Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 43

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.
Top Ten Characters I'd Like to Switch Places With f or 24 Hours

1. Kat from Heist Society
She's a jet-setting art thief who speaks multiple languages; I'd love to be her for a day!

2. Ellie from Angelfire
I pretty much just want to be her so I can be with Will, the most amazing love interest.

3. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss
I want to be Anna for the same reason as above (I love me some St. Clair), but I'd also love to spend a day in Paris!

4. Chelsea from Past Perfect
She gets to work at a Revolutionary War reenactment camp (like Williamsburg). I want to wear colonial dresses (as long as it's not hot)!

5. Quinn from The Secret Life of Prince Charming
I would like to spend a day with her family traveling around the Pacific Northwest.

6. Scarlett from Suite Scarlett
Three things I like about Scarlett: she's lives in New York City, her family owns a hotel and her family is awesome.

7. Sam from Sleepaway Girls
I've never been to sleepaway camp and it seems like so much fun!

8. Astrid from Bright Young Things
I would love to spend 24 hours in the 1920s!

9. Violet from Mostly Good Girls
Her life is pretty funny so I think I would get a kick out of being her for a day.

10. Violet from Violet on the Runway
Another Violet! I think it might be cool to be an international model for the day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

Congratulations -- just by opening the cover of this book you became 25% more patriotic.

From Stephen Colbert, the host of television's highest-rated punditry show The Colbert Report, comes the book to fill the other 23 hours of your day. I Am America (and So Can You!) contains all of the opinions that Stephen doesn't have time to shoehorn into his nightly broadcast.

Dictated directly into a microcassette recorder over a three-day weekend, this book contains Stephen's most deeply held knee-jerk beliefs on The American Family, Race, Religion, Sex, Sports, and many more topics, conveniently arranged in chapter form.

Always controversial and outspoken, Stephen addresses why Hollywood is destroying America by inches, why evolution is a fraud, and why the elderly should be harnessed to millstones.

You may not agree with everything Stephen says, but at the very least, you'll understand that your differing opinion is wrong.

I Am America (and So Can You!) showcases Stephen Colbert at his most eloquent and impassioned. He is an unrelenting fighter for the soul of America, and in this book he fights the good fight for the traditional values that have served this country so well for so long. (from GoodReads)

I love Stephen Colbert and his show The Colbert Report. Like, I'm seriously in love. I even got to see a taping of his show a month ago and it was awesome!!! So it was a no-brainer that I would adore his first novel, which I did.

Everything Stephen says and does is satirical, which makes his comedy that much smarter and funnier. It can be hard to get his jokes sometimes, but overall I think he's hilarious. What I liked so much about I Am America is that I could hear Stephen talking (no, I wasn't listening to the audiobook). This book is written just as Stephen talks on his show every night, so that was pretty cool.

Like the summary suggests, I Am America is just full of Stephen's opinions on important things in American culture: religion, science, education, etc. It even includes a full transcript of Stephen's (yes, we're on a first name basis) 2006 White House Correspondent's Dinner speech. If you've never seen that, watch it online - it's so funny.

Overall, I really enjoyed I Am America and I think fans of the show will love it too!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library (but I wish I had my own copy)

2007/Grand Central Publishing/230 pages.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Win a Complete Heiress Makeover!

Jessica Brody's newest novel 52 Reasons to Hate My Father has recently been released and in honor of its publication you could win a complete heiress makeover! There are also prizes for runner-ups, so you have more of a chance to win something great! Just fill out the form below and watch the trailer for more information on the novel, which looks really good. I can't wait to read it!

Grand Winner will receive:
- online personal styling session with a wardrobe stylist
- autographed copy of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father
- "Spoiled Heiress" t-shirt
- $25 gift card to Sephora
- pair of sunglasses
- Heiress tiara

Runner-ups will receive:
- 2Jessica Brody Teen Book Collections (including autographed copies of THE KARMA CLUB, MY LIFE UNDECIDED and 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER)
- Spoiled Heiress T-Shirts
- Autographed 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER bookmarks!

