3 Stars

[ARC Review] Since You’ve Been Gone – Mary Jennifer Payne

Since You've Been Gone

Author: Mary Jennifer Payne

Series: None

Expected Publication Date: February 17th, 2015

Publisher: Dundurn Group

Number of Pages: 224

Source: Netgalley

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 Summary

Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she’s in a different country.
Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.
Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.”

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[Review] My True Love Gave To Me – Various Authors

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Author: Various

Series: None

Publication Date: October 14th, 2014

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Number of Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Fantasy

Source: School library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 Summary

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

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[Review] The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of MemoryAuthor: Laurie Halse Anderson

Series: None

Publishing Date: January 7th, 2014

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Number of Pages: 391

Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Romance

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Summary

For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.

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[Review] The Pandora Chronicles – Ryan Attard

The Pandora Chronicles (The Pandora Chronicles, #1)Author: Ryan Attard

Series: The Pandora Chronicles Book 1

Publication Date: October 23rd, 2014

Publisher: AEC Stellar Publishing

Number of Pages: E-Book – 123 Pages

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure

Source: Received from publisher in exchange for a review

Links: Goodreads | Amazon


Summary

A nomadic alien species found itself trapped on a new-born Earth billions of years ago. And they were here just long enough to leave a legacy behind – buried in our DNA.

1713 – Captain Jack Finnegan’s remarkable success as a pirate and privateer turns out to be something much deeper. He’ll need all of his wits, and a bit more, to survive his quest for the powerful relic left behind by the gods.

2012 – The famous archaeologist Nick Solomon never could pass up a good adventure, especially not the search for a mysterious artifact. He’d just prefer not being stuck between a crime lord, a secret government agency, and the past he’s tried so hard to forget.

Hold on to your seats for another great fiction series by Ryan Attard, author of The Legacy Series. Pandora Chronicles Book 1 is exactly the action-packed, swashbuckling, firefight of a science fiction mystery adventure you’ve been looking for!

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[Review] Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves

Lies We Tell OurselvesAuthor: Robin Talley

Publication Date: September 30th, 2014

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Number of Pages: 384

Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Romance, LGBTQ

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

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[Review] On the Fence – Kasie West

On the Fence

On the Fence

Author: Kasie West

Publish Date: July 1st, 2014

Number of Pages: 296

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.


Review

On the Fence was really really sweet. I liked the idea of a tomboy trying to learn how to portray her emotions. It was pretty entertaining and a really good read.

I’m not really sure if I like the plot or not. At times, I like how simplistic it is, but other times, I’m kind of just waiting for something to happen. It feels aimless, but I suppose that it might just be because of the fact that the book is literally a story about Charlie’s summer and how she learned to be confident about herself. It’s pretty much your standard “best-friends to boyfriend” type book. Even if it was really cute, I found it a little cliche. In addition to this, I had expected this book to be a cute romance-y book but then there was a huge reveal towards the end of the book that I didn’t expect at all. It was angsty and sad, a far cry from the rest of the mellow story.

Charlie is a total tomboy and doesn’t really understand how to portray her emotions. I really really wanted to like her character but I personally found her a little… er. shallow should I say? She’s not actually nearly as shallow as a lot of characters but I didn’t really like her voice (in the book) that much. I did find her awkward attempts at being girly kind of sweet.

I believe that every girl has a little bit of girlyness within them that they can tap into if they feel like it.

I really really liked some of the relationships in On the Fence. Charlie’s relationship with her brothers, specifically Gabe, were really great. And what made me really laugh was at the end when a bunch of guys were asked if they would have dated Charlie had her brothers not threatened them. Stuff like being overprotective, competitive, teasing her, bets, it was all what made these relationships enjoyable.

However, although this book focused on how Charlie tried to act more feminine (and eventually learns that she doesn’t have to pretend like someone she isn’t to get boys to like her), I felt like she never once made that connection with the girls. It’s written to be as such, but even so, I felt like Charlie was cut off from everything.

I loved the interactions between Charlie and her beau Braden. Their fence talks have to be some of the cutest things ever and the way they finally get together breaks all of the sexual tension that they have. (This isn’t a spoiler. Let’s be honest, the cover shows the two of them kissing.)

3/5 Stars

Audrey, Wait! – Robin Benway

Audrey, Wait!

