Thursday, May 31, 2012

GIVEAWAY! Win a SIGNED Hardcover Copy of Hourglass by Myra McEntire

In just 12 days, Timepiece, the sequel to Hourglass (read my review HERE), comes out.  In honor of this very anticipated sequel, I am going to give a SIGNED copy of its predecessor away.  Hourglass was one of my favorite books of 2011 (read this POST if you want to know what kind of company it keeps) and I want to make sure that everyone reads it, so one of my lucky followers will get a FREE copy!  All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below and cross your fingers!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WWW (32) and Waiting On Wednesday (May 30th, 2012): UnWholly by Neal Shusterman

W. W. W. Wednesday is hosted by Should Be Reading a great blog that I subscribe to. Here's how it works... Each Wednesday I will answer the following questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you'll read next?

I'm excited to be back to my weekly memes and I couldn't have picked a better week since I have six books going at the moment...

What are you currently reading?

Arise by Tara Hudson~  This is the sequel to Tara's 2011 debut, Hereafter, which I loved (read my review HERE).  I'm only about a third of the way in, but I'm really enjoying it so far. Look for my review later this week.
Fated by Alyson Noel~  I've been looking forward to this book.  I love her Riley Bloom series, but not so much her Immortals series. So far, this book is shaping up to be a good one.  Stay tuned.
Immortal City by Scott Speer~  I'm buddy reading this one with my oldest daughter, and so far it is excellent.  It's quite original, and I'm having a difficult time controlling my urge to read ahead of her....
On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder~  My younger daughter and I are still plugging away on the Little House series.  Our goal is to finish by the end of summer.  I love this series, and this is one of my favorites!
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien~  I'm reading this to my son so that we can go to see the movie when it comes out (squee!).  This is one of my favorite books of all time and he is LOVING it!
Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James~ I had to see for myself what all the hype is about.  Honestly, I'm having an extremely difficult time getting through it.  The writing is just so bad...

What did you recently finish reading?

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George~  This book was a decent LGBT coming of age story.  It wasn't my favorite, and I'm certainly glad I got it from the library, but I liked it well enough.  Full review to come...
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini~  This book is the sequel to her 2011 debut, Starcrossed (read my review HERE).  It was one of my my most anticipated 2012 releases, and I was not disappointed!  It was great!  Read my review HERE.
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood~  An extremely good 2012 debut.  I love stories about witches, and although I'm not a big fan of Historical Fiction, I quite enjoyed this book.  Full review coming soon.
Thumped by Megan McCafferty~ This is the follow-up to last year's phenomenal Bumped (read my review HERE).  It was just as good, and much different than I expected it to be.  It was one of those read-in-a-day books.  Full review coming soon.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth~ Another sequel to a beloved 2011 debut; I loved Divergent (read my review HERE), and I loved Insurgent just as much.  The next year is going to be painful, waiting for the final installment!

What do you think you'll read next?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo~ This book releases next week and since I have heard such wonderful things, it has been moved to the top of my TBR.  Look for a review sometime this weekend.
Timepiece by Myra McEntire~ I am so excited to read this! Its predecessor, 2011 debut, Hourglass, was one of my favorite books last year (read my review HERE), and I've been waiting a long time to read this!  It releases on June 12th, so look my my review in the days before.

Underworld by Meg Cabot~  I loved the first book in this series, Abandon (read my review HERE), and have been looking forward to this. I just picked up my copy the other day, and am looking forward to digging in!

"Waiting On" Wednesday is another fun blog event. Hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, this event gives us a chance to talk about the books we anxiously await the release of. Since there is ALWAYS a looooooong list of books I'm waiting on (I actually keep a spreadsheet), I figured this is one that I MUST do.

I have been waiting for the cover of this week's book to be revealed for ages so that I could highlight it.  Now that it has been, I can...

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa — and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp — people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Unwind is one of my all-time favorite books and Neal Shusterman is probably my favorite YA author- he is brilliant! When I heard that he was writing UnWholly way, way back when, I was so excited I could barely contain myself. As he wrote the book, he sporadically tweeted his progress, and it made me that much more eager to get my hands on a copy! Now its release date is only a few months away, and I am beside myself with anticipation! This is, hands down, my most "Waited On" book of 2012 and August 28th can't come soon enough!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
My Expected Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★+++++

What are YOU Waiting On this week?

Review: Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 17th, 2012

What if you forgot your identity and had to rely on other people to tell you who you were?

And what if to discover your true self, you first had to unravel a mystery so big and terrifying you were not sure you’d survive solving it?

