Thursday, March 31, 2011

Top Ten Thursday (1)

Now that I've been blogging for almost 3 months I've decided to make a contribution to the YA literature blogging community. And what better way than hosting a weekly meme! I noticed on other blogs that people make list of their "Top 10 Favourite Heroines" or "Top 20 Favourite Sci-Fi Novels". What an awesome idea! 

Welcome to the first...

Top Ten Thursday!

Top Ten Thursday is a weekly event hosted at The Zealous Reader where participants list their "Top 10" of the week. 

This week's Top 10 is: YA 2010 Novels You Haven't Read Yet

10. Forbidden (Tabitha Suzuma)
9. Wicked Girls (Stephanie Hemphill)
8. Another Pan (Daniel Nayeri)
7. Salvaged (Stefne Miller)
6. God is in the Pancakes (Robin Epstein)
5. Scrawl (Mark Shulman)
4. Annexed (Sharon Dogar)
3. Her and Me and You (Lauren Strasnick)
2. This is Shyness (Leanne Hall)

1. Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare)

Add your own Top Ten post to the Mr. Linky post below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Wednesday meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine Participants highlight an upcoming unpublished novel they're interested in.

Title: Insight
Author: Diana Greenwood
Release Date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Zondervan


Some secrets won't let you go. Elvira Witsil lives about as far away from civilization as you can get, in a remote corner of Wisconsin where nothing much ever happens. In a house crowded with her mother, her cantankerous grandmother, and her little sister, Jessie, Elvira feels forgotten and alone. Their house also contains numerous secrets, and Elvira's family holds their secrets closely. Secrets about the father that Jessie never knew, and that Elvira can't forget. Secrets about that day five years ago. And the one secret that Elvira can't quite understand: that Jessie sees things no one else can see. These secrets will lead Elvira and her family on a journey far away from home---on a journey toward redemption and healing---if she can just bring herself to believe.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (10)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly Tuesday meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading where participants feature a teaser sentence/paragraph from a novel they're reading.

"I told her I basically ran away from the hospital I was supposed to be working at in Kenya to witness what was happening here. I had to see the war. And this she understood."
- pg. 29, Cambodia Calling by Richard Heinzl 

While I really enjoyed this amazing memoir about humanitarian action within Doctors Without Borders, it eventually got really depressing and far too medical-jargon-y for my taste. Tell me which YA novel I should read next! Choose one of the ones I have out from the library or your own recommendation! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook

Title: The Education of Hailey Kendrick
Author: Eileen Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Date Read: March 21 - 25, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars

Hailey Kendrick always does exactly what's expected of her. She has the right friends, dates the perfect boy, gets good grades, and follows all the rules. But one night, Hailey risks everything by breaking a very big rule in a very public way...and with a very unexpected partner in crime. Hailey gets caught, but her accomplice does not, and Hailey takes the fall for both of them.

Suddenly, Hailey's perfect life--and her reputation--are blowing up in her face. Her friends are all avoiding her. Her teachers don't trust her. Her boyfriend won't even speak to her for long enough to tell her that she's been dumped.

They say honesty is the best policy--but some secrets are worth keeping, no matter the cost. Or are they?

Another boarding school novel?! (As I type this review I'm reading Haven as well) Seeing as I'd just finished The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks a few weeks ago I noticed too many similarities between the novels: good girl at a boarding school does some illegal stuff. In this novel however, there was a lot less at stake and it was far less literary. 

I'm really starting to dislike shallow female protagonists. While Hailey was an independent, mature teen, I found a lot of her choices and reactions to be very juvenile. So wrapped up in never making a mistake and having OCD about safety and healthy, she's never had to deal with rejection or disappointment before and thus never learned how to cope with anger. The fact that she thought destroying a statue would solve everything just made me sigh. I understood why Hailey took the blame and stood up for Joel but after she was threatened with disciplinary action and she'd obviously lost her boyfriend, I didn't understand why she didn't just turn Joel in. 

