Whoa buddy, Survive by Alex Morel was the biggest surprise I’ve had in a long time. It pretty much came out of nowhere! I haven’t seen a lot of reviewWhoa buddy, Survive by Alex Morel was the biggest surprise I’ve had in a long time. It pretty much came out of nowhere! I haven’t seen a lot of reviews floating around, and that is a cryin’ shame, y’all. This is a book that deserves to be noticed.
First of all, let me caution you to avoid Survive’s horrid synopsis. It basically tries to read the book for you, so unless you want to save a little time and skip to the end in two paragraphs or less – RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. (That being said, even though the ending was all but completely spoiled for me, there might have still been an ugly cry…)
So, Jane is on a plane that crashes. Not terribly original, I grant you. But still, it is a plot line I love. I also love when it can be carried out realistically without any Lost-style crazy business (not that I didn’t like Lost, because I did). Survive is a book that doesn’t need any time travel, smoke monsters or immortal gods to make you sit up and take notice.
Jane is such a complex character, and the fact that so many layers were built within such a short time (this book doesn’t even hit 300 pages, y’all!) is pretty stellar. She is in the middle of her “treatment” at a mental institution for being suicidal, and she decides this plane ride is the perfect chance to swallow some pills and follow the light. When things don’t go quite as she planned, she discovers that her soul carries a lot more depth and purpose than she ever imagined.
I’m not always a big fan of “issues” books, I have to be in a pretty specific mood to take one on. Because of this, I went into Survival with almost no expectations of loving it. And let me tell you, Jane definitely isn’t an easy character to love – but Alex Morel made me do just that. Even when she was sitting on the plane, feeling sorry for herself and getting ready to end it all, I was invested.
So, Jane can’t believe that she is one of the only two people to survive the crash. She also can’t believe that the other person so chosen is Paul, the seatmate that got on her nerves. To say this book is the opposite of insta-love is an understatement. But, factor in survival-based-adrenaline, loneliness, fear and teamwork? Cue in character and relationship development out the wazoo. Alex Morel, I bow down to you for working it all out in a realistic way that didn’t make me want to roll my eyes with disbelief.
To Sum it Up:
-Shock and awe – this was not a book I expected to love, you guys.
-Short length? Who cares! Characterization is still pretty darn fantastic.
-“Issues” book + plane crash survival story might sound like a train wreck waiting to happen, but everything just works. Trust me....more
I read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume way back in the day, but I didn’t remember much about it at all. Since my memory sucks, I thI read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume way back in the day, but I didn’t remember much about it at all. Since my memory sucks, I thought it would be a perfect choice for Banned Books Week reading. It is often challenged for questionable religious themes as well as for being sexually offensive. It is #60 on the ALA’s most challenged of the 90s list.
I definitely enjoyed following along with the life of 11 year old Margaret Simon! Judy Blume is so great with realistic fiction. I could imagine myself fitting in with Margaret and her friends so perfectly at that age. From secret clubs to talking about bras to making lists of cute boys – that is a girl’s life in the sixth grade for sure.
One of my favorite parts of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is the religious exploration Margaret undergoes. One of her parents was raised a Christian and the other is Jewish. She explores the different options to see if one will fit her. It is not insulting or disrespectful in the least – it is the journey of a young girl who feels lost. It was a great way to highlight the perils of growing up and feeling the need to fit in.
While I obviously don’t find the book sexually offensive, I must admit to being familiar with the “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” chant. (Hey, I can admit that. It was a long time ago.) I also might or might not be guilty of listing boys in order of their cuteness with my friends (I will not disclose how long ago this allegedly occurred). Experiences like that make this book incredibly fun to read! It also made me want to call up my old elementary school friends and call them by their old secret club names.
The way the girls interact with and talk about their parents was also really great. They haven’t reached the real teenage rebellion stage yet, but they’re sure getting there. Margaret is close to her grandmother, who makes a few special appearances. I was also especially close to my grandparents growing up, so this was yet another case of HELLO MARGARET! YOU ARE LIVING MY LIFE!
