Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Date of Release: June 14, 2012
Page Count: 395
Would appeal to: Fans of Sarah Dessen, Sarah Ockler, Sara Zarr, or anyone who wants to fall in love with a love story

Favorite Quotes:
"It's so weird sitting there in the kitchen with this woman I've seen from a distance for ten years. Like finding yourself in an elevator with a celebrity. I repress the urge to say 'I'm a huge fan.'"

"We watch the hawk circling for a few minutes, then he reaches over and takes my hand, squeezes it, and holds on. The river sighs around us, and the little gears in my body that were spinning at breakneck speed all day slow to the lazy speed of the hawk, and the slow beat of my heart."

"It's a far cry from Hodges, which is built like a fortress, with battlements, stained-glass windows, and portcullises. It even has a drawbridge, because you never know when your prep school might be attacked by the Saxons."

"Clay rests his hand in the small of her back, propelling her, as we edge out into the night, which isn't even really dark, kind of tea-colored, since we're in the city."

"I want to reach into her argument and pick out the thread that's wrong, but it all seems like a tangle."

So you know all those reviews that have been hyping this book? They know what they're talking about. You know that last $20 you have from your paycheck that's burning a hole in your wallet but you really shouldn't buy a book because you bought three last week? Ignore your conscience...get this book!

Samantha has watched the Garretts for years, but her state senator mother forbids her and her sister Tracy to have any contact with their next door neighbors. A family with eight kids that leaves toys on their lawn and the Christmas lights up longer than necessary is not a family they need to be associated with. When Jace comes over and says hi to Samanatha, everything changes. She is sucked into a different world. Although it's crazy, it's full of love. As she becomes babysitter, she finds this out quickly. Samantha has a big house, an up-and-coming mom, and the perfect boyfriend, but she learns everything can change in the blink of an eye.

Why You Need to Run Right Out and Buy This Right Now:
I can't believe this is Huntley Fitzpatrick's first novel. She writes with the flow and insight of an author with several books. She says on her website that she kept some of her teenage diaries and reread them, and she definitely channeled her inner-teen. There are so many great my-life-is-over moments, particularly with young Andy who's trying to kiss her first boy ever.

It's full of great characters. You can't not love George, the little four year old obsessed with the Discovery channel, fearing things like black holes and what ice cream's made of. He says the best, most random things that give this story a ton of its humor. I love Alice's overprotectiveness of Jase. Andy's obsession with kissing correctly the first time. And Patsy's interesting first words as the baby.

Ever been to a zoo? The Garrett house is like that. In the best way possible.You'll be swept up in the little moments. I liked the way each sibling takes on a role within the family and how it's easy to tell each sibling apart early on because each is unique. And their parents are in the kind of love that gives you hope!

Jace is wonderful, in fact, very easy to fall for. Sometimes you think, Seen this guy before, but Jace stood out for me. He can fix anything. He loves animals and helping any and all creatures or humans. He carefully thinks through any kind of problem, even his words, so he won't offend Samantha. He's not embarrassed to try out something new that Samantha has also not tried out (no spoilers here). Oh my gosh, I wish I had one of him growing up! Not everyone has to be the bad boy!

If you're a girl, you will appreciate the friendship between Nan and Samantha. Nan shows an interesting, imperfect side of herself that actually reminds me of one or two people I knew growing up. And then there's the ever-wasted, habitual screw-up, Tim, her brother. Great character. Lots of depth. Became one of my favorites by the end.

Intense plot turn! This story asks hard questions about the difference between right and wrong. I really got into Samantha's head when things started unravelling. The chapters are short and have great need-to-turn-the-page moments. This book will make you sigh out loud. It will stick with you until you have to take it out again.

My Issues:
Jace is almost too understanding at times. I feel like there could have been longer fights between him and Samantha, especially since Jace is so kind and would expect that in return from his girlfriend.

When Jace calls Sam his "girlfriend" for the first time in public, even if it's just Tim, there's no acknowledgement from Sam like "Did I really just hear that correctly?" They didn't have a talk as to their status prior to that, so I'd assume she'd have a moment of giddiness/freakout/celebration at that point.

