Sunday, 23 December 2012

"Dreamland" by Sarah Dessen

Rogerson Biscoe, with his green eyes and dark curly hair, is absolutely seductive. Before long, sixteen-year-old Caitlin finds herself under his spell. And when he starts to abuse her, she finds she's in too deep to get herself out...

Dreamland is one of the most intense novels I've ever read. It follows the story of high school junior Caitlin, and what happens after her sister Cass runs away from home. She gets into an abusive relationship with Rogerson Biscoe, a drug-dealer who makes Caitlin feel things she's never felt before. Along the way, she develops a talent for and love of photography, gets kicked off the cheerleading squad, and makes a new friend in Corinna, who I thought was a very interesting character. Dreamland is not an easy novel to read; it's painful and raw. At times I thought Caitlin's experience was too private, and that perhaps I shouldn't be reading it. It was like reading someone's diary, and it made me feel at times uncomfortable and enthralled, both at the same time. It clearly shows what can happen to teenage girls who can quickly find themselves in dangerous, all-consuming relationships, and is a stark contrast to the perfect romances of YA novels. This is an unforgettable read that I think a lot of teenagers need to experience.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The problem with 'New Adult' fiction

'New Adult' fiction is a relatively new phenomena in the publishing world which is intended to bridge the gap between YA and Adult. On the surface, this seems like a relatively good idea, right? If you're in college or an older teenager and you want to read something more mature with characters your own age, then this is perfect. But there are definite problems with this.
1) Swearing
I am not against swearing in books. Not at all. Teenagers use such language all the time and it makes fiction and characters very realistic. However, New Adult go completely over the top, and it's supposed to be seen as attractive. Expletives are just randomly put into titles for some reason unknown to me, and it really puts me off continuing reading.
2) Sex
I have no issue with this either, as long as it's written with maturity and is healthy. Yet, in NA titles it goes completely out of control. I'm not kidding, either. People write whole books filled with the stuff and it's just dire, if I'm honest. Either the main character (usually female) is a virgin and dates the boy who sleeps around/has loads of experience, or the main character is male and has done this and is falling for someone "they never thought they'd fall for". Excuse me while I vomit. In my opinion, most NA books are written as an excuse to write loads of sex into books for teenagers, and it's certainly not healthy.
3) Bad boys
This is probably one of the most irritating things about the NA genre. If a male lead is to be seen as desirable, he has to be a "bad boy", apparently. The nice guy gets kicked to the curb because the Mary Sue has fallen for the "dangerous" guy she "just can't stay away from". I'm not a gullible, pathetic teenage girl, ok? I don't lust after guys like this. They're not realistic at all, or attractive. They're often extremely violent with possessive tendencies, and they're supposed to be seen as the perfect example of a boyfriend you'd want. Classic examples include Travis from Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, and Chase from Taking Chances by Molly McAdams, two books I'm sure I'll never read.
4) Main characters
The main character, if female, is always a Mary Sue, in some shape or form. Innocent, naive, incredibly beautiful but unaware of her charms. Fantastically intelligent, but not smart enough to realise the guy she's fallen for is a total psychopath. Guys fall at her feet, and she has a great body, and her closest female friend is always a "flirt" or "promiscuous". The alternative is a "damaged" girl with a "past she wants to forget", but still has 95% of the above qualities. Maybe not as innocent, but definitely irritating enough to make you scream.
5) Romance
99% of NA books contain a sappy, unrealistic romance which includes the male character spouting professions of love straight from the author's imagination. No guy would ever say these things. Also, the stuff the MCs do is usually utter drivel, too. Surely the author's own experiences of relationships are not like these turgid fantasies? Most NA books are one step away from turning into Fifty Shades of Grey, for God's sake (inner goddess anyone?).
6) Self-publishing
I have no problem with self-publishing, and I think it's a great idea, as long as your work is properly edited and is written by someone with actual literary talent. Most books, alas, are not. They include constant grammatical errors, obvious spelling mistakes and a load of general errors you wouldn't find in a published novel. People who write these things, get some self-respect! It makes you look so unbelievably stupid if your main character's name never has a capital letter throughout the whole book! 

