Mar 22, 2013

Review | Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart

Title: Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 03.14.2006 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: Audio
Source: Library
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Synopsis: At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is “different” and everyone is “special,” Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She’s the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won’t have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won’t do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy.

One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys’ locker room–just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?

Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.

Thoughts:I don't know where to start with this book, so let me just tell you the truth. Fly on the Wall was a little funny and kind of entertaining, but it felt pointless by the time I was done. Even though I have heard wonderful things about E. Lockhart, this was an earlier book of hers (I believe,) and I wasn't too impressed.

Gretchen Yee is an okay character. She loves comic books, draws comic book characters for her art classes (which her teachers do not approve of,) and is a hoarder living with her parents who are getting a divorce. Nothing too special or interesting about her, but she is not unlikable, I guess. She spends her days alone now that her friend hangs out with another group of kids, daydreaming about the boy she likes, and just being...plain.

The story doesn't really change much until the fantasy twist when Gretchen ends up a fly in the boys locker room. Wish granted! Now she can watch boys and their gherkins all day long! (And all I could think was, really, you call them gherkins? Okay...?) And she does and for several chapters all we learn about are the sizes and shapes of their "gherkins" of pretty much all the boys at school. At one point she begins grading boys butts. Seriously?

She does get to observe identity issues, watches boys get bullied and really, learns that boys and girls are more similar than she expected. That's the message in the book and once the ending comes around, the story is wrapped up nicely and The End.

Overall: I was disappointed. Not because I thought it was truly bad, but because I expected something better from this author. I will definitely be giving her another shot (Ruby Oliver series, anyone?) but I don't highly recommend this one. It is a quick, and kind of entertaining read, but nothing special and with a lot of graphic content that I don't think is suitable for younger teens.

Mar 21, 2013

Review | A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Science Fiction
Publication: 08.09.2011 by Candlewick
Format: Audio
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★★

Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose-- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire-- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes-- or be left without any future at all.

Thoughts: It has taken me a long (long?) time to write this review. Not because I didn't like it, or because I loved it so much that I have no words to describe it. I think it's just been difficult to figure out exactly what it is I enjoyed so much about this. I'm not sure if this is a bad thing? A Long, Long Sleep caught me by surprise. I'd never heard of it and picked it up on a whim after reading the synopsis really quickly at the library one day. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but I can say that I really did like it.

A Long, Long Sleep begins with Rosalinda being woken up by Bren with a "kiss." She's then thrown into a future where her family and boyfriend are dead, she is the heiress to her parents empire, and she has to learn to adapt to the strangeness of everything, all while recouporating from being in stasis for so long, which has left her weak and unhealthy. Luckily, she is an heiress and has plenty of people looking out for her and her well-being. So she is tossed to some foster parents and sent to a school and pretty much left up to her own devices.

At first, I wasn't too impressed. While this book claims to be science fiction, there aren't too many elements that would be considered sci-fi. I am not an expert in this genre so after a while I wasn't really bothered by this because the future was still advanced, just not ridiculously so. There are hovering "cars," fancy new gadgets, and genetically engineered specimen, and really, that was enough for me. The beginning also dragged on a bit but I was still interested in the story to keep going.

I have to admit that at the beginning, I didn't like Rosalinda. She could be so annoying at times and I just wanted to smack her. I didn't find her particularly interesting until she becomes friends with Otto, a blue genetically engineered teenager who actually brings out more of her personality and adds an interesting part to the book with his background story. We also get to see a few more glimpses into her past, and these were what grabbed my interest the most. I wanted to learn more about her and Xavier (her boyfriend) and how their relationship developed, which I know will be weird for some of you, but I thought was kind of sweet. With each flashback though we learn more about her troubling past, her parents, life growing up, and why she was who she was, and this really changed my mind about her, especially because of the way she was treated.

The story really picks up the pace when Rosalinda is attacked by a plastine, which is this really creepy human-robot that is sent to kill her. Once the story picks up, it gets a lot more interesting, and I was rushing through it to get to the ending. I think the best part of this book is towards the end, when Rosalinda finds out the truth about what happened to her, when we glimpse at her past one last time, and a few other mysteries are revealed. While the last few paragraphs just wrapped the story nicely, I was pretty satisfied with how things turned out.

