Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | Review

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | ReviewPlaces No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Delacorte Press on May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

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Places No One Knows is a step out for Brenna Yovanoff.  I’ve only read one of her other books (The Space Between, which I loved) but I felt like I got a sense of her writing from that one.  Places No One Knows is a completely different story from anything she has done before and anything I have read before.

Pros:

  • Writing: Brenna Yovanoff’s writing is what really grabbed me when I read The Space Between and while Places No One Knows is a completely different story, Brenna’s writing shines through.  Her writing is descriptive and can sometimes come across a little heavy but I have always loved that style and think it really worked well with the story here.  I can see why Brenna Yovanoff is Maggie Stiefvater’s critique partner because their styles of writing are similar.  Even if I had hated the story in Places No One Knows, I would have kept reading for the writing alone.
  • Story: The story had it’s strong points and it’s weak points.  When I started Places No One Knows, I was looking for a contemporary story set in high school.  Places No One Knows fits those criteria but it’s a lot more than that.  Waverly doesn’t sleep and in an attempt to get some sleep, she ends up visiting another classmate, without ever having left her room.  He’s the only one who can see her and he’s the only one she visits this way.  He doesn’t run in her circle at school but she is drawn to him for some reason.  They come from very different walks of life but they have more in common than either of them think.  Brenna Yovanoff doesn’t spend much time detailing exactly what Waverly does to be able to visit him but that’s okay because that’s not what the book is about.  It’s more about what happens when Waverly does spend time with Marshall and how that time together (away from everyone else) brings out the truth of who they are and who they want to be.
  • Characters: Pros and cons here, that’s for sure, especially with Waverly.  It’s odd because the thing I hated about Waverly also made me really like her.  She was very much a high school girl.  She let Maribeth put her down all the time, she cared so much about what everyone else thought of her, and she participated in all the cheesy school functions even if she didn’t care about them.  It may not be the case for everyone but I could relate to Waverly so much about those aspects.  It was almost exactly how I felt in high school.  As for Marshall, he was probably my favorite although Autumn gave him a run for his money.  I could understand why they were friends.  Autumn did what she wanted and didn’t care what anyone thought.  She was genuine and she cared deeply for her friends.  Marshall was the same way.  He had a seriously messed up home life and it showed through in everything he did.  He was a slacker and a bit of a nobody and he didn’t mind that until Waverly came into his life.  They both made each other stronger and brought out new sides of each other.  Waverly was finally willing to just be herself with him and he was willing to want more out of life when he was with her.  I loved that about their relationship.

Cons:

  • Waverly: While Waverly did have some pros about her, she also had some very big cons for me.  I almost gave up on this one at one point because I did not like Waverly at all.  She was so shut off from the world that she was kind of impossible to like or sympathize with.  I couldn’t understand her.  I didn’t get why she didn’t sleep and I think that impacted how she acted with people.  I would have liked a little more background about that.  I also would have liked more background about her friendship with Maribeth because it was obvious that she didn’t like Maribeth but she just put up with her, no matter what she said or did.

Overall, Places No One Knows may not be my favorite from Brenna Yovanoff but it’s still a solid addition to her books.  I think it really shows that her talent lends itself to any style story that she chooses to write and I look forward to seeing what she does next.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about Places No One Knows:

  • Wrapped Up In Books’ review: “It’s a complicated and nuanced look at how difficult it can be to inhabit your own skin, especially in high school, and how sometimes, the right person can make it easier to breathe.”
  • BookPage’s review: “Few writers delve as intimately into raw emotion as Brenna Yovanoff as she strips her characters of their practiced self-delusions and faulty coping strategies.”
  • Read.Breathe.Relax’s review: “Places No One Knows offers an intriguing mystery, romantic tension and incredible writing, and if you don’t mind the inclusion of some tough topics then I would definitely recommend it.”
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | Review

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | ReviewTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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I’m a huge advocate for contemporary young adult literature.  I love it and I think it doesn’t get enough recognition or love from a lot of readers.  Tell Me Three Things is probably going to the top of my list of recommendations, especially for those readers that don’t necessarily like contemporary.

