Jul 31, 2010

Review | Change of Heart by Shari Maurer

In a world where the most stressful thing seems to be winning a soccer game or what to wear in the morning, you take some really basic things for granted.

Like the love of your parents.

Or hanging with your friends.

Or the beating of your heart.

When you’re 16 years old, it never occurs to you that you might die. Emmi Miller’s got a fabulous life. She has tons of friends, does great in school and is an all-star soccer player who played in Europe last summer. It even looks like Sam Hunter, a totally cute baseball player, might be interested in her. And then she gets a virus. No biggy, right? Until the virus goes to her heart and weakens it so much that, without a transplant, Emmi will die.

Will Emmi get a heart in time? Is Sam too good to be true? What about her new friend Abe, who has also had a transplant and guides her through these scary times — is he just being supportive or is there more going on between them? And will Emmi realize it before it’s too late?

Thoughts: When I read the description of this book I knew what it was going to be about and I expected some heart-wrenching moments, drama, and possibly a sad ending. And I was right, it contained all that, but I liked that there was so much more to it than that as well.

I think my favorite part of this book were the actual characters. From Emmi to the minor characters like the doctors and nurses, I liked how each one was individually portrayed. I have to admit that Emmi frustrated me because of her attitude sometimes but I completely got where she was coming from. I loved the support her family gave her and the little things that were added to the story about her parents and siblings made it more real. Her friends and boyfriend were, well supportive but they actions sometimes were questionable.

I think that the book was okay and then a little more than half way it gets so much better. so maybe at the beginning you'll have a hard time sticking with it but when then the story takes a few unexpected turns and you can't put it down, and always hoping for the best. I must admit that the ending is a sad one, but it was truly touching and it brought some tears to my eyes.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys this kind of book. I must warn readers that if you are used to books by authors like Jodi Picoult or even Lurlene McDaniel, this one might not meet your expectations but it is a great book though and I am sure many out there will enjoy it.

Favorite Quote: "Denial is a terrific coping mechanism sometimes."

This book was provided by Traveling ARC Tours for review.

Jul 30, 2010

Review | White Cat by Holly Black

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the con men.

Thoughts: I'd previously read one book by Holly Black, Tithe, and I did not like it all. I really thought that maybe I had a problem with this author's writing, so I was done with her. But that wasn't fair, so when I saw that this new book was coming out and it had nothing to do with fairies, I decided to give her one more shot.

I wasn't sure what to expect because when I read "curse workers," I instantly thought witches, wizards, magic. To my surprise, "curse workers" are a little different than that. I loved the entire idea of what a curse worker is, and how the author creates a whole new world that revolves around people who are curse workers. I was easily able to get into the story that unfolded and right from the start, I didn't want to stop (listening to it) and really wanted to learn more.

Cassel is a great character, and since he's the only member of his family who isn't a curse worker, he's had to deal with being sort of being singled out by his family. He's a very complex character and I loved him a whole lot. The other characters were great also, and I loved how they are all very unique and very well developed.

I really enjoyed this story and there are many plot twists and even though some of the things that happened were predictable, I loved the ending, it was a complete surprise. This book is full of mystery, suspense and at some points frustrating, but I definitely recommend it. I am really glad I decided to read this because I truly enjoyed it.

Favorite Quote: "The easiest lies to tell are the ones you want to be true."

This book was provided by my local library.

Jul 29, 2010

Review | Forget You by Jennifer Echols

There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

Thoughts: I know you've probably heard great things about this book, and all I have to say is...yes, I agree. I wasn't really sure what I expected when I first got this but I was surprised that there were so many tough issues to deal with throughout the book. I wasn't expecting to get sucked right into the story but after reading only a few pages I could not put it down.

The book started off a bit slow for me but right after the accident the story picks up and I got right into it. It really surprised because I had expected mostly a fluffy sort of teen romance and not much else. And even though there is some great romance between Zoey and Doug, the story goes on a much deeper level and there are so many issues that Zoey has to deal with from the beginning.

