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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian

Title: Perfectly Good White Boy
Author: Carrie Mesrobian
ISBN: 9781467734806
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Released: October 28, 2014
Page #: 291
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Sean Norwhalt can read between the lines.
He knows she just dumped him. He was a perfectly good summer boyfriend, but now she's off to college, and he's still got another year to go. Her pep talk about futures and 'possibilities' isn't exactly comforting. Sean's pretty sure he's seen his future and his 'possibilities,' and they all look disposable.

Like the crappy rental his family moved into when his dad left.
Like all the unwanted filthy old clothes he stuffs into the rag baler at his thrift-store job.
Like everything good he's ever known.

The only hopeful possibilities in Sean's life are the Marine Corps, where no one expected he'd go, and Neecie Albertson, whom he never expected to care about."
First Lines: (quoted from the galley - see finished copy for edits.)

"I stood in the back of the barn, in front of a pile of boxes marked 'Tools,' watching the party go on."
Page 1

This is exactly the type of book I what I was hoping "New Adult" would be. Just... real. Exactly what I think teen guys are like, for real. There's something to be said for that. Gritty. Raw. Intense.

Sean spends one summer with a girl who is leaving for school in the fall. But she really changes everything about him... how he sees the world, what his future looks like, everything. He starts to see people differently - even his closest friends and family. When he makes the decision to go into the Marines, there is only one person he trusts with his secret.

Honestly, I've decided that this author has the whole "new adult" thing in the bag. I mean, without it actually being classified that way. Her books are honest and real in a way that I rarely see. She doesn't pull any punches. Because of her first book Sex and Violence, I have decided I need to read anything she does. I'm not sure that this second book hit me as much as her first, but it was still fascinating.

I think Marine Corps angle of this book is one that many teen boys will resonate with. I mean, not that they're all going to do it or anything, but that the military is an option to them. And what little boy hasn't wanted to be a soldier at some point in their lives?! Or girl. I mean, let's be real. So the discussion about the medical tests and the swearing in... plus leaving for boot camp... I think it's all stuff that teens will want to know about. I like the way this author dealt with all of that - positively and non-last-resort-ish.

As I mentioned, this book is probably as close to real teen guy thinking as it gets, you can imagine there are some crude bits. That's the wrong word... Accurate bits. There's sex, there's drugs, there's alcohol, there's naughty thoughts... and so much more. I'd probably only hand this book to 17 year olds and up. So if you're a librarian thinking about this title, be sure to keep all that in mind. It's intense!

I think the way the friendship between Sean and Neecie develops is perfect. They become fast friends and tell each other everything. It's kind of nice to see how they play off of one another without it being some sort of weird sexual thing. I mean, not that those thoughts aren't mentioned, but there is an innocence that seems to connect the two of them.

There is a whole lot of family drama and craziness that I think many people will latch onto. A couple of screwed up families and some that have put themselves back together successfully. There's all sorts of types and I think that helps make this book feel so real. One thing that did throw me off was some of the timing in the beginning of the book. It might be changed by the time the final version is out for purchase, but there were some jumps that I didn't quite follow. Lots of asking myself, "wait, was that in the same day?"

All in all, I think this book was really good. I'd definitely recommend Mesrobian's first book over this, but it's still a great story. She does a wonderful job capturing real life and bringing it out through her words. As always, I'm impressed. And as I said before, I'll probably be reading anything she comes out with in the future. Can't wait to see what that might be!
Other Blog Reviews:

Book Snob
There aren't many reviews out there right now, but it looks like there are some decent ones on Goodreads. Check those out.