Pros:

  • Characters: All of the characters in Tell Me Three Things were pretty much perfect.  Don’t get me wrong, they had their flaws but that only made them better.  Jessie was a little self-centered but she kind of deserved it.  Her whole life had been uprooted and things were not great at her new school or home.  Theo was one I wasn’t sure about at first but he grew on me quickly.  SN was so funny and clever and adorable.  Dri and Agnes were great friends to Jessie although I really wasn’t sure they would be at first.  The same goes for Scarlett.  She and Jessie may have been separated by thousands of miles but they worked past that.  Ethan and Liam were so cute.  Liam was a little airheaded and Ethan was a little closed off but I liked them both a lot.  Probably Ethan more though because of the whole reading thing.  I’m all for the nerds.
  • Romance: The romance in this one was different.  Jessie and SN start out flirting and then it becomes something so much more than that.  Jessie doesn’t even know who SN is but she’s attracted to him on an intellectual level and their conversations were so cute and so real.  Not knowing who he was allowed her to open up to him in a way she wouldn’t have in real life.  It was a little stalker like at times since he knew who she was and sometimes made comments about what she was wearing that day or doing but it was a cute stalker way.  And once I found out who SN really was, I could see how they were perfect in real life too.
  • Family: Jessie’s family is broken and put back together in a new way and it was definitely weird for her.  Her mom died (I’ll get to that next) and now she’s living in LA with her dad’s new wife and her teenage son.  Pretty much none of them (except her dad and his wife) want anything do with each other and I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.  I appreciate that Julie Buxbaum didn’t make it work out perfectly.  They were a broken family when the book started and they were still broken when it ended but they were working on it and that’s what I loved.
  • Grief: Julie Buxbaum did a fabulous job with her representation of grief in Tell Me Three Things.  Jessie wasn’t the only one dealing with the loss of someone.  Her dad lost his wife.  Theo lost his dad.  Theo’s mom, Rachel, lost her husband.  Ethan lost a sibling.  Each of them dealt with it differently.  There is no right way to grieve someone and I loved that Julie Buxbaum could show all the different ways.
  • Pacing: Tell Me Three Things is a fast-paced contemporary novel.  At no point does it drag.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  The mix of texting, IM’ing, and email messages interspersed throughout the novel also helped to move things along making it an extremely quick read.

Cons:

  • Mystery: Let’s be real, here.  I figured out who SN was pretty early on and I think most readers probably will.  It’s not that great a mystery.  It was just a little too perfect and while there were some red herrings thrown in, I never really thought they were him.  I’m not really complaining though because the mystery wasn’t what kept me reading.  The story was and knowing who SN was before the big reveal didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, Tell Me Three Things might just make you change your mind about contemporary novels.  Julie Buxbaum’s young adult debut hit it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I hope this isn’t her only foray into the YA world.

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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Blog Tour Stops

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella | Review + Interview + GiveawayFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Published by Delacorte Press on June 9, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

picadillyblue Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella’s young adult debut, proves that not only can she write amazing novels for adults, her talent transfers wonderfully to young adult.  Bullying, mental illness, romance, and humor all take center stage in Finding Audrey and Sophie Kinsella balances it all perfectly.

Audrey suffered from Social Anxiety Disorder because of a bullying incident at her previous school.  She was terrified of everyone other than her family and therapist. She refused to leave the house and even the thought of leaving the house would send her on a downward spiral.  Her family was so supportive but they also knew that she needed to make some progress.  With the help of her family and one of her brother’s friends, Audrey finally started to see that maybe all people weren’t so bad.

First off, the way that Sophie Kinsella addresses bullying and mental illness may be off-putting for some people.  She does not make light of it in any way but she does intersperse humor throughout the novel to balance Audrey’s depression and social anxiety.  In no way does she try to distract from Audrey’s problems but at times it can come across that way.  For such a serious topic, Sophie Kinsella addresses it in a very unique way.

