Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

... by Jenny Han

I have been in a major reading slump lately. I read several things I was really excited about but just didn't deliver, and I haven't been able to pick up anything else. For the past several weeks the only thing that has brought me comfort has been rereading Jenny Han's Summer series. I heart Belly like she were a different version of myself, and daydreaming of the ocean, sand, and the Fisher boys makes me long to leave reality. I know Jenny is currently working on a supernatural trilogy with Sioban Vivian, which I will most definitely read, but I yearn for another of her contemporary romances she's so incredible at crafting.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pieces of Us by Margie Gelbwasser

Pieces of Us
Margie Gelbwasser
Publisher: Flux
Released: March 8, 2012
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Source: The Teen Book Scene
Two families. Four teens.
A summer full of secrets.

Every summer, hidden away in a lakeside community in upstate New York, four teens leave behind their old identities…and escape from their everyday lives.

Yet back in Philadelphia during the school year, Alex cannot suppress his anger at his father (who killed himself), his mother (whom he blames for it), and the girls who give it up too easily. His younger brother, Kyle, is angry too—at his abusive brother, and at their mother who doesn’t seem to care. Meanwhile, in suburban New Jersey, Katie plays the role of Miss Perfect while trying to forget the nightmare that changed her life. But Julie, her younger sister, sees Katie only as everything she’s not. And their mother will never let Julie forget it.

Up at the lake, they can be anything, anyone. Free. But then Katie’s secret gets out, forcing each of them to face reality—before it tears them to pieces.
This book is freaking harsh. Like, it's hard for me to write about. Abuse, neglect, date rape, and depression, among other tough subjects, are all covered here. Alex and Kyle and Katie and Julie certainly have their share of family and social drama throughout the year. But when they meet up at the lake every summer with their grandparents, they can forget all that and pretend everything's normal for a while. Only as they get older, it becomes harder and harder for them to morph into different versions of themselves.

Told from each of the four main characters' points of view, Pieces of Us is very much a character driven story. Love them or hate them, Alex, Kyle, Katie and Julie certainly leave the reader wide-eyed throughout the novel. Margie Gelbwasser does a fantastic job of making each of these characters believable. They're not always likable, but that's kind of the point of the story. This isn't fluff - Pieces of Us leaves a reader wrecked. I thought Katie and Kyle were the most deserving of my empathy. I was honestly appalled by some of Alex's and Julie's actions. And don't even get me started on their mothers. It's bad.

I'm still unsure how to describe my overall feelings about this book. I can't really say I enjoyed it; I think the subject matter makes it difficult for anyone to enjoy it, but I did very much appreciate it. It was painfully honest and shined a light on what is unfortunately a reality for many teens.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wedding Wednesday (1)

A blogger whom I adore, Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner, started this feature several months ago when she began planning her August wedding. A few months ahead of her, I am scrambling around making sure all the details are taken care of while the days quickly dwindle down until my own wedding day comes. We won't actually talk about the date of the wedding, not because I think you all are creepers, but because thinking about how little time I have may induce a panic attack.

So what does all of this have to do with this blog? Well, nothing, except being the very reason for my lack of blogging lately. Planning a wedding it time consuming stuff, and I thought I might share a few of the details here with you as a part of Jamie's Wedding Wednesday.

These are pictures of my actual venues, bridesmaid and flower girl dresses, along with several inspiration pictures. The big stuff is done, but I swear the little details are killing me! The closer it gets, the more I want it all to be over. I completely understand now why so many people elope!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Jess Rothenberg
Publisher: Penguin
Released: February 21, 2012
Genre: Magical Realism
Pages: 400
Source: Cavalier House Books
BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?
I'm really bad about not at all paying attention to the synopsis when I see a new book being promoted. Because when I saw the pretty cover and read the title, I knew this would be one of those sappy contemporaries that makes my heart sing. What did I need a summary for? This book was made of exactly the stuff that ranks five stars in my book. Right? Wrong. So horribly wrong. However, had I realized this was about a dead girl moping over her broken heart, I may not have picked it up. And that would have been an even bigger travesty.

The Catastrophic History of You and Me is definitely one of those "just go with it" books. A girl dies of heartbreak? Yeah, whatever. But just go with it! The first bit of this book was a little tough for me to get into because of this, but if we can believe in vampires and werewolves and the like, why can't a girl die of a broken heart? So just go with it. About a third of the way through the book I was really invested in Brie's story, and I was really glad I stuck through the beginning. There were a few twists and turns I didn't see coming that really made this book an enjoyable read for me, but the end was what blew me away.