For more information, just visit Jessica Brody's contest page

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 96

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.
America Again: Rebecoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert

Book store nation, in the history of mankind there has never been a greater country than America. You could say we're the #1 nation at being the best at greatness.

But as perfect as America is in every single way, America is broken! And we can't exchange it because we're 236 years past the 30-day return window. Look around--we don't make anything anymore, we've mortgaged our future to China, and the Apologist-in-Chief goes on world tours just to bow before foreign leaders. Worse, the L.A. Four Seasons Hotel doesn't even have a dedicated phone button for the Spa. You have to dial an extension! Where did we lose our way?!

It's high time we restored America to the greatness it never lost!

Luckily, AMERICA AGAIN will singlebookedly pull this country back from the brink. It features everything from chapters, to page numbers, to fonts. Covering subject's ranging from healthcare ("I shudder to think where we'd be without the wide variety of prescription drugs to treat our maladies, such as think-shuddering") to the economy ("Life is giving us lemons, and we're shipping them to the Chinese to make our lemon-flavored leadonade") to food ("Feel free to deep fry this book-it's a rich source of fiber"), Stephen gives America the dose of truth it needs to get back on track. (from GoodReads)

I love The Colbert Report and I just finished reading his first book, so I'm super excited for more Stephen! America Again will be released October 2, 2012.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 42

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

1. Panem in The Hunger Games
This is one of my favorite dystopias and part of the reason is that the world building is so incredible. In a lot of dystopias the background to how everything happened is usually not elaborated upon, but in this trilogy everything makes sense.

2. The Seven Kingdoms in A Song of Ice and Fire
George R.R. Martin's books are extremely detailed, so it feels as though the world he created is real. I cannot even believe someone has the imagination to create Westeros and the Free Cities and the rest of the places, customs, and cultures in this series.

3. The Magical World in Harry Potter
This was one of the first fantasy books I've ever read and was amazed by J.K. Rowlings's creativity. I want to go to Hogwarts!

4. The Future World in Uglies
Scott Westerfeld's novel is the first dystopia I read back in 7th grade, and I've been in love since. His world (which doesn't have a name that I know of) is very futuristic but also believable.

5. The Realm in A Great and Terrible Beauty
This book has the honor of being both fantasy and historical fiction, and Libba Bray has created two beautiful settings for each genre.

6. The South in Gone With the Wind
When I first read GWtW, I felt like I was at the plantation with Scarlett and felt her fear as the Yankees stormed Atlanta. A very atmospheric read!

7. Idris in The Mortal Instruments
Cassandra Clare's first series is contemporary fantasy, so it takes place in our world, but she did creat the fictional city of Idris. I think that counts as a vivid setting.

8. Paris in Anna and the French Kiss
This book made me want to visit France even more than I already did!

9. Austenland in Austenland
I would love to stay in an old manor and wear pretty dresses and pretend I was living as Jane Austen did (as long as we had indoor plumbing).

10. Bayern in The Goose Girl
Shannon Hale created a whole magical world in her series. I can't believe I haven't read the last one yet!

Monday, July 23, 2012

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another. (from GoodReads)

When I first started You Against Me, I really had to push myself to get into it. For some reason, whenever I read books written by British authors, I have trouble enjoying it. I think it's the slang and cultural things that I don't understand that annoys me. But I was glad I stuck with You Against Me because I ended up enjoying it.

You wouldn't think British culture would be that different than American, but reading books like this makes me see the differences. Besides the slang, I still couldn't figure out what "revising" was. Ellie was doing it practically all book, and I think it's studying, but why not just call it that? Also we got a sneak peak into the British justice system, which I wish we could have seen more of. When they said the judge was wearing a wig I had to remind myself that this was taking place in a different country.

