Monday, February 28, 2011

Month In Review: February 2011

This month was rather slow for me. I got into a bit of a reading slump, but it seems to be passing.


I read 13 books this month and reviewed 11. As far as debuts authors go I read 4 books for the Debut Author Challenge but only reviewed 2.


The following are the books I read this month.

  1. Turned by Morgan Rice (debut)
  2. Hold Still by Nina LaCour 
  3. The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor 
  4. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers 
  5. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  6. Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright (debut) 
  7. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers 
  8. A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (debut)
  9. The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks 
  10. Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley  
  11. Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
  12. Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly (debut) 
  13. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston 

I hope everyone had a great month and best of luck to everyone in March!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (25)

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie


Netgalley Reviews:

Trickster's Girl by Hilari Bell
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

From the Library:

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Darklight by Lesley Livingston
Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (24)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Summary from goodreads!

Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
June 2, 2011

Once upon a time there was a girl who was special.

This is not her story.

Unless you count the part where I killed her.


Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison's condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can't explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori -- the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that's impossible. Right?

--

I don't see how that summary can't make you curious! I'm not a huge fan of the cover, but the title's font reminds me of the font used for Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Title: Wondrous Strange
Author: Lesley Livingston
Published: May 2009 by Harper Collins

Pages: 327/Hardcover
Series: Wondrous Strange #1
Source: Local library


Summary: 17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn’t believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theatre, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: onstage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks... In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley's off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye.


Review: This was such an enjoyable book! Finally a paranormal/fantasy book that isn't dominated by immediate attraction and "love". 


I loved Kelley and Sonny. They were both easy characters to get to know and especially easy to like. And I loved the fact that Kelley had a hobby that she was passionate about (acting). It seems like there aren't enough protagonists who are passionate about something. Tyf was also an amazing character. I really wanted more of her in here. She was so funny!


The plot was very engaging and fast paced. I really wasn't expecting what ended up happening with Sonny and Queen Mabh. The ending was also quite satisfying. I wasn't left hanging but I definitely want to see what happens in the sequel, Darklight. 


Overall, this was a wonderful book. It was easy to read and had a well written, engaging plot. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cover Talk (4)

Cover Talk is something I started doing periodically to show off pretty covers of upcoming books. It's similar to Kristi's Books to Pine For and Steph's Cover Lust.


Eternal Sea by Angie Frazier
Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt 


The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton
Flawless by Lara Chapman 


Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison


Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
Imaginary Girls by Nora Ren Suma


Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Paperback Reprints


Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson 


Things Change by Patrick Jones 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (24)

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.


Bought: 

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

From the Library:

The Mark by Jen Nadol
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Title: Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance
Author: Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
Published: February 1, 2011 by Walker Books for Young Readers

Pages: 229/Paperback 
Source: My personal library


Summary: Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile.


Review: Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is one of those books that's fun to read, but when you look back on it you don't really see anything extraordinary about it.


Two misunderstood teens who hate each other learning that they secretly love each other isn't really that original of a plot, but this was still a fun book. It had a lot of humor and even managed to hit a few points on figuring out who you are and doing what's right for you. A lot happened throughout the book, but it was still rather predictable.


The characters didn't do it for me. First of all I was a little lost when it came to all of Fielding's names. First he's Jonah, then he's Fielding, and alas he's actually Aaron. Charlie and Aaron seemed to flip flop on their feelings rather often, which irked me quite a bit. I must admit that their memories of Jenna & Jonah (their show) could be pretty funny. 


Overall, Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance wasn't bad, but it wasn't amazing. The plot was fun yet predictable, and the characters could really get under my skin. But it's definitely a good book if you're looking for something easy and fun to read. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Title: Lipstick Apology
Author: Jennifer Jabaley
Published: August 6, 2009 by Razorbill

Pages: 286/Hardcover
Source: My personal library


Summary: Sometimes a good-bye is just the beginning...

When Emily Carson's parents die in a plane crash, she's left with nothing but her mother's last words scrawled in lipstick on a tray table: "Emily, please forgive me."

Now it's fall and Emily moves to New York City where she attracts the attention of two very different boys: the cute, popular Owen, and her quirky chemistry partner, Anthony. With the help of some surprising new friends, Emily must choose between the boy who helps her forget and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately heal.

