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Apr 212014
 

Title: Don’t Call Me Baby
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Source: Publisher

Don't Call Me Baby

From Goodreads:
All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.

Imogene’s mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene’s crush saw her “before and after” orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.

When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online…until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.

Don’t Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.

***

I flew through Don’t Call Me Baby in one two-hour sitting. With the whole concept of blogging still being “somewhat” new, it was interesting to read a YA book about a teen whose mom is a mommy blogger. I have never read a book like this before and it was refreshing to see something new in the YA world.

Imogene, the victim of mommy blogging, had some incredibly interesting thoughts and opinions on both being the subject of a blog and blogging in general, and it made me think a lot about my own blogging experience. There are times where I have to take a step back and evaluate my blog (and life online in general) and in the future, I’ll be thinking about some of the points she made that really hit home for me. For example, is it really that awful to unplug for a weekend and just enjoy the people there with you in the moment? I don’t know about you, but I have to be reminded of that quite a bit :/

While the book certainly gives an interesting perspective on blogging, it doesn’t dive deep into relationships and emotions. I felt like I could have used some more personality and emotion, especially from Imogene and her mom. The entire book was based on those two, but I felt like their relationship was skimmed over and could have dug deeper. Imogene’s dad and grandma are secondary characters, and I felt like they were more fleshed out and “real.”

If you’re looking for a super-quick, easy read that gives a unique view on the world of blogging, Don’t Call Me Baby is the way to go.

Apr 182014
 

Title: The Geography of You and Me
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Source: Publisher

The Geography of You and Me

From Goodreads:
Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

***

When I sat down to write this review, I had a really difficult time putting my thoughts down on the screen. I gave The Geography of You and Me three stars on Goodreads, and I find that those “middle of the road” books are sometimes the hardest to review. I decided since I was having issues with the review and making a list always make me happy, here is my review in list form:

Pros:

1) Love the cover! I just mentioned in my review last week that I love when authors have a “template” cover and Jennifer E. Smith is on that list.

2) I enjoyed the dual POVs. Lucy and Owen’s voices were distinct and different enough that I truly felt like I was experiencing each character’s perspective.

3) It was a light enough read that I could read a few pages at a time and when I picked it back up, I wasn’t lost.

Cons:

1) I wanted more personality from Lucy. Her character was very ho-hum to me and I didn’t connect with her as much as I did with Owen.

2) At times I felt like the book was overwritten with flowery language. It didn’t always fit with what was going on in the story and it distracted me.

3) I didn’t buy into the romance as much as I wanted to :( This was the biggest bummer for me. I think it’s hard to portray long-distance relationships so I give JES credit for tackling it, but I simply couldn’t get into it. Major sads.

The Geography of You and Me was an okay book, and while I’ll read more of Jennifer E. Smith’s work in the future, I would recommend reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight first.

Apr 152014
 

Title: What I Thought Was True
Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Source: Borrowed (muchos gracias!)

What I Thought Was True

From Goodreads:
Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

***

I can’t believe it’s almost been two years since I read My Life Next Door. It seems like it was yesterday I was falling in love with Fitzpatrick’s writing and eagerly anticipating her next novel. And today, that next novel is out in the world!

I have to first comment on the gorgeous, gorgeous cover. It screams summer and young romance and ties in nicely with the cover for My Life Next Door. I love when authors have a “template” so to speak for their covers, like Jennifer E. Smith or Stephanie Perkins, and Fitzpatrick is definitely added to this list of my favorites.

In addition to the fab cover, the story was equally as amazing. I swear this author has an innate knack for writing summer romances with a strong family presence and I can’t get enough of it. Too often parents and/or siblings are absent from YA books, which is why I’m particularly drawn to Fitzpatrick’s writing. But, I have to admit — while I adored Gwen’s family in What I Thought Was True, I wasn’t as drawn to them as I was to the families in My Life Next Door. Two years later I still randomly think of Jase’s family — particularly George — but I find myself not thinking about Gwen’s family as much. A bit of a bummer for me, but definitely not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

I particularly enjoyed the growing romance between Gwen and Cassidy. I felt like their journey was true to real life. Falling in love, especially at a young age, can be messy, dramatic, exciting, and every other emotion in between. Sometimes I wanted to strangle Gwen because she was acting a fool, but then I realized it was only because I’m not a teenage anymore and can recognize the dumb things she was doing because *I* had done those dumb things back in the day. Hindsight is great, isn’t it? :)

All in all, What I Thought Was True is an amazing summer book that I recommend to anyone and everyone who enjoys solid YA contemporary romance. Huntley Fitzpatrick, I bow to you.

Apr 102014
 

Who wants to win the paperbacks of Legend and Prodigy by Marie Lu?! This is one of my favorites series and if you haven’t read them yet, this is the perfect time to start. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below and good luck! (giveaway courtesy of Penguin)

About Legend
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

About Prodigy
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller Legend, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

About Marie Lu
New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu (www.marielu.org) graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

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Apr 082014
 

Title: Far From You
Author: Tess Sharpe
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication date: April 8, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Far From You

From Goodreads:
Sophie Winters nearly died. Twice.

