Monday, March 7, 2016

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + GiveawaySave Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
Published by Delacorte Press on March 8th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.

Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn't exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom's wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won't let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.

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Save Me, Kurt Cobain is one of those books that popped up on my radar and I added it to my TBR without even really knowing what to expect from it.  I can’t tell you how many times I read the synopsis and I still didn’t know what I was getting into.  I don’t know if that made any difference on my feelings for the book but either way, I devoured it.

Pros:

  • The writing: Jenny Manzer’s writing style engaged me from the very first page.  While contemporary is my favorite genre, I understand that it can be slower to get into sometimes.  The story itself caught my attention, for sure, but Jenny Manzer’s way of telling the story is what really hooked me.
  • The music: If you didn’t already figure this out, Save Me, Kurt Cobain, has quite a few music references.  Each title is named after a Nirvana song and while I actually am not a huge Nirvana fan (don’t hate me!), I really enjoyed this aspect.  Jenny Manzer also managed to include a lot of actual Nirvana facts and events while keeping a lot of things fictional.  Music is a huge part of my life so the way it was woven into this story really appealed to me and helped keep me interested.
  • The mystery: There are a lot of questions brought up early on in Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  Who is Nico’s dad? Is it Kurt Cobain?  Is Kurt Cobain alive?  Nico manages to weave this crazy tale of what might have happened to her mother all based on the idea that Kurt Cobain is her father.  Jenny Manzer uses this and keeps readers guessing until the very last page.
  • Nico: Nico was my favorite part of Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  My heart went out to her.  She manages to come up with this crazy conspiracy theory to explain away the fact that she doesn’t know who her dad is and her mom abandoned her.  She’s lost and confused and alone and this is what she does to try and cope with all that.  I’ve never gone through an experience like that but I really think that everyone who reads Nico’s story will love her.
  • Everything!: I admit that I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and haven’t really wanted to read anything.  Save Me, Kurt Cobain fixed that.  This was one of the rare books I’ve read where I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  I loved Jenny Manzer’s writing, Nico’s story, the Nirvana history, every last thing.

Save Me, Kurt Cobain has a little something for everyone.  It’s one of those books that once you start, you’re not going to be able to put it down.  Jenny Manzer’s debut impressed me enough that I will definitely be checking out more from this author in the future.

Giveaway

US & Canada readers have a chance to win one of three copies of Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  Believe me, this is one you want to win!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver | Review

Blog Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver | ReviewRooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by Ecco on September 23, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Deliriumtrilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

picadillyblueIt really should come as no surprise that Lauren Oliver’s adult debut is spectacular.  Rooms is everything I didn’t know I was looking for in a book.  The writing is gorgeous, the characters are extremely flawed, and the mystery is captivating.

Rooms is not a book you want to rush through.  It’s definitely compelling enough that you will want to sit and read it straight through but it’s a book full of stories that take time to completely understand.  Every character has a story all their own.  Sandra and Alice, the two resident ghosts, spend a lot of time telling theirs and I have to say that theirs were the most interesting stories of the group.  They both lived and died in time periods relatively far in the past and they both have secrets and mysteries surrounding their lives and deaths.  That’s not to say that the other characters don’t have interesting stories though because they do.  Caroline, Minna, and Trenton all have things they are hiding and each story is very compelling.  Even though I may not have liked the characters, their stories had me hooked.

While I say that I didn’t like the characters, I don’t think readers are really meant to like them.  I sympathized with parts of each character but other than that, they are greatly flawed and hard to like.  Trenton is a little bit of an asshole but he’s by far the most likable.  He is seriously depressed and contemplating suicide.  He doesn’t see that there is anything left for him to live for but going back home for his father’s funeral forces him to look at things a little differently, especially when he starts hearing and seeing ghosts.  Minna is closed off to the world and she is a giant bitch.  There is no nice way to put it.  She thinks of no one but herself.  She has a daughter that she’s forced to think of at times but Amy plays a really small part in the story and, it seems, Minna’s life.  Caroline is a lot like Minna but an older version.  She’s very self-centered.  Even when she says she’s doing something for her kids, she’s really thinking of herself.  The one thing that really makes these people tolerable is that they have all have secrets that readers don’t find out about at first.  Once you start to see the dark pasts of the characters, it’s a lot easier to see how they come to be who they are.