Audrey’s family is just plain bonkers and it totally worked for them.  Her mom is obsessed with the effects of video games on her brother’s mind.  Her brother, Frank, is just plain obsessed with video games.  And her dad just does what he can to get by.  The family relationship is very unconventional but it was perfect and it cracked me up.  It was nice to see a young adult novel where family, especially parents, played such a huge role.  As for Audrey and Frank’s relationship, I liked it a lot.  They were close in age but it wasn’t just that.  He was always there for her as a friend, a brother, and a protector.

Audrey’s relationship (if you can call it that) with Linus was so adorable.  They had quite an interesting beginning to their friendship and it only continued to get weirder with time.  Linus accepted Audrey even with her quirks caused by her Social Anxiety Disorder.  He was not only accepting of her, he truly wanted to help her.

Overall, Finding Audrey was a fantastic introduction into the YA world from Sophie Kinsella.  Her quirky sense of humor, fast-paced style of writing, and wonderful storytelling make for a book that I couldn’t put down!

What others are saying about Finding Audrey:

The Bibliomaniac’s review: “Highly recommended, if you’re looking for a heart-warming tale; a perfect blend of humour and hope.”

Escapades of a Bookworm’s review: “Finding Audrey is about finding yourself, accepting yourself for who you are, and progressing forward.”

Read. Breathe. Relax’s review: “Finding Audrey is deep and so very funny and ultimately relatable and lovable – highly recommended.”

A Q&A With Sophie Kinsella

Describe Finding Audrey in 140 characters or less!

This is the story of Audrey, her family, and a journey to recovery. It’s sad in places, funny, too, and romantic as only a teen story can be.

What made you decide to finally write a YA novel?

I didn’t set out to write a YA novel in fact. I just had the inspiration for the character of Audrey, her gaming-obsessed brother, and her crazy family. It was only when I started to plot the story that I realized it would be told through Audrey’s eyes, and become a YA book.

How was it different writing for a younger audience? Do you relate to Audrey in any way?

I definitely relate to Audrey, but like all my heroines, she is made up not just of bits of me but of people I know. Audrey’s observations of family life, particularly in the film scripts, remind me of my teenage years, but I’m a parent of teenagers myself now and that helped me a lot.

What about Finding Audrey do you think will appeal to your adult fans?

Audrey’s journey is touching, but it’s not just a story about her—it’s about her family and the chaotic, loving world she lives in, so I think it appeals to all generations. I hope that it provides reassurance to any young reader—or indeed parent—going through similar problems, and that they can take heart from Audrey and her story.

Giveaway

One US winner will receive a copy of Finding Audrey and a super cute coffee sleeve! (You’ll get it when  you read the book)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blog Tour: Little White Lies by Katie Dale | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Little White Lies by Katie Dale | Review + GiveawayLittle White Lies by Katie Dale
Published by Delacorte Press on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Fans of Pretty Little Liars will be ensnared in this tale of deceit. Christian is hiding terrible secrets from his girlfriend, Lou. But Lou has told lies as well. What if their accidental meeting wasn’t an accident?

The first time Lou meets mysterious Christian, she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Lou asks about his past? Why doesn’t he have any family photos, and why does he dye his blond hair black? When Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tires are slashed, and he flees for his life, Lou insists on going with him. But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Lou is a lie. Can what the media are saying about him really be true? Should Lou trust him? Or is she in grave danger?

But Christian isn’t the only one keeping secrets. For what if their accidental meeting was no accident at all?

picadillyblueLittle White Lies incorporated everything awesome about suspense novels and everything action packed about young adult novels and combined them to make one awesome story.  Suspense is hard for young adult but Katie Dale managed to craft a wonderful story that kept me guessing until the very end.

If you follow me on Twitter or Goodreads, you might have seen some status updates about the main character.  She annoyed me for a good portion of the book.  Her actions made no sense to me and I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t just give up.  She practically stalked this guy Christian and every time he turned her down for a date she would not take the hint.  It actually got to be a bit stalkerish (that’s totally a word.)  I was quite upset with how she was acting and I just wanted to slap some sense into her.  My feelings towards Lou changed about halfway through the book though.  Christian wasn’t the only one with secrets and once Lou’s started to come out, her behavior started to make a little more sense.  I can’t say too much without giving things away but just trust me that her behavior won’t annoy you so much once you get to a certain point.  In fact, you’ll probably start to like her a lot, just like I did.

