Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #242: Girl Against the Universe

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Girl Against the Universe
By: Paula Stokes
Release Date: May 17, 2015

Maguire is bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

How My Summer Went Up In Flames
By: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Released: May 7, 2013
Source: Purchased
Purchase the Book: Amazon

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious. To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new… (Goodreads)

I really wanted to like How My Summer Went Up in Flames a lot more. I love road trip books, but this one just fell short for me.

How My Summer Went Up in Flames is the story of Rosie who is served a temporary restraining order after setting her ex-boyfriend's car on fire. When her next door neighbor, Matty, suggests that she come along on a cross-country road trip with him and his friends, Rosie's parents agree. They think some time away from her ex-boyfriend will do Rosie good and keep her out of trouble.

Rosie was a character that I really struggled to like and understand. It wasn't until the end that I really started to like her. I am someone who loves unlikable characters, but Rosie was just too much for me at times. She's got an attitude and she's really judgmental. I just wish I could have understood where she was coming from when she made the decisions that she made. I still don't even understand her obsession with her ex-boyfriend. They didn't date for that long, plus he cheated on her.

There were some interesting side characters, but I felt like I never got to know any of them. I liked Matty, Spencer, and Logan a lot, but they all blurred together for most of the book. Their personalities were all too similar.  

I liked the plot, but the development was lacking and the pacing was rushed. I thought that the plot was rushing through things and I just wanted it to to slow down a bit, especially at certain big scenes. Then as I mentioned earlier the whole plot with Rosie's ex was confusing. There was so much back and forth that it became exhausting to keep up with at times. I definitely enjoyed the last quarter of the book the most though. I also did really enjoy the road trip aspect of this book and the fun locations that the group stopped at along their way. The majority of this book takes place during the road trip itself, but I still just wanted even more of it.

Overall I thought that How My Summer Went Up in Flames was okay. This book just wasn't for me, but I'm still curious about checking out the author's other books though.     
My Rating:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore

Thicker Than Water
By: Kelly Fiore
Released: January 5, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Cecelia Price killed her brother. At least, that’s what the police and the district attorney are saying. And although Cecelia is now locked up and forced into treatment, she knows the real story is much more complicated. Cyrus wasn’t always the drug-addled monster he’d become. He was a successful athlete, but when an injury forced him off the soccer field and onto pain medication, his life became a blur of anger, addiction, and violence. All CeCe could do was stand by and watch, until she realized one effective way to take away her brother’s drugs while earning the money she needed for college: selling the pills. Soon, CeCe becomes part drug dealer, part honor student. But even when all she wants is to make things right, she learns that sometimes the best intentions lead to the worst possible outcome. (Goodreads)

Wow Thicker Than Water is a memorable and well written story. Fiore takes on a really serious topic and handles it well.

Thicker Than Water is the story of Cece whose brother was addicted to prescription drugs. As she stands by and watches her brother become more and more addicted, she takes advantage of the opportunity to make some extra money for college by selling his pills. Now according to most people, Cece is responsible for her brother's death.  

Cece is a complex protagonist. She is flawed and she's made mistakes. She is also living with a lot of guilt on her conscience. I really like how the story alternates between the past and present. It shows this contrast between what her life was like when her brother first started taking the pills to how it continued to escalate over time. There are also some interesting side characters, but I felt like you never got to know any of them all that well. Cece does have a really complicated relationship with her father though. That whole aspect of this story is interesting too. 

The plot is paced well and as I mentioned earlier, I really like how it alternates between the past and present. It not only built up the suspense as to how Cece ended up in a treatment center, but it also helps the story move along. The plot deals various topics such as drug abuse, loss, and financial struggles.

Fiore especially does a really excellent job with the topic of drug abuse. She shows in a realistic and brutally honest way how drug addiction can escalate. She also shows the effects it has on not only the addict, but the addicts family and loved ones. Reading through Cece's perspective as she watches her brother struggle with addiction was difficult at times. Fiore talks about her own personal experiences and the research she did on addiction in the Author's Note at the end of the book. That experience and research truly shows in the story itself.

Thicker Than Water is an important and heartbreaking story that I absolutely recommend picking up. This is a story that will stick with me for a very long time.  