I found Hailey's situation to be very realistic from an education-family-friends standpoint, but found it totally unrealistic that she'd have three guys pining for her over the course of the book. I didn't really understand why Drew was a love interest? Why couldn't he just have been the guy in charge of her detention? That being said, I really liked how Eileen didn't have Hailey and Joel end up together at the end. Very classy. 

Favourite Quote: "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, put to rout all that was not life...and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." (A quote featured in the novel, but it's better than a lot of the dialogue)

Recommended: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (E. Lockhart), Youth in Revolt (C.D. Payne), Looking for Alaska (John Green), Breathless (Jessica Warman)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox is a weekly Sunday meme by The Story Siren where participants show what books/swag/movies they received this week through a store, library, or publishing house. (Monday for me!)

I didn't go to the library last week because I'd just gotten so many new books, but I went out this week especially for this video to get some.

A Time of Miracles (Anne-Laure Bondoux) / Goodreads
Sunrise Over Fallujah (Walter Dean Myers) / Goodreads
You Killed Wesley Payne (Sean Beaudoin) / Goodreads
Violet Eyes (Debbie Viguie) / Goodreads
Cambodia Calling (Richard Heinzl) / Goodreads

Friday, March 25, 2011

Winter Longing by Tricia Mills

Title: Winter Longing
Author: Tricia Mills
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: August 19, 2010
Date Read: March 20 - 21, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars


In a small town hidden among the mountains of Alaska, Winter Craig finally confesses her feelings to her lifelong crush, Spencer. But the day after their very first kiss, Spencer leaves to get his pilot's license - and is killed in a plane crash.
Winter's dreams fall apart after losing Spencer, and she spends her days walking the halls of her high school like a ghost, wishing she could rewind time, longing to have him back. It feels as though a layer of ice has hardened over everything, making her go numb. But when the boy next door becomes an unlikely friend, slowly, Winter's frozen heart begins to melt. Can love - the very thing that destroyed her - make her whole again?

Sigh. I'm not quite sure why I gave this book 3 stars. Let's start with the positives: realistic plotline  and characters. Usually when a character dies they've been dating someone for months or years, not just 24 hours, and while I've never read a book set like that before, it could totally happen. I also found the characters to be pretty realistic: there was no set protagonist or antagonist because each was developed with layers of angst and whatnot. I've also never read a novel set in Alaska and would've loved to have more of the natural setting incorporated into the descriptions. That being said it was really logical to have Winter complain about L.A. and university being so far away, a real concern many Alaskans must have. 

However realistic Winter Longing was though, it still felt very juvenile and shallow. It seemed far too simple and not gut-wrenching enough. While I'm glad Winter didn't jump into Jesse's arms right away but I found the fact that she would be so frail and needy all of a sudden really took her character back a few decades. I'm really starting to hate the whole "damsel-in-distress" persona and appreciate it when authors write badass strong independent female protagonists. I found the "flashbacks" to how Spencer and Winter met to be really pointless because they were never referenced in present time. Usually authors do flashbacks to show character development or change the reader's mind about a character (i.e. Snape in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows) but instead the flashbacks just...solidified that Spencer was a good guy, as if we'd never heard that one before. I wish that Tricia Mills had picked a slightly more edgy angle for this novel, like Winter being completely unable to love anyone again or her university plans taking her away from her grief too soon. 

Favourite Quote: "That's why reading still held too much of Spencer for me to enjoy the stories now. I doubted even new books would carry me away."

Recommended: The Secret Year (Jennifer R. Hubbard), Ripped at the Seams (Nancy Krulik), Sing Me to Sleep (Angela Morrison),

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Wednesday meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine Participants highlight an upcoming unpublished novel they're interested in.

Title: Who I Am
M.L. Rice
Release Date:
 June 14, 2011
: Bold Strokes Books

Discovering who you are is the hardest part of growing up.