Final verdict:
Samantha and Jace's experience with first love will make you long to revisit yours; the quickening heartbeat, the reaching for tissues, the knowledge that someone else is rooting for your success in such a crazy world.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (#15)

Feature & Follow Friday is a blog hop sponsored by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Answer a question and hop around to meet other bloggers:)

Question: Summer reading. What was your favorite book that you were required to read for school?
It's hard to pick just one. All of these were memorable in some way. To Kill a Mockingbird would have to be my favorite because I remember the most things from it. Apparently we had a crappy reading selection after freshman year.

Summer before 9th grade, we got to pick off of a list. When I finished this book, not only had I fallen in love with writing, but I proved to myself that long books didn't have to be intimidating. I couldn't find the cover that was on the library book I read from.
 9th grade. Memorable characters. 
Important exploration of racism. Had a
satisfied grin on my face by the end.
Also 9th grade. The idea of burning books was so foreign a concept that I was immediately hooked. 
What was your favorite required read?

Check out our giveaway for signed books (ending soon!).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (#8): If I Lie

Jill at Breaking the Spine hosts this meme for bloggers to feature books they're so patiently waiting on to be released. 

This contemporary, to be released August 28th, explores emotion and relationships, specifically how the dynamic alters when one person cheats on the other. 
As someone with two military family members, I'm looking forward to it for the military aspect. It also got some pretty great reviews on Goodreads. 

What are you waiting on?

A dramatic and powerful novel that explores the gray space between truth and perception.
Cheater. Traitor. Slut.
     Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Shunned by everyone she knows, Quinn loses her friends, her reputation, and her identity. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s a Marine who’s serving overseas, and beloved by everyone in their small, military town.
     But Quinn didn’t cheat. She could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. So she stays silent, and waits for Carey to come home.
     Then Carey goes MIA, and Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (#14)

If you're new to Feature & Follow Friday, the lovely Rachel @ Parajunkee's View and Alison @ Alison Can Read host this weekly meme so bloggers can hop around and meet new bloggers. The rules are easy. Answer a question each week and follow the featured blogger(s)!

Q: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy? 

 I love this question! 
I'd buy Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson since it's been getting such rave reviews! I want to be won over by someone that's not Wendy and hear Tink's perspective. I'm trying to wait until it comes out in paperback, but I don't think I can!

I'd also pre-order Every Day by David Levithan, which comes out Aug. 28th. It's not technically cheating if you have an Amazon gift card! If you haven't heard of it, a boy named A wakes up every morning in a different person's body without control of who it is. One day, he wakes up in Justin's body and falls in love with his girlfriend. Obviously, he wants to try to stay in the body for more than one day. What a premise! 

So curious to see what you'd pick up and learn about some new books:) 

If you're a new or old follower, don't forget to stop by my 400 Follower Giveaway for a chance at some signed books!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review: This Is Not A Test

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date of Release: June 19, 2012
Page Count: 322
Unique elements: No chapter numbers (time goes on forever in a zombie apocalypse)
Would appeal to: Anyone who is turned off by zombie novels, it was that good!

Favorite Quotes:
"The way she says it, the way she's beside him--I want to be between them. I want to be in the direct path of their togetherness so I can steal some of the feeling for myself."

"When this is over, society will need entertainment to get past it. We'll make movies about it, hundreds of movies, and in every one of them, we'll be the heroes and the love interests and best friends and winners and we'll watch theses movies until we are so far removed from our own history, we'll forget how it really felt to be here."

"Cary pulls Trace away from the window but Trace is made of the kind of energy people with hope have."

"They also don't tell you about how you can share your deepest secrets with someone, kiss them, and the next hour it's like there's nothing between you because not everything can mean something all the time or you'd be crushed under the weight of it."

"Time has a way of shifting funnily in situations like these. There is not enough of it or there is too much of it and it's always one when you need the other."

I'm trying something new with reviews so they're a little quicker to read. Hopefully no one will miss the Goodreads summaries!

