Monthly Archives: September 2014

I AM ALIVE

rrselfie

 

I met Rainbow Rowell. Just it almost killed me. AHHHHHHHH

First I must thank Sammy oh Sammy Sammy McSammy, my lovely coblogger, for keeping this place running while I’ve been MOVING ACROSS THE FREAKING WORLD. Last time I posted I was driving a huge truck around Michigan and playing with my niece all day everyday. Wellllll since then I’ve moved to Boston, bought a bike, had a bike accident, gotten a job, gotten a bed, furniture, and my shipment from Japan arrived! Woohoo.

Things have just been moving SO FAST and I need a moment to catch my breath. I started working way sooner than I thought (which is fine, because I REALLY wanted the job) but that meant I was working while trying to set up my house (so far we have bookshelves! Oh I can post a photo of those…)

bookshelfThough it looks different now that I have even MORE books on it but yes. There are two of these bookshelves (one is my husbands and it’s covered with all his text books and whatever), husband has a super fancy desk (it’s a glass top! And I assembled it!), roller chair, and then we have a dining table (hmmm, can’t find a photo on facebook so just imagine a cute table the color of ~cappuccino~ yeah idek either), a fancy lamp

lamp

annnnnd I think that’s it. I’m going to get a reading chair eventually (since it doesn’t look like a sofa will sit too well in our studio apartment)

Oh and here’s the view.

view

Sadly I cannot save all my photos from twitter on my computer so we’re just dealing with the ones that were also posted on facebook. ENJOY!

Anyway, so yes. I met Rainbow Rowell last night! One of the things that I was looking forward to THE MOST about coming back to the USA was BOOK EVENTS. I actually went to Fierce Reads on Thursday and met Ann Aguire, Caragh M. O’Brien, Marie Rutkoski and got copies of all their books and had them signed! It was my first book even (I don’t know if I should count the one time I met an author back in college or not) and I babbled like an idiot. I think I was MUCH smoother when talking to Rainbow (I told her about how Landline paralleled my life at the end of July –separated for husband for the longest time in our relationship, only way to communicate was through my parent’s landline and his ~magic~ skype connection, etc)– and she signed all of my books (and a copy of Fangirl for my sister) and we even took a photo (her idea! posted above).

Next weekend is the Boston Teen Author Festival and I managed to get half the day off from work so I’m going to go from the morning (9:00am!) and attend a writing workshop and the two morning events and then at lunch break I have to go to work. SADFACE. But I’m glad that I can go at all. And then after that I don’t think anything is happening until the Boston Book Festival, which I’m going to try to get the day off to go to the Teen day at least.

Now with all of this moving and settling and assembling furniture (I should have an honorary degree in engineering from MIT for all of this furniture that I’ve built!) and working full time my reading has SUFFERED. Also husband challenged me to read THREE non-YA books (I’m half way thru my last one!) so my TBR list and ARC list are crying and I am crying and I just can’t wait until like… it snows so that I can curl up inside and just read all the books or something (idk why I have to wait until it snows, I just feel like snow = curling up and reading).

Also for those of you who are curious, husband is LOVING MIT. He’s taking a class (grad students only have to take 4 classes in two years), working in his lab, and just spending all of his time researching and studying and he’s super happy about it.

And our new favorite thing is to order chinese delivery. HA.

 

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ARC Review – Firebug by Lish McBride

16117921Title: Firebug

Author: Lish McBride

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her mother’s death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

Huge thank you to Henry Holt BFYR and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Two words: Magical Mafia. That is actually what sold me on requesting this book because there just isn’t enough Mafioso reads, let alone in the young adult world. That alone scored major points with me!

But seriously, Firebug is a fun read. Our heroine, Ava, is quirky, sassy, and quite the troll when she wants to be. She knows what she wants and what she expects of herself, but unfortunately she’s caught working for an organization that uses her as a magical tool. Ava is also supported by a great secondary cast, and the friendship between her, Lock and Ezra is especially well developed. Seriously, her friends behave like a band of merry men getting ready to tackle anyone and everyone out for their blood and you know what? They kick some serious ass.

This book does, admittedly suffer from some repetition and pacing problems. I admit there were points where Ava was doing a lot of detailed description and exposition that I wanted the story to get on with it. The pacing its varies throughout the whole text and it never entirely feels balanced at any given moment, which for me as a bit jarring. Still, what the book faltered in, it made up for in tons of crass and humour. McBride writes some fabulous characters and gives them great motives to become stronger, better, awesome(r) people. I can honestly say I liked every character in this book, which says a lot for how McBride develops her characters. I always felt like I had just enough information to know the characters, but never enough to feel like I was entirely prying into their lives.