Lauren Oliver’s writing style translates to the adult age range brilliantly.  I truly have yet to find something she has written that I don’t like.  She is one author who could write a phone book and have people rush to grab it off the shelves.  The writing style in Rooms is a little spare but never lacking in details that matter.

Overall, Rooms is a novel that can appeal to many people of many age ranges.  The subject and content are definitely better suited for adults but the appeal of this one is widespread.  And what do you know, another Lauren Oliver novel gets added to my shelf of favorites?

What others are saying about Rooms:

Fantasy Book Critic’s Review: “There is real content in the very believable characters’ attempts to make sense of their lives.”

Fic Fare’s review: “This story has a bit of everything… drama, angst, humor and sadness.”

Fiktshun’s review: “The author’s first attempt at a novel aimed at an adult audience was hugely successful.”

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About the author:

Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, will be published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com

Purchase ROOMS here!

Add ROOMS on Goodreads!

Follow Lauren on Twitter!

Visit Lauren’s Website!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

15-Sep Reading Lark
16-Sep Midnight Garden
17-Sep Icey Books
18-Sep I Swim For Oceans
19-Sep Fiktshun
22-Sep Fiction Fare
23-Sep Read My Breath Away
24-Sep Queen Ella Bee Reads
25-Sep A Dream Within a Dream
26-Sep Anna Reads
29-Sep Katie’s Book Blog (ME!)
30-Sep Sweeps 4 Bloggers
Sep-31 Mod Podge Bookshelf

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

book cover of Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Better Off Friends
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Release date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Point
Pages: 288
Source: Netgalley/Publisher
Reading level: YA

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY . . . for teens, from romantic comedy star Elizabeth Eulberg.

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

It’s become pretty hard to impress me with contemporary novels lately.  I read so many of them that the stories and things just stop being unique.  That was so not the case with Better Off Friends.  I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Eulberg since her debut novel but I’m pretty sure I have a new favorite from her.
Macallan and Levi have an odd relationship.  It’s clear from the start that they really are just friends.  The book shows how they meet and how they become friends as well as how that friendship develops over the years.  They go through boyfriends and girlfriends and no matter what, they are always there for each other.  They stand by each other through thick and thin and they have one of the best friendships I’ve read about in a long time.  They get each others jokes, they like the same things, and they never tire of each others company.  
The chemistry between them wasn’t always there but it was easy to see that they would be good together.  As they grew older though, things started to change between them and they definitely started to see a change in how they felt about each other.  The chemistry between them was very real.  Their relationship was so comfortable that they were able to be themselves with each other.  I didn’t think it had to necessarily go in a romantic way but it definitely worked for them.
The story itself was very cutesy but that’s what I was hoping for.  Macallan and Levi both realize (at different times) how they feel about each other and what happens after that was pretty hilarious.  Their timing never seems to be right.  One of them is always managing to screw things up royally.  There were a lot of more serious moments in the story but it helped balance out the funny parts.  I never felt like it was too serious or too light hearted.  There were some times when I really just wanted to hit both Macallan and Levi though.  It took them a while to see things that were right in front of their faces.
Overall, Elizabeth Eulberg has written another wonderful young adult contemporary novel that I highly recommend.  If you haven’t read anything by her yet, start with this one!
What others are saying about Better Off Friends:
Eve’s Fan Garden’s review: All in all, this was another great book from Eulberg and really, everyone should read it!” 

Reading Teen’s review: BETTER OFF FRIENDS was such an adorable story.” 

Confessions of a Book Addict’s review: So, if you are a fan of the Pacey/Joey type of romance where they are best friends first and if you are like me and are a huge fan of When Harry Met Sally, then you must check out Better Off Friends.” 

Other reviews for this author:
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lady Thief (Scarlet #2) by A.C. Gaughen

book cover of Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

Title: Lady Thief (Scarlet #2)
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Release date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Walker
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley/Publisher
Reading level: YA

Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.

