Saturday, October 29, 2011

In My Mailbox (39)

IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. Love that girl.

Oh hey, forget to check out my LOVE + LEFTOVERS giveaway.

Readathon Update: well, there was some reading, but not so much a "a-thon." I suddenly thought of all the stuff around the house that needed to be done. Plus my mother-in-law came over for dinner and to hang out. I ended up reading one book and about 60 pages of the next. Ah well. Better luck next time, right?

I haven't been buying much in the book department lately. FAIL. But here's the awesomeness from the last couple weeks.

For Review
Silence (audiobook) by Becca Fitzpatrick
Unleashed by Nancy Holder & Debbie Viguie
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane
Balefire by Cate Tiernan
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Friday, October 28, 2011

I have nothing to do today... YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS....

....READATHON! My very first. EVER. I usually don a sadface when I hear about all your readathons and staying up for 24 hours to do nothing but read. I ACHE with jealousy. Because simply put: I don't have that kind of time. My readathons mostly consist of my head being chained to a phone at work, answering calls from morons and trying to get in a couple pages here and there. (Not to entirely discredit work, though. I read a whole 350 pages there on Wednesday!) But never in the comfort of my own home.


Hubs is at work. The heat is pumping (because it's mothertrucking cold out, you guys). I've got my relaxation swag on: hoodie and flannel pants. Coffee's brewing. Warm Cinnamon Sugar Cookie creamer is on standby. COUCH LOOKS INVITING (holla on busting out the Christmas blanket a bit early!) Yep. I'm thinking this is a perfect day for a readathon.

Now I don't know how fast I'll be able to get through these, as by "nothing to do today," I mean I have to do laundry and clean my bathrooms and run to the store and fix dinner ("nothing" always comes with an asterisk over here.) But DAMNIT, I'm gonna give it my all. I've got from about 9:30am to 4:30pm. Then maybe again from like 7 - 10pm. A good 10ish hours, give or take. Here are my aspirations for the day, lofty as they may be. I tried to keep it short.

I'll be listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire while doing my miscellaneous chores, so that should fill the gaps a little.

Now, if by some divine baby Jesus miracle (I do have my Christmas blanket, you know) I finish ALL FOUR of these books, I'll definitely update this post. But it's not looking likely.

Off I go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer

Published: Balzer + Bray (September 13, 2011)
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher for honest review
GoodReads Summary: Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost House, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s own mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological . . . well, which answer would let you sleep at night?

My Thoughts: Having just finished Frost mere moments ago, I find myself stricken with a flurry of exclamations within my head. Namely "WHUUUUAAAAHHHH?!?" My brain cannot fully encompass what I just experienced, so I'm going to start this review by telling you what exactly I DO know.

Marianna Baer could write a book about how styrofoam is made and I would be panic-stricken and unable to turn the pages quickly enough, trying to race to the end to find out what happens. GIRLFRIEND CAN WRITE A FRIGGIN BOOK. As if I wasn't enamored by the cover and the synopsis, I was immediately drawn into Leena's world and wanted to know everything she knew. The characters, the plot, THE HOUSE. Everything was perfectly insane. I refused to read this in the dark. Because there'd be no possible way that I could sleep if I did.

Speaking of what Leena knows,the answer is: NOTHING. Therefore, we know nothing right along with her. For me, this is a majorly appealing aspect of Frost, and it's what kept my heart pounding and my eyes darting. This is NOT an action packed book, but Baer causes you to focus more on the little things and rely on our very questionable narrator for information. And the fact that Leena is so messed up is both a blessing and curse. For example, the slow-building romance between Leena and her eccentric roommate's brother, David, gave me butterflies and warm fuzzies in the beginning. But as time went on and the strange happenings kept... happening, Leena's (and consequently my own) views on her relationships/decisions/EVERYTHING and her mind became distorted and deranged. AGAIN, part of the book's charm.

Marianna Baer has penned one of the best written books of 2011, in my opinion. But I can see it being a polarizing one. While I loved every single aspect of this story, I must warn you: along the lines of Inception, the ending is left open for interpretation. These types of conclusions (PSHHH, or lack thereof!) make my brain combust with joy and frustration. As masochistic as it is, I love the unknown. Frost largely relies on the unknown as the major antagonist of the plot, which was impeccably, BRILLIANTLY executed.