Audrey, Wait!

Author: Robin Benway

Publish Date: April 10th, 2008

Number of Pages: 320

Genre: YA, Chick-lit, Contemporary

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!

Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can’t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.

Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.


Review

What initially pulled made me want to read this book was the really eye-catching cover and the title of the book. Then I read the summary and I knew this had to go on my tbr.

Audrey, Wait! is a story about a girl that had simply broken up with her boyfriend, Evan, and thus, inspired him to write a song. It blows up into the next biggest American pop hit, and of course, Audrey ends up being hounded by the paparazzi.

I strongly disliked the characters of this book. Audrey was bearable (if a little stupid) but I really didn’t like her best friend Victoria. The entire time I was reading I just felt the need to punch Victoria. Audrey is having trouble adjusting to the life of a celebrity and all Victoria can think about is the free stuff and perks of being well-known. Every time I saw her name, she was either asking about free make-up or if someone had invited her to some social event. The first time Audrey is called by a reporter, Victoria pressures her into answering the questions even though Audrey was definitely not of a mind-state to be smartly answering. Victoria becomes Audrey’s “agent” without her even asking. She uses Audrey’s name to get free things without even asking her! I felt like Victoria wasn’t a true friend; Instead she was portrayed as a leeching, fake friend.

The romance in this book was painful. At first I thought that it would be cute for Audrey to end up dating her co-worker. That was, until the romance became the #1 example of terrible romantic development.

James, the love interest, is absent for much of the beginning of the book (probably because he’s a really boring character). What attempts there were to develop the romance were quickly forgotten as his appearances were followed by four chapters of absence. There are probably three meaningful interactions between James and Audrey before they end up beginning to date (and no, that is not a spoiler because we all know it was going to happen). I found that the book used a lot of time skips to avoid having to describe events. The lack of build-up was partly salvaged with some teensy, teensy bit of chemistry between the two characters.

Audrey’s character was annoying but her narration was pretty fun to read. The reckless, teenage voice was represented very well. I thought that it was believable how she handled the fame and breakup.

I really really liked the way this book ended. It’s about as realistic as a unicorn flying into my house but nothing about this book screams verisimilitude. I liked how it was dramatic and showcased Audrey’s change in attitude towards her whole situation. Although I didn’t really like the trigger for her change, I enjoyed her I-don’t-give-a-crap attitude and I loved the way that she kind of realized that her situation would be okay. It would all be okay.

This book has a disappointing romance but a really fun plot. The characters were okay. This is one of those books you read when you really don’t want to use too much brain on a book.

3/5 Stars

She is Not Invisible – Marcus Sedgwick

She is Not Invisible

 She Is Not Invisible

Author: Marcus Sedgwick

Publish Date: April 22, 2014

Number of Pages: 224 pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Adventure, Mystery

Laureth Peak’s father has taught her to look for recurring events, patterns, and numbers – a skill at which she’s remarkably talented.

Her secret: she is blind.

But when her father goes missing, Laureth and her 7-year-old brother Benjamin are thrust into a mystery that takes them to New York City where surviving will take all her skill at spotting the amazing, shocking, and sometimes dangerous connections in a world full of darkness.

She Is Not Invisible is an intricate puzzle of a novel that sheds a light on the delicate ties that bind people to each other.


Review

I think this is like the third novel I’ve read by Marcus Sedgwick in the last year and it’s all by accident. I randomly picked up some books off the shelf, and I guess two were by Sedgwick. And then, I picked up She is Not Invisible like a month later without even realizing that he wrote it. So far, I’ve noticed that I really like Sedgwick’s writing style. It’s smooth and descriptive which is good because if there is one type of writing I hate, it’s the choppy writing.

The first time I read this book, I went in completely blind but I didn’t finish it because I ended up having to return it to the library. The second time I checked it out because I had heard that it had received really good reviews.

