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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Out This Week (April 27-May 3)

There are some really amazing books coming out this week - and some that I'm excited to finally get my hands on. Take a look:
5.1.14 Hunter (Super Human #4) by Michael Caroll
4.29.14 The Taking by Kimberly Derting
 4.29.14 Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson
5.1.14 The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis
5.1.14 Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine
4.29.14 Tease by Amanda Maciel
 4.29.14 Exile by Kevin Emerson
5.1.14 Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan
 4.29.14 Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike
5.1.14 Shattered (Slated #3) by Teri Terry
5.1.14 A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
4.29.14 The Treatment (Program #2) by Suzanne Young

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
ISBN: 9780062305305
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Released: April 29, 2014
Page #: 321
Source: ARC from the publisher


"Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.
At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that lead to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment - and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.
In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page."
First Lines: (Quote from the galley - see final copy for official quote.)
"'Did you ever have a physical confrontation with Miss Putnam?'
'Did what?'
'Did you ever have a-'
'Oh. Yeah. Uhm, yeah, I guess there was that one time in the locker room.'
The lawyer writes this down, even though the tape recorder is on, has been the whole time."
Page 1
Hearing the story from the perspective of the bully is pretty intense. She's torn about what's right and what's wrong - especially when there are lawyers telling her what she has to think.
Sara is being charged with harassment because her classmate committed suicide after being bullied by her. She's not the only one - her best friend is also being charged, along with some guys who went out with the girl. They all have various charges, but it amounts to them being responsible for the girl who hung herself in her family's garage. The problem is that none of these people actually think they're to blame. They're not allowed to see or speak to each other, so Sara feels very alone in all of these meetings and therapy sessions and getting through summer school.
It was really hard for me to like Sara. And Emma. And Brielle.
Okay, so maybe I wouldn't want to be friends with ANY of the characters in this book. It seems like everything they do is petty and stupid. And I'm not just talking about the bullies - yes, they act horribly towards Emma and don't care about anything. But Emma also does some pretty horrid stuff herself. I mean, assuming all of the rumors and stuff were true. It's hard to feel for someone who seems so weepie and possibly-slutty.
I know, I know. The story is being told from the perspective of a bully. That means we probably aren't getting an accurate picture of what Emma is actually like. But without that other side of the story, it's hard to feel compassion towards any of them. Maybe in the last, like, five pages. But throughout the entire story, I didn't know what to think. Was Sara bullied into doing the bullying? Did Brielle make her do those things? Maybe she's just as much a victim.
All of that being said, this book seems extremely close to real life. I can imagine all of these things happening in a high school right now. Which is sad for many reasons, obviously. It might have been nice to have more of the post-trial story. How did Sara pull herself together after all of this? What will she change about friendships and boyfriends in the future? There's a little glimpse of that, but it might have been helpful (for teens reading this book who are looking for some guidance on the "what next.").
It's a pretty raw book emotionally. I appreciate that Sara is not immediately apologetic for the things that happened. She deals with things in a very real and logical way. She can't see how she can be blamed for someone else's actions. It's a hard thing to grasp, for sure. The way she is written and the thought process she takes is really wonderful. Again... real life. That's definitely where this author excels.
I can't say that this was my favorite book of the year or anything, but I think it will be worthwhile for people looking for books about bullying. It's such a hot topic right now and I know a lot of schools are dealing with it in various ways. Hopefully the title of this book won't hinder anyone from getting it for a school. The perspective is worth it and is something that people need to read. Seeing things from the bullied standpoint is also very important, but it's nice to have something that explains the other side a little more.
So, good book. Worth a read. Be prepared to struggle with liking the characters. But it's a story that will stick with you long after you put the book down. There's a lot to chew on.
Other Blog Reviews:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Out This Week (April 13-29)

Some of my YA favorites and some newbies have books coming out this week. Have a look... 
  •  4.15.14 Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • 4.15.14 Frozen (a Taken novel) by Erin Bowman
  •  4.15.14 What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  • 4.15.14 To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • 4.15.14 Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  • 4.15.14 Sunrise by Mike Mullin
  • 4.15.14 The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
  • 4.15.14 House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

