Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy 
Author: Michael Barakiva
Release date: May 27, 2014
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MacMillan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Opening line: “Alek stared at the menu suspiciously. He smelled marinara sauce and a trap.”

I chuckled as soon as I read this first line. I teach a lesson to my freshman students about using a strong opening line to catch a reader's interest, and Barakiva’s opening line in One Man Guy has now been added to my lesson. This book will be purchased and added to my classroom bookshelf for the start of next school year.

I knew immediately from that opening line that I was going to like Alek, and I do. Alek lives by a set of rules, often based on his family’s expectations and obligations, but he also has some clear values of his own that help him determine what is right and wrong. In this story he pushes the boundaries of those rules as he works to discover who he is, but also has the courage to be honest when he’s called to be and understands when he’s pushed the boundaries a little too far.

I loved the solidness of Alek’s Armenian family. I think I loved it because it reminds me of my own. In a lot of the YA novels that I read, I don’t see the type of family unit that appears in One Man Guy: the loving parents and siblings who support each other, while also getting on each other’s nerves at times. I think this family relationship works to create the background that Alek needs to safely journey on his road to self-discovery the summer between his freshman and sophomore year.

There are so many lines in this book that I marked as I read, so I can’t help but share a couple.

This first one comes from Alek’s best friend, Becky, whom I adore. She is quirky and fun and just the type of supportive best friend I hope all people get a chance to experience. Becky loves classic films and one of the lines I love starts with Alek asking, “Do you think you spend too much time obsessing over movies?” To which, Becky replies, “Well, what else am I going to do? Live my life? I’d rather watch attractive, well-dressed people do it for me.” (Hehe…)

Here’s a line I love from Alek as he is breaking down his thoughts for Becky and trying to decide if he likes boys: “No, I mean, it’s like all my life I’ve been eating frozen yogurt. And kissing boys is ice cream.” (How perfect is that comparison? Am I right? Awesome line!)

Final one, I promise! This one makes me go, Rule followers of the world unite!, because I can hear both my mom and myself confessing feeling guilty about something like this. Alek’s mom shares that she slips a strand of dill for garnishing in her package of parsley when she grocery shops. She says, “And I feel terrible about it….After all, it’s theft. What if the person at the cash register realized? Or I were captured on one of those video cameras? Can you imagine the scandal?” (Yes! Yes, I can Mrs. Khederian.)

Okay, people, this novel about self-discovery is one that you will love. I promise. So go check it out!

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #127 - Breathe, Annie, Breathe & Get Even

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can't escape the guilt that if she hadn't broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.
But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching,  she's at war with her body, her mind--and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms...and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line. (Summary from Goodreads)

This sounds so sweet. Her inspiration for running seems realistic, and I always enjoy a fated romance.

Author: Gretchen McNeil
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Published by: Balzer & Bray

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common--at least that's what they'd like the students and administrator of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one VERY big secret: They're all members of "Don't Get Mad", a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school's bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.
When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked "DGM" card in his hands, the girls realize that they're not as anonymous as they thought--and that someone now wants revenge on THEM. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in...and everyone has something to lose. (Summary from Goodreads)

Doesn't this sound like a fantastic murder mystery!? I cannot wait to try it! I feel like this is a dying genre these days and so I'm excited about this.

What are you waiting on this week?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Just Like the Movies 
Author: Kelly Fiore
Release date: July 22, 2014
Published by: Walker Books for Young Readers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Marijka loves Tommy, her longterm boyfriend, but he has yet to say the three words she really wants to hear: I Love You.

Lily is a shy, studious lady who has loved from afar one boy: Joe.

In this sweet high school romance, Marijka and Lily team up to get the men of their dreams. They hatch a plan to use their favorite romantic movies as a guide to getting what they want.

Okay people, if you can believe it, we start this story with Marijka reenacting the iconic scene from Say Anything with Lily as her wing-woman...just like in the movies. What happens will make you grimace and chuckle all at the same time.

Does this story include cheesiness? Yes. Does it include classic romantic cliches? Yes. Will you love it? Yes. Especially if you’ve always been a fan of sweet romantic films like Sixteen Candles, The Notebook, Drive Me Crazy and Never Been Kissed. This was a warm-fuzzy read.

When you finish reading this story, it will make you sigh and say, “That was so sweet.”

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #126 - The Things You Kiss Goodbye & Sisters' Fate

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Leslie Connor
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books

Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.
But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? The she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this "cowboy" is everything Brady is not--gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.
Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom--and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can't help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she's anywhere else.
When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth--and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life. (Summary from Goodreads)

Bettina's story sounds sad, but I'm interested to learn what the tragedy is and how her family helps her.

