I was really happy to finally get a chance to read Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe. I don't know what took me so long, especially since it was a book I...moreI was really happy to finally get a chance to read Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe. I don't know what took me so long, especially since it was a book I pre-ordered and came out way back in October of last year.
Audition turned out to be one of those books I wish I could have appreciated more. I don't have much knowledge of ballet (or dance) except for what I've seen in movies and tv. I never had the privaledge of being involved in any sort of program and had never really learned much about it. Because of that I felt quite lost at times throughout the book. The descriptions of the movements and using ballet as a sort of metaphor were written quite beautiful. Unfortunately, most of these are never truly described and those that were became lost on me. I just could not picture what was being described, even though the words flowed so nicely.
On the other hand I did enjoy the character growth and social aspect of the story. Getting to know Sara's host family, especially Julio was a nice touch. Sara's fear that she wont be accepted into the group of ballerinas because of where she came from was real touching as well. Then there was her school life which seemed at times much happier than her ballet life. Remington, though, Sara's love interest and the guy she ends up dating throughout the book really infuriated me. With the way he treated Sara I had wished she would have stuck up for herself more. I suppose in a way that was the point but he wasn't a character I loved to hate. I just hated him.
Overall, it was a nice story. There were things I liked about it and things I didn't like. The verse added to the effect of the story well, especially because ballet is such an artistic endevour to begin with. I'm glad to have it in my collection, although I feel as though there are many more people out there who will understand the story better than I did.
Being a contemporary novel-in-verse with the focus on a love story I had a hard time passing this one up. I love novels-in-verse but I find it difficu...moreBeing a contemporary novel-in-verse with the focus on a love story I had a hard time passing this one up. I love novels-in-verse but I find it difficult to discover ones that aren't historical, issues related, or paranormal. I was hoping that this one would be a little light-hearted as well.
Let's start with this. Although not as light-hearted as I'd hoped, the love story was quite delicious. In fact, in Love and Leftovers you are treated to not one but two romances the main character Marcie experiences. Even though you may be rolling your eyes right now saying "oh no...not another love triangle!" it wasn't really like that all. In Love and Leftovers it isn't two guys fighting over Marcie but a miscalculation in character that leads her to cheating on her boyfriend while living in another city.
Both J.D. and Linus were loveable guys in their own ways. The two romances were quite different so it's not like you are getting two similar guys and Marcie just can't choose between them. One delivers her the passion and touch she so desperately wants and the other the emotional friendship she also needs. That made it hard for me to watch the two of the guys getting caught up in her mess and made me loose respect for her a little as well.
There is also very interesting drama going on with Marcie's mom and dad. This had a lot to do with the plot and I found it just as interesting watching events unfold with them as I did with the boyfriend situation. It was just one of the many reasons why I had a hard time putting this one down, especially towards the end.
In the end I'm so glad I was able to read this book. It was very entertaining. I didn't feel like anyone was preaching to me or trying to teach me something, although I'm sure many readers will learn something as Marcie herself ends up learning very valuable lessons. This is a great book and one I'd recommend to anyone who wants a quick read with some substance behind it.
Beth Neff has a writing voice that immediately captivated me. I couldn't tell what it was at first and then realized just how relieved I was at not having the story told from the first person perspective for a change. It seems that lately the majority of young adult novels are being told from this perspective. I do enjoy that first person a lot, but find it difficult to try and get inside the characters' heads every time I start a new book. Getting Somewhere opened up a new avenue for me where I was able to see both what the characters were thinking in the moment and what was going on as a whole. Being told from the perspective of four different girls, this seemed to work really well for me.
As for the girls I was excited to find out what their secrets were. They were incredibly complex characters. I liked that even though they could have come off as stereotypical and flat, they were anything but. Each of them had those unique criminal records and yet at the same time possessed a rich background that got them to where they are.
The farm was so wonderful. I don't know how, but I finished this book days ago, and I am still living on that farm. I enjoyed every aspect of the farming and how the simple act of picking produce to sell at market could help heal those girls. It was like being in a different world for them but that was exactly what they needed. The women running the farm were wonderful characters. Three women who really wanted the program to work but may or may not always have had the best of intentions. They were flawed just like the rest of them but that didn't mean they couldn't all grow together.
