Saturday, March 30, 2013

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti (a quick review!)

Title/Author: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: August 30, 2005
Buy It: Amazon / Book Depository

     "Right away I got that Something About To Happen feeling. Right away I knew he was bad, and that it didn't matter."

     It is summer in the Northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, and sixteen-year-old Ruby McQueen, ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl, finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. But Ruby is in over her head, and finds she is risking more and more when she's with him.

     In an effort to keep Ruby occupied, Ruby's mother Ann drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs. When it is discovered that one of the group's own members is the subject of a tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. But for Ruby, the mission turns out to be more than just a road trip...

     Sometimes you do things even when you know they're bad for you. Sometimes you step outside yourself a little in order to see yourself, and who you are, more clearly. This story about Ruby McQueen, her relationship with the so-wrong-for-her Travis Becker, and an impromptu road trip and kidnapping that is the true love story of the novel is so complex and honest that I would lay odds that any girl will be able to relate to it.

    This book is filled with wisdom, ridiculousness, humor, love, sadness and heartbreak, and the most interesting book club ever. This is my second Deb Caletti novel, and she once again manages to inject poignancy, grace, and beauty into a unique story about a teenage girl trying to find out who she is.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

"A man's identity is complete through action, a woman's, when she has  a man. Through him. We fall off our high heels into the narrow crevasse of what it means to be female. Let me tell you. You fall in love and you think you're finding yourself. But too often you're looking inside him for you, and that's a fact. There's only one place you can find yourself." She thumped her chest.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of Also Known As by Robin Benway

Title/Author: Also Known As by Robin Benway
Publisher: Bloomsbury Juvenile US
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Buy It: Amazon / Book Depository

     Being a sixteen-yaer-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.

     Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case...all while trying not to blow her cover.

     Hmmm.... Okay, here we go. This book was absolutely mediocre. Middle-of-the-road. For every thing that I liked about it there's something I strongly didn't. Where should I start?

Robin Benway did a really fantastic job of creating characters that are realistic. The way that they speak to one another and their responses to certain social situations rang true for me. Roux, Jesse, and Maggie behave exactly the way actual teenagers do, which is nice because sometimes I read a novel and all I can think is "Yeah right, because all 17 year olds are this self-aware". Robin Benway's characters screw up, they are shy and nervous, sometimes bold and (hilariously) drunk, and lonely. They're perfect.

On the other hand, being able to write realistic teenagers does not mean that you can thrust them into any old situation and make it seem genuine. I don't know if it's lack of relevant details or being spoiled by very well written caper-type novels (Ally Carters Heist Society, duh) but I just couldn't buy Maggie and her family as spies. Which wouldn't be such a big deal except that it's (obviously) incredibly central to the plot.

Speaking of plot, it was pretty thin and at certain points there were *gasp* holes.

This was a quick read and while I didn't hate it, it didn't exactly leave a mark on me, either. There were a few times where I laughed out loud, and the relationship between Jesse and Maggie is really funny, awkward and lovely (except for the last 1/3 of the book where there are far-too-early in the relationship declarations of love) but overall this book fell flat for me.

I would say that it's worth a read, for sure, but probably pick up a copy at the library before you buy to make sure it's something you'll actually want to bother reading more than once. I know I don't.

**Side note: Robin Benways' Audrey, Wait! was really wonderful, and you should NOT skip that one. : ) **  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Hello fellow readers! Today is Tuesday which means it's Teaser Tuesday time! I love alliterations : ) So, Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading in which readers/bloggers get to stoke the fires of bibliolove by sharing a few snatches of whatever they're currently reading. Wanna get involved? Yeah you do! It's easy.

*Grab your current read
*Flip to a random page
*Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page (without spoiling the book for anyone by giving too much away!)
*Share author/title so that other readers can salivate and add the book to their TBR piles

"I'll get the documents," I insisted when no one said anything. "Trust me, okay? I've got this."

I had no idea what I was doing.