I thought that Jenny Downham did a great job of covering the issue of rape. We see two sides of it: brother of the victim and sister of the accused. Even though Mikey and Ellie aren't exactly part of the case, they are still directly affected by it. I liked that both Mikey's and Ellie's actions and motivations were explained and I understood why they did what they did. If someone you loved was accused of a heinous crime, wouldn't you have trouble accepting that? Even though Ellie was in the wrong, I could see how someone in her position would be conflicted, especially when your family is pressuring you to defend your brother.

As I become more invested in You Against Me, the cultural differences melted away, and I started to enjoy the story as it was. Seeing Mikey and Ellie try to contend with such a horrible event and turn to each other for comfort was great and I thought their relationship was realistic. I liked seeing both sides begin the healing process, and I thought You Against Me was a story of hope, above all else.

I think many people will enjoy this book and I urge fellow Americans to give it a chance. The slang might be annoying but underneath that, there's a good story!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/David Fickling/413 pages.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved. (from GoodReads)

This was a 2012 debut and a dsytopia, so I was super excited to read Article 5. But while I enjoyed the story, there were some issues that I hope will be addressed before the sequel is released.

Let's start with what I liked. The plot was extremely fast-paced and a lot happens for a book with only about 350 pages. Most of the book Ember and Chase are on the run, and they gets into many shenanigans. I liked that there was never a dull moment. I was also a fan of the ending - Ember finally shows the reader what she's made of and it makes her a better character.

Now there's more that I didn't like, unfortunately. Besides Ember's redemption at the end of Article 5, she is an extremely annoying character. She has conflicted feelings for Chase, because she used to be in love with him, but now he's a hardened soldier for the regime. This makes total sense, except it would be better for all involved if she just discussed this with him. She goes from hating him, to loving him, to fearing him on a whim and we repeat this cycle every few chapters. Most of their relationship woes were based on willful miscommunication, which was used mainly as a plot device. She also refuses to listen to Chase even though he is more knowledgeable and even runs away a few times which screws up their plans.

Also, the reader never gets a definitive reason why the United States has become so rigid. All the rules are now based on morality, so now out of wedlock births, no holding hands with the opposite sex, that kind of stuff. Supposedly there was a war, but I don't understand why that would cause this kind of regression. I really hope it will be a addressed in the sequel, because if not that is a total cop-out and is lazy writing.

Like with most books, I had issues with Article 5, but they weren't so bad that I couldn't enjoy the story. I hope the second book is better because I'm interested in seeing what happens next.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: from library.

2012/Tor Teen/362 pages.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 95

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what books will soon be released.
Sever by Lauren DeStefano

What if you knew exactly when you would die? In the not-too-distant future, genetic engineering has turned every newborn into a ticking time bomb — males only live to age 25 and females only live to age 20.

In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out. When 16-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by "the Gatherers" to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Rhine has only one purpose after she has been married to her new husband, Linden: to escape and find her twin brother.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant to whom she is dangerously attracted, Rhine is desperate to learn the truth and protect those closest to her. But, as her sister wife Cecily keeps insisting, her role may be much bigger than that.

In the first two books of the Chemical Garden trilogy, Wither and Fever, Rhine struggles to escape the mansion and then to navigate the brutal world outside. Now in Sever, the third and final book, Rhine uncovers some shattering truths about the past that her parents never had the chance to tell her and the alarming implications regarding her own genes. She may be the one who can save the human race. (from GoodReads)

I loved Wither, and while Fever was just okay, I'm still looking forward to Sever. I'm super curious how this trilogy is going to end, especially because death for all appears to be imminent. Also, does it seem that the covers are getting worse with each book? The first cover was by far the best. Sever will be released February 12, 2013.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 41

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers to make lists about books!

Top Ten Books for People Who Liked Nancy Drew

1. All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
This was about a girl who was murdered and her two friends try to figure out who the killer is. A very realistic portrayal of teens trying to solve a mystery (somewhat unlike Nancy Drew).