The drama was slow moving. There seemed to be only glances of how the one girl was attempting to bring down the program. I wanted more of that, for the others to not be so clueless about it. It would have made the book feel a little faster moving for me. On the other hand what they all found out about themselves from not noticing all the things she was doing and inadverdently contributing to the mess that occurs at the end of the book - that was powerful as well.
A marvelous book. If there was a category in Y.A. for "literary fiction", I would put it there. It read somewhat like an adult literary, but it was most definitely for the younger audience. It was a smart book and one I recommend to someone who wants to read something a little more introspective.
I did enjoy this book although not as much as I hoped to. I will say this - It's a pretty unique book in terms of the drug-dealer aspect of the story....moreI did enjoy this book although not as much as I hoped to. I will say this - It's a pretty unique book in terms of the drug-dealer aspect of the story. Score on creativity for Karly Kirkpatrick! I will write up a proper review soon. (less)
I've been looking forward to reading Cracked ever since I watched all the entries to her book trailer contest back in the fall. Book trailers don't no...moreI've been looking forward to reading Cracked ever since I watched all the entries to her book trailer contest back in the fall. Book trailers don't normally get to me but in this case they made me fall in love with the idea. I finally gave myself the chance to pick it up at the library and it was a very fast, intense read for me.
The story follows two different teens, Victor and Bull, who have very different, very tough home lives. On top of that Bull has bullied Victor his whole life, shattering any chance at confidence he ever had, and Victor's priveledged life makes Bull more depressed and angry the more he sees of Victor's life.
Cracked is written in alternating viewpoints between the two boys and we see them both spiral out of control until eventually they both end up in the psych ward of a hospital for attempted suicide - both in the same hospital room.
I really liked K.M. Walton's writing. It was fast paced, and kept me flipping pages. The characters seemed real and the "moral" was pretty obvious yet didn't feel shoved in your face obvious. I felt a few things were a little too coincidental (like Bull and Victor ending up in the same hospital room), that the build-up to their suicide attempts could have been a little longer (to get to know the two better first) and that maybe the author didn't take quite enough risks with some of the plot points.
Overall, it was a great read. Cracked was one of those books I did not want to put down and so also one of the fastest reads I've had so far. But the above had me wondering if I should give it a higher rating or not.
I recently saw this on Simon & Schuster's summer reading list for people who want a bit of substance. I would have to agree. It was perfect for summer because the writing style was that perfect blend between comfort food intensity, important issues, and fast paced writing.
A wonderful start to what could be a very successful writing career for K.M. Walton.
When I picked this book up I had trouble getting into it at first. It actually stayed on top of my pile, with the bookmark around page 18 for about a...more When I picked this book up I had trouble getting into it at first. It actually stayed on top of my pile, with the bookmark around page 18 for about a month. I wasn't sure if it was one of those books where I'd have to get used to the writing first, or if I just didn't like it. Then this weekend I felt like reading something different and picked it up again.
Even though I had trouble at first with the way the characters thought and talked (I had a hard time picturing what was going on because the narration was a new perspective for me) I eventually caught on and got the flow of it. When I did, I was completely blown away. This was no ordinary drug story. I guess I have trouble picturing why or how anyone can get into drugs. We all have choices when it comes to our actions. Beneath a Meth Moon blew away all those pre-conceived ideas. It made me understand how someone so young could think drugs was a good idea. Laurel starts doing meth, not because her friends or doing it or she wants to party, but because it gets her through the day.
When the story opens we meet Laurel at her worst. On meth, and totally out of it. Then the story slowly backtracks and moves forward again. We get glimpses of her life and what she's gone through. I started to understand her thought process, her fears. It was compelling and changed something in me that I didn't know existed. I recommend this to anyone who likes a gritty contemporary. It made me cry a few times. It was sad and dark. I totally loved it!
When Most Likely opens, Becky Howard seems like she has it all. She has a wonderful family who is supportive of her, a sister who teaches her fun thin...moreWhen Most Likely opens, Becky Howard seems like she has it all. She has a wonderful family who is supportive of her, a sister who teaches her fun things like how to buy the perfect dress, a boyfriend she adores, and she is about to run the race that can make her a star. But it seems that good things don't last long as Becky's life seemingly comes undone and keeps unravelling as the story progresses.
This is a wonderful tale for Christian teens. Becky goes through a lot and she needs to learn how to handle things through it all. It answers a lot of questions like how to handle a boyfriend who is pressuring you for sex, how to cope with a friend who has given up on life, and how to support loved ones who've messed up their own lives without sugar-coating your reactions or being too upset with them to be helpful. That said, the book didn't feel too preachy about those things or like they were lessons. They all made sense in the context of what was happening in Becky's life. The fact that she looked at things from a God-centered lens was just part of her character.
