quinn's new friend, and James brother. I actually did like Whit, he was kind and actually tried to help Quinn with her friend Libby, not like James, who didn't care, only cared about Quinn.

So overall, Drain You was pretty dull.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

COVER REVEAL: Beyond by Mary Ting



Torn between the past she can't remember and a future she isn’t ready for, Claudia feels at a loss. With unanswered questions, she is certain there is more to her past than just being a venator. Finding the missing pieces in her life won’t be easy because duty calls. When mysterious dark shadows get released, an apocalypse sets in motion. The venators and the alkins must work together once again. Knowing Claudia would be the key to destroying the demons that were released, a familiar stranger appears to protect her. Drawn to the beautiful angel, Claudia finds she must unravel the mysteries of her past in order to help save the world. Who is the angel assisting her and why does she feel a strong connection to him? Time is running out. Will she discover all the secrets before it’s too late? 

Beyond by Mary Ting  9/12/12.

“Did you tell her?” Davin accused Austin.
                “What? No! Are you out of your mind? Did you?”
                “No. Of course not. But how did she find out about Patty?”
                “Maybe the lover boy told her. He was always around,” Austin huffed, looping his finger up in the air. “Speaking of which, where did he go?” Austin scanned the perimeter and there were no signs of Michael.
                “He’s following their track. He’ll let me know where he is, but I’m not going to tell you,” Davin teased, giving him a wicked smile.
                “Yeah, you alkins think you’re some hot stuff. Let me tell you one thing, venators always find a way. You can’t hide from me. I’ll find you.”
                “Oh yeah? What’s that demon doing over there?” Davin pointed to the left of him, near the boulders situated afar. When Austin turned to look, Davin took off. His humorous laughter rang through Specus. “Got yah.”

If you have not read the Between and Crossroads by Author Mary Ting...YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Author Mary Ting has created an INCREDIBLE world in her Crossroads series. 



Review: The Dragonslayer's Sword by Resa Nelson

The Dragonslayer’s Sword by Resa Nelson
Published Date: June 2008
Publisher: Mundania Press LLC
Genre: YA

The Story: For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover-the dragonslayer-disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.
Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child. Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains.
With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?

 My Review:   I felt so sorry for Astrid.  We meet her as a child seller is trying to get rid, well sell her.  She is so disfigured due to a lot of scars on her body.  Then she meets a boy who isn’t afraid of her.  His dad suggests that in Guell, the child seller will have better luck and that the local blacksmith would buy Astrid.  Turns out, he does.  But what else he does is love Astrid.  She works along-side him and learns how to make the Dragonslayer’s sword. 

To me, this reminds me of the Ugly Duckling.  But then Astrid proves her worth and is treasured by those around her.  As I started reading, it was a little confusing with all the switches to the past, but as I continued on, I couldn’t stop reading.  So much happens in this first book.  This is a four part series, so look for the next book’s reviews: The Iron Maiden!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Welcome to Waiting on Wednesday! Waiting on Wednesday a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating.

This week, we are waiting on:

Falling For You
by Lisa Schroeder
Published by Simon Pulse
Release date 2013 (I have not seen an exact date)

From Goodreads: Rae's always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her...and the less she wants to give.

As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous.

Then a tragedy lands Rae in the ICU. Now, hovering between life and death, Rae must find the light amid the darkness…and the strength to fight for life and the love she deserves.


I love Lisa Schroeder. Her verse style writing conveys so much emotion and feeling in just a few words. I am pulled into her books time and time again, and I am sure this book will not be any different. 

Review: A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young

A Want So Wicked (A Need So Beautiful #2) by Suzanne Young
Hardcover, 288 pages
Release Date: June 26, 2012
Published by: Balzer + Bray

Description (from Goodreads):
Elise is a normal seventeen-year-old girl until the day she wakes up in a desert park, with no idea who she is.

After that episode, her life takes a bizarre turn. She’s experiencing unexpected flashes of insight into people’s lives—people she’s never met before. Strangers frighten her with warnings about the approaching Shadows. And although Elise has never had a boyfriend, she suddenly finds herself torn between two handsome but very different young men: Abe, the charming bad boy whose effect on her both seduces and frightens her, and the mysterious Harlin, who’s new to town but with whom Elise feels an urgent, elemental connection—almost as if they are soul mates.

Now Elise begins to question everything about her life. Why do these guys both want her so desperately? What are the Shadows? Why does the name Charlotte inspire a terrifying familiarity? And who is Elise, really?

