Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
meant to highlight an upcoming release we're excited for!

Wanderlost by Jen Malone
HarperTeen, 352 pages

Expected US Release Date: May 31, 2016

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan begins unraveling, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up. 
----------------------------Goodreads summary

I don't know if it's the spring weather that's here, but I'm definitely in the mood for a solid, good contemporary romance in the YA world. And the setting of beautiful European cities?! I'm there. I can't wait.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill (ARC)

The Trouble With Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Delacorte Press, 272 pages
US Release Date: December 8, 2015
Format/Source: ARC, via NetGalley - thank you!

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey... 

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize. 

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea. 
------Goodreads Summary

If you don't know, Lauren Morrill is one of my auto-read authors. Meant To Be was one of my favourite books I'd read in 2012, and every book she's written since has been a delight. The Trouble With Destiny was right up there. MTB will always be Tops, but Lauren does an excellent job creating a unique setting with lovable, enjoyable characters and movement. Are parts predictable? Sure. Did the bitch really surprise me with her bitchiness? Not really. But there's always something to Lauren's writing that makes me feel like I'm hanging out with a close friend. It's warm and receptive and interesting, and I can't wait to see what is coming next.

3.5 stars

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Change is good.

It's been a little quiet around these parts. Yes, mostly because of a big life change in March that limited my time (and currently still does), but also…the blog stalled a bit. And I want to talk about why.

My blog has always been about YA books and wanting to talk about them. Whether it's crazy plot twists or unbelievable characters or ridiculous endings, the fact is: I read, and I want to talk about them. I want to connect with other readers and be inspired by this community and find meanings and purposes right alongside others.

Then a funny thing happened: I found a wider community, filled with connections and ambitions and doors that lead to exciting, amazing things. Every book blogger can and will tell you how we never expected to find our sisters, our brethren when we started our blogs. It was about the books, and somehow it became a mirror and opportunity to our lives. And it's humbling and brilliant and I am so, so lucky.

But it also got to be a little overwhelming. I started to feel obligated to do things: write a review in a better light, make an appearance at a book signing, do memes or posts since it was the trend. I hope it's clear that I'm not blaming anyone for this -- it was all me. It was all in my head, my own thoughts and insecurities and changes and choices. Nevertheless, I started to change what I was doing. In retrospect I can see the negative path it was leading me on, but at the time, it was all so subtle I didn't realize it. Honestly, it was probably what I needed at that point in my life: structure and rules that still allowed me to feel as though I was being completely creative.

And then it started to take a toll. I didn't want to review a book -- but I had to, since it was a touring one and I only had so many I could say no to after reading. I wanted to talk about something spoiler-y, but knew it wouldn't get as many hits/reads. I hadn't read any books by authors who were visiting San Diego, but I knew I'd be expected at a signing - so I went, and bought books. I only had a few sentences I wanted to say in a review, but one of my touring sites requires at least 3 full paragraphs, so I had to stretch my review and add some inane sentences and muddle my real point. I wanted to talk about what it was in March that limited my time but made me so much happier than I'd ever been--but it wasn't book talk, and that felt like it wasn't allowed.

I hope it's clear I don't regret any of it, but it is the reason this blog fell by the way side any time anything else came up. I thought if I couldn't write that review at least this long and format it just so, then there was no point in putting it up. I met amazing people, amazing bloggers and reviewers and authors and book lovers. I've read books I never, ever thought I'd find or give time to, and I have loved every single moment.

But that was the old me. That was how this blog used to be run.

Now? I'm doing it how I want. If I want to write a review that's only 5 sentences long, I'm going to do it. I'm going to open up about my life and write about me and what's going on with me. Maybe it will be book related--and maybe it won't (GASP!). And I don't know if that's going to make me lose followers or people will be upset that I'm not strictly reviews/bookish memes anymore, but…it's my space, and I feel like I'm a bit lost in all my pages now. And I don't want that at all.

So: changes. Tons and tons of changes. They'll probably be subtle, and it's not like ALL my reviews will suddenly change. I still write with flourish and there are times writing 3 paragraph reviews are me limiting myself. I still read and love YA and want to discuss everything. That remains. It'll just be a bit…different.

And I hope you stick around for it. Because I love you all and want to share this new open side of me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (2/2016)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine
meant to highlight an upcoming release we're excited for!

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Simon Pulse, 320 pages
Expected US Release Date: February 9, 2016

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England? 

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
----------------------------Goodreads summary

Because pirates. Because rich vs. poor. Because Romeo & Juliet-esque romance. Because trapped by society. And because FREAKIN' PIRATES.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Review: A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano (ARC)

A Curious Tale of the In-Between (Pram #1) by Lauren DeStefano
Bloomsbury, 240 Pages
Expected US Release Date: September 1, 2015
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Pram Bellamy is special—she can talk to ghosts. She doesn’t have too many friends amongst the living, but that’s all right. She has her books, she has her aunts, and she has her best friend, the ghostly Felix.

