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Category Archives: 2012 Sophomore Reading Challenge

Let the Sky Fall – Shannon Messenger

Let The Sky Fall coverLet the Sky Fall
By Shannon Messenger
Let the Sky Fall – Book 1
Available March 2013

Description:
Vane Weston should have died in the category five tornado that killed his parents. Instead, he woke up in a pile of rubble with no memories of his past—except one: a beautiful, dark-haired girl standing in the winds. She’s swept through his dreams ever since, and he clings to the hope that she’s real.

Audra is real, but she isn’t human. She’s a sylph, an air elemental who can walk on the wind, translate its alluring songs, even twist it into a weapon. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect him at all costs.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra has just days to help Vane unlock his memories. And as the storm winds gather, they start to realize the greatest danger might not be the warriors coming to destroy them, but the forbidden romance growing between them.

This Blonde’s Review:
He lost his parents as a child and has no memories from before the tornado that took their lives. All he remembers is the face of a girl he doesn’t know, yet he feels he knows her. When Audra shows up in the middle of a date he can’t help but go after her. Life just gets crazier for him after that.

Audra is a sylph, she is part of the air around us and doesn’t require food and water to survive. Food and water are from the earth and will bind her to the earth, something she wants to avoid. She is Vane’s guardian and has been hoping for his breakthrough. When something happens to bring them to the attention of the people who murdered their parents she realizes it’s time to force the issue.

Vane’s discovery that he isn’t quite human isn’t seamless. In his mind he’s a typical lazy teenage boy, so he has a little trouble keeping up with Audra, but he gets used to the idea a lot faster than most would. But he has powerful motivation in knowing that if he doesn’t succeed that Audra will die.

The storm is coming and they’re doing their best to survive the war that’s starting. They’re also trying to fight their feelings for each other. Audra avoids it because she remembers their past and knows the future that has been planned for Vane. Vane only avoids it because it’s clear that Audra wants him to and he won’t make her uncomfortable.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this one when I started it. I started it and almost put it aside a few times with the business of life. I stuck it out and was quickly sucked up in the story.

Audra and Vane’s pasts have shaped their lives and have a bigger impact on their lives than they realize. Audra lives with guilt over what happened thanks to her memories and the blame that has been placed in her lap by her mother, who survived the tornado. Vane lives with the guilt of not remembering his parents, wondering what type of person would forget those who care about them.

I really enjoyed Audra and Vane! They were both such great characters while they were so different. I felt bad for Audra but loved her and enjoyed getting to know her. She’s damaged and strong and cares more than she likes to admit. Vane has the kind of heart and dedication that makes him loving and loyal, even in the face of the hardest circumstances. He’s not at all a bad boy, he’s a great guy with a good heart.

The end of this one gave us a rather open ended feel where I could see if continuing into a second book, but I could also see it ending there and leaving us with the idea of where it could go next. I was happy when I thought it was a stand alone book, but now that I know it’s part of a series I’m already impatient to find out where they got next. I love the way Vane wrapped his part of things up, and I also really loved that it wasn’t the typical ending you’d expect.

If you enjoy the idea of people who have more of a connection to the air than the earth who are the kind of characters you can care about, then you’ll love Vane and Audra’s story.

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Speechless – Hannah Harrington

Speechless coverSpeechless
By Hannah Harrington
Available 28 August 2012

Description:
The story of a girl named Chelsea Knot who takes a voluntary oath of silence after her gossip-mongering ways yield unexpected consequences…

Saying she’s sorry isn’t enough.

This Blonde’s Review:
Most people enjoy gossip but have their limits but Chelsea doesn’t stop when she should. She’s known a a girl who loves to gossip and can’t keep her mouth shut. Her friends are the most popular kids in school and she is accepted everywhere. Until the night she tells a secret to the wrong people and someone ends up in the hospital. Chelsea recognizes where she went wrong but takes it even further. If her gossiping can cause such problems then she’ll just stop talking entirely.

Chelsea’s friends turn against her and her vow of silence has everyone else thinking she’s some sort of freak. Most of her teachers aren’t supportive either and Chelsea finds herself in detention for refusing to participate in class. In detention Chelsea meets a girl she never noticed before, someone smart and genuinely kind. Soon she finds herself with a new friend and hanging out with a group of people she never expected to enjoy spending time with. Even stranger is that those people are the ones she thinks should hate her the most.

Getting through the day without being bullied becomes a challenge for Chelsea and her new friends are exactly what she needs to start to see the world clearer. She even finds a guy who can care about her, even with her vow of silence. The longer she stays silent the harder those first words are. Chelsea doesn’t know what she’s waiting for so how can she know when to start talking?

