Category Archives: Reviews

Audiobook Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy

Published: April 2, 2013

Summary from (Goodreads):

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

Review: I’m a sucker for books with great covers. When I saw this cover, I knew I had to read it or in this case listen to it. I liked that there were two narrators (one for the chapters about Graham and one for the chapters about Ellie). I was drawn in by the emails that the two send at the beginning of the novel. It was a nice change of pace from regular prose. Both characters are extremely likable and each has their own quirks. I really enjoyed the Hollywood aspect of the novel. With all the reality shows and glamorizing of movie stars, it was nice to have one painted as a normal teen (who isn’t all about the fame). The pacing was perfect. Smith does an excellent job of unfolding past drama as she reveals the current storyline. This is a cute love story with a twist. The one thing that kept running through my mind as I listened, was why doesn’t Colorado have a “state treat”? Hmm…I wonder how we get that to happen.

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Blog Tour: Destiny (Destiny Trilogy #1) by Cindy Ray Hale

Destiny Banner 1.2
This is my stop during the blog tour for Destiny (destiny Trilogy #1) by Cindy Ray Hale. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours . The blog tour runs from November 5 till November 25, you can view the complete tour schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours

DestinyDestiny (Destiny Trilogy #1)
By Cindy Ray Hale
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: November 5, 2013

Blurb:
Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster’s son at her Baptist high school. When they’re cast together in the school’s production of Les MisÈrables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage.

As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend.

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac’s alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les MisÈrables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love.

You can find Destiny on Goodreads

BUY LINKS:
Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Smashwords |Nook

You can watch the book trailer here:

About the Author:Official Author pic
Wife. Mother. Writer. Cindy Ray Hale lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband and four children. In addition to being a writer, sheís an avid reader and a social media junkie. She starts her morning by writing with a freshly-blended berry spinach smoothie next to her. Sheís obsessed with Les MisÈrables, playing the piano, and stalking up-and-coming musicians on YouTube. Destiny is her first book and will be available for purchase November 2013.

 

 

 

You can find and contact Cindy here:
Website  Website for Destiny Blog  Facebook |Twitter |Goodreads  |Google+  Pinterest

Review: This was an easy and quick read. I completed the whole book in one day. Once I started reading about Destiny, I couldn’t stop. It’s an interesting and heartbreaking dilemma that Destiny finds herself in. The thing I enjoyed most about this story is that while it deals with religion, it’s mostly a story about forbidden love. It’s really a classic tale of narrow-mindedness keeping two young people from being together. I was reminded of Romeo and Juliet, yet with a much happier ending. In addition to a great love story, Destiny is chock full of tidbits about religions that I didn’t know much about. But more than that, Hale does a fantastic job developing interesting family dynamics. Each character has extremely real, and sometimes upsetting, family situation. While I found some of the dialogue to be a bit forced, I thought this was a great debut novel. I’m interested to see where Hale takes the story next.

GIVEAWAY!

And there is a tour wide gveaway, here is what you can win:
Camp Boyfriend swag pack– A Destiny Swag Pack:including a signed copy of Destiny, a Destiny keychain, a t-shirt that says “I heart Destiny,” a Destiny bookmark.
– a $25 Amazon Gift Card
– Camp Boyfriend Swag pack.

For a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Audiobook Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

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Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlTitle: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: September 10, 2013

Summary (from Goodreads): 

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review: After reading Eleanor & Park, I knew Rainbow Rowell would make me fall in love with another one of her books. WIthout sounding too much like a fangirl, I have to say that I absolutely love Rowell’s writing style and the characters she creates. Each character is so relatable. Whether it was a piece of me or piece of somebody I knew in college, I could understand and empathize with every character. This book has just the right combination of heartache and humor. I was whisked away back to my freshman year of college with all the difficult choices you have to make and ever-changing relationships. While I’m not a huge fan of fan fiction, I did learn a lot about it. It is an interesting genre of writing that gives so many the opportunity to write about the characters they love. I think what I loved most about the book was the delicate balance of romance and family issues. Cath is dealing with so much in her new college life but Rowell keeps family in the forefront.