Unfortunately I never really felt too much of a connection to Becky. She is going through a lot, but nothing I could really relate to. On top of that I felt too much the presence of an adult perspective in the narration. Sometimes the wording or the way Becky would describe her feelings didn't feel like a teenage voice to me, but an adult one. Perhaps because she was a very mature teen, but there was just something about it that bothered me when it was there.
I feel like in the end that this is a book I'd have no problem recommending to others but personally didn't have the connection to myself.
Temptation was published last month, at the end of June, and I was really excited to get my hands on a copy. It had been on my radar for a while now....moreTemptation was published last month, at the end of June, and I was really excited to get my hands on a copy. It had been on my radar for a while now. I mean, how could I not want to read this, it has two of my favourite plot devices in stories - forbidden love and culture clash. On top of that, although few and far between reads, I have never been let down by a story invloving the Amish community.
I had absolutely no trouble getting into the book. In fact, the first 200 or so pages seemed to fly by. I loved the format of the switching view points. It was so fun reading both Rose and Noah's thoughts. Especially when you think you know what they were thinking based on the one character's presumptions, and then having switched view points, you find out that something entirely different was going on.
Temptation was a very cute story. It had conflict and drama, but it also had cutesy first time love. It was lust at first sight and as a reader I was worried that the story would develop into something superficial, but their lust for each other was able to grow into a realistic love through experience and understanding, and I really appreciated that about the romantic aspect.
I did have big, huge problems with the ending though. I didn't feel the ending was realistic at all. In order for them to be together, either Rose or Noah would have had to give up the only culture they knew. I didn't like how this was handled at all. Noah wont even consider it and neither of their parents will either. But somehow having a huge accident where he almost dies rescuing Rose...well, then it's okay?!
Because of the ending I wasn't sure how I felt about Tempation as a whole but I can say that I liked it and that I'm glad I read it. Both Rose and Noah were awesome and I'm happy I got to know them through this story. It was fast paced and a great way to spend a day or two this summer, despite the problems I had with the last bit of it.
An interesting book with awkward phrasing. While reading Queens of All the Earth I sometimes felt like the author was doing something I could relate t...moreAn interesting book with awkward phrasing. While reading Queens of All the Earth I sometimes felt like the author was doing something I could relate to. Other times I felt like cringing at the way it felt like "that" book. You know, the kind that tries to be literary and metaphorical without, for whatever reason, fully succeeding at it.
I liked Olivia, one of the sisters in this book. I felt like she was the kind of person that did what she was told all her life, only to wake up and realize that all the people around her were simply being manipulative and/or overbearing rather than helping her face the reality of life.
Miranda, on the other hand I could not stand. She was controlling without even realizing it, and though she wanted to help Olivia get through her pain it felt like she just kept sabatoging her with the way she was acting all the time.
Some of the tourists in their hostel I liked - Greg and Mr. Brown, and Marc, for example, others I found irritating again (Lenny was a huge one). It made me so mad, in a bad way. I didn't want to feel that irritated while reading, even though those characters were probably meant to be irritating.
Overall, I did like the story. Every time I put it down I'd find myself thinking about it sometime during the day. There were some beautiful moments and I felt that the author really captured Olivia's character very well. I don't know if I would recommend this one, per say, but it was an interesting read, at least for me.
If you skipped over the summary (which I hope you didn't) and jumped right into my thoughts here, let me say this: Defy the Stars is not only a novel-in-verse but also a retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Not only that, but I've been secretly on the lookout for a self-published novel-in-verse for kindle that don't cost an arm and a leg (there are few and far between verse novels available for kindle). I couldn't pass up this opportunity. I knew I had to give it a try.
At first of the book seemed to fly by. I loved the role of music in the novel and how different Julia seemed from the original Juliet. Also, it was really fun seeing all the new characters pop up and trying to place them in the original story. This is though, a story that can stand apart from it's original. It's different yet the inspiration is clearly there and it started to take on a shape of it's own that made me slow down and look more closely at all the little details. That level of retelling is exactly what I was looking for.
