Friday, August 31, 2012

TGIF (8): Choose Your Next Read

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads! and every Friday, she posts a question that we answer and link up with others!
This week's question: 
Choose Your Next Read: How do you go about choosing what you read next? Do you have a schedule you follow, or do you read whatever makes you happy at the moment?
Well, I have one way: by genres. If I have just finished a contemporary novel, I will read a paranormal or historical fiction or fantasy novel next. After that, something different. My current TBR is: contemporary, paranormal, contemporary, hororish, sci-fi, contemporary, MG, fantasy.

Sometimes, when I'm in a reading funk, I will add in the genre that was my last favorite book. For example, after reading Jellicoe Road, I couldn't get into a paranormal or fantasy novel. So I read another contemporary since my last favorite was a contemporary novel.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: April 1, 2012 
Publisher: Point 
Source: Library
Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business.

For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage.

Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates.

Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.
After enjoying Elizabeth Eulberg’s earlier novels, The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom and Prejudice, I was highly anticipating Take a Bow, her third novel. The premise sounded amazing (I love all things that have to do with performing art schools) but with four different points of views, Take a Bow lacked in some areas. While it was just as fun to read as Elizabeth Eulberg’s other novels, Take a Bow was too short for me too clearly connect with any of her characters and I found myself disappointed.

For starters, this felt more like Emme and Ethan’s story more than Carter’s and Sophie’s, the later have very few chapters to themselves, making it nearly impossible to get to know them. Not that I wanted to get to know horrible, horrible Sophie who only thought of herself. She was manipulative and annoying and very selfish and the kind of girl I want to slap across the face. I liked Carter but I felt that writing his chapters in script formats was a little awkward when placed with the other normal chapters. Emme. Oh, dear, dear Emme, what am I to do with you? First of all, Emme didn’t seem to have a spine! She let Sophie drag her around and treat her more like her personal assistant rather than her friend. Throughout this novel, even if Emme didn’t seem to be oblivious, I WANTED her to speak up for herself! I didn’t want her to be treated like crap! Ethan too needed a spine and besides that, he needed to be a man. During this book, I wanted to grab Ethan and put him in front of Emme because it’s clear that he’s in love with her.

The plot was interesting but for such a short book, not fleshed out enough! I love all things performing arts school so I wanted to see more of how the school functioned. Yes, it’s important for the characters to have their story told but they do need some background, which I felt was not there. Plus, this plot mainly revolved around Emme and Ethan’s relationship and their own personal goals. Both had to change throughout the book to get to the place they wanted in life. After a while, it got really old. I mean, how many times do I need to see Sophie treat Emme like crap, which makes Ethan angry, and then Carter comes in to try and ease the situation?

I did like Elizabeth Eulberg’s writing but I wanted more. For some reason, I wasn’t as impressed with Take a Bow as I was with her debut, The Lonely Hearts Club. Now that I think about it I feel that her main leads tend to be kind of alike, like they could be friends or siblings even. Sure Emme didn’t have as much confidence as her other two previous leads but their voice wasn’t different. Basically, I wanted some development in Elizabeth Eulberg's writing which I don't think I got.

Overall, I was disappointed in Take a Bow. For a book that sounded really good and I had hoped it would deliver, it really didn’t. By the middle of this novel, I just wanted more: from the plot, the characters, and even the writing. People should give this one a try though! You might like it better than I did!
Cover Comments: 
I like it! It fits the book well and it's nice seeing (Emme?) from the back as if she's about to preform! It's a big deal for her in the book so I like it's significance. 
Reviews Around Blogosphere: 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Traveling in YA: London, England!

It's time for another TRAVELING IN YA post! 

Today, we're herding to:
London is such an amazing city! It's full of history and culture around every corner! Not only is it a great place to go to see touristy places, it's got some great local places too! The food is good and the people are pretty nice (from what I've heard.) I have heard that it's kinda smelly (Thames) but that's okay. Here are some places to vibist in London: 
Buckingham Palace 
Westminster Abbey 
Tower Bridge 
St. Paul's Cathedral 
London Eye 
Big Ben and House of Parliament 
Lots of places to visit! AND let's not forget about the double decker buses! London is a very popular place for author's to se their books: 
The Books:
Look at all of these YA books set in London or in England! SO MANY! There are some contemporary, historical fiction and loads more! 

BUT THAT IS NOT ALL! London, and England in general boasts of LOTS of classic authors: 

Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens
H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Shelley 
William Shakespeare 

So, what do you think?! Would you want to visit London or England in general? I sure as heck would!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: June 14, 2012 
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers 
Source: Library 
A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.
If there is one book I think all of you guys should read this year, it should be My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. After all the hype surrounding this book, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. I ended up loving it a lot with a few minor problems! My Life Next Door is a quick, sweet, and addicting read!

Lets start with the characters who really carry this book! Samantha, our protagonist, is a good girl who gets the good grades and always listens to her mother. She just wants to know the Garrett’s, her neighbors whom her mother can’t stand. She had such a refreshing voice because there wasn’t much angst. I did have an issue with her: the “big” issue that comes into the book really confirmed my belief that when it came to her mother, Samantha didn’t really have much of a back bone. Say what you will about her being a teenager but can I point out that many teens do speak up for what’s right? The whole deal of what her mother did and how to tell the others involved took way too long.