Lady Thief, the sequel to Scarlet, was everything I could have hoped for and more. Scarlet would have worked fine as a standalone but I’m so glad there is more to this story because things only got better with this second installment.
Scarlet’s identity is now common knowledge and her marriage to Lord Gisbourne isn’t something she can hide from anymore. Robin and Scarlet’s relationship is at stake but they are willing to do anything for each other. The best option for them is if Robin is appointed the new Sheriff of Nottingham. Prince John and Lord Gisbourne are not going to let that happen though. Not only is their relationship on the line, their lives might be too. Stakes are high and their romance is only the start of problems.
Scarlet is not quite as fierce as she was at the beginning of the first book. Things have not gone well for her ever since Lord Gisbourne reentered the picture. He is a cruel, evil person who takes pleasure in the pain of others, especially Scarlet and Robin. Robin and the gang will do whatever it takes to save Scarlet but they have other things at stake now that they can’t risk. It really is up to Scarlet and Robin to fix things, not just for themselves but for all the people of Nottingham.
Things took a turn for the scary in Lady Thief. I wasn’t sure if A.C. Gaughen was really gonna go there but she did. This book is not for the faint of heart. If you didn’t believe Lord Gisbourne and Prince John were cruel and malicious people after reading Scarlet, you will definitely believe it after reading Lady Thief.
A.C. Gaughen does not mess around. My emotions were all over the place throughout Lady Thief. There were times when I was terrified, times when I was ecstatic, and times when I was absolutely heartbroken. I thought I was going to make it all the way through the book without any tears but that was definitely not the case. Be prepared for tears.
Overall, Lady Thief does not suffer from the second book syndrome. I can’t wait to see what is going to happen in the final book in the trilogy.
What others are saying about Lady Thief:
Christina Reads YA’s review:A fantastic character cast, fiery heroine, and beautiful writing and voice fill the pages of this empowering retelling of Robin Hood.” 

Anna Reads’ review:And the sequel was no different. Lady Thief was exciting, heart-wrenching and surprising.”

Queen Ella Bee Reads’ review:Bottom line post all of this gushing: If you haven’t started this series yet you are doing all of the wrong things.” 

Series: 
Lady Thief (#2)
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

book cover of Cress by Marissa Meyer

Title: Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Release date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 560
Source: ALA
Reading level: YA

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

The Lunar Chronicles only continues to improve. I honestly thought I couldn’t love the series any more than I did after reading Cinder but I was wrong. Cress is the best book in the series so far and I believe that Winter will be even better.
Marissa Meyer continues to amaze me with her stories. Everything seems separate and yet it somehow all ties together perfectly in the end. That became even more apparent in Cress. Every character, every storyline, every last plot point came together in this book to make for one amazingly convoluted story. No matter how small the detail, it all made perfect sense at the end of Cress.
Cress was an odd character. She was imprisoned on a satellite for years, never having any human contact other than with her captor. She had no clue how to interact with people when she finally did meet them. That became very obvious, very quickly. Cress was awkward in a really adorable way. She was brilliant, as well, which probably didn’t help with her awkwardness. It also didn’t help that she had a major crush on Thorne (who wouldn’t?). There were quite a few laughs at her interactions with Thorne. Thorne was hilarious on his own but add in Cress and I laughed a lot. They were perfectly imperfect together.
The story really comes to a head in Cress. Everything has been leading to a revolution and while that revolution hasn’t quite started yet, it’s pretty much there now. Every last detail is put in place. Every person who is going to be involved has been introduced. Motives have been explored, not just the typical ones but even the unexpected ones. Things are going to go down in Winter. That’s my prediction.
Overall, I don’t want to spoil anything so I’m going to stop now. I have to say though that I can’t recommend this book enough. Cress is the best in the series so far and even though it’s over 500 pages, you will read it in no time! Just think of all that Thorne! That’s why there are so many pages.
What others are saying about Cress:
Queen Ella Bee Reads’ review: “Just stop reading this and go start this series.”

