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Waiting on Wednesday (38)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Butter by Erin Lange. Here's what Goodreads has to say: A boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make Scottsdale High history. He’s going to eat himself to death live on the Internet – and everyone will watch.

He announces his deadly plan to an army of peers and expects pity, insults or even indifference. Instead, he finds morbid encouragement. When that encouragement tips the scales into popularity, Butter has a reason to live. But if he doesn’t go through with his plan, he’ll lose everything.

I love hard-hitting contemporary, so this book sounds right up my alley. What do you think? And what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Blog Tours

Recently I've been participating in quite a few blog tours hosted by the lovely Teen {Book} Scene and really enjoying them. I've always thought blog tours are quite fun with a good variety of different types of posts (author and character interviews, guests posts, reviews, etc.), and I was wondering what all of you think about the effectiveness of blog tours as publicity.

When I see blog tours occurring, I don't ever really make a point to follow the whole tour, but I do take note of the ones that pop up in my feed. Even though I won't usually read through every interview/guest post unless they're particularly entertaining, I do think it raises my awareness of the book quite a bit just through having it everywhere, and if I see several positive reviews, I most likely will end up with the book on my to-read list.

So yes, I'd say for me, blog tours are generally an effective way of raising publicity, especially if a lot of blogs I follow are participating. What do you think?

A Match Made in High School: Review

Title: A Match Made in High School
Author: Kristin Walker
Release Date: February 2010
Published By: Razorbill
Pages: 278
Goodreads Rating: 3.71 stars

Review: It's like Fiona's worst nightmare come true: her principal announced a new marriage education program, and she has to pretend to be married to the hugest jerk in the world, Todd. As if that's not bad enough, Todd's girlfriend, who absolutely despises her, is paired with Fiona's long-time crush, Gabe. Fiona's just glad, though, that she wasn't paired with the weird Johnny Mercer, though as she gets to know him better, she starts to wonder if he's really so weird.

Admit it: that summary makes A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL sound like possibly the most stereotypical and predictable young adult novel on the planet. At least, that's certainly what I thought when I first picked up this book, but I forced myself to read it because of the abundance of glowing reviews out on the blogosphere. And boy, were those glowing reviews deserved!

This book was every inch the cute and addicting story the colorful cover promises, and more. Fiona narrates with a hilarious voice that would keep you entertained even with a slow-as-growing-grass storyline (which there wasn't - it was plenty fast!), but the funniest parts by far were her numerous occasions of banter with Todd. They hated each other from the start and evolved into pseudo-friends that loved to hate each other, and their dialogue could cheer up the saddest person.

My expectations were right in that there were predictable elements to this book, but they were offset by some cliché-busters present throughout the novel. This whole paragraph's going to be a minor spoiler, as a head's up. I really liked that instead of ending up with Todd as many light contemporary novels would lead into, Fiona ended up with Johnny instead. What I appreciated the most, though, was that Johnny wasn't some super-gorgeous hunk or even just a generally attractive guy - he was a nice, average-looking guy, which I found satisfyingly realistic and refreshing.

All in all, A MATCH MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL was, well, a match made for me! I went into this thinking it would be cute, light, and predictable, and the first two were certainly true. Although there were parts that were a bit predictable, the funniness and the unique twists down the line more than made up for it. If you enjoy light-hearted, addictive contemporary, this book is a match for you as well.

In My Mailbox (43)

I know I say this all the time, but I had a fantastic week with some amazing books I can't wait to start.

For Review

Never Enough by Denise Jaden.
Awkward by Marni Bates.
Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliot.
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons.
Don't You Wish by Roxanne St. Clair.
Wonder by R. J. Palacio.
Shooting Stars by Alison Rushby. 

What did you get in your mailbox? 

Crossed: Review

Title: Crossed
Author: Ally Condie
Release Date: November 2011
Published By: Dutton Juvenile
Pages: 367
Goodreads Rating: 3.51 stars

Review: Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in desperate search of Ky, only to find him missing with a series of clues left in his wake. As she follows them, whatever certainty she's gained in her life is severely shaken by an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander who, even after all this time, conflicts her. Nothing is as is expected on the edge of Society.

I was a little nervous to start CROSSED because I loved the prequel, and I was worried this book wouldn't live up to it. Luckily, it turned out I had nothing to worry about, because this book was just as awesome - and arguably more so - than its predecessor, no matter what the surprising amount of negative reviews I've seen say about it.

I'd forgotten how gorgeous Ally Condie's writing is when I began reading this book, so the pure poetry of her words was definitely a pleasant surprise. Every sentence she penned flowed smoothly into the next with a simplicity that managed to have a resounding effect. Honestly, she could have been writing about grass growing and I would have cried for the grass's tortured adolescence.

