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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point/Scholastic
Released: February 25, 2014
Page #: 278
Source: ARC from the publisher

"For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan's friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they're best friends - which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way. Guys won't ask Macallan out because they think she's with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan and maybe not enough time with his date. They can't help but wonder... are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again - and one kiss away from true love?"
First Lines: (Quote from the galley, see final version for edits)

"I was probably the first kid ever excited for summer to be over. There was too much free time that summer, which can lead to too much thinking, especially for a loss-stricken eleven-year-old."
Page 3

This is probably one of the biggest questions in the universe. Can guys and girls be just friends? And are they really just friends on both sides, or does one always like the other more? I feel like this has never been answered in the history of the world. Guess it's different for everyone.

For Macallan and Levi, their friendship is instant. They bond over a tv show and they just never let up from there. A friendship that starts in middle school will always be tested once you get to high school and beyond. Things change, friends change, relationships change... and these two are facing some of the biggest decisions in life. Now that they are starting to feel more deeply about each other, will they take things to another level or try to keep their best-friendship in tact?

I imagine that this is one of the most relatable topics for anyone, anywhere... ever. Hasn't everyone had that friend that they sort of wondered would be more? Ahem, maybe this is just relatable to me. :) Anyway, it's an interesting topic and I was wondering how the author would handle it. I don't know that I love how things ended up, but I'm not going to spoil that for you here. It just wasn't what I was expecting.

Also, there are asides at the end (or beginning) of each chapter in the form of IMs or Texts or something between the two main characters. It's as though they are writing this story together and looking back on those times with either fondness or despair. But it's unclear where they are looking back from... are they adults? Are they just immediately after this story happens? It's a little like the adult looking back on their stupid mistakes as a teenager. I'm not sure how that's going to read for an actual teen. Preachy? I'm not sure how much those added to the story - and I kind of thought they weren't needed.

Beyond that, I thought this was an interesting story. It does cover a lot of ground. You start in seventh grade and it goes pretty far through high school. That's a lot of time in such a short book. I guess I'm not sure I understand the need to pull in that much of the story. You do need to know where the characters have come from to know why they way they are. I just wonder if there was a different way to do that. When they were in the young stages, I sort of had a hard time remembering that they weren't older teens.

So, with all of that being said, I still liked the story. I loved the relationship between the main characters. I love the realistic way that they dealt with relationships with people outside of the two of them. It seemed very authentic. So that was well done and I know a lot of romance lovers who will really get into this story. It obviously wasn't my favorite for some formatting and general storytelling reasons, but I think this one will find a home with those chick lit girls.
Other Blog Reviews: 

Paperback Treasures
The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!
The Cozy Reader
Once Upon a Twilight
Winterhaven Books
Ticket to Anywhere
Mostly YA Book Obsessed
Nick's Book Blog
I am a Reader
Katie's Book Blog

Out This Week (Feb 23-28)

It's been a few months since I've posted one of these. Arguably some of the biggest months in YA publishing. Sorry about that. But! They're back and there are some great looking things coming out this week. Take a look... 
  •  2.25.14 Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook
  • 2.25.14 The Hit by Melvin Burgess
  •  2.25.14 Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings
  • 2.25.14 Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
  •  2.25.14 Grandmaster by David Klass
  • 2.25.14 The Shadow Throne (Ascendance Trilogy #3) by Jennifer Nielsen
  • 3.1.14 My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak
  • 3.1.14 The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
  •  2.25.14 Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott
  • 2.25.14 Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Books of 2014!

So, I've been really behind in just about everything... which means I haven't even started my reading for 2014. Now that February is almost over, I get to start reading things that aren't for a committee or work! I'm hoping to get some reviews happening again. And I'm keeping track, but not giving myself a lofty goal to miss by a mile (again). This is just to keep track! Here's what we've got...

1. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
2. Fan Art by Sarah Tregay
3. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg
4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
5. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
6. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
7. Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach
8. Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
9. Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
10. Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
11. Tease by Amanda Maciel
12. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
13. Exile by Kevin Emerson
14. NIL by Lynne Matson
15. The One by Kiera Cass
16. Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey
17. Tumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts
18. Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
19. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
20. Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon
21. Panic by Lauren Oliver
22. Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner
23. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
24. 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
25. Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian
26. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
27. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
28. Loot by Jude Watson
29. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
30. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
31. The Young World by Chris Weitz
32. The Swap by Megan Shull
33. Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
34. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
35. Atlantia by Ally Condie
36. Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth
37. Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
38. Talon by Julie Kagawa
39. A Thousand PIeces of You by Claudia Gray
40. A Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (currently reading)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Title: Fan Art
Author: Sarah Tregay
ISBN: 9780062243157
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Released: June 17, 2014
Page # 355
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Senior is almost over and Jamie Peterson has a problem: He's fallen for his best friend. As much as he tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where Jamie's affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help him get together with Mason. But Jamie isn't sure if that's what he wants - because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?"
First Lines: (Quote from the Galley - see final copy for changes)

"'Nah,' I say about the brunette at the next table. 'Isn't she more your type?' But the truth is, even though Mason's my best friend, I don't know his type. He doesn't date - he says it's just asking for drama."
Page 1

This book has pretty much everything that librarians love - adorable first relationships, a fight against censorship, poetry and a literary magazine... What more could you want?!