When Marshall and Elyse wake up in each other’s arms with zero memory of how they got there or who they are, it’s the start of a long journey through their separate pasts and shared future.

Terrified by their amnesia, the two make a pact to work together to find the answers that could jog their missing memories. As they piece together clues, they discover they’re in the idyllic mountain resort town of Summer Falls, where everyone seems mysteriously happy, but as Marshall and Elyse quickly learn, darkness lurks beneath the town’s perfect facade. Not only is the town haunted by sinister ghosts, but none of its living inhabitants retain bad memories of anything—not the death of Marshall’s mom, not the hidden shame in Elyse’s family, not even the day-to-day anguish of high school.

Lonely in this world of happy zombies, Marsh and Elyse fall into an intense relationship...but the secrets they uncover could be the death of this growing love—and the death of everyone, and everything, they love in Summer Falls.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This book took me by complete surprise!  I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the synopsis sounded really interesting, so I gave it a try.  Not only did the synopsis not do this book justice, it didn't even begin to touch on what this book was about.  Not that I could possibly do better without crazy spoilers...  (In fact, this review will be fairly short because I can't really tell you much without them!)

This is one of those books that you start reading and then you're finished, and a day has passed, and you're not sure where it went.  I was immediately sucked in.  It couldn't be helped.  Two people wake up next to one another and neither knows anything about the other or about themselves?  Yeah, it's like that.  And it doesn't slow down.  Even when certain questions are answered, more questions emerge, and nothing is ever as expected.  Every time I thought I had something figured out, the book went in another direction.  You would think that would be confusing, but Phoebe Kitanidis did a fabulous job revealing things with such great timing, that everything seemed plausible.  Honestly, my only gripe was that the ending felt a tad bit rushed.  I liked the way it ended, I just felt like it was a bit abrupt.

I'm not even sure what genre I would place Glimmer in because it is definitely in a class of it's own.  It had elements of the occult, romance, and a certain Stepford quality to it, but it read like an action packed mystery.  All I can say is this... If you are looking for a quick, fun, twisted summer read, you need to check Glimmer out!  You won't be disappointed!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Grade Level Recommendation:   Since the book begins with the two main characters waking up next to each other, completely naked, with no memory of how they got there, I am going to recommend that this book be read by ages 14 and up (9th+ grade). 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ARC Review: Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 30th, 2012

Can true love be forgotten?

As the only Scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.

Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out—a ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies’ cry for blood is growing louder.

As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen’s sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos.

Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding as an unforgettable love triangle emerges and the eternal cycle of revenge intensifies. Eagerly awaited, this sequel to the internationally bestselling STARCROSSED delivers a gritty, action-packed love story that exceeds expectation.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

Last year, when I posted my review of this book's predecessor, Starcrossed, my only complaint was that I had to wait an entire year for the sequel.  I loved it (read my review HERE), and it had a serious cliffhanger ending that made me want more.  I have the exact same complaint about Dreamless...  Although it didn't have quite as painful a cliffhanger ending, it did leave me wanting the next installment badly, and crying over my Kindle that I have to wait another year.  I guess if that had to be my only complaint, once again, then Josephine Angelini is doing something right!  Now for the stuff I loved...

First off, once again, props to HarperTeen and their cover design people.  I've blogged about my opinion on this before, but I will state it again; HarperTeen knows how to do covers.  They are so far beyond any other publishing house in that area, and this one was no exception!  Gorgeous, isn't it?

Now that I've covered that, we can get to the book itself... As with Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini did such a wonderful job with the characters.  Of course, I reconnected immediately with everyone I loved from the first book- Helen, Lucas, Matt, Hector, Cassandra, Ariadne, Jason, Claire, Jerry, Kate- but I also was ready for the new ones.  The author does a fabulous job making the reader feel connected to not only the characters that are central to the story, but those that support it as well, and that is so very important in a book such as this, where everyone has a significant role, no matter how small.  She very seamlessly introduced new characters like Orion in a way that made me want to know him better, while at the same time leaving me conflicted as to who I was rooting for in the romance department...  

As for the story,  I have to say, I thought it was even better than book one.  When I reviewed Starcrossed, even though I loved it, I remember saying that some of the elements of the story rang a bit Twilight/The Mortal Instruments-esque to me (not that I liked it any less for it).  This time around, I had no such feelings.  I felt like it was entirely original and that isn't an easy thing to do when you are borrowing from the Greek myths.  Josephine Angelini wove a tale that was both action packed and heartbreakingly romantic.  At the end of Starcrossed I had no idea what direction this story would go in, but I have to say that I was pleasantly taken by surprise.  The world in Dreamless was both haunting and beautiful, and the ways that Helen managed to engage in it were brave and heroic.  If you enjoy Greek mythology based stories, this series is a must-read!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ++

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book is pretty clean.  There is violence, but that's to be expected given that it is based largely on Greek tragedies.  There are some intense romantic interludes, but no sex.  I would say this book is absolutely fine for grades 6 and up (ages 11+).