It's amazing how the author is able to make us care so much about the characters. I found myself aching for Cassia and Ky, longing for them to finally be together and dying a little on the inside at every obstacle that came between them. This book struck the right balance between action and romance, managing to show a wonderful romance without compromising the actual story.

Apart from Cassia and Ky, a brand new cast of characters rose up, with faces like Indie making an appearance, and I loved them all. Each had a unique personality and added something incredible to the story, fleshing this trilogy out into something more. Indie in particular was fierce and determined, and I ended up rooting for her quite a bit.

All in all, CROSSED was everything I hoped it would be and more, as cliché as it is to say it. Condie's writing was poetic and beautiful, and I cared - possibly far too much - for each and every character traipsing throughout this story. All I can do is recommend the heck out of this book as strongly as I can and wait anxiously for the final book in the trilogy.

Pieces of Us: Character This or That

Here is Margie Gelbwasser on the tour for her fantastic novel, PIECES OF US, with a character this-or-that for Alex. Follow the rest of the blog tour for more tour stops!

(1) vegetarianism: is for wimps

(2) soda: keep it coming

(3) school: is good for meeting new freshmeat, I mean freshmen

(4) books: good props for school

(5) parties: not my scene

(6) penguins: What? What kind of weirdo question is that?

(8) Facebook: Who has the time? And who cares?

(9) playgrounds: They're good for kids, and I haven't been one since my dad offed himself.

Writing Alex: Alex is the character in PIECES OF US who gets the strongest reaction. He is vulgar, crass, and a misogynist. No, I don't agree with his actions, but I felt there was a need to write him. Why? Because he is real.

I have known guys like that: the ones who put a girl's virginity on a pedestal, the ones who determine a girl's worth by what she will and will not do sexually. While writing him, I began to understand motives and thinking of men like that. If he make a reader mad, good. That's better than someone connecting with him, right? And if a girl or woman reading this recognizes this guy as someone she is dating or had dated or is thinking about dating, all the better.

She can know to stay away or not blame herself for being with someone like that. After reading this book, someone wrote something to the effect, “Yes, these things happen, but you don't have to write about them.” By not writing about them, no one knows there are real people out there like this, and that's worse because by the time they find out the guy they thought they knew was really masquerading as someone else, they're already too deeply involved.

Deadly: Review

As part of a blog tour from the Teen {Book} Scene, I have a review of Deadly by Julie Chibbaro, a fantastic book that I feel lucky to have gotten a copy of.

Title: Deadly
Author: Julie Chibbaro
Release Date: February 2011
Published By: Atheneum
Pages: 304
Goodreads Rating: 3.60 stars

Review: Prudence isn't like the other girls at Miss Browning's School for Girls; she's fascinated with science and the human body. With a stroke of luck, she gets a job assisting in working on an endemic of typhoid fever. Everything is tracked back to Mary Mallon, a cook, but she's never been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination, or an exciting new scientific discovery? In a time when science is for men, Prudence is determined to prove that she can help solve the greatest medical mystery of the twentieth century.

DEADLY brings to life a female protagonist whose strength isn't even slightly diminished by the imprisoning era she lives in. Prudence's drive and fire is undiluted even in the face of overwhelming sexism facing any girl who wished to become a scientist or doctor. At every turn, her poignant struggles are exacerbated by the next obstacle thrown in front of her, but she forges on with admirable determination that bleeds straight through the pages.

Just as Prudence was a revolutionary character for her time, this novel brings a slew of new ideas to the table. I have never before encountered a book dealing with the story of Typhoid Mary at this particular angle, focusing not only on the mystery elements but on issues often left unexplored. Because the doctors were incapable of treating her, Mary was forced to live in quarantine to the end of her days, unable to live out her life normally. This new look at a story often told in history classes was refreshing and stands out against the rest of its genre.

Even those who don't typically enjoy reading historical fiction may find themselves enamored with this exciting new release. With a remarkably strong protagonist anyone will root for and a fresh new angle on Typhoid Mary, DEADLY is not a novel that can be easily forgotten.

Waiting on Wednesday (37)

This week, I'm waiting on...

Never Let You Go by Emma Carlson Berne. Here's what Goodreads has to say: You always want what you can’t have.

Megan never meant to hurt her best friend Anna. She made a mistake, and she’s spent all year trying to regain Anna’s trust. So when Anna invites her to spend the summer on her uncle’s farm, Megan is excited…and relieved. The past is finally behind them.