Why you have to read this:
Hate zombies? That's okay. This has dead people walking around trying to munch on anything living, but it's about so much more. It's about survival and how people act in life or death situations.  I mean, with the impending zombie apocalypse that everyone is freaking out about, it could seriously (not really) happen-- 6 teens trapped in their high school who get in fights and need human touch and haunted by the people loved ones left behind. There's whiskey and Never Have I Ever and a gun. There's jealousy and the locking up of boys and a mysterious voice on the radio. Just the faintest touch of Lord of the Flies...there's always a power struggle when a group is trapped together without a leader. But I didn't like LOTF, and I loved this book.

It's evokes gritty, raw emotion. I gasped out loud. I cussed at least once at something I didn't see coming. I felt overwhelming sadness for different types of losses. You've got to admire an author not afraid to explore death because that's what's real.

I read this so fast because it flows so well your eyes flit across the page. The writing is so convincingly teenager that I got lost in the words and became invested in everyone, from Sloane, who tells the story, to Cary, who's done awful things in his past. At points, Sloane's sentences are stream of consciousness, and it's so natural that I recall myself thinking, I would think the exact same things.  I couldn't put it down and would have liked to devour it in one sitting without interruptions.

Trace. He's mean and stubborn and bossy. He will do anything for his sister Grace. I thought the rhyming names would be annoying, but it served to showcase their closeness. Even though he was a jerk and bully to everyone at some point, especially Cary, and I first hated him, I found myself understanding his motives; my hate lessened into plain old dislike and then pity. He was in a situation with too much sorrow. It was nice not to hate him through the whole novel.

No details are just handed over to the reader. You learn about Sloane's awful past slowly and through small memories. Without her sister, she is nothing. There's the betrayal of both her father and her sister Lily to contend with, only one of which was expected. I felt her wounds. I felt her need for it all to be over long before the end of the world arrived.

What I wasn't that crazy about:
The ending. It's a little more open than I would have liked. I have so many questions. I am left wanting more. I read the ending four times like more words would actually appear on the page. That is the only thing preventing me from giving this a five star rating. Please, Courtney Summers, save us all this anguish and torment, by creating a sequel!!

I found that Emily @ Emily's Crammed Bookshelf has started a movement. It's worth a shot. Read this-- no, DEVOUR this, because you will--and then tell me you don't want a book #2...
I need more heart achingly real drama, more spot-on character development, more of Rhys, please! He's not the typical dreamy hero, but I did find myself loving his take-charge attitude that wasn't overbearing. And he's so gentle and I was excited to see the one really vulnerable moment he experienced. Help a girl out, Courtney Summers. Actually, help out a crap ton of fans!!!

400 Follower Giveaway - It's All About Magic

400 Follower Giveaway

Time for a giveaway! In honor of The Night Circus, which I just finished, and my fabulous followers, I've decided to host a giveaway all about magic. Okay...some of these are a bit of a stretch.

Up for grabs, ONE of the following (ALL BOOKS SIGNED and NEVER READ! Not because I don't like them, but I have duplicates):
-Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler...because who doesn't think cupcakes aren't magic?
-Don't Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough...a girl with a fairy godmother who's her father!?
-In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane...a gripping suspense that will make you feel magical
-My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison...time-traveling, fairy tales, and prom= magic
-$12 book from The Book Depository

*I'll choose 2 additional winners to pick from the remaining prizes if I get up to 500 followers before the giveaway is over:)

-The Book Depository option is available for both US and international followers, however, if you are an international follower, this will be your prize as long as TBD ships to you)
-Leave your Twitter username in comments if you're tweeting about the giveaway, as well as what prize you'd like
-Giveaway closes on July 31 at 12:01 a.m. and winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize before a second winner is chosen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: The Night Circus

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart."


  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Release date: September 13, 2011
  • Page count: 387
  • Unique elements: Designs on pages, the way sections are divided
  • Would appeal to: Lovers of magic, fans of Harry Potter, kids at heart!
Favorite Quotes:
"He reads histories and mythologies and fairy tales, wondering why it seems that only girls are ever swept away from their mundane lives on farms by knights or princes or wolves. It strikes him as unfair to not have the same fanciful opportunity himself."