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new Top Ten list topic is posted and book bloggers fill in their own choices. I'm a list girl (as in, I don't function without them), so I thought this would be a good choice for me!  I haven't done any memes (and very few reviews) over the past month because I have been crazy busy doing mom stuff.  Now that summer is here, I am hoping that will change some...  Anyway, this week's topic is a great one, so I am glad I chose this week to start getting back into the swing of things!

Top Ten Books Written In the Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years

Disclaimer:  The Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games trilogy are obviously part of this list, but since I'm sure they are on just about EVERYONE'S lists, I have chosen to mention them as "duh" choices, and highlight ten (or eleven) more!

1.  Looking for Alaska by John Green (2005)~ When I read this for a book group, I wasn't very excited for it.  Once I started, I couldn't stop reading it.  It was heartbreakingly real and extremely touching.  I think this is one of those rare YA gems that every teen should read.

2.  Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (2005)~ Another book I read in one sitting.  I sincerely hope the afterlife is exactly like the one in this book, because Gabrielle Zevin's version of it is absolutely beautiful.  I loved the detail and ideas; to this day, it is still one of my favorite books of all time.

3.  Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2007)~ Brilliant, compelling, and thought-provoking.  This book puts a lot a current issues into perspective, without preaching one side or attempting to sway the reader.  This is a book I recommend to everyone, no matter what age, gender, or political affiliation they are.  I rarely find a book that is both entertaining and enlightening, that has strong social commentary without the author's personal agenda coming through; this book is all of that, and I can't wait for the release of its sequel, UnWholly.

4.  Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008)~  The most beautiful High Fantasy novel I have ever read.  The story is fantastic, but the best part of this book is the world building.  Kristin Cashore builds such a rich, lush, sensual landscape, you can't help but wish you could be there in the middle of it all.  The main character, Katsa, is my favorite female heroine of all time as well; she is strong, smart, and absolutely kick-ass.  This book has set such a high standard for its genre, that I have not been able to help being disappointed by almost every HF novel I have read since.

5.  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2007)~ A compelling novel that really gets the point across... Our actions, words, and even our lack of actions/words can have a profound effect on the lives of other people.  This book will be a required read for my children, and I hope people continue to read it for many, many years to come.

6.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)~ Because of reservations, the Native American population of our country is largely isolated from the rest of us (which was the intention of the government when the reservation system was created).  We see their casinos and tax-free cigarette shops, but we don't see how the vast majority live in poverty, often with sub-standard schools, and little opportunity within the reservation.  As funny as this book is at times (Sherman Alexie has a gift for inserting levity  into discussions of the tough stuff), it is extremely eye-opening.  I think this book is so important because I think most of the younger generations have no idea how the Native Americans have been wronged, and continue to be wronged.  To them, the history of the Native Americans is just that, history.  I grew up fewer than 10 miles from a reservation my entire childhood, and had not a clue until I read this book.  It should be read by every American.

7.  EVERYTHING Ellen Hopkins has ever written~  Crank, Glass, Fallout, Impulse, Perfect, Burned, Identical, Tricks...  They are all brilliantly written, achingly real, and they tackle tough issues like few YA authors are capable.  They speak to young people in a way that adults in their lives could never effectively do.

8.  Shine by Lauren Myracle (2011)~ If you have been following my blog long, you know that I loved this book.  It was my favorite of 2011, and I hope it stays on people's radars for many, many years to come. It is a beautiful story about ugly events.  It touched me so deeply that I will never forget it.  (Read my review HERE.)

9.  A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (2010)~ I love a good Fairy Tale Retelling, and this is my favorite.  It's a brilliant adaptation; Adam Gidwitz expertly weaves together several of Grimm's Fairy Tales without ever compromising any of the cautionary messages of the original tales.  They were sufficiently gory and exciting, with several witty side notes and comments from the author throughout.  I have much love for this book and eagerly await its sequel, In a Glass Grimmly.  (Read my review of A Tale Dark and Grimm HERE.)

10.  Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (2010)~ Yeah, so I am usually not a fan of Contemporary Romance, but I absolutely LOVED this book (also, Lola and the Boy Next Door).  In fact, I haven't met anyone who has read it and not loved it.  I sincerely hope people continue to love it for many, many years to come!