Overall: Even though it's considered a science fiction book, it is really a story about love, loss, and believing in oneself, so you don't have to be a science fiction fan to enjoy it. It provides a unique take on betrayal, some forms of abuse, and is an interesting re-telling of the familiar fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. I enjoyed it a lot and definitely recommend it to young adult fans.

Mar 14, 2013

More on Audiobooks

A little under four years ago, I was not an audio book listener. I'd heard a few books on audio because I was "forced" to in class but I didn't really listen to any on my own. One day, I stumbled upon a new library in my neighborhood and the way they had their YA section set up was having both physical books and audio books combined. I'm used to having audio books on their own shelf far off into a corner, but instead, these were right in my face. So I though, why the heck not? And I gave it a shot. I picked up The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong, and at first I disliked the idea of listening to the book, instead of reading it. It was weird for me. But by the end of the book, I was in love.

From then on, I started checking out audio books more regularly, and I've been listening to them for years now. I love the experience of being able to listen to a book, while I'm driving or doing chores around the house, or working out/running. It's awesome! In fact, this year, I've been so busy with school and life that I have only listened to most of the books I've "read" this year.

Earlier this year though, I almost gave up on them. I don't remember where I saw it but there was a forum of some sort that was discussing audio books. Someone made a comment that listening to audio books wasn't really reading. You weren't actually doing the reading, so it didn't count. I was stumped. Was that person right? Was it really not "reading"? I felt like I'd been cheating on my Goodreads challenge because I was adding all these books that I'd only listened to and didn't actually...well, read.

Then one day, I posted something really short about it here on the blog. It was a Top Ten Tuesday post and I mentioned I didn't want to listen to anymore audio books. And you know what? Rachelia from Bookish Comforts left me a comment that said I shouldn't let someone else's opinion sway my mind if I was doing something I enjoyed. She also went to say that, "I think audiobooks do count as reading - while it's a different experience, you are still devoting hours to listening and immersing yourself in the story." And I thought, damn, she's totally right. So I'm still listening to them like crazy.
So what about you? Do you like listening to audio books? If no, why not? Do you think they count as "reading" a book? Share any of your favorite audio books too! And favorite narrators, if you have any! I love Jesse Eisenberg (White Cat by Holly Black) and Scott Brick (The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga.) I'm always looking for new suggestions, so share them with me! :)

Mar 12, 2013

Review | Waves by Sharon Dogar

Title: Waves by Sharon Dogar
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 04.01.2007 by Chicken House
Format: Audio
Source: Library
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Synopsis: When Hal's family makes the heart-wrenching decision to leave Charley, their comatose daughter, behind in a hospital ward while they spend the summer on the west coast of England, Hal finds it harder than ever to shake his sister's presence. What power is letting him share her memories? And will they reveal the deep, dark truth behind her tragic "accident"? Set at a beach where growing up goes wrong, WAVES is a coming-of-age story about first love and first loss; about a family drowning in sorrow, and the remarkable son who is struggling against the tide to save them.

Thoughts: This is one of those books that sounds like it's going to be awesome, but ends of being so not what you expected. From the cover, it looks like a light summer read, and from the summary it sounds like a heartbreaking story that I won't ever forget. It attempts to be both of these things, and happens to be neither of them, sadly.

Hal, for one, is sort of a jerk. He hates his sister for being in a coma and hates that he doesn't know what happened to her. He is determined to find out, but doesn't learn anything until the last couple of pages of the book which is a real drag. Charley's past self is definitely likable; a kind-of-insecure, fun girl that falls madly in love with Pete. Of course, the first part of book doesn't even show us the real Charley, just coma-state-Charley which was too weird and sort of confusing to be interesting. As for Pete, what was so special about him anyways? Sure he was good looking but there was no substance to the guy and he always seemed so hung up on taking care of Am, his ex-girlfriend, who of course, Charley hates.

So while away with the family, Hal begins to "hear" Charley in his head and this is where I thought the book got too weird. Not only was he hearing her voice speaking to him, he was also "seeing" her memories and reliving them himself at some points. It was really strange and I thought a completely unnecessary route to take in telling how Charley felt. Since the book is told in alternating views, both Charley and Hal's, these scenes when their minds connect, or whatever it is they're doing, become quite repetitive.

Hal seems to be going crazy, but these memories he begins to see sort of lead him to finding out what happened the night of the accident, which when finally revealed, is not as big of a mystery as we originally expect. The story is prolonged and in the end, the mystery is completely dissatisfying which is the only reason I kept going with the book!

