Tuesday, February 25, 2014

[Blog Tour] Guest Post: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler (& me!)

16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire, 304 pages
Expected US Release Date: March 4, 2014

Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty sweet...in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.
-------------------------Goodreads Summary
Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound | TBD
I am so stoked to have Janet Gurtler on my blog today! She is a powerful voice in contemporary YA lit, and I can't wait to read more of her books. In celebration of her new book, 16 Things I Thought Were True (my review will post Friday, and spoiler: so emotional and thought-provoking!), I get to post a couple things that Janet thought was true, and throw in my own things! I cheated and split mine, but I hope you enjoy anyway.
And of course, please do pick up 16 Things when it releases on March 4!

16 Things Janet Gurtler & I Thought Were True
(Or: 2 Things Janet Thought Were True, 8 Things I Thought Were True, and 6 Things I Found Out Were, In Fact, True.)
(I thought that title would be too long.)
(I was right.)

1. I thought Mall Santa’s were Santa’s employees.
2. I thought the Easter Bunny pooped chocolate eggs.

1. James Marsters is British.
Not even lying when I say finding out he isn’t is among one of the top disappointments in my life.
2. Every traffic light was monitored by people.
They manually changed the lights according to the need or car presence, and I thought they were in bad moods when they took awhile to change the lights.
3. Peppermint mochas are only seasonal.
4. Everyone loves and adores the TV show Friends.
Everyone will automatically understand every quote or reference I make.
5. Social media isn't addictive.
6. It’s easy to keep personal and professional life separate.
7. High school attitudes and drama stays in high school.
8. Friendship is forever.
The effects of friendship are forever, and if you’re lucky some are—but friendship itself is unfortunately not.
1. Justin Timberlake really did marry Jessica Biel.
This is an old one that still depresses me to know.
2. White mochas are grossly more unhealthy than a regular mocha.
3. All blue nail polish stains.
(Unless you get a good base coat. I recommend CND Stickey.)
4. People expect an immediate response when they text you.
They’ll get immensely offended if you don’t.
5. A heart never really heals.
Sometimes you think it does, and it could be for years, but then you see something, smell something, remember something and you realize your heart has only rebuilt around the hurt.
6. Family doesn't require a blood relation.
Thanks so much for joining my blog, Janet!
Connect with Janet
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Relativity by Cristin Bishara (ARC)

Relativity by Cristin Bishara
Walker Childrens (an imprint of Bloomsbury), 288 pages
US Release Date: September 10, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities. 

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?
---------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
It seems like a footnote, no big deal--it's just Dad's job--but there's the inevitable ripple effect, the butterfly effect: the seemingly insignificant flapping of a butterfly's wings can effect an atmospheric change, which can alter the path of a tornado. Little alterations, big repercussions.
There’s been a definite trend in parallel universes in YA books, guys. I know it’s been around for awhile, but between The Theory of Everything, Parallel, and Relativity, it’s definitely gaining some ground. And I have to say, I am loving it!

Something I loved about Relativity is the different approach it takes to parallel universes and string theory. It’s not drastically different universes filled with pandas or fantasies, or completely different futures and trajectories – it explores how a fork in the road can alter things but still have some things remain the same. As a big believer in fate, destinies, and meant to bes (except not soulmates), I like how Relativity incorporated the concept of things that would stay the same no matter what choices are made. That some things are meant to happen, no matter where you are or in what dimension.

This was a really great story, guys. Ruby is a fantastic main character, filled with a lot of little things everyone will recognize. The element of her mom being alive in some dimensions and not in the other was really sad and made me cling and get quite invested. Seeing Ruby in all these different situations that were completely familiar was also really fun and gave a great dimension (no pun intended!) to her character. You really get to see a broad range of reactions and personality to her, and I liked that a lot.

