Friday, July 30, 2010

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner

A Love Story: Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Publisher: Dial
Released: June 10, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 272
Source: Traveling ARC Tours

*Debut Author Challenge

All Cass Meyer has heard for months is that her best friend Julia has a super secret project she's been working on. When Julia tragically dies in a car accident, her boyfriend and drama friends are determined to bring her project to life - a musical called Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad. As if losing her best friend isn't hard enough, Cass feels totally out of place with Julia's drama friends. Cass was never really one of the drama people, and now that Julia is gone, she isn't sure if they were ever really her friends in the first place. To make matters worse, Cass finds out Heather Galloway - the girl who made fun of her all throughout middle school - has been cast in the lead role.

All summer, Cass is expected to paint sets and watch as Julia's musical comes to life. When she can no longer stomach watching Heather in Julia's role, Cass decides to go along on the road trip she had originally planned with Julia. She may be on a bike instead of riding shotgun, but Cass is determined to make it to California with Julia - even if it is only her ashes coming along.

Love Story's chapters swap back and forth between then and now. Then being Cass's summer on the road, now being bringing Julia's musical to life. Then and now Cass is not only dealing with normal teenage life, but she must also face the death of her best friend and her questioning sexuality. Love Story is basically a coming-of-age story, but unlike most, it's deeper and sadder and way more satisfying. All of the characters, not just Cass, are so multifaceted - so real that it was impossible to resist being pulled in. I've become a huge fan of GLBT in YA, and this book is definitely a great addition to the genre.

Book Blogger Hop and Friday Follow

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books, and Friday Follow is another weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View. Both memes are designed for book bloggers and readers to have a place to discover and connect with other book bloggers. Please check out both links for the original posts with all of the rules, information, and list of blogs.

The Book Blogger Hop asks a new question every week.
This week's question is, "Who is your favorite new-to-you author?"

Mine would have to be Courtney Summers.
I read both of her novels, Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are, earlier this year and was blown away. Her third novel titled Fall For Anything is scheduled to be released December 21, 2010. Can.not.wait.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: June 1, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 304
Source: Library

Anna and her best friend Frankie make a pact to meet a different boy every day while on summer vacation. Frankie is determined to find Anna her first boyfriend, but what she doesn't know is that Anna already had a romance the previous summer with her brother Matt. Wanting to find the perfect moment to tell Frankie, Anna never got the chance since Matt tragically died a few weeks after their first kiss. In the wake of Matt's unexpected death, Anna's grief and guilt have nearly torn her apart when Frankie's family invites her along on their summer trip to the beach. On what is supposed to be a getaway, Anna, Frankie, and Frankie's parents are forced to deal with the memories of Matt on their first vacation without him.

Twenty Boy Summer is a must read that explores love, loss, and living each day as if it were your last. This has easily become one of my new favorites, and I cannot wait to see what Ockler has in store in her next novel, Fixing Delilah. Obviously Anna is the focus of the story, but I loved seeing the way Frankie dealt with her brother's death. It was easy to dislike her a little in the beginning, but when we see the layers begin to peel off, her pain was just as touching as Anna's. Also, have you seen that cover! Covers are not something I usually talk about, but they do have a huge impact on me. When I picked this up I thought it was pretty enough, but after reading and putting together the pieces (get it?) I can't think of anything more perfect.

I also wanted to include a passage from the book. There were several beautiful moments throughout, but this particular one stays with me still. I don't think I'll ever see a penny without thinking of it.
     It sounds crazy, but things like this happen all the time. For me, it's the pennies. Whenever we'd pass a penny on the sidewalk, Matt wouldn't touch it. "Let someone else have a lucky day," he'd say. I used to tease him and tell him that someday when he got to the great beyond, there'd be a room stuffed full of all the pennies he'd left for other people.
     Now I find pennies everywhere. Not just on the sidewalk - which I leave alone, as he would have wanted - but in the strangest places. One in the shower. A few more in my shoes - that seems to be a favorite spot. Just yesterday, one dropped out of a book I bought. I put them in my pockets and drop them on the sidewalk the next chance I get. Let someone else have a lucky day, I say.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Please be aware that this is the fifth book in a series. In order to give even the briefest synopsis, this review may contain spoilers to the first four books. You can read my reviews of The Lightning Thief here, The Sea of Monsters here, The Titan's Curse here, and The Battle of the Labyrinth here.

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Released: May 5, 2009
Age Group: 9-12
Pages: 400
Source: Library
Series: Book 5 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians

In the fifth and final book of the Percy Jackson series, both the cryptic prophecy and the fate of the world are finally revealed. Percy, Annabeth, and the rest of Camp Half-Blood must defend Mount Olympus from Kronos on their own, while the Olympians are off fighting their own battles against the other Titans and their evil monsters.