If you have not picked up a book by Rainbow Rowell, I don’t know what you’re waiting for!

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Audiobook Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Forgive Me Leonard PeacockTitle: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Author: Matthew Quick

Published: August 13th 2013

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Source: audible.com

Summary from Goodreads: In addition to the P-38, there are four gifts, one for each of my friends. I want to say good-bye to them properly. I want to give them each something to remember me by. To let them know I really cared about them and I’m sorry I couldn’t be more than I was—that I couldn’t stick around—and that what’s going to happen today isn’t their fault.

Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.

Favorite Quote:

“You’re different. And I’m different too. Different is good. But different is hard. Believe me, I know.”

Review:

I actually received the ARC at NCTE last November but had put off picking it up. While I love Quick’s writing style, I was hesitant about the subject of the book. I’ve read other books about school shootings and have had a difficult time getting through them. I was in high school when Columbine happened (I know, I’m showing my age) and living only a few hours away made it hit really hard. Being in the classroom, school shootings are always something in the back of my mind. This being said, I’m not usually eager to pick up a book that deals with such a sensitive topic, which is probably why I put off reading it for so long. When I saw it on audible, I decided it was time to see what all the talk was about.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is written from Leonard’s point of view and Leonard is an extremely honest teen which is sometimes hard to hear. There is some foul language but it doesn’t seem gratuitous since Leonard is in such a distressed state of mind. I have mixed emotions about Leonard. Mostly my heart breaks for him but I also can’t justify wanting to kill somebody. I do love the relationship he has with the neighbor and all of their references to Bogart films. I also appreciate the relationship Leonard develops with Herr Silverman. I’m partial to books that show teachers as caring and trustworthy individuals. Quick does an excellent job showing what led up to Leonard’s unfortunate decision.

I know there are several teens who feel the way Leonard does and I hope they will reach out to get the help they need. In addition,  I think that EVERY teen should read this book to truly understand what bullying and harassment can lead to. I commend Quick for taking on such a taboo subject. We can learn a little something from reading Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock. 

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Audiobook Review: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

GorgeousTitle: Gorgeous
Author: Paul Rudnick

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: April 30, 2013

Source: Audible.com

Summary (from Goodreads): Inner beauty wants out.

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.

A screamingly defiant, hugely naughty, and impossibly fun free fall past the cat walks, the red carpets, and even the halls of Buckingham Palace,Gorgeous does the impossible: It makes you see yourself clearly for the first time.

Review: Ok, this book wasn’t for me; however, I’m sure that many of my students will like it. There were funny parts and I loved hearing about the glam life but I couldn’t get behind all the magical things that were happening. The characters were hilarious and lovable and because of that I wanted to like the book more than I did. I was hooked at the beginning by the line about trailer parks but the second half of the book lost momentum for me.

I did enjoy the audio production. All the voices were well done.

Like I said, this wasn’t my favorite book but I’ve always agreed with the idea that there is a book for every reader and a reader for every book. If you’re looking for a modern fairy tale then this is the book for you.

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Review: Twigs by Alison Ashley Formento

TwigsTitle: Twigs

Author: Alison Ashley Formento

Publisher: Merit Press

Expected Publishing Date: September 18, 2013

Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads): One pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.

Review: I have to admit that when I read the summary for this book I knew it was meant for me. If for nothing else, Twigs and I are both vertically challenged. This was a quick read with a lot of drama. With a name like Twigs, I didn’t expect a typical teenage life. It seems like Twigs is one of those people that always end up in strange and unrealistic situations. I could see how some people wouldn’t believe all of the crazy things that happen to Twigs but I know plenty of people that have stranger than fiction things happen to them. In fact, I seem to attrack those kind of people in my life, which is probably why I enjoyed Twigs so much. I think there are many teens out there who can relate to at least one or more of the life-changing events that Twigs goes through, whether it’s embarking on the scary adventure of going to college or getting used to a new significant other in their parent’s life.