Out This Week (Aug 31-Sept 6)

There is a lot of variety going on this week in YA publishing! Here's a selection of those...
 9.2.14 Trial by Fire (Worldwalker #1) by Josephine Angelini
9.2.14 Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
 9.2.14 A New Darkness by Joseph Delaney
9.2.14 The Jewel by Amy Ewing
 9.2.14 Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
9.2.14 Feuds by Avery Hastings
 9.2.14 Hider, Seeker, Secret Keeper by Elizabeth Kiem
9.2.14 Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas
 9.2.14 Mary: The Summoning (Bloody Mary #1) by Hillary Monahan
9.2.14 Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
9.2.14 The Winter People by Rebekah L. Purdy
9.2.14 Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Out This Week (August 24-30)

There are several titles coming out this week that I've been very interested in. Take a look at all the great stuff...
 8.26.14 The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block
8.26.14 Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais
 8.26.14 How to Fall by Jane Casey
8.26.14 The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctrine #2) by James Dashner
 8.26.14 A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
8.26.14 Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier
8.26.14 The Revenge of Seven (Lorien Legacies #5) by Pittacus Lore
8.28.14 Knockout Games by G. Neri

 8.26.14 Deliverance by C.J. Redwine
8.26.14 Feral by Holly Schindler

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
ISBN: 9780399162411
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Released: May 07, 2014
Series: Fifth Wave #1
Page #: 457
Source: My public library

"After the 1st Wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th Wave, just one rule applies: trust no one.

Now it's the dawn of the 5th Wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother - or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between life and death. To give up or to get up."
First Lines:

"Aliens are stupid.
I'm not talking about real aliens. The Others aren't stupid. The Others are so far ahead of us, it's like comparing the dumbest human to the smartest dog. No contest."
Page 1

Why it took me so long to get around to this book, I have no idea. I even had an advanced copy that I sat on for too long. I imagine it had something to do with how much publisher pop there was about it - sometimes that's off-putting. But luckily this book was wonderful!! And I wish I had read it earlier.

So, Cassie is living in a world without anything. Literally. No people. Very little stuff. The only objectives are to not die and find her brother. It's a pretty grim existence - especially when she knows that the Others are always looking for her. When she's shot by one of them, the whole game changes. She still has to fulfill her promise to find her little brother, but it seems almost impossible... except that now she has an ally. A reluctant ally, but an ally nonetheless.

I've been gushing about this book to everyone since I finished it yesterday. Like, I think people are sick of me talking about it. It's been a while since I've read a book that I'm this excited about. I'm just really glad I was required to read this book for work - otherwise I may have totally missed out! Or, you know, just waited way too long (as though now isn't too long).

Also, I have been wracking my brain to remember the last time I read an alien book. If ever. I mean, I'm sure I have, but I guess this felt like it was a whole new thing for me. Obviously not new... but thinking about the different ways that an extraterrestrial species could make the human race extinct... well, it was fascinating. And all so valid! It makes me want to buy a farm out in the middle of nowhere in a place that's easily defensible.

Sometimes multiple characters makes me irritated, but the way this book dealt with that was perfect. All of the characters are in vastly different situations and there is a clear line when you've crossed into someone else's storyline. I was a little confused after the first one - didn't realize I was hearing someone else's story, but it smoothed out really quickly. Plus, I love that it's not set characters that you hear from every other chapter. Each switch in character uncovers something new, something unexpected. It's really fabulous.

I'm not going to tell you what happens in the end, but I love books that end this way. The whole thing felt like I was watching a video game unfold. That's the same sort of ending that I've absolutely loved in other books and this one does it well. It may be that I loved it more because I didn't realize that we were building into something that major. It seems like almost a quiet book up until you realize what has been going on... and then people start fighting back! It's awesome. Really.

I did have a couple of questions as I read through the book - like... how is it that everyone is calling things the same terminology when they have no way to communicate it? How did everyone decide how many waves they have really had? I mean, some may not have experienced the Silencers... so they're still on the 3rd Wave, right? I'm hoping the 2nd book addresses some of this. And why middle America can see the space ship in the sky... what if you're in Australia? Is there a different ship? Is it far enough away that everyone can see it (not possible with the other side of the world...). So I guess there were a few things that left me wanting more explanation.