However, there are some self-published books which I have really enjoyed. The writing was actually pretty good and the characters were believable as people that would exist in real-life. My top three that I'd recommend are:
Easy by Tammara Webber
Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Have you read any self-published novels? What did you think? Happy reading!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Top 10 Tuesday

It's Top 10 Tuesday time again! I'm writing this in a hurry so it's not going to be as perfectly set out as my usual posts. However, I've managed to narrow down my books chosen for this week's topic, which is: "Top 10 books read in 2012", even though 2012 isn't over yet. What are your favourite books you read in 2012? Happy reading!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Five to the Shelf

'Five to the Shelf' is a new meme I've decided to start here on The Biggest Bookshelf. Hopefully this will enable me to get more followers, comments, and possibly even ARCs or something. Basically, every weekend you write about five books you've recently added to your bookshelf and plan to read. It's kind of like 'In My Mailbox' at The Story Siren or 'Stacking the Shelves' over at Tynga's Reviews, except you have the include five, and therefore you can write more about the books you've chosen. Just an update on my book life: I'm currently reading 'Dreamland' by Sarah Dessen (whose books I adore) and I've ordered a copy of 'Saving Francesca' by Melina Marchetta via the internet. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and as always, happy reading!

The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez 

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.
Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to . . . but forgiveness is beside the point. Because Charly is also hiding a terrible secret, and the truth just might tear them apart forever.

I really loved Jessica Martinez's first novel Virtuosity and so I can't wait to read this one. I find novels about sisters very interesting (I'm an only child) and I'm intrigued by the secret that 'might tear them apart forever'. Also, that cover is lovely!

 Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill 

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.
It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").
But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.
Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

I absolutely adore this cover! It's just so pretty, and despite the fact the couple look way older than high school age, it doesn't bother me because it's that lovely. Anyway, I'm a sucker for romances like this and Julia sounds a lot like me. I've heard nothing but good things about this one and I'm really excited about it!

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

The synopsis is way too long to post, but it's basically about two girls, Charlie Duskin and Rose Butler, from what I've read. It involves "friendship, romance and songs in major chords", which is always a good mix. AND IT'S AUSTRALIAN YA!!! I'm really falling for this culture and I can't wait to read more books set in it. 

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

How can you talk about something you can’t remember?
Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still...), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.
Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect... or so she thinks.

I had my eye on this one for a while before it was released, and I got a copy pretty quickly after it came out. I'm really excited about What Happens Next because it looks like a solid contemporary with believable romance and actual characters that aren't some made-up flawless Mary-Sue/Paul-Stu beings with no personality. I've seen rave reviews of this one, which is always good! 

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.
So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.
It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are,
she knows this chance may very well be her last...

I've got a confession to make. I haven't read Sarah Ockler's other novels, Twenty Boy Summer and Fixing Delilah, despite the latter having sat on my shelf for quite some time. I have, however, got my eye on her 2013 release The Book of Broken Hearts. However, I decided to try this one because it involves a) cupcakes (win!) and b) hot hockey players, despite it apparently involving an annoying love triangle (I hate these) and a ridiculous name for a main character. But, I'm sure Hudson is a lovely person and I'll like this story quite a bit.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

"Graffiti Moon" by Cath Crowley

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.
His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere
Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.
But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her .

Graffiti Moon is an absorbing, atmospheric look at art, poetry, and the power these two things create. It follows the story of Lucy and Ed, two teenagers from Melbourne, Australia, over one night. It was captivating.
Lucy is into art in a big way. She's an apprentice glassblower (awesome), is a frequent visitor to exhibitions, and talks about artists all the time. Lucy was a fantastic character who I loved, even if the art stuff went totally over my head most of the time.
Ed is also into art, but he dropped out of school in year 10, and now he's a graffiti artist known as Shadow (this is not a spoiler, it's revealed pretty quickly). Ed, I love you, please marry me? He's just so funny and arty and real.
So, Ed and Lucy went on a very awkward date just before Ed dropped out of school, which culminated in Lucy breaking Ed's nose. But now, Lucy's friend Jazz wants to date Ed's friend Leo, and this is where things get complicated. Lucy wants to know Shadow, unaware he's Ed. Ed, Leo and Dylan (their other friend, who is hilarious by the way) lead Lucy, Jazz (who is also psychic) and Daisy (Dylan's girlfriend who he keeps annoying) on a wild goose chase around Melbourne involving a pink Free Love van, a very creepy criminal called Malcolm Dove, and a lot of art (amongst other things).
Overall, Graffiti Moon excellently combined beautiful writing, humour, and the right sprinkling of romance to create a novel I highly recommend.