I found this book to be entertaining and a great summer read.

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Review: Five Summers by Una LaMarche

Five SummersTitle: Five Summers

Author: Una LaMarche

Publisher: Razorbill

Publishing Date: May 16, 2013

Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads): Four best friends, five summers of camp memories.

The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring…
The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth…
The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle…
The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar…
Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable… and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart.

Three years after the fateful last night of camp, the four of us are coming back to camp for reunion weekend—and for a second chance. Bittersweet, funny, and achingly honest, Five Summers is a story of friendship, love, and growing up that is perfect for fans of Anne Brashares and Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters.

Review: This is a good beach read or as like to call them “bubble bath book” (since I haven’t made it out to the beach this summer). It’s a cute story about four friends who are changing and learning that they don’t know who they are as individuals let alone know each other. It’s filled with drama, heartbreak and love. I never went to summer camp but I’m sure if you have you will be whisked back to those days of fun. While I found the plot to be pretty predictable, it did remind me of my own drama with friends back in the day. I did enjoy the fact that the story is told from all the girls’ perspectives switching between the past and the present. That aspect made the book a little more interesting. I might be dating myself but… as a I read Five Summers, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities to  the movie Indian Summer, which is one is one of my favorite movies. Five Summers just happens to be about reflecting at a younger age. However,  I have to admit that I had a difficult time staying interested in the story. Despite my struggles with the book, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light summer read about coming of age. 

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Review: The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

The S WordTitle: The S-Word

Author: Chelsea Pitcher

Publisher: Gallery Books

Published: May 7, 2013
Source: Netgalley ARC

Summary (from Goodreads):First it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.
Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.
Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

Review:This book was difficult to read, not only because of the topic but also because of the writing style. My first reaction to style of writing as that it was awkward and uncomfortable but I think that as I read I really started to understand the style. We are the minds of a grief stricken teenager that is so angry with life so the writing style often times reflects that stream of consciousness. This was a difficult topic to cover and even more impressive was all the twists and turns that Pitcher threw in the plot. The S-Word not only deals with bullying but also deals with sexuality, gender roles, sexual abuse, and what it really means to find love and forgiveness.

I have to admit that I was excited when I read that the setting was Colorado (being from Colorado) but I was also extremely disappointed that beside CU and CSU being mentioned that there wasn’t all that much to do with Colorado. I know this is a selfish complaint but it is really the only one I have about the book. While the setting is not important and I think the point is that this type of story could happen anywhere, I would have liked a little more representation.

If you haven’t already put this on your TBR, do it now. In fact, I think all teens should read this book to see just how out of control bullying can get.

About the Author (from Goodreads):Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light.

Her debut novel “THE S-WORD” is available now from Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster.

Check out Chelsea’s website.

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Student Review by Tyani J.: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefTitle: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Publisher:Knopf Books for Young Readers

Published: September 2005

Summary (from Goodreads): Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Tyani’s Review: I must admit, I am a bit of a WWII fan, that may sound strange but it is the only event in history that really fascinates me. I’m going to tell you right off the bat, this story does not have a happy ending, you shouldn’t be surprised; its a story set in WWII. This story is narrated by Death. It was strange at first and I couldn’t really wrap my brain around that concept. But after 550 pages, is it weird to say I felt as though he was an old friend? I’m going to say it anyway. The way that the author personifies Death grants you a chance to reevaluate your viewpoint on death. At the same time you are following the devastating story of Liesel Meminger (and my favorite character, her best friend Rudy). I thought everything about this book was absolutely flawless. I came to love each and every character, even the mother who I thought I would never like. I should have seen it coming that they were not destined to live happily ever after, yet my heart was still demolished after turning the final page. I could go on for ages about how much I enjoyed this book, but I will leave it at: This book is perfection. I look forward to having it on my own personal bookshelf to revisit countless times in the future.

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