Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

This Is What Happy Looks Like If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs? 

My Review:

This book is a sweet story filled with romance, family, and friendship.  It is a quick and cute read.  I think it make a good, light and summery book to read on vacation.


Ellie is a nice girl who lives in a small town in Maine.  She lives with her mom, and her dad is a Senator, Paul Whitman, not that anyone else knows that.  There was a scandal a few years after her birth about her mom and her dad, since he was married to someone else.  It was never confirmed in the news if he had an illegitimate daughter or not.  Ellie is smart and was able to get into a summer poetry course at Harvard.  The only problem is, the program is too expensive, so she can't afford it.  She tries to get the money by working, but there is no way she will get enough money in time for the class.

Graham Larkin is a teen movie star that all the teenage girls in America love.  While he enjoys acting and being in the movies, he may not always want the all the attention from the media.  He is constantly followed by the paparazzi.  His manager even tries to tell him that he should date the girl who plays the love interest in his movie.  Despite his fame, he is also just a teenage guy.  He has a pet pig that he cares about, and he named the pig Wilbur.  He also has his own house, and he doesn't live with his parents.

The romance between Graham and Ellie is very sweet.  They first start talking through email, and then he decides to have his newest movie filmed in her hometown.  I loved how Ellie wasn't some huge fan of Graham Larkin.  She hadn't even seen his other movies.  She liked him for the guy she meet over email, and she didn't even know that guy's name.  Their relationship doesn't always have an easy road to travel since Ellie and her mom don't want her to get press attention.  In the end, their romance ends up being very adorable.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

My Life After Now Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

My Review:

My Life After Now is a good read that deals with an emotional topic.  It also a topic that is an important issue to be addressed.  It has a good story and characters which keeps it from being just about a message while still containing an important message.


Lucy is a good main character, a normal high school girl who just wants to be in her school play and get the lead role.  But then, she has an awful week.  She doesn't get the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and her boyfriend Ty breaks up with her so he can go out with another girl instead.  She and her friends, Max and Courtney, go out to a bar and Lucy gets drunk.  She makes a huge mistake by leaving the bar with a guy she doesn't know.  The next morning, she wakes up in bed with him.  Soon, she finds out that she got HIV from him.  This makes her life challenging since she worries about her disease.

Lucy's family are good, developed characters.  She has two dads, which isn't seen very often in YA books.  She calls one of them Dad and the other Papa.  Near the beginning of this book, her biological mom stays with Lucy and her dads because she is pregnant.  Lucy doesn't like her living with them.  She feels like Lisa, the biological mom, never really cared much about her daughter, so she doesn't really want her in her life at all.  Both of Lucy's dads clearly care about her, so naturally, they are upset when they find out that has gotten HIV.  They really want to help her through the illness so she can survive it and still live a long life.

Lucy has some good friends in this story.  Her friendships with Courtney and Max become rocky near the beginning of this book, when she withdraws and starts keeping secrets from them.  Then there's Evan, a guy who clearly likes Lucy, yet she is afraid of how he will react to finding out she has HIV.  His reaction when he does find out isn't unrealistic, though he does make some incorrect assumptions.  Then there's Roxie, who runs the HIV group meetings.  She has had HIV since she was born, and she knows a lot more about the disease than Lucy does.  She helps Lucy understand HIV better, and she really gets what Lucy is going through.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding

The Reece Malcolm List Things I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?

My Review:

This is a fun, sweet, and quick contemporary.  I absolutely adored this story and the characters in it.  It deals with family, friends, and romance in a well-done and realistic way.


At the beginning of the book, Devan finds out that she has to live with the mother she's never met after her dad's death.  She has to learn how to adjust to this new situation.  Devan is an awesome character.  She is a junior in high school who loves singing and acting.  She is nice to just about everyone, and she's a good person.  She is also extremely talented at what she does, which is obvious when she lands a lead role after just arriving at her new school.

This book did have a strong family focus, which I liked.  Devan is just meeting her mom for the first time, and the situation is uncomfortable for both of them at the beginning.  As the story progresses, they do get to know each other better.  Devan wants to know why her mom never wanted to see her before.  She resents the fact that her mom only became part of her life when Devan's died, so her mom was forced to.  Devan also meets her mom's boyfriend, Brad, who is like part of the family.  He is more welcoming to her at the beginning than her own mom is.  I really liked his character, and I liked Reece as well.  