I was not sure if I would like A Want So Wicked, the whole idea of a new girl and Harlin falling for her after losing Charlotte, just sounded strange to me, but I ended up loving this book and it wasn't weird at all.

Yeah, like the description states, Elise is a pretty typical seventeen year-old-girl, so much so that she really didn't stick out to me, except for the fact that she remembers someone else memories, that was intriguing.

Now, lets talk about the swoon worthy Harlin. What can I say about Harlin, beside the fact that he is just about perfect. He is sweet, sensitive, but at the same time, tough, and he drives a motorcycle, how cool is that? I just love him!

Abe was someone who I didn't like from the second he came into the story. I don't even know why I didn't like him, he just had a certain aspect, maybe it was cockiness, that just didn't sit well with me. I didn't understand why Elise was actually falling for his act, but maybe Elise liked something about him, I just didn't.

Another character who intrigued me was Elise's sister, Lucy, she just acted so strange, and from a sisters perspective I would have been very concerned.

A Want So Wicked was romantic, mysterious, and completely heartbreaking, in the way Elise and other characters had to choose to stay in the light, and away from the darkness.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, 
hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read;
  • Open your book to a random page;
  • Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page;
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others!) 
  • Share the title and author too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
 This week's teaser comes from:
The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater
The trees whispered and hissed and Gansey realized he might have been mistaken; it might have been only one voice, all along. He wasn't entirely sure he'd ever heard it aloud, either, now that he thought about it. (page250)
Disclaimer: This is a selection out of the ARC. There is no guarantee that it will appear in the final publication.

Review: This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Isbn:  9780312656744
Release Date: June 19, 2012
Paperback, 336 pages
Ages 14+

From Goodreads: It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. 

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Courtney Summers has this way with words and characters and emotions that is sorta like being run over with a truck again and asking the driver to back up . She's good at making you want more, even though there's so much pain involved. I've experienced it with every one of her previous books and This is Not a Test is no exception. 

I'm trying to figure out all the things that I loved about this book to write this review, and a week later I'm still a little unsure of what things to pinpoint. There's the characters, firstly. Character who, by every definition of the word hope, should have none. Their parents are dead. Their world is destroyed. They're living in the school while an army of zombies tear life apart. All of them are broken, each one in a different way. The story is told through Sloane, a girl who minutes before the zombies tore down her door, was about to kill herself. So the whole story is this battle--with her and with everyone else--about life and death. What's worth living for? How long do you fight?

Summers also did a great job weaving the zombies into the present world. It was totally believable, happening in more of a whisper than a bang. In mere seconds everything falls apart. As someone who likes all the zombie things, her interpretation was alarmingly fitting. The zombies aren't really in the forefront of the story, (as in there's no tearing of the flesh and trying to kill them all like in The Walking Dead) they're more like background noise. The lack of them, the threat of their appearance and the unknown that all that creates, only adds the tension of the book. It's like the reader is experiencing all this the same way the characters are. 

This book is a slow burn, and the more you read the more you're waiting for this moment to explode. Will it come? Will they survive? Sloane Price really makes the story for me. Her pain, her loss, her fear, the struggle that she is going through in fighting to survive, when all she really wants to do is die. What would that tension be like? What is worth fighting for? 

Some lines I loved and if I did not convince you to read This is Not a Test these lines will. 

"Outside, where everything is falling, landing and breaking at once. Sometimes you catch something specific like the screams and cries of people trying to hold on to each other before they're swallowed into other, bigger noises. This is what it sounds like when the world ends." (pg 19)

"I remember us huddled around this birdbath yesterday, yesterday morning. We cupped our palms together and lapped up all the dirty, stagnant water and it tasted so awful but so, so, wonderful because we were so desperate and isn't everything better when you're desperate?" (pg 23)

"The thing no one tells you about surviving, about the mere act of holding out, is how many hours are nothing because nothing happens." (pg 223) 

"...I think if you want something bad enough it can be greater than pain, it can push you past it. I hope." (pg 285)

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Monday, what are you reading?

This great meme is hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. Each week will share with you the books we are reading, just finished reading and those books we are planning to read this week. 

I just finished:

Underworld (Abandon #2) 
by Meg Cabot - Audiobook
Review coming soon!

The Farm 
by Emily McKay
(This book doesn't come out until Dec., so it may be a while before the review is posted, although I can tell you that it is one that you want to put on your TBR list. It is AMAZING!)