Basically, if you are a girl and were at some point 11 years old, you should read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. You’ll get to take an incredibly enjoyable trip down memory lane....more
You guys! From What I Remember… by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas totally took me by surprise. I hadn’t heard a lot of buzz on it, but I thought thYou guys! From What I Remember… by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas totally took me by surprise. I hadn’t heard a lot of buzz on it, but I thought the whole good-girl-waking-up-in-Mexico-with-a-guy-and-a-wedding-ring sounded too good to pass up. Was I right? OF COURSE I WAS.
So, good girl Kylie is class valedictorian and uber-responsible nerdette. She has way too much responsibility on her shoulders thanks to her less than stellar family life, and she has an obsessive need to PLAN. (If this OCD need for order sounds familiar to you, then I guess you know my mother…)
So, how does she end up stowed away in the back of a van full of stolen electronics headed to Mexico with Max, the class hottie? Oh, my friends. That is a story worth reading about.
Enter Will, Kylie’s gay best friend and Lily, Max’s confused, depressed, bitchy girlfriend and From What I Remember has four vastly different POVs.
I seriously could not have had more fun while reading From What I Remember. Kylie and Max definitely manage to get themselves embroiled into one heck of a messy situation. Stolen electronics become the least of their worries. How the heck are they gonna hitch a ride back to the States in time for graduation? Enter in wild parties, former Mexican soccer stars and an impromptu wedding celebration…
From the could-it-get-any-cuter swoon between Kylie and Max to Will’s first gay encounter…the romance switches between sweet, fun and flat-out crazy. I couldn’t get enough of any of it.
Basically y’all, From What I Remember has got it all. If you’re a fan of young adult contemporary – this definitely isn’t a book you want to miss. Pick it up and prepare to have a blast!...more
You guys! Holy crap! I loved Awkward by Marni Bates. Mackenzie Wellesley spoke to my inner awkward nerd (by inner I really mean obvious to everyone).
TYou guys! Holy crap! I loved Awkward by Marni Bates. Mackenzie Wellesley spoke to my inner awkward nerd (by inner I really mean obvious to everyone).
To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed this book, I’ll tell you that it reminded me a lot of Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway. Mackenzie is funny, socially inept and accidentally famous, much like Audrey. Both books have great characters that are easy to relate to – and both are absolutely hilarious.
When Kenzie trips over, straddles and does crazed CPR on a completely conscious popular guy, the subsequent YouTube video goes viral and her life explodes. Luckily, she manages to more-or-less get through it thanks to the cast of completely amazing side characters.
Seriously, the girl has some great friends. Jane, the studious (like studious on a crazed OCD level) BFF that always has her back and Corey, her gay sidekick and personal fashion guru. Then there is Logan (just his name appearing on the page eventually started setting off my inner swoon). What started off as a tutoring relationship turned into something much different.
You guys, just finishing Awkward made me sad because I got so addicted to these characters. Luckily, it looks like Marni Bates has written a companion novel featuring Jane that will be out in the next year or two. I’m definitely looking forward to that!
If you are in the mood for a cute, quick contemporary read that will make you laugh (and swoon!), Awkward is definitely a book you should pick up. It doesn’t have much substance to it, but that doesn’t keep it from being a great – and really fun – read!...more
I haven’t read that many novels in verse. Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay is my third. I continue to be impressed by the way authors can find a wayI haven’t read that many novels in verse. Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay is my third. I continue to be impressed by the way authors can find a way to say just as much in free verse as most authors can say via traditional writing!
So, Marcie’s dad comes out of the closet. Cue Marcie’s mom dragging her away from Idaho to New Hampshire and falling into a pit of depression. Marcie tries to navigate a place where she has no friends and misses her boyfriend. Then, her dad comes to take her back to Idaho. Now Marcie has to face some decisions that she made that she might now regret…
I loved so much about Sarah Tregay’s writing in Love and Leftovers. I love all the personalities that seemed so well defined after only a couple lines of verse. I love that Marcie and her friends refer to themselves as “leftovers.” I love that the ugly emotions involving divorce and Marcie’s mistakes are not glossed over.