The next book in this series comes out next month and you better believe that I'll be getting it. Stat. I have already (and will continue to so) recommended this book to all of my YA readers around me. I'm really interested to see what they think about it. While it's an alien invasion book overall, I think it carries so many different themes that anyone can get into it. At least, in my opinion. :)
Other Blog Reviews:

The Book Smugglers
Jenna Does Books
Roof Beam Reader
Dear Author
Book Whales
Living the Geek Life
YA Books Central
Screwed on Straight
Unbound Books

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Title: Dreams of Gods and Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
ISBN: 9781478900054
Publisher: Blackstone Audio/Little, Brown Books
Released: April 8, 2014
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3
Duration: 18 hours, 8 minutes
Source: Audiobook from my public library

"In this thrilling conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Karou is still not ready to forgive Akiva for killing the only family she's ever known.

When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat—and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves—maybe even toward love.

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy."
First Lines:

"Nerve thrum and screaming blood, wild and churning and chasing and devouring and terrible and terrible and terrible...
'Eliza. Eliza!'
A voice. Bright light, and Eliza fell awake."
Page 1

I would like to start out by noting that the audiobook is over 18 hours long. I mean... that's insane. It took me forever to get through it - even though I loved it. Guess I just didn't have enough empty days to do a marathon listen. *Also, this is a review of the third book, so expect some spoilers for the first two in the series!!*

This is the conclusion to the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, so there's a lot to wrap up. Karou and Akiva are on the brink of an all-out war, but they have to bring unlikely allies together to succeed. Several worlds hang in the balance while they try to save as many people as possible. There are lots of people to bring back from the dead, lots of magic to learn about, lots of relationships hanging in the balance, and lots of enemies butting heads.

As you can imagine, there are tons of loose ends to tie up in this final book. The biggest being the relationship between Karou and Akiva - it starts out really rocky because of what happened in the last book. They really aren't sure about each other throughout the story, lots of second-guessing. But having to work so closely together to save the world(s) really pulls them back. Really, you're left until the acutal epilogue to find out their future.

There is a new character introduced in this book - and is part of the quote above. Eliza... and she changes the tide of the entire story. She's raised as a human in a very strange situation. Her family is part of a cult that believes they are descended from angels. Eliza is the first to actually exhibit some signs that something is different and she is treated like a prophet. She escapes that world, but she still has frightening dreams and can never fully shake it off. Honestly, I think she became my favorite character in the whole trilogy. I wish she had been introduced sooner, but I think the flow worked really well in this final book.

You also get a whole new group of people who are fully invested in the saving of their world. I'm not going to go into them, because they really change the course of the ending. They have an extreme relationship with magic and the ability to quickly dispose of people that are threatening their world.

One other thing that I found very interesting about this book is the treatment of the angels that appear on earth. What do you think would happen if thousands of angels came from the sky and landed in the Vatican City? Thinking about the different groups of people and how they would handle things - the fanatics, the cynics, the world of science... etc.

In the audio version, it's a little crazy with the various viewpoints. Things change quickly - especially in the end when the pace of the whole book kicks up a notch. I'm sure there are clear breaks in the actual text, but it doesn't come across as easily in the audio. But I will say that I have continued listening to this series (instead of getting a print copy) because the reader is so wonderful.

Honestly, if you haven't read this series and you're into urban fantasy, angel stories, otherwordly lurv... then you should really pick up this series. Plus side: it's now complete! You won't be waiting for the next one to come out. The ending does leave a little room for the imagination and there are so many side characters that I wonder if there will be a spinoff. One can only hope!
Other Blog Reviews:

Living for the Books
Alice Marvels
Reading After Midnight
Icey Books
Notes in the Margin
Always Lost in Stories
Love is Not a Triangle
A Belle's Tales

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Out This Week (August 10-16)

The crop of new books for this week looks awesome! I can't wait to get my hands on several of these...
 8.12.14 A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen
8.14.14 The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin
 8.12.14 Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington
8.12.14 Random by Tom Leveen
8.12.14 Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
8.14.14 Sisters' Fate (Cahill Witch Chronicles #3) by Jessica Spotswood
8.14.14 Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke
8.14.14 Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner

Title: Can't Look Away
Author: Donna Cooner
ISBN: 9780545427654
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: August 26, 2014
Page #: 265
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the Internet. Thousands of people watch her videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey's sister is killed in an accident - maybe because of Torrey and her videos - Torrey's perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn't know who to trust. Is queen-bee Blair only interested in Torrey's infamy? What about Raylene, who is unpopular, but seems to accept Torrey for who she is? And then there's Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about el Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?"
First Lines: (Quoted from galley - see final version for exact quote)

"In September, my parents moved me and my dead sister to Texas. 
Today, just one week after the moving trucks left us here, my parents are going to put her ashes in the ground out in the middle of nowhere. The thought of it makes my stomach churn."
Page 3

Torrey is a famous YouTube personality, but can't find it in herself to post anything anymore. After her sister's death, her life has been turned upside down. She and her parents move to Texas to be closer to family and she has to start from scratch with new friends and new problems.

It's no secret that I am obsessed with YouTube. There are lots of people I subscribe to and follow closely online - mostly because it's fascinating and often hilarious. The concept of people becoming famous that way is fairly new and I am very interested to see where that takes us. So to have a story about a girl in that position, I was definitely hooked. The whole concept is one that I'm totally interested in. Especially when real life interferes.

That being said, there were a few things that disappointed me in this story - and it all has to do with the character of Torrey. Upon arriving at her new school, her immediate concern is finding the popular crowd and befriending them. And not just that, but being extremely rude to the people outside of that crowd... just to impress. It made me instantly dislike her and the way she views things. And honestly I just wanted to shake her and scream at her about what it means to start fresh.

As you can imagine, things work themselves out so that I ended up not hating her as much. But there's something so shallow and awful about a person who is only concerned about impressing others. Especially when you get the impression that she's out to set trends with her audiences, not just follow them. Wouldn't she be better off to plot her own course in the new school, rather than try to follow someone else? It just didn't ring very true to me - and that's probably because I hate people like that.

There were several interesting characters beyond Torrey, though. Luis is awesome and she doesn't deserve him at all. Raylene is pretty funny and I would have liked to learn a little more about her - especially considering how things turn out in the end. Torrey's parents were interesting characters as well because of how they are pictured dealing with the grief from the death of their daughter.

There's one other thing I'd like to address about this story. Torrey's father takes her to see a therapist to talk about her sister's death. It's obviously forced on Torrey and she's not happy about it. In fact, through the entire scene, she sits silent while the therapist tries to get her to say something. And I know that sometimes that is how things are. But nothing comes of this... it's never mentioned again. It's as though it didn't happen. Really, Luis becomes Torrey's sounding board for everything. And that's fine... but it seemed like a weird scene to throw in if it's never going to even be acknowledged later.

Also... would a YouTuber with 300K+ subscribers still be filming with their laptop cam and their phone?

Okay, so it looks like I had a lot of complaints about this book. But really, I was just hoping for more from it. The concept is solid and I was interested to see how things turned out - even if it was all in a nice, neat little package. I think for those with a passing interest in realistic fiction and current issues (cyberbullying and such), this is probably a good book for them.
Other Blog Reviews:

Xpresso Reads
Neon Yeti Reads
Tammy Ann Books
The Armchair Librarian
Tweens Read Too
Bookmark Lit
The Fuma Files

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Out This Week (August 3-9)

There are some amazing titles coming out this week! Have a look...
 8.5.14 Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
8.5.14 The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
 8.5.14 Some Boys by Patty Blount
8.5.14 The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
 8.5.14 Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
8.5.14 Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank

 8.5.14 Misbehaving by Abbi Glines
8.5.14 I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie Sarn
8.5.14 Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan
8.5.14 Deadly Little Sins (Prep School Confidential) by Kara Taylor

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