Snuggly Oranges’ review: “This is absolutely fantastic: great characters, wonderful world building, engrossing writing, plenty of feels, and ships that are setting sail.”

Scott Reads It’s review: “My love for Cress is absolutely boundless and I am extremely obsessed with this book!”

Series:
Cinder (#1)
Scarlet (#2)
Cress (#3)
Winter (#4) – 2015

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Red Run by Kami Garcia

Short Story Saturday was created by Lauren at 365 Days of Reading.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll post a review every Saturday but I will post one as often as I can!

I am currently reading Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions.


book cover of Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
Short Story: Red Run
Author: Kami Garcia
Anthology: Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

Short stories are almost always too short for me to feel like I’ve connected with the characters but that was not the case at all with Red Run by Kami Garcia. I was immediately hooked by Edie’s story and I felt like I really understood her, even though readers don’t get a ton of information about her background. You get just enough to like her and want to see her succeed in her goal of avenging her brother.
The ghost part of the story was done really well. This story was written before Unbreakable yet it shares a lot of the same qualities. It’s creepy yet not overdone. It reminded me a lot of the early seasons of Supernatural and I loved that about it. Also, the ending was just perfect.
Overall, I give Red Run 5 stars. It’s a fabulous short story.

Other reviews for this author:
Beautiful Creatures (BC #1) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Unbreakable (The Legion #1) by Kami Garcia

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

book cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Release date: February 1, 1999
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 213
Source: Bookstore
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): None

Charlie is a freshman.

And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

Once again, I feel like I am one of the last bloggers to read this book. I’ve had it on my shelf for at least two years and I just haven’t picked it up until now. I will admit that the movie is what made me read the book. I can’t see movies without reading the book so I forced myself to read this one so I can see the movie. I am so glad that I made myself read this one finally!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told all in letters from Charlie to an anonymous friend. To me, this style of writing did two things. It made the story quicker and easier to read (and it’s already a pretty quick book since it’s only 213 pages.) It also made the story seem more real. You never find out who the anonymous friend is and it’s almost like Charlie is just writing letters to the reader. This is one of my favorite styles of writing and I loved it in this book in particular.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is what I would call the quintessential “issue” book. I cannot think of a single “issue” that wasn’t addressed in this book. Stephen Chbosky tackled suicide, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, and so much more. He didn’t shy away from anything. Normally I might think that all these “issues” are too much but in this case I didn’t think that. Each “issue” was handled very truthfully and everything felt real. It didn’t seem overdone at all.
Charlie was such a unique main character. I loved him so much. He was a very messed up kid and I honestly couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. I also knew that he had a secret but I never once guessed what it was. When I finally found out, it broke my heart. Everything that Charlie went through killed me. I laughed with him, I cried with him, I went through every emotion. As for his friends, they were all perfect. They brought out different sides of him and they helped him grow so much.
Overall, The Perks of Being a Wallflower definitely deserves all the praise it’s been getting. If you haven’t picked it up yet, do so now!

What others are saying about The Perks of Being a Wallflower:
Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf’s review: “This book didn’t absolutely blow me away, and it wasn’t my favorite, but it was enjoyable, and it had a serious undercurrent, and I can’t wait to watch the movie adaptation of it.” 

Wondrous Reads’ review: I never for one minute expected to like The Perks of Being a Wallfloweras much as I did, and I’ve since told myself off for leaving it for so long.” 

Little Girl with a Big Pen’s spoiler-filled review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower lost me when it detracted from my struggle, and the struggle of every young person I’ve ever known.”
Friday, October 11, 2013

First Line Friday Review: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

book cover of Pawn by Aimee Carter

Title: Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
Author: Aimee Carter
Release date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 346
Source: Publisher
Reading level: YA
Challenge(s): Dystopian
First line: “Risking my life to steal an orange was a stupid thing to do, but today of all days, I didn’t care about the consequences.” 

YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING.

