Sunday, February 27, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all ... including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt. (from book jacket)

Wow I cannot believe I waited this long to read Anna and the French Kiss! What an amazing book! Anna and the French Kiss exemplified everything I love about contemporary YA and it is the perfect book for many rereads.

First off, what setting is more awesome than a boarding school in Paris? Anna is a little upset that her father sends her away for her senior year (the reason why her father makes her go wasn't explained that well) but I would have been thrilled. At least, after I got over the homesickness. But Anna isn't a moper and soon makes friends and gains her independence by venturing out into the city alone. One of the friends is the gorgeous and charming Etienne St. Clair... I'm in love with the name alone. Seriously, though, Perfect YA Guy Alert! St. Clair has an English accent, speaks fluent French but is also American. So he's worldly, smart, funny, hot, the list goes on. I'm very surprised that Anna is able to form sentences around him.

Anna was a great protagonist. She's a little wary of being in a foreign country, but as she starts learning French she becomes more outgoing and settled at her new school. Anna is also a movie buff and aspires to be a film critic, so she and St. Clair go to a lot of movies together. The relationship/friendship between Anna and St. Clair was really interesting to read about. St. Clair has a girlfriend but him and Anna become really close. I would love to have a best friend like him. They tell each other everything and are always together, so random people start mistaking them for a couple.

The book jacket summary states that the story is full of "romantic near-misses" and this is a perfect way to describe the plot. There is a lot of back and forth between St. Clair and Anna and it's very "will-they-or-won't-they" which can become very contrived. However, this is not a problem at all in Anna and the French Kiss. The uncertainty really keeps the tension flowing and you, as the reader, are practically shoving these two characters together. Don't worry, you shall be rewarded for your patience.

Overall, I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss a lot! It's definitely up there as a favorite contemporary novel. It has a beautiful setting and a romantic interest that will make you swoon. Watch out girls, St. Clair is mine :)

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

2010/Dutton Books/372 pages.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers have the job of a lifetime. They play two undercover rockstars on the hit comedy Jenna and Jonah's How To Be a Rockstar and are beloved by millions of tweens across the world. Off-screen, Charlie and Fielding are also involved in a romantic relationship that the papparazzi and tabloids love documenting. However, no one knows that Charlie and Fielding actually hate each other and the relationship is a big publicity stunt for ratings. Forced to spend every waking moment in each other's company, Charlie and Fielding are just trying to make it until the end of the show, but a tabloid rumor gone wrong might just ruin everything.

When I first picked up Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance, I thought it sounded really cute. Two stars that are dating for only for publicity? It makes you wonder how often this happens in real life. Especially since the show in question is eerily similar to Hannah Montana. Charlie and Fielding really do seem to hate each other and always trading insults and rude remarks even when they are supposed to be acting like a couple. I loved their dialogue because it was always really funny!

What I didn't like was that everything falls apart really quickly and not much time is spent on Charlie and Fielding pretending to be a couple. I would have liked to see more backstory as to what happened when they first pretended to be boyfriend and girlfriend - I think that could have been really interesting. Everything goes wrong really fast and suddenly Charlie and Fielding (or Aaron, which is his real name) don't knw what to do. They sign on to perform in a Shakespeare festival which was actually really cool. They put on Much Ado About Nothing, and Charlie and Fielding play Beatrice and Benedick - two characters who are just like the couple, which is a perfect opportunity for the two to examine their relationship. I'm sure you can guess how Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance ends, and it started getting annoying because the story was dragging and I just wanted it to be over with because I knew what was going to happen. The book is a little predictable, but I liked it well enough and I'm sure fans of romantic comedies will enjoy Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: copy provided through Flamingnet Review Program.

2011/Walker & Company/229 pages.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 26

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to lust over upcoming books.

