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July Books

I had a good month this time!

1. It Started With a Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech.
2. Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz.
3. The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth by Alexandra Robbins.
4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
5. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.
6. Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James.
7. Girl Unwrapped by Gabriella Goliger.
8. Wicked by Sara Shepard.
9. I'd Tell  You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter.
10. Killer by Sara Shepard.
11. Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson.
12. Heartless by Sara Shepard.
13. Wanted by Sara Shepard.
14. Twisted by Sara Shepard.
15. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson.
16. Where She Went by Gayle Forman.
17. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King.
18. Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer.

How was your month in reading?

Fateful: Review

Title: Fateful
Author: Claudia Gray
Release Date: September 2011
Published By: HarperCollins
Pages: 356
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 stars

Review: In 1912, the family servant girl Tess works for isn't the only one hoping for a change at the end of their voyage to America. She plans to run away once they reach shore, but not everything quite happens the way it's supposed to once they're on board. She meets Alec: ruggedly handsome, incredibly wealthy, in love with her, and... a werewolf. But that's not their biggest problem. No, their biggest problem is that they're on the Titanic.

It's no big secret that I'm not the hugest fan of paranormal romance, but in FATEFUL, I found myself really enjoying the romance aspect. Claudia Gray is excellent at weaving a hot romance that had me wanting Alec for myself, while still keeping it tasteful and without overwhelming the entire story. He was a sweet and kind person, and while he was protective of her, it wasn't overly so as is often portrayed in other books in the genre, which I really appreciated.

But though I enjoyed the romance, I did find the paranormal part a bit lacking. The werewolf mythology wasn't as developed as I would have liked, and some of that led to situations I had trouble believing, like the way-too-convenient ending. Although I like happy endings as much as the next person, the one in this book just had me raising eyebrows.

In FATEFUL, Claudia Gray shapes an engaging story sure to delight fans of paranormal romance, and possibly as well for those who don't typically enjoy this genre. The romance is certainly packed with swoons, and though the mythology could have been fleshed out more and the ending not quite as convenient, this is still a book fans of Titanic and werewolf stories alike could enjoy.

I received a free copy of this book for review. This is no way affected my review, which is 100% honest.

Follow Friday (18)

This week's Follow Friday asks...

What T-shirt slogan best describes you?

Well... I guess it would have to be this one:

Only because I'm generally horrible at coming up with such things as funny slogans, this shirt ends up describing me fairly well.

If you're new to my blog, welcome! Please drop your link in the comments so I can return the favor :)

Want to Go Private?: Review

Title: Want to Go Private?
Author: Sarah Darer Littman
Release Date: August 2011
Published By: Scholastic
Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 4.20 stars

Review: Abby's just started high school, but it's not as exciting as she'd hoped. Her once-happy life feels like it's falling to pieces, and the only thing that makes her happy is talking with Luke, an older guy she met online. Discouraged with her family, friends, and school, she made a plan to meet him that no one else knew about. But now she's missing, and if they don't put the pieces together fast enough, she could be gone forever.

What hooked me initially with this book was the premise. The Internet provides a new way for predators to gain trust and access to unknowing children and teenagers, and WANT TO GO PRIVATE explored this very terrifying and real possibility. However, while the premise was intriguing, I did feel like this book wasn't executed as well as it could have been.

Abby in particular bothered me. She seemed a little whiny at times when dealing with her mountain-loads of angst, and I found some of her actions to be extremely foolish. Although I know it definitely happens in real life, the author didn't make me believe that she would fall for Luke's tricks so easily, and I had a hard time accepting that she would realize how old he was and not have major warning bells going off in her head.

Of course, that's not to say I didn't like this book. Something about the writing was very gripping and I often found that once I picked it up, I wouldn't be able to put it down for quite a while after. As much as Abby could irritate me in places, I was strongly invested in the story and had to know what happened to her and whether or not they would be able to figure it out.

This is a chilling cautionary tale of what happens when one girl falls for a man's lies over the Internet. Though in places it was difficult to understand her occasionally stupid actions, her spiral into reliance on Luke and isolation from everyone else was all too real. WANT TO GO PRIVATE had an excellent premise and addictive writing with an execution that fell just a bit too short, but it remains something everyone should consider reading.

I received a free copy of this book for review. This is no way affected my review, which is 100% honest.