2. Death by Bikini by Linda Gerber
This was a lighter mystery, but when a body turns up dead on the island where Aphra lives, she decides to investigate.

3. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
This was part thriller, part mystery. Teens start to disappear in the (extremely) small town of Cryer's Cross.

4. The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks
This was also a realistic investigation headed by a girl whose friend is found dead in Central Park.

5. The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee
I love mysteries and historical fiction, so when they were combined in this and the next book, I fell in love! Who doesn't love spies in the Victorian era?

6. The Agency: The Body in the Tower by Y.S. Lee
See above!

7. Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
I think this is Jodi Picoult's only mystery, but it's still very good! Weird things begin happening in a town where a company wants to build on ancient Native American buriel grounds.

8. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
I love the references to Jack the Ripper in this modern retelling.

9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I think this book may be more thriller, but there's a lot of solving puzzles and figuring out clues that Nancy Drew fans will enjoy.

10. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
You wouldn't expect this science fiction novel to be a mystery, but it's actually a big part of the story.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

One miscarriage too many spelled the end of Max and Zoe Baxter's marriage. Though the former couple went quite separate ways, their fates remained entangled: After veering into alcoholism, Max is saved in multiple senses by his fundamentalist conversion; Zoe, for her part, finds healing relief in music therapy and the friendship, then romantic love with Vanessa, her counselor. After Zoe and Vanessa, now married, decide to have a baby, they realize that they must join battle with Max, who objects on both religious and financial grounds. Like her House Rules and several other previous Jodi Picoult novels, Sing You Home grapples with hot button issues. The novel also includes a CD of songs, each matched with a chapter in the book. Perfect for book clubs. (from GoodReads)

This is one of Jodi Picoult's newer novels, which is obvious by its subject matter. I think the issue of gay rights and marriage is a very important, so I was happy to see it tackled in Sing You Home.

I enjoyed Sing You Home, just as I do with all of Picoult's novels. What was cool was that it came with a CD to accompany different chapters. Since Zoe is a music therapist, it's supposed to be her singing. I'll admit that I haven't listened to it yet, but I'm gonna pop it in my CD player pretty soon now that I've finished the book.

I thought the commentary on music therapy was very interesting, especially because I've never really heard about it before. Zoe goes to hospitals, schools and nursing homes to play for the ill and elderly. She tries to get them to engage with the music or just be distracted from the pain. If I was more musically inclined, this type of job would be right up my alley. I love music (and I played clarinet for many years) so I definitely believe in the healing properties of melody and lyrics.

Sing You Home will probably be a controversial book for some people, since it involves the hot-button issue of gay rights. No matter what your political affiliation, no one can argue that denying rights to a group of people isn't wrong - and that's what is at the heart of Sing You Home.

This novel switches points-of-view between Zoe, her partner Vanessa, and her ex-husband Max. Zoe's and Vanessa's narration were way too similar and I kept getting confused about who I was reading (I guess that shows why they should be together, though, they're so similar!). I was glad to read about Max, too, even though he's painted as the "bad guy." It shows how he became religious and why he's part of an evangelical church. Since he lives with his brother Reid and sister-in-law Liddy, we also get some insight about other members of the congregation. These characters are likable, even if their actions are a tad misguided.

The only thing I was confused about was Zoe and the way she chose to identify herself as a lesbian. I wasn't sure why Jodi Picoult didn't write her as a bisexual, since she seemed to be attracted to both men and women. I think labels are unnecessary and anyone can love whoever they want, but I was curious why she picked one and not the other. I wish I could ask the author!

Overall, I enjoyed Sing You Home and thought its portrayal of equality and gay rights was spot-on. The ending was not what I expected but I still liked the way everything turned out. Can't wait to see what Picoult puts out next!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2011/Atria/466 pages.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Attorney D.A. Nina Frost sees a parent's worst nightmare firsthand--she prosecutes child molesters, and she's seen one too many walk free. But when her own five-year-old son becomes a victim, Nina is determined to do whatever it takes to find the assailant--no matter the consequence. (from GoodReads)

I am on a Jodi Picoult roll! People at my pool have even been noticing the fact that I keep bringing her books in. It's pretty much a combination of my love for her novels, the accessibility of them (my library has like every copy) and the sheer number of books she has written.

I'm starting to notice themes in Jodi Picoult's novels, one of which is motherhood. There is always a character who is a mother, and usually that's an important part of the story. I'm not a mother, but I always feel like I can relate to them in these books. Jodi Picoult makes me love the children and I start to understand how a woman (or man) would do anything to protect her or his children.

Perfect Match was a tough book to read because it deals with the sexual abuse of a child. This was especially relevant, since the Penn State scandal is still in the headlines, and the Catholic Church is facing similar allegations. I thought that Jodi Picoult did a great job of addressing this issue and everyone's responses and reactions were spot-on. Even reading from five-year-old Nathaniel's perspective was so tough because the author was able to get into his mind and we were able to see how he felt.

What was so sad about Perfect Match is that it highlighted the fact that the U.S. justice system so often fails young children. Sometimes the only evidence of abuse is the child's testimony, and if a child is too young or distraught, they can't be used as a witness. This essentially allows predators to walk free, which is a very scary thing. As a prosecutor, Nina deals with this every day, so as a mother, I can see her frustation and her willingness to do anything for her son.

What I liked in Perfect Match (and many of Jodi Picoult's novels) is that I am usually surprised by the twists and turns. Usually in books I can guess what's going to happen, but I was legitimately shocked by some of the plot points in this book. I love still being able to be surprised by books.

It's funny how I can tell that this was one of Picoult's earlier novels, because there are changes in her writing style. But overall I enjoyed Perfect Match (as much as you can enjoy a book about abuse) and think it was on par with the rest of her novels.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2002/Washington Square Press/368 pages

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Runaway by Meg Cabot

Emerson Watts is on the run: from school, from work, from her family, from her friends, from herself.

With everyone she loves furious with her for something she can't explain, and nothing but the live Stark Angel fashion show on New Year's Eve to look forward to, Em's reached the end of her rope... what's the point of even going on?

But when she discovers the truth about Nikki's secret, she knows there's only one person she can turn to.

Will Christopher be able to put aside his personal feelings and help her expose her employer to the world? Is it even fair to get Christopher involved—since if he agrees, there's every chance that Stark Enterprises will try to have them both killed—this time, permanently?

Maybe it would be better for Em to just keep on running. (from GoodReads)

I really love the Airhead trilogy, especially the first two books: Airhead and Being Nikki. Unfortunately, Runaway felt a little superfluous. I still enjoyed it, but the events probably could have been added to the previous novel.

Runaway was a quick read, in terms of page number and plot points. I feel like this book wasn't even needed, since not much happens. We finally figure out what Nikki knew that got her "killed" and learn about Robert Stark's secret agenda. I was actually surprised by that and thought it was a pretty clever twist.

Runaway is the last book, so we want all loose ends tied up. The last few pages did just that, but it pretty much just listed the fates of all the characters. Which is pretty lame, if you ask me. Pretty much everyone gets a happy ending that is quickly summarized in bullet points.

I feel like Meg Cabot (does she use ghost writers?) kind of gave up on this novel. Everything that occurs could have easily been condensed into the first two books. If you've started the trilogy, I would recommend finishing it, but just be aware that this isn't the best conclusion ever.

Rating: 6 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/Scholastic/310 pages.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 94

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about new books.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

In Clockwork Princess, Tessa and her companions travel all over the world as they race to stop the clockwork army before it’s too late. As Jem’s health worsens alarmingly and his friends search desperately for a cure, can Tessa choose between the two boys she loves—even if it means never seeing the other one again? (from GoodReads)

So the cover was just released yesterday, and it is gorgeous!! I am so excited to see how everything ends. I don't know how I can wait until March 19, 2013, which is the release date.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 40

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Freebie: Top Ten Sequels I Want to Read

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
I still can't believe I haven't read this yet! There are like a million holds on it at my library, but now I just want to buy a copy.

2. Thumped by Megan McCafferty
I just finished Bumped so now I'm ready to see what happens in the rest of the story.

3. Spark by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Glow wasn't my favorite book ever, but I do what to see what happens next!

4. Rebel Heart by Moira Young
Even though Blood Red Road was hard to read at first due to its writing style, it ended up being one of my favorite books of 2011!

5. The Rivals by Daisy Whitney
I recently read and adored The Mockingbirds so I'm looking forward to reading more!

6. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Something Borrowed is one of my favorite books and movies. I wonder if they'll make a sequel for the movie too?

7. Undead Much? by Stacey Jay
I read You Are So Undead to Me so long ago, and have yet to read the sequel.

8. Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
I think this might actually be just a companion novel, but I'm counting it anyway.

9. Promised by Caragh M. O'Brien
This is actually the third book of a trilogy, but that counts as a sequel, right?

10. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Same for this, but I was running out of true sequels!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

From the author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are comes a gripping story about one girl’s search for clues into the mysterious death of her father.

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered? (from GoodReads)

Just like the previous book, this is the first novel I've read by Courtney Summers. I've heard great things about her writing so I'm glad that I finally got a chance to review her work.

Even though Fall for Anything deals with suicide and grief, I wasn't expecting it to be quite as dark as it was. That tone is definitely understandable, and I'm actually glad that the author took the chance of making this dark. I could really feel what Eddie was feeling: her sadness, her confusion, her desire to know why her father did what he did. There were so many emotions in Fall for Anything and I was glad that Eddie was able to keep it together through all this.

There weren't that many supporting characters, but some were an important part of Eddie's healing, such as her best friend, Milo. I really liked him because he cared so much for Eddie and it was obvious by his actions that he would do anything for her. There is the mysterious Culler who Eddie finds out was her father's protegee. His motivations were intriguing and I wanted to learn more about who he was. In Eddie's household, there's her mother, who is barely hanging on (that part is pretty sad to read about). There's also her mother's best friend Beth who moves in with them to help out. Eddie hates Beth because she insists on being chipper and tries to get Eddie to do "mom" things (like clean her room, take vitamins, etc). I actually didn't mind Beth because I thought it was so nice that she was trying to help out their family and I think her idea of having a positive attitude was actually a good one.

The ending of Fall for Anything was a little vague, but I think it makes sense with reality. Because for many people, there will always be mystery surrounding why someone committed suicide. Since they're not here anymore, sometimes you just don't know and I think Fall for Anything tried to highlight that.

Fall for Anything was pretty depressing because of its subject matter, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2010/St. Martin's Griffin/230 pages.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly. (from GoodReads)

For some reason, I have never read a book by Jennifer Echols, but after reading Such a Rush, I realize how much I've been missing out. Jennifer Echols is a very good author and she adds a lot to the contemporary genre.

Such a Rush was a lot different than any other book I've read, especially since it involved flying planes. Everything about the planes was well-researched, and reading about Leah up in the air made me want to learn how to fly a plane, too. I thought the airplanes were the best aspect of this novel, especially as it highlighted Leah's desire to make something of herself and to get out of their small town.

All the characters were interesting, and throughout the whole book I wanted to know their motivations. The mystery with Grayson and why he's blackmailing Leah was particularly engaging. His reasoning made sense, but the fact that the summary says that "the consequences could be deadly" was a little over the top.

The protagonist is an important part of any story, and I'm glad to say that I really enjoyed reading about Leah. She grew up poor with an absent mother, but she was able to overcome her upbringing by the end of the book.

Overall, I thought that Such a Rush was a fun read about a very interesting topic that usually isn't covered in YA fiction. Now I can't wait to read the rest of Echols's novels.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: received from Flamingnet Book Reviews.
Release Date: July 10, 2012

2012/MTV Books/320 pages

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life? (from Amazon)

By now everyone should know about my deep love and adoration of Jodi Picoult and all her novels. I feel like it would be a little over the top to gush about yet another one of her books, so I'll try to keep this short.

The summary is a little vague, so I've decided to fill in some of the blanks. Willow was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, which the formal name for brittle bone disease. It's quite debilitating, and people with this disorder can brake bones just by sneezing or knocking into something. I've never broken a bone in my life, so to have sixty plus fractures and breaks by the time you're five (which Willow has) is pretty crazy. I didn't know that much about OI before I read Handle With Care, so I applaud Jodi Picoult for bringing this to my attention and to the attention of her readers.

In Handle With Care, Willow's mother Charlotte decides to file a wrongful birth suit. Essentially, she's saying that if her OB-GYN had diagnosed Willow earlier, she would have terminated the pregnancy. The OB-GYN in question is Charlotte's best friend, which adds another layer of the story. This was a thorny case, especially because Charlotte was pretty much doing it for the money. I agreed with her reasoning, but I think it would be so hard to sit on the stand and say that you would have terminated your daughter when she's sitting right in front of you. Does that make you a good mother to be willing to lie, or a bad one?

The only thing I didn't really like in Handle With Care (except for the ridiculous ending) was its similarity to House Rules, which I just read. Both focus on mothers trying to help their children with a disability, both have another child who feels neglected and starts acting out because of it, both highlight the struggles (financial, physical and emotional) that the families undergo.

Overall, Handle With Care is a nice addition to the Jodi Picoult's body of work. It's not my favorite of hers, but still a good novel in its own right.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2009/Atria/477 pages.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto

Three angels – Gabriel, the warrior; Ivy, the healer; and Bethany, the youngest and most human – are sent by Heaven to bring good to a world falling under the influence of darkness. They must work hard to conceal their luminous glow, superhuman powers, and, most dangerous of all, their wings, all the while avoiding all human attachments.

Then Bethany meets Xavier Woods, and neither of them is able to resist the attraction between them. Gabriel and Ivy do everything in their power to intervene, but the bond between Xavier and Bethany seems too strong. Then comes the brooding and popular new transfer, Jake Thorn... who just so happens to be in Bethany's class. Something about Jake seems to be hiding something darker, something more powerful than expected. That thing, and Xavier, distracts Bethany to a point that Gabriel and Ivy are concerned.

The angel’s mission is urgent, and dark forces are threatening. Will love ruin Bethany or save her? (from GoodReads)

When Halo was first released, I didn't really have an interest in reading it. But then I received a copy of Hades, which is the sequel, so I thought I might as well start from the beginning. Now I wish I hadn't even bothered.

Halo tries so hard to fit into the fantasy genre, and even adopts one of the newer paranormal creatures: angels. But it fails miserably. The book takes place from the point-of-view of Bethany, a young angel placed on Earth for the first time. She's with her brother and sister, but she is treated like a child and they're the parents. They tell her what to do and even keep secrets from her. Their mission is to promote goodwill and compassion through good works, such as knitting for the poor and visiting the elderly. Those things are great and all, but do we really need angels with actual powers to be doing the things humans can do? I'd want an angel to stop famines and wars and solve real problems.

However, Bethany totally ignores her heavenly mission by falling in love. Normally, I'd think this would be really interesting and would want to see how she reconciles duty with desire. But Bethany and Xavier's romance is one of the unhealthiest I've seen in YA literature. They are obsessed with each other, and Bethany can't even go a few hours without hearing his voice. She is constantly narrating about his physical appearance and Xavier spends time "protecting" Bethany by force feeding her granola bars. She's an angel! You'd think she'd be able to take care of herself.