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

I was a fan of Aimee Carter’s Goddess Test series but that didn’t prepare me for how much I loved Pawn.  The dystopian genre is getting a little overrun and most of the books out there aren’t all that unique.  I’m happy to say that Pawn definitely brings something new to the YA dystopian genre and it looks like The Blackcoat Rebellion could quickly become a favorite series of mine.
The best thing about Pawn is the setting.  A lot of dystopians take quite a bit of time with world-building and it does tend to drag out the beginning of a series. Pawn is set in a futuristic United States much like our current United States and so it doesn’t take a lot of time to set up the world.  That’s not to say that Aimee Carter didn’t do a fabulous job building the world.  She focused more on the political aspect however.  I’d normally find that boring but that was not the case at all with Pawn.  It was fascinating to see how the government deteriorated.  The scariest thing about Pawn is how realistic it is.  This futuristic United States that Aimee Carter  has created could actually be our own United States one day.  It’s not so far out of the realm of possibility.  

Pawn also has a supremely fast pace.  It’s full of action, mystery, suspense, and romance.  There is always something going on that will keep you reading.  Seriously, there was so much going on in this book.  There were assassination attempts (on more than one person), multiple deaths (Aimee Carter is not afraid to kill off a character), and a kind of misleading love triangle (that really isn’t a love triangle,at least not yet.)  I could never guess what was going to happen next and there were some jaw-dropping surprises in this one.

The characters were fabulous.  Kitty was fierce and completely awesome.  Her life may not have been her own but she took charge.  She didn’t let Daxton, Celia, or Augusta change her ideals or her character.  She used her new status for good things and she didn’t let it corrupt her.  She was very well-developed.  However, my favorite thing about her was her attitude.  She didn’t let things get her down for long.  She found ways to take charge of her life when she had very little power.  She was a great heroine.  Knox, Benjy, Celia, Daxton, Greyson, and Augusta were all pretty well-developed characters too.  I would have liked more background for all of them but I assume we’ll get more of that in the following books.

Overall, Pawn really surprised me,  in the best possible way.  It’s a great start to a fresh new series and I look forward to the next book in the Blackcoat Rebellion series.

What others are saying about Pawn:

Istyria Book Blog’s review: Even though there probably are a million other books in this genre, it still is surprisingly original.”

I Heart Y.A. Fiction’s review: Pawn is a breathtaking, heartbreaking, dramatic story.”

River & Sam’s review: To be honest I’ve been a bit bored with dystopian YA lately and I’ve been craving a good one and this did it for me.” 

Series:
Pawn (#1) – Nov. 2013
Captive (#2) – 2014

Want to know what other books were up for First Line Friday?

#1: “Dead!” a woman screamed. “It’s the dead!” – Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

#2: “Your name is Eve.  Remember that.” – Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

#3: “There are exactly sixteen minutes left in math class when there’s a faint double knock on the classroom door, and we all perk up.” – Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

#4: “All my life I knew what I wanted.  Or rather, what I didn’t want.” – Foreplay by Sophie Jordan

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

book cover of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Release date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 433
Source: BEA
Reading level: YA/NA
Challenge (s): Sophomore, YA Contemporary

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

I think I’m in love.  Seriously, though, I want to live in this book.  Rainbow Rowell has gained a new fan and I can’t wait to check out her other books.  (I confess, I haven’t read Eleanor and Park yet!)
Cather is one half of a set of twins.  Cather (Cath) and Wren (makes Catherine, get it?) couldn’t be more different.  Cath is an introverted nerd who spends all her free time writing fan fiction about Simon Snow (think Harry Potter.)  Wren spends all her free time partying with her new college roommate.  This puts a gap in Cath and Wren’s relationship which opens Cath up to a whole new world of people.
Cath is super easy to relate to, being an introvert myself.  She’s shy, nerdy, and awkward (traits I definitely share.)  She’s beyond easy to like and I was immediately caught up in her story.  Wren was not nearly as easy to like but she was a good person.  She was nasty to Cath a lot and she didn’t always think things through but she grew throughout the book.  Reagan, Cath’s roommate, was one of my favorite characters.  She seemed mean at first but it was just her personality.  She was super sarcastic and pretty much every comment out of her mouth made me laugh.  And of course there is Levi.  He is my newest fictional crush.  He’s super sweet and sexy (in a gangly way) and he’s always there for Cath.  They have a wonderful friendship.  Everything about him was perfect (including all his imperfections.)
The setting really helped make Fangirl fabulous.  It’s a realistic college setting that’s both beautiful and true to reality.  I want to go to school there.  There’s a good mix of class time, extracurriculars, other college activities, and some time spent at home.  Fangirl really showed how family dynamics can still work even when away at college.
The story is contemporary (obviously) so it’s not super action-packed or thrilling but it’s still completely unputdownable.  There’s plenty going on in the story to keep readers interested from beginning to end.  Even at over 400 pages I never felt that it was too long or overdue.  In fact, I would have loved more!
Overall, Fangirl is a total must-read.  It’s a new favorite of mine and I highly recommend it to fans of contemporary novels.