The characters were all well developed and even though Zoey annoyed me sometimes with her thoughts and actions towards her "boyfriend," Brandon, she was dealing with a lot and trying to handle it as best as she could. Doug was a sweetheart, I loved him. All the other characters, like Zoey's best friends and her dad, had so much personality and fit into the story so well that I really liked reading about them, although I disliked some of them very much.

This book is an emotional, touching novel and I highly recommend it to everyone who loves YA. I can't wait to read Going Too Far, which I have also heard great things about.
This book was provided by Star Book Tours for review.

Jul 22, 2010

Review | Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Title: Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publication: June 26, 2007 by Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: There are two sides to every breakup. This is Jordan and Courtney, totally in love. Sure, they were an unlikely high school couple. But they clicked; it worked. They're even going to the same college, and driving cross-country together for orientation. Then Jordan dumps Courtney -- for a girl he met on the Internet. It's too late to change plans, so the road trip is on. Courtney's heartbroken, but figures she can tough it out for a few days. La la la -- this is Courtney pretending not to care. But in a strange twist, Jordan cares. A lot. Turns out, he's got a secret or two that he's not telling Courtney. And it has everything to do with why they broke up, why they can't get back together, and how, in spite of it all, this couple is destined for each other.

Thoughts: I thought this book sounded really interesting when I first heard of it. I mean how many times have we come across a situation were we meet up with an ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend and we pretend not to care? So it sounded like something I could connect with you know? I was really excited to read this.

The story jumps from past and present, from when Jordan and Courtney meet and get together, to after they've broken up and need to go on the dreaded trip. It also switches from both Jordan and Courtney's points of views and I really liked that I was able to get the entire both sides of the story and was also able to learn more about both of them. The only problem I had with this though was that they both sounded similar. I mean, sure Jordan was a guy and used more profanity and talked about "guy things" but the voice sounded similar to Courtney. Just the way their thoughts processed seemed the same and I didn't like that too much.The other characters were very outrageous and pretty funny, reminding me of people I know and I was able to enjoy their part in the story as well.

The story was cute, and although I've read many books with break-ups, this break-up was quite different. There was a bit of mystery in the plot because of everything Jordan is hiding and the way the author lets us find out throughout the book how everything really happened, sort of adds some suspense.

Overall, I think this is a very cute young love story that many YA readers out there might enjoy. I know that there a few others books coming out by this author and I really want to read more by her.

Jul 21, 2010

Review | Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus

Title: Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Series: Shadow Hills #1
Genre: Young Adult - Paranormal
Publication: August 24, 2010 by Egmont USA
Format: ARC
Source: ARC Tour
Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: His love captivated her... his secrets might kill her.

Since her sister’s mysterious death, Persephone “Phe” Archer has been plagued by a series of disturbing dreams. Determined to find out what happened to her sister, Phe enrolls at Devenish Prep in Shadow Hills, Massachusetts—the subject of her sister’s final diary entry.

After stepping on campus, Phe immediately realizes that there’s something different about this place—an unexplained epidemic that decimated the town in the 1700s, an ancient and creepy cemetery, and gorgeous boy Zach—and somehow she’s connected to it all.

But the more questions she asks and the deeper she digs, the more entangled Phe becomes in the haunting past of Shadow Hills. Finding what links her to this town…might cost her her life.

Thoughts: I must admit, I didn't like this book. At first. It took me quite some time to really get into it and I almost gave up on it. But I keep reading all these wonderful reviews on it and even though I kept thinking that maybe this book was just not for me, I decided to give it another try and finish it.

My mind was changed almost immediately after I picked it up again. The characters, that at first seemed unrealistic and at times annoyed me for instance Phe, who constantly managed to get herself in dangerous situations for what seemed to be no reason and Zach was just not my type of guy, later turned out to be great characters that I was able to connect with. I really enjoyed the relationship they had and how it developed, they were really cute together. The other characters were also fun, enjoyable characters with great and different personalities and I really liked most of them because I could compare them to real people I knew.

The story became a little more fast-paced and I actually wanted to know what happened next and what the mystery of Shadow Hills was, which had not been the case at the beginning. I wanted to keep reading it. I really liked that this was something different. Like I've noticed many readers comment, it's sort of refreshing to read about something other than vampires, werewolves or faeries. Not that we don't love all of those, but this was something I thought was truly unique and that really kept my interest all the way to the end.

