How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Release Date: October 18, 2011
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Shelfability: Acquire
Pages: 352
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: BEA
Interest: Author
Challenge: The Completely Contemp Challenge
Buy the Book: Amazon

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends–everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted–to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy–or as difficult–as it seems.

Sara Zarr is such a fabulous writer. Every time I read one of her novels I am amazed at her story telling abilities. She can take a story that sounds so cliche and make it into something powerful and moving. She can take characters that I abhor and found annoying and make me care for them and their fictional existence.

I’ll admit. I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book. As much as I love Sara Zarr…. pregnant girl, recently deceased father. The whole thing sounded like an after school special to me and really it wasn’t my sort of thing. But I should have known that Sara wouldn’t let me down.

I didn’t like the characters at the beginning. AT. All. Jill was just rude and selfish! Mandy was so innocent and naive that it was annoying. Somewhere along the magical road of Zarr’s words I started to care for these two girls. I can’t exactly pinpoint when it happened, but it did.

How to Save a Life is a richly written story with an incredible cast of characters that I will not soon forget.

You can also check out a review for How to Save a Life at SheKnows.com Book Reviews!

01/23/12



Book Review

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Release Date: December 27, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Shelfability: Borrow
Pages: 368
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: BEA
Interest: Story
Challenge: None
Buy the Book: Amazon

I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

I loved the premise of this novel. Absolutely loved it! I thought it was genius. I mean, didn’t everyone make one of those boxes full of all those obscure items from your relationship that don’t really many anything to anyone but you. I know I’ve burned a few of those. What can I say? I’ve had some bad break-ups. I think I was so excited about the premise of this novel that once I was done reading I felt very underwhelmed.

The only reason I kept reading is because I wanted to see why they broke up. And it was exactly the reason I thought it was going to be. I should have just skipped ahead and saved myself hours of reading.

The entire novel Min is making references to these old movies. Normally I am down with that sort of thing, but this got to the point where it was just down right annoying. Everything that happened started with “it’s like when blah blah old movie reference inserted here” and throughout the novel I wondered why I’d never heard of any of these old movies and it’s because the author made them all up. It could have been genius, but it just wasn’t.

The novel was very well written, but Min definitely didn’t seem like a 16 year girl.

If I had to describe Why We Broke Up in word word it would be: awkward. I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be satire of a teen relationship or not. What was the reason these two were together in the first place? Perhaps I just wasn’t intellectual enough to “get” this one.

On another note, I short of wished I would have had a finished copy just to see the finished artwork. From what I could get from the incomplete arc, that part would have been fabulous!

 

01/03/12



Book Review

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Release Date: January 2, 2012
Publisher: Little Brown
Age Group: Young Adult
Shelfability: Covet
Pages: 256
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: BEA
Interest: Author
Challenge: None
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Buy the Ebook: Kindle | Nook

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. She’s stuck at JFK, late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s in seat 18B. Hadley’s in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

This books is so utterly FABULOUS! It’s one my favorite love stories and it happens in a mere twenty four hour period. Don’t worry about the instalove thing happening here. That’s something that I can’t stand and TSPoLaFS (did you like how I shortened the titles there, whew it’s a long one) does not have instalove. It has a progressive, genuine building of a relationship that is sweet and endearing.

Both characters are very relatable and I loved their scenes together. They just play off of each other so very well. Smith does an excellent job writing such likable characters.

The plot isn’t really all that complex. I know that some people will think that it’s all fluff, but it’s not. There are some serious moments thrown in there too. For the most part I just remember having that giddy feeling in my stomach during this novel. I love being invested in the characters and being excited when reading the story. This book is one of the reasons why I read!

11/15/11



Book Review

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: September 5, 2011
Publisher: Poppy
Age Group: Young Adult
Shelfability: Acquire
Pages: 273
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: BEA
Interest: Author
Challenge: None
Buy the Book: Amazon

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it’s a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy’s car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend’s attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players’ girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won’t get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don’t count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling…

Keplinger is such a talented writer. She absolutely blows me away every time. (If you haven’t read her debut novel DUFF… you should get on that!)

Keplinger does an excellent job capturing the teen voice, and perhaps it’s because she herself was a teen a short while ago!

Shut Out wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The synopsis didn’t grab me, it interested me, but it wasn’t enough to make me read it RIGHT NOW! Obviously since the book came out in September and I’m just now getting around to reading it. I wish I would have read it sooner.

The thing that I enjoyed the most was all the sex talk. Hear me out.

There are girls in this novel that have sex and there are girls in this novel that do not have sex. It’s not condoning or condemning teenage sex. It gives a realistic portrayal of teen girls questioning sex, addressing the double standards of sex, seeking advice about sex, talking about it and not just doing it. Keplinger tackled some serious issues and she did it in a tactful way. I know as an adult I appreciated it, and I think that teen readers will to. This was one of those books I would have had to read as a 15 and 16 year old!

The characterization in this novel is excellent. I think readers will really be able to relate to Lissa, I know I did. She’s not perfect by any means and she makes some mistakes along the way, but I think that is what makes her such a great character. And Cash…. how cute was he! Not just in the looks department, he was nice and respectful, he READS! Everything that a girl could want and more. There are guys like that out there and it’s nice to read about them!

I can’t WAIT for Kody’s next book! She rocks!

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10/07/11



Book Review

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Little Brown
Age Group: Young Adult
Shelfability: Covet
Pages: 420
Format: Advance Reader Copy
Source: BEA
Interest: Story
Challenge: None
Buy the Book:Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Buy the Ebook: Kindle | Nook

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Before I get started, let me just say: I LOVED THIS. Love, love, love this book. One of my favorites of 2011. Before you get started on the review, know that it will never do this book the justice that it deserves. Just go buy the book.

Laini Taylor is a story teller. A master story teller. She’s not a writer she’s an artist. Painting a world only she could create with words. Forming characters that seem as real as the person standing in front of you in line, close enough to touch. I was emotionally invested in this book. In this world and with it’s characters. Even though it was about as “out there” as you can get, I totally believed it was real. I never wanted it to end.

Now that is EPIC.

I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone and found myself in a daze. It was like waking up from a dream.

I don’t want to divulge too much of the story. As a reader I think it’s more exciting going into a story blind! I didn’t know much about the story when I picked it up, actually I didn’t really know what it was about at all. I think that perhaps that was why I was so taken with this novel. I was expecting a tinge of mystery, but this book was so much more than I could have every imagined.

You, as the reader, know what Karou knows. It isn’t much. We don’t know who she is or where she came from. We don’t know if she’s human or if she’s something more. And we don’t know why a glance from Akiva sets her skin on fire. Believe me, you will have an epic adventure figuring it all out. And good luck with that figuring out part, perhaps you’ll be better at it than me!

Daughter of Smoke of Bone was an epic adventure through worlds that only Taylor could create. I can’t wait to go back.



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