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