Love and Leftovers reminded me of Forever by Judy Blume in its treatment of teenage sexuality. Very frank and straightforward. Like Sarah Tregay was saying “Hey! This is how teenage girls really are. I’m not sugarcoating anything. Get over it.” Nothing is overly graphic or anything, but y’all. The sexytimes. They are present.
Marcie and the leftovers listened to Bowling For Soup. You guys! Bowling For Soup! My two best friends and I used to constantly listen to them. We would crank them up and sing like crazy people. Sarah Tregay definitely took me back to high school.
Basically, I thought Love and Leftovers was awesome. If you haven’t tried novels and verse, I don’t see a problem trying this one out first. The plot and the characters are fantastic and will definitely help you navigate the different writing form. If you are already a verse fan – Sarah Tregay has definitely written a book you’ll want to read!...more
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has that same type of undefinable quality as the Harry Potter series. The one that makes you feel a part of sometThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green has that same type of undefinable quality as the Harry Potter series. The one that makes you feel a part of something, just by reading the book. Like there is a secret club that everyone that has read the book can join – but you still feel like it was all created just for you. The kind of book that can change the way you think.
First of all: this review? No spoilers. No discussion of specific plot points. Just raving. I went into The Fault in Our Stars knowing next to nothing, and that is what I think you should try to do as well.
Sometimes I forget that a lot of young adult books are written differently than books meant for adults. Everything is a little simpler and easier to follow. Not a bad thing – not at all! I’ll I’m trying to get across is the fact that books by John Green are different. He knows how intelligent teenagers are. The Fault in Our Stars can stand up next to any literary fiction you want to throw at it.
You know the really awesome books that have passages you constantly want to quote? The Fault in Our Stars is not one of those books. I couldn’t pick out just a few things to quote if I tried! I constantly kept having to put the book down in wordless awe. Seriously unbelievably great writing.**
So, instead, I picked out a simple passage that I just thought was funny and insightful:
“Hazel Grace,” he said.
“Hi,” I said. “How are you?”
“Grand,” he said. “I have been wanting to call you on a nearly minutely basis, but I have been waiting until I could form a coherent thought in re An Imperial Affliction.” (He said “in re.” He really did. That boy.)
The personalities. The writing. What is there even to say? John Green, y’all. John freakin Green.
The Fault in Our Stars was just the most thoughtful, hysterical, hopeful piece of devastating sadness. Pick an adjective. John Green took me there. Everyone – read this book so he can take you there too!
**As much as it might sound like I’m a deranged fangirl, my enthusiasm for The Fault in Our Stars does not extend to full-time stalking of John Green. Promise....more
So, I know everybody and their mother that hasn't already read it is dying for the upcoming release of Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsSo, I know everybody and their mother that hasn't already read it is dying for the upcoming release of Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I was definitely no exception - I could not wait to get my hands on it after the brilliant awesomeness that is Anna and the French Kiss. However - while Lola had a lot of amazing things going for it, it didn't live up to Anna for me.
Stephanie Perkins is so flippin' fantastic at weaving tons of detail into her writing that it is unreal. Seriously, I was in awe of this in her first book and it is nothing is not stepped up even higher in Lola. The personalities of Lola and Cricket are outstanding...and all the secondary characters are richly fleshed out as well. Seriously, I bow down to the master. Everything from Cricket's crazy inventions as a kid to the kinds of candy Lola leaves lying around her room add so much depth and realism to the story. I could rave about it forever. I loved Lola's dads, their dog (with the awesome name Heavens to Betsy), and even the characters we're meant to dislike are brought to life so well that it is easy to imagine knowing them.
Also, don't even get me started on the repeated appearances of Anna and St. Clair. Swoon. SWOON.