Anyways, this book is about a blind character. I liked that. It was interesting to read about a completely different perspective on the world. We, as people who have sight, are completely dependent on it, more so than any of the other senses we have. How many times have you identified a location based on the sounds of people walking? Reading about it makes me want to try (although I’d end up tripping or running into something). The idea that a blind person might not understand the concept of color or appearances was something that really intrigued me. There was one event in the book that really made me think about what racism means to other people(highlight to read. Laureth is contacted by a boy in the states named Michael. He’s really courteous, super informed and the complete opposite of the black stereotype. While talking to him, they are approached by some dangerous and racist people. They make a comment on his race and Laureth doesn’t understand. She can’t see colors so she doesn’t understand what racism is. This event made me really wonder what the world would be like if nobody could see skin color.). I just really enjoyed reading from the perspective of a blind person.

Even better than this was Laureth’s personality. She was an extremely realistic character. She’s thoughtful while also reckless, slightly stubborn but also understanding. She understands that her blindness is an impediment but she doesn’t crave the ability to see. She’s confident and knows how to work around her disability.

She acted so much like a teen that I could imagine somebody doing some of the actions she did in real life. Her brother was quirky and cute. He was, quite simply put, one of the most entertaining aspects of the book.

One thing that did bother me was the lack of explanation about why they had the abilities they did. The history of how Laureth became blind was explained but can someone please explain to me how on Earth her brother is physically capable of wrecking electronic devices? Sedgwick chalks it up to just being some strange abnormality that Ben had. Apparently no doctors are able to find the cause. The lack of solid explanation annoyed me.

I also felt like their adventure was too…. innocent shall I say? They’re taking a trip to New York City alone and the only plausible way that they could have successfully made it is with a lot of luck. Nobody can even begin to convince me that the authorities would look the other direction if two kids are sketchily trying to fly to another country and I’m positive that they would have had more challenges on their trip than they had.

I liked that the book was about coincidences. I’ve also experienced the phenomenon explained in the book where somebody has their “number”. Granted, I’m not really sure what my “number” is because for me it happens more often with names and words. Or I learn about something in class one day only to read about it in a book. Just a bunch of serendipitous events that make me feel a sense of déjà vu. I found it fun to read about coincidences and how a string of them led Laureth and Ben on their adventure.

Although I liked the characters, setting, and writing, I never really connected to the novel. It was hard for me to really get into it and I didn’t until about halfway through. Usually this might not be a huge problem, but considering that this book was 224 pages long, I personally feel like I would have enjoyed it more had I become interested earlier on while reading.

3/5 Stars

Everything Leads to You – Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You

Everything Leads to YouAuthor: Nina LaCour

Publish Date: May 15th, 2014

Number of Pages: 307

Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBTQ, Romance

A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.


Review

This would have been posted much earlier if WordPress hadn’t erased my entire review when I went to save it. *shakes fist at computer*

Can I just say that I love the cover of this book? I love the font and the pale pink color. I love how summery it looks. Even though it’s such a girly color, I don’t feel like I’m going to read something that is insufferably shallow. One thing that I did find a little misleading is that for the majority of the book, I thought the girl on the cover was Emi. After all, Emi is the main character right? Imagine my surprise when I learn that Emi isn’t completely Caucasian, but instead, mixed. (Seriously, authors need to slip these details into the book earlier so I’m not making completely incorrect assumptions). I read on until I read a tidbit about how Ava’s hair comes out of her bun and grazes her neck. So now, I’m assuming that the girl on the cover is Ava.

Beautiful cover aside, Everything Leads to You was a book different from the bajillion other contemporaries I’ve read. It focused on Emi, a girl with a unique job as a set designer. At the beginning of the book, her brother leaves, giving her and her friend Charlotte his apartment until he returns. With the one requirement being that something truly epic has to happen within the apartment, the two girls embark on a journey to find the daughter of Clyde Jones. Now it sounds kind of boring, but it actually wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed reading about how she put together the sets and about the different things they did to find Clyde’s granddaughter. But I did think that the characterization was a little lacking. Charlotte still feels like a blank piece of paper. She’s organized and extremely loyal, but what other traits does she have? Charlotte read like a placeholder. She didn’t ever feel like she was an important aspect of the plot. There was the occasional moment where Emi would mention how Charlotte disapproved of her ex-girlfriend, Morgan, but Charlotte herself was a forgettable character.

To be quite honest, I’m not too sure what my final say on the plot should be. It’s extremely boring at times. I mean, the book feels like a daily narrative of Emi’s life over that particular summer and her summer wasn’t very interesting. It’s a story of how Emi fell in love and learned more about people. She goes through a number of realizations about her job, her friends, and her family and this change of character is really well developed.