If psychological thrillers, ghost stories, and a love of torturing yourself with the "what if?" are your thing, you will love the shizz out of this book.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Ten Halloween Reads

TTT is hosted by my dear, amazing friend Jamie over at The Broke and the Bookish. Well, here are 8...

1. Pet Sematary by Stephen King.
This was the first really scary book I ever read. And I think the first scary movie I ever saw, too. I'm not kidding you when I tell you that the little boy Gage (aka that snarky kid from Full House/the penis-vagina kid in Kindergarten Cop) is scary as hell. This book is CREEPY. You'd think it'd be enough to make me scared of cats. You'd be wrong, but that cover still scares me.

2. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.
I haven't read this yet, but I hear it's scary. Also, it's got something to do with Jack the Ripper, who I HIGHLY DOUBT is as hot of a ripper as the other ripper I'm familiar with ;) YOU KNOW WHO I MEAN.

3. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh.
Other than the fact that this is one of my favorite books ever, this book has some seriously creepy moments. It's like the spirit of Poe lives between the two covers of this book. Plus there's a character called Pinfeathers that could induce some serious nightmares.

4. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.
Another book I haven't read it. But it's a ghost story and people often dress up like ghosts for Halloween. I definitely need to get my hands on this one.

5. Darkhouse by Karina Halle.
YET ANOTHER book I've not read. But there are ghosts AND it's about a protag in her 20s, which is right up my alley.

6. Ashes by Ilsa Bick.
I've heard everyone raving about this one. Zombies. Scary solitude in the dark, dark woods. Yeah I'm thinking that's enough to make you maybe not sleep well.

7. The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.
I have so much love for this book. It's mindless fun. It is creepy sometimes because there are some BAD VAMPS out there. And there are currently 11 books out there, with 5 more to come. The quality doesn't decrease, either. These are awesome books.

8. Paranormal Activity.
Okay, so this isn't a book. But while I was partaking in adult beverages the other day, I thought "hey, I can handle this. I need to stop being a wuss like I have all these years and just watch it." WORST. IDEA. EVER. Even though I laughed my way through it drunkenly, those images are emblazoned into my brain and now I can't sleep. Straight up the scariest movie I've ever seen.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Published: Poppy (October 10, 2011)
Pages: 294
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: finished copy from publisher in exchange for honest review.
GoodReads Summary: As a dancer with the ultra-prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward juggles intense rehearsals, dazzling performances and complicated backstage relationships. Up until now, Hannah has happily devoted her entire life to ballet.

But when she meets a handsome musician named Jacob, Hannah's universe begins to change, and she must decide if she wants to compete against the other "bunheads" in the company for a star soloist spot or strike out on her own in the real world. Does she dare give up the gilded confines of the ballet for the freedoms of everyday life?

My Thoughts: I'll be the first to admit that I don't know anything about ballet. Before watching Black Swan a couple weeks ago, I knew even LESS than nothing. And in Bunheads, there's A LOT of ballet. You probably could've gathered that by the cover and the title, yes.

Despite that, I'm very happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Hannah is an extremely flawed protagonist. She's immature (despite being 19. YAY POST-HIGH SCHOOL MC!), naive, and has devoted the last million years of her life to ballet. She knows nothing other than dance. NO BOYS OR ANYTHING. And no food. She and I would not be friends. Lucky for her, not one, but TWO boys show mass amounts of interest in her. One of whom is lovable and adorable Jacob Cohen. The boy is smooth. He plays a guitar and he LIKES food. Hannah could learn some things from him. AND SHE DOES.

I have to give it up to Hannah for sticking it out with ballet as long as she did, though. This isn't really a spoiler, but she already looks like an adolescent boy. Yet they told her her BOOBS are too big. This part invoked some massive anger within me. The girl already doesn't have a life, let the poor thing enjoy having boobs.

Sophie Flack writes a hell of a good cast of characters. As much as I didn't care for the paragraphs explaining the ballerinas' every move--I skimmed these parts--I loved the vibrant characters she brought to the table. BFF Bea, frenemy rival Zoe, binge eating Daisy... I loved them all. There's not much that pleases me more than when I find a book where the friendships feel authentic. Not all gooey and full of yesmen/yeswomen, either. REAL friendships that come with tough love and cattiness. Girlfriends can be bitches and I'm glad Flack wrote them that way.