Author: Jessica Spotswood
Release Date: August 14, 2014
Published by: Putnam Juvenile

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can't help without revealing their powers--as Cate learns when a potent display turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.
To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she's torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she's certain she can never forgive Maura's betrayal. And now that Tess's visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment. (Summary from Goodreads)

I absolutely adore this series and book 2 ended with such a CLIFFHANGER that I cannot wait to find out about! AHHH! Seriously, if you haven't tried this series yet...what are you waiting for!? Get started now!

My Review of Book 1
My Review of Book 2

What are you waiting on this week?

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice 
Author: Jennifer Mathieu
Release date: June 3, 2014
Published by: Roaring Brook Press/MacMillan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really surprised me.

I expected to hear from Alice Franklin right away in this story. I mean, she is the girl who has rumors flying. She apparently slept with two guys in one night at a party and then caused the death of one of the guys a few weeks later!

But Mathieu cleverly formatted her novel so that I, the reader, was involved in the gossip circle. I had to hear about what happened through Elaine, the popular girl who hosted the party, Josh, the dead guy’s best friend, Kelsie, Alice’s ex-best friend, and Kurt, the shy outcast. I had to decide who I believed and apply my own judgement and values to all the things I heard about Alice at the start of the story through these various people. At first, I was like “Wait. What? I don’t get to hear from Alice? This is weird.” Then I realized this formatting emotionally connected me to everything that was going on and really vested me in the outcome of Alice’s story.

You will not be disappointed if you pick up this book. It was sad and uplifting all at the same time, and for a shorter read it packs quite a few punches. When I finished it, I was reminded of the power one person has to impact the lives of others in both positive and negative ways.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: The Lovely and the Lost by Page Morgan

The Lovely and the Lost 
Author: Page Morgan
Series: The Dispossessed, Book 2
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Published by: Delacorte Press/ Random
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Grayson climbed out of the Underneath, everything became different afterward and nothing could be the same again.

My thoughts: I am in awe of the complete and utter difference there is in this than anything else in fantasy. I love it! I'm not a huge fan of all of the characters (aka The Dad, WOW I cannot stand him!), or what they do, and I feel like I always seem to know what's going to happen next but other than that I ADORE these books completely! They're beautiful and gritty all at once! WOW!!!
The Dispossessed are such incredible fantasy creatures! Just wow, and book 2 was just as fantastic as book 1 was. I think I liked this one even more than the first one. There was just so much entertainment contained in one book.
In the end what a GREAT sequel! Well done Page Morgan!

P.S. Has anyone ever watched I, Frankenstein!? I think I sat there with my mouth just HANGING OPEN!!! It was like Page's books had COME TO LIFE!!! I couldn't freaking believe it! It was just unreal! 
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend 
Author: Katie Finn
Series: Broken Hearts & Revenge, Book 1
Release date: May 13, 2014
Published by: Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story kind of broke me...and, unfortunately, not in the heartrendingly good way.
This breakage is mainly connected to Finn’s ultimate revenge plotline.

At first, Finn’s plotline pulled me in with the opening break-up with a long term boyfriend and an emotionally ravaged main character, Gemma. I liked Gemma. I liked her personality and her insecurities and her quirky friend, Sophie.

And when she goes to stay with her dad for the summer in the Hamptons, I was like, awesome, that will be a beautiful setting. Then Gemma reveals the really awful lie she told that ruined many relationships five years earlier, including her father’s relationship with a woman and Gemma’s relationship with her former best friend. After I got over how absolutely life alteringly horrible her past actions were, I got into the story of Gemma trying to make amends to Hallie, the old best friend she’d wronged.

I admit to cringing a little at her decision to use a lie (pretending to be Sophie) to try and fix the past lies that ruined lives. And I really did get emotionally attached to Gemma because of her desire to fix the past. Plus, Gemma has a great falling-in-love storyline with Hallie’s brother, Josh, which, as you can imagine, exponentially increases the odds of disaster. Finn is a great writer in that respect--which is probably why I disliked the ending.

Now, I get that this is supposed to be a three book series, and I admit to being unaware of that until I hit the end of the book and went “What?!?” But I think I would have preferred an ending...and not even a happy ending. I expected Gemma to learn a lesson, lose out on a friend and potential boyfriend. But instead the revenge plotline slapped me in the face. I’m just not into that kind of thing (you know, the eye-for-an-eye thing), so I probably won’t be reading the next book; even though, I will admit that I enjoyed Finn’s writing style and character building.

