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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Out This Week (October 26-November 1)

This week is an amazing one for YA releases! Cannot wait to get my hands on these!!
10.28.14 Get Happy by Mary Amato
10.28.14 Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island) by Martina Boone
10.28.14 In the After Light (Darkest Minds #3) by Alexandra Bracken
10.28.14 Atlantia by Ally Condie 
 10.28.14 Eternal (Shadow Falls: After Dark #2) by C.C. Hunter
10.28.14 Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa
 10.28.14 Waterfall (Teardrop #2) by Lauren Kate
10.28.14 Catalyst (Insignia #3) by S.J. Kincaid
 10.28.14 Beau, Lee, the Bomb, & Me by Mary McKinley
10.28.14 Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Swap by Megan Shull

Title: The Swap
Author: Megan Shull
ISBN: 97800623311696
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Released: August 26, 2014
Page #: 382
Source: ARC from the publisher

Summary:
"Ellie spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. Jack spent it training in The Cage with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they're both ready for a change. And just as Jack's thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie's wishing she could be anyone but herself. Then, BAM! They swap lives - and bodies!

Now Jack is braving sleepover parties, while Ellie reigns as The PRince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on - and their feelings for each other grow - Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.

Told in alternating perspectives, The Swap offers fresh and funny insights into how the other half really lives. "
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First Lines: (Quote from the galley, see final version for edits)

"It's sunny and it's summer and the three of us are sitting on the scratchy cement edge of the Riverside Swim Club pool, dangling our feet into the deep end.
Page 1
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Review:

This was most definitely one of my favorite middle grade books I've read in a while.

Ellie and Jack are both in a tough spot at the beginning of school. They're unhappy about some big aspect of their lives and don't know how to change it. One witchy nurse changes all that - and puts them in each other's bodies. Each of them has a lot to learn about how differently they live... and it changes how they see their own lives.

I'm not sure how much of a review I can write about this book because I really loved it. I mean, the whole switching bodies thing is done really well. The things you wonder about are discussed easily. The whole bathroom issue, the morning situation for boys... it's all in there. And I feel like it's handled really well - and glossed over without it becoming too much of an issue.

I know some have complaints about the gender stereotypes, but I feel like it was fine. I mean, I can easily imagine these kids at any middle school, anywhere. Just because she plays for a soccer team that wears all pink and he has brothers who are so aggressive and tough, doesn't keep me from buying into the story completely. I love that the mean girl got called out so effectively and that both characters were able to help each other so much.

Now that I mention it, the whole sports and fitness thing was a really fun part of the story. The fact that both of them are very into team sports helped them understand each other even more. Their family lives are so different that you almost can't even understand how they could comprehend each other's struggles, but it works out really well.

The ending of this story almost left me in tears. There's a moment with Jack's father that really did make me tear up and I think it will have that effect on many readers. And I just loved how things wrapped up in a pretty package. I honestly don't think I could have asked for more from a middle grade book. I almost wish there were going to be more books about these characters because I loved them so much.

As you can imagine, I will be recommending this book to all of my upper middle grade readers. I think the whole physical differences discussions sort of push it outside of the early middle range... so this is almost more for the kid who is asking questions about body changes - mostly because it actually talks through some of it and might be a helpful tool. Either way, it's a great book and well written. I look forward to reading more from this author.
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Other Blog Review: 

Little Book Star
Sarah Reads Too Much
Between the Pages
Book Loving Me
Gizmo's Book Reviews
Lisa Loves Literature
Paper Riot
Pingwing's Bookshelf
Those Summer Reading Nights
Gisbelle's YA Obsession

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Young World by Chris Weitz

Title: The Young World
Author: Chris Weitz
ISBN: 9780316226295
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Released: July 29, 2014
Page #: 374
Source: ARC from the publisher

Summary:
"After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park... and discovers truths they could never have imagined."
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First Lines: (Quoted from the galley, please see final version for edits.)

"It's another gorgeous Spring day after the fall of civilization. I'm doing my rounds, following the path that winds through Washington Square park, like a warped infinity sign."
Page 1
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Review:

I was really excited to get my hands on this book - it's so firmly in my wheelhouse, it's freaky.

Jefferson has taken over leadership of the Washington Square tribe. Often the various tribes have to fight over space and resources - and they are no exception. One of their members thinks he knows how to cure the Sickness, but he needs to make it to a different territory to find the research. They get together a group and set out on a mission to save the world. Along the way, they encounter more obstacles than you can even imagine.

As I said, this book is firmly in my wheelhouse. Dystopian, teens are the only ones who don't get the Sickness, making tribes for themselves... learning how survive this new world. I'm down for all of that. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this book does it the best. I think the concept of having it set in Manhattan - a place that has the potential to be completely cut off from everything else - is kinda cool. Things are sort of sectioned off there already, so it's easy to imagine how things would break down in the event of a disease wiping out most of the people like this.

But here's my big question... If people don't know New York very well, will they be totally lost while reading this story? Luckily, I lived there for a while, so I have a mental map of the island. So I wonder if people who don't know are sort of lost when street names and some visual markers are mentioned. And does it matter? I had a little trouble following their entire time in Central Park because I was picturing different things than what the author was saying. It was a little frustrating because those details seem to make a difference.

Another over-arching theme that had me concerned was the racism aspect. They said that when the sickness took away the adults and tribes were being formed, there were areas that completely decided to exclude certain races. Like... the Upper East & West decided to push people up into Harlem... I just have a hard time swallowing the idea that people would actually do that. I mean, I get it in the context of the story. And, of course, the main crowd we follow treats it all very respectfully. But the entire idea that something like that would happen really bugs me. Yes, there are certain areas of NY that are completely one ethnicity or culture, but it felt almost like it shouldn't have been part of the storyline. Maybe something will come of it in future volumes?