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

This week, I'm waiting for...

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour. Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev’s band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she’s abandoning their plans—and Colby—to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie-Colby struggles to deal with Bev’s already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what’s next?

Morris Award–finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

All I needed to see for this one was Nina LaCour, because I loved her previous book, "Hold Still", so I'm sure I'll love this one as well. Have you heard of or read this book already? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

The Reading Gene

My parents aren't readers. Neither of them have picked up a book for quite some time, except maybe when they drop by the library for me to grab whatever I've ordered through the interlibrary loan system. I always thought I just happened to read a lot because I'm generally quiet and shy, and reading tends to go with that territory.

So yeah, my parents aren't readers, or at least I've always thought. But recently I discovered that when my parents were my age, they read as voraciously as I do. And that's got me thinking about all my friends who read, because as far as I know, their parents all read as well.

I can think of two possible explanations for this. The first is that perhaps similar personalities tend to have similar interests - reading, in this case - and so it makes sense that people in one family would tend to have much of the same hobbies. In this way, reading would sort of be like something passed down through the generations.

The other explanation is that parents who read or used to read are more likely to want their children to read. To me, this one may be more plausible. I distinctly remember my mom bringing me the library every weekend all through preschool and elementary school, and since reading was something I always did, I just never stopped.

So what about you? Do your parents read? Why do you think reading tends to run through families?

Not That Kind of Girl: Review

Title: Not That Kind of Girl
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Release Date: September 2010
Published By: Push
Pages: 322
Goodreads Rating: 3.61 stars

Review: Natalie Sterling wants loyal friends, the President position on student council, and a nice boy to date. But unfortunately for her, life is messy and she has no control over it. Her friends have secrets they won't share, girls on the student council are acting slutty, and the very boy she dismissed so often is now the one she wants to sleep with - in secret, of course. Now she's forced to find a fine line between the crazy and the controlled.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL had a very clear message that was pushed, though not to the point of preaching: having sex doesn't make you a slut. I think this is definitely an important and meaningful theme, but I didn't really like the way this was shown. Natalie was portrayed as an ultra "good girl", and the freshman girls were portrayed as sex-crazed demons literally walking around topless. I felt these were both unrealistic portraits of feminists and girls often referred to as "sluts".

These extreme images made it difficult to relate to the characters. Spencer, the ringleader of the bra-exposing girls, seemed way over-the-top and far crazier than any fourteen-year-old I know (and keep in mind that I myself am fourteen). On the other side of the spectrum, Natalie was frustratingly neurotic rather than endearingly so, and had an irrational hate towards boys that didn't stem from any sort of traumatic experience. So as you can see, there were several places where I was quite fed up with the characters.

That said, I liked them more than I disliked them. Natalie and Spencer both matured through the book, and I felt Natalie in particular underwent important changes. Apart from her hostility to boys and goody-goody-ness, I usually found myself enjoying her as a character. After all, she was a strong, intelligent young woman who just had some misplaced ideas and was overly-defensive of her friends.

Not a lot of this review was positive, but I did enjoy NOT THAT KIND OF BOOK. The story is rather addictive, and though the characters aren't always as compelling as they could be, I found myself flipping through the pages at a rapid pace. This novel has a good, relevant message that's important for teenagers wondering about being sexually active, and manages to tell it without being annoyingly pushy. I would still recommend this to anyone who enjoys a non-depressing but still serious contemporary book.

Cover Love (11)

This week's Cover Love is on the foreign editions of my favorite book of all time: Looking for Alaska by John Green.

First on the left is the familiar US cover with its fancy medal on the front. I personally really like this cover because of its simplicity and beauty (the curling smoke is such a striking image), but the one thing I don't like so much is that it doesn't really tell you at all what the book is about.

In the middle is the UK version. As a piece of art, I think this is a neat cover, but I don't feel like it matches the book very well. It's just too pretty and frivolous to match the story within.

I may be mistaken, but I believe the cover on the right is the UK paperback. I'm not a big fan of this one either. The heart is just a bit odd when transparently layered over the rippling water like that, but I suppose it does a better job of describing the story than the middle one.