The cast of characters in Little White Lies were a strong mix of personalities.  Lou was a little shy, quiet, smart, but with a great sense of humor.  She was a bit awkward which only made me love her more.  Her best friend, Vix, was her exact opposite.  She was outgoing, a little crazy, and pretty much the perfect balance for Lou.  Kenny was funny but there was just something about him that I didn’t love.  He always seemed a bit sketchy.  As for Christian, he was a hard person to get a read on.  He was very mysterious and sometimes a little rude.  I could understand why Lou was a bit attracted to him but I didn’t get her obsession.  He seemed like any other guy just with a few more secrets than most.

The mystery is truly what kept me reading.  It was hinted at early on in the story but I really had no clue how things would play out.  I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how everything was going to tie together.  Katie Dale did a great job with that aspect of the story.  Even if I could figure out one thing I’d be completely clueless about something else.

Overall, Little White Lies really is perfect for fans of suspense.  I look forward to reading more from Katie Dale.

What others are saying about Little White Lies:

Books and Whimsy’s review: “I also liked that Little White Lies manages to ask some important questions about family, friendship, and who we are on the surface.”

Book Passion For Life’s review: “I know many people will enjoy it – so go read it and see for yourselves – but for me, it was a little underwhelming.”

In Libris Veritas’ review: “It has a well written plot, great characters, and puts some attention on the flaws of the justice system.”

Giveaway

Two US residents will win copies of Little White Lies

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blog Tour: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman | Review

Blog Tour: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman | ReviewThe Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
Published by Delacorte Press on February 11, 2014
Genres: Horror
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.

Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.

Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.

Last year I was really tempted to read McCormick Templeman’s debut novel, The Little Woods, but for some reason, I put it off. I’m glad I didn’t do the same thing with The Glass Casket. After reading this one, I’m definitely going back and reading The Little Woods because The Glass Casket was fabulous.

The Glass Casket is a chilling, atmospheric read that captivated me from the start. Admittedly, it does not have the quickest start but if you’re willing to get past that (and you should be) the story that’s held between these pages is worth it. The story is the perfect mix of fantasy, romance, and horror. It’s easy to see from the very first pages that The Glass Casket is not your typical fantasy story. While I wouldn’t compare it to The Near Witch in the typical way, it has a similar feeling to it, if you get what I mean.

The writing is fabulous. It’s probably one of my favorite parts about the book and the reason that I definitely will be checking out more from McCormick Templeman. It’s not overly descriptive but definitely is not lacking in that department. It’s the perfect style of writing for this kind of story. It gives the book an added sense of creepiness and mystery.

The characters were amazing. Rowan is not the easiest person to like at the start and neither are Tom and Jude but they did grow on me. The interactions between all of them were wonderful and it’s easy to see the relationships between them all. No matter what the relationship was, they all had a certain chemistry to them.

Overall, I would definitely recommend The Glass Casket to fans of fantasy with a hint of horror. McCormick Templeman does not hold anything back with this book.

What others are saying about The Glass Casket:

The Book Smugglers’ review: “The Glass Casket is not an easy story, nor is it one that leaves you feeling giddy and put in the mind of happily ever afters with rosebuds and rainbows.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “Is The Glass Casket a novel worth reading and thinking about? Definitely.”

Book Swoon’s review: “If you are a fan of darker, fairy tale inspired retellings, then this book is for you.”

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!
January 31st – Bookish
February 1st – Katie’s Book Blog
February 3rd – I’d so Rather be Reading
February 4th – Forever YA
February 5th – Wastepaper Prose
February 6th – Stories & Sweeties
February 7th – Peace Love Books
February 8th – The Hiding Spot
February 10th – Children’s Book Review
February 11th – The Midnight Garden  
February 13th – Dear Teen Me
February 17th – The Midnight Garden