Rating: A

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: 2013 Books

Top 10 Tuesday again! This week's theme is 'Most Anticipated Books of 2013'. There are loads I could have picked, but here are the ones I like that have covers. If you want to know more, add me on Goodreads. Happy reading!

1. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (June 4th)

2. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith (April 2nd)

3. Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook (January 29th)

4. Golden by Jessi Kirby (May 14th)

5. Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown (May 21st)

6. Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe (May 8th)

7. Flowers in the Sky by Lynn Joseph (March 5th)

8. The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (May 7th)

9. Things I Can't Forget by Miranda Kenneally (March 1st)

10. How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (May 7th)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

"Jellicoe Road" by Melina Marchetta

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

Gahhh I loved this one so much! Why have I not jumped on the Australian YA bandwagon before? Everything about Jellicoe Road was beautiful: the writing, the setting, the characters. I honestly can't wait to read more of Melina Marchetta's work and I'll definitely be re-reading this one. P.s. I wept like a baby during the last few chapters of the book, dear lord, Melina Marchetta knows how to pack in some raw emotion. Make sure you have a tissue box to hand when reading this!
But first, the deal. Jellicoe Road is the story of Taylor Markham, a seventeen year old girl abandoned by her mother (when she was eleven) on the Jellicoe Road, a scenic route near Sydney. She attends the Jellicoe School, and is embroiled in the seemingly never-ending territory wars with the Townies (those who live in Jellicoe) and the Cadets (who visit from Sydney annually for training). The fact that she actually doesn't care about anyone at first doesn't help her situation, given that the annoying Richard is planning a takeover coup, and the leader of the Cadets is Jonah Griggs, who is involved in Taylor's past. Running through the story are snippets of Taylor's friend Hannah's manuscript about five kids in the eighties who met their fate on the Jellicoe Road. They're somehow entwined in Taylor's life and there's a big mystery here! 
Taylor is totally bad-ass. She kind of scared me with how fearless she was, but she definitely had a softer side that is revealed during the course of the book. I really liked her, despite her erratic nature and general moodiness. I also liked Raffaela, her best friend; Ben, her other best friend; and the others, like Santangelo & Jessa McKenzie. NOW WE MOVE ONTO JONAH GRIGGS. Swooooon. The love I have for him is just... wow. The tension between him and Taylor is off the scale so many times, and their romance was so gorgeous it choked me up. 
The adults in this story were completely enigmatic. I had a hard time understanding all the links and reasons and everything, but when I figured out the mystery, I kind of knew it had been there all along. Why did Hannah disappear? Who the heck is the Brigadier? How are Taylor and Jonah linked? What about Taylor's mum? YOU'LL HAVE TO READ IT TO FIND OUT!!
Overall, I highly recommend Jellicoe Road and this may have just been moved up to my favorite books of all time list. I have so much love for this book, it's unreal.

Rating: A+

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

"Story of a Girl" by Sara Zarr

When she is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother's best friend--Deanna Lambert's teenage life is changed forever. Struggling to overcome the lasting repercussions and the stifling role of "school slut," she longs to escape a life defined by her past. With subtle grace, complicated wisdom and striking emotion, Story of a Girl reminds us of our human capacity for resilience, epiphany and redemption.