I am shocked that I liked this as much as I did. There were lots of lessons learned and Hannah grew as a character by the end of Bunheads. This was an enjoyable coming-of-age story with a super sweet romance. Whether you like ballet or not (like I said, I skimmed the descriptions of grand jetes and flying leap twirly-whirls), I suggest you check out Bunheads!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Published: Puffin (May 27, 2002)
Pages: 345
Format: Paperback
Series: No
Source: I purchased this book.
GoodReads Summary: When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

My Thoughts: Surely I'm a freak of nature that I waited until 2011 to read a Sarah Dessen book, right? She's got about 50 billion of them out, so really I don't have an excuse as to why I waited so long. Maybe because I was afraid that I'd be disappointed after all the hype. And I do mean ALL the HYPE. Randomly, I picked up This Lullaby. And I'm happy to say it SHALL NOT be my last Dessen book.

Remy, Remy, Remy. YOU GOT ON MY LAST NERVE. But you know what? I liked it. Because when I am at odds with a character, it fills me with a massive hope that they will redeem themselves. Remy pushes everyone away. A regular mack daddy (mommy?), she has the six week rule down pat and OH MAN, she follows it strictly. Because when you have a mom who's had like 16 husbands, you find it hard to believe that love exists, right? RIGHT.

Enter Dexter, the gangly, quirky, obnoxious, musically-inclined, curly-haired, messy, flaily-limbed boy who is entirely too persistent (but super duper endearing) with standoffish Remy. I immediately thought of Adam Brody/Seth Cohen when I tried to celebritize Dexter. Because the way that Seth gradually and annoyingly (and totally intriguingly) wooed Summer? Yes. That is exactly, EXACTLY how it was with Remy and Dexter. I loved how he so slowly and entertainingly broke down Remy's walls. Because sometimes the picture perfect guys aren't the ones that get the girl. It's the awkward, stumbly types. And those are my favorite kinds. I have all sorts of hearts around his name in my mental spiral notebook.

Unique, sarcastic, lovable (after awhile) voice? Check. Believable plot and kept my attention? Check. Swoony dude? A MILLION TIMES, CHECK. I finally understand why you guys worship at the temple of Dessen. I GET IT.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Published: HarperTeen (November 15, 2011)
Pages: 342
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1
Source: ARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

My Thoughts: To say that Shatter Me is a highly anticipated novel is the understatement of the friggin' millennium. I can't say this is undeserved hype, either.

Tahereh Mafi's poetic prose is DECADENT. I want to pour her words all over a bowl of ice cream (screw sprinkles, Shatter Me is melty, syrupy goodness) and devour it whole. If you fall completely in love with this book on the first page, I won't judge you at all. Trust me. With every page, I was completely blown away by her writing style. It made my heart bleed during the sad parts and a may or may not have blushed a little during some heated moments between Juliette and Adam.

Juliette and Adam. Their relationship and how they came together was a bit melodramatic to me, but it WORKED. The scenes between the two were so beautiful that it was easy to understand their explosive feelings for one another. After all, they have history. I can't say much more than that without spoiling, so I won't. I'll let you discover Juliette and Adam all on your own. Hint: you'll love it.

The conflict in the story? LOVED it. Call me crazy, but I love it when the bad guys are bad. And Warner is SO, SO BAD. Straight up sociopathic villain and I loved every second of it. And he's a sympathetic villain, too. But ONLY after he shows us his freaky, eyebrows-slanted-toward-the-middle-paired-with-maniacal-cackle side. (Think Jafar.) Of course, I cheer when good triumphs over evil, but it's no fun when the villain is just shy of "threatening." Oh, Tahereh, I cannot wait to see where you go with this next! I feel we have SO much more to learn about Warner.

So we have: dystopia-ish. Special powers. Crazy romantic tension (hello, she can't touch anybody!) EVIL VILLAIN WITH DIABOLICAL PLAN. Humorous secondary characters (Kenji!). Earth-shattering romance.

Yeah, you should probably read this.

