6.29.2014

THE SUNDAY REVIEW: ROOMIES - SARA ZARR & TARA ALTEBRANDO

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.
- Goodreads

------

After reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson I became a fan of duel-authored dual-voiced books. This is another such book, which consists of two characters' email correspondence written by - you guessed it - two authors.

Great premise... but the execution didn't quite hit the mark. This was another example (there have been a few lately) of a young adult book that didn't work so well for me because the voices were on the juvenile side. I found the voice of Elizabeth in particular to be borderline annoying - not to mention self-centred and snotty at times.

The storyline itself worked okay, and the plot had points where I definitely wanted to know how things were going to shake out. Lauren was more relatable, and I felt her angst at leaving her large family, her worry about her younger siblings and uncertainty about her budding relationship with a boy she really likes.

The one thing that did come through on both sides is how difficult it can be - for all kinds of reasons - to take those first few stumbling steps into adulthood, leaving behind the things we can't wait to escape but also the familiar comforts of home. It's simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

[Possible mild spoiler alert - doesn't give away plot points, just structure] 

The other thing that disappointed me somewhat was that the entire book ended up being in the before. I had erroneously assumed that at least part of the book would take place once they'd both actually arrived at school, so we'd be able to see how their online relationship translated and evolved as they learned to live together.

I won't be re-reading this book, nor would I say it's a must-read for everyone. But I do think it will appeal to teens who are at the same point in their lives, because there is emotional truth in these two girls' stories.

------

Book Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando
Series: No
Edition: Hardback
Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released: December 24, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Letters, Contemporary
Pages: 279
Date Read: April 30-May 15, 2014
Rating: 6/10

6.28.2014

STACKING THE SHELVES #27


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks where I don't buy books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some books I haven't shared in a StS post yet!   


Landline - Rainbow Rowell
The Footloose American - Brian Kevin


Enigma - Robert Harris
The Stranger on the Train - Abbie Taylor

What did you guys add to your shelves this year? What did you find kicking around the back of a bookshelf that you'd forgotten about? Share in the comments!

6.24.2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: COVER TRENDS/ELEMENTS I LIKE & DISLIKE


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Cover Trends I Like/Dislike. This is going to be a slightly more boring post for two reasons: 1 - I don't have much time this week for blogging, and 2 - I don't want to use cover images because I feel like if I do that for the things I like then I have to do it for things I don't like, and that would just make me feel mean!

Things I like:

1. Creative covers.
2. Covers that could just as easily be works of art.
3. Careful colour selection.
4. Pictures that make me feel something (good).
5. Font, font, font! It's gotta be good, and it's gotta work with the cover design and grahics. 

Things I dislike:

1. Creepy covers. I CANNOT with creepy.
2. Boring covers. I don't mean plain covers - sometimes those can work really well. I mean covers that either have no image or a bad one, and use fonts that aren't visually appealing.
3. Elements that don't go together. Like really awesome, modern, appealing fonts.... over a cheesy image.
4. Covers that don't represent or relate to the book they're for.
5. Movie tie-ins that aren't re-designed to work as a book cover, they're just the movie poster shrunk down.

Okay, so that's it for this week. Sorry it's not so great - this is one of my busiest times at work, so I don't have much spare time! I'll try to get back to normal (and reply to your comments!) ASAP!

6.22.2014

THE SUNDAY REVIEW: THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW - RITA LEGANSKI


Conceived in love and possibility, Bonaventure Arrow didn’t make a peep when he was born, and the doctor nearly took him for dead. No one knows Bonaventure's silence is filled with resonance - a miraculous gift of rarified hearing that encompasses the Universe of Every Single Sound. Growing up in the big house on Christopher Street in Bayou Cymbaline, Bonaventure can hear flowers grow, a thousand shades of blue, and the miniature tempests that rage inside raindrops. He can also hear the gentle voice of his father, William Arrow, shot dead before Bonaventure was born by a mysterious stranger known only as the Wanderer.