I really do recommend this book to everyone. This book is packed with a lot of mystery, a great story line and pretty unique characters.

Jul 15, 2010

Review | When Mike Kissed Emma by Christine Marciniak

Emma Landon has a plan: she's going to be in the high school musical and sing the most romantic song possible to her boyfriend. She's not looking for the lead, just a decent part where she and Trevor can dance together on stage. The plan starts to unravel when she gets the starring role, and playing opposite her is not her perfect boyfriend, but the school loner, Biker Mike. When Mike kisses Emma at the school dance, everything changes. Emma must figure out what is more important-the way things look or something deeper.

Thoughts: When I signed up for this, I'd never heard of it but thought it sounded interesting. I got it in the mail, and from the look of the cover, I didn't think I would like this. But I should know better by now than to judge a book by its cover because I was nicely surprised and really enjoyed it.

The story is short and sweet, with all the usual twists and turns of any high school based novel with a predictable, but fun ending. I really enjoyed the characters and although I disliked some of Emma's friends, I was able to connect with the book enough to actually dislike them for what they would do or say.

The plot was sort of fast paced and revolved around the high schools production of The Sound of Music and everything that might happen between the cast and after school. I thought it was cute that the author used lines from the actual play they were performing to use as chapter headings.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for a cute, romantic and quick story about high school lovers and I can't wait to see more on this author.

Favorite Quote: "A nice person would have stood up for me, not let everyone think the worst of me."

This book was provided by Around the World Tours for review.

Jul 3, 2010

Review | Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful.

Thoughts: For Caitlin, life is complicated. She has Asperger's and she has just lost her brother who was the only person who helped her "not act so weird." Struggling with the loss of her brother, her father's crying, the counselor desire to help her make friends and her need to find closure, Caitlin and her story are developed in a simple yet impacting way that will have you wanting to read this book in one sitting.

Erskine created a young girl who I couldn't help but love and try to understand. Since it is through Caitlin's point of view, we are given an insight on what it might be like to have Asperger's and through the misunderstandings and unexpected emotions, I was able to connect with Caitlin throughout the book.

The story is so touching and heartbreaking, it will have you make you want to cry but Caitlin is such a unique and wonderful girl, that her responses and thoughts to many situations will also have you laughing out loud. It is a very sweet and beautiful story, definitely a must read.

I absolutely recommend this book to everyone, it is a great story told by a character that thinks a little different that what we are used to. Also, if you are a fan of To Kill of Mockingbird, I am sure you will enjoy the small connection between both books.

Favorite Quote: “I guess the good news is that everybody has to put up with being special because everybody is alive.”

This book was provided by Around the World Tours for review.

Jul 1, 2010

Review | The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn

Jack Audley has been a highwayman.

A soldier. And he has always been a rogue. What he is not, and never wanted to be, is a peer of the realm, responsible for an ancient heritage and the livelihood of hundreds. But when he is recognized as the long-lost son of the House of Wyndham, his carefree life is over. And if his birth proves to be legitimate, then he will find himself with the one title he never wanted: Duke of Wyndham.

Grace Eversleigh has spent the last five years toiling as the companion to the dowager Duchess of Wyndham. It is a thankless job, with very little break from the routine . . . until Jack Audley lands in her life, all rakish smiles and debonair charm. He is not a man who takes no for an answer, and when she is in his arms, she's not a woman who wants to say no. But if he is the true duke, then he is the one man she can never have . . .

Thoughts: I have absolutely always loved Julia Quinn, she is one of my favorite authors. This book sat on my shelf for quite some time and then one day I felt like reading a romance and this was just perfect.

Most of her books are written in a similar way, but all her stories are unique and different from each other so I can't help but love each and every one of them. The set of characters for this one were an enjoyable bunch and I really liked Jack because he is a charmer and even though Grace sometimes frustrated me, she was okay.

I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend to anyone looking for a nice fluffy romance. Those are my favorite kind. And I also recommend the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, I absolutely love that family and that series.

This book was purchased by myself at a local bookstore.