1/20/13

The Wedding Blitz

Author: Leah Spiegel 
Format: E-book 
Series: Book #3 - Foolish Games 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): The final chapters in the Foolish Games Series, The Wedding Blitz, have arrived. Joie, Lizzie, and Riley need each other more than ever. Joie needs Lizzie and Riley to help with the upcoming wedding and trying to win over Hawkins’ mom. Riley needs Joie and Lizzie to help get Harlow comfortable with coming out of the closest. And Lizzie needs help with. . . well Lizzie always needs help. Join the threesome on their last leg of the ride as they laugh, love, and grow together.




Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Everything is a little topsy-turvy, but the gang is doing all they can to hold on. Lizzie - for whatever reason - has now become the tour bus driver, while Warren seems to be spending a lot of time drunk. And with a wedding looming, Joie and Hawkins need all the help they can get. It doesn't help that Hawkins' mom seems to dislike Joie, or that there are so many other things going on in their lives. And being who they are, things can only get crazier... 

My Thoughts: I loved that we got to see so much more of Riley in this installment! All the characters are pretty awesome, but Riley was one I wanted to see more of in the last two books, so I'm glad it happened in this one (as well as the little mini plot with Rob). Warren was hilarious, and Lizzie as well. I thought I might need a refresher when it came to the last two books, but Leah did an awesome job of reminding everyone what happened in the other installments and keeping us up to date without making it sound like a long-winded summary. 

Hawkins is still as adorable as ever. Can someone find me one like him? Please? I'll pay you in cookies and Doctor Who puns. Hawkins' and Joie's relationship is still going strong, and you can really feel the love between the two characters. *cue Lion King song*

And the ending. It was so cute! Definitely the perfect way to end the series. 

Final Summary: I loved this series! I recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance and just an overall sweet story.

Reached

Author: Ally Condie
Pages: 512 
Publisher: Dutton 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.



My Summary: After finally being reunited with in The Carving, the Cassia and Ky were forced to separate in order to better serve The Rising. 

It's been months since Ky and Cassia have seen each other, and now they may never get the chance: a deadly illness has swept the nation, and even The Rising and The Pilot seem to be at a loss. Nobody knows what to do about the illness that has claimed thousands of lives, and nobody can see a way out. 

Meanwhile, Xander is working as a medic in a center designed to house those who've fallen ill. Unable to do much, he watches on in horror as those he knew are overcome by the disease. Will the three friends ever be reunited, or was the short-lived victory of The Rising all for naught?

My Thoughts: Ally Condie, why must you insist on breaking my heart?

The third installment in the Matched trilogy didn't disappoint!

There's something about this trilogy - you'd think it would be difficult to understand with the amount of conspiracy theories and things going on, but it's actually very straightforward and easy to understand. I loved the ending and the way everything ties together.

Another thing about this series: I love the way the characters change so subtly. You don't even realize it. They change so fractionally throughout the whole series, but by the end you can see just how much these little changes have altered the person.

As usual, the poetry fit perfectly with the tone of the novel - I swear I've got Do Not Go Gentle memorized. There's something about poetry... when you use it correctly in a novel it makes all the difference.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of dystopian novels with some romance mixed in. Fans of poetry and prose will really enjoy it.

1/17/13

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

Author: Teddy Wayne 
Pages: 256 
Publisher: Free Press 
Format: Paperback (ARC)
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Megastar Jonny Valentine, eleven-year-old icon of bubblegum pop, knows that the fans don’t love him for who he is. The talented singer’s image, voice, and even hairdo have been relentlessly packaged—by his L.A. label and his hard-partying manager-mother, Jane—into bite-size pabulum. But within the marketing machine, somewhere, Jonny is still a vulnerable little boy, perplexed by his budding sexuality and his heartthrob status, dependent on Jane, and endlessly searching for his absent father in Internet fan sites, lonely emails, and the crowds of faceless fans.

Poignant, brilliant, and viciously funny, told through the eyes of one of the most unforgettable child narrators, this literary masterpiece explores with devastating insight and empathy the underbelly of success in 21st-century America. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine is a tour de force by a standout voice of his generation.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Being a kid on the verge of puberty is hard enough, but for Jonny Valentine it's only the tip of the iceberg. 