Unfortunately, it was the plot of the story that didn't work as well for me as Anna. Don't get me wrong - I still liked it a lot and plan on adding the book to my shelves when it is released, I just want to caution you to lower your expectations just a tiny bit so you won't feel the same twinge of disappointment I did. Lola and Cricket had a lot of things keeping them apart in this book just like Anna and St. Clair had in their story - however, in the first book I felt like there were so many circumstances in the way that they simply couldn't have come together any sooner or in a better way. In this book, I wanted to punch Lola in the face for being so immature. Seriously, Cricket was there. Waiting for her. Loving her. Being there for her. She was stubbornly dating a JERK, bound and determined to prove to everyone that she was right. Holy Toledo was it frustrating.
Anyway, this is obviously all just my personal preference, because I know the vast majority of people who have read it really do love it more than Anna. I just wanted to add my cautionary note to those of you that might feel the same way I do - prepare to enjoy the story, just don't read it with a constant comparison in mind!...more
Past Perfect by Leila Sales is the perfect cute comfort read. I loved it! It won't help you solve any problems in the field of nuclear physics, but itPast Perfect by Leila Sales is the perfect cute comfort read. I loved it! It won't help you solve any problems in the field of nuclear physics, but it will leave you with a smile on your face.
Chelsea works at a Colonial Village. The dresses, the apothecary, the blacksmith...the whole works. My inner history nerd sat up and cheered. Especially since there is a rival camp across the street - the Civil War reenactors. The teenagers in both places have a War (capital W) every summer - things can get pretty intense. Very intense. Like, when Chelsea is named a Colonial lieutenant just before being kidnapped and then held hostage by a guy that looks more like a hottie than an enemy. Also making things complicated is that Chelsea's ex is now working at the Colonial Village too, and she is having problems letting go completely. Oh the complications. How can her summer possibly turn out well?
I really loved the characterization in this novel. Chelsea is great and her parents (especially her dad) are hilarious. I also love her best friend - they are on a constant search for the best ice cream in the world, I thought that was really cute. Added a nice dose of reality to their relationship. I also loved Chelsea's interactions with the love interest - no immediate intensity or crazy implausible situations. Just a nice teenage romance.
So, ultimately the book is very cute, very realistic and super readable. It also kinda made me think about Sweet Home Alabama, one of my favorite chick flicks (you know, the whole Civil War reenactment thing). The romance is light and believable - but also really satisfying. Definitely a book I recommend!...more
I had high hopes for Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern. Y’all, it is a road trip book. Enough said. I love road trip books. Several of my favorite YA coI had high hopes for Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern. Y’all, it is a road trip book. Enough said. I love road trip books. Several of my favorite YA contemporary roads involve them. Needless to say, I was hoping to add Don’t Stop Now to that list. Unfortunately – it let me down in a big way.
The plot of Don’t Stop Now is totally weird. Lillian finds out that her friend Penny has faked her own kidnapping. She decides to track Penny down because the police and FBI are all over the situation. Lillian is freaked out. Can I just say – uhhh. The entire Penny debacle was kinda ridiculous. A plot line made up so that a road trip could come into play is what I got out of it. Lillian recruits her best friend Josh (and Josh’s car and credit card) to take her to Oregon – and Penny. Totally throwaway.
Anyway, putting all that aside. Lillian isn’t the smartest gal I’ve come across. For reasons other than heading out to find Penny herself instead of just telling the FBI where she is. She is wondering whether or not she and Josh should be more than friends. Well, I can take that one: NO.
To be frank (and slightly mean), Josh is a sorry excuse for a male MC. He is a total jerk. (Take my word for it. I’ve already given my copy of Don’t Stop Now away so I can include specific examples.) Lillian was funny, mostly intelligent (other than in her choice of friends) and incredibly nice. Girl: you can do better. I promise.