On the farm, Anna quickly falls for Jordan, a rugged summer-hand. Megan and Jordan have their own spark, but Megan’s betrayed Anna once before and she’s not about to do it again.

Still, the more time that Megan and Jordan spend together, the harder it is to deny their chemistry. But Anna doesn’t like to be ignored—and she doesn’t forgive and forget. What started out as the perfect summer is about to take a very dark turn…

I love, love, love books like these, with betrayal and psychological suspense. I can't wait until Fall 2012 when Never Let You Go releases. 

Running Out of Space For Books

I never buy books (let's face it - I'm in high school, I'm broke), but I do receive a fair amount of review books. And as much as I absolutely love getting books, they do take up a heck of a lot of space.

A while back, I dedicated a couple spare shelves in the basement to storing them, but now I have simply too many books for even that. I'm at the point where I have to strategically shift books into odd positions in order to slide another one in when I'm done with it.

So what do you do when you reach the point that you have too many books and too little space in the house? Build another shelf? Donate them? Sell them off?

Forbidden: Review

Title: Forbidden
Author: Syrie James, Ryan James
Release Date: January 2012
Published By: HarperTeen
Pages: 411
Goodreads Rating: 3.86 stars

Review: Claire has been attending Emerson Academy for two years - the longest she and her mom have stayed anywhere - and she doesn't want to leave, so she keeps her mouth shut about the worrying visions and creepy warnings she keeps getting. Alec chose Emerson because he was tired of angelic duties and wanted to hide away and pretend to be normal, for once. But he hadn't factored Claire into his plans, and when her unusual powers become clear, how far will he go to protect her?

Let's get one thing straight: I don't usually like paranormal romance. The only supernatural stories I tend to like have murderous ghosts or zombies who only believe in a romance with your brains (and I don't mean your intelligence), so I went into FORBIDDEN expecting another lackluster story bursting with clichés and a whiny female protagonist. And wow, was I surprised.

I'm not saying there weren't any clichés, because true to my expectations, this book was chock full of them. The male love interest was far too old for the girl, the love triangle was tired and uninteresting, and the mythology wasn't very well-developed. I will say that the protagonist wasn't nearly as whiny or boring as in some other paranormal novels, but all those stereotypes about paranormal fiction? Yeah, they were here.

But despite that, I still enjoyed this book, which honestly surprised me. I can't really pinpoint what exactly about it made me like it, but there was something captivating to the story, something that sucked me in and held my attention for long periods of time. I was flipping pages like mad through some parts, and there weren't any places where I was bored.

If you don't tend to like paranormal fiction, FORBIDDEN is definitely a book to try. Even if clichés abound through these pages, you'll be tearing through chapters too fast to notice. This is that rare kind of novel that grips your attention and doesn't let you go even though you feel like you should be disliking it. Here's hoping for a sequel!

Cover Comparison: The Adoration of Jenna Fox

I, well, adore the Adoration of Jenna Fox, so I decided to do a cover comparison for the all the foreign covers.

So here we have the US hardcover and paperback copies. I love the hardcover, with the gorgeous - and meaningful - butterfly and the nice deep blue/green color scheme. The only quibble I have with it is that it looks like a contemporary novel.

The paperback is very neat as well, with some awesome blood glowing and puzzle pieces that give great hints towards what the book is about. It's also unabashedly science fiction, which I appreciate.

These are the Australian and Catalan covers respectively. I like the tag line on the Australian cover and the typography with the title, but the girl just looks plain creepy. This seems more horror than anything else.

I like the butterfly on the hand on the Catalan cover, but I'm not so sure about the weird blurry background and the choice in font. The cover design has a lot of potential because the concept's cool, but I don't feel it was executed very well.

On the left, we have the Chinese cover (obviously), which is... interesting. I like the fading and blurring on the right, as well as the wintery background, but the model feels off and her eye make-up is, frankly, frightening.

On the right is the Dutch cover, which is awesome. The image is simple yet stark, and though I tend to not like cursive fonts for books like these, I think it works well here. The little blue butterflies are a nice touch to this striking cover.

These are the Finnish and French covers. The Finnish cover is interesting with the rather scary butterfly (or is that just my phobia talking?), and I wonder why they chose to go with a yellow one when everyone else went blue (it's not a bad thing, I'm just curious). However, this looks too much like it belongs on a contemporary book.

The French one is way cool. I adore the creepy ascending butterflies coming out of the girl's head, and this cover absolutely screams "science fiction". It has a bit of an old feel, and isn't really something I think I would normally like, but for some reason I find it very appealing.

So all in all, my two favorite covers are the French one and the Dutch one. If I absolutely had to choose, I think I would go with the French because it's more original, but both are eye-catching and beautiful.