Bonaventure's remarkable gift of listening promises salvation to the souls who love him: his beautiful young mother, Dancy, haunted by the death of her husband; his Grand-mere Letice, plagued by grief and long-buried guilt she locks away in a chapel; and his father, William, whose roaming spirit must fix the wreckage of the past. With the help of Trinidad Prefontaine, a Creole housekeeper endowed with her own special gifts, Bonaventure will find the key to long-buried mysteries and soothe a chorus of family secrets clamoring to be healed.
- Goodreads



------

Bonaventure Arrow is born into tragedy, and grows up unknowingly destined to lift the cloud that has settled over his family. There's his mother, Dancy, who struggles against the bitterness and anger that come of losing her husband when their life together had only just begun. And there's Grandma Letice, Bonaventure's paternal grandmother who has turned to her Catholic faith to assuage the creeping guilt that is choking her heart.

The two women, who hardly knew each other when William Arrow was shot, cling to each other's grief and help one another get through each day. They are united not only by their grief over William's death, but also by their love and utter devotion to young Bonaventure, whose well-being is the only thing more important to them. Each woman has her own way of dealing with William's death, and must overcome her own conviction that they were to blame.

There is another resident in Bonaventure's home - William's ghost. He watches over his family, and Bonaventure's extraordinary gift allows him to hear his father's voice from across the divide between reality and "almost heaven." William's presence leads Bonaventure to secrets long buried, that must be put to rest before everyone in the family - including William - can move on.

This story is full of secrets, and everything (and everyone) is connected. It's not always a happy story, but it is always full of hope and the magic of Bonaventure Arrow.

You can't help but love Bonaventure. He's a bright, inquisitive young boy who, despite having no voice of his own, manages to show us a world full of magic and beauty.

I absolutely adored this book. I loved how it was written, I loved that it slowly unfurled its story and took its time introducing us to the characters. I loved the magical realism and the sense of endless possibility. This may be Leganski's debut novel, but it speaks to a life-long love of storytelling. This is one of my top reads of the year, and one I'd happily recommend to... well, pretty much everyone.

------

Book Title: The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow
Author: Rita Leganski
Series: No
Edition: Paperback
Published By: Harper
Released: Feb. 26, 2013
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 400
Date Read: May 3-10, 2014
Rating: 10/10

6.21.2014

STACKING THE SHELVES #26


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks where I don't buy books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some books I haven't shared in a StS post yet!  
 
Trouble - Non Pratt
Guy In Real Life - Steve Brezenoff

 
Hotel Angeline - A Novel in 36 Voices
The Lost - Sarah Beth Durst
The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)


The Book of Unknown Americans -  Christina Henriquez

Some pretty good ones in here, I think! A couple of these I've had for awhile and recently put back on the top of the stack, and a couple are new releases. Guess I'll finally have to finish Cuckoo's Calling now!

6.18.2014

WWW WEDNESDAYS #23


It's time for this week's WWW Wednesdays, hosted by Should Be Reading blog (head over and check them out!).

This link up asks three questions
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you'll be reading next? 
Here are my WWW answers!

What did I recently finish reading?


I've been chipping away at a bunch of books simultaneously, and therefore while I'm about a third of the way through a bunch, I hadn't been finishing many! This week I've finally started to buckle down and focus, and finished up two books. I really enjoyed both of these. Drawing Amanda had a fast-paced story and was beautifully illustrated, while The Opposite of Loneliness was an amazing collection of stories and essays, every one of which completely immersed me (review to follow).

What am I currently reading?


You was a book I received for my birthday and dove right into. So far I'm enjoying it, but like Ready Player One, I'm keenly aware of the fact that I'm missing out on a lot of context, having never been a video game player. Nonetheless, I'm enjoying the overarching plot and interested to find out what the mystery element will lead to! Kissing is a small but delicious book all about - yep, you guessed it - the art of kissing. I've been rationing it out into bite-sized pieces, but plan to wrap it up this week. Forever... I started to test out my Scribd trial and a couple of hours later, I realized I was nearly finished the entire book. I never read Judy Blume growing up (I know, right?) so I've been meaning to catch myself up for a while.

What do I think I'll be reading next?


I'm about to start reading Gone Girl with a friend but I'm also reading a few other books - The Steady Running of the Hour, All the Light We Cannot See.... and probably some others I can't remember!

That's it for my week - what are you guys reading? What did you recently shelve?

6.17.2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: BOOKS ON MY SUMMER TBR LIST


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR List. I feel like I did this one already. But I suppose this is slightly different - and more about my own plans for summer reading. So I'll try not to be too repetitive!