The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick.

The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth: Sophie has been clean for months, and it was Mina who led her into the woods that night for a meeting shrouded in mystery.

After a forced stint in rehab, Sophie returns home to a chilly new reality. Mina’s brother won’t speak to her, her parents fear she’ll relapse, old friends have become enemies, and Sophie has to learn how to live without her other half. To make matters worse, no one is looking in the right places and Sophie must search for Mina’s murderer on her own. But with every step, Sophie comes closer to revealing all: about herself, about Mina and about the secret they shared.

***

Everything about this book sucked me in–the synopsis, the cover, the tagline. I love “issue” books and murder mysteries, so Far From You sounded right up my alley. I really enjoyed the story as a whole, but I did have some issues along the way.

Sophie has had a rough go of it in life so far. She almost died in a car accident and became a drug addict to deal with the intense pain that resulted. Then, her best friend is murdered and Sophie is forced into rehab before she can fully deal with her grief. Once she’s released, she’s determined to find Mina’s killer, all the while staying clean and repairing relationships that were shattered after the murder.

Like I mentioned earlier, I enjoy books with issues like drug addiction or other internal battles. Far From You definitely fit that bill, but it had too many issues for me. I won’t say what else is included because of spoilers, but the story became a little muddled and overwhelming for me. When you have such serious issues being dealt with in a book, I’m a big proponent of quality over quantity, and in this case it skewed toward quantity.

On the other hand, I was completely drawn into the murder mystery aspect of the story. I had my guesses while I was reading, and all I’ll say is that I was sort of right. Sophie’s entire journey on finding Mina’s killer was so suspenseful and engaging that it became my favorite part of the book.

If you like YA murder mysteries like me and can handle multiple issues in one story, Far From You is a good choice. This is Tess Sharpe’s debut novel and I expect we’ll see some great books from her in the future.

Mar 242014
 

Title: The Silent Wife
Author: A.S.A. Harrison
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: June 25, 2013
Source: Purchased

The Silent Wife

From Goodreads:
A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go.

***

I read The Silent Wife because it was our book club pick this month. I had never heard of it before, but when I found out it was set in Chicago and similar to Gone Girl, it had my vote.

You guys know I’m a sucker for anything set in Chicago, and The Silent Wife was no exception. I absolutely loved being able to picture everything clearly and follow Jodi and Todd around the city. But as much as I loved the setting, the book as a whole just didn’t match the level of drama I was expecting since it was compared to Gone Girl. The characters are so, so, so messed up, both emotionally and mentally, but the author didn’t dig deep enough for me. The secondary characters were particularly shallow and didn’t add much to the story. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end, and in this case I didn’t appreciate the open-endedness.

If you’re looking for a heavy, dramatic, but addicting adult fiction read, The Silent Wife is a good choice to satisfy that craving. Just don’t expect the same level of craziness as Gone Girl.

Mar 192014
 

Title: Pretty Sly
Series: Pretty Crooked #2
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date: March 18, 2014
Source: Author in exchange for honest review
Review of Pretty Crooked

Pretty Sly (Pretty Crooked, #2)

From Goodreads:
Willa Fox was told to stay out of trouble. In fact, it was an order from a very serious juvenile court judge.

However, that was before Willa found her house ransacked and a mysterious email from her mother telling Willa she had to leave Paradise Valley for a while and not to come looking for her. Willa knows her mom’s in danger and that no one at school will miss her after her recent sticky-fingered stunts with the Glitterati. So with the help of her pal Tre and with her degenerate crush Aidan as her wingman, Willa violates her probation and hits the California highway in search of her mom.

But when Willa and Aidan’s journey turns dangerously criminal and they wind up being the focus of a national manhunt, they realize it’s sometimes easier to escape the law than the truth—and that everything Willa thought she knew about her mom, and her life, was wrong.

***

I feel like I’ve been waiting for ages (two years!) to read Willa’s next step in her crazy adventure, so I was super excited when Elisa Ludwig contacted me to review Pretty Sly.

Pretty Sly picks up right where Pretty Crooked left off, and we’re immediately thrown into an impromptu search-and-rescue road trip with Willa and Aidan. As is typical with road trips, the pair is thrown obstacles right and left, trying to avoid the law and some unsavory characters that are somehow tied to her mother’s sudden disappearance. The pacing was quick and I never found myself bored or skimming pages to jump ahead. I wanted to savor every issue and challenge they faced right along with them.

Since the majority of the road trip centers around Willa and Aidan, we really get to know these characters and their personalities. I think being on the run with one person over a long period of time brings out some emotions that aren’t usually as present or tumultuous in everyday life, and I commend the author for portraying all the ups and downs and not sugarcoating it to make it “likeable.” Willa and Aidan are scared, excited, nervous, irritated, angry, happy–you name it, they feel it. I loved going on that ride with them (pun intended).

Since Pretty Sly is the second book in the series, I figured Willa’s story would progress as it usually does in middle books in series, but that I’d have to wait until book #3 to see any revelations or big things happen. That is SO not the case with this book! I obviously won’t say what I found out, but I was so pleased that the book ended with a bang with enough resolution to tide me over for the conclusion in Pretty Wanted.