Jonny is a pop star at the ripe old age of eleven. Having grown up in the spotlight, Jonny never got to experience things normal kids do. With every second of his life planned out, Jonny doesn't even have time for fun, let alone friends or school.

Sheltered by his psychotic 'momager' Jane, Jonny doesn't even know what became of his absentee father... until the day he logs onto his mom's computer and finds a message from his dad on every fan site. But is it really him? As Jonny begins a mission to reconnect with his dad, he'll discover just how far he'll have to go to maintain his fame and his career.

My Thoughts: This book was heartbreaking. Jonny is probably one of my favourite narrators of all time - his mix of innocence, cynicism, and humour will soften event he hardest of hearts. Growing up in showbiz has taken everything from Jonny, but he still manages to put on a show. Jane was reminiscent of those crazy pageant moms you see on T.V. - so obsessed with being the best that she ignores what is happening to her child and forgets to treat him like a real person.

Wayne's commentary on the way we treat our celebrities - especially child stars - resonates with the reader. 

"We always want to have as much control as possible over my image, but the Lisa Pinto exposure made sense from a packaging-strategy perspective, since even if it was driving off some of the fat girls, it would bring in more of the pretty girls, and if they liked me then the fat girls would like me more to try to be like the pretty girls, plus the pretty girls would bring their boyfriends to my concerts, which effectively doubled gate receipts and they also had to buy them crap merch to make them happy, but the fat girls didn’t have boyfriends. They had to buy the crap merch for themselves to feel happier. But Jane says we’re in the business of making fat girls feel like they’re pretty for a few hours and that most pretty girls are afraid other people think they’re fat anyway, so maybe it’s all the same." 

Jonny has been made into the perfect product by his team, and you can see the way it morphs his thoughts. 

The theme of slavery works perfectly with the novel, as Jonny is what we come to see as a slave to the masses and his celebrity itself.  And as he fumbles through his first teenage experiences, we see just how much of a tole growing up as a pop star has had on Jonny. 

Final Thoughts: Wayne has written an honest and unflinching account of child stardom. I recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for a great read.  

The Broken Lands

Author: Kate Milford
Pages: 464
Publisher: Clarion
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
 My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): A crossroads can be a place of great power. So begins this deliciously spine-tingling prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, set in the colorful world of nineteenth-century Coney Island and New York City. Few crossroads compare to the one being formed by the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, and as the bridge’s construction progresses, forces of unimaginable evil seek to bend that power to their advantage. Only two orphans with unusual skills stand in their way. Can the teenagers Sam, a card sharp, and Jin, a fireworks expert, stop them before it’s too late?



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: The Civil War has ended, but the United States of America is in bad shape. The  war has left the country broken and scarred, but the people are resilient as ever.

My Thoughts: As a lover of all things historical fiction, I had a great feeling about this novel before I even began. A little research told me that it was a prequel to another book - which I plan to go out and get ASAP - and that it was set in New York after the Civil War. Basically, you had me at 'historical fiction'. 

The mix of magical and historical elements was done flawlessly. I loved the idea of the pillars - people with powers who were there to defend the city. Milford's world-building was excellent, and the way she didn't ignore the social issues of the time period made for a great read.

Final Thoughts: I definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fantasy, historical fiction, and anything to do with adventure. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy the next book in the series: The Boneshaker.

1/16/13

Blind Spot

Author: Laura Ellen 
Pages: 336 
Publisher: Harcourt 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): There’s none so blind as they that won’t see. 

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

My Summary: Roz has a condition known as macular degeneration - she can barely see. And when one of her best friends is found dead a few months after her mysterious disappearance, Roz's condition becomes more of an enemy than ever: she knows the key to finding Tricia's killer is locked inside her head - a memory that she can't seem to access. 

But can she remember in time to clear her name, or will she be the one blamed for her best friend's murder?

My ThoughtsIf you love books where the reader has to piece together clues to figure out who the murderer is, then this novel is definitely for you!