The Garretts, though, I loved with all my heart. From Pasty to Alice and especially George, I loved it when they were in the picture. Jace was also a great guy. He was sweet and sincere and he loved his family and was willing to admit it in front of others. From the moment he and Samantha meet, I couldn’t help but fall for him! They had so much chemistry and awkwardness (thank you, Huntley Fitzpatrick for the safe sex) and cuteness. Another favorite part? They had their arguments so their relationship was built on trust and not just physical interactions!

The plot, while slow at times, it gave a lot of room for the reader to get to know the characters better. Plus, Samantha and Jace's relationship was able to develop and it was nice to see. I will admit, the random parts of Samantha's relationship with her best friend felt...weird. It was as if when Samantha wasn't with Jace or thinking of Jace, she was having issues with her friend. I think both story lines could have worked well together. Also, I felt (like I said before) that the impossible decision came way to fast in the end. It felt hurried even though it took place over some time and I wasn't happy with how Samantha handled it. The safe sex was a good inclusion, something I don't see in YA often!

Overall, I really enjoyed My Life Next Door. While sometimes slow, it will make you laugh and smile and the romance between Jace and Samantha has a wonderful build up. Huntley Fitzpatrick’s writing was great, giving each character their own personality blending together to make the story a incredibly enjoyable read!
Cover Comments: 
I actually love this cover! It's such a summery feeling cover and I LOVE the lighting for it! It's all just so good together! 
Reviews Around Blogosphere: 

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Love For Authors Named Sara(h) in Contemporary

So, here are the three ladies that my title is referring to:
That's Sara Zarr, Sarah Dessen, and Sarah Ockler. 

I have read books by all three of these ladies (I've read all of Sarah Dessen's works) and I can never recommend their work enough! Plus, I love fan grilling with anything and everything that has to do with these ladies. They write some of the best contemporary books out there and I think everyone should at one point in their life read each of these authors. 

When I Discovered Sarah Dessen:
The first of the Sarahs that I discovered. I was in the 7th grade at a middle school (IT FEELS LIKE SUCH A LONG TIME AGO, Y'ALL!) when one of my very good friends came up to me and handed me a book. It was called Someone Like You  (and I was like "O.O IT'S ABOUT TEENS WHO GET PREGNANT. I wasn't very open to the reality of teenage pregnancy at that time) it was written by a lady named Sarah Dessen. My friend couldn't recommend her enough. She asked me if I read it everyday until one day, I decided to just read the book! The very next day, I told her how much I had loved it. The next day after that, she brought me every Sarah Dessen book that had been published. Sarah Dessen became a favorite author of mine within hours. I LOVED her books. While they were written about kids older than me, I could still connect with them. I wanted them to be my friends. 

As I got older, I loved Sarah Dessen's books for more reasons: I was around the same age as her characters and I was more mature than I was in the 7th grade. I saw her books in a different light: reality for what it really way. Plus, I had always wanted to be a writer and Sarah Dessen's writing style? Beautiful. 
When I Discovered Sara Zarr:
The same friend who recommended Sarah Dessen recommend a book called Sweethearts. From the cover, it didn't look like much. While she recommended it, I didn't initially check it out. Some time later, I was in the library looking for something-anything really-to read. I was kinda desperate and I didn't have much time. I saw the cover for Sweethearts again and I decided to just check it out!

That night, being the only book I had on hand, I began reading Sweethearts. By school the next day, I had finished the book. Or more accurately, devoured it! IT WAS SO GOOD. Just. Perfect. And maddening. And sad. And wonderful. AND SO MANY EMOTIONS!!! Just, really guys, I loved this book. It was also the first book, besides the HP books, where I LOVED the idea of best friends falling in love. There was just something about this book and that idea that seemed like they were made for each other. Sara Zarr also reminded me of Sarah Dessen...but in her own way, if that makes sense. I couldn't get enough of this author! 

When I Discovered Sarah Ockler:
Blogging. That is how I discovered the amazingness that is Sarah Ockler. Twenty Boy Summer was making it's way around the blogosphere and people just couldn't get enough! I heard so, so many good things about this book that I put it on my "will read much, much later" pile. I had this thing of getting disappointed by hyped up books and I just didn't want Twenty Boy Summer to disappoint. Plus, the title sounded...weird. I mean TWENTY BOY SUMMER?! How many flings are you going to have in one summer? 

But this book. My word. It's so, so, so much more than it's title leads on. 

I don't remember when it was that I decided enough was enough. I was going to read this book and see what all this hype was about. Was it really as good as everyone kept saying it was? It was as good as everyone said it was going to be. Twenty Boy Summer was so, so much more than what I had expected it to be. It was so sad and heartbreaking but reviving and wonderful all the same. It wasn't shallow like how the title made me feel it was going to be. Instead, there was SO MUCH HEART and sorrow and anger and plain wonderfulness. Twenty Boy Summer has become one of my favorite books EVER. Yeah, EVER! 

So. Did this convince you to read these books by these wonderful ladies? They are really, really good and if you have yet to pick up any of these books a) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! and b) PICK THEM UP RIGHT NOW! NOW! GO TO THE LIBRARY OR BOOK STORE AND GET A COPY OF THESE BOOKS.  

Believe me, y'all, these ladies have written books and characters and settings that will stay in your head long after having read the book. The characters will remind you of yourself or a friend and they will feel REAL. You'll