Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone


Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (HBG Canada)
Expected publication date: June 16th 2015

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

In Tamara Ireland Stone's Time Between Us, there's one moment where MC Anna needs to make a decision to take a leap of faith - or risk losing her love, Bennett, forever. A similar thing happens to Bennett in Time After Time. That dichotomy of a strong character who needs a push to make their dreams happen sounds like it will also be present in Every Last Word, which I really like.

There's something very lyrical and captivating in both Ireland Stone's characters and writing. Samantha looks to be a darker character than Anna and Bennett, but I'm grateful that Ireland Stone will be exploring some mental health issues as well as what's "popular" vs. what's right. I hope it will be filled with as much introspection and honesty as her previous books.

Are you interested in reading Every Last Word? Do you like books that deal with tough issues like mental health and peer pressure? What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments. 

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"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

Monday, March 23, 2015

"The Last Day on Earth" Early Review: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach (website | twitter)
Source/Format: eARC from publisher on Edelweiss (thank you!)
Expected publication: March 24th 2015 
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.


Review: 


We All Looked Up is about four teens who are dealing with the impending death of not just themselves, but their planet and their species, by way of the asteroid Ardor. Peter is a jock and student council leader who is already questioning himself before hearing about Ardor. Peter has a history with Eliza, a photographer who has been labelled the school slut, and who is dealing with her father’s imminent death from cancer. Meanwhile, school slacker and joker Andy has been in love with Eliza for years, and sees Ardor as a way to finally have sex with her. And Anita, who serves on the student council with Peter, is trying to break away from her Miss Perfect life to follow her dreams of becoming a jazz singer.

“They’d been learning about the phrase “Pyrrhic victory,” which came from Roman times and meant that you’d won something, like a battle, but in order to win, you had to lose so much that you really hadn’t won at all.”

One of the biggest themes in this book is the Pyrrhic victory. It’s a brilliant way to tie together the many philosophies of the book because the four teens - and the rest of the world, are all battling a Pyrrhic victory in these last few weeks of their lives. The question is, is it worth it to win small battles even if you know it’s a Pyrrhic victory? Do love, art, music matter in the face of imminent death?

It’s questions like these that characterize and make We All Looked Up a special read. It’s reflective, it’s alarming, but it’s also deeply rooted in philosophy - and not just one philosophy, but many. One of the brilliant things about Wallach’s book is that it embraces many ideas from religion, philosophy, from the minds of great writers to the minds of his characters, both despicable and flourishing. And Wallach never judges. Instead, he presents these ideas in a way that is equal parts weird, heartfelt, and insightful.

“Question: How could you look the end of the world in the face and not go crazy? Answer: You couldn’t. The only sane thing to do was to seek out enough distraction to numb the terror.”

For me, this book was both thought-provoking and comforting. I confess to a bit of an obsession over what happens to us when we die, and most days, I’m scared of that idea. But the characters’ thoughts are my thoughts, from Eliza’s counting down of the number of times she’ll hear a song, to Andy’s joy at arson because why not.

There were a few parts of this book that weren’t quite to my taste. While I mostly enjoyed the descriptive writing, there were a few moments that it veered into purple prose territory, and took me out of the book. Examples:

“The nearly full moon was shining down like the bright, pupilless eye of some phlegmatic god when the first stone was thrown.”

“They’d recently been pollarded, which made their upper halves look grotesque--the arboreal equivalent of the Venus de Milo, with dozens of severed limbs instead of just two.”


There were also several moments with Andy’s friends Bobo and Golden that seemed almost too surreal to be authentic (I don't want to give anything away so I'm not giving examples) - and again, those moments took me out of the novel.

Although I have some qualms about the book, I have to applaud Tommy Wallach for addressing extinction so head-on, and with such care, emotion, and yes, philosophy. I highlighted so many passages, and I’ll be reading those gems again and again.

The best books, they don't talk about the things you never thought about before. They talk about things you'd always thought about, but that you didn't think anyone else had thought about. You read them, and suddenly you're a little bit less alone in the world. You're part of this cosmic community of people who've thought about this thing, whatever it happens to be.

I feel a bit less alone and a bit more comforted because I read this book, and I’m grateful for that.

Bonuses:

Source: UIC.edu
Sex Positivity: I loved how much sex was on everyone’s minds because that just felt so authentic to how people would be with imminent extinction. In particular, I loved that Eliza owned her sexuality and that Andy made it such a big deal, and how thoughts about sex were not censored but honestly thought out by the characters.