Mar 172014
 

Title: Don’t Even Think About It
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 11, 2014

Don't Even Think About It

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming.

Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

***

I’m so thrilled to be a part of the Don’t Even Think About It blog tour! As part of the tour, I was asked to share what I would do if I had telepathic powers. Would I use them for good or for evil? Would I listen to what my friends/ex-friends were REALLY thinking? What about my boss or that special someone…?

I have to say, this question really made me think. Do I really want to know what others are thinking? In the end, I would have to be super choosy with my powers. I think it’d be so tempting to listen to things that maybe you shouldn’t hear in the first place, and that could lead to a lot of awkwardness and drama. I think about a lot of things that I never end up saying out loud because they’re not appropriate for one reason or another, so I’d try and respect that for others. But let’s be for real–I’m sure I would listen in every once and a while, particularly if a friend or my boyfriend was acting weird or out of the ordinary. I’d also probably use it if I was trying to take on a new client–wouldn’t it be helpful to know if a pitch was epically failing or hitting the nail on the head?

How would you use your telepathic powers? Would you even want the power? Share in the comments below as part of the fabulous giveaway for a signed copy of Don’t Even Think About It!

***

Praise for the book
“A tour-de-force comic narration that will leave you gasping in awe—if you ever catch your breath from laughing.”—E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars

“Mlynowski continues to make comedy look easy in this smart and frequently hilarious novel, which features a collective first-person narrative that fits the premise like a glove… Filled with heartbreak, hilarity, and some brutal truths, Mlynowski’s novel will leave readers thinking about the gaps between our private and public selves and the lies we tell others and ourselves.” –Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

“Mlynowski hits all the right notes. There’s enough levity to keep readers laughing, but this is far from fluff–the real-life commotions are engaging, and the characters are fully developed. The story is funny, sweet and true to life, as readers have come to expect from Mlynowski. Her teens are emotional without being drama queens, amusing but not twee. A perfect read.”–RT Book Reviews

About Sarah Mlynowski
Sarah is the author of the Magic in Manhattan and Whatever After series, as well as Gimme a CallTen Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have)Milkrun, and more. Her books have been translated into twenty-nine languages and optioned to Hollywood. Sarah was born in Montreal but now lives and writes in New York City.

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Mar 092014
 

You might have noticed I haven’t been posting as frequently here lately. I’m still here, and I have no intention of quitting or anything dramatic, but I’ve been in a wicked reading/blogging slump. Other than a few awesome reads (like The Winner’s Curse), I haven’t been reading for fun very often. I read all day for work, which is basically the best thing ever, but I’ve been struggling with reading for fun after I read for work, which leaves it hard for me to keep up a regular blogging schedule. If anyone has any pointers on how to rock that balance and how to get my mojo back, I’d be all ears!

My expression when I think about reading/blogging (and this is my adorably cranky nephew)

In the meantime while I figure this all out, stay tuned for some fun posts I’ve already got lined up plus maybe a few new things I’ve been kicking around. And your positive bookish vibes would be much appreciated :)

Mar 052014
 

***I’m going to start off by apologizing if this is incoherent or rambly. I think some of the adrenaline from last night is still pumping through my veins, and mixed with my exhaustion this could be funny ;) ***

Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend the Divergent red carpet event and early showing of the movie in Chicago with Anna, Heidi, and Ashlee. I’m still shocked we were able to get tickets so quickly (thanks, Heidi!) and I was a little nervous what the whole night would entail. My worrying was for nothing because the entire night was AMAZING!!!

The night kicked off with some Jimmy John’s while standing in line (as you do).

Then we made our way over to the red carpet. We were very lucky to find prime spots right where the actors walked out.

The first person to walk the carpet was our very own Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He was incredibly nice, shaking everyone’s hands and making a joke about why we didn’t come out for the Polar Plunge (because I’m a wuss, Rahm)

Then the actor who played Molly in Dauntless came out, followed by…Veronica Roth and Ansel Elgort!!

They were both so gracious and nice, and I was so impressed with how cool and calm they both seemed. I’d probably be a sweaty, bumbling mess but they handled all the screaming and craziness with grace.

The insanity really started when Theo James and Shailene Woodley came out. I spoke to Shailene briefly and she was so sweet, but when Theo was in front of me I sort of just stood there and gaped. Oops. I’m sorry, but he’s just so pretty. 

I got everyone’s autograph except for Theo’s, and now my copy of Divergent will have a prime spot on my bookshelf.

Okay, now for the movie. This won’t be spoilery, but if you don’t want to hear anything about it, stop reading now…

It was PERFECT. The actors were exactly how I pictured the characters, the settings were stunning, and the chemistry was off the charts. Chicago was made to look rundown and gross, but it was still beautiful and so well done. I could not be more happy with this YA adaptation after the duds we’ve seen lately. I will be going to the movie again when it opens on March 21, and probably again after that.

Big thanks to everyone involved that made this premiere possible and a memorable night for all of us!