Devin Kelly is an Air Force brat, band nerd, bookworm, and loner. After the untimely death of her father, she and her mother move to Los Angeles to start a new life. Devin is welcomed to her new school by an arrogant bully named Jason who promises to make the rest of her senior year miserable.

Things turn around, however, when a beautiful and intelligent young woman named Melanie Parker, who happens to be Jason’s sister, comes to her rescue. As the relationship between Devin and Melanie grows, Devin finds herself becoming more and more drawn to her new friend’s vivacious spirit. It’s not until an unpleasant confrontation with Jason that Devin must admit to herself that her feelings for Melanie are far more than platonic.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Good Girl by Kerry Cohen Hoffmann

Title: The Good Girl
Author: Kerry Cohen Hoffmann
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 6, 2008
Date Read: March 15 - 18, 2011
Rating: 2/5 stars


Ever since her brother Mark’s accidental death, 15-year-old Lindsey has become the good girl—good daughter, good friend, good student. She places everyone’s needs before her own. Secretly, though, she’s frustrated by her family’s silence about Mark; she wishes she had the nerve to tell off one of her so-called best friends, a queen bee who wants the new boy at school for herself; and she longs to ditch obligations that prevent her from starring in the school musical. But instead of speaking her mind, Lindsey does something else . . . she starts to steal—and immediately wonders how good she really is.

All the pressure to be what others expect fuels Lindsey’s impulse to take things. Each time the risk becomes greater, and each time she thinks she’ll be caught. Wants to be caught. And then, finally, she is. . . 

Not so good. I haven't given a book only 2 stars in a while and while I feel sort of bad doing it, it's refreshing to not read a spectacular book for once. Good Girl had a good concept: overly stressed girl finally loses it and steals from her classmates and family. Bad execution. I was expecting the stealing to reach a larger level and that the most significant steal would be a large object, not just betraying the trust of her employer. I also expected bigger repercussions like police involvement or a grounding at least. I found the friendships, romantic relationships, and family scenes to be quite juvenile with one-dimensional characters. I kept waiting for the novel to gear up and reach a really dramatic point but it never really did. It was really frustrating to hear recycled "one-liners" from all the characters: the stereotypical dark sister, busy Dad, secret-but-dangerous new boy at school, etc. While I wouldn't recommend this to anyone as a novel to legit read, if you're interested in something simple and shallow to pass the time, this works. 

Recommended: Multiple Choice (Janet Tashjian), Klepto (Jenny Pollack), The Sweet Terrible Glorious Year I Truly Completely Lost It (Lisa Shanahan)

Teaser Tuesday (9)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly Tuesday meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading where participants feature a teaser sentence/paragraph from a novel they're reading.

"I shut the door behind me and leaned against it. I didn't plan to stand in front of the whole school while everyone listed out how I was making their lives miserable because they couldn't get to the mall."
- pg. 129, The Education of Hailey Kendricks by Eileen Cook

I just started this book last night and am really enjoying it so far. I went to the library today to pick up some new books so there's a guaranteed In My Mailbox post this weekend. To make up for the 4 days without a post though, check out my new review in the post above!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Safe by Susan Shaw

Title: Safe
Author: Susan Shaw
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: October 24, 2007
Date Read: March 12 - 13, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars

Safe. To Tracy, safe means having Mama close by. Years after her mother’s death, Tracy still feels her presence. But the moment Tracy is forced into a car as she is walking home from school one day, safe is ripped away. In the aftermath of an unspeakable crime, thirteen-year-old Tracy must fight her way back to safety and find comfort in her mother’s memory once again.
Susan Shaw returns with a raw and moving story of a young rape victim’s journey toward healing, empowered by poetry and music, family and friends.