I easily sympathized with Brie from the beginning. As she moved through the five stages of grief, I enjoyed watching her grow, even in death. Voice is such an important factor in a novel like this, and I think Rothenberg really captured it in Brie. I also loved the cheesy (hehe) humor found throughout, from the lyrical chapter titles to the name of the pizza parlor. These little hints of funny were nice reprieves from the rest of the somber story. This book definitely made me laugh and cry, and I appreciated every bit of emotion it drug out of me.

I'm very interested in what Rothenberg has in store for us next. Her writing and characterization are spot-on in this world of young adult lit, and the Lauren Oliver blurb certainly doesn't hurt. I believe this novel will appeal to fans of many genres, even contemporary snobs like myself.

FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from Penguin via Cavalier House Books in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Author Interview: Ann Redisch Stampler of Where It Began

Today I have Ann Redisch Stampler, author of Where It Began, on the blog for an interview!

1. Twitter style: describe WHERE IT BEGAN in 140 characters or less.

Gabby wakes up by Billy's wrecked car & can’t remember the 3 most important hours of her life. Who is she & who will she become?

2. What are three things you must have for a productive writing day?

A pilot pen. A spiral notebook. A laptop. Really, that’s it. If you’ve got the basic tools, you can’t afford to need anything else. Even inspiration, because if there’s nothing on the page, there’s nothing to play with when inspiration strikes.

3. I love WHERE IT BEGAN’s cover. Did you have any input and were you pleased with the final outcome?

I love the cover, too. I was shown the cover before it was cast in, well, I guess not stone, but whatever gorgeous covers are cast in, and what could I say? It was completely different from what I was expecting, but I loved it. It’s so beautiful and that girl is so clearly Gabby.

4. Who are some of your writing inspirations?

My favorite books are Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet. This is not what you could call original, but there you have it.

I feel kind of pretentious and over-reaching listing other writers who’ve inspired me because they’re just so good at what I aspire to do. And these are so not contemporary books! But at various points early in my life, all I did was read and sit there being inspired by books, so I’m going with the early ones, sitting in the lateish 20th century reading J.D. Salinger, Cynthia Ozicks’s short stories, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Margaret Drabble’s early novels, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, Lucky Jim, Grace Paley’s short stories, Mr. Sammler’s Planet, Ellen Gilchrist, Anita Brookner, Edna O’Brien. This makes me want to go back and re-read them all.

5. You are an accomplished picture book author. How did you make the switch to writing for teens?

Thank you! I love picture books and it’s nice to think of myself as “accomplished” at some form of writing while I sit here trying to pummel my next novel into shape. (And I haven’t really switched! A box of copies of my new picture book, “The Wooden Sword,” just arrived and it’s gorgeous!)

Most of what I wrote before I had kids were short stories with late teenage and early twenties protagonists.

When I had children, I read them lots of picture books, and my childhood love for those books, and for the retelling of folk tales, was rekindled.

From a practical perspective, because I didn’t have long stretches of time to write, picture books were perfect for me. (As it turns out, while other people write magnificent novels while employed full time and raising four children, I require months of sitting on a couch because I’m so slow and I have to revise so much.) I could hold an entire picture book in my head and read it out loud over and over in the course of a very broken up day, and do meaningful work on a manuscript in an afternoon.

But I did have pieces of novels that I’d worked at for years but never got further than maybe 50 or 75 pages into. And when my youngest kid left for college, I was out of excuses not to try to finish one of them. Because I believed both that I could do it and that I was deluding myself.

I honestly don’t know why the novel that happened was YA. Gabby’s voice just arrived in my head along with her story, and I went with it.

Thanks, Ann, for stopping by bookmarked today! Be sure to check out the other tour stops for more interviews, guest posts, and reviews!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (35)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

Where It Began
Ann Redisch Stampler
Coming March 6, 2012 - Preorder it below
Indiebound| Amazon | BN

I am so excited to be a part of The Teen Book Scene's tour next month, but I wish I would get my ARC already! I have been lusting over this cover and synopsis for what feels like forever. I can't wait to finally read it.
Related Posts with Thumbnails