RSS

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Falling Into Place – Amy Zhang

Falling Into Place 
By: Amy Zhang 
Available Sept 2014

Description: 
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher. 

This Blonde’s Review: 
No one knows what is going on in someone else’s head. We don’t know how the things we do or don’t do will impact other people’s lives. And sometimes when we see ripples all it does it cause more damages and ripples in our own. There are times when someone may think the only way to stop it is to remove themselves. That is what Liz Emerson thought. She thought life would be better without her. In this one we get to see what happens before and after her Mercedes goes off the road. We also get to see how her actions affect the people in her life after.

I don’t usually care for books that have time hops like this one, but I didn’t mind the way this one worked. This one put all time relevant to the car going off the road, weeks, days, minutes before and after. We see the way her actions ripple into others. It’s interesting seeing the way that the author shows us these things that would have looked like little things if they were given to us in order. We would have read them and waited to see something important. But hopping around the way she did made it clear that these little glimpses were important. It also gives us the chance to see the way things can snowball.

Some of my favorite parts of this book weren’t things that seemed like they should be big. It was in the reactions of a teacher. In a short hospital visit from someone who wasn’t a part of her personal life. It was the way we were able to get so much insight into Liz with the small things. I like a book that can make it clear that the small things are the big things.

 

Feral – Holly Schindler

Feral
By: Holly Schindler
Available August 2014

Description: 
It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened. 

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

This Blonde’s Review:
Claire did the right thing. But sometimes even doing the right thing can come with a price. When Claire is attacked and almost killed one icy Chicago night her life was changed more than she realized. She could see the scars, feel the changes in her body, and barely recognized the way her best friend tiptoed around her. She was ready for a change of environment when her dad was offered a job in Peculiar, Missouri. She hoped that it would give her space to heal.

Except things weren’t right in Peculiar. She starts things off by freaking out on some of the popular kids in school, running off into the woods, and stumbling across the body of those same popular kids’ missing friend being eaten by feral cats. That’s enough to freak anyone out. Except Claire has more going on. She starts to see so many similarities between her attack and the dead girl’s attack. The feral cats aren’t more than just a few, they seem to be overtaking everything and watching her. Claire knows that there is something more going on than an accident and is determined to find out more. She makes an ally of the guy next door, someone she feels strangely calm around, and sets out to find the truth.

This book was really interesting. I had some ideas of what I thought this book was going to be before I started it. I wasn’t sure what to expect since all I knew about the book was the blurb so I wasn’t sure if I should be expecting a girl who didn’t really survive, a girl who wasn’t quite human, or what. What I do know is that I really liked what the author did with it. There were so many twists and turns but they weren’t such dramatic turns to leave me confused. I always knew what was going on even if I didn’t quite know what was really happening, if that makes any sense to you.

The story and the turns were great, but I’m not sure that there was enough relationship building for me. But I’m torn on saying saying that because with how much Claire had going on she was much more focused on what she was seeing and hearing going on around her than she was on getting to know the other people around her. And even at the end, when we had answers and I would have liked something more concrete, sometimes healing is more important than finding out about each individual person.

I actually really liked Claire. She had so much going on, and the answers at the end were such a lightbulb to me. It brought the whole book together and made me like her so much more than anything else that had happened. Finding out the damage she sustained was better than what I anticipated it being and the end made up for any uncertainties I had anywhere else.

If you like reading books where you don’t know what is happening to your main character, or even what you’re hoping is happening, then you’ll enjoy Claire’s story. I liked it more than I expected it.

 

The Vault of Dreamers – Caragh M O’Brien

The Vault of Dreamers
By: Caragh M O’Brien
Available Sept 2014

Description:
From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.
 
The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students’ lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students’ schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What’s worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

This Blonde’s Review:
We meet Rosie when she is already at the Forge School and already breaking the rules. We learn about her slowly, but mostly we learn about the way that she doesn’t feel comfortable there while at the same time doesn’t want to leave. So we get to meet her as we see her trying to decide how to deal with the idea of leaving. She’s giving up and doesn’t see a possible way to stay when she meets a guy who gives her tips on how to stay. And when she stops trying and starts to just enjoy herself and get to know people then she works her way up to meet the cut. After that is when things really start to happen.