This book also has some good friendships and romantic relationships.  She meets a boy named Sai when she's auditioning for her chorus placements.  She likes him, but he stays in the friend category for most of the story.  She dates a boy named Elijah for a short period of time in the book.  He seemed like a nice guy.  She also becomes friends with Travis, Lissa, and Mira.  Travis and Lissa are nice to her right away, but Mira is harder for her to get to know.  It turns out that she becomes closer friends with Mira near the end when Mira tells Devan a secret of hers.

I love the chorus and musical aspects of this story, since I do both chorus and musicals.  When Devan was waiting to get her seat in chorus, my first thought was, I wonder what voice part she is?  Well, it turns out, she's an alto.  Anyway, I could relate to these aspects of the story since I've experienced them, though I've never been in a show choir.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #58: Dead Ends


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

Dead Ends

Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.
A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping.
As a journalist, Erin Jade Lange is inspired by hot button issues like bullying, but it is her honest characters and breakneck plotting that make Dead Ends a must-read.
There are several reasons that I'm excited to read this book.  First, it's by Erin Jade Lange, and I thought her debut Butter was an awesome book.  Second, it's told in male POV, which I enjoy reading in.  Third, I love the cover.

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday?


Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

My Review:

I absolutely adored this book, and I'd say it's one of my favorite books that I've read.  I read it in a time span of less than 24 hours.  I didn't read it quickly because I wanted to be over, but because I loved it so much that I couldn't put it down.  Everything about this book was amazing.  My favorite narrative style is 1st person, but I still loved this book's 3rd person narration.  I checked this out from the library, but I loved it so much that I'll probably end up buying a copy at some point.


The main female character in this story is Eleanor.  The story opens up with her coming to live with her mom, stepdad, and siblings again.  Her stepdad had kicked out a year before, and since then, the family had moved, and her mom just invited her back to live with them.  She doesn't have a good life at home with them because her stepdad is an awful man.  He is controlling and abusive to her mom.  They don't have many household items, like a phone or even a toothbrush.  Eleanor also has to deal with bullying at school for the way she looks and dresses.  Basically, her life isn't very good at all at the beginning of this book.

Park is the main male character.  He is different from others in his town because he is biracial, but he doesn't get bullied by the other kids often.  He just flies under the radar and escapes the notice of many of his classmates.  He has a good home life, though his family has their problems.  His parents are very in love with each other.  Park doesn't really have a good relationship with his brother.  Park's father sometimes doesn't like Park's weaknesses, and he picks on him for them.  He sees the brother, Josh, as being stronger than Park.  But, overall, both his parents love him and care about his well-being.

The romance of this book is central in the book, though being one that develops slowly.  This is one of the best romances that I have ever read.  Eleanor and Park are perfect for each other.  At the beginning of the book, neither of them like the other.  They sit next to each other on the bus every day without saying a word.  One day, Park notices that Eleanor is reading his comics over his shoulder, and he soon brings some for her and leaves them on her bus seat.  Soon, he starts to share music with her too.  They become friends, and this relationship slowly progresses as they fall in love.  I thought this was such a sweet romance, and I adored it so much.

If you like YA contemporary romance, read this book.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: Bruised by Sarah Skilton

Bruised When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else -- more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world -- full of dark humor and hard truths.

My Review:

Bruised is an emotionally powerful story that covers subjects like guilt, family, and love.  The characters are fully developed, and the story explores their relationships gracefully.


Imogen is a fantastic main character.  She has taken Tae Kwon Do for years, and she expects it to help her in real-life situations.  When she doesn't stop a holdup at a diner by a gunman, she feels like Tae Kwon Do has failed her, or maybe like she's failed Tae Kwon Do.  The police come into the diner, and they end up shooting and killing the gunman.  Imogen takes a unique perspective on the situation by feeling like she failed the gunman.  She says if she had used her martial arts to stop him, the police wouldn't have had to shoot him.  Throughout the book, she has to deal with her guilt, and sometimes she doesn't deal with it in very healthy ways.  

This book explores familial relationships in Imogen's family.  There's the sibling relationship between Imogen and her older brother, Hunter.  Their relationship has been rocky ever since Hunter slept with Imogen's friend Shelly at Imogen's birthday party.  Since that happened, she hasn't trusted Hunter with any of her friends, and she stopped being friends with Shelly.  Imogen also has trouble in her relationship with her father.  He has gotten diabetes and can only get around in a wheelchair, and she struggles to accept him that way.  She often just wants him to turn back into who he was before he had the disease.  She has to work hard to come to terms with accepting him as he is now.