Story of a Girl was incredibly realistic. In every high school, there's always "that girl". The one everybody calls a slut. (I hate this word. It's so ugly and demeaning.) The one who has their life twisted and manipulated so it's some kind of joke, and everybody finds it funny to tell their own version of the story. Deanna Lambert is said girl.
Deanna was thirteen years old when her father caught her with Tommy Webber, a seventeen year old junior, and supposed friend of her brother. What I really have an issue with is the fact that she was thirteen - how many thirteen year olds really know what sex is and means? Deanna clearly didn't, and ever since then her fellow students, strangers in town, and her own father have called her a slut.  Her dad even suggests at one point that she'd slept with her 46 year-old boss. It's not true, but the fact that he'd think it sickens me. This book is one of those quiet novels: uncluttered, simple, but deeply affecting.
I liked Deanna. Most people would say she was a bad friend, a skank, a loser. She was a bad friend, but this made her feel authentic. All her deep flaws were realistic and these are flaws that many of us have, sometimes without even realising it. I also liked Stacy, Darren, Jason, and Lee. Darren was Deanna's older brother, and he stuck up for her when nobody really did. Stacy was his girlfriend, and they had a baby daughter, April. These three were constantly belittled by Darren's father, whom I wholly disliked, but they stuck with it, even when it got tough. Stacy was a very straightforward girl and I liked that. Even though they made mistakes, they pulled through at the end.
Jason and Lee were Deanna's best friends. Jason had always been there for Deanna and Lee was kind of new. But things were awkward now Lee and Jason were dating, and Deanna definitely felt like the third wheel. I like how their situation was resolved, and I hoped they would stay friends and fall back together. I appreciated the way Deanna's situation was resolved, and how she stood up for herself in the end, to try to make herself feel like a better person.
I really admire Sara Zarr's writing style. She gets straight to the point, and tells Deanna's story in the way that it is a story. She's not biased, and she doesn't try to sugarcoat things; she just tells it like it is. I guess people who reviewed this book didn't like that, but I think it's the best way to tell a story. She also makes characters like Deanna's parents three-dimensional and realistic - they're not underdeveloped or hollow; that's what real people are like.
I would have preferred it if the book had been longer. I think this would have added extra dimensions to Deanna's story. That being said, I can't read to read more Sara Zarr novels in the future.

Rating: A

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite book covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is... free choice! I've decided to choose my favorite book covers, and I think they're all really gorgeous. But just so you know, there aren't any Paranormal or Dystopia or Fantasy covers included, because a, I'm not an avid reader of these genres, and b, I find most of them pretty repetitive and over-used. So, without further ado...

1. The Waiting Sky by Lara Zielin

I go on and on about this cover all the time and I've even mentioned it my friends. It's just lovely and really captures what the story is about.

2. Hold Still by Nina Lacour

This cover is from the paperback edition and is freaking beautiful. The colors, the way the font appears to be moving and staying still at the same time, the girl's position, and the way she looks a lot like the main character, Caitlin, makes it perfect. Also, readers of the book will know that this fits a scene in the book...

3. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

I haven't read this one, but that cover has really caught my attention. It's so spooky-looking and a bit creepy, really, but it's also really beautiful.

4. The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

I think this one really captures the essence of what Mia becomes in the novel: carefree, happy and in love. The beach fits the summer theme and the font is unobtrusive but important. 

5. But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

The cover of "But I Love Him" is thoughtful, intense and sharp. I love the effect that the glass makes in the sharp of the jagged heart, and the font is quite creepy. The colors are lovely.

6. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

This one screams "summer!" in a good way. In the best possible way, actually. The couple are obviously highly attractive (they always are on books), but I love the way the light falls on them, what the fence implies (love implication, ya'll) and the sun looks very pretty.

7. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

This one is so pretty, I could put this on my wall. Everything about is gorgeous: the rainbow effect, the London background, and the way the couple are standing. Top marks!

8. The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

This one is SO CUTE. The writing, the flower, the heart-shaped pages, they're all freaking perfect. This one is like a cupcake in book cover format!

9. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

This one is heartbreaking. The tagline makes me ache, and the heart with the bite is just so beautiful and painful. 

10. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This is the hardcover edition, and I think this one is SO GORGEOUS, words cannot describe it. The sky, the font, the hearts, I'm in love.

What are your favorite book covers? Happy reading! A xoxo

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

"The Waiting Sky" by Lara Zielin

One summer chasing tornadoes could finally change Jane's life for the better.

Seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister can't quite admit her mother's alcoholism is spiraling dangerously out of control until she drives drunk, nearly killing them and Jane's best friend.

Jane has only one place to turn: her older brother Ethan, who left the problems at home years ago for college. A summer with him and his tornado-chasing buddies may just provide the time and space Jane needs to figure out her life and whether it still includes her mother. But she struggles with her anger at Ethan for leaving home and feels guilty--is she also abandoning her mom just when she needs Jane most? The carefree trip turned journey of self-discovery quickly becomes more than Jane bargained for, especially when the devilishly handsome Max steps into the picture.

I really enjoyed The Waiting Sky. I think it was just what I'd been looking for. It wasn't too heavy or meaningless, and there weren't any really irritating main characters. Jane is seventeen and lives with her mother, who is an alcoholic, in Minnesota. Her older brother Ethan left home five years previously to go to University, and Jane feels like he abandoned them. Since then, she's had to cope with her mother's problems and has been neglecting herself, putting her mom's health ahead of her own life. That all changes when Jane, her mom, and Jane's best friend Cat are in a car accident when Jane's mom is driving drunk, and they're nearly all killed. Cat gives Jane an ultimatum - sort yourself out or we're not friends anymore. So Jane decides to go live with her brother in Oklahoma for the summer.
This is where the real story kicks in. Ethan is a METEOROLOGIST (awesome) and is a storm chaser. He's involved with this team (the Torbros) who go around Tornado Alley chasing tornadoes, in order to get scientific information. The team, who were great, were Stephen, Victor, Mason, Ethan, and Hallie. Stephen is the leader, basically, and wants it all to run smoothly. Victor is Stephen's brother and he's been suffering from PTSD after getting caught in a really bad storm and getting injured. Mason is the science geek type who runs the equipment, and he was cute. He was always trying to find a girlfriend on the road who liked sci-fi and the weather. Hallie was a Texas girl who liked alcohol - a lot. I liked her at first, but later on she started to irritate me.
(view spoiler)When she started dating Ethan, I knew this was a bad match. Jane tried to stop it, but obviously she couldn't, and got a load of "this is none of your business" etc.. Ethan was totally awesome, except when he got all self-righteous about what Jane should do regarding her mother. Also, Ethan was hot. ;-)
   I really liked Jane. She was smart, headstrong, and not afraid to stand up for herself. She really cared about her mom, despite her problems and the fact she was bringing Jane down with her.
(view spoiler)She always thought she was doing what was best and had her mom's best interests at heart. I'm really glad Jane stood up to her mom in the end, although I do think this could have been better resolved.  Her romance with Max was really sweet and well done, and Max was a great guy who obviously really liked Jane. It was lovely to see her open up to him and realise that he could help her, even when she didn't want to listen.
Finally, Lara Zielin's writing style was lovely. It was very atmospheric and she described the twisters with descriptive imagery and language. I also liked how she used the twisters to signify the chaos in Jane's life.
Overall, this was a fantastic read, and I hope to read more from Lara Zielin in the future. That cover is absolutely beautiful!

Rating: A

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Waiting On Wednesday: "Nobody But Us"

"Nobody But Us" by Kristin Halbrook

Bonnie and Clyde meets IF I STAY in this addictively heart-wrenching story of two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.

They’re young. They’re in love. They’re on the run.

Zoe wants to save Will as much as Will wants to save Zoe. When Will turns eighteen, they decide to run away together. But they never expected their escape to be so fraught with danger....

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can’t run fast enough.

Love story? Contemporary? Road trip? I'm in. Kody Keplinger's a fan (You know how much I loved The Duff), and Goodreads adds it's "perfect for fans of Nina Lacour(!!), Jenny Han, and Sara Zarr". This one looks like it's made of awesome. Unfortunately, it comes out in January 2013 - sad times.