Rosie goes from being an unknown to still being the girl in last place. Of the 50 students left she is number 50. But somehow she made some friends out of the deal and she got a boyfriend. Somehow her life is going well, or so it seems. But something doesn’t seem right at the Forge School. While Rosie is awake at night she notices things happening that aren’t talked about. There are girls given IVs, being taken from their room for hours at a time, and even though it’s grounds for expulsion someone knows Rosie has been out of her bed and hasn’t said a word. She is determined to find out why.

The whole thing was interesting. Who could she trust and how much of what she thought was happening was real. Was she imagining things, and did she people she have her trust and suspicions of the right people. The thing that really amazed me was how it all ended. I was so sure of what was happening, but then the author threw in ways for me to doubt everything. Once you doubt what you know and believe you also doubt the people you know and believe in, which creates a spiral. Soon Rosie has to decide if she can trust anyone at all or if she’ll isolate herself.

The end of this one surprised me in multiple ways. At first I thought that meant there would be a followup, but then something that happened at the very last made me think that there wasn’t. And it made me want the book to continue even more. I like when books end in unexpected ways, so I liked that it didn’t wrap up in the kind of bow that I was anticipating, but I really wanted to know more about several different aspects. So Many Questions! I didn’t see mention of this being part of a series when I looked at it on Goodreads, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

If you like books about schools with conspiracies and the students who want to find the answers then you’ll want to read about whether Rosie is able to show the world the truth about this the Forge School.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 22, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

Anatomy of a Misfit – Andrea Portes

Anatomy of a Misfit
By Andrea Portes
Available Sept 2014

Description:
Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

This Blonde’s Review:
We can’t see what people are like inside just by looking at them. To look at her Anika is a popular, perfect, and blonde. Inside, she calls herself spider stew. Anika steals from her boss simply because she can, she doesn’t think well of her family or her friends or herself. She is more concerned with maintaining her popularity than being happy so she goes along with whatever Becky says even when it hurts other people.

In this book we get to see what it’s like for a girl who has to decide between the guy she can’t stop thinking about and the life she’s always known. When her life starts to come together better than she planned, and the guy everyone wants is interested in her, she can either make her secret life public or give him up. When you make a choice sometimes you can’t take it back.

This book had damaged characters all around. The hated and feared girl who ruled the school, the loner with the screwed up family life, the slut from the super religious family, and quite a few other commonly written high school characters that I don’t remember seeing in my high school. As Anika navigates all of this she has to decide what matters to her and who she needs to have in her life. When Logan does something that scares her she thinks the choice is easy. Until she realizes what really matters to her and thinks she can change her mind and go back to him. Life isn’t always as easy as changing your mind.

I couldn’t quite decide if I liked the characters in this book or not. Anika kept placing her popularity too high, Logan was so great until he suddenly wasn’t, Jared seemed like he might be more until he started to seem like exactly what he was rumored to be, and Becky was never anything but awful. It wasn’t until the very end that I had these characters pegged, around the same time that Anika herself figured it out. So it was interesting but I’m not sure that I can say whether I liked it or didn’t. At this point… it it somewhere in the middle. I can’t say that I disliked it. So I’m pretty sure I’d give the author another chance to see how I feel about other things she writes. And I’ll also see how I feel about this book on further thought. Sometimes you get a better idea after you think about it a little longer, either because you dismiss it or realize it sits with you. I’ll let you know if it sits with me.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

Adrenaline Crush – Laurie Boyle Crompton

Adrenaline Crush
By Laurie Boyle Crompton
Available Sept 2014

Description:
When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart. 

