Monday, October 3, 2011

Review: Rosebush by Michele Jaffa

Title: Rosebush
Author: Michele Jaffe
Publication date: December 7, 2010

Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run. Everyone believe it was an accident, despite the phone threats Jane swears were real, but the truth is a thorny thing. As Jane's boyfriend, friends and admirers come to visit, more memories come to the surface not just from a party, but from deeper in the past. With nearly all her friends a suspect, Jane must unravel the mystery before her killer attacks again. Along the way she's forced to examine her life and change it.

Although I didn't care too much for the main characters, most of who were the popular, rich, snobby type, I still found myself hooked into reading this book. It starts with a scene from the end and then goes back to the night of the party so we can watch the story unfold. This is one of those books that will keep you on your toes, just as eager as Jane to figure out who's after her and whether or not the strange phone calls and messages she gets are real or just delusions.

Without giving too much away, I'll say that the ending was a real surprise. The person who ended up being the killer didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, especially because I could think of at least two other people who seemed like they had better, more solid reasons. I mean, I don't like predictable books where I can tell who the culprit is right from the start,  but I also like things to make sense, and this ending was slightly confusing in my opinion, but definitely a shocker. It was also slightly annoying how Jane would jump from guy to guy so quickly, especially when she had a boyfriend. Okay, some of them did sound pretty cute, but come on. As her mom says at the end, "That's the third boy she's kissed this week!"

However, putting all of the little annoyances I had with this book aside, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a thrilling novel with many questions to be answered. Even if you're tired of reading about stuck-up popular teenagers like I am, it still makes for an exciting read that you'll have trouble putting down.
Characters: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: B

Received from Book Divas for review.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Giveaway winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered my 150 followers giveaway! The winner that was selected by is: 
Gabrielle Carolina from The Mod Podge Bookshelf! 
Congratulations, I will be sending you an email shortly.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Publication date: September 27th, 2011

Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.

With all the hype surrounding this novel, I was afraid that I'd be going into it with my expectations set too high, but I was definitely not disappointed. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer not only lived up to my expectations, but exceeded them. This novel is absolutely beautiful and has just about everything you could want in a good book. Mystery, suspense, romance, sarcasm, wit... I could go on and on. There's the intriguing mystery that starts with Mara waking up in a hospital bed, unable to remember why she's there or what happened to her friends that night, which then slowly unravels in bits and pieces throughout the book. There's the budding romance between Mara and Noah, filled with so much chemistry and tension that you just want to explode. Noah is completely swoon-worthy. I really disliked him at first, but grew to love him by the end. Reading about all of Mara's experiences with her PTSD, flashbacks, nightmares, and confusing actions was a pleasant surprise for me as well. It definitely filled my appetite for all things psychological.

This novel was amazingly well-written, consumed every bit of my attention, and then kept lingering in my mind while I was doing other things. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, which I wasn't expecting, but then again the whole novel was so unpredictable that I should have learned not to expect anything! I absolutely can not wait for the next book and will heavily recommend this one to anyone looking for a captivating read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Of course, it wasn't perfect, but it was pretty darn close and is a novel I will definitely be reading again.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A+

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Hush by Eishes Chayil

 Title: Hush
Author: Eishes Chayil
Publication date: September 14, 2010

Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where Brooklyn's Chassidim live, the rules of life – everything from how to dress to whom to marry – are very clear, determined to the last detail by an ancient script written thousands of years before. Then young Gittel witnesses an unspeakable act of violence against her best friend, Devory, an act that goes against everything she's been taught as a Jew. For the first time in her life, there are no guidelines to tell her what to do, so she remains silent. But even inaction has consequences, and sometimes they are deadly...

Now a teenager, Gittel is racked with guilt over the choices she made and those that were forced upon her by the community she once trusted. She must question everything about herself – her own innocence, her memories of the past, and the beliefs of her sect – to find peace for Devory and for herself.

Honestly, I almost put this book down after the first 15 or 20 pages because it just didn't interest me. Most of chapter two was spent talking about a hat, and filled with sentences that made me feel like I was reading in a foreign language, which left me disinterested and confused. But I made it over that speed bump and continued reading, and I am so, so glad I continued reading. This is easily one of the best books I've read this year.

Part one of the book alternates between Gittel telling the story as a 9-year-old and as a 17-year old, which I felt worked wonderfully as it let the reader get the background story on her childhood but also let us see the kinds of things she struggled with presently. Part two of the book tells about Gittel's life as she gets married and lives with her husband.