Book Theme Song: 


The author has his own album that he's written for the book, and it's pretty awesome: 


That said, I think this might be the perfect non-author related song to characterize the book:

The Last Day on Earth by Kate Miller-Heidke


Look down
The ground below is crumbling
Look up
The stars are all exploding
Between the dust and the debris
There's a light surrounding you and me
It's the last day on earth
In my dreams 
It's the end of the world
And you've come back to me
In my dreams

The Final Word:


If I had to describe WE ALL LOOKED UP in one word, it would be “wise.” Because that’s what I got from this novel: a lot of wisdom, and a lot of reflection. While it’s not a perfect novel, I needed to read it to confront my own fears of death, and I think a lot of teens will find it comforting and illuminating as well.

Recommended for: teens dealing with depression or anxiety, people who need perspective on the world, philosophy junkies

WE ALL LOOKED UP comes out tomorrow. Are you interested in reading it? Are you a little bit afraid and thoughtful about death like I am? What would be the first thing you would do if you knew you were going to die? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Review: 6 Things You Need To Know About The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
Author: Cynthia Hand (website | twitter)
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source/Format: ARC from Harper Collins Canada (thank you!)
Publication date: February 10, 2015
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.


The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.


Review:


I finished this book several weeks ago, but I'm still processing it even now. So here is my attempt to distill it down to what you need to know (other than that you should definitely, DEFINITELY pick this one up):

6. It does not hold back or dumb down death, but it's also not as depressing as you think.  

If you've read Cynthia Hand's Unearthly series, you know that Hand really understands death. She knows how to write about grief and how to shepherd a character through it. With The Last Time We Say Goodbye, Hand gets an entire book to explore how a character comes to terms with not only grief, but also guilt and rationalization and knowing how to laugh again and wanting to save others and how to cope. It's not all sad, though - the book alternates between flashbacks through her journal writing and present day, where Lex assigns herself tasks to fulfill what she thinks her brother's ghost wants. That sounds morbid, but it's actually fascinating and uncovers new layers to the people she knows.

5. Cynthia Hand is brilliant at normal - or as normal as it can be when you see ghosts. 

For those of you who are paranormal junkies, you may shy away from this one. Don't. First of all, this is her subtle quiet writing at its best. You will feel all the feels of the Unearthly series, just in a different context.

Also, there are quite a few moments that feel very otherworldly as Lex is dealing with her grief.

4. It doesn't pretend parents don't exist.  

One of my favourite parts of the Unearthly series was how much interaction the parents had with the kids in the series - they helped move so much of the story along. Hand understands how much influence our parents exert on us and how they shape us, and she always builds them into the narrative. At the beginning of The Last Time We Say Goodbye, Lex and her mother are both so weighted down by their grief that they can barely move. I felt like they were stuck underwater, living in a slow-motion atmosphere. And Lexi's father is nowhere to be found. The complexities of Lexi's relationships with her mother and father are brilliantly maneuvered, and key to how she moves on and how she learns to live again.

3. There's math nerdery - but it's not written about in a nerdy way. 

I love, love, LOVED that Lex was such a geek about math and science, and how methodically she approached life. Cynthia Hand brilliantly constructed a character who wasn't at all cold or distant, but who definitely had a view of how life should be. I just loved how weird she was, how much we got to know her, and how much she recognized her own weirdness and never shied away from it.

2. It has one of the swooniest romances I've read in awhile.

You wouldn't - or at least I didn't - think that the romance in this book would be so charming and swoonworthy. But it is. The love between Steven and Lex doesn't take up a lot of time in a book that's definitively about grief - but the moments between them are so powerful in their normalcy, in the little moments of two people who are just right for each other, that I fell in love, too.

1. [semi-spoiler - highlight to read if you are one of those people who doesn't mind knowing my opinion of parts of the book] It has, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant endings I have ever read in a YA novel.

Look, you might not agree with me. And I sure hope that me telling you this doesn't bias your view of the ending. But the ending is so circular, so pitch-perfect in emotion and weight and resonance and what matters that I can't write this review without mentioning it. I put a lot of weight on endings and more often than not, I'm a little disappointed. This one elevated the book and had me at a complete loss for words or thoughts. I was just a ball of emotion.

Book Theme Song:

Dirty Projectors - While You're Here


His ghost is quiet, but we're crying again
Then I hear you saying while you are here
You are alive, but you are here, you are alive

The Final Word: 


It's hard to review a book that is so much about feeling, but I think Cynthia Hand has pulled off something extraordinary - a book where I didn't notice structure or writing or even feel like I was reading about a character, but where I was just going through the grieving process with Lex. It really, really hurts - but it's a hurt that changes you and helps you learn about yourself. Highly recommended for anyone who loves contemporaries or who needs help getting through a loss.

THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE is out now. Have you read it yet? Are you interested in reading it? Have you read Cynthia Hand's other books? Can you read books that are sad or about grief? Hit the comments and let me know. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales



Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (Raincoast Books)
Expected publication: September 15th 2015

From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven't met yet.

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she's tired of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours," the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either. 

Ok, let me admit something right here, right now: I have never read a Leila Sales book. This Song Will Save Your Life is sitting on my bookshelf right now, haunting me. And yet, I think of all the Leila Sales concepts that I've heard of and loved, this one is the one that's going to make me a real fan. It has everything I love - writing, blogging, complex relationships with family and friends, a road trip, one night in New York, and a possible romance. 

Also, just look at that beautiful typographic cover! I NEED THIS BOOK ON MY SHELF. 

Are you excited to read Tonight the Streets Are Ours? Have you read any of Leila Sales' other books? Are you into books that take place in one epic night like I am? What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments!

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"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Handle With Care" Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Mosquitoland
Author: David Arnold (website | twitter)
Source/Format: ARC from publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)
Publication date: March 3, 2015 
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. 

"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange." 

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. 

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, "Mosquitoland" is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.


Review: 


The story: Mary Iris Malone, or Mim, is a seventeen year old who's been uprooted from her hometown of Ashland, Ohio and sentenced to move to Jackson, Mississippi along with her new stepmother and father. When she finds out that her mother is sick back in Cleveland, she sets out on a journey to find her.

Honestly, I'm looking at what I wrote there and it doesn't say anything about what this story is really about. It's about spontaneously letting things happen to you. About trusting the right and wrong people. About mental health and easy and hard solutions. It's about the bad and good things that happen when you try to fix things alone and apart from the world, and how much it matters to have people around who love you.

Mim at the beginning of the book is a sarcastic, tough, and scared teenager with a lot of resentment for the world and her lot in life. She's hard, she's alone and she's fraught with desperation and the cockiness of being smarter than most of the people in the room, but not having the experience to have great judgement. I fell in love with Mim about two seconds after I started reading her story because she is honestly the most real teenager I've read in awhile. Her cockiness makes for some pretty amazing thoughts - clever, sometimes hilarious, always insightful if a little depressing.

Mim is also a storyteller. The novel alternates between chapters in first-person from Mim and letters she's writing to "Isabel", an unknown family member.

(Every great character, Iz, be it on page of screen, is multidimensional. The good guys aren't all good, the bad guys aren't all bad, and any character wholly one of the other shouldn't exist at all. Remember this when I describe the antics that follow, for though I am not a villain, I am not immune to villainy.)

There are quite a few passages like this in the book - passages where Mim sort of pulls back the camera to a wide angle, showing that she understands the tropes of typical storytelling. Mim's voice is always matter-of-fact, like she's telling the truth straight out. But the way she tells her stories and writes her letters shows how much she's using those tropes of storytelling to try to make sense of her own life. This is her interpretation of the story; only by writing it down can she create sense out of what seems senseless or cruel or horrible about the world around her.

Mim's stories are complicated by the fact that she has hallucinations. At the beginning of the novel, Mim is being medicated for the hallucinations, and as the book continues, we find out that there are opposing views of whether Mim should be medicated at all. I found this part of the book particularly true to life, and Mim's sometimes-ambivalence, other-times-resentment towards the drug is so authentic to my own experience taking SSRIs. That is to say - in some ways, Mim feels better when she doesn't have the hallucinations, but at other times, it seems like she's almost fighting the drug itself, wanting to see more of what she learns in those visions.

Because what she learns in those visions leads her to connect with herself in weird and wonderful ways. One of these ways is Mim's ritual of putting "war paint" on herself using her mother's favourite lipstick. Mim uses this ritual as a way to ground herself in her goal of finding her mother and remind herself of who she is in this world. She's a warrior who fights for what she believes is right - but, like I said, what is right to her is obviously not necessarily right to everyone else.

It's in the learning, in the magical balance of all of these elements, and a series of episodes starting on a Greyhound bus and ending up in a truck named Phil that Mim slowly discovers the truths that she needs to know to engage with the world again. And don't get me wrong, not every adventure she has is a good one - in fact, there's a lot of bad and dangerous out there that she has to deal with, but I loved how honest David Arnold was about the kinds of things that a girl like Mim might encounter taking a Greyhound across the country. Not everything is pretty and perfect, and there were moments that were downright ugly, but everything serves to teach Mim something about herself.