The romance in this book is sweet and develops slowly.  When the gunman came into the diner, Imogen wasn't the only customer hiding under the table.  There was a boy there as well, hiding under a table nearby.  Imogen finds out that his name is Ricky, and he's a senior at her school.  Their relationship starts out with her teaching him how to fight.  She wants him to learn so she can have a one-on-one fight against someone, or, that is, Ricky.  As they get in to know each other, their relationship becomes a romance.  They have a few problems along the way, and their relationship certainly isn't easy, but they make it work.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday #57: The Beginning of Everything


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

The Beginning of Everything

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.
I'm not sure, but I have done a WoW post on this back when its title was Severed Heads, Broken Hearts.  I really like the title and cover change.  I love the color of the new cover.  This is releasing on August 27th.

What are you Waiting On this Wednesday?


Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Taken (Taken, #1) There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

My Review:

Taken is an entertaining dystopian story with great action and characterization.  It's a book that is easy to get into and enjoy.  I'll be reading the sequel when it releases next year.


Gray is a great character who may sometimes do things that keep him from being completely likeable, yet I still liked him.  He is impulsive, and he can get angry about things easier than his brother.  At the beginning of the book, it is his brother's 18th birthday, and his brother is going to be Heisted.  Within the first quarter of the story, Gray finds out several things about himself that have been kept from him, and he decides to leave Claysoot.  The rest of the story takes place once he's climbed the Wall and left his town.

 Gray has two girls in this book that he has feelings for.  This love triangle is well-written and developed naturally.  Emma is the girl from Claysoot whom he has loved for years.  When he climbs the Wall, she follows him over it.  The other girl he meets is Bree.  She is one of the Rebels, and she is a strong girl who can fight.  While I like Gray with either of these girls, I think he's better with Bree.  Bree is like Gray in some ways, so I think she'd better understand some of the things he does than Emma would.

I liked reading about the different mysteries of this dystopian world, and the bad guys who made some of these things happen.  At the beginning of Part 2, Gray finds out that Harvey is a bad guy.  He has committed many crimes, including setting up Claysoot.  He meets Frank, the leader of Taem who wants Harvey captured.  At the story progresses, Gray learns that things aren't always as they seem.  Frank may not be the good guy he pretends to be, and Harvey may not be so bad.  Sure, Harvey did some things he shouldn't have done as a teenager, but he was doing them for Frank, and he didn't realize the full implications of what he was doing.  I liked how the book revealed what the Heists really were.

If you like YA dystopian, read this book.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Releases I'm Most Excited For

May 1st:
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler  - I've enjoyed Janet Gurtler's other books, and this book looks good.  I look forward to meeting Grace and Kya, and reading about their friendship.  I want to see what starts to become dangerous about it.

How I Lost You

May 7th:
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland - This sounds like a good book that will have emotional elements and some romance.  I'm curious about Jules' family tragedy, and how it comes between Jules and Cricket.  I'm also excited to see Cricket's romance with the guy that is mentioned in the summary.
The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher  - This book sounds like an emotional story.  I look forward to reading about Angie and Lizzie's friendship before Lizzie got with Angie's boyfriend.  I look forward to reading about the mystery in the story as well.
Reboot by Amy Tintera  - This book has a fascinating premise.  I look forward to learning about the Reboots, Wren and Callum.

Nantucket BlueThe S-WordReboot (Reboot, #1)

May 8th:
Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe  - This sounds like a good story.  I look forward to reading about the surfing and the romance.  Also, I've seen that this is dual POV, which is a style that I like to read.


May 14th:
Golden by Jessi Kirby - I read and enjoyed Jessi Kirby's Moonglass, and her book In Honor is on my TBR list.  I think this book of hers sounds amazing.  The mystery sounds interesting.  I also love the cover, and how light the colors on it are.
The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston  - This story sounds really good.  I look forward to meeting "Meg" and Ethan, and finding out what Meg's father did to get them in Witness Protection.

 GoldenThe Rules for Disappearing

May 21st:
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler - I've read and enjoyed a few Sarah Ockler books before, and this one sounds like it will be good too.  I look forward to reading about Jude and her sisters, and about the Vargas boys.
All I Need by Susane Colasanti  - I've read Susane Colasanti's other books, so I'm excited to read something new by her.  This sounds like it will be a cute romance.  Also, I like the cover.
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown - I've read and liked Jennifer Brown's other books, so I'm sure this will be great too.  It sounds like a more emotional story that will deal with some important issues.
The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke  - This sounds like a unique story that is unlike anything I've ever read before.  I don't read much MG, and I think it will be interesting to compare dystopian MG to dystopian YA.

The Book of Broken HeartsAll I NeedThousand WordsThe Neptune Project

May 28th:
Dare You To by Katie McGarry - I loved Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits, so, since this is the companion novel, I'm excited for it too.  I look forward to reading about Beth and Ryan, and their romance.

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)