Not only did Gittel's story deal with heavy issues such as her best friend's suicide, the unspeakable violence that she witnessed, and her grief for many years to come, but it also took the reader deep into the inner workings of a culture that I knew almost nothing about before reading this book. It was fascinating just to see how children are raised in a community that has such a completely different way of life than most are accustomed to.

While the heavier issues took precedence, there were also many happy moments as it tells the story of Gittel growing up from a mere 9-year-old to graduating high school and getting married. I felt like the author managed to give the book a great balance of heavy subject matter versus everyday life, serious versus enjoyable, and it was all-around a well-written story. Overall, Hush is a powerful, unique book that will stay with you long after you've finished reading.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 7/10
Overall grade: A

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Title: Cold Hands, Warm Heart
Author: Jill Wolfson
Publication date: March 31, 2009

Two people, two faces, two noses, four eyes, four ears, eight limbs, two livers, four kidneys, 10 liters of blood, 1,300 muscles, 120,000 miles of blood vessels, 200,000 hairs on two heads. Two people, two hearts. But only one of them working.

Dani was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body. In her fifteen years of life, she's had more doctors' appointments, X-rays, tests, and eaten more green hospital Jell-O than she cares to think about. Fourteen-year-old Amanda is a competitive gymnast, her body a small package of sleek muscles, in perfect health. The two girls don't know each other, don't go to the same school, don't have any friends in common. But their lives are about to collide.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. It had an interesting subject matter that let me learn a bit more about transplants and organ donation, and got me thinking more about the matter of organ donation, but I felt it lacked in many areas. The story is told by alternating between characters, so we get to see both Dani's side of the story - the girl receiving the heart - and Amanda's family's side of the story. It alternates between first and second person, and then includes many side stories such as the viewpoint from the guy who delivers the organs between hospitals, which made it really hard to follow,  in my opinion, especially because it's a relatively short book. While it was an interesting story, it almost felt like the author tried to tackle too many things at once, because not only does it deal with the transplant, but also a romance, Amanda's death, and the grieving of her family. So the reader gets a glimpse of each of these events, which may have been more successful in a longer book, but I felt that as it was, it lacked depth in many areas.

Overall, I enjoyed this book as a quick read on an interesting subject, but felt it was missing a lot. If it sounds interesting to you, I'd recommend picking up a copy through your library, as it was a nice story to read once but probably not something I'd want to go out and buy. 

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 6/10
Overall grade: C
Received from Book Divas for review

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

150 Followers Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who has liked my blog enough to follow it, whether it was recently or a year or two ago when I first started. I actually hit 150 followers a while ago, but just recently decided to hold a giveaway in celebration of that, so here it is! One winner will receive a copy of Hold Still by Nina LaCour. 
 I really enjoyed this book when I read it (review here) so I decided it would be a great book to give away.

*If I hit 175 followers while the giveaway is still running, I will add another book for another winner, and I will add a third book and third winner if I hit 200.*

Open to:
USA only (or international if you have an address in the US to ship to!)

To enter:
Leave a comment with your name and email address. 
You MUST be a GFC follower. After all, this is a giveaway in celebration of my followers!
+1 for becoming a follower
+2 if you were a follower before this post
+2 Post about this contest somewhere (blog sidebar, blog post, Twitter, etc.) and leave a link in your comment
Last day to enter is September 30th, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (25)

Between the Borders closing sales, trading, and an awesome girl selling her books on Craigslist, I have received a TON of books over the past two weeks. Honestly I'm afraid I'm going to start needing another shelf soon... But they are all very awesome books, and I am so excited for when I have the time to sit down and plow through them. We'll start with the books I bought during multiple visits to the three local Borders stores in the last couple of weeks:

I'm really not sure why my picture is sideways as it's not saved like that on my computer, but alright. 
Jennifer Echols - Love Story
Lili St. Crow - Betrayals
Lili St. Crow - Jealousy
Lili St. Crow - Defiance
Julia Karr - XVI
Mary E. Pearson - The Miles Between
Alyson Noel - Saving Zoe
Wendy Mass - A Mango Shaped Space
Mary E. Pearson -  The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Amanda Valentino & Melissa Kantor - The Amanda Project

Melissa de la Cruz - Revelations
Melissa de la Cruz - Misguided Angel
Daisy Whitney - The Mockingbirds
Alexandra Bullen - Wishful Thinking
Meg Cabot - Jinx
Fruits Basket volumes 5, 8, and 14
Strawberry Panic volume 1
Neko Ramen volumes 1, 2, and 4

Then the books I bought from Craigslist ($4 each, SCORE!!) and one I received in a trade:
Robin Wasserman - Crashed
Robin Wasserman - Wired
Cassandra Clare - Clockwork Angel
Alexandra Adornetto - Halo
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - Beautiful Darkness
Becca Fitzpatrick - Crescendo
Lauren Kate - Passion
John Green - An Abundance of Katherines

So many amazing books that I am looking forward to reading. I almost can't even believe that I ended up with this many! But obviously, the last couple of weeks have excited me... a LOT. 