The secondary characters were a great mix, though I admit a few of them fell just a little for me. I really loved Sally, Ruby’s mom- she was the perfect mom while remaining her own person. I thought Kandy was a straight up psychotic bitch (in most dimensions), but that was the interesting part to her. I wanted a little more to her story, but what was given was pretty satisfactory. Willow, the step-mom, was kind of the same; she was a bit flat, but what she did lend I really liked. And of course George, who for a character that’s actually not too present in a lot of the book (or dimensions) was REALLY fantastic. I loved him and Ruby and how open he was to all the craziness Ruby threw at him. I wish there was more of him.

Oddly, I really loved the science and how it was worked into this book. I am loving that YA books are getting more into explanation, into giving you the actual research behind certain situations rather than trying to dumb it down or insinuate- and Relativity did it quite well. It was integrated into each character’s personality so smoothly, I barely realized I’m reading about the science of wormholes and string theory.

Relativity was a fun, fascinating read that really made me think about the things in my life that would be there no matter which world I’m in. The ending did leave me slightly unfulfilled somehow (not to be mistaken by incomplete!), but overall I’m really happy to have read this and added it to the growing pile of Parallel Universe YA. If you’re into this style – or even if you’re not—you should definitely give it a try.
4 stars

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (ARC)

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
Balzar+Bray (an imprint if Harper Teen), 336 pages
Expected US Release Date: March 18, 2014
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!
Challenges: Debut Author Challenge, Standalone Challenge

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? 

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most? 

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.
----------------------------goodreads summary
Notable Quote
"You never surprise me, Alice, which is such a disappointment"
I got a little scared when I first started reading this because I’d literally JUST finished Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor (read my review here!). Cancer books that incorporate best friends, dance, and boys? I loved Maybe One Day, and I was terrified Side Effects May Vary wouldn’t compare.

So, even though I listed all those similarities, that is definitely where the commonalities end. Side Effects May Vary has this fantastically different tone to it, one complete unique to a “cancer” book. It’s a bit…blunt, for lack of a better word. Alice is unforgiving and a bit cavalier, and I love it. She’s funny and learning what it’s like to live with consequences after a life without them. It’s refreshing, and a wonderful difference from the typical “girl gets sick” book.

I also loved that we get Harvey’s point-of-view, as well as both a Then and Now reference. It makes the book incredibly interesting on an entirely different level. I’m wary of non-linear plots, but in this case, it works. And it works WELL. There’s so much to be learned and pieced together as we go back and forth between points of view and times, and it really engaged me that way.

It does help that Harvey is a fantastic character and sweet boy, too. I love getting his view on the situation, seeing his thoughts and how he affected Alice—both in sickness and in health. He’s a little bad and mostly good, and so human it really brings him alive. He’s got so many emotions that he feels so wholly, I really felt like he was a real person that I was talking with or watching live through these things.

I love the premise of this book. I love the idea of a girl with cancer getting her revenge on those who wronged her, who is living life without consequences. And that she gets to suffer the backlash of it too…it’s so vivid and different. So much of this book is original, and I loved every moment.

Funnily enough, I really liked Alice as a character, but wasn’t too fond of her as a personality—which really just speaks for Julie Murphy’s talent as a writer to make me not like her and like her at the same time. There are parts of Alice that I don’t quite like, that I find to be a little too rough around the edges; but that’s just my own personality. I always think of main characters in terms of if I would be friends with the person, and I’m not certain I would be with Alice. But as a reader, I love how strong she is as a character, how full her personality is. I’m really taken with her throughout her ordeal of cancer and remission.

Side Effects May Vary was a wonderfully unique novel, with strong characters and a humor-and heart-filled plot. There’s so much to learn from this novel (you should have seen how many post-its I had at the end!), so much to love and laugh with. It really made me think about living without fear but with effects.
4.5 Stars

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver (ARC)

Panic by Lauren Oliver
Harper Teen, 416 pages
Expected US Release Date: March 4, 2014
Format/Source - ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.
-------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
No one had ever told her this basic fact: not everyone got to be loved.
I have a love/hate relationship with Lauren Oliver. I love love LOVE her writing. It’s some of the most lyrical, smooth writing I’ve ever read. I feel like the words glide together and fit just so to make you feel and love. I love Lauren herself; I’ve met her multiple times and chatted and gotten to see her speak and she’s captivating—a trait I find that comes across in her books as well.