I read Mosquitoland in two days - I found Mim's voice so distinct and compelling, and my connection with her was so strong that I was on the edge of tears for two-thirds of the book (and laughing in the other third). I was with her when she jumped in a giant mud pond. I was with her when she put on her war paint. I was with her as she discovered a world that can sometimes be harsh, seedy and frightening, but can and will bring you light if you let it.

Bonuses:


Kick-Arse Secondary Characters: Have I spoken about the secondary characters yet? So funny, so real, so alive. Something about Arnold's descriptions and characterizations completely spoke to me, from the unexpectedly sweet old lady sitting beside Mim on the bus to the horrible Poncho Man to Walt, the friend with Down's Syndrome who is wise in his own ways, to the beautiful and perfect and sometimes-not-so-perfect Beck. I fell for these characters so strongly, I almost cried when they had to go away - even the bad ones.

Wise and Effervescent Writing: There is no doubt that every word in this book was thought about and mulled over - the way the writing was strung together was charmingly insightful, strange yet beautiful. Anyone who loves great writing will appreciate this book, but anyone who gets feels and chills from emotional and unique writing will FREAK OUT like I did over this book. A couple quotes:

"People just can't help themselves when it comes to quotation marks. As if they're completely paralyzed by this particular punctuation. I guess it's really not that big of a deal, but it does seem to be a widespread brand of easily avoidable buffoonery."

"For a few seconds, we lie there, not talking, just taking in the sheer distance and scope of the stars. I think about how quickly things have changed for me. But that's the personality of change, isn't it? When it's slow, it's called growth; when it's fast, it's change."

"There are times when talking just pushes out the tears. So I float in silence, watching the final touches of this perfect moonrise, and in a moment of heavenly revelation, it occurs to me that detours are not without purpose. They provide safe passage to a destination, avoiding pitfalls in the process. Floating in this lake with Walt is most certainly a detour. And maybe I'll never know the pitfalls I've avoided, but I can say this with certainty: a sincere soul is damn near impossible to find, and if Walt is my detour, I'll take it."

Book Theme Song:

I'm cheating here and just posting a link to the author's fantastic album that he wrote specifically for Mosquitoland - I went through a ton of songs, but nothing works quite as perfectly as this.


The Final Word:


Mosquitoland is refreshingly funny, insightful and quirky - it reads like an adult fiction book, but with the pacing of a YA book. This is a book that needs to be savoured and read again and again. I can say a thousand things about it, and a thousand more, but honestly, you should just read it because no matter what I say, I will never be able to capture the experience of reading this book - it's absolutely a journey, and one you should take as soon as possible.

MOSQUITOLAND is out now in bookstores. Have you read ityet? (If not, what are you waiting for?) Are you into contemporaries with quirky characters? Do you like road trip books like I do? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

BLOG TOUR + Review: Losing at Love by Jennifer Iacopelli


Hi all, today I'm part of the blog tour for Jennifer Iacopelli's Losing at Love - the second book in her Outer Banks Tennis Academy series. Check out my thoughts on Game. Set. Match, the first book, and scroll down for my review of LaL!

Losing at Love (Outer Banks Tennis Academy #2)
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli (website | twitter)
Publisher: Coliloquy
Source/Format: eARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review (thank you!)
Publication date: February 24, 2015
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Grass courts, tennis whites and the fiercest competition in the world. Wimbledon. After two crazy weeks in Paris, the girls of the Outer Banks Tennis Academy are headed to London with just one thing on their minds: winning.

Indiana Gaffney is fresh off a surprise win at the French Open junior tournament. Sponsors are clamoring for her attention, but what she wants more than anything—aside from a wild card to Wimbledon—is to be with Jack Harrison, but international fame and a secret relationship rarely mix well.

When Penny Harrison dreamed of playing at Wimbledon she never imagined agonizing pain shooting through her ankle with every step. With just a month until the tournament and the whole world expecting her to win, she’s determined to play, with or without the support of her coach or the love of her life, Alex Russell.

For the first time ever, no one expects anything from Jasmine Randazzo. After a crushing first-round defeat in the French Open juniors, the tennis world has given up on her, but worse than that, so have her parents, her best friend Teddy and maybe even her coach. With everyone writing her off, can she find it within herself to go after her dreams?