Monday, October 17, 2011

36 Hours of Dancing.

This doesn't really have anything to do with ANYTHING bookish, but it's something I believe in. My little sister, Danielle, is participating in a 36 hour DANCE MARATHON (I freaking know!) to raise money for Riley Children's Hospital in Indiana. Here are her words on it:

"I'm raising money for IUDM, it's a dance marathon where we raise money for Riley's and then shake it for 36 hours straight. All donations go straight to Riley's. There's more info on the fundraising page if you wanna read it, but every little bit counts! It's all for the kids."

By no means should you feel obligated to do this, but it's an incredible cause and a fun way to help. I'm about to head over there to donate now. If you'd like to do the same, click here to donate!

Here's a video showing the awesomeness of dance marathons past. It makes me cry every time. There's nothing more rewarding than helping out kids!

Help Make Miracles :)

Giveaway: Love & Leftovers by Joy Tregay

My wish
is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? can you even know it until you've lost it?

Love and Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

Love and Leftovers will be released on December 27, 2011 by HarperCollins Children's Books.

Please familiarize yourself with my contest policy.

Contest Information

Must be 13+ to enter.

One person per entry, please.


Contest ends on November 2, 2011 at midnight EST.

Enter for your chance to get your hands on an advanced copy of Love & Leftovers by Joy Tregay! Just fill out the form below.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Published: HarperTeen (May 31, 2011)
Pages: 487
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1
Source: ARC from NetGalley
GoodReads Summary: How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.

My Thoughts: I'm gonna go ahead and put this out there so that you guys can grumble over it real quick and then move onto the next paragraph, hopefully forgetting that I started out this way.

This book reminded me so much of Twilight that it's ridiculous.

With that being said, I LOVED IT. Helen was a fun character to read about. Not mopey or whiny (TAKE THAT, BELLA!) and freakishly strong and fast. So much so that when she sees good lookin' Lucas for the first time, she tries to TAKE HIM DOWN. Because what else are you going to do in the hallway with a cute boy at school? But she doesn't want to take him down in the fun way, she wants to make him dead and stuff.

Now why would ANYONE want to do that?

The overdone "I hate you/I love you" cliche totally works in this story, because there's support behind this plot instead of just making it difficult for kicks and giggles. I loved the weird push-and-pull dynamic between Lucas and Helen. It was hot. There, I said it. It was so good that the tension was a character all its own.

Have I mentioned how awesome Lucas' family is yet? I haven't? Well they are fantastic. So many personalities, so many fun characters, SO MUCH LOVE. Hector, the cocky, buff older sibling (ahem, Emmett. SORRY!) was my favorite. I can't help but love the arrogant characters who tick everybody off.

And the overtaking of YA with Greek mythology continues. I'm totally accepting of this.

Enthralling read. Fast paced plot. Beautiful cover. I really enjoyed this book. You should read it, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My First Time with Harry Potter

So, for as long as I can remember, I've had so many people completely disbelieving of the fact that I haven't read the Harry Potter books. I'd seen the movies (1 - 5, to be exact) and enjoyed them. I even went to the midnight release of Goblet of Fire. Because of this, I figured: "these movies are so fantastical all on their own, I don't need to read the books."

Thankfully, my blogger friends stomped all over that notion and still insisted that I read. After all, I haven't seen the movies for 6 or 7 yet.

Recently, my Dad gifted me with the audiobooks for the HP series. I started with Chamber of Secrets, since I already read Sorcerer's Stone earlier this year.

From the beginning of the book to the end of the book, my mindset went from: "this Jim Dale fella is a pretty good narrator" to "OMG THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING THING I'VE EVER LISTENED TO," followed by a whirlwind of fangirl text messages to Tara from Fiction Folio, who I'm pretty sure is happier than anyone else that she can share in someone's first reading of Harry Potter. Like seriously, I cried at the end.

I just wanted to tell you all: you were right. I invite you all to tell me how wrong I was for thinking that seeing the movies was sufficient.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read for the First Time Again

TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I could only think up six this week!

1. Twilight.
I guess this isn't really a surprise, as Twilight seems to end up on ALL my TTT posts. But I've yet to come across a book or series that can duplicate the inexplicable emotion (obsession, maybe?) that I felt when I first read these books. It was like I was drunk or enchanted or high or something. All I wanted to do was read these books over and over and over. I'd love to be able to have that feeling again, as crazy as it was.