Overall: I think fans of the authors work might appreciate this one more than I did, because I found it weird and repetitive. This one probably would have been a DNF for me if I hadn't wanted to find out how it ended, but the conclusion turned out to be just another disappointment for me. While I did enjoy Charley's side of the story (and is the reason I gave this book the extra half star,)  the rest of the book was not as engaging as I had expected and I really cannot recommend this to others who have enjoyed the authors writing before and want to give this one a shot as well.

Mar 11, 2013

Review | Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams

Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
Series: N/A
Genre: YA - Contemporary
Publication: 03.15.2011 by St. Martin's Griffin
Format: ARC
Source: Orange County Book Festival (Gift)
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Lacey wakes to a beautiful summer morning excited to begin her new job at the library, just as her mother is supposed to start work at the grocery store. Lacey hopes that her mother's ghosts have finally been laid to rest; after all, she seems so much better these days, and they really do need the money.

But as the hours tick by and memories come flooding back, a day full of hope spins terrifyingly out of control...

Thoughts: The biggest mistake I made when starting this was having such high expectations of this author. Her previous book, The Chosen One, blew me away and going into Miles from Ordinary I expected something similar that was equally heart-wrenching. Of course it was silly of me to think that this book would be like the last one, with the story being so different, but it sounded like it would be something just as captivating. Sadly, I was let down more than I thought I would be, and while Williams is amazing at capturing the mind of a 13/14 year old girl, the story weaved into Miles from Ordinary was not extraordinary and left me feeling iffy about the whole thing.

Lacey is this quiet, simple girl who pretty much takes care of her mother, who sees and hears Lacey's dead grandfather. Being short on money, Lacey talks her mother into getting a job as a cashier and helps her every step of the way. On the first day of her new job, and Lacey's new volunteer position at the library, they head out together and Lacey hopes that this will be a new beginning for them. Unfortunately, when the day comes to an end, Lacey finds her world spinning out of control and she struggles to figure where everything went wrong.

I have to say that I liked Lacey. I totally got what she was going through and even though I wasn't exactly able to relate to her because I've never had a crazy mother, I was still able to connect with her. I think Williams does an amazing job in writing what goes on inside a young girls head, and this was probably my favorite part of the book. The secondary characters are also important, each one playing an important part in Lacey's day.

The story takes place in a day, and while it was a short read, it was too slow for my liking. Nothing really happens in the first half of the book, and while we do learn a little more about Lacey, her mother, her aunt and their complicated relationship through memories, I wasn't too captivated by the story. The book drags on as Lacey discovers her mother is missing and then attempts to find her before anything disastrous happens. The last third of the book is creepy, but also dragged on so much in those few pages, that I eventually lost interest in the weirdness and put the book down for a while.

Towards the end, there is an incident Lacey goes through, and I feel like I never really got what was going on there. It added to the creepy factor, definitely, but it is not explained once the book is concluded and I was disappointed because I expected some kind of twist! And while the conclusion is reasonable, I thought it was rushed and flat compared to the prose that is used for the rest of the book.

Overall: I am glad I gave this a shot, honestly. I definitely didn't love it and I really wanted to. It wasn't at all what I expected, but I think that was the problem. I definitely think others who enjoy contemporary/heartbreaking/powerful books will enjoy this one. I plan to pick the other books by Williams because this one will not deter me from reading more of her work. I know she is an amazing writer, and while Miles from Ordinary did not turn out to be for me, I have hope for the next book!

Mar 7, 2013

Email Subscriptions

A few months ago, I discovered the awesomeness of subscribing by email to a blog. I never did this because I always followed via GFC and really didn't know how to use anything else (still don't, in fact.) I didn't want to subscribe to emails because I thought they would spam my inbox and I definitely didn't want that happening. But then some of the blogs I loved, and a few that I discovered, were not using GFC and this was troubling to me. I don’t have as much time to sit around the computer all day the way I used to, and I still can’t figure out how the feed readers work exactly, so I was a little frustrated with what to do.