I've read a few books over the years about victims of rape or sexual abuse but never with so young a protagonist. (Excusing the prologue of Living Dead Girl). While it did make the crime more horrific it also meant that the dialogue and emotions she was feeling unrealistic for her age and situation. Obviously someone would be severely emotionally damaged and would turn to an outlet like piano, but was the seclusion and delirious-ness also realistic? I loved the part where she would test how far she could leave her house. As an analysis of preteen behaviour and friendships, Safe is a wonderful testament to how girls react when something tragic happens. As a novel, it left me wanting more and not really understanding where the novel was going. I had assumed that the rape would lead her down a dark path as a teenager but instead the entire novel was over the course of the two months following the day. I've never read something that stuck so close to the rape event but at the same time it didn't allow the reader to fully understand how someone grows and changes their personality and lifestyle. 

Favourite Quote: "After it all happened, I went over and over that last minute, and I could never come up with anything that said, Tracy! Watch out! Even Caroline's slammed green door didn't say that - but it should have."

Recommended: Speak (Laurie Halse Anderson), Living Dead Girl (Elizabeth Scott), Girlhearts (Norma Fox Mazer)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Wednesday meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Participants highlight an upcoming unpublished novel they're interested in.

Title: Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever.
 Caissie St. Onge
Release Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Ember

For Jane Jones, being a vampire is nothing like you read about in books. In fact, it kind of sucks. She's not beautiful, she's not rich, and she doesn't "sparkle." She's just an average, slightly nerdy girl from an ordinary suburban family (who happens to be vampires.) Jane's from the wrong side of the tracks (not to mention stuck in the world's longest awkward phase), so she doesn't fit in with the cool vampire kids at school or with the humans kids. To top it all off, she's battling an overprotective mom, a clique of high school mean girls (the kind who really do have fangs), and the most embarrassing allergy in the history of the undead, she's blood intolerant. So no one's more surprised than Jane when for the first time in her life, things start to heat up (as much as they can for a walking corpse, anyway) with not one, but two boys. Eli's a geeky, but cute real-live boy in her history class, and Timothy is a beautiful, brooding bloodsucker, who might just hold the key to a possible "cure" for vampirism. Facing an eternity of high school pressure, fumbling first dates, or a mere lifetime together with Timothy, what's a 90-something year-old teen vampire to do?

Fans of the Vladmir Tod Chronicles, You are So Undead to Me, and Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side will feast on this deliciously readable, smart, and fantastically funny debut.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (8)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly Tuesday meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading where participants feature a teaser sentence/paragraph from a novel they're reading.

"I mostly didn't care to think about the fact that he had died when he was my age. That he had feelings and desires and hopes, just as I did, and that now he was gone."
- pg. 51, The Good Girl by Kerry Cohen Hoffman

I'm about halfway through this book and liking it so far. I'm going to space out the reviews of the books I read over March Break so you'll see this one probably next Friday. I didn't go to my local library this week, so there wasn't an In My Mailbox post on Sunday. Hopefully this weekend I'll have more books to share.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blogging Advice

Hello followers/guests!

As many of you have noticed my blog is mainly dedicated to my reviews of young adult literature and weekly memes. Unfortunately, at my pace of 1-book-per-week, I find myself going several days without posting. I feel like I'm letting my followers down by not providing you with quality content and more reviews.

I've made a pledge to read as many books as possible over March Break but rather than posting all the reviews at once, save them up to post through the months of March and April to hopefully fill in some of the "dead space".

But this is only a small solution. I'm still at a loss for how to make my blog unique and entertaining for my audience while still sticking to a posting schedule and enjoying weekly memes.