"As the course progresses, when she is not distracted by the astounding quality of the food, Celia makes a game of deciphering the relationships between the guests. Reading the way they interact, intuiting the emotions hidden beneath the laughter and conversation, catching the places that gazes linger."

"There is the softest of sobbing...but it is difficult to pinpoint who it is coming from, or if it is instead a collective sound of mingled sighs and wind and shifting feet."

"It is a different sensation than watching the stars while lying in a field...There are no trees creeping into the edges..."

"'Did Widge tell you that?' Bailey asks, wondering if the thought is so strong that it sits on him, evident and readable."

"Only hours ago, she was certain. Now, sitting in this cave of lightly perfumed silk, what had seemed constant and unquestionable feels as delicate as the steam floating over her tea."

Wow! I said it out loud when I finished reading. This book, with its complicated interwoven storylines, must have taken immense planning, yet Erin Morgenstern has sewn it so effortlessly together. Most of that is thanks to her gorgeous story-telling. This lady can write and I'm already looking forward to her next novel! Her sentences fit the time period--no contractions, and her vocabulary ROCKS! I didn't know a lot of the words, but that didn't distract me. Some sentences were so powerfully compelling or uniquely stated that I read them four times before moving on ("far-flung friends" is my new favorite phrase). See if you notice a pattern with some of the chapter headings.

As for the story...who doesn't like the circus? This is even better than an ordinary circus. Anything you could ever dream awaits attendees in the multitude of black and white tents. It appears out of nowhere, stays an indetermined amount of time, and leaves in the night without notice, traveling to an unannounced location. From the tantalizing smell of carmel and delicious chocolate mice with licorice tails to the air of mystery given off by the large clock at the entrance of Le Cirque des Reves, the circus is one I fully hope someone tries to replicate. After each particular tent was described, for example, the Cloud Maze or the Ice Garden, I could imagine it perfectly. And all of these tents that are popping up are part of a giant game started when Marco and Celia were children; they are merely pawns in an ancient dispute, seared red scars on their fingers from binding rings. The only instructions they truly understand are that there must be a winner, even though they don't know they're opponent or the rules of the game.   

The details transform this book from good to brilliant. Morgenstern takes her time describing little things-- the color of a scarf, the see-through hand of a father, the broken wing of a paper raven. A love of books is definitely instilled in both Marco and Celia, so if you like ink, Shakespeare, poetry, or libraries, you will love the ways all of them are incorporated. I loved the relationship between Marco and Celia, even though it took time to develop. The dialogue between them is honest and flows so naturally. Not all romances are heated and fast and many YA books describe. I think it's also important to mention how fleshed out the minor characters were. I fell in love with the eccentric clockmaker and the lavish man who threw midnight dinner parties (names witheld so you can find out who they are yourself!). I appreciated the fact that there is a character not loved fact, perhaps more than one, depending on your interpretation of events. The best thing about this circus is that they aren't seen as misfits, neither to the circus performers or the attendees, because each person appears to have been born of magic, from the barely moving statues to the acrobats to the twins who perform with their kittens.

The author was also fabulous at providing tiny hints of what was to come. I guessed one event before it occurred, partly thanks to my college psychology class, but many other events I didn't see coming. Penelope, or Poppet, was actually my favorite character, as she was genuinely well-meaning and sweet. More than one romance unfolds along the course of the story!

This would normally get a five star rating, however, the beginning was very hard for me to get into. I found the jumping around of time periods confusing and often looked back to see how much time had passed. I became fully immersed and interested in the story at about page 100. That was my single and only disappointment in the novel. Please don't let that fact scare you, as I know it'll be different for each reader. The black and white stripes in the inside cover made me dizzy when I'd get a glimpse of them, but I absolutely loved the black and white theme throughout. It made the tents and their contents that much more vibrant.

It was more than worth sticking out the slow start. I got extremely teary eyed at the end because I became so attached to the characters, but even more than that, the circus as a whole. It could be argued that Le Cirque des Reves is a character in itself. I will tell everyone I know about this book. Although it contains magic from start to finish, some real and some learned, it IS magic itself! What a fabulous fantasy world to escape to. I would happily purchase the author's imagination from her if it were up for sale (creepy, but not untrue).