So, I don’t really much to say about this one other than the negative. The plot and characters completely let me down. Even if you’re normally a fan of road trip books – I don’t recommend Don’t Stop Now. If you have read and enjoyed it – make sure and let me know what I missed! I love talking to people with different opinions....more
Saving June by Hannah Harrington is a book I’ve heard quite a few good things about, so I was pretty excited to pick up my copyOriginally posted here.
Saving June by Hannah Harrington is a book I’ve heard quite a few good things about, so I was pretty excited to pick up my copy. I’m happy to say that it definitely lived up to my highest expectations and you can certainly expect it to be on my list of favorites at the end of the year. It won’t be released until November – but I think it is supposed to be available on NetGalley soon!
Harper’s older sister, June, committed suicide – and Harper had to be the unfortunate one to find her. She is shocked, hurt, angry…everything you’d expect. Her emotions are portrayed beautifully through the writing. Same goes with her mom, who is definitely falling apart. Her parents are divorced and end up deciding to split the ashes between them – Harper can’t stand the thought of that happening. She thinks about June and how much she wanted to get out of their house and their town and go to California. California, Harper then decides, is where June’s ashes should be. She enlists her best friend Laney and they plan a secret trip to California. Enter in one mysterious stranger – Jake Tolen. Harper comes to realize that he and June were actually pretty close friends, so when he offers up himself (and his van) for the trip, Harper can’t say no. Hello road trip.
This book is so well-written you guys. The descriptions, the events, the emotions – everything amazed me. Harper and Laney might be best friends, but they are so different. The tension that causes is so well done. I mean, can you imagine being in a car with your best friend day after day after day? Sure you love her, but you’re bound to butt heads. I loved the little arguments they got into! Hannah Harrington knows how to write a strong and believable friendship.
She also knows how to write an unbelievably hot mysterious guy – Jake Tolen is made of swoon. (He actually kinda reminded me of Owen from Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen because he is similarly obsessed with music.) The tension and chemistry between him and Harper is out of this world (and yes, my friends: there are sexytimes). He is also so great at being there for her as she finally lets go of her emotions little by little. They start out so unsure of each other – the progress they make toward romance is nice and steady. Very believable (no insta-love here y’all!).
I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. It has something for everyone – an awesome (and often random) road trip, slow burning romance, dealing with loss,friendship, humor….the list goes on. Hannah Harrington has created a story and a group of characters that I won’t be forgetting for a very long time. This is a book worth reading, worth buying, worth loving.
Since I raved about the writing, I decided to include a couple of excerpts. Both of these are taken from Harper’s descriptions/thoughts about Jake:
All I can do is look at him. Up close, I get a better view; there’s no denying the fact he is really, really good-looking, in this rakish, edgy, badass, I just-rolled-out-of-bed-and-screw-you-I-don’t-need-a-mirror kind of way. He has these piercing, unbelievably green eyes that are as gorgeous and sharp as the rest of him; it’s like they can see straight through me. But I don’t want to be seen. (ARC page 72)
This time I draw my gaze up to meet his. His hair looks kind of slept-on, sticking out in different directions, his eyes darker in the dim light thrown off by the street lamp. The same lamp allows me to notice that his black t-shirt clings to him in all the right places. At first my stomach twists, and I feel vaguely ashamed, or guilty, or something, for noticing that. But then I think – so what. So what if he’s hot, sometimes. Like every time I look at him…Even if I’m no damsel in distress and he’s miles away from Prince Charming, displays of gallantry, combined with his not-bad-okay-actually-pretty-good looks, make my strange lusty feelings completely justified. Practically obligatory, even. (ARC page 153)...more
Melina Marchetta is one of the best consistently amazing authors that I've come across, and Saving Francesca is no exception to this statement! For noMelina Marchetta is one of the best consistently amazing authors that I've come across, and Saving Francesca is no exception to this statement! For no reason really, I kept putting off reading it. Then, in a reading trade I made with Ashley at Basically Amazing Books (an "if I read this, then you'll read this..." type deal), I finally picked my copy up.