Review:

I had so much fun reading Game. Set. Match, and Losing at Love was no different. This is a quick new adult read with steamy scenes and lots of action. There's a ton going on, and while Losing at Love could probably be read as a standalone, I think it's a lot better when you've read the first book.

Check out my review of GSM!
This time around, tennis hopefuls Penny Harrison, Indiana Gaffney, and Jasmine Randazzo are prepping for Wimbledon, having just come from the French Open. Penny sprained her ankle in the last match of the French Open, and while she won, she's not happy taking it easy in London while her boyfriend Alex Russell gets to practice.

Meanwhile, back at the Outer Banks Tennis Academy, Indiana and Jasmine are training for women's doubles together, having made a truce at the French Open. Indy also won the junior French Open title so she's gunning for another at Wimbledon. She's finally broken through to Jack Harrison, Penny's older brother and agent, who is just as attracted to her as she is to him, but was too much of a gentleman to do anything with a girl so young.

Jasmine is fielding offers from college scouts who want her even though she wants to turn pro, despite the wishes of her parents and coach. And of course, she's still trying to navigate her relationship with Teddy Harrison, Penny's younger playboy brother, who seems too scared to ever return her long-time love.

Indy is just as cool, sharp, and independent as the last time around, but she's got some major troubles in this book, and I loved how she handled things. Some of it was a little over-dramatic, put there to "test" her, but honestly? She proved her maturity in this book and proved that she deserved Jack as her boyfriend.

Speaking of which, Indy and Jack are much sexier in this book than the last time around. There was some serious fanning going on during their scenes together, and I felt like Jack really came into his own as a romantic hero this time.

Penny was just as stubborn and strong as in the first book, wanting to practice as soon as her ankle felt better, but possibly endangering herself in the process. That storyline felt a little cliche, but it definitely advanced her character. In the first book, I was very much Team Penny, wanting her to win and just give in to Alex Russell. This time, Penny and Alex's relationship goes deeper, with them admitting their love and trying to navigate being in love. I don't want to give anything away, but I loved Penny in London!

The thing that made a big difference to me this time was getting to know Jasmine, the "mean girl" of the group much better. I expected that I would like her more because I had tweeted with Jennifer Iacopelli and she had mentioned that we'd get a lot more of Jasmine in this book. But I didn't expect to love her so much.

Jasmine is arguably the strongest of the female characters because for most of her life, she's had to live in the shadow of her famous parents, and with people all around her telling her she's not good enough to go pro. She's always been overlooked, by her coach, by her parents, even by Teddy, her first love. I loved her arc throughout the book and how much stronger and more confident she got. She is the definition of girl power!

If I have qualms, they are that some of the situations seemed a little overdramatic, and that there were occasional moments of pronoun confusion (sometimes I couldn't figure out which "she" the author was referring to). Overall, though, this was such a light, fast, fun read - perfect for sports fans who like steamy romance!

Bonuses: 

Source: Daily Mail
House Envy: The characters all end up staying at Alex Russell's London abode, which is a gorgeous white townhouse with a wrought iron fence in Chelsea. Which, by the way, is one of the most expensive places in London. I mean, c'mon. I SO WANTED THIS HOUSE and every description had me crazy jealous of Alex. I was supremely jealous that they not only got to stay there, but they got to do so with each other. I WANT TO LIVE THERE.


You Win Some You Lose Some: Not everyone wins in this book - I mean, everyone didn't win in the last book, but I appreciated how honest this book was about the stakes involved at Wimbledon.

The Final Word: 


What I loved most about this book is how much it focuses on the characters and their development - I'm a total character person and the more I found out about Indy, Penny, Jasmine, and their guys, the more I loved them. I can't wait for book 3!

Recommended for: fans of Julie Cross' Whatever Life Throws at You and other sports YA/NA, people looking for a fun girl power read.

Are you interested in reading Losing at Love? Have you read Game. Set. Match? How do you feel about sports YA or new adult? Are you into tennis? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger



5 to 1
Author: Holly Bodger 
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Expected publication: May 12th 2015 

In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters' pain and their brave struggle for hope.


I think I saw this one on someone else's Waiting on Wednesday a few weeks ago, so thank you, whoever it was! Not only does it have a gorgeous cover, but it's definitely on my list for my #DiversityDive challenge this year. 

It's such an unusual sounding dystopian - not about war and special girls with special powers. Arranged marriage is something that YA very rarely talks about - and the fact that this is set in futuristic India? Even better. 