Then Pram meets Clarence, a boy from school who has also lost a parent and is looking for answers. Together they arrive at the door of the mysterious Lady Savant, who promises to help. But this spiritualist knows the true nature of Pram’s power, and what she has planned is more terrifying than any ghost.

Lauren DeStefano is beloved by critics and readers alike, and her middle grade debut is lyrical, evocative and not to be missed.
-------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
Saying it aloud was an admission as well. No wonder she'd grown up in a house where nobody said they loved anyone; what a terrible pain that word caused.
If someone asked me to describe the perfect Middle Grade book, I would probably reference A Curious Tale of the In-Between now. I’m not sure what I would have said before (this is excluding Harry Potter of course, because that’s just all ages), but I can certainly tell you now that everything you’re looking for is probably found in this little book.

I’m not even a big “spooky” story lover. And it’s not like A Curious Tale was terrifying or nightmare inducing – it was just the right amount of spooky and creepy with adolescent curiosity and innocence. I thought DeStefano handled that weird middle-time of being a kid and learning there are bigger, sometimes better and definitely sometimes worse, things in life. It’s a very strange transitional stage, and she did fantastically well not only representing it, but also maneuvering through the Big Life Things and cutesy childhood moments.

Lauren DeStefano’s YA books always have this fantastic storytelling creativity to them. They’re original and unique but entirely relatable and human – and she’s carried this into her MG story as well. I never went through seeing ghosts as a kid, but I still felt like I could have been Pram in so many parts of this story. Her curiosity, her strangeness, her sadness and big heart and emotions…they were all so real to me and felt like it was a part of me, too.

I absolutely love love loved Clarence and Felix. If I were in High School English classes, I would have had so much fun analyzing them and who they represent to Pram and her stages in life – but this is a review, not a report, and I won’t. But trust that they are enjoyable from a literary analytics view, and just as characters from a reader. Both were unique and loveable in their own ways, and I wish I had them as friends when I was younger, too.

A Curious Tale of the In-Between was an adorable read, but also one I feel like is important to the Middle Grade book roster. It represents that time in life where you’re growing from a kid into a teenager and struggling to find your identity within your family, within your friends, and within yourself – and it represents it entirely well. The story is evocative and enjoyable, strong and so, so original. I highly recommend reading it.

4.5 stars

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder (ARC)

All We Have Is Now by Lisa Schroeder
Scholastic, 272 Pages
Expected US Release Date: July 28, 2015
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

What do you do with your last day on earth?

Just over twenty-four hours are left until an asteroid strikes North America, and for Emerson and everyone else who didn't leave, the world will end. But Emerson's world already ended when she ran away from home. Since then, she has lived on the streets, relying on her wits and on her friend Vince to help her find places to sleep and food to eat.

The city's quieter now that most people are gone, and no one seems to know what to do as the end approaches. But then Emerson and Vince meet Carl, who tells them he has been granting people's wishes -- and gives them his wallet full of money.

Suddenly, this last day seems full of possibility. Emerson and Vince can grant a lot of wishes in one last day -- maybe even their own.
--------------------------Goodreads Summary
Notable Quote
"…time has this magical ability to change things. Just because something was true then doesn't mean it's true today."
What do you think you would do if you knew a huge asteroid was going to hit North America? Would you leave? Do you think you'd try to outrun it, even though you know it will alter life as you know it? Or would you stay and live out the last of your days as you wished?

Quite honestly, I don't know what I would have done. I'm nowhere near Emerson and Vince's situation, nor was I as a teenager…but I think I would have stayed. There's something about an unknown that seems doomed versus a doomed comfort, and I would be one of those to try and make the most of the last certain days. At least...I like to think I would.

Moving along. This book guys...it made me think, and it made me hope, and it made me sad, and ultimately, it made me feel a whole range of emotions--and it was so, so good. I love the idea of spending your last hours/days/moments trying to grant wishes and do good, and it was such a fun premise to the plot. The variety of people Emerson and Vince meet are this ridiculously amazing mix of interesting and tragic, and I really felt such a distinct sense of personality from each of them. It was a pleasure meeting all of them on the page.

Vince and Emerson themselves are a cute duo, and a sweet, sort of tragic story in itself. They really worked well together, especially in this tentatively-built safety zone of their friendship, and I enjoyed watching them go through their emotions together and with each other.

I do have to say, the "cult"/"revolutionist"/"skeptic" portion was a little...odd. Interesting! But odd. and I wasn't sure how I felt about it within the plot...it kind of felt device-y? I'm having a hard time explaining what I mean, especially without being spoilery. Just know that I found it a little strange.

All We Have Is Now is a wonderful YA book about our last days and what we find important in. There's elements of love and friendship and family, and I thought it had a wonderful message of doing what we can while we have the life and the time to do it. Highly recommend.

4 stars