Pg. 177 of Also Known As by Robin Benway

     I love a good spy novel! I've burned through the Heist Society novels (with the exception of the last, which I'm waiting on!) and I loved Audrey, Wait!, Robin Benway's previous book. Can't wait to get into this one! : )

What are you all reading?! Leave me links in the comments.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Title/Author: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 18, 2011
Buy It: Amazon / Book Depository

     It happens at the start of every November: The Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

     At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

     Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition-the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
     I once read a review of Maggie Stiefvater's writing that called it lyrical, and I would have to say that that is the perfect description. She has some kind of magic, weaving together improbably stories and making them seem so real they can break your heart, which to my way of thinking is the mark of a truly talented writer. There is a rhythm and cadence to her writing that invites you to sink down into it's depths and become absorbed by it, and trust me, you will become wonderfully enamored by the world she's created in this gem of a novel.

     This book is moody, atmospheric, and enthralling. It kept me up long into the night and it was 100 percent worth the exhaustion the next day. There is a subtle artistry in the growth of her characters, and the developments in the complicated and realistically depicted relationships between them.

     This story, alternating between Sean and Puck's viewpoints, starts off simply enough and throughout the narratives we get to know Puck and her brothers and follow her as she does the unthinkable: becomes the first girl to enter the Scorpio Races. She is met with opposition, but she is a strong and determined character and I was cheering her on as she faced down her adversaries with a bravery and surety that I wished I possessed.

     Returning champion Sean Kendrick has reasons of his own for wanting to win the Scorpio Races this year, and as the stakes are heightened throughout the novel he stands to lose everything he loves if he doesn't. I absolutely loved everything about Sean. He is steady as a heartbeat, quiet, still, and magnetic. Despite the fact that they are competitors, Sean and Puck are drawn to one another and ultimately end up training together.

     Throughout this novel Sean and Puck are forced to face several truths about themselves and the lives they've lead on the tiny island they both love, navigate the beginnings of a new friendship, deal with opposition and outright hostility from several different factions, and attempt to survive an event that regularly takes the lives of those who compete.

     I loved everything about this book. It made me laugh, made me grunt in frustration, broke my heart, and made me fall in love with Sean Kendrick and cheer for Puck with all my heart. This is what young adult fiction should be, and you NEED to read this book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Library Love

     I love to read. No surprises there, I suppose. Unfortunately, being a semi-typical 20 something (broke as a joke) leaves me with a pretty minuscule book budget. Thankfully, I have a really badass public library down the street that I can take advantage of, and if they don't have what I need I an hop online, request it, and wait for it to show up (I seriously LOVE interlibrary loans).

     I have a TON of books on my TBR list (according to Goodreads it's 247. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?) but I  have plenty of downtown to read at work, so I manage to keep up with most of the series and authors that I'm obsessed with. This week I've got a pretty decent haul so I thought I'd share what I'd be doing in the next week or two.

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London 2) by Maureen Johnson

     I've actually already finished this book. I'm loving this series, although the ending to this one left me in suspense. You're killing me, Maureen Johnson! Absolutely cannot wait for the third, and this one's only just been released.

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

     This one has been on my TBR list since before it was even released so I'm excited to have finally picked it up. Loving it so far! : )

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

     This book has gotten a ton of buzz, and the blurb and the cover are both so beautiful and intriguing.

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

     Zombies and Gena Showalter's writing: two things that make the long, long list of things that I love that make me happy. Can't wait to get to this one, and that cover...seriously? Love it! I started this one today at the laundromat and wound up laughing out loud and sighing loudly, guaranteeing that I would have the whole bench to myself. Bonus!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

     Another book that got a TON of hype. The cover is definitely eye-catching and everything I've heard from people who've read the series has been positive. I'm pretty stoked to start this one, too.