I will say that if you like revenge or are into that Revenge show on ABC, this book might be for you. And you can enjoy Finn’s fabulous characters while you’re at it ;)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #125 - #scandal & The Glass Sentence

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Sarah Ockler
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Published by: Simon Pulse

Lucy's learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart's all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don't feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole's date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she'd rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she's been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.
When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it's everything Lucy has ever dreamed of...and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole's lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they'll have to 'fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy's own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students' party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And Furiously viral.
By Monday morning, Lucy's been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation.
Lucy's been battling undead masses online long enough to know there's only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend's trust, and graduate with a clean slate. (Summary from Goodreads)

All I can say is that I was intrigued when the main character compares fixing the scandal to taking out zombies :)

Author: S.E. Grove
Release Date: June 12, 2014 
Published by: Viking Juvenile

She has only seen the world through maps. She had no idea they were so dangerous.
Boston, 1891. Sophia Tims comes from a family of explorers and cartologers who, for generations, have been traveling and mapping the New World-a world changed by the Great Disruption of 1799, when all the continents were flung into different time periods. Eight years ago, her parents left her with her uncle Shadrack, the foremost cartologer in Boston and went on an urgent mission. They never returned. Life with her brilliant, absent-minded, adored uncle has taught Sophia to take care of herself.
Then Shadrack is kidnapped. And Sophia, who has rarely been outside of Boston, is the only one who can search for him. Together with Theo, a refugee from the West, she travels over rough terrain and uncharted ocean, encounters pirates and traders, and relies on a combination of Shadrack's maps, common sense, and her own slantwise powers of observation. But even as Sophia and Theo try to save Shadrack's life, they are in danger of losing their own. (Summary from Goodreads)

Doesn't this sound amazing!? So different! I'm IN!!!

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Review: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

The Lost Sun 
Author: Tessa Gratton
Series: The United States of Asgard, Book 1
Release date: June 25, 2013
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the God of Light doesn't arise from the ashes on the morning after, all of The United States of Asgard is convinced he's been stolen for some devious purpose. When everyone is looking in a completely different place, Soren Bearskin and Astrid Glyn, are convinced they know just where to find their lost God and can do it all on their own while leaving their parents legacies behind.

My thoughts: This was incredibly complex. Boy did my brain feel like it had to work hard to keep all of these places and people in line. Holy moly! I feel really out of touch with my Norse Mythology after having read this. I'll have to re-read the old stories when I'm done with this next book. To be fair though I haven't read any Norse stories in about 15-20 years!
The characters of Soren and Astrid were both so beautifully broken and strong in different ways. I absolutely thought they were lovely. At times I had a hard time with Astrid, but Soren was just perfection. There were also so many secondary characters that were just plain great, and added SO MUCH to the overall story.
I have to say that I was a bit frustrated by the fact that the story was very predictable, but I still enjoyed the ride. Now I can wait to try book 2!

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Top 10 Books We've Read This Year So Far...

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the team over at Broke and the Bookish! Leave a link to your Top 10 below!

Top 10 Settings We'd Like to See More of...

1. Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

2. One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

3. Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan

4. Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman

6. Stormbringer by Shannon Delany

7. Secret by Brigid Kemmerer

8. Insurgent & Allegiant by Veronica Roth

10. The Lovely and the Lost by Page Morgan

What's on your Top 10 this week?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Trailer Thursday #88 - Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Book Trailer Thursday is a feature inspired by Once Upon a TwilightWe are hoping to promote not only new books that are out or are soon to be out on the shelves, but to also promote the creation of book trailers themselves! Make sure to post a comment below and let us know what you've found out there this week!

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Published by: Simon Pulse

 Darcy Patel has put college and everything on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings...
Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most. (Summary from Goodreads)

This is one of the BEST book trailers I've seen done in a LONG TIME!! WOW!! Plus, a new Scott Westerfeld book! YAY! What did you think? 

What did you find out there this week?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #124 - Don't You Forget About Me & The Strange Maid

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Published by: HarperTeen

 Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except...There's a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Garnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they'd kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar's sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar--whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville's murderous cycle once and for all. (Summary from Goodreads)

Okay, a perfect world except for every fourth year when teenagers have to follow their "deadly urges"? I am so going to read this! Also it's about a main character and her sister, a sister who has to solve the problem of this society to save her sister, and I love sister stories so this one is for me.

Author: Tessa Gratton
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that's exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy's destiny. (Summary from

I just finished book 1 of this series, and it was so darn good! I HAVE TO brush up on my Norse Mythology ASAP! WOW! This is an incredibly original series that I cannot wait to see develop, and I'm lucky enough (thanks to Random and NetGalley!) right in the middle of reading this one! I can't wait to see where this is going!

Have you read these? What did you think?

What are you waiting on this week?