More importantly this book is FUN. I felt such a range of emotions reading this book, but it always came back to humour. It wasn’t a perfect read, but I feel like McBride as a writer can win over even the prickest of reader with her snarky bunch of lonesome firebugs.

ARC Review – Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

20877233Title: Rites of Passage

Author: Joy N. Hensley

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What’s she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review: 

Overall I really liked this book and it was like nothing I’ve ever read before! First girls in a military academy?! Sign me up (not for the military academy tho). My husband actually went to military school (in Japan) and I’ve always had a hard time understanding what it was like for him. Now I’m not saying that what Sam went through in this book was like what my husband went through, but some aspects of it (the overall military stuff) was interesting to read about and made me think about what school must have been like for him. I liked getting that peek into another world.

I also really liked the characters. There were a few that surprised me, a few that horrified me, and generally everyone was well rounded. Tho I never really understood Katie, like, why did she join the school? I understood why Becca did, but with Katie I just never understood what her deal was. I wish we’d learned more about her motivations.

I did have a few issues with tho. Mainly the pacing seemed really off to me. The book takes place over an entire year and sometimes it would be like ‘and now it’s Christmas’ and I’d be like ‘wtf she just started school didn’t she????’ And some scenes would just… end. And the whole thing with her dad… I wont spoil things, but it seemed like the stuff with her dad should have been A HUGE DEAL and for a hot minute it was and then… nothing. Also there were a lot ‘issues’ crammed in and none of them really felt like they got the proper amount of time spent on them. And when Jax first popped up and her and Sam are talking… idk there were a lot of times that I wanted Sam to ask some freaking questions because she seemed to just accept things way too easily.

Anyway, definitely check this book out if you want something TOTALLY different from what’s out there in YA.

River’s Quickie Reviews! #2

13438572Title: Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho (October 9th 2014 by Viking Children’s)

Synopsis: What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

River’s Review: Jesus H. Christ that book was like a kick in the stomach. I don’t remember the last time I related to a book THIS STRONGLY. Change the characters names, New York to Japan, and this is my story plus-minus a few things. God I want to cry now.

Also the writing is fucking amazing. AMAZING. This is the type of story that makes you feel nostalgic for the life you wish you’d had (or did have and left behind).

I am so happy I read this. Even if I do feel like crying. – 5/5 Stars


 

16005219Title: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (September 16th 2014 by Balzer & Bray)

Synopsis: The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

River’s Review: NEXT BOOK PLEASE! Wow, I flew through this. Totally loved it. There were a lot of characters so sometimes it was difficult to keep track of whos-who, but overall I really enjoyed everything about this! The tension was tight, the mystery kept me guessing (and I’m STILL guessing because it doesn’t get solved in this book, omg need the next one now!) and the romance was juuuuust enough. I really liked all of the girls, their friendship and dynamics, the setting… everything! And omg all of the Star Wars quotes. Amazing. – 4.5/5 Stars

Huge thank you to Balzer + Bray, Viking Children’s, and Edelweiss for these ARCs!

ARC Review – Blackbird by Anna Carey

18710739Title: Blackbird

Author: Anna Carey

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her. 

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined. 

Huge thank you to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Can’t really say much about this without giving things away, but it was much better than I expected! I hated Carey’s Eve trilogy (well, the first book, I didn’t even bother with the rest of them) so I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this. I will say this, Carey’s writing is so pretty. I loved it. And the second person narrative was weird and different and meshed well with the story.

Girl wakes up on train tracks, has no idea who she is. She’s covered with scars and blood and a fresh tattoo on her wrist. She has a bag with some instructions and supplies inside. She follows the first set of instructions which leads to a domino effect of other events that just keep things moving and don’t stop. She’d being chased around LA, hunted by someone. She gets help from unexpected people and slowly her memories start to come back.

I loved how twisty this was, how it was constantly moving, and how you had no idea what was really going on. I flew through the first 50% of it and was just like WHAT IS HAPPENING? But not in a bad way. When she finally started to piece things together it was almost too unbelievable to be true but… it’s not. And it was nothing like I thought it would be.

I really can’t say more, but don’t trust anyone, and get ready to be all OMG I HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE NEXT BOOK FOR HOW LONG?!?! when you get to the end. Because I don’t even want to think about how long I have to wait for the next one…

 

ARC Review – I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

20820994Title:  I’ll Give You the Sun

Author: Jandy Nelson

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Huge thank you to Dial Books for Young Readers/Razorbill Canada for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’ll admit, I’m one of the few folks out there who hasn’t read The Sky is Everywhere. After completing this book, I realized what it is about Jandy Nelson’s work that people enjoy so much: the woman knows how to tell an intricate, believable, and emotionally gripping story. I was completely swept away with both Jude and Noah’s narratives that I had a hard time putting this down, and I admit, I had to put it down a few times.