Something I really enjoyed about this book was the fact that the homosexuality elements were treated as if they were a given. In some other LGBTQ books, a character’s sexuality is often repeated innumerable times, as if the character feels the need to tell you every few pages that they like a certain gender. In this case, it wasn’t reaffirmed so many times. She was lesbian. So what? It’s not as if it’s much different from a straight relationship. I liked that her sexuality didn’t take the attention off of the plot.

While I’m on the topic of relationships, the romance in this book was extremely believable. While I didn’t really like the way that Emi obsessed over Ava, the way that the two eventually got together was something that I liked. It was evident by the end of the novel that Emi had changed. She’d realized something about love and the right way to begin a relationship after her toxic one with Morgan.

All-in-all, Everything Leads to You, was not terrible, but it has the possibility of being quickly forgotten.

3/5 Stars

Panic – Lauren Oliver

Panic

Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver

Publish Date: March 4th, 2014

Number of pages: 408

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.


Review

The premise of this book really caught my attention. While I was not expecting too much from the writing, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the aspects of the book.

Panic is technically the first Lauren Oliver book I’ve read in it’s entirety. I’ve read samples of Delirium but I never got around to actually getting the book.

Panic was not a bad book. It’s loads better than some of the other things I’ve read recently and I enjoyed reading it.

I loved the character relationships. The character interactions were realistic and drawn well. There are flaws in their relationship which shows how nothing can ever be perfect. The thing about best friends are that even if they fight, they will be able to sort past their differences and make up. This is showcased numerous times throughout the book, and I know I’m making it sound like they’re constantly fighting, but keep in mind that Panic takes place over an entire summer. Every relationship and flaw was beautifully shown. Heather and Natalie were so different from each other, yet they still had that degree of trust and care. Dodge, the newcomer to their trio (Heather, Natalie, and Bishop) had believable interactions with every character. He was the personification of what friendship can be if you try. Just because you haven’t had friends for years, doesn’t mean that you can’t make them on a whim. The relationships, romantic, friendly, enemies, etc, were all portrayed well.

The same cannot be said for the characters. While some of them are round, they feel two-dimensional. They feel distant and hard to relate to because of the way that they are written. While Dodge had revenge has his motivation and his tough personality as his outside shell, by the end of the novel, I still felt like I didn’t really understand him. I had to really think and go back and analyze all of his actions to come up with what I would say is his portrayal. Another character, Bishop, was even flatter. He is supposed to be Heather’s romantic interest but by the end, I barely even knew who he was. I didn’t understand his reasons for anything, his opinions or his personality and he was supposed to be one of the major characters.

Even if they may face hard circumstances, readers should still be able to relate or sympathize with them in some way, even if it’s really small. I didn’t get this with Panic.

The setting in Panic was fantastic. The monochromatic, dull tone personified the bleakness of the competition. I could see the danger of their actions and how desperate they were to escape their own respective situations.

I didn’t like the writing of Panic. I felt that it was too blunt and disjoint and that it often affected my enjoyment of the story. The plot itself was interesting, but due to the writing and characters, it was hard to feel anything for the characters when they were doing their challenges. By the time I was halfway through with the book, it had dulled to the point where I could care less if anybody died. Still, I read on until the last challenge, the climax of the book, that unfortunately, fell flat. The dramatic moment that Heather experienced felt ludicrous and did nothing to make me feel anything.

And then, the epilogue. I abhorred the epilogue. It felt like a vacation journal, a chapter of summarizing what had happened to everybody. The scene itself wasn’t bad at all, but the way it was written, as if years had passed and that they had all changed into completely different people, was something that I really detested because the book had completely skipped over showing the monumental character changes that they had experienced. Sure, Heather might have had a small bit of her’s shown, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me and convince me of their emotional changes. Yes, Dodge got over his want for revenge, but how did he do it? How did Bishop and Heather reconcile? There were so many unanswered questions I had.

Panic was a fun read, enjoyable if you didn’t think too much about all of the technical things that were wrong (For instance, how did people get away with some of the things they did? Panic included some illegal actions that should have been penalized appropriately, but of course, justice was not served because y’know, it’s a fictional world).

3/5 Stars