Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: That Boy

Title: That Boy
Author: Jillian Dodd
Rating: 5

Synopsis (via Goodreads): You know, being friends with two cute boys does have its benefits. There's Danny. Danny is a golden boy in every way. He has dreamy blue eyes and blonde hair that always looks perfect, even when it’s windblown or been stuck under a football helmet. He’s the boy every girl crushes on. The boy I get into trouble with, the boy I fight with, the hot quarterback no girl can resist, not even me. Being with Danny is like being on an adventure. He has a bright, contagious smile and abs to die for. He’s pretty much irresistible. Equally crush worthy is Phillip. Adorable, sweet Phillip, who I have known since birth. Phillip has dark hair, a perfect smile, brown eyes, and the sexiest voice I have ever heard. He’s the boy I talk to every night before I go to sleep. The boy who rescues me, the boy who can read my mind, the boy who is always there for me, the boy who tries to keep me out of trouble, the boy who irritatingly keeps getting hotter, and whose strong arms always seem to find their way around me.  And when he gives me that grin, I can never say no. One boy will give me my very first kiss. One boy will teach me to make out. One boy will take me to prom. And finally, one boy will ask me to marry him. They will both be my best friends. But only one of them will be the boy I fall in love with.
Only one of them is That Boy.

Review: After reading the first few pages of this book, I wasn't sure if I would like it in the end. Once I start a book, I like to finish it even if I don't like it in the beginning. I'm really happy that I read this book cover to cover.

It's been a while since I read a book in a diary format. At least, that's what I thought Jadyn Reynolds' story was told in. At first, I didn't really like how it was told like a diary, (I never liked reading diary formats,) and all the exclamation points were kinda annoying (then again it was written by Jadyn Reynolds starting in fourth grade). Eventually, it grew on me and so did Jadyn's story. Oh, and those adorable pictures that were in every chapter separated Jillian Dodd's writing apart from every other young adult author, in a good way of course. =)

The speed of all the events surprised me in the beginning but I had to remind myself that since the book was basically Jadyn's diary, all she would write about is the most exciting/most life changing moments- not dwell on the drama that happened at school that day which some young adult books tend to do. In my opinion, that gets kind of annoying and sadly I was expecting that in this book and I was glad to find out I was wrong.

Jadyn's story was anything but normal compared to other teenage girls. I mean, who has two best guy friends that live right next door? After getting wrapped up in her adventures with Danny and Phillip, I couldn't put down this book. I loved reading That Boy even if it wasn't what I expected and I can't wait to read That Wedding. Maybe even some more of Jadyn Reynolds stories ahead. One thing is for sure, Jillian Dodd is an up-and-coming young adult author all thanks to That Boy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writing Corner: A Horse Named Solitare

This week's writing is A Horse Named Solitare written by Becca.

It was a beautiful, spring morning in Calgary, Alberta and Brittney and her mother were just getting ready to leave their house.
"Come on, Mom," Brittney called impatiently to her mother as she walked briskly out their large, wooden front door. She stopped and turned around to face her mother as soon as she reached the end of the porch, tapping her foot anxiously. "Hold your horses," her mother said calmly, grabbing her old, weathered paddock boots from the mat that was just inside the front door.
"I would, but I don’t have any to hold," Brittney replied smartly. She smiled mischievously as her mother glared at her. They both laughed after a moment as Brittney’s mother knelt down to tie her boots.
Brittney Morrison, a 15-year-old teen, had always wanted her own horse. She and her mom lived on a 10 acre farm, and they had owned horses since Brittney was little, but she had never had one to call her own. Today, though, that was going to change. Her mother, Julia Morrison, was taking her to McGregor’s livestock market to buy her a horse.
"Mom, please hurry. I want to get there before too many people arrive," Brittney said anxiously, practically dancing back and forth across the porch, "I want
first pick of all the horses."
"Just give me a moment and then we can leave," Julia replied with a sigh and a shake of her head as she tied her boots.
When they arrived at the market, Brittney paced swiftly up and down the aisles of the horse barn, looking at all the horses that were for sale. A few of the dozens of mares, geldings, and foals stood out to her at a first glance. There was a chestnut with socks, a smoky grey with a star, a young black colt, and an old palomino mare. Brittney thought they all had good temperaments but she didn’t really want to buy any of them after she and her mom took a closer look. The chestnut looked as though she cribbed, the grey was older than he was said to be, the colt needed too much training, and the old mare had really bad feet. Brittney began to feel a little anxious. She and her mom had been at the market for hours and they still hadn’t found a horse that Brittney really liked.
She had almost given up hope of finding a horse that day when she reached the second to last stall. The nameplate read "Solitaire". As soon as Brittney saw him, she knew he was the one. He was a dark bay gelding with a blaze down his face, and to Brittney he looked like an Arabian/Thoroughbred cross. He stood in the back of his stall, wearily looking at her. His ears were back and Brittney could see the whites of his eyes. She knew this meant he was nervous or uncomfortable.
She approached him slowly. "Hello boy. You’re a good looking guy, aren’t you?” Brittney murmured softly, holding out her hand to him. Solitaire only slightly pricked his ears before nervously taking a mouthful of feed from his bucket, never letting his wary gaze stray away from Brittney. And even though Solitaire didn’t seem very sociable, Brittney still knew that this was the horse for her.

