Monday, 1 July 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Intimidating Books

There are some books out there that I want to read, but I'm scared of what I'll find inside. Either they're really long, the content is a difficult subject, or there's lots of hype, but you feel you won't like it. I've compiled a list of books that I'm mostly intrigued by, but I don't want to pick up.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (difficult subject and content)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth (it's so incredibly long)
Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J Bick (there's so much going on content-wise)

The Diviners by Libba Bray (again, it's so long!)

After by Amy Efaw (difficult subject and content)

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (everyone loves it, but it doesn't appeal)

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown - or - But I Love Him by Amanda Grace (difficult subject and content - books like this are always devastating)

Break by Hannah Moskowitz (this book just seems way too out there)

Absent by Katie Williams (it has an interesting premise, but paranormal doesn't float my boat anymore)

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (I just think I will despise it)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bad Book Cover Central

So, I have a feature. Lately, I've been noticing that books have been getting simply awful covers from publishers. It's okay if you're reading on your Kindle or whatever, but if you're old-fashioned (like me) and love whipping your book out in public to read, it can be pretty embarrassing. And by pretty, I mean a lot. I've highlighted some terrifyingly bad covers for you to be mortified by...

Losing It by Cora Carmack
This is the original ebook cover

Losing It (Losing It, #1)

The reprints of the book in various formats have different guys on the front, but all are bad. However, I thought this was the worst. I mean, what even is this? That guy looks like a teenage wannabe rapper/druggie, with a dodgy photoshopped necklace, and the girl has a freakishly long neck, and looks dead, not in the throws of what I guess is supposed to be some kind of sex-induced haze. This is bad. This is so bad. I CANNOT UNSEE THIS. As Erin at Forever Young Adult put it, "at least Fifty Shades of Grey had that stupid stock photo of a tie". Indeed, Erin. INDEED.

Transparent by Natalie Whipple
This is the UK paperback cover


The US version is actually okay, but this is a monstrosity. Any hopes of it attracting boys to read it have vanished without even seeing the synopsis, and the girl's glasses are sideways. This makes no sense? The weird Photoshopped men in the background add nothing to it, and I would be completely embarrassed to be seen with this in public.

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash into You (Pushing the Limits, #3)

I haven't read the previous books in the series as they don't seem like my kind of thing, but the covers do nothing to draw me in. This one is probably the worst yet. The guy looks about 30 YEARS OLD, for God's sake. Why? Why is it necessary to put thirty year old actors on the front of books about seventeen year olds? Guys my age DO NOT LOOK LIKE THIS. Got that, Harlequin Teen? The girl is slightly more realistic, I suppose, but she definitely looks older than a teenager. This cover makes the characters look horrifically stereotyped and clichéd and frankly, I don't want anyone to see me reading this, and definitely not my parents.

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Not That Kind Of Girl

This is a fantastic book, and it does NOT deserve this cover. I'm surprised that it hasn't been repackaged, but clearly, the publishers like this cover. I DO NOT. I don't want to read a book where there are big (possibly) teenage faces almost-kissing on it. I was too embarrassed to whip this out in front of anyone. It just makes it look so much like run of the mill chick-lit (it's not). Push, please re-do this ASAP!

I could go on and on about the frankly mortifying covers that New Adult books have, featuring variations of the "romantic clinch", usually with tattooed guys and "innocent but sexy" girls. THEY ARE VILE. You're giving books a bad name.

To end on a more positive note, I'll show you a brilliant cover. It's simple, beautiful, and it represents in the story in a completely understated way. Book cover art people, you need to learn from this leader of greatness:

Once Was Lost

Happy reading, and I hope you find some great covers out there!

Saturday, 15 June 2013


It's that time again when I have to write mini-reviews because I've been lazy with the blogging. I'm really tired right now, so I'll say some general comments about the book, and I hope you get what I'm saying... I've read some fantastic books lately. What have you read? Happy reading!

Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Not That Kind of Girl
This cover is most certainly featuring on my upcoming "Worst Covers... EVER!" special feature. It's just embarrassing. Who thought this would be a good idea? I refused to read this in public. I refused. Anywho, Not That Kind of Girl is a funny, relatable, solid contemporary. Natalie Sterling wants to be respected, and she wants boys to respect girls. However, her life's falling apart. Her best friend is changing, the new girls at school see a different side to Natalie's clear views on female empowerment, and she's got one steamy relationship going down with Connor Hughes, a boy she wants to hate. I loved the author's writing and her characterisation; go out and read this!

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Love and Other Perishable Items
The cover's so cute, right? So's the story, but it's not without its hard-hitting, emotional punches. Amelia Hayes has just got a job at Coles, a supermarket in Sydney. She's fifteen and very intelligent, but emotionally naïve. She's also desperately in love with her co-worker Chris, who at almost twenty two has many different priorities to Amelia. They share interests in books, feminism (this guy is seriously awesome) and Chris basically helps Amelia (sort-of) grow up. You know their romance won't happen the way Amelia (and the reader) wants it to, and it's heartbreaking watching and reading their inner struggles. This Australian debut is well worth a read, and even though not much actually happens plot-wise, you'll be too taken in by the characters' personalities and inner turmoil to notice.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

I have the different UK cover, but the US version is far superior, don't you agree? Practically everyone knows about this book. It's even being made into a movie! Beatrice Prior lives a dull and selfless life in a futuristic Chicago, where society is divided into factions. However, Beatrice becomes Tris when she transfers to Dauntless from Abnegation, and it sets into motion a non-stop sequence of action, romance, and mystery. Veronica Roth certainly left me with a lot of unanswered questions that I hope will be answered in the sequels, but overall this was an impressive debut. I'll definitely be continuing the series, despite a couple of flaws.
P.S. I don't like the casting choice for Four in the movie. Sorry. It's not how I imagined him to be at all!

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Once Was Lost

I'm trying to read Sara Zarr's books in chronological order, and I think this is her best book yet. Her writing is flawless and completely mesmerising; her characters are equally compelling and damaged. Sam's inner struggles ring completely true, and her romance with town golden-boy Nick is gorgeously subtle. Her questions about God and faith and how this conflicts with her father are real and uncontrived. This was a beautiful story with an equally lovely cover. Top marks, Sara Zarr; I'm in awe of your work!

A Little Update on Life

My life over the last couple of months has been really hectic. I've left school, finished my GCSE exams, and started preparing for sixth form at a boarding school. I'll be leaving home to go there in just a few months. I start my A-levels then, and I've already been given a couple of summer reading lists, including the likes of DH Lawrence (ughhhh), but there is a chance to read a novel by one of his contemporaries (most likely, it'll be The Great Gatsby). I've read about four books since I last updated the blog. I went through a bit of a lull after reading Divergent, but I've tried to resume my reading in order to start working through my growing stacks and to get through my summer reading. I hope you enjoy my mini-reviews on the next post, and you can see which books I've bought lately below. I have some still on their way - Rape Girl by Alina Klein, Golden by Jessi Kirby, and The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan. Over the summer, I hope to read several of the books on my shelf, most likely to be these:
*sorry for the appalling webcam quality!*

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith
Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Here's my latest haul:

Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi
Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Bruised by Sarah Skilton
Jane by April Lindner
If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Infinite Sky by CJ Flood

Friday, 5 April 2013

Mini reviews!

I've not been posting on here lately, due to my increased pile of schoolwork and a few technical issues with my internet. However, I have been reading, and I have four mini reviews for the blog. Happy reading!