Review: Maybe it's just me, but I thought this summary was quite misleading. After reading this summary I though Lipstick Apology was going to be centered around Emily going through her grief and accepting her parents death, and that there was a possibility of a love triangle (I'm a sucker for the triangles!). This, sadly, was not the case.

The one thing that bothered me was Emily. Of course she chose to "go out" with Owen (the jerk) because he "looks like a god" and makes her feel "worthy". And of course adorable Anthony gets stuck in the corner. 

The characters themselves felt flat. I didn't have a connection to any of them and this is possibly why I found the summary misleading. Also, there wasn't much about Emily's parents' death. Of course there were bits of chapters devoted to that and the mystery of her mom's apology, but overall it just seemed like a random thing that was thrown in. 

Trent was really the one thing that saved this book. He was hilarious and added so much comical relief

Overall, I liked the idea of Lipstick Apology, but in my book it fell short. The characters were flat and the lot didn't seem to have a clear direction. It did have good humor, though, which provided many a laughing outburst. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (23)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Summary from goodreads!


Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
July 12, 2011

Amy Goodnight's family is far from normal. She comes from a line of witches, but tries her best to stay far outside the family business. Her summer gig? Ranch-sitting for her aunt with her wacky but beautiful sister. Only the Goodnight Ranch is even less normal than it normally is. Bodies are being discovered, a ghost is on the prowl, and everywhere she turns, the hot neighbor cowboy is in her face.

--

I enjoyed The Splendor Falls so I'm happy to see that Moore has something new coming out. It sounds interesting, but I'm not sure how I feel about the cover. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Title: Cracked Up to Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: December 23, 2008 
Pages: 214/Paperback 
Source: My personal library


Summary: Perfect Parker Fadley isn’t so perfect anymore. She’s quit the cheerleading squad, she’s dumped her perfect boyfriend, and she’s failing school. Her parents are on a constant suicide watch and her counselors think she’s playing games…but what they don’t know, the real reason for this whole mess, isn’t something she can say out loud. It isn’t even something she can say to herself. A horrible thing has happened and it just might be her fault. If she can just remove herself from everybody—be totally alone—then everything will be okay...The problem is, nobody will let her.


Review: I've absolutely adored all of Courtney's books, but this one just didn't sit with me the way her others did. Usually I like the fact that there's uncertainty in her writing, but in Cracked Up to Be it felt more like the story wasn't finished.However, this was still a great book.


Like all of her previous characters, Summers has created a wonderful cast to deliver a very emotionally intense novel. Each of the characters were interesting and helped propel the story along. 


I liked that there were flashbacks to the night of when everything happened. It provided a bit of mystery about what happened. 


The only thing I didn't like was the flow of the story. It seemed choppy and irregular. But besides that this is yet another wonderful novel written by a very talented author who I sincerely hope will be writing more in the future. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (23)

In My Mailbox was inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie and was started (and is hosted) by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Bought:



Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers 


Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley 

NetGalley Reviews:


Those That Wake by Jesse Karp
In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane 
Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish


A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Title: Red Riding Hood
Published: January 25, 2011
Pages: 329/Paperback
Source: My personal library
Challenge:  2011 Debut Author Challenge 

Summary: The body of a young girl is discovered in a field of wheat. Her flesh mutilated by telltale claw marks. The Wolf has broken the peace. 

When Valerie learns that her sister has been killed by the legendary creature, she finds herself at the center of a dark mystery, one that has plagued her village for generations. It is revealed that the werewolf lives among them, and everyone in the village immediately becomes a suspect. Could her secret love Peter be behind the attacks on her town? Is it her betrothed, Henry? Or someone even closer to her? 

As the men in the village hunt for the beast, Valerie turns to her grandmother for help. She gives Valerie a handmade red riding cloak, and guides her through the web of lies and deception that has held her town together for so long. Will Valerie discover the werewolf's identity before the town is ripped apart?

This is a dangerous new vision of a classic fairy tale, the happy ending could be hard to find.

Review: This book wasn't bad, but it didn't wow me either. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting.

I thought (for some reason) that Valerie actually went into the woods and fought with the Wolf. Don't ask me why, but I got confused and that's what I thought.* The plot itself was interesting. I liked the mystery about who was the Wolf and the action/fighting scenes. 