So I'm turning to you! My followers. What would you like to see my post? Do you have any suggestions on how to improve my blog? Use the Google Docs form or the comments below.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Date Read: February 24 - March 9, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father's "bunny rabbit." A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Landau-Banks. No longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer. Especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew's lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

Wow! What an amazing read! This was originally recommended to me by a friend in my book club last year and I've just gotten around to reading it now. I can't believe I waited this long to read it. One of my favourite parts of the novel was the social commentary on pranking, the panopticon, teenage behaviour, etc. The entire novel read more like a character development essay rather than a work of fiction, which definitely sets it apart from most other young adult fiction I've read. I found all of the characters to be unbelievably realistic, and while the situations Frankie found herself in were at times a little unpredictable, I'm sure they regularly occur at boarding schools. I loved how the novel was about more than love, friendship, loyalty, responsibility, social status, but more about law vs. order and human behaviour at a teenage level. I liked how E. Lockhart spent almost 3/4 of the novel establishing characters and scenarios before introducing the problem and climax. As a result I was on the edge of my seat (quite literally) for a majority of the novel. What an amazing read! 

Favourite Quote: Anything Frankie said as an imaginary neglected positive. i.e. "The guy is completely macculate" or "I dulge that. My underwear is not going out on loan."

Recommended: The Boyfriend List (E. Lockhart), Hacking Harvard (Robin Hasserman), Looking for Alaska (John Green), What I Saw and How I Lied (Judy Blundell), Breathless (Jessica Warman)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Wednesday meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine Participants highlight an upcoming unpublished novel they're interested in.

Title: Second Fiddle
Author: Rosanne Parry
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

The author of Heart of a Shepherd offers another sensitive portrayal of military families, this time stationed abroad, in the city of Berlin at that historic time just after the Wall came down.

When 13-year-old Jody and her friends save a badly beaten Russian soldier from drowning, they put into motion a chain of events that will take them from Berlin to Paris and straight into danger. Jody must quickly learn to trust herself, because in the time directly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the border between friend and enemy is not as clear as it once was.

Award-winning author of Heart of a Shepherd Rosanne Parry offers a fast-paced, coming-of-age story filled with adventure, music, friendship, and intrigue.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (7)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly Tuesday meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading where participants feature a teaser sentence/paragraph from a novel they're reading.

"She didn't need to. She'd reversed the power dynamics of the situation to the best of her ability: Matthew now wanted to be with her instead of wherever he was going - and he was insecure about what she'd get up to when he was gone."
 - pg 178, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

So embarrassed that I'm featuring the same book two weeks in a row. Hoping to make more progress this week/weekend with my "to-read" pile.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is a weekly Sunday meme by The Story Siren where participants show what books/swag/movies they received this week through a store, library, or publishing house. (Monday for me!)

I feel like the world's worst blogger. It seems that my entire blog has been dedicated to blogs for the past few weeks. For an apology-slash-explanatio n, watch till the end of my video. 

Drought (Pam Bachorz) / Goodreads
Haven (Kristi Cook) / Goodreads
Love Inc. (Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout) / Goodreads
Naked at School: Three Plays for Teens (Chris Craddock) / Goodreads
One Night That Changes Everything (Lauren Barnholdt) / Goodreads
Other Words for Love (Lorraine Zago Rosenthal) / Goodreads
The Education of Hailey Kendrick (Eileen Cook) / Goodreads
The Freak Observer (Blythe Woolston) / Goodreads
Voice of Her Own (Sherrill Grace) / Goodreads

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly Wednesday meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine Participants highlight an upcoming unpublished novel they're interested in.

Title: The Queen of Water
Author: Maria Virginia Farinango & Laura Resau
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers 


Born in an Andean village in Ecuador, Virginia lives with her large family in a small, earthen-walled dwelling. In her village of indígenas, it is not uncommon to work in the fields all day, even as a child, or to be called a longa tonta—stupid Indian—by members of the ruling class of mestizos, or Spanish descendants. When seven-year-old Virginia is taken from her village to be a servant to a mestizo couple, she has no idea what the future holds.
In this poignant novel based on a true story, acclaimed author Laura Resau has collaborated with María Virginia Farinango to recount one girl's unforgettable journey to self-discovery. Virginia's story will speak to anyone who has ever struggled to find his or her place in the world. It will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately, it will fill you with hope.