What others are saying about Fangirl:

Prettybooks’ review: Fangirl is one of the most wonderful, accomplished, authentic YA contemporary novels I’ve come across.” 

Chick Loves Lit’s review: “This is one of those books that you will pick up and read and from the first chapter you’ll think to yourself, I wouldn’t mind reading this… for forever.” 

Jenna Does Books’ review: FANGIRL is sure to please current fans of her books, as well as draw in potential new readers.” 

Monday, August 19, 2013

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

book cover of If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Title: If I Lie

Author: Corrine Jackson
Release date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 276
Source: Bookstore
Reading level:  YA
Challenge(s): None (read in 2012)

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

If I Lie is one of the best contemporary novels I have read ever!  From the very first page I was hooked and I could not stop reading until the very last page was turned.  Corrine Jackson’s debut novel is one you don’t want to miss!
From the summary I expected this huge secret that wouldn’t be revealed until the end of the book.  While the secret was a pretty big one, it was revealed rather early on in the story.  I thought I might lose a little interest after that but that was so not the case.  There is so much more to the story than just one secret. 
Quinn is a very strong character who, while not immediately easy to relate to, is immediately easy to sympathize with.  Not only does the whole town think she’s a slut who cheated on her marine boyfriend, her father thinks the same thing.  She has no one left until she starts to volunteer at the Veterans hospital.  There she finally meets some people who don’t judge her for what they don’t know.  Quinn’s time spent with George at the hospital is what really made me start to love her.  She is a different person with him. For a good part of the book she comes off a little standoffish but that’s because of her terrible situation and I didn’t dislike her for it.  I just really loved seeing a friendlier side of her with George.  Really for a good part of the book she is alone with nobody to talk to but herself and so readers see every side of Quinn; the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It made her such a real character.
Like I said earlier, there is so much more to the story than just a secret.  There are family problems, friendship and trust issues, growing up and moving on, and just so much more. I have to say that while romance does play a big part in the story, it’s not a focal point.  Quinn spends some time worrying about love but she spends more time worrying about Carey, her family, her friends, George, and everyone else but herself.  She’s a very mature girl who I admire for her strength.  And while I normally hate books without romance, that wasn’t the case with this one.  I thought it was perfect just the way it was.
Corrine Jackson’s writing must also be mentioned but I feel like I’m just going to ramble on about how awesome and fantastic it was.  I loved her writing.  It wasn’t a super eloquent writing style.  It was a more simple style that will take readers no time to get used to.  I think the simplicity of the writing style really made this book more enjoyable for me and I think I will enjoy it in Corrine’s future books.
Overall, I can’t really put into words how awesome If I Lie is.  You just have to read it for yourself.  It will have you crying your eyes out (or trying your hardest not to, if you’re in public, like I was.)  I commend Corrine Jackson for tackling such a tough topic and making it the perfect read for young adults.  Get a copy of this book now!
What others are saying about If I Lie:
Readergirl Reviews a Teen Book’s review:  I loved it from the first page.”

Poetry to Prose’s review: Corrine Jackson’s If I Lie is raw and often painful, but it will get under your skin and have you thinking about it for days after.” 

The Garden of Books’ review:Corrine Jackson blew me away with this debut novel and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.”