Happy reading! A (aka tbb) xo

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

"Paper Towns" by John Green

Who is the real Margo?
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificent, adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she opens his bedroom window late one night and summons him to join her on an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to find that Margo has not. Always an enigma, she now becomes a mystery and Q learns that there are clues to be followed in his search for Margo.

Let me start this review by saying I had pretty high expectations for this one. I LOVED The Fault in Our Stars so much, and John Green is awesome. So, I liked Paper Towns a lot. John Green is seriously talented. His writing is sharp and witty, but every now and again he adds that little bit of description that just adds to the depth of what you're reading. Paper Towns has a pretty simple plot. It revolves around Quentin Jacobsen, aka Q, a senior about to graduate from high school in Orlando, Florida. He's been in love with Margo Roth Spiegelman for as long as he can remember. After one night where he helps her in her campaign of vengeance against those who have wronged her, she basically drops of the face of the planet, and Q is left wondering where she went.
Quentin was a really great character. He was well-rounded, smart, and generally a nice guy, despite having moments of being totally self-absorbed. His friends Radar and Ben were hilarious, and I loved them. They added just the right amount of humor to any situation and some of the book's funniest moments were with these three together. Over the course of the book, Ben starts dating Lacey, a popular girl who Margo is friends with. Lacey was a really nice addition to the group and had her brilliantly funny moments.
Now, Margo. Margo was such a complex character who was really quite hard to like. Sometimes, she came out with these brilliant statements and I totally agreed with what she was saying, but most of the time she came across as being a bit of a self-obsessed bitch. I really couldn't understand why Quentin loved her so much, as she was pretty awful. I got really fed up in the second part of the book because all Q does is talk about her, think about her, and generally whine about where he thinks Margo might be. Yes, she might be dead, Q, but really? Has she ever properly given you the time of day? I think this is why it took me so long to finish it (Q's incessant pining for Margo). It annoyed the hell out of me, but I got through it, and the book got better. I absolutely loved the group's road trip, it was so entertaining and generally brilliant.
So, overall, I'd say that I really did enjoy this book, but I lowered the rating because of Q's Margo-induced whining, and the fact that she wasn't really worth all the hype. 

Rating: A-

Friday, 5 October 2012

In My Mailbox: Recent contemporary purchases!

So, viewers of the world, I update you again. Here's another IMM post and I hope you enjoy it. Hopefully you'll pick up some of these reads or you'll like my review. I'm kind of feeling book overload at the moment, but I can't seem to stop buying books, because there's so many fantastic ones out there. Happy reading! 

DREAMLAND by Sarah Dessen

Goodreads page

Main character: Caitlin O'Koren
Setting: USA
Released: September 1st 2000
Themes: Abuse, Family, Romance, Drama


Goodreads page

Main character: Jennifer/Jenna Harris
Setting: USA
Released: February 1st 2008
Themes: Family, Friendship, Romance, Psychological abuse

SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington

Goodreads page

Main character: Chelsea Knot
Setting: USA
Released: August 28th 2012

Themes: Friendship, Romance, Drama

GRAFFITI MOON by Cath Crowley

Goodreads page

Main characters: Lucy & Ed
Setting: Australia
Released: August 1st 2010
Themes: Friendship, Romance, Art, Poetry


Goodreads page

Main character: Tessa McMullen
Setting: USA
Released: May 25th 2010
Themes: Drama, Friendship, Thriller, Romance

STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr

Goodreads page

Main character: Deanna Lambert
Setting: USA
Released: January 10th 2007
Themes: Coming of age, Family, Friendship, Romance

HATE LIST by Jennifer Brown

Goodreads page

Main character: Valerie Leftman
Setting: USA
Released: September 1st 2009
Themes: Death, Drama, Friendship

SAVING JUNE by Hannah Harrington

Goodreads page

Main character: Harper Scott
Setting: USA
Released: May 1st 2011
Themes: Death, Friendship, Romance, Music