Want to read more? Check out the rest of Solitare and Brittney's story here:

Book Review: All These Things I've Done

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Rating: 5

Synopsis (via Goodreads): In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family. Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I've Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.

Review: I asked for All These Things I've Done for Christmas after participating in a live chat with the author, Gabrielle Zevin. I obviously got it as a gift and it had been on my shelf ever since. Let's just say, I'm glad I chose this one to read in the Back to School Read-a-Thon.

I didn't really know what to expect or what would happen in this book when I first started to read it. All I basically knew about it was that chocolate was illegal and paper was scarce. These two things seemed crazy to me and I really wanted to know how the main character, Anya, survived with her world being different from the world we live in today. Lately, I've been reading a lot of books whose characters live in completely different circumstances than we do. For example, The Hunger Games, Matched, Shatter Me and now All These Things I've Done.

Anya Balanchine has a lot of things on her plate. Being only a teenager, she has to care for her older brother with medical issues, her younger sister, and dying Nana. Things get more complicated for the daughter of a now deceased crime boss when her ex- boyfriend is poisoned and the blame is put on her.

Throughout this book, there were a lot of twists and turns which meant that I couldn't put it down. In the end, I can't wait for the sequel. I mean, who can wait for sequels? Crazy people in my opinion. =)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: The List

Title: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Push
Rating: 5

Synopsis (via Goodreads): An intense look at the rules of high school attraction -- and the price that's paid for them. It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn't matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up. This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, "pretty" and "ugly." And it's also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

Review: Everyone has an opinion about other people. We judge our peers before getting to know them. It sounds wrong, but it's true. That's just the way society is. While I read The List, it made me realize how cruel and unfair stereotypes are.

Girls can be very mean. This is a fact. When I first read about the list being posted around Mount Washington High my thinking was along the lines of: "Who could be so mean to post something around the school saying who was prettiest and who was ugliest? Who cares?" Honestly, some girls do. I, thankfully, am not one of them. I tend to avoid drama as much as I can. This list Siobhan Vivian's characters experience causes a whole bunch of drama which ruins several relationships within a week.

Danielle Demarco and Abby Warner are two completely different freshman girls who both had no idea about the list. The only thing in common with them is they both wind up getting hurt. Candace Kincaid thinks her life is perfect until Lauren Finn shows up and the list is posted. Sarah Singer has an edgier side to her and doesn't care what people think of her where Bridget Honeycutt changed her whole lifestyle to fit in. Finally, Jennifer Briggis and Margo Gable. Childhood friends at one point, but complete opposites since high school. One of the eight girls on the list want revenge. One of the eight girls will stop at nothing to get it.

All of Siobhan Vivian's characters were so realistic that it felt like there really is a high school that posts a prettiest/ugliest list every year. I really liked how she wrote in all eight different girls' point of view and they all had completely different stories to tell. The one thing that all related them to each other was the list. I thought this was a great read and would recommend it to all other teens because of the message it comes with. In the end, that saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones and words will never hurt me" is wrong: Words do hurt.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a daily meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. It features the books we have gotten this week to read and review.

This is what I got this week:

From the Library:
 Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

From Netgalley:
Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applebee

The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year by Annameekee Hesik

What did you guys get this week?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Back To School Read-a-Thon Closing Post

After failing my first Read-a-Thon, I was kinda nervous about this one. I am proud to say I feel VERY accomplished the second time around. My goal was to read five books in five days; my final result ended with four books in five days.

Books Read:
The List by Siobhan Vivian
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
First Frost by Jennifer Estep
That Boy by Jillian Dodd

I enjoyed the books that I was determined to finish and will post reviews within a couple days. This week has been crazy for me with dance pictures, dance rehearsal, dance recitals (TOMORROW!) and two swim meets. Crazy, crazy. I promise they will get done though... Eventually. =) If you participated in Katie's Back to School Read-a-Thon, how did you do? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Blog Design

So just tonight I decided to change my blog design. Crazy, right? Well, thanks to The Cutest Blog on the Block it was easy. What do you guys think? I think the new design really brings out the whole "hideaway" theme. Plus, giraffes are amazing. =) Sorry about the pictures from the old blog, (the ones for IMM and WOW) I'm too lazy to take them down and they will eventually automatically archive themselves...

