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 :)