What books did you receive this week?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Something, Maybe

Title: Something, Maybe
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publication date: March 24th, 2009

Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's girlfriends and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar...and that's just how she likes it.

Of course, that doesn't help her get noticed by her crush. Hannah's sure that gorgeous, sensitive Josh is her soul mate. But trying to get him to notice her; wondering why she suddenly can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn; and dealing with her parents makes Hannah feel like she's going crazy. Yet she's determined to make things work out the way she wants--only what she wants may not be what she needs.

 I suppose the best thing to say to describe my feelings on this book is that I have very mixed feelings about it. I love all of the other Elizabeth Scott books I have read, and this one was no disappointment. It was nicely written and full of things that kept me entertained, such as Hannah's mother who works as a webcam girl, her father who remains absent in her life except for when he needs to promote his show, and Hannah's job at a call center for BurgerTown. 

But many of the outcomes in this book were predictable, and I found myself very annoyed with Hannah a lot of the time. That's not to say she isn't a likeable character - I enjoyed reading about her quite a bit. But I grew very frustrated when she would talk about how she had no friends and was seen as invisible and a nobody, when it appeared to me that she really wasn't doing that badly. She had her best friend, Teagan, who she spent a lot of time with, and she was able to chat and joke effortlessly with Finn and Josh at her job at the call center. To me, that does not count as not having friends or being seen as a nobody, as all three of these people seemed to enjoy her company quite a bit. She also put zero effort into her appearance, and that annoyed me a bit as well.

However, all that being said, I thought that the book had many small redeeming qualities that when put together made for a worthwhile read. It's definitely worth reading at least once, in my opinion, as even with the predictable and annoying parts it was very well-written and quirky enough to be memorable.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: B

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day Weekend Read-A-Thon Update

Day two of the Labor Day Weekend Read-A-Thon, and I've put a slight dent in my TBR pile, but not as much as I'd hoped. I started feeling a bit better and a bit less sick, so I got up to catch up on some homework earlier today. While I'm glad that that's now out of the way, unfortunately it means I haven't had as much time for reading today as I thought I would.

I did manage to finish reading Smashed last night and have started Vamped. I'm about halfway through it, and will hopefully have it finished by tonight. 1.5 books down, 3.5 more to reach my goal! I highly doubt that's going to happen, but I will give it my best shot.

What books have you been reading lately?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor Day Weekend Read-A-Thon!

I've decided at the very last minute to participate in the Labor Day Weekend Read-A-Thon, hosted by Katie at Katie's Book Blog. It runs from I originally had other plans for the weekend, but I'm fighting a cold that started this past week as well as some sort of stomach bug that just came up today, so I'll be spending a lot of time in bed and likely a lot of time reading.

My goal for this read-a-thon is to read five books. I'd like to read:

and one other book from my TBR shelf that I haven't yet determined.

I started Smashed this morning and am about 3/4 of the way through it, so hopefully I can finish that and move onto the next book tonight. If I'm gonna be stuck in bed feeling like crap, I figure I might as well make the best of it. Bring on the books!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: Fallout by Ellen Hopkins

Title: Fallout
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publication date: September 14, 2010

Hunter, Autumn, and Summer—three of Kristina Snow's five children—live in different homes, with different guardians and different last names. They share only a predisposition for addiction and a host of troubled feelings toward the mother who barely knows them, a mother who has been riding with the monster, crank, for twenty years.