But at the same time, I get very frustrated with her books. I find them fairly predictable. I find lots of what happens to be lackluster, in that since I can figure it out, it’s just not as shocking as I feel it’s intended to be. I can’t stand some of her characters, and truthfully, oftentimes I find them a bit one-dimensional and flat. And almost always, I find the main character (or one of them) to be a hopeless loss, that nothing redeeming ever comes around.

That’s how I felt while reading Before I Fall (review here), that’s how I feel when I try to read Delirium (and a large part why I haven’t gotten through it all yet), and, both fortunately and unfortunately, that’s how I felt while reading Panic. I wanted to know more of her characters, I wished all of them kind of went beyond what we thought they would be. There were a few interesting qualities to each, but I still think they could have had more development—there was definite opportunity!

Panic was both predictable and surprising, which is a hard feat to pull off. I could tell you how a lot of it would go; the games and alliances and friendships, the pairings and consequences. But at the same time, there were small things that made my eyebrow arch or made me think “Oh! All right then…”

I’m not saying all of it wasn’t interesting though. Even through my annoyance of being a bit predictable, I enjoyed reading Panic a lot. I love the concept of this small town game with high stakes and big payoff if you survive. I liked how shockingly sinister it was, that it really toyed with lives and brutality at some points. And yes, I whined about the characters, but I liked most of them more than not. I didn’t expect to know so much about both Heather and Natalie, that it was essentially Natalie in there as well. I rather liked Bishop. I couldn’t stand Dodge and thought he was the worst of the characters, but I like what he evoked in others—so as a character he was bleh; as a device he was great.

Something that stood out to me was the setting – small town Carp is hard for me to imagine because it’s so different from my life. I’m from Sunny San Diego, the suburbs just outside a city and everybody is a friend and a stranger all at once. So this little rainy, rinkydink, vaguely ghetto town means nothing to me; but with Lauren’s writing, I feel like I know this place. I can see it in my head, learn the streets and Meth Row and the Animal House in the trees. It made for a great setting for Panic as well – a little dark and dreary, with secrets to learn and run from. The overall mood and feel of the book was something I really enjoyed.

Panic was an up-and-down read for me; I was swept up in the game and what would happen, but really hung up on how reprehensible a lot of the characters were. I found small things to be interesting, but the larger pictures to be predictable and a let-down. And oddly, I feel like all the things I did like were unintentional parts of the story, byproducts of what was really meant to be the focus.

However, I do know that I will still read what Lauren Oliver writes, because her writing is so freakin’ fantastic I will overlook any annoyances I have. And I know for a fact that tons of people will love this story and what it offers.
3.5 stars

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer (ARC)

Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends (an imprint of Macmillan Teen), 560 pages
US Release Date: February 4, 2014 (yesterday!)
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World Tours - thank you!

Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.
----------------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
"Yeah, I guess you're right,” he said, squeezing. “Maybe there’s a little bit of a hero in me after all. But…really, Cress. Only a little."
There are so many words I could use for Marissa Meyer and her books; but they all boil down to one fact: they are brilliantly amazing, and I wish she would release new material every day for the rest of life. All of Life, entirely, forever.

I LOVED Cinder (book 1, not the character…though I do love Cinder too), and I loved Scarlet, as well. Perhaps not on the same level as Book 1, but it was bloody fantastic and a great continuation of the series. I’ve a sneaking suspicion I just had too high hopes, which is the only reason it wasn’t quite as BIG BOLD LOVE—which meant I approached Cress with a little more reserve. I knew I’d like it, but which level?

One constant thing that amazes me about Marissa’s books are that even though they are retellings of fairy tales we all know, love, and grew up on – they are entirely new and completely refreshing and unlike any story I’ve ever read. They’re part sci-fi, part action, part romance, part thriller…it is everything I crave and want in a story, using our pre-knowledge (IT’S A WORD NOW, DAMMIT) to the best. She is a wizard with words and stories, and I love it.