One of my oldest blogging friends, Steph the Bookworm, had switched over to Wordpress and I no longer saw her posts on my GFC. I kept going back to her blog and realizing that she had posted a few things since I’d last checked it, so I decided, what the heck? And I subscribed to her blog via email. And it was awesome. Every morning I check my email, and sometimes I’d have a new email telling me Steph had a new post. And I’d open the email and I would read the post from there. Yes! I could read what she wrote without doing anything. It was right there, waiting for me. Anywho, one thing led to another and now I am subscribed to plenty of blogs and I love it.

I usually check my email on my phone because I am notified immediately when I get a new one. I am not one of those people who let the emails pile up. I read them right away, store it in a folder, and keep my inbox as empty as possible (this is why I also forget to email people back sometimes all the time.) I have an iPhone and I hate that little red number that shows up on the top of the icons telling me I have a new notification. So every morning, as I am laying in bed and trying to talk myself into getting out of bed, I check all my emails. And that means, every morning I am reading your posts. Yes, yours.

But you know what I realized? I am enjoying all your content and not commenting. Yep. Being a blogger, I know how awesome it is to receive comments. Every single one makes me want to pump my fist in the air and yell, “Yes!” – I don’t cause I am usually in school/work when I get an email (yes, I get an email for every comment and I love it) and that would weird. But with me receiving your posts in my email means I don’t have to go out of my way and find your post. So that means I never actually see it on your blog. Or comment. And now I feel bad about it. I mean, I want to comment. I do. I just don’t seem to have time to or remember when I am actually blogging/commenting because I have already read what you wrote and instead, I read what I haven’t looked at yet. And that kinda sucks for you.

What do you think about email subscriptions? Do you subscribe? Why or why not? Do you find yourself commenting less on blogs that you do get emails to, the way I do? I would love to hear your thoughts and if you have suggestions, those would be great too!

Mar 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday | Series I Would Like to Start...but haven't yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Caster Chronicles: Okay, so I cheated a little and already started this one, but I do want to read the entire series!
2. Newsflesh: This sounds so awesome and I have been meaning to read it for so long!
3. Throne of Glass: I have heard only good things about this book and I cannot wait to read it!
4. Dust Lands: I've had a copy of this book for so long and I keep trying to read it, but haven't...yet!
5. Divergent: Everyone says this is awesome and I really want to check it out.
6. Across the Universe: This just sounds like something I need to read
7. The Immortals: I've heard great things about this series, have the first book, and have even met the author!
8. Halo: I have all the books in this series and I have yet to start it. I don't know why. 
9. The Marbury Lens: Another series that I own and have met the author, but haven't had the chance to check out.
10. Vampire Academy: I love vampires. Also, I want to know what all the fuss is about. 

What are your Top Ten this Tuesday? Leave your link below :)

Mar 2, 2013

\\ Blog Tour \\ Review | None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing

Title: None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Publication: November 20, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Sometimes, a few dares can change lives…

The weekend before the start of senior year, Sophie Erickson and her best friends, Ella and Grace, discover a handwritten list of dares tucked away in the glove compartment of Sophie’s beat-up old Toyota. But this isn’t just any list; it’s a dead girl's bucket list.

Sophie's beloved aunt Suzy died as a teenager in a fatal fall, leaving Sophie with an overly cautious family, a few fading photographs, and a bucket of bolts that barely passes for a car. But now, Sophie has Suzy’s list of the things she wanted to do in her last year of high school. Sophie can't help but wonder: What would happen if she tried to fulfill Suzy’s last wishes, to live out the longed-for life of her aunt, her hero?

As Sophie and her friends attempt to knock off the things on Suzy's list of dares, love blossoms in unexpected places and Sophie begins to feel that her life is finally coming together...when in fact, everything is slowly unraveling around her. When the truth about a long-held family secret threatens to shatter everything she believed to be true, Sophie is forced to question everything she knew about the life and people she believed in, and ultimately herself.

Thoughts: None of the Regular Rules is one of those self-published books that makes me feel happy that I still give them a shot. I am really glad I took the opportunity to read this one, because it turned out to be a fun, light read about friendship, love, and family.

Sophie and her friends were likable characters. While Sophie seemed a little too cautious sometimes, I still liked her and felt I would have done similar things in her situation. I enjoyed the slow-burning romance between her and her neighbor, Johhny Rush, who wasn't exactly what he seemed to be.

None of the Regular Rules is a quick, coming of age story that I am sure contemporary fans will enjoy. I look forward to checking out the author's other works soon!