11.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (2006)~ I tried to stick to books that fit within the parameters of my blog, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention this children's book, because it is one of my favorites for any age.  It is the whole package; touching story, beautiful illustrations, a message that just fills the reader's heart with love. Absolutely timeless!

What do you think?  Have anything to add?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company BYR
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012

After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies. 
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I was drawn to this book because the cover and title made me think of my Jr. High days.  Like most girls, my middle school experience was full of ups and downs, and music (especially mixtapes) played a big part.  I didn't know what this book was about, but the fact that it triggered memories (good and bad) from so long ago made me want to read it.  It wasn't at all what I expected, and I had no idea I would connect to it the way I did.  This review is one that has been one of my most challenging to write, and I had to sit on it for over a month before I could properly form my thoughts...

This book takes place in the mid-1990s and I wholeheartedly related to so many of the pop-culture references.  I graduated high school in 1994 and I remember the tears my friends and I shared when Kurt Cobain took his life; I remember the Doc Martens, baggy jnco jeans, flannel shirts, the music, all of it... I grew up in Upstate NY and it was common for us to go down to The City for the weekend to hang out in the Village where all the coolest people hung out.  These are common experiences I shared with many teens my age, at that time.  For that reason, I think there are a lot of readers my age who would relate to, and enjoy this book.  I related to it on that level, but on a deeper level as well.  Maria's mom is a self-absorbed addict; a woman who wants to give a shit about her daughter, loves her daughter unconditionally, but doesn't want to be a PARENT to her because that would require putting another person's needs ahead of her own.  Instead she tries to be a "friend", which is the last thing Maria really wants or needs from her.  We could name Maria's mom "Michelle" and she would be my mom.  Like Maria, I thought I would be happier if I lived with my "cool" mom.  I wanted to know her better, she had fewer rules (actually, she had no rules) than my dad, she had great taste in music and clothes, liked to party, and had a cool, younger musician boyfriend.  She was an artist, she wrote poetry, she was the picture of freedom.  I kid you not, I could have written parts of this book from my own life experiences, so reading it kind of gutted me in a way.  This book made me realize that there are people everywhere who have mothers who should probably never have been mothers.  Those people will get a lot from this book.  Maria is a wonderful, misguided girl; she learns a lot of valuable lessons over the course of this story, and I hope that they carry her on to a happy well-adjusted adulthood despite what she went through.  She is so real- imperfect, impressionable, naive, and eager to please- my heart ached for her as I saw her making many of the same mistakes I made at her age, often blaming herself for her mother's mistakes, always trying to be the responsible adult because her mother wasn't going to be.  It was nice to find a kindred spirit, even all these years later, and even if she is fictional.  This is a touching story that I won't soon forget.

So I gave it five stars, right?  Unfortunately, I couldn't, and here's why... I did love this story, but it was because of my own deeply personal feelings toward it.  When I review books, I try to think of the "typical" YA reader, and this isn't a book that would come to mind.  It will have a niche, but most teens are not going to relate to the protagonist, are not going to understand a lot of the pop-culture references, and are going to be hard pressed to care about what is going on in this story.  Add to that the fact that the object of Maria's affection is not some hottie, but a chubby, rather dorky guy, and I just don't see it.  Honestly, I think this book would be better marketed to 30-somethings who remember being a teen during the time period this story takes place.  It's almost as if the reader needs the benefit of those extra 10-15 years of life experience to GET this book.  If I were reviewing it for them, I would say 5-stars in a heartbeat, but for the YA market, its appeal is way too narrow.

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  There's language, sex, drug use, and teen rebellion.  There are definitely mature themes here.  I would say this book is for high school aged students and up (grades 9 and up, ages 14+), but as I mentioned before, I really see this as more of an adult novel, not for content, per se, but because I don't think the average teen is going to relate as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Have Not Abandoned My Blog! I Swear!

I know I have been MIA for a couple of weeks, but I will be back with loads of great reviews soon!  It is the last week of school and the last week of rec softball, plus it is also the first week of All-Star softball and swim practices.  I have team parties, class parties, field days, and graduations to plan and/or attend, and I've just been SLAMMED!  I have been reading, and I have a bunch of reviews started, I just seem to get sidetracked by other things before I finish.  Fortunately, school is out on Wednesday, which means the madness will slow down some.  When it does, I will be back, so stay tuned!

Friday, May 4, 2012

ARC Review: Revived by Cat Patrick

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 8th, 2012

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life. 