Title: Sex and Violence
Author: Carrie Mesrobian
ISBN: 9781467705974
Publisher: CarolRhoda Lab
Released: October 01, 2013
Page #: 294
Source: copy from my public library


"At first you don't see the connection.
Sex has always come without consequences for seventeen-year-old Evan Carter. He has a strategy - knows the profile of The Girl Who Would Say Yes. In each new town, each new school, he can count on plenty of action before he and his father move again. Getting down is never a problem. Until he hooks up with the wrong girl and finds himself in the wrong place at very much the wrong time.

And then you can't see anything else.
After an assault that leaves Evan bleeding and broken, his father takes him to the family cabin in rural Pearl Lake, Minnesota, so Evan's body can heal. But what about his mind?
How do you go on when you can't think of one without the other?
Nothing seems natural to Evan anymore. Nothing seems safe. The fear - and the guilt - are inescapable. He can't sort out how he feels about anyone, least of all himself. Evan's never really known another person well, and Pearl Lake is the kind of place where people know everything about each other - where there might be other reasons to talk to a girl. It's all annoying as hell. It might also be Evan's best shot to untangle Sex and Violence.
First Lines:
"You'd think the most fucked-up part of the last year would be the moment when I read this and thought, 'Yeah, that. That sounds like the way to go.'"
Page 1
Didn't actually mean to start reading this book, but it was sitting on my desk and I started to skim. Can you believe I got totally sucked in and decided I had to give it a full read? I feel like this book was a little bit of a reach for me - more real and intense than what I'm used to. But I'm very glad I picked it up because there's a lot to digest!
Evan knows how to find the girls who will be up for anything. He's good at it. And finds them in every new town they live in. Unfortunately, he finds the wrong girl at his latest boarding school. After being beaten beyond recognition, his father moves them to a tiny lake town in the middle of nowhere. He has to re-learn how to talk to people, how to be around people, how to trust people - if he ever did before.
I'm wavering a little bit about whether I really liked this book or not. On one hand, I loved it. I thought it was real and gritty and true to the brain of a 17 y/o guy. The things he learns about himself and other people are done in the slow, calculating way that makes sense to real life. I was just super impressed about how things were handled - and it was almost never the easy way. Evan is skeptical about pretty much everything and spends his life trying to project the right image. I just really found myself rooting for him to man up and figure things out.
On the other hand, Evan is a gigantic douche. Seriously, he has finding the right girl for sex down to a science. And not relationships, either. Just physical... one-time things, usually. The sluttiest person on the planet. A womanizer in the making. It makes him really hard to like in the beginning. Luckily, there is a lot of introspection and therapy after the beating, so Evan really starts to redeem himself. A lot of this has to do with the people he meets and befriends - which is something really new to him.
This is probably the grittiest book I've read in a while. YA Lit is usually so sugar coated and sweet - even things from guy perspectives. Which is fine for most things, but it sort of hits you hard when you read a book that is so realistic. I thought it was well done and the voice of Evan just washes over you. There's a bit about parenting fails, too. His dad doesn't know what to do with him, so effectively doesn't talk to him about anything. And Evan realizes that his dad is dealing with his own demons - ones that are slowly coming to light during their time at the lake.
Now, a little bit of warning... this book is chock full of drug use, sex, language, violence, and more. A lot of hard-hitting topics are dealt with here and nothing is skimmed over. Imagine the brain of a teenage boy... yep. You've got it. All of it. So, while this book is written for teenagers, I would have a hard time giving it to someone under, like, sixteen. Maybe. It's one of those "use your own discretion" books. But you've got fair warning here.
I guess that's one other thing that sort of bothered me about this book... the blase drug use. The whole, "It's no big deal. It's just pot." mindset was a little interesting. I get that's how it probably is... not in my life... but I can imagine how it's totally normal for some. There's also the scenes with the shrooms. I guess I was sort of hoping for someone to have a bad reaction to something and have that "drugs are bad!" moment. But it never happened. Guess that might be old-school YA talking?
Anyway, all in all I think I loved this book. It's definitely stuck with me and I think it will for a long time. There's a lot to chew on, so give it a good solid week. :) I'm definitely interested to see what this author comes out with next.
Other Blog Reviews:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Out This Week (April 6-12)