In the end Defy the Stars was a very different book than I expected, sometimes giving me more than I hoped for and other times surprising me in ways I wasn't sure sat well with me. For instance, the drug use. I don't mind reading about all sorts of gritty things but I found the reasons for Reed's and Julia's exploration of drugs disturbing. Mainly that was because it seemed too real for me. I could see all too easy how Reed would find solace in drugs and Julia find they enhance her all too controlled life. I wanted something much better for them. However, after some consideration and time away from the book, I find this book growing on me. I keep coming back to it and looking at it from different angles, finding new things surprising me every time I think about it. Now I think this is a beautiful retelling of a tragic story. It isn't less tragic but it has a voice of it's own that has really made me think and digest things differently.
On a side note: The verse format worked really well for the kindle. It's nicely done and not hard to read at all which I was worried about.
Every once in a while, I just need to slow down from my normal pace of action-packed dystopian/fantasy or heart-wrenching books and read something a l...moreEvery once in a while, I just need to slow down from my normal pace of action-packed dystopian/fantasy or heart-wrenching books and read something a little more light-hearted. I had some extra down time this weekend and decided to pick up Catching Jordan, a book I've wanted to read since last fall.
Here are some things I really loved about Catching Jordan:
- The girl is a tomboy who plays football on the guys' team - Not only that, she kicks butt at what she does - She has to learn some things along the way, like how stubborn and narrow-minded she has been - Sam Henry
I really enjoyed the sports aspect of this book. I did find it a bit cliche that the tomboy girl plays with guys on the male team. However, Miranda Kenneally really made this work, taking something I've seen before in countless tv shows and movies as a comedic plot advice (usually, wrestling) and turning it into something that really could happen.
And Jordan isn't just a tomboy who has to overcome male stereotypes about women and their roles in sports. In fact, most of what she has to overcome is from other girls in her school. The guys on her team really respect her and make her feel a part of the team. In fact, she's so good at football that she's their team captain. I loved that!
I did feel the romance aspect of the story was a bit weaker. Jordan spends most of her time avoiding any romantic relationship at all and even when she finally gives in and starts dating the guy she likes, they don't actually spend very much time together. So, I didn't really connect to her story with Ty and I didn't really get attached to him at all.
I did love Henry though. His and Jordan's friendship was fun to learn about and fun to watch in the present as well. Of course, I didn't like when he started being a jerk to Jordan but I also thought that the way he was acting made sense.
This book was very fresh and new to me. I like reading contemporary but I've never read something like this. I will definitely be looking out for the second book. The only thing holding me back right now is that I can only take so much "potty mouth" from my main characters (and Jordan swore a lot) and that the book felt complete on it's own so I'm not sure I need to read the sequel immediately.
From the moment I picked up Being Henry David to the moment I finished, I could not put it down. I did sleep, but it was very begru...moreWhat a page-turner!
From the moment I picked up Being Henry David to the moment I finished, I could not put it down. I did sleep, but it was very begrudgedly that I did so.
I fell in love with "Hank" almost immediately. I find that so often in young adult books when we get the story from a male perspective, there is often so much hate or cursing. That is the last thing I want to read! So when I find characters like Hank, I really treasure them.
Being Henry David is the story of a seventeen year old kid who wakes up one day in New York City with no idea who he is or how he got there. He's afraid to go to the police because of the feeling he has in his gut just by looking at them. So Hank is taken in by another street kid but bad things happen to him and he ends up running away.
The story is filled with so a big giant web-of-lies and I had trouble remembering what Hank told to who. I was so impressed by how the author held this part of the story together. I don't know how she wrote such a long book and managed to not get anything mixed up herself.
I found this book very familiar to Dead to You by Lisa McMann in that the mystery of finding out who the main character was in his past life - really grabbed me and made me want to keep reading. There is so much that maybe Hank could know about if he'd just let himself remember but it's too hard for him to think about and nearly falls apart many times when he does. Several times he has breakdowns and it was just...incredibly moving.
I can't imagine being in Hank's situation. It's no wonder he finds comfort in Henry David Thoreau, the only thing he has left of his former life.
One of the best things about this book is finding out about such a classic author from a character like this, and in a story like this. Not only about his life, but so many of the words from his books, and the little things that maybe not everybody knows about.
I would have liked to see a little more happening with "Hank's" family at the end of the story. Everything came together a little bit too quickly for me there, but overall a definite recommendation from me. If you like stories about runaways, amnesia, and classics, then you should pick up this book!