I loved that Chelsea isn’t a character I can love at first but she’s one I can care about. She was a shallow gossip but she was willing to do the right thing. As she gains perspective we are able to learn right alongside her. Chelsea learns that there can be more to people than she expected. We start learn that there is more to Chelsea than she knew as well. I had an idea of what would motivate Chelsea to speak and I’m happy to say it wasn’t the obvious choice. I actually loved the friends she made more than I loved Chelsea, but I did enjoy watching her grow. The guilt and self-imposed silence helped make Chelsea into the kind of character I didn’t want to say goodbye to.

If a girl taking a vow of silence and learning how to thrive in that silence sounds like a good story to you then I think you’ll love this one.

 

One Moment – Kristina McBride

One Moment coverOne Moment
By: Kristina McBride
Available 26 June 2012

Description:
This was supposed to be the best summer of Maggie’s life. Now it’s the one she’d do anything to forget.

Maggie Reynolds remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party the night before. She remembers climbing the trail hand in hand with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below—dead?

As Maggie’s memories return in snatches, nothing seems to make sense. Why was Joey acting so strangely at the party? Where did he go after taking her home? And if Joey was keeping these secrets, what else was he hiding?

This Blonde’s Review:
Everything was perfect. Maggie was spending time with her best friends and her perfect boyfriend and nothing could be better. She was planning a special night with her boyfriend and was finally going to get the courage to jump off the cliff into the water below.

A moment later, it all changed. She doesn’t know what happened, only that something terrible did. She said she trusted him. He kissed her. Then she didn’t jump. He did, but he didn’t make it. Maggie is left screaming and not understanding. Adam is there for her, as he always has been, and finds her. He tries to prevent her from seeing what happened to Joey and he gets her home. The police and Joey’s family try to piece together what happened that day, but Maggie’s can’t remember. She doesn’t know what happened after he kissed her.

In the aftermath of Joey’s death secrets come out. Maggie discovers that Joey didn’t go home that night, and she knows he wasn’t with her. He had been acting strangely and no one will admit to anything. With her friends falling to pieces and attempting to grieve in their own ways, Maggie tries to piece together what happened. What did the secrets he kept from her mean? Maggie starts to remember things about the months leading to Joey’s death and is told things she wasn’t aware of before. As she starts to get a better picture of who Joey really was, she is left trying to decide if the friends she has left are the people she thought they were.

One Moment is the heartbreaking story of how a single moment can change or end a life. As everyone grieves and some struggle with their guilt some things were painfully obvious to me, while other things made me worry about how this one was really going to end. Some things are hard to come back from so I found myself want to race to the end of this one to find out if Maggie, Adam, and the rest of the group would recover or if they’d lose another of the friends by the time this one ended.

I really enjoyed this one. There were so many secrets that Maggie’s friends had been keeping from her, so it was understandable that she wouldn’t tell anyone the things she started to remember. Watching her struggle to put it together was hard to read. There were so many things that I had to hope weren’t true, that I was misreading the situation. With everything that had happened I hoped I wasn’t right about things. When discovering everything you thought mattered was based on a lie, you can run away or you can face it. Watching Maggie’s dance with running from information and facing it seemed very well balanced. This is the author’s second book but my first exposure to her work. I can’t believe I let her first book sit in my kindle tbr list for as long as I have. I’m definitely going to be bumping that one up the list and looking for her next work.

If a book about death, heartbreak, betrayal, and watching the very real way friendships can splinter and fall apart in the wake of disaster sounds like your type of read then you’ll want to catch this one when it comes out. Maggie’s story will break your heart and let you see how even though it’ll never be the same life can be put back together.

 

7 Clues to Winning You – Kristin Walker

7 Clues to Winning You cover7 Clues to Winning You
By Kristin Walker
Available Now

Description:
When a humiliating picture of Blythe goes viral, she’s instantly the target of ridicule at her new school. To salvage her reputation, Blythe teams up with Luke to win the Senior Scramble scavenger hunt. But Luke is an unlikely ally and potentially can’t be trusted.

Perhaps it’s his Shakespearean witticisms that reel Blythe in despite her better judgment . . . or maybe she just craves the thrill of the game. But as the hunt progresses, their relationship heats up. Soon their madcap mischief spirals out of control. Blythe is faced with arrest and expulsion, among other catastrophes – until Luke shows her what the Scramble (and love) is really about.