Sunday, 23 September 2012

"Wanderlove" by Kirsten Hubbard

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Ahhh this one was brilliant!
The story is about Bria, a high school graduate who is traveling to Central America on an organised tour, but then she meets backpacker half-siblings Rowan and Starling, and her journey really begins.
At first, I got the feeling that Bria was definitely trying to escape her past. She'd left behind best friends who she couldn't rely on, a very arrogant and jerky ex-boyfriend, and she'd given up her art, the one thing that she was passionate about. Bria's love for art was so clear and profound that I was ecstatic when she started drawing again. Kirsten Hubbard's drawings also added extra dimension to the novel, and it was clear that she is a talented artist herself.
The dynamic between Bria and Rowan was natural and flowed nicely, and their romantic relationship developed deliciously slowly. Rowan was the perfect travel companion - aware of the world around him, knowledgeable, and doesn't ask too many personal questions. He let Bria grow and appreciate her surroundings by herself, but was there when she needed him. It also didn't hurt that he was totally gorgeous ;-)
Bria was a great character: realistically flawed but also open to development. Her journal entries were entertaining, and I especially enjoyed her "Things Toby said that should have made me dump him instantly" list. I'd love to see more of her - maybe a sequel? :)
Kirsten Hubbard's writing was beautiful. Her prose was perfect, descriptive and colorful without losing the point. The way she described the most simple of things was gorgeous, and made everything feel so vivid and real. I'm used to reading sparse, hard-hitting language, which I appreciate and like, but this was a wonderful change from that. 
I really loved and enjoyed Wanderlove and I hope to read Like Mandarin (her previous novel) in the future, and anything else Kirsten Hubbard writes. Additionally, I might check out her as a travel writer; I think she could persuade me to go anywhere!

Rating: A+

Saturday, 8 September 2012

In My Mailbox: Dystopia corner!

This weekend, viewers of the world, I've got five dystopia reads to share with you! They're all fairly recent, and I'm hoping they're going to be worth it. I'm pretty selective about my dystopia, because after the outbreak of Hunger Games obsession, there have been loads of books that try to imitate that format and aren't really worth it. I hope you enjoy these! Happy reading!

THE FORSAKEN by Lisa M Stasse

Goodreads page

Main character: Alenna Shawcross
Released: July 10th 2012
Themes: Adventure, Survival, Action, Romance
Page count: 375 (hardcover)

EVE by Anna Carey

Goodreads page

Main character: Eve
Released: October 4th 2011
Themes: Post-apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Survival
Page count: 336 (Kindle edition)

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Goodreads page

Main character: Beatrice Prior
Released (UK version): February 2nd 2012
Themes: Post-apocalyptic, Adventure, Romance, Action
Page count: 489 (UK paperback)


Goodreads page

Main character: Anya Balanchine
Released (UK version): March 19th 2012
Themes: Crime, Mystery, Romance, Family
Page count: 352 (UK paperback)

ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons

Goodreads page

Main character: Ember Miller
Released: January 31st 2012
Themes: Thriller, Action, Romance, Adventure
Page count: 362 (hardcover)

Friday, 31 August 2012

"Into the Wild Nerd Yonder" by Julie Halpern

It’s Jessie’s sophomore year of high school. A self-professed “mathelete,” she isn’t sure where she belongs. Her two best friends have transformed themselves into punks and one of them is going after her longtime crush. Her beloved older brother will soon leave for college (and in the meantime has shaved his mohawk and started dating . . . the prom princess!) . . .
Things are changing fast. Jessie needs new friends. And her quest is a hilarious tour through high-school clique-dom, with a surprising stop along the way—the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, who out-nerd everyone. Will hanging out with them make her a nerd, too? And could she really be crushing on a guy with too-short pants and too-white gym shoes?  
If you go into the wild nerd yonder, can you ever come back?