And Cress hits that same mark. I loved it, so much…still not as much as I LOVE Cinder, but I think it is better than Scarlet. I had to read Cress in a week so I couldn’t savor it, but I definitely had to take a few breaks and set it down and gather my thoughts and emotions. There’s just so much action and curveballs thrown at you! I was holding my breath and covering my eyes every other page, it felt.

Handling this cast of characters was something I was getting nervous about, since each book kind of introduces a handful more that keep adding on. But Cress incorporates everyone, still progressing characters while letting each one take the stage for equal parts. I feel like I got to know every single character better, more fully, and in more development—even the older, old ones. They’re like old friends that I’m consistently learning more and more about.

Speaking of characters, Cress is so badass, guys. Crescent Moon, the most kickass hacker in all the galaxy. And somehow, she’s still a sheltered, timid girl who just wants a kiss and to do what’s right. She and Scarlet are both kickass, in entirely different ways. Scarlet is headstrong and brash (and dear GOD did it kill me what happens to her in Cress, guys!) and ready to fight for what she wants. Cress is much more like me, the quiet ally with a strong, silent will. Her backstory gives you an immediate reaction to care for her, and it just gets better and stronger the more time you spend with her.

And um..Thorne. I love him. I adored him from Scarlet, and I just…I mean, I will always love Prince Kai. But…can I have a little of Captain Thorne, too?

I’m trying to think of anything bad I can say about this book, since that would balance this gushing, squeal-y review nicely…but I just can’t think of anything! I have to say there were a few things that happened in the story that I wasn’t fond of, but at the end it all just makes so much SENSE. And I can’t imagine it any other way. Even if it does rip my heart to pieces and make me want to wail at the book “NOOOOOOO THEY BELONG TOGETHER!!” (Take that for what you will. I’m evil, I know.)

There are a few more things I want to talk about, but they’d be pretty major spoilers. Like when…well, they get stuck…or when this person dies and you find out…or when that group is torn apart…or what happens to her on Luna…or…

You get the idea.

For longtime lovers of this series, Cress won’t disappoint. If you’re only just now hearing about it, you are missing out on A LOT. If I could spend all my days shouting how amazing this series is from the rooftop, I would…except I’ll have to take frequent breaks to read and re-read and pray for Winter to hurry and come out.
5 Stars
and many moons more

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Life of A Blogger: Music Love!

Life of A Blogger is hosted by Novel Heartbeat
A weekly feature about our lives outside of blogging!

I've been seeing this meme for awhile and thought it would be fun to integrate since I don't talk too much about my personal life here. They'll hopefully be short, but a good way to get to know the girl behind the blog!

Today's topic is:
Genres of Music
I grew up in the glorious early-2000s, when pop music and boy bands were the height of everything. And yes, *NSYNC FOREVER!! Name any boy band and any song, and I can probably sing you at least the chorus if not all the song. And the rest of the album. And the band's discography.

But the core of me is forever dedicated to R&B, soul, and Motown. I remember the first time I heard a Boyz II Men song, I think I was 7 or 8…and I fell so head over heels in love. I bought every CD they had released, played every song over and over and over (4 Seasons of Loneliness still gets me). And this is how young I was: I skipped I'll Make Love To You because I didn't want my parents to know I listened to songs like that!
I very much credit the Space Jam soundtrack to my love of R&B, because even though I was a bit young at the time I fell deeply in love with the genre (with a special place in my heart for 90's R&B Jamz). Original Usher, K-Ci & Jojo, Monica, Brandy, Dru Hill, Ginuwine, Immature, Jagged Edge, Jill Scott, Keith Sweat, En Vogue, TLC, Maxwell, The Fugees, Montell Jordan, Next, SWV, 112, All-4-One…trust me. If you could body roll or bump 'n grind to it in the 90s, I loved it.

(And in case you're wondering the genres I absolutely cannot stand: dubstep, anything possibly EDM-like, and metal. And I cannot stand the bands Nickelback and Creed, whatever genre into which they fall.)
What music do you love?
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