I adored the writing style, as well as the way the story sort of starts at the end and sets the tone for the rest of the novel. It was an extremely addicting read, and the plot was really well thought-out. I loved that Roz - who had such a huge chip on her shoulder - was able to cut herself off from the destructive relationships in her life. 

The twists were amazing - I hate mysteries that get predictable near the end, but Blind Spot kept me guessing.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary literature as well as mystery & suspense reads.

The Suburban Strange

Author: Nathan Kotecki 
Pages: 368 
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin 
Format: Hardcover (ARC) 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High.



Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

My Summary: Celia is just your average quirky art student... until she's forced to transfer schools and finds herself at Suburban High. Within a few days she starts to notice things are a little out of the ordinary in her new school... 

As she is accepted into the mysterious group known as the Rosary, Celia begins to realize that girls have been disappearing... and her new friends may have something to do with it. 

My Thoughts: The premise of this novel drew me in immediately - who doesn't love a story about creepy cults and teenagers disappearing? It was entertaining and extremely realistic when it came to describing the elements of the everyday life of a high school student. Although at time I did wish Celia would stand up to her new friends, she made a good character overall. And even though it wasn't one of my favourite reads, it was definitely worth checking out.   

My favourite part was probably the playlist. I was listening to a few of the songs while reading, and it really added that extra layer to the story.

Final Thoughts: The Suburban Strange will appeal to readers who enjoy paranormal YA as well as series like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars. 

1/12/13

Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson 
Pages: 468 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Format: Hardcover 
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit — everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled — but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. 

 Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.



My Summary: If there was one thing Taylor Edwards thought she knew, it was that she'd never willingly set foot in her family's old lake house again. 

But when the family receives some terrible news, the lake house is exactly where she finds herself trapped for the summer. And this time she can't escape the mess she left behind five years ago. The time has come for Taylor's second chance... but will she take it?

My Thoughts: As a huge fan of Morgan Matson's first book, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, I was a little bit wary of this novel because I didn't think it could possibly live up to the standard set by Amy & Roger

I need not have worried. Matson grabbed my attention and kept it, with characters just as deep and real as Amy and Roger were and an extremely realistic family dynamic. I loved every minute of it.

Final Thoughts: If you haven't checked out any of Morgan Matson's novels, I highly recommend you do. Come to think of it, you might as well pick them both up at the same time, because her writing is amazing. Trust me on this one! 

1/4/13

Follow Friday!

Happy Friday everyone! I've been gone for a long time, but I thought I'd kick off my new year with an old meme.

What New Year blogging or writing resolution have you placed on yourself?

Not many! Although I do hope to get a little more writing done this year. The biggest blogging resolution I've made is probably this: to not wait so long between finishing a book and writing the review. 

It's something I tend to do when I need time to process how I felt about a book, and everyone does it... but sometimes I end up waiting a little too long and find myself grasping for words when I actually sit down to write the review. Fear not though - this is one resolution I definitely intend to keep!

Cracked Up to Be

Author: Courtney Summers
Pages: 214 
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin 
Format: Paperback 
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace? 

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all. 

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth. Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.



My Summary: Parker used to be the typical queen bee, always in control. Every aspect of her life was planned, posh, and perfect. 'Perfect' Parker Fadley ruled her school and her squad with an iron fist. 

But it turns out her empire wasn't as stable as she thought. As Parker begins to self-destruct, everything she thought she could count on disappears. The only thing on everyone's mind - the only thing nobody seems to be able to figure out - is why the girl who had everything seems so content to throw it all away. 

My Thoughts: I've been on a little bit of a contemporary YA kick lately, and when I asked for recommendations a bunch of you guys suggested I pick up anything by Courtney Summers. I'd never read anything by her before, but I trusted you guys... so glad I did! 

In almost every genre the main character is someone near the bottom of the social ladder - someone without a lot of friends or popularity to deal with. It was really refreshing to have a MC who knew what that world was like, and the way the author portrayed Parker's 'fall from grace' was incredibly realistic. Summers definitely knows how to write her characters.

The mystery behind Parker's transformation was really well-done as well. I was hooked; I ended up finishing the book in practically one sitting, needing to find out what had happened. 

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys edgier contemporary YA or realistic fiction.