So, all of our main characters are basically brilliant. They've learned how to deal with the Sickness in various ways - some through medicine, some through invention, some through leadership, some through fighting excellence. It's just like cream of the crop. But it's a little like the author uses their brilliance to say things that the average, everyday teen wouldn't. It felt a little like I was listening to the voice of the author, rather than the voice of the characters. The multiple mentions of the 50 Shades of Gray books seemed really out of place.

That being said, I really loved Donna. Her sarcastic take on life was amazing and I wanted to be her best friend. She took everything in stride and really seemed to find the humor in most every dire circumstance. I really liked her and sort of wish her POV was the only one we read. She also seemed to be the most down-to-earth in her way of viewing things... like how I would hope we would all see the world. The book seemed to lose a little steam when we went back to Jefferson's POV - who was dealing with a whole different set of issues.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about the awesome role the library played in this story. I mean, the fact that there is an entire cult that worships information? Fascinating! And I love that it became a destination of security and the key to finding the cure. And thank goodness they found the article they were looking for! I mean, could have been a disaster :).

All in all, I think this book is a solid story about teens trying to build their own society, but I don't think it's a go-to for this genre. There are many aspects of this book that are addressed differently and maybe better in other books. And I will say that the end seemed to stop at the spot when it really got interesting. I know you should leave the reader wanting more, but there was something about this ending that seemed to be abrupt.

Okay, so I'm obviously not going to make this as my highly recommended book for people getting into dystopian... but I think it might be good for someone who has read a lot in the genre. There are a few twists and turns to make things interesting and it's possible that the cliffhanger ending will really get people excited to read the next book. I think it's worth reading if your a genre fan, but I'm going to need to think long and hard about reading the next book in the series.
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Other Blog Reviews:

Justin's Book Blog
Book, Tea, and Piracy
Reading Lark
Libby Blog
Book Sp(l)ot Reviews
Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
WhoRuBlog
The Book Bratz
The Founding Fields
Gizzimomo's Book Shelf

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Out This Week (October 19-25)

Exciting things coming out! It's a little smaller  this week, but definitely some great stuff to examine...
 
10.21.14 Loop by Karen Akins
10.21.14 Follow Me Through Darkness (Boundless #1) by Danielle Ellison
 10.21.14 Snake Bite (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins) by Andrew Lane
10.21.14 How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
 10.21.14 The Ice Dragon by George R.R. Martin
10.21.14 Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
10.21.14 Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
10.21.14 Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Rebel Belle
Author: Rachel Hawkins
ISBN: 9780399256936
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Released: April 8, 2014
Series: Rebel Belle #1
Page #: 345
Source: Owned copy

Summary:
"Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance, Harper's destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She's imbued with the powers of a Paladin, a guardian with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can't get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she's charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper's least favorite person. Things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him - and discovers that David's own fate could very well be to destroy Earth."
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First Lines:

"Looking back, none of this would have happened if I'd brought lip gloss the night of the Homecoming Dance.
Bee Franklin was the first person to notice that my lips were all naked and indecent."
Page 1
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Review:

Mages. Oracles. Paladins. Magic. It's a whole world right under everyone's noses!

Harper Price is the queen of her school. Her town, even. Everyone knows her and loves her. Her life could not be more perfect. On the night that she is supposed to be crowned Homecoming Queen, something insane happens. She's attacked and semi-accidentally kills someone with her stiletto. And now she's a ninja. Obviously, nothing makes sense anymore and her world is flipped on its head and her cotillion is going to be ruined.

I am going to agree with many of the reviews I've seen that this book is sort of ridiculous and silly, but it is a fun read. I mean, diving into the brain of a girl who is more concerned about her cotillion dress than anything else is sort of a big ask. She's smart, but is stretched so thin that her priorities get a little skewed sometimes. Luckily, she has the perfect friends to back her up on anything... until she becomes a ninja and can't tell them about it.

Going through the discovery process about this underlying world is a lot of fun. It gets even better when you understand that Harper is meant to protect someone she hates. Their relationship is really hilarious and you can see them butting heads at every turn. I think it's one of those things that you can easily imagine... because who didn't have enemies in high school?!?

One thing drove me really nuts. I haven't seen anything about it in anyone's reviews, so maybe I'm just losing my mind. But there is one moment that the author seems to lose track of one of her characters. I feel like I only noticed because I like to visualize what people are doing and appreciate when an author tells me where they're sitting, standing, looking, etc. But there's one spot in this book where the same character sits four different times without ever standing... I looked at it several times to make sure I wasn't going insane. But it really seems like there's an error there.

With that being said, it didn't keep me from enjoying the book. But it did sort of keep me aware of everyone's whereabouts and hoping it wouldn't happen again. And it didn't seem to. So we're good. :) I loved how explosive the ending was in this book. I didn't see most of that coming and it made me really excited for a second book with these characters. Not to mention the possibility of an awesome love triangle! I can only imagine the many directions this story could go.

I will definitely be recommending this book to anyone who loves their realistic stories with a hint of magic. It's a fun book that I know people will get into and an author that many already love. I'll absolutely be checking out the second book when it comes out and I look forward to seeing where this could go!
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Other Blog Reviews:

Effortlessly Reading
Nick's Book Blog
Books and Swoons
The Obsessive Bookseller
Finding Bliss in Books
hell is cold
Read. Breathe. Relax.
Elizziebooks
Bookcrastinators in Wonderland
deux lectrices

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