2. Wicked Lovely.
I don't think I really appreciate these books to the full extent, because I originally DNFed Wicked Lovely (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) The second go round was much better and I was able to blast through the rest of the books. I wish I could re-read them for the first time again so that I wouldn't have had so much space between each of the books, as only the first three had been released when I began the series.

3. Shade.
Another series that I almost wish I would've waited until all the books were out before I read them. I fell in love with these books straightaway and don't think I've read any books that have this much of an effect on me, emotionally. These books have drained more tears than any others in recent memory.

4. Vampire Academy.
These EXHILARATING books are freaking amazing and I would give anything to be able to have a do over where the series wasn't finished. Though we do have the Bloodlines series to look forward to, this series is the original gangster.

5. Nevermore.
Oh MAN. This book had me frantically tearing through pages to get to the end. I read its 500+ page ass in ONE SITTING. ONE. I love that feeling. And Enshadowed won't be out until October 2012? Kill me now, please. Just do it. NOW. I live near Kelly Creagh, so I think I may need to stalk her to get at least a LITTLE inside information to tide me over.
(Sure I am.)

6. Harry Potter.
Sure, I've only read the first one and am currently listening to Chamber of Secrets, but the problem is: I've seen all the movies up to Year 5. This has ruined everything. I really wish I could go back to the days when Harry Potter was NOT yet a movie and I was able to read the books for the first time without already knowing what has happened.

And now, books I'd like to UN-read:

7. The House of Night Series.
So I could open the first book, quickly close it, and NOT continue with the next five in the series like I did for whatever reason. I wasn't in my right mind, I SWEAR.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

Published: HarperTeen (October 11, 2011)
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Series: Book 1
Source: ARC from publisher
Amazon Summary: First I find out that my boyfriend is cheating on me. Then he’s pegged as the #1 suspect in a murder. And now he’s depending on me to clear his name. Seriously?

As much as I wouldn’t mind watching him squirm, I know that he’s innocent. So I’m brushing off my previously untapped detective skills and getting down to business. But I keep tripping over dead bodies and I’m still no closer to figuring out who did it. And what’s worse: all signs seem to point to me as the killer’s next victim.

I really need to pick a better boyfriend next time.

My Thoughts: I knew I wanted to read Deadly Cool when I saw the combination of wicked sweet eyes and also iPod earbuds. Because a) blue eyes rock and b) so does Apple. But seriously I had no idea why they used iPod earbuds. Surprisingly enough, this is 100% relevant to the storyline.

After the first few pages, I had an immense amount of love for Gemma Halliday's writing AND for main character Hartley. She was insanely sarcastic and make me crack a couple smiles. She was dealt a crappy hand when she found out that her boyfriend cheated on her. Not to mention she found out in the worst way ever. So imagine her shock when the skeeze asks her to help clear his name of a murder accusation. WHAT THE FUNK.

The story had tons of potential and the author's voice was fresh and smart. After awhile, it got too smart. Everyone's comeback and quips were so calculated and perfectly placed that it didn't feel quite believable. Everyone said exactly what they should’ve said. I like imperfect characters who stumble over their words and sometimes say this when they should’ve said that. Don't get me wrong, I was never to the point where I wanted to DNF this book, but perhaps we just didn't mesh well together.

All in all, Deadly Cool is a quick, quirky read. Those who loved Pretty Little Liars will likely fall in love with the fast-paced, "danger lurking around every corner" feel of this book, but I feel like it didn't live up to its potential. The mystery and intrigue were present and it kept me guessing, but I feel it barely scratched the surface as far as character development. Maybe that wasn't the author's goal, but I was looking for something a little deeper and darker than what Deadly Cool brought to the table.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

Published: Simon Pulse (October 18, 2011)
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: GalleyGrab
GoodReads Summary: Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen's whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn't just hot...what if Jeremy is better?
Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can't end well, but she just can't stay away. Nobody else understands her--and riles her up--like he does. Still, she can't trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what's expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall....

My Thoughts: Firstly, this book is about VIOLINS. I've wanted to play the violin since forever, but apparently people with abnormally small hands (yours truly) will inevitably fail. I've never read a book about a violinist, so imagine my delight when I find out this book is about a GRAMMY-WINNING violinist!