On the left is the Swedish cover. I think the background image and feet hanging out the car are nice and intriguing, and I also like the scrap of paper with the title "paperclipped" to the cover. However, I'm not a big fan of what appears to be a photo of Alaska and Miles because in general I dislike it when the main characters are on the cover, as they never looked like how I imagine them.

The bright red middle one is the Korean version, and it's very... different. I think it's interesting that the background is different shades of red clumped together along with the pencil drawing of Alaska (who seems to have turned Asian?), but I really don't feel like this accurately portrays the book.

The Japanese cover is on the right and, well, I'm not really sure what happened there. The girl doesn't look like Alaska, and there appears to be a flower randomly floating in the middle.

In all its hazy glory on the left is the Australian cover. I feel like I would like this one a lot more if it wasn't quite so blurry. A little of that sepia would have been a neat effect, but not to this extent. I do like the scene, though, with the same feet hanging out of the car as in the Swedish one.

In the middle is the Dutch. The concept of the cover, what with the unrolled cigarette and lipstick kisses, is awesome and fits the story well, but the overall effect of the cover is just rather "meh" for me.

Finally on the right we have the Italian cover. I don't really understand why there is an enormous and terrifying face with eyes that look straight into your soul. It's rather creepy and doesn't seem to have much to do with the story but at the same time, it's kind of captivating.

The German cover, on the left, is nice enough without nothing technically wrong, but it just doesn't really stand out to me. It wouldn't grab my attention in a book store or library.

The middle has the Spanish cover. Although I like the labyrinth in the A - which was a clever touch and means a lot to the story - I don't feel like this cover works well overall. It doesn't look like the quirky, touching young adult story it is.

Here on the right we have the Polish cover. I don't know how well it describes the story but it's certainly a pretty cover. The only thing I don't like that much is the weird black box with the candle.

The French cover, on the left, is a lot like the UK one but I like it a lot better. It's simple but pretty and could appeal to both genders. The colors work nicely as well.

In the middle is the Danish cover, which is creepy, what with the foggy road and the eyes in the trees. However, I don't really feel like the way Alaska is leaning on Miles like that is representative of the story, and this seems like a better-suited cover for a thriller.

As our last cover of the post, we have the Portuguese one on the right. I can't tell if that's a boy's face or a girl's face, but either way, I'm not a big fan of the whole half-face movement.

Overall, my favorites were the French cover and the original US one. Which ones do you like? Dislike? Any covers that I didn't mention?

You: Review

Title: You
Author: Charles Benoit
Release Date: August 2010
Published By: HarperTeen
Pages: 223
Goodreads Rating: 3.61 stars

Review: Kyle Chase is a hoodie, one of the disaffected boys given up on by everyone. Except he's not really like the rest of them - he just made a few bad choices and then had to suffer their results. But now there are more and more consequences, and he's drowning beneath them, because while he started out as an ordinary fifteen-year-old boy, he ended up standing over a bloody body. Nothing will ever be the same.

As indicated by the title, YOU makes use of a generally neglected writing style: second person point-of-view. Initially, this style was jarring and a bit difficult to read, but after a chapter or so, it's barely noticeable and reads easily. By the end, the point-of-view demonstrated how well it worked with the story because it seamlessly integrates the reader into the story.

The emotion in this relatively slow-paced book was nearly palpable, yet certain parts were not as powerful as they could have been. The ending in particular came abruptly and felt incomplete, which was disappointing considering the mounting build-up preceding it. Not everyone will find the ending quite so unsatisfying, and much of it comes down to personal taste.

Told in spare prose, YOU is a dark, intense novel that makes for an addicting read, grabbing readers from the first page to the last. The writing style immerses the reader in the story in a way few authors have dared to try. In Kyle Chase, there is a character many can relate to regardless of gender, age, or situation, because nearly all of us have blamed a situation when it only comes down to our own choices. Though some may dislike the ending, this is a book everyone should read.

Book Blogger Hop (30)

This week's Book Blogger Hop is...

What's one genre you wish you could get into but can't?

Paranormal romance, definitely. A lot of my friends are very into the genre and devour what feels like ever paranormal release, but I just can't get into it. Sure, there are a few exceptions here and there, but for the most part, I find the genre has too many cliches and I can't enjoy them.