My Rating:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

By: Alexandra Bracken
Released: January 5, 2016
Source: Purchased
Purchase the Book: Amazon

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now. Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not. Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever. (Goodreads)

I really enjoyed Passenger a lot! There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book for months now and I'm happy to say that it absolutely lives up to it. This book took me along on a fascinating adventure through time.

Passenger is the story of Etta who suddenly and unexpectedly travels years in to the past. It's while she is there that she learns of the secrets that her mom has been hiding about her family. Etta also meets Nicholas, who is in servitude to the Ironwoods family. Together Etta and Nicholas travel through time to locate a powerful object that the Ironwoods desperately want. 

Etta and Nicholas were both complex characters who just kept becoming more and more interesting as the story progressed. I really liked Etta a lot. She is smart, but still has moments of vulnerability and uncertainty. Then there is Nicholas, who has his flaws too. He has a temper, but he has his vulnerable moments as well. I really enjoyed reading the interactions between these two characters and how their relationship developed. 

Passenger was also filled with so many interesting side characters like Alice, Sophia, and Etta's mom. Etta and her mom have this really complicated relationship and you are introduced to it as soon as the story begins. It was interesting to learn about all of Etta's family secrets alongside her.  

The plot started off slow because there was a lot to set up. Although it felt like it was dragging at times in the beginning, the whole set up is necessary. However, once I did get through the first couple of chapters, the plot really began to pick up and it was difficult to put this book down. There was action, romance, and plenty of surprising twists. The last few chapters, especially, had me on the edge of my seat.  

My favorite aspect of this book was definitely the setting though. I loved jumping not only through time with Etta and Nicholas, but also to so many different and exciting locations. Bracken described these locations so well and it was easy to picture myself there. She really did put a lot of detail into this story and it shows. The plot is complex and there are so many different elements to it.  

Overall I really enjoyed Passenger. It was a beautifully written story that will take you on an adventure. I strongly recommend picking this one up. I already can't wait for the sequel!   

My Rating:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #241: The Way Back to You

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

The Way Back To You 
By: Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott
Release Date: May 3, 2016

In this witty, heart-tugging novel, two teens take a spontaneous road trip across the Southwest to meet three strangers who received the life-saving organs of their late best friend—charting a journey of loss, hope, and love along the way. Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident. Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken. Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore. As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they're barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake. With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her...and to each other. (Goodreads)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #240: Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here
By: Anna Breslaw
Release Date: April 19, 2016

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor. When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them...until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett's stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off. (Goodreads)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Distance From A to Z by Natalie Blitt

The Distance From A to Z
By: Natalie Blitt
Released: January 12, 2016
Source: Edelweiss
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight. That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys. But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk. (Goodreads)

I really enjoyed The Distance from A to Z a lot. It was a really cute story that had great characters and handled some important topics.  

The Distance from A to Z is the story of Abby who is spending her summer taking an intensive French course to become fluent in the language. She is also using it as an opportunity to get away from her baseball obsessed family, but her partner in class wears baseball shirts and is just the type of guy that Abby wanted a break from. 

Abby was a great and well developed protagonist. She has her flaws and makes mistakes. She can be really judgmental at times too. I loved Abby's passion for the French language and culture. It was clear how dedicated she was to becoming fluent in the language. I loved the way she explained her fantasy of going to France one day too. I also really liked learning more about her childhood and her family. Then there is Zeke, Abby's partner in class. I loved getting to know Zeke better as the story progressed. I also really loved the way the relationship developed between him and Abby because it was realistic. 

This book was filled with plenty of interesting side characters, but my favorite was definitely Alice. Alice is Abby's roommate and a poet. I loved the friendship that developed between Alice and Abby. Their friendship was realistic and they learned a lot from each other.

The plot was fun and cute, without being corny. It also still had a good amount of drama to keep things interesting. I loved all of the French words and phrases that were incorporated into the story. I think I even learned a couple of words. At times the dialogue did feel a bit repetitive and the ending was predictable, but I still really enjoyed it. What I loved the most though, was that this book was even more than what I was expecting it to be. This book tackled some important topics really well. 