Freaks Like Us by Susan Vaught

Jason Milwaukee has schizophrenia and struggles to recognise what is real and what is not. When his best friend/love interest Sunshine (who is selectively mute) goes missing, he is desperate to find her, and thinks he knows what happened. However, he can't remember. Did he harm her?
This is a well-written, suspenseful contemporary. The characters were realistic and easy to relate to, and the plot was well drawn-out. My favourite characters were Sunshine and Jason, purely because their relationship was so touching.
This was a compelling mystery with a satisifying conclusion. Contemporary fans will love it, but I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Overall rating: A

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Bittersweet started off well. Hudson Avery was a strong girl who liked baking cupcakes and lamented her parents' bitter divorce. But, then guys got involved. It wasn't the characters themselves that irritated me, (Josh was fantastic, and even Will had his good points) it was the way that Hudson reacted to them. She acted dumb and it was really annoying. She liked Josh, but then he told her about this girl called Abby, who she immediately assumed was his girlfriend.(How many times has this been done? Sarah Ockler, I expected better from you!) So, she decided to have a "thing" with Will, Josh's co-captain of the ice hockey team, despite being warned by Kara, his ex-girlfriend, that he was bad news. It was dramarama central. Ockler's writing was impressive, despite her use of dodgy and embarrassing phrases that teenagers would never use. EVER. And yet, her knowledge of professional skating shone through. Some of the secondary characters fell slightly flat, and this was way too much chick-lit for my liking. Despite this, I'll give Ockler another chance to impress me. B
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Speak is my kind of book. Gritty, raw, and realistic. It's a classic of young adult literature (and yes, it is literature) that is both controversial and highly praised. Something happened to Melinda Sordino last Autumn, but she can't quite find the words to tell anyone. She starts high school an outcast, but does have positive experiences with her art teacher, her lab partner, and an ex-friend she manages to reconnect with. There is light, despite the darkness. Anderson's writing is incomparable: beautiful and stark. The character of Melinda is fascinating: a mix of sarcasm/dry humour, and disgust, both at the boy who attacked her and the high school culture. This really is a special novel, and one that everyone should read, no matter who they are. A+
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart
Frankie Landau-Banks transformed over the summer, and has got herself a new senior boyfriend, Matthew Livingston. But, she is excluded from his all-male secret society, and so she decides to do something about it. E Lockhart's novel is both funny and wise, with a good message sent to the reader about female empowerment. However, the third person narrative distances the reader from Frankie, and also makes startling contradictions, such as Frankie's quest for power, and wanting to hang on to the boyfriend who doesn't see her as his equal. What she did was spectacular, but I feel Frankie didn't quite achieve what she wanted. I believe that if she were a true feminist, Frankie would've found herself a boyfriend who truly respected her and started her own secret society, where she made the rules. B+

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Five to the Shelf

I just want to let you know that I won't be posting a review for a little while. I've been on a brief 'hiatus' lately because of my extra schoolwork and the fact I went to Germany last weekend. I've been totally exhausted, and I'm sorry to say my reading has been a casualty. However, I hope to post a review of Susan Vaught's Freaks Like Us in the near future. This week's Five are books I've had my eye on for a while, and I'm (as always) really excited to read them. What did you get this week? Happy reading!

Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso

Length: 279 pages
Published: August 14th 2012
Publisher: Atheneum

Counting Backwards is a debut, and although I think the cover is totally creepy, I think this book is right up my alley. Also, there happens to be a nice romance brewing, from what I've read in reviews...

Ask the Passengers by AS King

Length: 296 pages
Published: October 23rd 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown

I wouldn't say this book is distinctly original in terms of basic plot (contrary to the blurb), but I think it's the magical realism aspect that made me want to read this. Lying down and looking at the sky is something I've always done, and I know that any book by AS King will be brilliant. Plus, that cover is lovely.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Length: 369 pages (UK paperback)
Published: January 10th 2013 (UK)
Publisher: Random House (UK), Dutton (US)

Just One Day has received loads of hype, and I'm kind of nervous about reading it. I haven't read Forman's previous novels so I don't know what I'm getting in to. That said, I've heard she's a very talented writer. I love a good travel book, though, so maybe this will be just what I'm looking for after reading the phenomenal Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard last year.

What Happens Here by Tara Altebrando

Length: 256 pages
Published: May 6th 2008
Publisher: MTV Books

I absolutely adored Tara Altebrando's novel The Pursuit of Happiness (in fact, it's one of my favourites, ever), so I've got high hopes for What Happens Here, her follow-up. It seems to be a mix of travel, mystery, and romance, so it definitely looks like a book for me.

Falling For You by Lisa Schroeder

Length: 355 pages
Published: January 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse

The cover is the kind you probably wouldn't want to be seen in public with, I know. However, Lisa Schroeder writes solid contempories with appropriate amounts of drama, realism, and romance. I got this on my Kindle a little while ago, and I'm looking forward to it. Plus, Rae seems like a highly relatable character.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Five to the Shelf

Hi! These are the newest books I've bought recently, and some of the ones I'm most excited about reading! In addition to these, I've also bought a copy of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, which believe me, is a book you don't want to miss. As always, happy reading!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart

Length: 345 pages (Paperback)
Published: August 25th 2009 (Paperback)
Publisher: Hyperion

I've read really good reviews of this one, and I know it's strongly feminist, which I'm always for in YA! What puts me off slightly is that it's written in third person present tense, which I don't like, but I'm willing to read this one to see if it lives up to the hype.

Going Underground by Susan Vaught

Length: 352 pages (Paperback)
Published: September 13th 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Going Underground is (I think) the opposite to the stories we usually hear about the consquences of minor crime and how situations can be twisted. It definitely sounds intriguing, and as I'm currently reading Vaught's Freaks Like Us, it seems sensible to read this one in the near future.

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Length: 240 pages (US hardcover edition)
Published: 1st January 2013 (UK) 30th April 2013 (US)
Publisher: Bloomsbury

This is the US cover, which comes out in a few months time, but I have the UK version. I think this cover is lovely, though. Anthem for Jackson Dawes sounds like it's going to be a real tearjerker, but I'm always drawn to these stories anyway. Besides, last year I read The Fault in Our Stars and Jellicoe Road, so I think I can cope with anything!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan

Length: 352 pages (UK Paperback)
Published: April 6th 2010 (Original)
Publisher: Penguin (UK), Dutton (US)

So, I've read The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns. John Green is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors and I've heard so many good things about David Levithan (I'm still waiting to get my hands on The Realm of Possibility). My best friend has An Abundance of Katherines and Looking For Alaska, so expect reviews of them soon. Really excited about this!

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Length: 260 pages (paperback)
Published: September 1st 2012 (US)
Publisher: Point (US), Electric Monkey [Egmont] (UK)

I can't find the UK cover on Goodreads, so here's the US version. I've had my eye on Skinny for a while, after reading a glowing review on Anna Reads, one of my favourite YA book blogs (and she shares my name!). I am personally affected by the issues in Skinny, so this is definitely going to be an intriguing and hopefully worthwhile read.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Waiting On... Thursday?

There are some amazing contemporaries coming out this year! I wanted to highlight three books that come out this year and the covers they've got... maybe I'll do this more often. Happy reading!
"OCD, The Dude, and Me" by Lauren Roedy Vaughn

With frizzy orange hair, a plus-sized body, sarcastic demeanor, and "unique learning profile," Danielle Levine doesn't fit in even at her alternative high school. While navigating her doomed social life, she writes scathing, self-aware, and sometimes downright raunchy essays for English class. As a result of her unfiltered writing style, she is forced to see the school psychologist and enroll in a "social skills" class. But when she meets Daniel, another social misfit who is obsessed with the cult classic film The Big Lebowski, Danielle's resolve to keep everyone at arm's length starts to crumble.

This one is released on March 21st by Dial!

"The Distance Between Us" by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop. So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company. She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

This one is released on July 2nd by HarperTeen!