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Abby accepted that she can’t measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby’s life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she’d never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could... (from GoodReads)

I love love love Elizabeth Scott so I know that this book will be amazing! Plus it's good ole contemporary - can't go wrong with that. Between Here and Forever will be released on May 24, 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried. (from GoodReads)

I loved Cryer's Cross! I wasn't really sure what to expect, because I've only read one of Lisa McMann's books (Wake) and I wasn't a fan of the sparse writing style. But, Cryer's Cross was definitely more detailed which I liked.

I love spooky stories so I knew would enjoy this one. I liked that you don't really ever know what's going on and if the two kids disappeared due to a person or something more supernatural. And the creepiness is really subtle at first; almost too subtle because it doesn't start taking effect until after the halfway mark. Everyone was saying how scary Cryer's Cross was and while it was definitely spooky, I was never really scared. The ending was really creepy but I was a little confused because I was reading it so fast.

I thought that Kendall was a really awesome character. She has OCD, and it's the first time I've a read a book with a character with this disorder. Although, hers seems pretty mild and not at all like the ones on the tv shows. But anyway, it was a nice addition to Kendall's characterization because it's a tough disorder to have and it made it hard for her to cope with the disapperances of both Tiffany and Nico.

A new family moves to the town of Cryer's Cross, and Kendall becomes friends with the two kids, Marlena and Jacian. I loved these two. Marlena is really sweet and becomes friends with Kendall when she really needs it. And Jacian, whew! He was pretty hot and an excellent soccer player and really cared about Kendall. I really liked scenes with those two.

What was interesting about this book is that Cryer's Cross is tiny, which is lacking in a lot of books about Suburban America. Kendall and the other high schoolers go to school in a one-room classroom. I didn't even know they still have those. But I liked the small town feeling because it just seems creepier with all those open fields where someone or something could be lurking.

All in all, I really enjoyed Cryer's Cross. I think it could have been a bit longer to further develop the mystery, but regardless it was still nicely down and definitely creepy!

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: read as an e-book on Pulse It.

2011/Simon Pulse/240 pages.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 25

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules. (from Goodreads)

I absolutely loved Heist Society, so I am very excited to read the next book in the series! I can't express my love for this book in words because it was so amazing. Just read my review :) Anyway, Uncommon Criminals will be released June 21, 2011! How will I be able to wait?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 24

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine as a way for bloggers and readers to see what books will be published in the future.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to email. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count. (from GoodReads)

I love Libba Bray so much and I am beyond excited for her new book. She really needs to write more because all her stories are wonderful. This sounds very Lost and Lord of Flies-esque, but girly at the same time and come on, it's Libba Bray. I only have to wait until May 24, 2011 to read this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Blog & Contest: J.R. Turner

Hello, Everyone!

I am really excited to be part of J.R. Turner's blog tour and I have a guest post written by her to share with you today. J.R. Turner is the author of DFF: Dead Friends Forever, School's Out 4-Ever, and Detour 2 Death, all part of the Extreme Hauntings series.

Guest Post:

Hey y’all! Thank you, Megan for hosting me, today. I’m thrilled to share with your readers a bit about the Extreme Hauntings series.

Years ago, my publisher asked me to write a YA series for their Quake imprint. I agreed, but tentatively. As with any book I choose to write, I need to be passionate about the story and the characters. Up until this point, all my novels were high on action and gun play, so I worried how I might handle this with a younger heroine.

For many months, I explored one idea after another and nothing seemed to really take. One of my favorite television shows is Supernatural and as I was watching it one evening, it occurred to me I didn’t have to arm my heroine with a gun—I could arm her with a supernatural ability. This got me thinking about what I miss as a reader. Great ghost stories are far and few between. Finally, I found my passion and DFF: Dead Friends Forever, became the first book in the Extreme Hauntings series.

DFF introduces Kaylee, a jock girl who loves to skateboard and wants to live a normal life. Once she enters a haunted house, her life drastically changes. By the second book, she’s been convicted of grave robbing and arson and sent to Barclay Hall, a reformatory for girls. In School’s Out 4-Ever, we learn a lot more about her powers, the way her feelings for her neighbor and best friend Davey are changing, and her relationship with the archangel Raphael.