Overall I really enjoyed The Distance from A to Z. It was a well written contemporary story and I strongly recommend picking it up!

My Rating:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday #239: The Museum of Heartbreak

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

The Museum of Heartbreak
By: Meg Leder
Release Date: June 7, 2016

In this ode to all the things we gain and lose and gain again, seventeen-year-old Penelope Marx curates her own mini-museum to deal with all the heartbreaks of love, friendship, and growing up. Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak. Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak. Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately. But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken. (Goodreads)


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

The Boy Most Likely To
By: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Released: August 18, 2015
Source: Purchased
Purchase the Book: Amazon

Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To:
- find the liquor cabinet blindfolded
- need a liver transplant
- drive his car into a house
Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To:
- well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

 For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard. Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have. And Alice is caught in the middle. Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this return to the world of My Life Next Door is a story about failing first, trying again, and having to decide whether to risk it all once more. (Goodreads)

I really enjoyed The Boy Most Likely To. I loved My Life Next Door, so I was really excited for this companion book and to see the Garrett family once again. 

The Boy Most Likely To is the story of Tim and Alice. Tim is an alcoholic and has been kicked out of multiple high schools. He is trying to straighten his life out, but a consequence from his partying days has come back. Alice is busy trying to handle all of the responsibilities of running the household and taking care of her siblings while her parents have their hands filled with other problems. 

Both Alice and Tim were really well developed and complex characters. The book alternated between both of their point of views and I especially loved Alice's point of view. She is strong willed and likes to be in control. She is juggling so many responsibilities at home and just reading about a typical morning for her made me feel exhausted. Then there was Tim who is trying his best to turn his life around. He's made a lot of mistakes in the past and he is learning what it means to grow up. The relationship that forms between Alice and Tim was realistic and paced well.

The Boy Most Likely To also had so many great side characters. I loved seeing the whole big Garrett family and getting to know them even better. I especially liked seeing Samantha and Jase from My Life Next Door again too. 

The plot was paced well and the alternating point of view helped move the story along. I liked how at first Alice and Tim have separate story lines going on, but eventually it all comes together. There were a lot of subplots though and I wanted to see some of them expanded on a bit more. I thought some were wrapped up too quickly. However, the main plot line was really great and not at all what I expected it to be when I first picked this book up.

Overall I really enjoyed The Boy Most Likely To. I will be looking forward to Fitzpatrick's next book. I definitely recommend picking this one up and My Life Next Door if you haven't already read it.

My Rating:

Monday, January 4, 2016

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends 
By: Marieke Nijkamp
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Source: ARC from BEA
Purchase the Book: Amazon
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. 10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. 10:03 The auditorium doors won't open. 10:05 Someone starts shooting. Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival. (Goodreads)

This is Where it Ends is a powerful story that tackles a topic that I haven't seen much of in Young Adult books. It certainly left an impact on me and I still can't stop thinking about it.

This is Where it Ends is the story of a school shooting told from the perspective of four different characters. Claire, Tomas, Autumn, and Sylv are each affected differently by the shooting. However, each of their stories intricately come together.

The plot is paced fast and it all takes place within the time frame of the shooting. There were only a couple of flashbacks with each of the characters which provides you with a little bit of background to them. I read this book in one sitting because of how fast it was moving forward. On the other hand though, the fast pace meant that I never really connected to these characters. It took me a while to even differentiate between the four characters because they were all blending together at first. Each chapter jumps between all of the characters in these short passages. There were also these pages with tweets randomly throughout the book and those just didn't flow with the story. Each time I came across one of those pages, it would take me out of the story.  

I understand that everything is happening just as fast for these characters though and they are all in shock. This story doesn't shy away from showing the violence, so it did become increasingly difficult to read at times. It absolutely left me with a heavy heart. I don't want to say too much more about this book. It wasn't until days passed since I finished reading that I really began to gain an appreciation for this book. It left me with so many unanswered questions, but that is what any school shooting does.

I think that the way This is Where it Ends was told will work for some readers and may be a turn off for other readers. I still recommend giving this book a chance though. It's a powerful story about an important topic. 

My Rating: