Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Title: Slammed
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: YA fiction/ Romance
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“It's not just lies they're referring to. It's life. You can't run to another town, another place, another state. Whatever it is you're running from-it goes with you. It stays with you until you find out how to confront it.”

Layken is an 18-year-old girl who has to move to Michigan with her mother and 9-year-old brother after her father passes away.  Even though she has came to terms with her father’s death, she is a girl filled with emotional turmoil. She is a character that you root for, wanting her to overcome her battles and stand strong.

She immediately meets Will, her next-door neighbor and his brother Coulder. For me, the relationship between Lake and Will starts off too quickly. Even though I do understand that their connection is needed right off the bat because of the situation that they get into, I feel that there was no way they could have been that deeply involved with each other to put so much at stake.

Will and Lake have a tough relationship. They both want each other, but they are being pulled apart by something they have no control over. They are forbidden to be with each other, but their feelings for each other keeps on pulling them back. Throughout the book, their feelings for each other grew on me, and I was cheering for them all the way.  They overcome obstacles that they shouldn’t have to face at such a young age. With another unexpected secret about to be discovered, Lake needs Will more than ever to help her get through the hand she’s been dealt.  

I loved that Will is a responsible, mature adult. He takes care of his little brother, and he never once complains about the burden or the difficulties he goes through. He puts his little brother first in everything, which is both a good and bad thing.

The writing in Slammed is wonderful, and the poetry is absolutely beautiful. I have always loved reading poetry, and this blew me away. The author was able to take a few lines and turn them into something absolutely moving. This story had me laughing, smiling, and even crying a little bit more than I thought I would. It is an emotional ride that leaves you breathless and wanting more. A must read. 

“I got schooled this year
A boy that I'm seriously, deeply, madly, incredibly, and undeniably in love with.
And he taught me the most important thing of all...
To put the emphasis
On life .”

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Finds - March 8, 2013

Friday Finds showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your to be read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased)

All summaries are from goodreads. 

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

On remote Rollrock Island, men make their living--and fetch their wives--from the sea.

The Witch Misskaella knows how to find the girl at the heart of a seal. She'll coax a beauty from the beast for any man, for a price. And what man wouldn't want a sea-wife, to and to hold, and to keep by his side forever?

But though he may tell himself that he is the master, one look in his new bride's eyes will transform him just as much as it changes her. Both will be ensnared--and the witch will look on, laughing.

In this magical, seaswept novel, Margo Lanagan tells an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also of unspoken love.

 How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

 If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesday - March 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: grab your current read and go to a random page. share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on the page (don't add spoilers!). Share the title and author too so that other TT participants can add their book to their tbr lists if they like your teaser! 

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

"I will still in that ballroom, still chained to that wall. 
I was still alive. I was so tired. (pg. 58)"

So I'm not real big on vampire books much anymore because they have gotten so popular, but I decided to give this one a try. Hoping it will not disappoint! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Fiction/Romance
Rating: 5/5

Part of me doesn’t even want to review Eleanor and Park. I know nothing that I type will ever express how meaningful and beautiful this book is, but it deserves to be reviewed. Even if no one even reads this.

Eleanor meets Park on her first day of her new school on the bus, where he offers her the seat beside him. Right from the start, the other student’s don’t like her. Eleanor is big. Eleanor has thick bright curly red hair. Eleanor wears men’s shirts and scarves tied around her wrist and weird things in her hair. First, Eleanor and Park don’t talk. At all. Very slowly, a connection forms between them through their love of comics, mutual disrespect for the idiots on their bus, and their love of great music. Their relationship is unlike any other.

“As soon as he said it, she broke into a smile. And when Eleanor smiled, something broke inside him. Something always did.”

Eleanor comes from a broken family. She has an abusive stepfather, a mother who is too afraid to challenge him, and little brothers and sisters who are caught in the crossfire. Eleanor’s life isn’t easy, and from the moment Eleanor was introduced, I just wanted to cry. And I did, throughout most of the book.

Eleanor and Park is an emotional, touching book. Personally, it touched a nerve with me because I felt like I understood her. My family is relatively normal, but I know what it is like to be an outsider. To be made fun of because of being overweight. Eleanor felt like she was not worthy of someone loving her, of someone wanting her.  And I get that; I understand that more than I want to. I felt like this Eleanor and I were just two birds of a feather. Eleanor wanted to be different, and she made sure she was. That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt any less.

Park is not like any other male character I’ve read about. The one word that describes Park? Sweet. Park is the sweetest male character I’ve ever met. Park is an outsider and not at the same time. He is Asian and quiet. Wears black a lot. He’s different from the rest of the students, but he is a part of them, also. He comes from a loving family, making the gap between Eleanor and him even wider. 

“Nothing was dirty. With Park. Nothing could be shameful.
Because Park was the sun, and that was the only way Eleanor could think to explain it.”

Eleanor and Park’s relationship is very special to me. They’re so cautious. Eleanor has a hard time opening up; she doesn’t trust easily. Eleanor is temperamental and sarcastic, which sometimes takes their relationship back a step. In a way though, it’s just them. The way they are with each other.  It makes Eleanor and Park, Eleanor and Park.

The ending. Oh, god. What can I even say about the ending? It was around three o’clock in the morning when I finished this book, and to say that I was a bundle of emotions was an understatement. The ending is realistic…. but the author definitely adds more confusion than needed. I’m not sure confusion is the right word. Lets just say that the author definitely rubs it in your face that she is the only one writing the ending.

Eleanor and Park is a love story, but it’s much more than that. It is about life. It is about a side of life that many people don’t like to acknowledge. The writing in Eleanor and Park makes your heart break. It breaks it and then the author sews it back up, and then she breaks it again into a tiny more million little pieces. It’s raw. It doesn’t hide behind the YA label; it puts everything out in the open and lets you deal with the cruelty of the world.  It doesn’t shelter you from it. This book takes your breath away, and while you’re trying to catch it, it takes it away again.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Title: Leaving Paradise
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publication: April 2007 by Flux
Genre: YA Fiction/Romance
Rating: 5/5

This is one of those books that you better have nothing else planned for the entire day because you will not sit it down until it is finished. I devoured Leaving Paradise. I was so caught up in Maggies and Calebs story that I was reading through class, through lunch, through time when I was supposed to be studying for my Biology exam.  Yeah, bad idea. Note: this might be long. 

Anyways, Leaving Paradise is a twist on forbidden love. On a horrible night that changed everybody’s life in small town Paradise, Illinois, Caleb Becker hit Maggie Armstrong with his car after driving drunk from a party. Maggie had to go to the hospital and began extensive physical therapy sessions. She was doomed with a limp that would remain with her forever. Caleb went to a juvenile corrections complex as a convicted felon.

The story starts with Caleb being released out of jail with a sentence of one hundred and fifty community service hours. When Caleb returned back to his home, he realized everything was not the same as it was when he left it. His family, his friends, his whole life had been shattered. He ran into Maggie on a walk, and began a connection with her that left them both breathless, confused, and in desperate need of the truth.

"I'm going to kiss you." 
My stomach does a little flip; I forget about being mad. 
My nerves take over all emotions. "Here?"
"Oh, yeah. Right here, right now. You gonna run away this time?"
"I don't think so, but I'm not sure."

First of all, I loved the characters- 

Mrs. Reynolds. I wish she was my grandmother. Her honesty, her wisdom, her hilarious wit  had me smiling every time the lady spoke. Favorite leading character ever. 

Maggie. Wonderful, tormented, brave Maggie. She is one of my favorite female characters that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She was so realistic. After being hit by Caleb, her leg was so damaged she had to quit playing tennis. Playing tennis, to Maggie, was the most important thing in her life. She measured her worth in the fact that she wowed everyone in the audience when she took the court. With the loss of tennis, her world was completely changed. She lost her friends, and she lost her scholarship to Spain, her one chance to get away from everyone and everything in Paradise. Worst of all, she was blamed for sending Caleb to jail.  She had the weight of the world on her shoulders, and Maggie reacted like every teenage girl would. Sure, she might have seemed childish in some points, and she might have whined and complained, but she’s human. She’s a teenager. And if I were to be in her place, I would have done exactly the same thing.

Caleb. Caleb was broken, shattered, and completely devastated by what happened and what he had to endure through his time in jail. He is a character that at first, you don’t feel much sympathy for. He hit Maggie; he insulted her again and again, and just keeps lying to her. Caleb started to change. You realize he was a teenage boy who made a few mistakes. He had this tough, arrogant façade up, but it started faltering. At first, Maggie was the only victim, but during the novel, the tides change and Caleb ended up being as much as one as Maggie. Worse, there’s something he’s not telling anybody; a secret that he swore he’d take to the grave, a secret that is eating him alive from where it is buried so deeply inside him. Of course, there were some parts where I wanted to kill him. Namely parts concerning a certain someone, cough cough Kendra.

Maggie and Caleb’s relationship started out slowly, like it should.  The buildup of their relationship was wonderful and real. Caleb was careful with Maggie; he didn't rush her or try to change her into something she’s not. They’re both two teenagers who have had to go through circumstances that many people never have to face. When there was no one else to turn to, they reached for each other. 

"I don't dare touch her, 'cause that would mean
that this is something more than it is. And I
know this... this feeling of friendship is a fleeting, 
temporary thing. What scares me to fucking death is that 
some part of my brain has decided this 
insignificant act of Maggie sitting next to me is 
the first step in fixing all that's gone wrong in my life.
Which makes it all the more significant."

Leaving Paradise was an emotional ride, and I loved every second of it. The writing was flawless and raw; emotions and feelings were intense and shown perfectly through the thoughts and words of a teenager. There were dealings with teenage drinking, jealousy, broken families, and self-esteem issues. Maggie had to deal with her self-image and the fact that whether she liked it or not, she was different, and there was nothing she could do about it. I really related to Maggie. She was alone in her battles and just wanted a loving hand. She was considered an outcast by her peers. She didn’t trust easily, and really she just wanted to run away and leave it all behind her. It never works out that easily, and she had to face it all with a brave face. In the end, she realized being herself was enough, and if someone didn't like it, she didn't need them in her life anyways. She faltered sometimes, but she always stood back up. 

// I loved this book so much I had to run out and get the sequel as soon as I could. And to be honest, I'm lazy. I'm in college so I had to wait for the bus to go out and get my car in the parking lot and then drive to the bookstore and then drive back to the bus stop and then wait to take the bus to my dorm. Like that is how much I loved this book. Return to Paradise will be up soon! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Title: Vixen
Author: Jillian Larkin
Genre: YA/Fiction/Romance
Publication: December 2010, Delacorte Books
Rating: 3.5/5

What can I say about this book? It had such promise. (Just look at the cover - gorgeous.) Set in the 1920’s with Flappers, speakeasies, and gangsters all wrapped up in one little package with betrayal, scandal, and a little bit of love on top. What could be better? That said, it was an alright read, but I was definitely expecting more.

The main character, Gloria, is a seventeen year old girl who has been arranged a marriage to the dull but wealthy Sebastian Grey. Gloria experiences life as a flapper once before she is completely sold over to the lifestyle. She craves getting out of her loveless marriage arrangement and living on the edge as a 1920’s flapper. Gloria and her friend Marcus sneak into the speakeasy the Green Mill one night, and Gloria meets the enticing black Jazz player Jerome. Here begins an infatuation and love (if you can call it that) that lasts throughout the novel.  Gloria starts to rebel against everything her parents have set up for her, testing every limit that was put in place.

Enters Gloria’s trouble causing cousin, Clara. Clara has seen it all; whereas Gloria is just starting to see the other side of society as a flapper, Clara has experienced it all in the big city. Because of the situation Clara previously got herself into, she was sent to stay with Gloria to help set up her wedding. Clara has to put up a good girl façade for her aunt or else she will be sent to boarding school.  By this, Flapper Clara becomes Country Clara. Through this transformation, she ends up falling for Gloria’s friend, Marcus.

Next we have Lorraine. Lorraine is Gloria’s best friend in the beginning of the novel, but we start to see a darker side to her by the end. She is tired of living in her friends shadow. Always being prettier, more interesting, just better. She wants her moment in the sun, and she is going to get it no matter the cost.

To be granted, Vixen is a fast, fairly interesting read. I particularly didn’t like any of the characters too much, which is a big part for me. Personally, if I don’t like the characters, it’s hard for me to like the book. A redeeming quality was definitely the interracial relationship between Jerome and Gloria. The fact that she would question the status quo and give up her polished lifestyle for a man she just met is both risky and admirable. Gloria annoyed me much of the novel, but I have to say that her daring moves impressed me. I loved that she wanted to be with Jerome so bad that she laid everything on the line for their relationship- the consequences be damned. The only thing that mattered, in the end, was having him. 

I wasn’t too fond of Clara; I thought she needed to make up her mind about who she was and who she wanted to be. Pick one and stick to it. Lorraine, personally, interested me. She was an alcoholic, a nut case, completely sadistic, but I liked her more than either one of the other girls. She might have been shady and cynical, but she definitely had loads of character. I loved Marcus; he was the best part of the novel in my opinion.

Vixen seemed like it was trying to be the Gossip Girl of the 20’s- with some expensive dresses, hairstyles, and silly phrases thrown in. It had a lot of action and drama; there were moments when I just couldn't believe what was going on. In the end, Vixen is a fast read that held my attention throughout the novel even though I was expecting more. I was slightly disappointed at the end of the novel, but I suggest you give Vixen a try for yourself and see what you think.