Which one's your favorite?

The Wednesdays: Review

Title: The Wednesdays
Author: Julie Bourbeau
Release Date: August 2012
Published By: Random House
Pages: 256
Goodreads Rating: 3.76 stars

Review: Max's village is perfectly normal every day of the week... except for Wednesday. For just this day, anything and everything will go wrong to the point that the townspeople see no choice but to lock the doors and windows and hide away. But Max is fed up of being bored inside and one day breaks every rule when he ventures outside in search of the cause. What he finds is so dastardly and frightening that it changes the way he views everything - and even changes him.

THE WEDNESDAYS is a prime example of the kind of middle grade fiction I like, with its intriguing premise and sweet protagonist. The plot is compelling enough to pull in even the oldest reader with the absolute perfect mix of mystery, horror, and fun to keep everyone on their toes without scaring anyone away. This fantastic storyline is accompanied with a wonderful main character; Max is strong, inquisitive, and, despite his bold streak, has a vulnerability that allows everyone to relate to him.

If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be "charming". Sprinkled throughout the narration are little amusing tidbits, such as a dog who chases the Wednesdays, and is called Thursday because he "comes after Wednesdays". Phrases and quirks like these abound and are sure to delight anyone regardless of age, and in particular make for wonderful out-loud reading.

The one aspect that I disliked came with the rest of the cast of characters. While Max was well-developed and an interesting character overall, the secondary characters had very little personality and came across as flat and two-dimensional. They seemed to just be summed up with a description and followed that to the letter for the rest of the novel.

All in all, THE WEDNESDAYS is a truly charming middle grade novel that's not just for the young ones. I wish the minor characters had more developed personalities, but I still enjoyed the story. From the fascinating plot to the courageous and relatable protagonist, with delightful quirks scattered along the way, Julie Borbeau delivers a compelling book that can be enjoyed by truly everyone.

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else: Review

Title: I Now Pronounce You Someone Else
Author: Erin McCahan
Release Date: June 2010
Published By: Scholastic
Pages: 258
Goodreads Rating: 3.82 stars

Review: Eighteen-year-old Bronwen has always felt like she's been switched at birth; after all, how else could she explain the radical difference between her and her family members? Enter Jared Sondervan. He's sweet, funny, and has a family that makes her feel like she truly belongs. In short, he's everything she's always wanted, so when he asks her to marry him, she jumps at the chance. Except she has to wonder... is she making the right choice?

In a swamp of young adult novels that sometimes center around overly-used plots, I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE brings something new to the table. It was refreshing to read something so original, something that delved into interesting themes that I haven't seen covered in any other book. After all, it's not like books about premature marriage are crowding the shelves (unless they are and I've just never seen them).

That said, I didn't really enjoy every aspect of this book; in particular, Jared annoyed the hell out of me. I just couldn't see the appeal or how Bronwen could possibly like him. He came across as irritating, fake, insincere, and boring - and he wasn't even meant to be a negative character. The whole time she found herself being swept up in a romance with him, I just couldn't empathize with her.

I was also a little bothered by the ending. I won't say what exactly happened, but the resolution involving her and Jared ticked me off. I mean, I guess it's a good thing that I cared enough about Bronwen to want her not to make certain choices so much, but really? Really? Furthermore, there wasn't that much resolution relating to other parts as well. For instance, the ending could have definitely gone into more detail about what happens to her and her relationship with her mother.

Overall, I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE had a lot of potential with its fascinating premise and intriguing themes, but it fell short for me. I was completely disinterested in the romance, and the ending far from redeemed the book. Still, though, this is an interesting contemporary novel that I would recommend to those who are a bit more tolerant of romantic interests.

Waiting on Wednesday (36)

This week, I'm waiting on...

The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor. 34 kids missing. Vanished without a trace.

Believing she is possessed, Genie Magee's mother has imprisoned her all summer encouraged by the sinister Reverend Schneider. Beautiful Rian, love of her life, sets her free, and their escape washes them up at Marshall's remote farmhouse downriver. But why are there newspaper clippings of the missing kids pinned to Marshall's bathroom wall? And should they believe his stories about the experiments at the Fortress, an underground research station nearby?

Genie meets Denis. Missing two years now, but hasn't grown an inch. Rian is haunted by Renée, who insists she's not actually dead. Soon they discover the terrible truth about Reverend Schneider and worse, Genie is next ... and Rian can't do a thing to prevent it.

The Repossession is just the beginning.

How awesome does this sound? And my goodness, that cover. I can't wait for March!

Have you heard of this book? What are you waiting on this Wednesday?