In My Mailbox (7)

This is what I got this week:

From Scholastic:
Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

From Netgalley:
Andy Squared by Jennifer Lavoie

Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

What I Didn't Say by Keary Taylor

What did you guys get this week?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Writing Corner: Willing to Forgive a Broken Heart

This week's writing is Willing to Forgive a Broken Heart written by Emily.

She looked around at a regretful ground,
Littered with hearts that were waiting to be found.
They all looked so desperately broken
By words that should have been left unspoken.

She asked, “Why are people left with hearts so hollow?”
She said, “Take a bite of your pride, and then swallow.
Now, stand up straight
And shove aside your fear and your hate.”

She glanced around at a painful ground,
And heard nothing, not even a sound.
No one had even heard her soulful words,
Then she gasped at a heart, shattered in thirds,

And she thought that it had belonged to her
But she decided against it, and her eyes started to blur.
She sighed, “We all have a life to live
And we’re always willing to forgive.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back To School Read-a-Thon Kick Off Post

Honestly, I am kinda excited to start my freshman year of high school. Doesn't mean I wish summer would slow down, but I'm not complaining about getting prepared for the new school year. As a mini celebration, I decided I would participate in Katie's (from Katie's Book Blog) Back to School Read-a-Thon just to get a few more books off my to-read pile. My list has changed a little from my planning post so this is what I have to read this week:

Title: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Progress: COMPLETE

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Progress: COMPLETE

Title: First Frost
Author: Jennifer Estep
Progress: COMPLETE

Title: That Boy
Author: Jillian Dodd
Progress: COMPLETE

Title: The Goddess Test
Author: Aimee Carter
Progress: Page 1

There's the five books I hope to read and review in five days. Wish me luck!

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Title: What I Didn't Say
Author: Keary Taylor
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat. His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again. When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

My Thoughts: I can't wait to see how cute Jake's story will be. Teenage drunk driving is a hard message to write about in young adult but I think that Keary Taylor can handle it perfectly and show teens what the possible outcome could be. In Jake's case, that's losing his voice which he realizes he needs most of all.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Book Review: Absolutely Maybe

Title: Absolutely Maybe
Author: Lisa Yee
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Rating: 4

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Meet Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut, named for two Miss Americas and her mother Chessy's favorite brand of mascara. Chessy teaches the students in her charm school her Seven Select Rules for Young Ladies, but she won't tell Maybe who her real father is -- or protect her from her latest scuzzball boyfriend. So Maybe hitches a ride to California with her friends Hollywood and Thammasat Tantipinichwong Schneider (aka Ted) -- and what she finds there is funny, sad, true, and inspiring . . .

Review: Having both a mom and dad, I never really understood kids my age who had divorced parents or only lived with one parent and didn't get to see the other one. Reading Absolutely Maybe made me realize that I'm lucky to have supportive parents who love me no matter what I do and help me become a better person each day. Maybe isn't as lucky.

Her mom, Chessy, is more absorbed in her famous charm school than her own daughter. Day in and day out, a regular group of girls from the charm school harrass Maybe in front of her mom. Instead of defending her own daughter, Chessy ignores the arrogant girls and later tells Maybe something along the lines of you don't need to wear baggy clothes to hide your fat. Sick of her mom treating her the way she has been and the latest incident with Chessy's latest boyfriend, Maybe decides she wants to find her real dad, the only guy Chessy didn't marry. Finding him could be everything Maybe ever hoped for or it could be another big disappointment.

I found myself not being able to put down Absolutely Maybe and finishing it within two days. I really enjoyed Maybe's story of going to California to find her real dad, but instead finding a real friend, real job, and a real home. Meeting Jess at the taco truck was just the beginning of Maybe's newly found luck. After spending nights at Hollywood's college dorm and finding Ted a new job, working at the taco truck becomes Maybe's new passion. Spending it with Jess is just another bonus. The thing is, Jess' uncle doesn't know about the new employee and the girls intend to keep it that way for a while. But when business starts improving, her uncle figures it out on his own and gives Maybe another challenge she has to accept.