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

**Thanks to Kelsey, Amber, Shannon, and Lori over at Southern Book Bloggers/Southern ARC Tours for the opportunity to review this amazing book!**

I really enjoyed Cat Patrick's debut novel, Forgotten (read my review HERE), so I was eagerly anticipating her sophomore novel, Revived. There were several reasons I was drawn to this book, and my enjoyment of Cat's first book was only a small one. First off, I find it beyond refreshing when an author writes a stand-alone novel. It seems like every book written now is part of a 3+ book series, and while I enjoy a good series, sometimes it's really nice to have closure at the end of a book, instead of having to wait a year or more for the next installment. Both Forgotten and Revived are stand-alones, and I felt immense satisfaction upon finishing each one; sometimes it's fun to just imagine what happens to the characters in the future. The second reason for my excitement over this book was the synopsis. Did you read it? I was interested immediately, and let me just tell you, the synopsis does not even come close to doing this story justice. Finally, as you may have guessed, I loved the cover, which happens to be even more striking in person. Now, you may be wondering if the book was able to handle the weight of my extremely high expectations, and I can say, without hesitation, that not only did it meet my lofty expectations, it far exceeded them. This book was phenomenal!

Revived was so interesting and original. The story was well-woven, tying together mystery, intrigue, drama, real human emotion, romance, and the typical growing pains every teenager experiences. If not for the mystery and sci-fi conspiracy, it could be classified a YA Contemporary, and pull it off soundly. This book has a little something in it for everyone, which really is a rarity.  
Cat Patrick's writing style is so fresh and honest; she manages to write heart-stopping action into a story that has emotional punch, all while making the reader have to stop and consider what they would do if they were in the shoes of not just the protagonist, but many of the other characters as well. I love books that make you think without being preachy or outright telling you to think, and Cat Patrick is a pro at that.

I really loved the character development in this book. There were no hard and fast good guys or bad guys. Each character was complex in his or her own right, and everyone had their reasons for doing the things they did. Some were certainly more noble than others, but I found myself understanding, if not necessarily agreeing with, people and their motivations. Every character was human; they had flaws, triumphs, made mistakes, and had regrets, and as the reader I felt every single emotion right along with them.

I read this book in about a day and a half. I just could not put it down. It was so well paced; the story moved along at a clip, with revelations unfolding at just the right junctures. I would think I had something figured out and then, BAM, a total curveball that I never saw coming. Of course, when that happens, you don't exactly put down the book for later! I wasn't surprised by any of this though, because I felt much the same way about Forgotten to a lesser degree. What surprised me was how much this book stayed with me when I finished it, and how much I wanted to talk about it to other people. I honestly can't wait until it comes out next week so that I can discuss it with more people.

Overall, I think this is one of my favorite books so far this year. While many authors have some difficulty with their 2nd book, Cat Patrick managed to blow her (excellent) first book out of the water. This book really does have a little something for everyone, but never reads like it's trying to. Definitely a must-read!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★++

Grade Level Recommendation: This book is fine for middle school and up. There's some mention of sex, teen drinking, and language, but nothing I would consider explicit. I would let my 5th grader read it now, but might not have at the beginning of the school year. Grades 6 and up (ages 11+).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Publisher: Bloomsbury/Walker Children's Books
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship. 

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This is a 2012 debut that I have had my eye on for awhile. The title, the synopsis, the cover; all of it called to me, saying,"If you have to read something contemporary, this should be it!".  I'm not typically a big fan of the genre, but this book sounded really good to me.  As I began reading it, I started to get an uneasy feeling like my expectations were too high.  The first few chapters were confusing, and to be honest, my high hopes for this book began to falter... Then it clicked.  I spent the rest of the book frantically reading, not wanting to put this book down, needing to know what the deal was.  What I thought was going to be a contemporary read, full of emotion and grief, turned out to be a kick-ass mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  Yes, it had some elements of contemporary fiction, and it was definitely heavy on the emotion, but it was so much more!  The story was excellent, the characters were flawed and relatable, and the pacing was dead-on.  I went back and forth between who I thought may have done what and whether or not everything was in Allie's head.  I felt queasy (in a good way) when things would turn out to be entirely different than I could have ever expected.  I was down with strep throat the week that I read this, and I have never been happier to lay in bed sick.  I wish I could share more, but I would hate to spoil any of this book; I want you to be on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, just like I was!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book has some pretty heavy themes, but is very real in how they are dealt with.  There is some language, domestic abuse, teen drinking, etc.  I would say that this is for grades 8 and up (ages 13+).