There is a ton coming out this week, so I did a little picking and choosing. I love weeks like this!! 
  • 4.8.14 Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong
  • 4.8.14 Irresistible by Liz Bankes
  • 4.8.14 Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
  • 4.8.14 The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

  • 4.8.14 Burn Out by Kristi Helvig
  • 4.8.14 What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn
  • 4.8.14 Toxic Heart (Mystic City #2) by Theo Lawrence
  • 4.8.14 Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

  • 4.8.14 Zom-B Mission by Darren Shan
  • 4.8.14 Far From You by Tess Sharpe
  • 4.8.14 Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  • 4.8.14 Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Friday, April 4, 2014

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Title: Second Star
Author: Alyssa B. Sheinmel
ISBN: 9780374382674
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Released: May 13, 2014
Page #: 248
Source: ARC from the publisher

"An irresistible summer romance about two young men who refuse to grow up - and a troubled beauty who is trapped between them.

This contemporary seaside adventure about loss, lies, and first love is tinged with darkness and a touch of magical realism as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy's journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove's charismatic leader, Pete, but she also becomes entangled with Pete's nemesis, the dust-dealing Jas, who lurks nearby. A radical reinvention of J.M. Barrie's classic, here is Peter Pan as you've never imagined it, a love triangle set in the endless summer of modern-day coastal California."
First Lines: (Quoted from the galley. See final version for edits.)

"I can smell the bonfire before I even get out of the car. It's dusk, and the sun is low on the water. According to my watch, it's only been four hours since I officially graduated high school."
Page 3

I'm not sure I've loved any retelling more than this one. It makes me wanna pack up and move to California to live the life of a surfer. With my zero athletic skill and pretty awesome stable job. Seems reasonable.

Wendy's twin brothers (John and Michael Darling, aww) went missing after traveling the coast to find a huge wave. It seems like they're gone forever, but Wendy can't accept that. She goes on a journey to find her brothers at whatever cost. She doesn't expect to find herself caught up in the surfer/runaway lifestyle, but she falls for it hard. Almost as hard as she falls for Pete. But soon she starts unraveling what may have happened and has no idea which way is up anymore.

I am going to admit that it's been a really long time since I've read/watched anything Peter Pan related, so I don't have the best knowledge of the story. That really didn't matter all that much to understand this book, but there were some things that brought back my memory of the original. The dog named Nana. The rival groups. The runaway kids. But I think this story is more subtle than that. It doesn't seem like an actual remake... just loosely pulling themes and characters from another. And I think it succeeds in that.

One of my favorite things about this story was the "second star" explanation. It made me really think about the original story and how the stars are such an important part of their lives. In this book, it's all about wishing on the stars. There is something very sweet, beautiful, and innocent about the way it's portrayed in this story. You find yourself wishing along with Wendy and hoping she finds everything she needs. 

While the book is based on Peter Pan, there's a lot that separates it. The setting is obviously California surfer culture... that easy, breezy lifestyle where nothing but the next big wave is important. It's easy to see how Wendy would fall down that rabbit hole. There's also the love triangle between Wendy, Pete, and Jas. The two tribe leaders that hate each other. One huge thing that seems different (unless I'm not remembering correctly) is the drug use. There's a drug called Dust that Jas sells to anyone willing and people almost immediately become addicted. It's actually an interesting cautionary tale in that way, but the semi-fantasy element of it makes it somehow more accessible.

