Sunday, March 31, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (#2)

 Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews gives bloggers a chance to show what books they've added to their collection, whether they're purchased, borrowed, or gifted.

Happy Easter! Mine has been very relaxing. Listening to the Puerto Rican rain. This has to be the week of sequels, with the exception of a third book and a stand alone. I took some Barnes and Noble gift cards from my gracious Oklahoman students and found some really great reads.

One of the things I look at before I purchase a book is which authors recommend it. I hadn't heard of this, so it was a spur of the moment choice, but Simone Elkeles, Sarah Ockler, and Jennifer Echols have all given Miranda Kenneally high praise. Can't wait to read this romance!
 I LOVE Lauren Oliver. Can't wait to read
the last in the Delirium trilogy. The ending of 
Pandemonium was shocking!
 If you haven't checked out Article 5 yet,
it's a great dystopian. Love Chase and
Ember as a couple. The best thing about 
Simmons is she knows how to write an
action scene.
 Mafi has a way with words. It's like she paints
sentences. Still enjoy the strike through method
used by Juliette in Shatter Me. You really see what
she's thinking.

Jodi Meadows is one of my favorite
debut authors in the last 2 years!
Absolutely loved Incarnate. 
The music. Sam. Oh, Sam.
Looking forward to following more
of Ana's identity quest.

What did you get this week? Have a great holiday!

Review: The Probability of Miracles

Publisher: Razor Bill
Release Date: Dec. 8, 2011
Page Count: 360
Would Appeal To: Sarah Dessen fans, Sara Ockler fans

Favorite Quotes:
"...she imagined a Rolf moment from The Sound of Music--the one where Rolf finds the whole family behind the tombstone in the abbey and hesitates, deciding whether or not he loves Liesl, before blowing that pansy-ass Nazi whistle. Did TYLER A WHOLE FOODS TEAM MEMBER, love her, or would he blow the whistle?"

"As Cam hugged her mother and walked back to her room, she realized she'd be spending the rest of her short life making other people feel better about the prospect of losing her."

"When he wasn't working at the restaurant, he wrote spare poems and made paintings that were quiet and clean, like whispers."

"At the end of the street the sharp white needle of the church's steeple poked into the sky as if heaven were a big balloon that needed to be popped."

Summary from GoodReads:
"Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles."

I'm going to deviate from my typical why you must read this/what bugged me review because I feel moved. Must be the Easter spirit.

This story is a snapshot of a dying girl's summer, the last few months that the doctors think she'll make it. She has her own flamingo list of mostly depressing things that she believes every teenage girl ought to experience. Her best friend Lily has her own flamingo list, but it's more positive. Lily believes that if Campbell just lives life, she'll check off all the items naturally.

Heartbreaking would be a great way to describe this book. I'd also add funny and uplifting. 

As I read this, especially the second half, I felt a smile on my face. I laughed several times and even teared up. The main character, Campbell, comes to life. It's one of those feel like you know her kind of books, like she's an actual person. She likes to use SAT words, but not obnoxiously so. Her dialogue with other characters is naturally hilarious. She's bold, not because she's dying, but because she's the kind of person who's got nothing to lose. It doesn't matter what others think of her. Despite the typical argumentative relationship with her younger sister, Cam will do anything to make her happy. Even though part of her pushes away love from others, Cam is constantly fueled by it.

Asher--swoon. Handyman. Football star. Knows his way around a boat. Master sneak-up artist. I went back to read her first romantic encounter with Asher again because the movements they make and the verbal exchange were so perfect. Asher's only flaw is he never wants to leave the town of Promise, where Cam has traveled because her mom and sister believe miracles happen there. As Cam falls for him and imagines what comes next for him, she can't picture him sticking around in the tiny Maine town where the dandelions are purple and flamingos appear mysteriously.

For a first time writer, Wendy Wunder truly understands that normal people have unique and crazy quirks. Nana gets angry to avoid being upset when her daughter and granddaughters leave. Little sis, tweeny-bopper Perry, hangs onto the hope that unicorns exist. Even Sunny, a baton twirling hippie, dances in the sand and drinks jug water by sticking her face under the spigot. All the characters had depth. I didn't truly hate anyone, although a certain French boy was annoying. Cam deals with her ups and downs gracefully. She goes through a gambit of emotions--embarrassment, denial, anger, hope, joy. 

I am not an animal person, but I appreciated the inclusion of animals in this book. From the St. Bernard puppy to Buddy the baby flamingo, animals in this book represent hope, friendship, and love. The vet in the book, Elaine, is honest and teaches Cam about the world in ways her mother never could. The saying, "It takes a village" comes to mind. So many characters are teachers in this book. Each leaves an imprint on Cam that gives her a new insight into living. Cancer doesn't have to take center stage all the time. 

This book will nestle its way into your heart. It had a bit of a slow start, but The Sound of Music references and Cam's snarky comments (and nicknames for people!) totally made up for it. The feather theme throughout, starting on the cover, was also a brilliant way to highlight events in the book.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Dead to You

Dead To You

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: Feb. 7, 2012
Page Count: 243
Buy Link: Amazon
Would Appeal To: Fans of Caroline B. Cooney's The Face on the Milk Carton, Sara Zarr's Sweathearts, anyone interested in psychology

Favorite Quote:
"She leans in for a hug, and I can feel her warm sigh down my shirt collar."

 Why You Must Read "Dead To You":
  • Plot. We hear about abducted children all the time. But what happens when one returns to his family after several years? How does that person find a place in a family who has learned to go on, even if they're broken? Straight from the victim, McMann chronicles the hardships of re-establishing a place in a foreign world. 
  • Nice flow. I'm usually obsessed with finding quotes, but this read so smoothly that I was completely absorbed in the story and forgot to look for them. Once you get into it, you won't be able to put it down, and it is such a quick read. 
  • Ending! I had a slight hunch before the final punch came but had convinced myself it couldn't be right. Wow. Abrupt and powerful.
  • Narrator. I love a good male point of view. This is totally realistic (speaking from a female's perspective-ha). So maybe I don't really know, but I often felt "A guy would think this." Ethan is confused after he was abducted from his own front yard at seven years old. He was kidnapped by Ellen, lived with her for years, until she left him at a group home. He lived homeless for a year before he reached out to his real parents. Everything he feels, from the hate toward his brother to his love for playing games with six year old Gracie to the intense yearning he has for his former best friend, is completely believable. McMann includes small details without going overkill on descriptions. The family dynamics in the book are great. Mama is the peacekeeper. Dad is the rule maker. Gracie is trusting. Blake can't get past the fact that his older brother would just go off in a car with strangers and is holding a grudge.
  • Romance. There is a fabulous kissing scene. The intensity jumped off the page. It can be hard to make romance scenes stand out; this one is a winner!
  • Message. This story really brings home the point of wanting to be needed and wanting to be loved. No matter what your life situation, you can relate to some emotion that is beautifully captured by the author.