You would think after a long day at work, Maybe and Jess would get sick of tacos. Well, you're wrong. Tacos are on the dinner menu. Every. Night. I would personally want something new, although I do love tacos. Absolutely Maybe was a cute book filled with friendship, tacos, family, and love. A great teen novel by Miss Lisa Yee.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (6)

This is what I got this week:

Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

The List by Siobhan Vivian

Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano

What did you guys get this week?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Writing Corner: I'm A Dreamer

Each month, four people in the group, All Things Teen, on Goodreads can post entries of their stories and/or poetry in Writing of the Month. Their entries will then be highlighted on my blog. This week, I am proud to share Innocent Lamb's writing entitled: I'm A Dreamer.

Our world is full,
Of pain and sorrow.
My tears are like the rain,
Forever falling,
Never ending.
I am only one,
One of many.
I’m a dreamer.

No matter how cloudy
The world is,
No matter how much
Blood is spilt,
I’ll always have my dreams.

Where I can return to,
Whenever I wish.
Although they never last,
But they are all I need.

Just one glimpse,
At what might be,
Is all I need.
I am a dreamer,
A leader,
A free thinker.

One day,
No matter how far,
My dreams shall be reality.

We should all be allowed to stand up for what we believe in. No one should have to conform. We are all individuals! We are all different people with different values, different morals and different lives. Help Spread the Message - We are all unique!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: Just Listen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking
Rating: 5

Just Listen Cover Image

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything"— at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store. This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Review: I love anything and everything Sarah Dessen. Honestly, I think there was only one book of hers that I'm not a big fan of, (Dreamland). Anything else, I love and get completely absorbed into. Her writing just amazes me and gets me intrigued from the first sentence. I haven't seen a sequel to any of her original books and in a way, I like that. She just starts writing a completely different story with a completely different character. I can't wait until she releases another novel. I don't know why it took me so long to read Just Listen. The first book I read by Sarah Dessen was Someone Like You. After falling in love with that one, I started to read all of her other novels, but for some reason never came around to reading this one. Now, I'm glad I did.

Annabel is a type of girl I would never imagine a model to be. Maybe I get this opinion from the many episodes of Toddlers & Tiaras, but in my mind models are more like Sophie: self-centered, bossy, and emerged in their own beauty. Yes, there are people like Sophie in the world and yes, I hated her throughout this story. Many times I found my self doing facepalms after Annabel made her friend choices, yet there was nothing I could do to change the decisions other than keep reading and see if she would change them in the end.

At first glance, Owen appears to be a timid, almost non-approachable person. The rumors about him give him an extra edge that starts to dull when he and Annabel becomes friends. It's strange how people can change you, but after meeting Owen, Annabel learns how important it is to speak up and just listen.

Just Listen wasn't my favorite book by Sarah Dessen, but it's not one I disliked either. I'm still shocked at how I haven't read this book until now. In all of her novels, a message slaps you in the face and gets you thinking. This novel especially. Messages in books are all read in a different way. What message did you get when you read Just Listen?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Review: Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Harper
Rating: 5

Shatter Me Cover Image

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color. The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war– and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Review: I love dystopian novels such as Matched, The Hunger Games, and Shatter Me where the government is totally different then ours now. When reading those kinds of books, I can create whatever image I want their government/city/world to look like given by the description. Sometimes, movies ruin that image, (The Capitol in The Hunger Games looked nothing like I thought it would), but at the same time, opens your mind up to new ideas.

To be honest, I didn't feel like this book had enough description about what The Reestablishment is. It took me a while to understand what was going on just because of the position Juliette was in the beginning of her story but towards the end I got a somewhat clearer image of what it could possibly be. The cover also threw me off a little bit. The girl on the cover, I'm sure, is nothing what Juliette would look like after being locked up in a cell, most likely tortured, and starved. I'm not saying the cover isn't pretty, because it is, but in this case, looks can be decieving.

Juliette is one strong girl. After being abandoned by her parents because of her "gift," Juliette is sent to a prison. The government has no idea what she can do until Warner begans tests on her. Once he gets a general idea of her power, he makes his move: to make her into his monster and gain an advantage war-wise. The only thing that is stopping Warner from his overall empowering plan is Juliette herself. She didn't ask to be the person she was and she sure as heck didn't want to kill people, so she came up with her own plan: not to give into Warner's plans no matter what the cost and to hopefully escape.

Only one person can help her with this plan and that person is Adam. Being one of Warner's soldiers, Juliette is hesitant of knowing and trusting him at first, but for some reason she seems to recognize Adam from somewhere. After a while, she slowly begins to figure out what Adam knew all along and together she knows they are unstoppable.

One this is for sure, I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2). The ending of this book nearly killed me suspense-wise. Seems like every good book ends like that... =D