I love that the novel will alternate between prose and poetry and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how the author navigates that. I'm also kind of hoping that the characters DON'T fall in love at the end - but just escape together. Thoughts?

Are you interested in reading 5 to 1? What do you think of that cover? Do you read books in verse? How do you feel about alternating between verse and prose? What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments!

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"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray



Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2)
Author:  Claudia Gray 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Expected publication date: November 3, 2015

Marguerite Caine has done the impossible, traveling to alternate dimensions with the Firebird—the brilliant invention of her parents, her boyfriend, Paul, and their friend Theo. But she has also caught the attention of enemies willing to kidnap, blackmail, and even kill to use the Firebird for themselves.

When Paul’s soul is splintered into four pieces—pieces that are trapped within Pauls in other dimensions—Marguerite will do anything, and travel anywhere, to save him. But the price of his safe return is steep. If she doesn’t sabotage her parents in multiple universes, Paul will be lost forever.

Unwilling to sacrifice her family, Marguerite enlists the brilliant Theo to help. The two forge a plan to save Paul and the Firebird, but succeeding means outsmarting a genius and risking not only their lives but also the lives of their counterparts in every other dimension.

Their mission takes them to the most dangerous universes yet: a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each leap brings Marguerite closer to saving Paul—but her journey reveals dark truths that lead her to doubt the one constant she’s found between the worlds: their love for each other. 

I'm super busy this week, so a short WoW post this week - but honestly, I'm not sure I need to say much about this book. Just feast your eyes on that cover and check out my review of A Thousand Pieces of You, which was one of my favourite non-contemporary books last year. 

"Romance, adventure, suspense, mystery, time travel, historical, sci-fi...definitely one of the most fun and addictive reads I've had in awhile!"


Side note: has anyone done a book mani with these covers yet? If you see one let me know - I feel like amazing things could be done with nail polish and these books. =p 

Have you read A Thousand Pieces of You (if not, go now!)? Are you into parallel worlds and intrigue? Are those covers not the most gorgeous thing ever? Which do you like better? What are you waiting for this week? Let me know in the comments!

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"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that book bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon 2015: High Fives


For my last post for the Book Blogger Love-a-Thon 2015, I'm sharing some of my current faves - please leave me a link if you've done this and I'll come check out yours! And thanks so much to Alexa from Alexa Loves Books for organizing this wonderful two-day blogging event!

Book? My current fave is I Was Here by Gayle Forman - it was one of those books that was really important to me.

Genre? Please. Do you even have to ask? CONTEMPORARY

Author? I have two right now: Gayle Forman is my ultimate "I love everything she writes and wish I could be her" author (reviews of her work). Diana Peterfreund is my ultimate "challenges me with her ideas and always, always gets me even though it's not always my type of book" author (lots of reviews of her work).

Blogger? I HAVE SO MANY. I'll try to list a few:

I love Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner for her wonderful, feels-y reviews and creativity. 
I love Andi @ Andi ABCs for her bookish fashion sense and the way she shares that. 
I love Melissa @ YA Bookshelf for her literary, insightful reviews. 
I love Sarah @ You Should Read This because she is one of those bloggers who interacts with everyone - and really gets into good discussions. 
I love Jen @ Pop Goes the Reader for her beautiful designs, especially those bookish wallpapers!
I love Sarah @ What Sarah Read for her enthusiasm and Fangirl Friday posts.  
I love Estelle and Magan @ Rather Be Reading for sharing their friendship, and for having some of the best recs ever. 
I love Hannah @ So Obsessed With for promoting classics and re-reading to everyone. 
And of course, I love Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books for doing features like this (and like her and Rachel @ Hello, Chelly's feature on Filipino culture!). 

I could name so many more, and I'm so sorry if I missed you (I really do love you all). This is such an amazing community to be part of and I'm so glad that I get to interact with you all!

Bookish merchandise? The lovely Becca at Pivot Book Reviews does the most gorgeous handpainted totes ever. I've already got one and I'm saving up to get a special one made!

What are your faves right now? Leave some links and I'll check them out!

Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Book Spine Poetry!

Hi guys, as part of the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon hosted by Alexa Loves Books, I'm coming at you with a little bit of book spine poetry! Leave comments if you've done this as well and I'll stop by!

 when it happens / just one year / i'll meet you there

what waits in the woods / dreambirds / let's get lost / like it never happened

Have you done book spine poetry before? What's your favourite fun thing to do with books? Let me know in the comments! And head over to Alexa's blog if you want to participate or learn more about all of the peeps participating!