 Beloved Strangers - Maria Chaudhuri
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart


Say What You Will - Cammie McGovern
The Vacationers - Emma Straub


Tibetan Peach Pie - Tom Robbins
The Serpent of Venice - Christopher Moore


You - Austin Grossman
No Relation - Terry Fallis

You might have noticed, if you've a keen head for math, that this is in fact more than 10 books. But I figure that's okay, because you're book people, and you understand the agony of picking only 10. And because it's always good to have alternates.

What are you guys itching to read over the next few months?

6.15.2014

THE SUNDAY REVIEW: DRAWING AMANDA - STEPHANIE FEUER


Inky draws his crush for a game–and paints her into real danger.

DRAWING AMANDA is set in the under-parented, high-expectation world of a Manhattan international prep school. Fourteen-year-old budding artist Inky Kahn is still smarting from the death of his father. He thinks he’s found his big break when he bonds with the developer of a new computer game and snags a coveted drawing assignment, for which he uses his secret crush–Amanda–as a model.

But unbeknownst to Inky, the developer has a dangerous past, and is using his computer game to lure and stalk teenage girls. And Inky has inadvertently led Amanda right into his path. Blinded by his own ambition and sulking from his father’s death, Inky hides from the truth. Will Inky, with the help of Rungs, his cybergeek pal, discover the treachery in time and save Amanda before the creep ensnares her–or anyone else?
-
Goodreads

------

You might recognize this book from the cover reveal I participated in awhile back. Well, today's the day - this book is now available! Hipso Media was kind enough to send me an ARC to read and review so that I could share my thoughts with you guys.

This book deals with an issue that's important for kids to learn about - particularly in this day and age when so much of their lives exist online, with minimal supervision. It can be a wonderful place to find amazing people, but it also  comes with risks.

This is the story of a few misfit teens who are drawn to an online game - Rungs, who came across it and passed the info on to an artist friend Inky, who's looking for a break. The third is Amanda, a young girl who's new to her school and feeling lonely and isolated.

What begins as some harmless online fun soon shifts into something more sinister as Inky and Rungs uncover some worrying information and try to warn Amanda before it's too late.

This story had me thinking about several episodes of Law & Order: SVU as I was reading. It has that same feel of a story with a dark underbelly, the same creeping ick factor as the truth begins to bob to the surface.

The plot is set up in such a way that you're drawn in by the characters and have time to get to know and care about them before the story takes over. I felt for Amanda. She's moved around a lot, is in a new school, a new city, and for the first time she doesn't have her brothers for company.

Inky is likewise heartbreaking - he lost his dad, his mom is MIA most of the time, and losing his dad threw the rest of his world off its axis. He's failing in school, blew his chance to go to his dream art academy, and seems to have missed out on becoming a normal, dateable teenager like everyone else in his class.

My heart went out to both of them right from the beginning, and it's impossible not to hope that they'll get to know each other, maybe feel a little less alone.

I think the only down side for me personally (as an adult reader) was that this book felt more like a middle grade than young adult book - it's definitely more appropriate for younger teens. It also feels a bit more like a story built around a cautionary tale/warning than a book that just happens to deal with a scary issue. Which I think falls a little flat when you're not the intended audience.

However I would recommend this for younger teens - particularly those who enjoy some intrigue and mystery in their reads - and have a thing for rooting for the underdogs!

Want to check it out? Now for sale on Amazon.

------

Book Title: Drawing Amanda
Author: Stephanie Feuer
Series: No
Edition: Paperback - Advanced Reader Copy from Publisher
Published By: Hipso Media
Released: June 15, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Middle Grade, Young Adult
Pages: 292
Date Read: June 10-15, 2014
Rating: 7/10

6.14.2014

STACKING THE SHELVES #25


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks where I don't buy books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some books I haven't shared in a StS post yet!  


1. The Sixteenth of June - Maya Lang
2. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers - Tom Rachman
3. Beloved Strangers - Maria Chaudhuri


4. City of Heavenly Fire - Cassandra Clare
5. The Murder Complex - Lindsay Cummings
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou 

I'm a little short on time this week, so I'm forgoing descriptions - but if you want to know what one of these is about, they're all linked to their Goodreads pages!

Share Buttons