I am currently reading:

The Raven Boys
by Maggie Stiefvater

So, what do you think?  Any of these on your TBR list? Any you are thinking of adding? Let us know what you are reading and looking forward to reading.

Review: Kiss Me Deadly edited by Trisha Telep

Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love
Edited by Trisha Telep
Published by Running Press Teens
on August 3, 2010
ISBN: 0762439491
Paperback: 432 pages
Ages 14+

From Goodreads: For those who thirst for accounts of paranormal romance, Trisha Telep has compiled some of the most thrilling takes of forbidden love in this collection. First crushes and last rites; dark spells and bright magic; forbidden lovers and enchanted beings -- and always, always the hungry games of desire. Pucker up for a darkly sweet collection of ghosts, shape shifters, fairies, unicorns, vampires, and demons in tales from today's biggest writers of the paranormal persuasion.


I love anthologies! I love that an editor can get a number of authors to write stories based on the same theme, whatever it may be, and and put them all in one book. 
They are a great way to find out about new authors you might not ever have read before, as well as reading stories by some of your favorite authors, whether they are set in a world you are familiar with or not. 
In the case of Kiss Me Deadly, there are 13 stories by 13 different authors all based in the world of paranormal romance, to whatever degree it may be found in these stories. 
I am going to review each story separately and then at the end give a total rating for the book as a whole.

The Assassin's Apprentice by Michelle Zink - Interesting, if not quick, story about an angel wanting to avenge her family's murder, and the apprentice assassin she meets. I liked it, but it was too short, didn't develop enough for me. Left me wanting a bit.

Errant by Diana Peterfreund - Unicorn hunter nun, spoiled princess, and a marriage ceremony featuring the killing of a unicorn. I really like this story. It was unique and good at showing to not judge a book by its cover. At first, I was skeptical that I was going to like it, but as it went on, I found out that I did.

The Spirit Jar by Karen Mahoney - Moth, decade old vampire, on a mission to find a book for her creator. She meets up with a Djinn who is looking for the same book, and although she does want it, she decides to let him use it first. This is an excellent story. I really want to see a full story set in this world.

Lost by Justine Musk - Interesting story about a girl who is drawn to an abandoned house, and the mysterious boy who shows up there. She finds out that she is not who she thought she was and with the help of the boy, she discovers all that she can be. I liked this story a lot.

The Spy who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan - New take on the Peter Pan story of yore. Peter becomes a spy. So far, this is probably my least favorite of the stories. I was just not really interested in it, and it didn't much keep my attention.

The Dungeons of Langeais by Becca Fitzpatrick - As being able to tell by the title, this story centers around Chauncy Langeais of the Hush, Hush realm. It takes place in the past. It is merely ok. There is a nice twist to it at the end, but otherwise I was not very interested.

Behind the Red Door by Caitlin Kittredge - Haunted house tale with a bit of a twist at the end. I may not have loved this one, but I did really like it.

Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan - Set in the world of her Forest of Hands and Teeth books. Tabitha, who I can only deduce is the Sister Tabitha of the Convent, is the main character in this story. It gives her history of how she became the seemingly hard, cold woman who puts the safety of their town over everything else. This story is excellent. It is so well written and heart rendering, that I found myself with tears at the end of it.

Familiar by Michelle Rowen - A teenage witch needs to find a familiar so she can advance in her studies. What she does find is more than she bargained for. I liked this story. The story itself was good, but some of the dialog/situations was a little campy. But all in all, not bad.

Fearless by Rachel Vincent - I liked this story, although I was not familiar with all of the background not having read any of the other Soul Stealer books.

Vermillion by Daniel Marks - I have to admit, I didn't even make it through this story. It just didn't hold my interest.

The Hounds of Ulster by Maggie Stiefvater - I love Maggie! This story is so good, even without the little secret twist at the end. That just makes it epic. In fact, I wanted to go back and read this story all over again after I got to the ending.

Many Happy Returns by Daniel Waters - Interesting story to finish the book out with. I did however like it. 

And my overall rating for the book as a whole... I know it doesn't average out this way, but although there were some stories that I wasn't overly fond of, the ones that I loved were just that good, and are the reason for my overall rating.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: So Close to You by Rachel Carter

So Close to You (So Close to You #1) by Rachel Carter
Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: July 10, 2012
Published by: HarperTeen

Description (from Goodreads):
Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.

When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.

Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices--and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

My Review:
I actually decided to read this book because of the cover, I had no idea what it was about, and I know that I shouldn't pick books by there covers, it could have been potentially problematic since I may not have even liked what the story was about, but I was pleasantly surprised by the great story that unfolded.