This Blonde’s Review:
There is before and after. Before the accident Dyna was the kind of girl who went rock climbing, wanted to go sky diving, rode her bike with a speed and recklessness that had her at risk of collision at every turn, and didn’t have boyfriends. After the accident she kept her feet on the ground, let other people drive her around, and had a steady boyfriend who wanted to take care of her. Everything changed for Dyna the day she injured herself and she had to wonder if all of the thrill seeking was worth it. And now she was stuck with physical therapy and counseling on top of it all.

I loved Dyna’s family. The way her parents interacted was nothing like you usually see in books and was so refreshing and hilarious to me. Especially when her other was fed up with her father and started screaming over him. I could just picture it and couldn’t help but laugh. I would have loved to get to know the other people in her group more, especially since they were supposed to have grown so close at the end. In some ways I barely had glimpses of them and didn’t have clear pictures of them in my head. It felt like there were several areas of the book that could have spent a little more time, but I won’t really name them all off since if the author spent more time in all of those areas the book would have been significantly longer. The book included quite a bit and was evenly spaced and detailed, so my desire for more details in some areas would have made the book imbalanced. So while I really wanted more, I know that more wouldn’t have been right for what this book was, if that makes sense to you. Mostly, I wanted more because I liked these characters and I wanted to know more about them.

Sometimes you read a book and it is the right time to read it. This was one of those times. In this book there was a line that Dyna’s father says to her about one of her relationships that really got me to thinking. And it made me reevaluation some of my relationships. Because really we all have something like that that happens. It may not be some big thrill and then big physical injury, but there is always something that damages us and changes us. It causes us to look at ourselves and our lives differently. That’s where Dyna is. She didn’t just injure herself, she also damaged the way she sees herself and the world around her. She has to figure out how to see herself and her world after her injury, and how she wants to move on with her life from that point forward.

I really did enjoy this book. It had me disappointed that there wasn’t more to it and had me thinking about my life. All good things to do. I really would like to see some of these characters in other places, but I don’t think I will. Which is okay. I’m still looking forward to seeing more from this author.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Around The World Tours, Book Review

 

On The Fence – Kasie West

On the Fence
By Kasie West
Available July 2014

Description:
She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

This Blonde’s Review:
Charlie has always been a tomboy. Her mother died when she was young so she’s never had a feminine influence. Her dad isn’t around too much in the book but it seems to be more of a hard worker situation. What we get from him is that he’s not sure what to do with a daughter but seems willing to do what he can. Charlie also has a great relationship with her brothers. Her brothers and her neighbor Braden make up her core group of friends. At first glance Charlie seems to have a great life even if she doesn’t seem to understand anything about being a girl.

When Charlie is put into a new situation we start to learn more about her. Watching her learn new things about herself and make friends with another girl was great. Even though she was willing to make the mistake of pairing up her new friend with Braden despite how close they’d been growing.

I really loved her late night chats with Braden. The way that they could be themselves without reservation at night and talk about the things that were bothering them. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship grow into something more. They tried to keep it like it was normal during the day, but I couldn’t help but be happy when it would bleed over into the day and a simple touch would mean more than it used to.

More than her relationship with Bradon, I really liked seeing Charlie learn about relationships with other women. Not having her mother around or other feminine influences meant that she didn’t really even know what it was like. Getting used to the way her boss treated her, seeing how the girls who came in were kind and wanted to make friends, these were new things for Charlie. She’s used to being one of the guys, girls only talked to her to get close to her brothers. So I really wanted her to be able to explore that part of herself. Realizing that she liked lip gloss and some of the girly clothes she never wore before and could make it work with her comfortable clothes in her own style was exactly right. I liked that she found her own way to be both.

Charlie’s baggage was a surprise. I didn’t see it coming. At first glance she seemed to have a great life and barely noticed not having a mother. Then it seemed that maybe it meant more to her than we realized. I didn’t expect the real problem or what had followed. The way her family stood strong for her was heartwarming though. I couldn’t help but love them even more than I already had. I would love to see Charlie’s brothers in some other books.

I really enjoyed this book. If you like the idea of seeing Charlie learn that it’s possible to be one of the girls while still fitting in with the guys then you’ll enjoy this one.