Girl Unwrapped: Review

Title: Girl Unwrapped
Author: Gabriella Goliger
Release Date: September 2010
Published By: Arsenal Pulp Press
Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 3.60 stars

Review: Toni Goldblatt, with her taboo sexual desires, feels like she can never live up to her parents' expectations in 1960s Montreal. In the wake of the 1967 war, she runs to Israel where she hopes to reinvent herself, but the Zionist dream doesn't do anything. It's only in an underground lesbian bar scene that she discovers kindred spirits, and as she forges her own path outside the reaches of her smothering family, she finally begins to find herself.

I'm not entirely certain if GIRL UNWRAPPED is classified as young adult, but it could definitely appeal to both young adult and adult readers. The book is divided into three sections - Toni as an nine-year-old, a thirteen-year-old, and an eighteen-year-old - but each one is equally complex no matter her age. As she matures, her sense of isolation from her family and peers grows in intensity, and this struggle is something everyone can relate to.

Though the pace is relatively slow, something about the story is compelling and there is a difficult-to-put-down quality to the writing that makes you keep turning pages even when you should be doing something else. This book is unique in that it's not a lesbian-coming-out story, nor a lesbian-romance, but a lesbian-coming-of-age with evocative prose.

Between the pages of this book is a raw, honest story detailing the growing and maturing of a girl who can't help but feel different from everyone around her. She seeks love and acceptance in a way that anyone has experienced at some point in their lives. GIRL UNWRAPPED is at once a heart-breaking and heart-warming novel that will appeal to older readers looking for a moving story.

I received a free copy of this book for review. This is no way affected my review, which is 100% honest.

Teen {Book} Scene

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

This week, I'm waiting for...

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver. We meet Liesl the night after the day her young father has died. That same day she is visited by a ghost, Po, an eight year old boy who lives on the other side, the territory between life and death that runs parallel to the living world. Po has come to tell her that her father is stuck on the other side, and that she is the only one who can help him cross over. A couple of wooden boxes. Some ashes. Some magic dust. A ghost, its pet, and a boy who forgot to wear a hat in the cold. From these seemingly odd, random characters Oliver weaves the enchanting story of how, with the aid of Liesl, these elements come together over the course of one week to restore love and luster to a world gone grey and heartless.

All I saw was "Lauren Oliver", and I knew I wanted to read this book. A few months ago I picked up "Delirium" and loved it, so I'm sure this book will contain the same wonderful writing I enjoyed so much.

Are you waiting for this book, or have you already been able to read it? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Embarrassing Book Covers

We've all been there: you found the most amazing book to read but unfortunately, its cover is horribly embarrassing, and you're afraid to take it out in public. Well, never fear! Below is a list of ways I've compiled to combat this terrible syndrome known as What-Were-the-Cover-Designers-Thinking-itis.

1. Book to Thigh. So say you're on the subway or the bus or just sitting down somewhere with a lot of people, and you don't want anyone to see that cover. The solution's simple - splay the book open on your thighs so that they can only see the text on the pages instead of any cover peeks. I mean, sure, you'll look like you suddenly developed kyphosis while reading and maybe your neck and back will be in permanent pain after about fifteen minutes, but hey! No one will ever know what book you were reading.

2. The Artful Hand. But maybe you don't want to permanently injure your spine. You can always hold the book up like you usually would, and simply press one palm against the most embarrassing aspect of the cover. Sure, you might look a bit odd and people will probably give you stranger looks than you would have gotten otherwise, but at least not a single person will see that girl and boy making out on the front of your book.

3. The Paper Bag. This is, of course, the best solution of the three. Simply place a paper bag over your head, cut slits for your eyes, and read normally. The people around you might be silently judging, but since your face will be covered, they'll never know it's you. You can read in peace, except for the part where, y'know, you have a paper bag on your head.

So what are your thoughts on humiliating covers and methods to hide them?

Girl Unwrapped: Tens List

 Girl Unwrapped is a girl's coming-of-age story set in 1960s Montreal about the burdens and blessings of history, the divided self, and the quest to be whole. Toni Goldblatt's awakening to taboo desire conflicts with her Holocaust-scarred parents' expectations. Yearning to reinvent herself, she flees to Israel in the wake of the 1967 war, but the Zionist dream doesn't save her; only on her return, when she discovers kindred spirits in the underground lesbian bar scene, does Toni begin to find her own path. Girl Unwrapped is a novel about love, isolation, and the search for personal truth despite the stranglehold of family.