Carmen is such a complex narrator. I love that we get to be in her head instead of third person, because that would detract so much from the story. The girl is pretty messed up and RIGHTFULLY SO. You see, Carmen is the cream of the crop, but she has a mad case of stage fright. So she gets medicated. It's a difficult issue, she being so young and so medicated. Lucky for us, Martinez is pretty much gangster at tackling the difficult issues, as well as playing puppet master to two very unlikely rivals and the pieces of their love puzzle.

Jeremy King is a straight up douche bag. I hated him from the moment we were introduced to him. I was dead set on hating him for the duration of the novel, despite Martinez's sly tactics to get me to love him. NOPE. Can't love a guy that arrogant. Except wait, there's some sensitivity peeking through. OH, and deep dark secrets? WAIT, he has a good heart and is kind of the embodiment of sexytimes? And BRITISH? And he's blonde? That's usually the dealbreaker for me, but I didn't even give an eff. I wanted more more more Jeremy King at any cost. His romance with Carmen was bittersweet and heartbreaking at times. If you're looking to swoon, you've come to the right place.

I loved this book because it made me uncomfortable in places. There was so much line crossing. In fact, we were so far PAST the line, that the line was just a dot (yes, that's a Joey Tribbiani quote!) I was pretty homicidal towards my Nook, and I can't really tell you why without being spoilery. Just know that you'll likely be JUST as pissed off as I was.

Virtuosity was a surprising book for me. It was so much more than romance. It's competition and overbearing parents and self-doubt and high stakes and sacrifice and coming of age. If you couldn't care less about violins or music....or books, STILL read this book. Jeremy King awaits you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Published: Scholastic (August 1, 2011)
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: Abby and Luke chat online. They've never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn't she care? Everyone tells her to "make an effort," but why can't she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she's losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she's his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn't who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don't, they'll never see Abby again.

My Thoughts: So can I please say that for the majority of this novel, I wanted to slam my eyes closed and say "nononononononononooooo?!?!?!" Because I did. Not because it was bad or poorly written. In fact, it's the complete opposite. Never has a book EVER made my stomach twist in discomfort and despair and disgust like this one did. BUT I COULDN'T STOP READING. And I didn't. I read it in one sitting. This book is not romantic and it's not sweet. It's gritty and raw, and really makes you think. Which you should think.

Because this stuff can happen.
This stuff DOES happen.

It was so easy to slip into Abby's lost, lonely mind. And with social media and the internet being so easily accessible and open to EVERYBODY, it's not hard to believe that a young girl like Abby would turn to a charming guy for comfort and affection. Was it just me who went into chat rooms? The internet was this new, awesome thing when I was a young teenager and I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that you could talk to people all around the world through a computer. I thank my lucky stars I wasn't naive enough to fall prey to a predator (or even get myself into that kind of situation) because I knew what could happen. Just like I knew exactly where this story was headed the entire time. And I couldn't help but think to myself: "what if this was my daughter? Or sister? Or ME?" Honestly, it makes me borderline nauseous just thinking about it.

Sarah Darer Littman is a genius. It takes a heck of a good writer to make me uncomfortable to the point where it's sickening. I hated that I loved this book. But I did. I love that the story not only was told from Abby's point of view, but also her younger sister's and her best friend's. It provided a well-rounded view of how Abby's actions affected everybody. The ending made me choke up a little bit.

Guys, I cannot stress this enough. Read this book. I know it's fiction, but it happens. It's REAL. If you're a parent or a child, READ IT. I'm going to make my children read this book. I'm going to make my children's friends read this book. I'm going to barge into my husband's school and hand it out to students there. It's a difficult, disquieting read. But it's worth it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In My Mailbox (38): The Decidedly Tardy Edition

IMM is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren.

I wasn't around this weekend because I went to visit family in the Chi-town area and last week I didn't get anything. So here's my IMM for the last couple weeks!

For Review:
Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith
Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton

Blood & Flowers by Penny Blubaugh (thanks April!)
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman (thanks Heidi! And it's SIGNED!)

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Babe in Boyland by Jody Gerhman
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

huge thanks to harperteen and tor teen!