The thing about I’ll Give You Sun is that it’s not a read you can do in one sitting. The plot is very carefully crafted, and it often made me stop and reflect on a lot of what I was reading. There’s so much going on in the story that it is easy to feel overwhelmed or even a touch lost. The writing is beautiful, it’s engaging, but perhaps the book is even a touch over-written? I found I had a hard time at first with Nelson’s style (and a hard time believing Noah was thirteen based on how the book was written) and yet once I got into the style and understood how the story and pace was going to move, I found I was able to push through it all. There’s a challenging book here and I feel like it’s not something that is going to grab every reading — the style is unique and it really feels like you’ll either love it or hard it without much in between.

But damn that story. I loved these characters and for me, Jude and Noah’s trials and tribulations felt so real, so sad, and it’s easy to become emotionally invested in their lives. How do you go from being together forever to so far a part? There’s this style that twins have an intense connection, and Nelson really gives you that sense throughout the story. Nelson always keeps her reading thinking and as mysteries are unravelled, the more you realize the amount of threads in this story’s web. I admit a lot of the book and the connections really surprised me! And it’s no like these surprises felt out of the blue either, there’s such a gentle build about it that it’s easy to second guess yourself.

I hope more people check I’ll Give You the Sun out when it releases, because I think it’s a fantastic look at family, life, death, love and separation. Jude and Noah never feel whole, and it’s really heartbreaking. But, they are both so easy to connect to, that you want to see (or hope) that they will come back to each other in the end. I won’t spoil it obviously, but the journey this story presents is certainly worth taking.

ARC Review – Wildlife by Fiona Wood

20380942Title:  Wildlife

Author: Fiona Wood

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating.

New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can’t help but be drawn back into the land of the living.

Huge thank you to Poppy/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I adored Fiona Wood’s Six Impossible Things, but I think I may love Wildlife even more. Fiona Wood continues her trend of writing some beautifully flawed individuals and she does it with such an ample amount of humour, that is so easy to fall in love with her characters and stories.

First off, I want to quickly mention that this book references two of my favourite things: Daria and Melina Marchetta. Daria is one of my all time favourite television shows (seriously, I cn watch it over and over) and Melina Marchetta has written a good chunk of my favourite books, so kudos to Finoa Wood for her awesome references!

But seriously, I loved Sibylle and Lou. I loved Lou before, but I think having her attempt to come to terms with Fred’s death in this story may have made her my favourite of Wood’s characters. Lou is someone easy to sympathize with, yet she doesn’t want people’s pity or even acknowledgement, so when she is forced to share a house with five other girls, it’s no wonder she has no desire to connect with them — she’s so cut off from the rest of the world so it’s great to watch her grow through the story and take the small steps to come back to the real world, no matter how difficult it is. I’ve been in her shoes before, and let me tell you — Wood captures Lou’s mental state perfectly, and her journal entries really solidify who she thinks she is and who she might want to become.

Then there is Sibylle, who was adorkable and also really flawed. In her case, Sib has the problem that she’s not ready to let go of certain things — in particular her friendship with Holly, who is in fact, a crappy, malicious, manipulative individual. She’s so focused on trying to grow into her own skin and because she’s such a passive person, she allows Holly to control her in a lot of ways. It’s definitely not a healthy relationship, but I think many of us can relate to having a friend who we know is toxic and we need to find a way to remove ourselves from them, and Holly is a tough nut to get rid of! Sib is just wonderfully realistic and her emotions and breakdowns are something I think many of us out there have dealt with.

Even though I loved all the characters in this book (seriously, all of them, even that jerk, Ben), no one comes as close to being as horrific as Holly. Holly is such a memorable character because she’s an awful, crappy, evil person, and yet she too has flaws because she’s so oblivious to others and their feelings. She can be down right evil, but I can say. I’ve known people like her, and that’s why she worked as an antagonist for Sib and Lou in this story. She is someone you want to scream at and tell her to get over herself, but you recognize it’s easier said than done.

The prose in this book is always engaging, and I loved that this story was very sex positive. We need MORE of this in YA! I loved that Sib’s mom had a speech about sex, in particularly the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts, but most of all “sex is an important, but be safe about it.” Seriously, that bit was awesome! In fact, how sex as a topic is approached in this book is wonderful, and I loved it.

Seriously, this book is fantastic. It’s amazingly thoughtful and it breaths such wonderful characters who are unforgettable. I was so heartbroken when the story was finally over, because it meant I didn’t get to spend anymore time with Sib and Lou (and that Michael kid, he’s a cutie.)