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder was my first Julie Halpern book, but I can definitely say it won't be my last. It's about Jessie Sloan, a high school sophomore who gets fed up with her fake friends and decides to find some new ones. The author got inside Jessie's head really well, making her voice very realistic. Jessie is probably one of my all-time favourite narrators; she's funny, unique, wholly likable and good. She wanted to well at school and have friends she could trust and who liked her for who she was. Her brother Barrett (another great character, and I loved their sibling dynamic, it was so refreshing) was into the whole punk scene (complete with orange mohawk) but she didn't get into that, preferring instead to do her own thing, which included being a mathematics geek and designing/sewing her own skirts (which sounded awesome, I must say). When her best friends Bizza and Char become obsessed with Barrett's friends (including Jessie's long-term crush Van), and Bizza knowingly hooks up with Van, Jessie ditches them (admittedly after a bit of dithering and floundering) in favour of the "nerd" crowd, who play Dungeons and Dragons. This book provided a good insight into the game, which I didn't know a lot about before, and showed Jessie that it was okay not to be seen as "cool". (Her father, friend Polly, and even her brother had played it at least once before). At the same time, Barrett sort of parallels Jessie's change of social scene by leaving his band, the Crudhoppers, and beginning to date the Homecoming Queen, Chloe Romano, who unexpectedly turns out to be very intelligent and a feminist. Jessie finds romance of her own with Henry, a very sweet boy (with too-short trousers and very white gym shoes) who she plays D&D with.
Overall, this book was brilliant! I will definitely be re-reading this one at some point in the future.

Rating: A+

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

In My Mailbox: What to Expect When You're Not Expecting Much

So, viewers of the world, I have decided to try something new... sort of. I'm going to start doing In My Mailbox posts (first started by Kristi over at The Story Siren) to show what reviews are coming up next and hopefully introduce you to some new reads! I've got 11 to show you (I recently ordered a load of American titles from Amazon) today. Some are Kindle Editions but most are physical copies. If you're a member of Goodreads, there are links to the page of each book so you can add it. If you're not a Goodreads member, you can still follow the link and read more about the book, including the full synopsis and reviews. I'll also include bits about the story and/or characters. Happy reading!

WANT by Stephanie Lawton

Goodreads page

Main character: Julianne Casquette
Setting: Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Alabama, USA
Released: June 6th 2012
Themes: Romance, Drama, Music, Family

WANDERLOVE by Kirsten Hubbard

Goodreads page

Main character: Bria Sandoval 
Setting: Central America; Southern California, USA
Released: March 13th 2012
Themes: Travel, Romance, Adventure, Self-discovery

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Goodreads page

Main character: Samantha Reed
Setting: Connecticut, USA
Released: June 14th 2012
Themes: Family, Romance, Drama, Coming of age


Goodreads page

Main character: Vera Dietz
Setting: USA
Released: October 12th 2010
Themes: Mystery, Friendship, Abuse, (minor) Romance

NEVER ENOUGH by Denise Jaden

Goodreads page

Main character: Loann Rochester
Setting: USA
Released: July 10th 2012
Themes: Family, Sisters, Romance, Mental illness


Goodreads page

Main characters: Jill MacSweeney and Mandy Kalinowski
Setting: USA
Released: October 18th 2011
Themes: Family, Parenting, Coming of age, Romance

IF I LIE by Corrine Jackson 

Goodreads page

Main character: Sophie Topper Quinn
Setting: Texas, USA
Released: August 28th 2012
Themes: Military, Friendship, Romance, War, Drama

PAPER TOWNS by John Green

Goodreads page

Main character: Quentin Jacobsen
Setting: Orlando, Florida, USA
Released: October 16th 2008
Themes: Mystery, Romance, Adventure, Coming of age

THE WAITING SKY by Lara Zielin

Goodreads page

Main character: Jane McAllister
Setting: USA
Released: August 2nd 2012
Themes: Drama, Romance, Family, Adventure

By the way, I think this cover is gorgeous!

FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers

Goodreads page

Main character: Eddie Reeves
Setting: USA or Canada
Released: December 21st 2010
Themes: Mystery, Family, Death, Romance

My third Courtney Summers novel, so I already know I won't be disappointed!


Goodreads page

Main character: Drea Horvath
Setting: Bellingham, Washington, USA
Released: May 25th 2010
Themes: Music, Friendship, Romance, Family