"Dirty Little Secret" by Jennifer Echols

Bailey wasn’t always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.
Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn’t sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

This one is released July 16th by MTV Books!

Monday, 21 January 2013

"Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe" by Shelley Coriell

Big-hearted Chloe Camden is the queen of her universe until her best friend shreds her reputation and her school counselor axes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to take on a meaningful project in order to pass, and so she joins her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don’t find her too queenly. Ostracized by her former BFs and struggling with her beloved Grams’s mental deterioration, lonely Chloe ends up hosting a call-in show that gets the station much-needed publicity and, in the end, trouble. She also befriends radio techie and loner Duncan Moore, a quiet soul with a romantic heart. On and off the air, Chloe faces her loneliness and helps others find the fun and joy in everyday life. Readers will fall in love with Chloe as she falls in love with the radio station and the misfits who call it home.

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe tells the story of Chloe Camden, the self-styled "Queen of the Universe" who gets ditched by her friends through a mistake she made, and has to learn how to listen. Her JISP (Junior Independent Study Project) is axed by her new guidance counselor, and she has to join her school's failing radio station, which it turns out she really enjoys. She makes new friends, and of course, finds romance with quiet technician Duncan.
I did really like the characters. Chloe was loud, funny, and a little self-centered, but she was generally a very nice girl. She definitely had great taste in shoes! Duncan wasn't my type, but his romance with Chloe was lovely and realistic. The radio staff were awesome, especially Clementine and Haley, who had an obsession with movies from 1939. Even Chloe's ex-best friends, Brie and Mercedes, were well-rounded and three dimensional.
I had an issue with the writing style. It wasn't that it wasn't bad, because I think Shelley Coriell definitely has talent, it's just that after reading the completely wonderful Sweethearts, everything else just paled in comparison. Additionally, I had an problem when Chloe kept referring to Brie and Mercedes as her "BFs", which I felt was lazy and pretty annoying. Plus, I thought the ending was totally rushed and didn't tie up loose ends, which it should have done, being a stand-alone. The ending left me feeling rather unsatisfied.
That being said, this was a promising debut, and I think I'll be reading Shelley Coriell's future novels.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

"Sweethearts" by Sara Zarr

As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend.
When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

Sweethearts is a beautiful book. It explores the themes of childhood friends, and people coming in and out of your life. It focuses on Jenna Vaughn, a high school senior plagued by the memories of her childhood best friend (or sweetheart) Cameron Quick. He reappears in her life on her birthday, and stays in Salt Lake City for just over a week. Over this small time period, Jenna has to reevaluate her life, and tell her mother what happened to her and Cameron on her ninth birthday.
Cameron Quick was Jenna's (then Jennifer Harris) only childhood friend, and he disappeared when she was nine. She was told by some very cruel bullies that he had died, and her mother did nothing to deny this, leading Jenna to believe that this was true. Then, he reappears, emancipated from his parents (who live in California) and ready to find Jenna. But she has changed. She's now Jenna Vaughn, popular and nothing like she was before. She has a boyfriend, Ethan - I particularly enjoyed the dynamic of their relationship and how it ended - and lots of friends.
Cameron returning is the catalyst for Jenna to change her life. However, Jenna definitely goes through the motions. The only thing that was constant was her love for Cameron, which was understated and delicate, not even a romance, but definitely a love story. Their feelings were left unresolved but Jenna acknowledged that "nothing would be enough" when it came to her and Cameron together.
The only thing that I have a problem with was that the book was so short, which led to some of the characters seeming rather two-dimensional, for example Ethan, or Katy, Jenna's other 'best friend' who turns out not to be very supportive, or indeed, pleasant. Ethan was in some ways a realistic guy, but I think the author used him to be an opposite to Cameron, which only half-worked. Katy just fell flat and didn't really have anything useful to say, in my opinion.
However, I greatly enjoyed Sweethearts, even though it was extremely painful to read sometimes and a definite tearjerker.

Overall rating: A