Hunter is nineteen, angry, getting by in college with a job at a radio station, a girlfriend he loves in the only way he knows how, and the occasional party. He's struggling to understand why his mother left him, when he unexpectedly meets his rapist father, and things get even more complicated. Autumn lives with her single aunt and alcoholic grandfather. When her aunt gets married, and the only family she's ever known crumbles, Autumn's compulsive habits lead her to drink. And the consequences of her decisions suggest that there's more of Kristina in her than she'd like to believe. Summer doesn't know about Hunter, Autumn, or their two youngest brothers, Donald and David. To her, family is only abuse at the hands of her father's girlfriends and a slew of foster parents. Doubt and loneliness overwhelm her, and she, too, teeters on the edge of her mother's notorious legacy. As each searches for real love and true family, they find themselves pulled toward the one person who links them together—Kristina, Bree, mother, addict. But it is in each other, and in themselves, that they find the trust, the courage, the hope to break the cycle.

Told in three voices and punctuated by news articles chronicling the family's story, FALLOUT is the stunning conclusion to the trilogy begun by CRANK and GLASS, and a testament to the harsh reality that addiction is never just one person's problem.

Fallout is the last book in the Crank and Glass trilogy, and picks up 19 years after Glass left off. It tells the stories of Kristina's three oldest children - Hunter, Autumn, and Summer - now in their teens, as they uncover secrets and stories from their past while dealing with their own issues.

Of the three books in this trilogy, I think this one was the most powerful. I could really see pieces of Kristina in each of the three children as they dealt with their own issues, like Hunter who struggles to be faithful to his girlfriend, Autumn who is filled with questions about the family she's never known and who struggles with an alcohol addiction, and Summer who bounces around foster homes while being exposed to abusive situations.

I had many questions in the beginning about what had happened to Kristina and everyone involved in her life, and as I kept reading, the answers were revealed slowly. It was a bit hard for me to follow three alternating viewpoints at first, but then I got used to it and realized that it was a perfect way to write the last book, as it pretty much ties up everything from the previous ones. Just like all of Hopkins' other books, it's written in the form of stunning poetry with different patterns indicating the feelings of the characters and many hidden messages sprinkled throughout. I'm sad to see the series end, but I definitely recommend Fallout to anyone who has enjoyed the first two books in the series, or even those new to Hopkins' writing, because it is a story that you will definitely never forget once you've read it.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A

Received from Book Divas for review.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In My Mailbox 8/21 - 8/28

I got some very exciting books this week!

  • Glass by Ellen Hopkins
  • Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 
  • Battle Dress by Amy Efaw

I bought Glass because after receiving Fallout to review, I realized that I didn't own, nor had I read, Glass. My library didn't have a copy either, so I bought it on Amazon. That makes my Ellen Hopkins collection complete now!

The other three I got when I went to Borders today. That was very bittersweet. I have been wanting to read Invincible Summer and Will Grayson, Will Grayson for a long time now, and I was so happy to be able to get them for less than $5 each, but at the same time it made me so sad to see how many books were gone and it kind of cemented the fact in my mind that Borders is actually closing. I really enjoyed After by Amy Efaw, and I wasn't aware that she had another book out until I saw it in Borders, so I picked it up. That's what I love about bookstores is that I can just go in and wander and see what catches my eye. It's amazing to see so many great books that I have heard about all in one place, and you just can't get that same feeling at the library or online.

What books did you get this week?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Blogger Hop 8/26 - 8/29

Book Blogger Hop 
I've decided to participate in the Book Blogger Hop this week, hosted by Crazy For Books.  You can join in on it here.

This week's question is: 
“Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”

Yes, right now we have a dog named Roxy. We used to have other cool pets, like two geckos and an awesome cat, but they all died within the past year so for now it's just the dog. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Saving June

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publication date: November 22nd, 2011

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down again.

Saving June was a very emotional account of the roller-coaster ride that ensues after a loved one has committed suicide. I was expecting this book to be on the darker side with a lot of grief and sorrowful moments, and while it did have its fair share of those, it was also a very fun read. I'm always up for reading a good book about a road trip, and this one was no disappointment. 

There were definitely some interesting characters in the book that I enjoyed getting to know, such as Harper's crazy Jesus-freak aunt, but most of the story focused around three main characters. First, there's Harper, who I felt completely sympathetic towards. I could clearly feel her pain through the snappy, bitter tone she displayed most of the time, and it made my heart ache to imagine being in her situation, always feeling inferior to June while she was alive and then still being compared to her after her death, knowing that she'll never live up to the expectations of everyone around her. Then there's Laney, Harper's best friend whose parents let her pretty much do as she pleases with little expectations, and Jake, who has had his fair share of problems as well, is completely obsessed with music, and holds a mysterious connection to June that Harper can't quite figure out.