I really enjoyed the setting for the book, Lydia travels back to 1944, and I really liked reading about the fashion, and just the way things were, and the way that people talked, using words like "gadabout" and "dilly", it was amusing.

I liked Lydia. I liked that she had a close relationship with her grandfather and is willing to do things for him even when she doesn't believe in it, that is something that I can really relate to. And she wears funky vintage dresses, I think that is so cool.

Wes is Lydia's love interest in the book, he intrigued me from the first moment he was introduced. I have always been into the mysterious and dark type, and Wes fits that description pretty well. But as the story goes on it is discovered who Wes really is and are shown the sensitive side of him.

Lucas is the other guy that Lydia shows a slight interest in. He shows a big interest in her. He was alright, a nice guy, but I just didn't like him, not for Lydia anyway.

The book also had this shocking cliffhanger, it really makes me want to read the sequel!

So Close to You is a captivating story of romance and time travel, it was great!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Review: Arise by Tara Hudson

Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson
Hardcover, 404 pages
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Published by: HarperTeen

Description (from Goodreads):
Amelia—still caught between life and death—must fight for every moment of her relationship with the human boy Joshua. They can hardly even kiss without Amelia accidentally dematerializing. Looking for answers, they go to visit some of Joshua’s Seer relatives in New Orleans. But even in a city so famously steeped in the supernatural, Amelia ends up with more questions than answers…and becomes increasingly convinced that she and Joshua can never have a future together.Wandering through the French Quarter, Amelia meets other in-between ghosts, and begins to seriously consider joining them. And then she meets Gabrielle. Somehow, against impossible odds, Gaby has found a way to live a sort of half-life...a half-life for which Amelia would pay any price. Torn between two worlds, Amelia must choose carefully, before the evil spirits of the netherworld choose for her.

Hereafter wasn't my favorite book, but I liked it enough to want to read Arise

One of the reasons I wanted to read the book was because I was curious as to what would happen to Amelia, she sticks out as a character, she is a ghost-like being, and that is pretty intriguing. I also wanted to know why everything was happening to her and exactly what would happen to her and Joshua. 

Joshua is a nice guy and with his midnight blue eyes and boyish smile, he is definitely swoon-worthy. He is good to Amelia and I like him. His family is also quite interesting since they are seers, which means they can hear or see dead people. 

Gaby was a very interesting character, she is like Amelia, but has found a way to live a half-life. She was just fun and seemed like she was so full of life, even though she was dead. I loved her. I was also very curious to see what the half-life thing was all about and exactly what this meant for Josh and Amelia's relationship.

Overall, Arise was an exciting, romantic read!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Review: Once by Anna Carey

Once (Eve #2) by Anna Carey
Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Published by: Harper Collins 

Description (from Goodreads):
When you're being hunted, who can you trust?

For the first time since she escaped from her school many months ago, Eve can sleep soundly. She's living in Califia, a haven for women, protected from the terrifying fate that awaits orphaned girls in The New America.

But her safety came at a price: She was forced to abandon Caleb, the boy she loves, wounded and alone at the city gates. When Eve gets word that Caleb is in trouble, she sets out into the wild again to rescue him, only to be captured and brought to the City of Sand, the capital of The New America.

Trapped inside the City walls, Eve uncovers a shocking secret about her past--and is forced to confront the harsh reality of her future. When she discovers Caleb is alive, Eve attempts to flee her prison so they can be together--but the consequences could be deadly. She must make a desperate choice to save the ones she loves . . . or risk losing Caleb forever.

In this breathless sequel to "Eve," Anna Carey returns to her tale of romance, adventure, and sacrifice in a world that is both wonderfully strange and chillingly familiar.

When Eve ended, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Once, and I wasn't disappointed!

Eve is a great heroine, she has to make many sacrifices, and give up things she loves, and pretend to be something she isn't to save the ones she loves. There were moments in the book when Eve had to act false, and I don't know if I could control my self like she did or be as brave. She is just amazing.

Caleb is just wonderful. He is sweet, and strong, and willing to do anything to be with Eve, even risking his own life. The story wouldn't be the same without this darling boy.

Once also had a share of heartbreaking moments, and I will admit, I cried. Anna Carey is great at crafting those upsetting scenes, that are both shocking and disturbing at times.