     So, what about you all? What books will you  be devouring this week? 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Hey guys! I think this whole changing the clocks thing has thrown me off my game, because I've been a zombie these past few days I swear. Anyway, I'm getting back into a normal rhythm now, thankfully. It's Wednesday again, which means it's time for another Waiting on Wednesday. I love Wednesdays! I end up adding about a million books to my TBR list. : )

If you don't know, Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine which allows bloggers the chance to spotlight an upcoming release they're anxious to get their hands on.

This week my WoW pick is:

This is What Happy Looks Like
by Jennifer E. Smith
Publication Date: April 2, 2013

     When teenage moved star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an e-mail about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

     Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

     I've only read one other novel from Jennifer E. Smith (The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) but I loved it so much that I instantly threw this author onto my instant-read list. She has the ability to suck you in with her dynamic characters and fun plot lines, and this book promises to be just as fun/crazy/lovely.

     As a side note, I seem to have read a TON of books set in Maine lately. It is certainly atmospheric here, but I always wonder how many of those authors have actually been to my lovely state.

What are you all waiting on? Let me know!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title/Author:  The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Buy It: Amazon / Book Depository

     "There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Marks Eve," Neeve said. "Either you're his true love...or you killed him."

     It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

     Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be-dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them-not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

     His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

     But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends- but he's looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

     For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

     This book captured me completely. I cracked it open to read a chapter or two before bed and subsequently buried my face for the next two days. I was a little skeptical of this book at first, to be honest, but for the life of me now I can't remember why.

     This novel is peppered with characters that are so three-dimensional you'll have a hard time remembering that they're fictional. I fell in love with all of them, from brave and genuine Blue and her eccentric household of psychics (a motley assembly of amazing women with their own secrets and bonds) to Gansey, the leader of the Raven Boys, who holds everyone together with his contagious convictions regarding a mystical quest.

     You know from the moment that Blue sees Gansey on the Corpse Road that their fates will intertwine, but it's the way that they intertwine that is so wonderfully surprising. The friendships between Adam, Ronan, Gansey, Noah and (after a fashion) Blue are imperfect; there are misunderstandings, tension, anger,and social and financial disparity but at the heart of it all are a group of people who you know will always have each other's backs. They are all flawed, they encourage one another to rise above their flaws, and they accept one another regardless. This is the type of friendship we all aspire to and are envious of.

     As far as the plot goes, there's something for everyone: danger, premonitions, action, a little romance, quips, interesting family dynamics, and a quest that Indiana Jones would have been jealous of.
     I was expecting, perhaps, more run of the mill tropes recycled in a hundred other YA novels but I have to say that this one definitely stands above the rest and declares itself King of the Mountain (or Queen. I'm not sexist). The way that Stiefvater weaves these stories together, while at the same time maintaining the integrity and personalities of each of the individual characters involved is masterful. These people reach beyond the pages of the book until you are certain they are all hidden away in some mystical little town somewhere, whispering their tales in Stiefvater's ear.

     I loved, loved, LOVED this book and if you haven't read it I would definitely suggest moving it to the top of your to do list. Ten billion stars!!! (not that I actually use a rating system)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesday

Ladies and...erm. Are there any gentlemen here? I dunno! Anyway, hey all! It's Tuesday again, and thus it's time for another Teaser Tuesday. I can tell your excited. I can just sense these things. So, in case you don't know, here's the deal with TT. It is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading in which bloggers/readers/humans get to make you drool over what we're reading. Want to get involved?

*Grab your current read
*Flip to a random page
*Share two 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page (and be careful to avoid spoilers, because you don't want to be the person who ruins the book for someone else, right?)
*Share author and title so that other readers/bloggers/humans can check out the book if they'd like
Easy as pie! (I've made pie. It is not easy.)
Anyway, here's my TT's for this week! (Also holy crow how is it MARCH already? Sheesh!)

"He didn't think it missed her notice how his left hand  curved familiarly around the leather binding, how the thumb and finger on his right hand knew just how much pressure to apply to coax the pages to spread where he wanted them to. The journal and Gansey were clearly long-acquainted, and he wanted her to know."  Pg.205 The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Do you guys have teasers to share? Leave me links!