In Detour 2 Death, Kaylee has run away to see Davey, who has fallen into a coma in the hospital. For the first two books, he’s been confined to a wheelchair. Now that she knows one of her gifts is the ability to heal, she wants to get to him before he dies. I loved the way this story came together. I’ve been looking forward to writing this book since I first created the outline for the series. Kaylee gets to visit the dark side of the hospital and enter Davey’s coma, giving me a chance to play with paranormal settings.

After my editor read this book, she told me she was firmly on Team Raphael. Others may end up on Team Davey. I’m looking forward to building on this love triangle as the series continues. Kaylee is in for a great many surprises as we move forward!

Thank you again for hosting me, Megan! I’m excited to picking three winners from the comments today. One will win a copy of DFF: Dead Friends Forever and a book thong. Two others will win a book thong in their favorite color!

About the Author:
J.R. Turner is a huge fan of all things fun and thrilling. She gets a kick out of surprising her kids and loves to tell goofy jokes—that aren’t always funny. She lives in Wisconsin, a state known for cheese, bratwurst, and beer—and 1001 recipes for Cheesy Bratwurst Beer Soup. Between writing books, enjoying the outdoors, cooking exotic recipes like Kitty Litter Cake, and trying her hand at all types of arts and crafts, her life is one adventure after another. Visit to learn more!

If you would like to win a copy of J.R. Turner's book DFF: Dead Friends Forever or a book thong, please leave a comment and I will pick the winners on Saturday, February 12!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Secret Society by Tom Dolby

Rumors of secret societies are always floating around, especially in a city as big as New York. Nick, Patch, Lauren, and Phoebe have grown up hearing whispers of a huge clandestine organization, but they assumed that if there ever was a secret society, it would have disappeared by now. So imagine Nick, Lauren and Phoebe's surprise when they discover that they part of a new class of Initiates of the Society, a group dedicated to helping its members achieve their greatest dreams and find sucess. Tattooed with the symbol of an ankh on their neck, the high schoolers are roped into lavish parties and find themselves part of a society that may not be entirely benevolent, which becomes apparent when body is found dead in Central Park with the ankh tattoo on the neck.

I really enjoyed reading Secret Society. Secret societies have always fascinated me and the fact that there could really be an organization like the one in the novel gives me the creeps. The Society is pretty evil, and has a lot of power politically, socially and economically, which is good for its members and not so good for its opponents. The story is fast-paced and there is never a dull moment as Nick, Patch, Lauren and Phoebe try to discover the mysteries of the Society. The characters were a little boring and one-dimensional with not much growth or development, which is usually a turn-off for me. The only character I was interested in reading about was Nick's father who doesn't play a big role until the end. He is very manipulative and is hiding a lot of secrets from his son. However, the stellar plot and pacing make up for the novel's other faults.

Secret Society ends on a cliffhanger and I cannot wait to read the sequel to find out what happens. This is a really short review because I don't really have much to say. Secret Society was good but not great and it has a really interesting plot which makes it worthwhile. I would recommend this for fans of mysteries and prep school stories.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: received copy from Flamingnet Review program.

2009/Katherine Tegen Books/341 pages.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 23

Waiting on Wednesday was created by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to lust over upcoming books.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

One choice

One choice decides your friends, defines your beliefs, and determines your loyalties . . . forever.

Or, one choice can transform you.

In Veronica Roth's debut novel, Divergent, a perfect society unfolds into a dystopian world of electrifying decisions, stunning consequences, heartbreaking betrayals, and unexpected romance. (from Goodreads)

So this summary is really vague, but I've read a more detailed one somewhere and it sounds really good. Plus we just learned about divergent boundaries in my geology class, so I thought it was pretty appropriate. And it's a dystopia so you can't go wrong there. Divergent will be released on May 3, 2011.