I felt that the characters were a bit lacking though. I didn't get any connection from anyone other than Valerie and the third person point of view was hard to follow. Because it was third person the narration would change who it was following in the middle of paragraphs. 

Also, the "love" between Valerie and Peter was not very clear. I could tell that they were in love, I just didn't know why. 

Cartwright did a great job of leaving her readers in suspense. I had my guesses  as to who the Wolf was, but at this point every one is a suspect to me. The ending was definitely a cliff hanger, but thankfully the final chapter is released in just under a month. So not that long to wait. 

This was a good book, but nothing phenomenal. I would suggest reading it before seeing the movie though, just because that's how I roll. 

*The entire time I was reading this book all I could think of was that movie The Village by M. Night Shyamalan

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Title: The Summer I Turned Pretty
Author: Jenny Han
Published: April 6, 2010 
Pages: 288/Paperback
Series: Summer #1
Source: My personal library


Summary: Some summers are just destined to be pretty


Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.


Review: I had heard a lot of really good things about this book, so I was excited to finally be reading it. The thing I loved most about this book was that it took place in the summer time at a beach house. I'm a sucker for a good summer book. That alone had me hooked. I also liked the fact that this book had flashbacks. That made it a bit easier to see why the beach house was so appealing.


Although the plot wasn't that new to me - boys realize they like a girl more than they thought - it was still fun to read and see who Belly ended up with. The only problem I had was with the characters themselves. I couldn't connect with any of them. I didn't see what the appeal of Conrad was (he seemed like a jerk to me) and I have no idea how belly could fall in love at the age of ten.


I didn't understand the relationship between Belly and her mom either. At times it seemed like they were the cool/fun mother daughter duo, but then it would seem like Belly was annoyed and couldn't stand her. 


The ending had me confused. Was she with Conrad or not? What had happened to Susannah? 


Although I didn't feel a real connection to the characters and I was left with unanswered questions I overall enjoyed The Summer I Turned Pretty. It had it's light and fun moments but then managed to have some serious moments that dealt with tough issues surrounding families and illnesses. This could definitely be considered a beach read, but it also has substance and heart. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Title: Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Published: January 10, 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 256/Paperback
Source: My personal library


Summary: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.


Review: Intense. That's really the only word I can think of that accurately describes Some Girls Are. Courtney Summers has written, yet again, and astounding novel. Some Girls Are shows just how far bullying can go and how girls (or people in general for that matter) can be not only mean and cruel, but outright viscous. 

One aspect of Courtney's writing that I'm surprised I like so much is the uncertainty of it. You don't know exactly what happened in the past with Liz, and the ending is resolved, but it's still open for more. However, it's not an ending leaving you wanting more. It left me satisfied, but it also left me wandering what would happen next with Regina. 

Courtney's characters are also a major accomplishment. They're all so realistic. I can say that she's the only author that ever made me want to throttle a character in a book. I was a little conflicted with Regina. I felt bad for her about what was happening, but then I would think, "But isn't this exactly what she was doing to other people? Doesn't she deserve this?"

And that leads us to the heart of this novel. This book shows just how mean people can be and how no matter what the truth is there's always someone willing to believe the lie.

Overall this was yet another success of a book for Courtney Summers. I have read her books out of order it seems, and I still have to read her first, Cracked Up To Be. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (22)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Summary from goodreads! 


Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer 
April 15, 2011 

Sixteen-year-old Tansy Piper moves with her grandfather and her mother, a horror writer, to the setting of her mother's next book--a secluded house outside of a tiny, desolate West Texas town. Lonely and upset over the move, Tansy escapes into her photography and the dark, seductive poems she finds hidden in the cellar, both of which lure her into the mind and world of a mysterious, troubled young man who died sixty years earlier.

--

Photography? Seductive poems? Being lured into the past by afore mentioned poems? That has me pretty intrigued. And as usual the cover is gorgeous.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Title: Hold Still
Author: Nina Lacour 
Published: (paperback) October 5, 2010 by Speak  
Pages: 256/Paperback
Overall: 4 out of 5
Source: My personal library


Summary: An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.

dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.

Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself.

Review: This is only the second or third book I've read that deal with suicide, but they always interest me. I've never known anyone who committed or considered suicide, but I know there are people who do. Even though it's sometimes hard to read a book with this subject matter I always feel like I'm getting to see what this parts of someone's life is like and what they have to o through. 