I couldn't stand reading about their relationship, which made Halo pretty unbearable because their love is the centerpiece of the plot. At the end, an actual plot sorta shows up, but it's completely unsatisfying.

In addition to the twisted romance, Bethany was annoying to read about. She speaks very formally (this could be because she's an angel) and there were large sections of info-dump which were pretty boring. Bethany is constantly saying how she's perfect and comparing herself to the other teenage girls she goes to school with. She even says some sexist things, like how all teenage girls pray to be popular. Give me a break! I couldn't believe some of the things in Halo.

I would not recommend Halo, especially because it has one of the worst romances ever and it takes up the entire book. I feel obligated to read Hades because it's on my shelf but I don't know if I'll be able to get through it.

Rating: 3 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/Feiwel & Friends/484 pages.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

From the Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, a powerful novel about hope in the face of heartbreak.

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love. (from GoodReads)

I loved Morgan Matson's first novel, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, because it was an amazing road-trip novel and I'm pleased to say that I also adored Second Chance Summer.

I was originally drawn to this novel because it takes place in the Pocono Mountains. I've vacationed there before so I am familiar with the locale, even though the author did create her own lake and town for the book. Places near me are rarely in books, so I get excited when they do eventually show up.

There is something about books that are set in the summer that I just love. Summer is my favorite season, and there's just this feeling of possibility. Like, anything could happen in the summer. So I love books that take place during this time and especially when they're set somewhere different, like at the beach or in the mountains. In Second Chance Summer, the lake and the surrounding town is an important aspect. It's where everything happens, but it also is the catalyst for the action in the book.

I really liked the way the protagonist, Taylor, was characterized. Her "fatal flaw" (you could call it) is that she tends to run away when things get tough. This is the reason for her break with her friends, which is eventually told through flashbacks, and you get the idea that this keeps her a little distant from her family.

But I love that Taylor's penchant for leaving gets reformed in this "second chance summer." In addition to getting a second chance with her family, friends, and love, she gets a second chance with herself. Taylor realizes that she is a strong person and can handle the tough parts of life.

As for the plot, I enjoyed all aspects of it, even the parts where I was bawling my eyes out. I'm pretty close with my dad, so I could feel Taylor's pain and grief over what happens. I would suggest not reading this public, unless you don't mind crying in front of people, because I don't think many readers will stay dry-eyed at the end.

Overall, I thought Second Chance Summer was a very poignant novel and showed that you should treasure the time you have with your loved ones because you don't know when it might be gone. Even through all the seriousness, I really did enjoy the novel (parts of it actually were fun) and thought it combined all the best parts of YA contemporary fiction.

Rating: 10 out of 10!!
FTC: read online at Pulse It

2012/Simon Pulse/480 pages.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 93

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about new books.
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first. (from GoodReads)

I pretty much adore everything that comes from Libba Bray's mind, so I know I'm going to love this! The Diviners will be released September 18, 2012.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 39

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Books for People Who Like Sarah Dessen

1. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
I still need to write a review for this one, but it was amazing! So like a Sarah Dessen novel, especially because it takes place during the summer in the mountains.

2. The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti
Deb Caletti is one of my favorite authors and I love all her books, so I picked the one I thought was her best (so far).

3. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
This was a little raunchier than Sarah Dessen, but it's contemporary and deals with friends, family and romance.

4. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
This was also a little more intense than normal SD novels but it was full of girl power, so obviously I loved it.

5. Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Scott's writing is similar to Dessen's and this is my favorite novel of hers.

6. Past Perfect by Leila Sales
For those who like a laugh, this was funnier than Sarah Dessen's novels usually are.

7. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
This would be considered adult Sarah Dessen, but it's just as good!

8. Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt
A good contemporary book.

9. Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald
This was another girl power novel, complete with exchange students.

10. Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
I like to read this book ever summer because it makes me happy and it has that "summery" feel.