The characterization could not have been better. I became so emotionally involved in these characters, I even ended up practically crying at one point towards the end. Francesca, through a cruel twist of teenagery bad luck, gets stuck at a boarding school that is accepting girls for the first time. She really doesn't know all that many people, so the group of friends she ends up with is pretty much like her: made of other kids that find themselves without a group. The situations they find themselves in are constantly engaging and entertaining. Also at times either hilarious or poignant.
Things at home aren't going very well either. Her mother is suddenly bedridden with intense depression - out of nowhere Francesca and her family have to learn how to cope with their new reality. Very very emotional story line here, as Francesca explores the feelings she had for her mother - both the before and after versions.
So basically, this book is all about the characters. If you've read any of Melina's other books you know that this is where she excels. It is so easy to become invested in the lives of these people who are so realistically portrayed. You'll spend most of your reading time either laughing uproariously or having your heartstrings tugged at! Everyone from the seemingly immature Thomas to Francesca's love interest Will bring something different to the table. I'm really looking forward to moving on to the sequel/companion novel, Piper's Son, that features Thomas as the MC.
So, whether or not you're already a Marchetta fan, this is a contemporary YA novel well worth reading. And if you do end up picking this up as your first of hers - I can promise you with absolute certainty that it won't be your last!...more
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar is the kind of book you read and immediately want everyone else in the world to know about. I think "raw" really is one of thRaw Blue by Kirsty Eagar is the kind of book you read and immediately want everyone else in the world to know about. I think "raw" really is one of the best ways to describe the book, great title choice. It doesn't take long for you to feel attached to Carly, the main character. Kirsty Eagar doesn't pull any punches, she makes it very easy to see the world through Carly's - very emotionally damaged - eyes. I'm telling you, ALL of you, this is one of those books you just have to read!
It is my favorite kind of young adult novel: the characters are old enough to be out of high school but young enough not to have their lives together. Carly definitely doesn't have it together - she buries herself behind a wall of OCD and surfing to hide from the fact that she was raped. As the book progresses, we see her interactions at work (as a chef-sort-of) and on the waves. As her hard-won mask starts to crack, she finally lets a few people into her life. I am being deliberately vague about the plot because I want everyone to read this book, and I want you all to have fresh eyes for the experience.
As far as the many surfing runs and related lingo goes, I was fascinated by it. Kirsty Eagar left it pretty basic and easy to follow. I mean, I'm from Oklahoma y'all. What I know about surfing could balance on the head of a needle, but I was able to easily keep up with it and understand. I really enjoyed all of Carly's interactions both with the waves and other surfers. Those scenes highlighted her awkwardness and not-so-well-buried-anxiety very well.
Carly really is a very complex character. She isn't the kind of character readers normally fall for - she makes a lot of mistakes and has a lot of issues. But at the same time, you can see almost from the first page that there are two sides to her personality. And let me tell you now, you will read this book holding your breath - just hoping - to see a glimpse of the actual Carly. I really feel like she is one of the best written characters I've come across.
Ryan is a brilliant character also - I'm purposely ignoring him for the purposes of this review. He is one of the best surprises of the book and I don't want to spoil it for you by talking about him too much! Same goes for Danny. (Don't worry! No love triangle. Danny is like an honorary little brother.)
I also loved the writing - it was very off-beat and quirky. The descriptions especially: very charming and unique.
"My happiness is crunchy. Snapping, crackling and popping in the sun."
"The moon is weird tonight. A yellow devil with a knowing face and hard triumphant eyes. The top of his head is cropped off diagonally, as though he's wearing an invisible hat on a jaunty angle. Usually when I see the moon I feel like I've been blessed, but not tonight. The moon is telling me to watch my feet."
So, hopefully I've convinced you by now that you have got to pick up a copy of this book! It isn't actually available in the United States except as an ebook. I promise you guys, it is worth the little bit of extra trouble to track down. Really great and original book. It'll be standing out in my memory for a long time....more