That being said, I really got to see just how many people were affected by Ingrid's suicide in Hold Still. Obviously her best friend and family were, but even people who didn't know her well (Jayson) or people who didn't know her at all (Dylan and Maddy) were affected. 

I loved the characters in this book. Nina did a fabulous job writing them. I could feel Caitlin developing as a character as I read, and I felt like her tree house was almost a symbol of her accepting what had happened. Dylan and Maddy were great too, even though Maddy wasn't in it much. I liked how Dylan made it a point to let Caitlin know that she wasn't a replacement and I think some of her straightforward-ness helped Caitlin. 

The story overall had a great pace and really gave the characters time to develop and accept things. My only problems were with Taylor and Ingrid. I didn't feel a connection with Ingrid through her journal or with Taylor. I think he should have been in the book more and then I might have felt more for him. 

Overall though, Nina LaCour has written a fabulous novel. It has great emotion and beautiful writing. At times I felt a bit disconnected with the characters, but most of the time I could really see what the characters were feeling.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor

Title: The Darlings Are Forever
Author: Melissa Kantor
Published: January 4, 2011 by Hyperion Books for Children
Pages: 336/Hardcover 
Overall: 3 out of 5
Source: Finished copy from publisher 


Summary: Jane, Victoria, and Natalya. Together, they are the Darlings. Best friends forever. They have matching necklaces, their own table at Ga Ga Noodle, and even a shared motto: May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.

When the friends begin freshman year at three different high schools in distant corners of New York City, they promise to live by their motto and stay as close as ever. The Darlings know they can get through anything as long as they have each other. But doing scary new things is a lot easier with your friends beside you. And now that the girls aren’t spending all their time together, everything they took for granted about their friendship starts to feel less certain. They can’t help but wonder, will they really be the Darlings forever?

Review: This was such a cute and fun book! I love contemporary fiction, but it seems like there's a battle between the gritty emotional contemporary and the light and fun contemporary. While I'm a fan of both it's nice to sit back and relax with a fun books every now and again. 

Going into The Darlings Are Forever I was worried for two reasons. (1) There were three main characters and the chapters switched off on who it was about. (2) It was in third person. 

Now I don't have a problem with third person narration per se, but I usually have a harder time connecting with characters in a third person narrated novel. That was not the case here. I found each of the girls voice and personality completely separate and distinct so I had no trouble at all keeping the characters straight. 

I love the plot of this book. It's always scary going somewhere new, and being separated from your best friends only makes it worse. I think  Melissa did a wonderful job capturing the friendship between these three girls and made it very realistic and believable. 

Now let's talk about each character, shall we?

Jane: I could tell that she was the confident one who wasn't afraid of speaking her mind and going for what she wanted. She was a fun character to read because she always had big dreams and wasn't afraid to do what needed to be done to get them. I found the whole thing with Mr. Robbins kind of weird, but I was happy that she finally came to her senses. 

Victoria: She was definitely the nice girl who wasn't accustomed to a lot of attention (as noted by her reactions to the media). Something about her made her my favorite to read about. Maybe it was the fact that she wasn't very confident yet she still did the things that scared her and learned to deal with hard situations. 

Natalya: Natalya was possibly my least favorite character. She irked me throughout the whole novel. Now don't get me wrong, she was a great friend. I understand why she wanted to fit in with Morgan and her clique, but what annoyed me was that she knew they just wanted to be her friend to get close to Victoria yet she did nothing to stop them. If anything she tried harder to please them. Thankfully (like Jane) she came to her senses. 

Overall this was a very fun book. It had good believable characters who make mistakes just like everyone. I think it will be easy for a lot of girls to relate to the Darlings. The plot was great and well paced, and I was quite pleased to see there's a sequel, The Darlings In Love.   

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (22)

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi at The Story Siren and inspired by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie.

Bought:


Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cover Talk (3)

Cover Talk is something I do periodically to show off the awesome covers that I find. It's similar to Kristi's Books to Pine For and Steph Su's Cover Lust.

Away by Teri Hall
Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney 

Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
Rosie by Mariam Maarouf 

The Jewel and the Key by Louise Spiegler
Forgotten by Cat Patrick 

 
The Locket by Stacey Jay
My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin


Paperback Reprints:

Siren by Tricia Rayburn 
The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard 

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