Jamie is head-over-heels in love with his best friend Mason. But no one but his mom knows that he's gay. Then a girl in his art class draws a graphic short story that sends everything reeling. There are Senior pranks, parties, practical jokes, mixed signals... and everything great that comes with high school. :)

So, my favorite thing about this book is insanely silly. It's not the point of the story - or even anything that's mentioned, but it rang true for me. There's something that happens the Senior year of high school that brings everyone together - no matter your social standing. Cliques sort of disappear a little and you have an understanding of each other. That's how mine was and that's how it seems in this book. Maybe I just loved that because it was reminiscent for me. But I think there's something so sweet about a class sort of bonding right before they separate forever. (old person nostalgia)

This is definitely going to be your "feel good" book of the summer. It's such a quick story that you will probably devour it in one beach day. Most of the characters are so sweet and genuine. It's really how you hope life will always be... but this is much more fairy tale than all that. You will want to become best friends with all of the characters. Maybe not one or two, but the majority.

There were a couple of things that didn't seem very realistic to me. Like, a teenager printing out pictures. Not just posting them somewhere online. I mean, I understand getting them printed for your locker or whatever... but to have not seen them before that moment seems unreal. Also, there was a mention of flipping a phone closed. Does anyone still have a flip phone? I haven't laid eyes on one in years. So there were a couple of little things that pulled me out of the fantasy land story. But otherwise I really thought it was consistent. Maybe those things will be changed in the final version.

All in all, this is a fun story about a boy in love. He's awkward, he's adorable, you will root for him till the end. I'm definitely recommending this one for your summer beach read.
Other Blog Reviews:

Istyria Book Blog
Technicolor Moments
Overflowing Bookshelves
What a Nerd Girl Says
Finding Bliss in Books

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: The Truth About Alice
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
ISBN: 9781596439092
Page #: 199
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Released: June 3, 2014
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Nothing interesting ever happens in the small town of Healy, Texas. Until the night that Alice Franklin allegedly has sex with two guys at a party. And suddenly, the writing is on the wall - written in permanent marker on a bathroom stall for all of Healy High to see. The rumors go from bad to worse when one of the guys that Alice allegedly has sex with, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a horrible car accident, and everyone blames Alice. Four Healy High teens - the girl who had the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door - give their sides of the story and we soon see how almost everyone has a motive to bring - and keep - Alice down.
First Lines: (quoted from the galley, subject to change)

"I, Elaine O'Dea, am going to tell you two definite, absolute, indisputable truths.
1. Alice Franklin slept with two guys in the very same night in a bed IN MY HOUSE this past summer, just before the start of junior year."
Page 1

This is the story of a girl who is the victim of rumors and heresay. But there is much more to it than that. Alice is a popular, confident girl. One party and two guys change that forever.

The rumor is that Alice had sex with two guys in one night at a party. That's a rumor that you might recover from - even if it's true. But then one of those guys dies in a car crash - the star of the football team. In Texas. So she's not only the school pariah, she's also now become the town pariah.

This book is written from four different perspectives. The old friend of Alice, the best friend of the football player, the most popular girl who threw the party, and the local genius nerd who has a crush on Alice. While there is something crazy about the multiple perspectives, I really liked how it played out in this book. You don't actually have the perspective of the main character - Alice. It's sort of sweet the way all of the characters process what is going on. And, of course, since it's all about rumors, it seems logical that the reader not be let in on the truth - until the end, obviously.

There are several big life issues that are taken on in this story. The biggest and most obvious is bullying. While she's never physically bullied, she is constantly cut out and being talked about. There's even a stall in the girl's bathroom that has rumors all over it about her. I think it's an important distinction to realize that bullying doesn't have to be physical. And you can see Alice sort of wilt under the pressure of all the talk and speculation on her life. There's also a bit about peer pressure here, but what YA book doesn't deal with that. :)

Another issue that's huge is abortion issues. You can tell throughout the book that most of the families are religious - which is pretty on-point for Texas. And it couches the abortion stuff in that mindset. It just seemed really well handled as close to the truth as possible. Hopefully this will sort of open a few people's eyes to the way life is sometimes.

This little book really packs a punch. But it's done in a way that doesn't leave you exhausted. There are lots of things to chew on and I hope it will help some teens get through things they might be dealing with. I look forward to seeing what's next for this debut author.
Other Blog Reviews:

Review From Here
Goodreads Reviews
Interview with the Author

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