Filled with shocking moments, romance, and devastation, Once will leave you desperate for the next installment of this fantastic series!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List by Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Push
Goodreads / Author Website / Amazon / Barnes and Noble

About (from Goodreads):  An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.
This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

My Review:

 The idea behind this book hooked me while attending Teen Book Con with my son.  Hearing the author talk about it really intrigued me, possibly because of a past experience.  I was told by one of the popular boys in my class during junior high that I was the ugliest girl he had ever seen.  I was in the height of my awkward years and it was a label that came to affect me in unexpected ways.  Naturally it knocked my already low self esteem but it also had some odd positive effects for me.  

  Many of us can relate to the way that labels define girls at this age.  Even when she tries to rebel against a label others might force it on them.  Often it hits right where a girl feels the most fragile and vulnerable.  Even if the label is something that is desired it can take a terrible toll.  This book really does an excellent job of taking a look into what kind of price is paid by being given a label, even if it is one a girl thinks she might want.  Beauty is such a central concern for teens that it tends to be a place where many girls are targeted.  The book touches on some pretty deep issues that face this age.

  The author mostly succeeds in giving each girl a distinct voice.  Each girl, even though none is covered in great detail, has enough of their story and life presented so that we can understand their perspective and at least get the girl’s flavor.  Even the minor characters are presented with authenticity.   Eight characters, all with lives, are a lot to keep up with.  The list is given at the beginning of the story and I did have to recheck it to keep the different characters straight as we bounce in between their stories.  This was not a problem for me, but it could be potentially confusing.  

  One potential downfall to the book is that, because the scope is so large, the author can not dive into any particular story/perspective too deeply.  This works better for some of the girls where the issues that are raised are not as deep or complex.  Some of the stories could have been expanded on, and arguably, needed that expansion.   Some of the girls could have easily had their own books written around just their story line.  I also felt like some of the characters were developed better and more fully and it was easier to understand them.  I do feel that what we lose by this lack of focus is made up for by stepping back and seeing just how distinct and unique this kind of thing can mean to so many different types of people.

  I recommend this book to all groups.  Teens can relate to some of the issues in the books in a current way, adults can relate having lived through some of it.  I think this book would work great in a discussion between teens and adults, especially in a group setting such as a book club.  This book does not provide answers but it does ask questions that deserve to be asked.  I believe this is all the author was attempting and feel she succeeded.

  Due to the number of stories we are following we only get a week in these girls’ lives.  It is enough to understand the effects of the list for each but not enough for clean resolutions.   We are merely given a sense of where each story is headed.  I think this adds to the book and would have been disappointed if things and been wrapped up too cleanly.  This aspect begs for discussions about where you think each girls’ fate might lie and what paths they are likely to take.  Anyone needing clean resolutions to their stories will likely be frustrated.  Oddly, I usually like a lot more resolution to my books but in this case I feel like we are given the clues we need.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
on June 14, 2012
Hardcover: 304 pages
Ages 12+

From Goodreads: A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.


At first glance this just seems like the typical young/forbidden/other side of the tracks love story with the boy next door. But the way it is written so well that I got sucked in and had a hard time putting this book down. One night I kept saying, just one more chapter, until I literally had to force myself to stop, or risk not being able to wake up the next morning.

What could have been, let's face it, an over the top story, completely works in Fitzpatrick's capable hands. She is a master manipulator and has created a world where the characters and their lives stay with you when you are not even reading.

This story is a classic example of not judging a book by its cover... From the rich girl with a senator mother, to the junkie boy who was kicked out of prep school and his smart going places twin, to the family next door with the house full of children just scraping by: No one is what they at first seem.

And the romance is so sweet. There is a bit of naivete to their relationship, but you get that it is the real thing and not just some summer fling. And Jase is definitely book boyfriend material. But he is not the only one. This is not a book centralized around the two main characters and their love. We get a glimpse into every aspect of their lives. At least from where we open up the story in medias res. But there is enough going on that it is easy to figure out what it must have been like for them growing up.

And Jase's huge family are not shoved into the background. They are a very loud unforgettable part of the story. Each sibling has their personalities spelled out, and although some might be hard to discern sometimes, there are others that stick out so far they grab your heartstrings and don't let go (George, especially).
When tragedy strikes, the right thing to do seems so obvious, but put in the context that Fitzpatrick does, you can see all sides of the situation. Ultimately, there is only one thing that can be done, but how to go about it is the big question.
The only problem I think I have with this book, and it isn't really the book at all, but the 12+ reading age. There are a lot of serious situations in this book that I am not sure all 12 year olds might be ready for. I feel this would be more of a parent discretion book if that child is that young. I might go 14+.
This is definitely a book I would recommend. 


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