There are so many amazing things in this book: the friendship between Harper and Laney, and relationship that forms between Harper and Jake, the music that narrates the story and provides the soundtrack to their road trip, all of the fun touristy things that take place along the way, and the more serious moments that each character experiences. While "saving" June, Harper also learns a lot about herself along the way. With the help of Jake, Harper goes from trying to build up a wall around everything to block out her emotions, to being able to let them out and feel comfortable with what she feels. Saving June was a very powerful and very well-written book that provided a wonderful mixture of heavier issues and fun experiences, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a moving yet fun read. 

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Overall grade: A

Received from Book Divas for review.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Far From the War

Title: Far From the War
Author: Jeffrey David Payne
Publication date: August 6th, 2011

Economic ruin and partisan rancor have pushed America to the brink of a new civil war. Esther is caught in the middle, serving as a page in the United States House of Representatives when rouge politicians and military leaders stage a modern day coup d'etat. When the coup turns violent, she abandons Washington, D.C. for home. She must learn to survive on her own as transportation and financial networks fail, as the war disrupts food and water supplies. The result is a cautionary tale about political extremism and the true cost of war.

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin with this review. I expected this book to be a good read, perhaps even average, but I quickly found that it was so much more than that. Far From the War tells the story of Esther, a strong female character and her internship at the House of Representatives as part of her goal to become involved in politics one day. As the government, politicians, and military become completely corrupt and everything pretty much shuts down, Esther's experiences show what an absolutely frightening world this would be and how every person is basically left to fend for themselves with little chance of survival. 

With his writing, Payne creates a shockingly complex yet very believable state of the world for the characters. I think it definitely fits into the category of books you could read over and over again and notice something new each time, because there's just so much going on. I was slightly on edge while reading because honestly it frightened me a bit how realistic it all sounded, and how it seemed that we could very easily end up in a similar situation. Many parts of the book were somewhat disturbing and graphic as they described the violence and corruption taking place, and I could feel my stomach turn a few times while reading, but these scenes were necessary to get the point across and not overdone or exaggerated, in my opinion. Just a warning for those of you who may have a hard time reading about such things. The whole topic of the novel is somewhat disturbing, not in an overtly grossed out kind of way but more in a way that really gets you thinking about the state of things and just one possibility of where we might end up if things ever took an awful turn for the worse.

The first chapter was a bit mundane, but after that it started picking up, and I was drawn in. I found many aspects of the book refreshingly unique, such as the setting of Esther's internship and the overall turn of events that took place. I experienced a whole multitude of emotions while reading, from excitement and happiness about the relationships she formed along the way, to fear and horror when everything seemed utterly hopeless, and even tears of joy at the end. It is very rare that a book makes me feel such strong emotions as this one did, and even rarer that a book will make me cry.

I'd go as far as to say that Far From the War has earned a spot among my top ten favorite books, because it was just that amazing. I am very eagerly awaiting the second book in the trilogy, but sadly it's not due to be released until next July. So for now, I will just have to strongly recommend this novel, as I know it's one of those that will stay in the back of your mind and keep you thinking long after finishing it. I don't even feel like my review adequately captured all of my feelings about the book, but if it sounds at all interesting, please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 9/10
Overall grade: A+

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

Title: Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
Author: Julie Halpern
Publication Date: September 29th, 2009

It’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathelete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .

Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes?   
If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?

As somewhat of a nerd myself, I have to say that I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The writing was fun and more of a laid back, conversational style that I felt conveyed Jessie's thoughts and experiences nicely, in a way that I could relate to. I loved the uniqueness of many of the characters (like Jessie making her own skirts - that's pretty cool) and the relationships between them that developed as the book went on. I especially loved the relationship that Jessie had with her brother, Barrett. He was very supportive of her throughout the whole book and it was great to see such a loving relationship. It was pretty neat to look back after I finished the book and see how much Jessie had changed in terms of relationships, acceptance of herself, and who she associated with.

I found myself smiling and laughing at so many things in this book, but particularly in the last three or so chapters. This book had such a great balance of nerdy, funny, and more serious moments, and I really enjoyed seeing how Jessie dealt with the various situations that came up. I also loved the references to other YA books like Elsewhere, which happens to be one of my favorites.

My only complaint with this book is that the ending seemed a bit rushed and wasn't as satisfying as I'd hoped it would be. I think that could have easily been fixed by adding another chapter rather than ending things in a way that kind of leaves the reader hanging, but oh well. Overall, it was a fun yet realistic read that I would definitely recommend to anyone who's ever experienced trying to find their place among the various high school groups, and especially to those who can appreciate a little bit of nerdiness.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: B

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon!