I wasn't overly satisfied by the end of the series, but then again I wasn't really in love with the other books to begin with. I'm not sorry I read them, and I would definitely recommend them to others; however, I think it's important to keep in mind that these books are aimed at a much younger age group and don't contain the maturity level or depth of story and characters that older youths and adults crave. Of course the fact that these books were all released within the wake of the phenomenon that was the Harry Potter series didn't exactly help. I haven't brought it up until now because I was trying to be fair, but it's hard to refrain from comparing young adult series to Harry Potter, which - in my opinion - just don't.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In My Bag (14)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:
The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer
*copy provided by 1 ARC Tours*

From the library:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine


Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

I'm super excited about everything I got this week, but I'm mostly looking forward to diving into Linger. It JUST came out this past week, and in case you haven't heard, author Maggie Stiefvater and Kristi of The Story Siren will be hosting a twitter party on July 22. (Go here for the details.) What are you guys most excited about getting this week?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: August 1, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Library
Series: Book One of The Wolves of Mercy Falls

I have to admit that I am a pretty conventional girl, so when someone tells me about a book with vampires or werewolves, or some other sci-fi creatures, I usually turn up my nose and move on. But ever since picking up the Twilight series (more on that later), I've been much more inclined to try books like Shiver if enough of the right people recommend it. That said, thank you to the girls over at the NBC board and all of my fellow book bloggers who have talked it up - it totally lived up to the hype.

Every winter, Grace spends most of her time watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. There is one wolf in particular she waits for - the wolf with the yellow eyes, the one who saved her life when the others drug her into the woods. Years go by and during the colder months, Grace waits for her wolf to return to her. When a boy at school is attacked by the same wolves, a hunting party begins searching the woods in retaliation. Grace races through the woods in search of her wolf only to find a boy wounded and shivering on her back porch. When he looks up at her with his yellow eyes she knows he's her wolf - Sam. After the initial shock and awe, Sam and Grace are faced with the reality of Sam's life. As soon as the weather cools, he will return to his wolf form.

For me, Shiver was everything I wanted Twilight to be. The writing was beautiful, and the world Maggie Stiefvater created was amazingly believable. The alternating points of view allowed the reader to get to know Sam and Grace and get wrapped up in their love story. I could have devoured it in one sitting, but I forced myself to read slowly so I could savor it. I loved Grace. I wanted to be Grace. Sam was so ridiculously droolworthy that I can't even talk about him. He was that hot. Hot for Grace, which was so sweet and romantic it still gives me butterflies even though I read this weeks ago.

So if you haven't read this yet, crawl out from under your rock and go get a copy! Now! Before Linger comes out on the twentieth, which by the way, you should totally preorder. I've literally been checking Amazon multiple times a day in hopes that they'll realize what a travesty it is that I don't yet have a copy and send it to me early ;)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In My Bag (13)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
*copy provided by Traveling ARC Tours*

From the library:
Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

So if you've read this blog at all, you know that I generally do not buy books. Due to student loans and an upcoming wedding, it's just not in my budget to go out and buy new books. However, when Josh surprised me with some extra cash, I knew just how to spend it. I scoured for the best deals and managed to only go $0.23 over budget :) Here's what I got:

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Joop by Richard Lourie
Broken Music by Sting
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
The Queen of Subtleties by Suzannah Dunn
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In case you didn't notice, there are TWO copies of Looking for Alaska, which was no mistake. One is for my personal collection since it's a favorite, and the other will be up for grabs soon!

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Speak (Penguin)
Released: May 11, 2004
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 208
Source: Library

Being six feet tall is awkward for fifteen-year-old Haven, but so is the rest of her life. Her dad has an affair with Lorna the Weather Pet, her mom wants to sell their house, and her sister Ashley is marrying a dweeb. As the world changes around her, Haven wishes everything would just go back to the way things used to be - back to that summer when her family was still a family and things were simple. When Haven randomly runs into Sumner, one of Ashley's old boyfriends, she is flooded with memories of their trip to the beach and begins to wonder why things can't go back to the way they were that summer.

Before That Summer, I was a Sarah Dessen virgin. Yeah, I know, and while I'm already confessing, I didn't love it. Not at first. HOWEVER, the more I think about Haven's story, the more I like it. Despite our age difference, I can really relate to Haven. I wish all the time that things could go back to the way they were. Growing up is scary and hard, and it kind of sucks sometimes. Seeing Haven realize this and fight her way through it is very personal, and I really like the way Dessen takes you along for the ride. I'm anxious to get my hands on her next book, as I've heard her novels keep getting better and better.
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