This Blonde’s Review:
Blythe’s life is going perfectly. She has the right friends, is on the path to attend the college of her choice. Until her life is thrown into a tailspin. Her parents have announced that she’s moving. To make matters worse, her father is the principal of her new school and she’s already been humiliated there when an embarrassing picture when viral the year before. When she doesn’t have much choice, she can only hope that everyone will have forgotten the old picture and not look at her as the principal’s kid. Until it becomes clear that no one has forgotten the picture. With a rocky start and a desire for revenge, Blythe manages to get a senior tradition banned. The Senior Scramble has gone on for generations and getting it banned won’t make her any friends. In a change of heart she’ll team up with the guy who brought her embarrassment into the limelight to bring the Senior Scramble back.

Blythe may seem like he could be hard to like after living a seemingly perfect life, but her dedication to charity work makes it easy to love her. Especially with the wonderful characters we meet at the retirement home she volunteers in. Luke is a guy we want to hate at first. He jumps to conclusions about Blythe based on nothing more than where she goes to school. He posted the picture that caused her so much embarrassment, then revived the picture at the worst moment. Yet the more Blythe gets to know him, the more we start to like him.

Watching Blythe find her place in her new school was great. Her new friends aren’t the types she thought she’d end up with, but they are the kind we can’t help but love. Tattoos, piercings, and tons of PDA don’t seem like a big deal compared to people who accept you for who you are and will stand up for you. She’ll learn that the people you thought you could count on could betray you. She’ll learn that sometimes she’ll do the wrong thing and even if it turns out right, it doesn’t mean it was okay. Blythe will also have to learn that not everything in her family is what it seems either. There is baggage she isn’t aware of and will have to learn to appreciate.

I really enjoyed 7 Clues to Winning You. Blythe’s plans for the future have always been the most important thing to her and I loved watching her learn to live and enjoy her life. She learns some great lessons and we can’t help but cheer her on as she goes down a road to potentially make her goals unattainable.

If you want to read the story of a girl who goes from the top of the totem pole to the bottom and learns to be happy with it, you’ll love Blythe’s story.

 

The Boy Recession – Flynn Meaney

The Boy Recession coverThe Boy Recession
By Flynn Meaney
Available August 2012

Description:
It’s all about supply and demand when a high school deals with the sudden exodus of male students.

The boy recession has hit Julius P. Heil High, and the remaining boys find that their stock is on the rise: With little competition, even the most unlikely guys have a good chance at making the team and getting the girl. Guitar-strumming, class-skipping Hunter Fahrenbach never wanted to be a hot commodity, but the popular girls can’t help but notice his unconventional good looks. With a little work, he might even by boyfriend material.

But for down-to-earth Kelly Robbins, the boy recession is causing all sorts of problems. She has secretly liked her good friend Hunter for a while now, but how can she stand out in a crowd of overzealous Spandexers? As if dating wasn’t hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

This Blonde’s Review:
Like toppling dominoes, the boys have all left Julius High. Budget cuts and the loss of a football coach have a bigger effect than anyone could have predicted when several families move their sons to places with more options. When school starts there is an unusually high number of girls. With so few options for them, it gives the guys left chances they never would have had before. It will also lead to a whole new kind of boy crazy for the girls fighting for prom date.

Kelly is a nice girl. She is the kind of girl people get along with and guys are comfortable around. Except that they’re so comfortable around her that she doesn’t date. The mass exodus of the male population of her high school doesn’t give her hope of finding a date. Hunter is a slacker. He sleeps in class, doesn’t cut his hair, and doesn’t care for the effort of chasing a girl. He just wants to hang out with his friends, and if a cute girl wants to make out he’ll take it.

When Hunter and Kelly start working on a project together they’re able to get to know each other better. As they know each other better and see the way the girls treat Hunter, they will be able to learn what they really want. This book is written from both points of view, with alternating chapters. It’s interesting seeing the way their minds work. There isn’t a steady obsession for them the way many of those types of books are, instead it feels like we really are watching a girl and guy figure out if they’re interested or not.

The Boy Recession was refreshing since it wasn’t a high love and passion type of love story. There was no destined to be together and fighting for/against it. In most books I read lately the characters have high feelings and it takes up most of their attention. In this one, they’re not sure. They’re interested but they don’t think the other is, so they move on to other things.

This was an adorable story. I enjoyed getting to know Kelly and Hunter. Seeing both of their viewpoints was great, since we should have had an entirely different book if it was only one of them. We’re able to see what life could be like in that sort of situation.

If you enjoy the idea of a real to life romance while seeing what could happen when you take most of the guys out of a school, you’ll enjoy the Boy Recession.

 

The Hunt – Andrew Fukuda

The Hunt coverThe Hunt
By Andrew Fukuda
The Hunt – Book One
Available May 2012

Description:
Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.

Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.

When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity?

This Blonde’s Review:
People aren’t humans. People are the ones who eat humans, who can’t stand the light, who crave blood. Humans are not the intelligent and dominant species on the planet. People are. Humans are a delicacy.

Gene grew up knowing his life would end if anyone ever found out he was human. Instead he pretended to be one of them. He lost his mother and sister when he was young and his father later. All he can do is continue trying to survive.

Against the odds he’s chosen to attend a human hunt and he has no choice but to act as though he wants it. Surrounded by people who want nothing more than to devour any human they can reach and the girl he’s drawn to against his will, he has to try not to be found out. He has to figure out how to survive until the hunt and what he’ll do once the hunt starts.

This book was fascinating. Clearly this is a vampire book, but never once are they referred to as vampires. The people in this book have many misconceptions about humans, making it easier for humans to survive among them if they don’t screw up.

Gene is doing what it takes to survive. When you hide who and what you are for too long you learn to hate it. It’s strange but somehow expected that Gene wouldn’t understand what it’s like to be human. He has spent so much time with people that he doesn’t know what it means to be human or seem to understand that other humans would be similar to him. When he meets the humans he’s supposed to hunt or sacrifice to save himself, he’ll learn more than he expected.

Learning how to be human and have feelings in the midst of a pack of hunters isn’t the safest thing for Gene, but it might be his only hope.

I really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it as I watched where it seemed to be heading. There were several parts I thought would be the end but weren’t. I was actually surprised to find out that this book is part of a series. I was unaware of that going into the book, but the ending was the kind of cliffhanger that made it clear there was another book to follow. I’m eager to see where the author is going to take it, since he set this world up in such a way that it seems impossible for them to have a happy ending. Clearly we’re hoping it’s possible for them somehow.

If you enjoy the idea of a world where humans aren’t the top of the food chain and a human boy is struggling to survive since giving up isn’t an option, then you’ll want to read Gene’s story.

 

First Comes Love – Katie Kacvinsky

First Comes Love
By Katie Kacvinsky
Available May 2012

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Description:
Like his name, Gray is dark and stormy. Dylan, a girl always searching for what’s next, seemingly unable to settle down, is the exact opposite: full of light and life. On the outside, they seem like an unlikely couple. But looks can be deceiving and besides, opposites attract.

What starts as friendship, turns into admiration, respect and caring, until finally these two lone souls find they are truly in love with each other.

But staying in love is not as easy as falling in love. If Dylan and Gray want their love to last, they’re going to have to work at it. And learn that sometimes love means having to say you’re sorry.

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This Blonde’s Review:
Gray doesn’t want to be a part of the world around him. He exists and gets by, but nothing more. Dylan refuses to settle down, she looks for beauty in the things that are overlooked. They’re opposites in every way, but something about the other draws them in. Gray finds Dylan annoying but can’t seem to turn her down when she decides they’re friends. Before he knows what’s happening Gray starts to watch for Dylan and want her around.

As their friendship turns into love they Gray has to step outside of himself and start to live again. He has to face his past and the way it has shaped who is has turned into. Does he want to be the guy who isn’t really alive, or does he want to move on with his life? Is a life with Dylan worth the pain and struggle of trying to get his life back?

Love comes first, but what follows isn’t easy. Gray isn’t the only one who has to decide what he wants out of his life. As he gets his life back on track he finds out love isn’t the solution to everything. Learning to live again means new problems, including Dylan’s unwillingness to give him what he wants most.

I really enjoyed the other book I’ve read by this author and was eager to find out about the her next book. The description had me uncertain if I’d enjoy it but I decided to give it a shot. Honestly, this book was just okay in my opinion. I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time to read, but I also didn’t find myself caught up in it and hoping friends would read it so we could discuss it.

I enjoyed watching Gray learn to live again. I liked that Dylan wasn’t a typical girl and didn’t follow the usual paths girls in YA travel. This book was unlike others in such great ways. I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop and watching things not go as hoped. I loved that Katie Kacvinsky was willing to make her characters learn to live without having to rely on each other.

Otherwise, I may have read this book at the wrong time for me since as much as I liked things in theory, I didn’t feel for either of the characters. I know it isn’t that the author isn’t good enough because I know she is. This story wasn’t high energy or adventure. It’s a story of love and growing up.

If you enjoy reading about life and love without all of the improbable and impossible adventure, then Gray and Dylan’s story is one you will enjoy reading. It’s not perfect, there are problems and incompatibilities, but their lives are never going to be the same after knowing each other.