I just heard about the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon hosted by Amanda at On A Book Bender and decided to participate! My TBR shelf is overflowing, and this is the last free week I have before school starts up again, so I figured that it would be the perfect time to knock out some of those books. The Read-a-Thon will run from 8/22 to 8/28, and you can find more info on it here.

My goal is to make it through at least five new books and to finish the two I'm currently reading. I know, that's not very many, but since I honestly haven't been doing a ton of reading lately I'd like to pace myself rather than rushing through them. I'd like to finish the two books I'm reading now (Far From the War, Into The Wild Nerd Yonder), the books I mentioned yesterday (Fallout, Saving June), and then whichever ones strike my fancy from my TBR shelf when I've made it through all of the previously mentioned ones. Can't wait to get started on this tomorrow!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Site Update, Returning to Blogging, and Preview....

Hey everyone! Not too sure how many of my followers still actually read my blog. I've taken so many hiatuses that I honestly wasn't sure I was ever going to return to doing this again, as school and work and family were taking up so much of my time that adding anything else into the mix just seemed more like torture than enjoyment. But I realized recently how much I miss doing this blog, reviewing and getting to read awesome books, and interacting with everyone I've gotten to know through doing this. It was a really positive thing in my life while I was actively running this for a number of reasons, and I've decided I'd really like to try to get this up and running again. 

School will be starting up soon, my first FULL semester of college (16 credits!) and I'm going to try to work at least 10 hours a week on top of that, but I am also going to try as hard as I can to make this blog active again. I took some time today to give the site a pretty big overhaul, and I think the layout and new features like the tabs at the top are pretty awesome. Admittedly, I'm probably a bit behind with that as everyone else seems to have them already, but... At least I'm somewhat on top of things now!

With all that said, here's a preview of some of the reviews you can look forward to in the next few weeks:


  Fallout by Ellen Hopkins


 Far From the War by Jeffrey David Payne


Saving June by Hannah Harrington

I am completely excited to start doing this again and can't wait to start diving in to the pile of books on my shelf waiting to be read. I haven't had much time for leisurely activities like reading lately, so I'm eager to sit down with a good book :)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review: After by Amy Efaw

Title: After
Author: Amy Efaw
Publication date: August 11th, 2009

Who would leave her own baby in the trash to die? 
Certainly not someone like Devon - straight-A student, soccer player with Olympic dreams, more mature than her own mother. But desperation and panic drove her to do what most people can't even imagine. Now Devon's in a juvenile detention center, charged with attempted murder. If she's tried as an adult, she faces life in prison.

Does Devon deserve that punishment? Your answer depends on whether you believe her story - that she didn't even know she was pregnant. Was she buried in a denial so deep that she was unable to register the seemingly obvious signs of pregnancy? Or were her actions the result of a more devious, premeditated plan?
I had this book sitting on my bookshelf for a while and I knew it was going to be good, but I didn't have the time to read it until now, and all I can say is WOW. Amazing. The first chapter was a little hard to get through because it literally turned my stomach, but I think it was a great introduction for the story that followed. 
I literally could not put this book down. Every free minute I had, I would pick it up and read as much as I could. I felt I could really relate to Devon, who was a straight-A student with very high expectations for herself, not unlike myself. So of course the entire time I was reading, I was wondering how such a person could even think about doing such a thing.  By the end, I was able to understand it a little better as I became more acquainted with Devon's past and her thoughts.

I only have two complaints about this book: one, the treatment that Devon received from some of the people at the hospital and the detention center during her intake process seemed unnecessarily harsh. Perhaps that's how it is in real life, I don't know, but it was hard for me to believe that people would treat her so coldly and harshly after knowing what she just went through. Not that her actions were acceptable, but with the amount of pain and discomfort that she must have been in, both physically and emotionally, I can't believe that workers would treat her so harshly.

My second complaint is that I felt the book ended a bit abruptly. I felt like there was some closure, and in a way, it did make sense, but given the intensity of the rest of the book I felt that the ending was just a little too abrupt. I'm not sure how else it would have been ended, without creating a sequel, though, and I can see how it shows that it seems Devon finally came to terms with everything that happened, so overall I suppose the ending wasn't that bad. Overall, I absolutely loved the book.
While this book is probably not a good choice for the squeamish because of some of the graphic descriptions of Devon's actions, it was one of the most intense and thought-provoking books I have read in a while and I would definitely recommend it.

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: A