Toni Goldblatt's top ten: Things she loves most, as of novel's end. (But not necessarily in this order, depends on her mood.)

1) cute girls who love her back

2) her re-decorated apartment in the McGill U. student ghetto in Montreal

3) Saturday nights at Loulou's

4) Saturday mornings on Ste Catherine Street

5) Isaac Asimov books (both his science fiction and his popular science books)

6) her mama's cooking, esp. apple strudel and goulash with sauerkraut and crispy potatoes

7) her mama, period (but she might be embarrassed to say so in public, so keep it under your hat)

8) her papa (easier for her to say that out loud)

9) confusing some people about whether she's a boy or a girl

10) running to the top of Mount Royal without pausing for breath (almost)

In My Mailbox (28)

I had a surprisingly good week this time!


Twisted by Sara Shepard. I wasn't expecting this one at all, so when the Harper Collins package arrived in the mail, I had no choice but to commence my happy dance. A while ago, I started the Pretty Little Liars series and went through the first four, but then for some reason, I stopped even though I intended to keep reading. I'm going through the last couple that come before Twisted now, and I'm so glad I started again! I'd forgotten how addicting the books in this series can be, and it's nice to have all the books at once (well, except for whatever comes after Twisted) because the cliffhangers are crazy.

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray. This one sounds really interesting! It's a modern retelling of Hamlet with high-school senior Ophelia and her boyfriend, Prince Hamlet of Denmark. Everything about her life centers around him because of his high status, not to mention overbearing family, and the paparazzi are always after her. Hamlet's father, the King, is mysteriously murdered, and Ophelia is forced to watch him slowly spiral into insanity. I've never read the original Hamlet, so I'm worried that I'll miss out on the subtleties of the retelling. Still, I'm sure I'll be able to enjoy the book because it seems like a fascinating read.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I can't even begin to describe how absolutely thrilled I was to receive this. I've been desperate to read it ever since I saw its gorgeous cover and read the hooking synopsis. Unfortunately, the ARC I got doesn't have the beautiful cover this one does, which makes me severely tempted to buy the finished version when it comes out. Regardless of the cover, though, I'm sure the story will be simply beautiful. My expectations are very high on this one, but from what I've read, I won't be disappointed.

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin. I requested this one a while back and when a week passed with no response, I figured that well, I just didn't get it. However, to my surprise, my request was approved and I got this one on Friday night. I find this simple cover to be just so pretty, especially with the washed out, grungy city skyline, the faded list on the side, and the misshapen chocolate heart. This one's a dystopia, but seems very different from the typical ones, and since I've been getting a little tired of some of the more formulaic dystopian novels, this should be great for me!

So that's it for me this week! What did you get in your mailbox?

Stupid Fast: Review

Title: Stupid Fast
Author: Geoff Herbach
Release Date: June 2011
Published By: Sourcebooks
Pages: 320
Goodreads Rating: 4.48 stars

Review: Felton Reinstein has always been on the smallish side, but all of a sudden sophomore year, he starts growing and growing until he's huge. And not just that - he's fast now. Stupid fast. But along with his new athletic prowess come a host of problems: his mom's depression, his annoying little brother, and even a first love. As he starts dealing with these new-found issues, he discovers a secret from his past that both explains and changes everything.

One of the most notable things about STUPID FAST is Felton. He's at once endearing and admirable. His cute awkwardness shines through the startlingly honest narration and everything about him screams innocence, from his hilarious observations to naivety about other people. However, he has to deal with a huge amount of problems, ranging from problems in his football team to problems with his girlfriend to problems with his family itself. Everything's starting to cave in around him, and yet he manages to endure.

This book is definitely on the quirky side. When I first received this, I was worried that it would be a sports-centered book, and since I'm so non-athletic that it's a talent, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it. But as I soon found, despite the cover, the focus is very much on his changing life rather than football itself, though that is still a part of it.

STUPID FAST is the rare kind of book with a completely different feel to it, from the honest and funny yet innocent narration to the touching moments that will have you tearing up. This is something everyone could enjoy, but I would particularly recommend it to boys who are reluctant readers, as the gripping quality of this novel will keep them hooked from beginning to end.

I received a free copy of this book for review. This is no way affected my review, which is 100% honest.