I absolutely LOVED this book and I know it will find that perfect summer read sweet spot. There were some surprising twists and turns that keep you wondering what is going to happen next. In fact, the ending leaves you hanging a little bit - but in the best possible way. I've already got at least three or four people in mind that I need to pass this book to.
Other Blog Reviews:

Verbosity Book Reviews
The Reader Bee
Miss Fictional's World of YA Books
Cape Cod Scribe
Amanda's Daily Grind
Scott Reads It
Fiction Addiction
What Comes Next Reviews
The Busy Book Belle
The Airship Library

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Title: Antigoddess
Author: Kendare Blake
ISBN: 9780765334435
Publisher: Tor Teen
Released: September 10, 2013
Page #: 336
Series: The Goddess War #1
Source: My public library
"Old gods never die... Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra - an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn't involve herself in the business of gods - in fact, she doesn't even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with others of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these antigods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get because immortals don't just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin."
First Lines:

"The feathers were starting to be a nuisance. There was one in her mouth, tickling the back of her throat. She chewed at it as she walked, grabbing it with her molars and pulling it loose. Warm, copper-penny blood flooded over her tongue."
Page 9

Athena. Hermes. Apollo. Hera. Aphrodite. Poseidon. They're all dying. Strange things are happening to each of them and they don't know why. But there has to be a solution and someone has to be behind all of this! They just don't know who... or how to stop them.

Cassandra has always felt that she was weird because of her ability to see the future. Usually it's just in the form of a coin toss game, but she starting to have vivid visions. But she has no idea what they could mean and who they are about. When things start to come together, she realizes that not everyone is who they seem. And now she's somehow become the center of a war between the most powerful gods.

Sometimes I get a little confused when there are varying perspectives in a book. Especially when the different two are dealing with totally separate storylines - even when they eventually converge. So I had a little trouble keeping up with what was going on. I think I would have preferred to follow Cassandra's story and then have the gods stuff figured out as you go along. Alas! It also got a little murky in the ending and the stories had finally come together. The switching in perspective happened much more often and with less warning. There were several moments of thinking, "wait, why would she think that? Oh. Right. That wasn't her."

I think part of me had a hard time sympathizing with Athena as a character. You immediately know that she's dying... that feathers are taking over her body. Which is really gross when you think about it. This author does a really good job writing those squicky bits... so gross and slimey! blech. Anyway, Athena has lived for thousands of years. So why do I feel bad that she's dying now? And that she's willing to sacrifice just about anything to stay alive? She turns to people who used to worship her - which puts them in danger. Truly, I'm a huge fan of mythological characters - especially Athena - but I have a hard time thinking "poor you" about them. :)

Speaking of the gods, I wanted to know much more about Apollo. How did he get where he was? Why is he basically living like a human? What has he been up to all these years? You know there had to be way more to his story and how he became a lovestruck teenager. If I recall, there wasn't much explanation given... besides love. And I'm not sure that's enough for me to make it believable. Give me more, Apollo! You're a badass god! Uhm.... also, I took issue with the gods dying - which a few of them do. So, each of the gods has a purpose in mythology. Love. Sea. Sun. Moon. War. What happens when that god dies? Something catastrophic, surely. But that didn't play out here. I'm hoping those deaths will have some major impact on the world in the next book.

Honestly, this book took me a while to read. I've been staring at the ARC for months, but I expected to fly through it when I did sit down and read. But there was something about the story about Troy and all of those characters that I sort of had to wade through and digest. Who those characters were and what part they played in the Trojan War... It's not something that I know offhand, so it slowed me down a bit.

The whole concept of this book was fascinating to me and I did enjoy it - even though it seems like I didn't. The ending was a little shocking and I'm wondering what in the world will happen in the second book! Which looks like it will come out in October. I haven't read this author's other books, but I have heard great things about them. I may have to give them a shot... even though they look super scary. :)
Other Blog Reviews:

More Than Just Magic
Great Imaginations
The Book Addict's Guide
A Book Obsession
YA Book Reviews
Redhead Reader
Reading Between Classes
Teen Librarian's Toolbox
Living for the Books
Pen to Paper

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