Review: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Never EighteenNever Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Page Count: 204
Published by: HMH Children's Books
Source: eArc received from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.

Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will.

It’s probably hopeless.

But he has to try.

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The premise behind Never Eighteen is sad, and I admit I cried once at the beginning of the book, and once at the end, but overall it lacked emotional depth. It seemed very matter of fact and I had a hard time feeling much of anything for the characters. Because we are immediately thrust into Austin's life as it is now, it was difficult to make a connection with him. A little bit of a back story at the beginning would have given readers a peek into Austin's world and given us a reason to care about him.

When Never Eighteen begins, Austin is making a sort of bucket list of things he wants to do and things and/or people he wants to 'fix'. We can feel his need for immediacy. But the book progressed with the rhythm of a checklist, and most of it felt forced and contrived. It seems unbelievable that everyone Austin has known in his life is screwed up in some way. They are all stereotypes - even his own parents.

While I can understand Austin's reasons for wanting closure and to set things right with those around him before he dies, it seemed as though he was doing it to make himself feel better, not the other person. Readers will never know how much of an impact he makes on the lives of those he visits. Hopefully he was able to make at least a small difference.

This wasn't a terrible book, and I did enjoy reading it, even though the writing was a bit rushed. I really believe it could have had more of an emotional impact. My crying at the end of this book was more about the thought of a young man with so much potential dying, and less to do with the thought of the character of Austin dying. I wish that wasn't the case, but there you go.

On a personal note, the protagonist in Never Eighteen is 17 year old Austin James. My son is 17 and his name is Dallas James. Because of that, while I was reading, I couldn't help but compare the two and think about what if my own son was in this situation? Although my son is nothing like the character of Austin, I could still sympathize with what Austin was going through.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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Follow Friday (16)

Follow Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. It's a great way to discover new blogs and make new friends.

Q: Do you read one book at a time or do you switch back and forth between two or more?

I prefer to read one book at a time. I like to really get into a book and feel it, breathe it, live it. And I can't do that if I'm switching books randomly because characters and storylines get mixed up and I can't remember what is going on. (Of course, right at this moment, I have 2 books going. But one is a picture book, so it doesn't really count as reading.)

What about you? Do you read more than one book at a time?
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Waiting On Wednesday (19) While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My choice for this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"This is just something I have to do, okay?" I hear David say. "The right thing." He cradles my face in his hands. He kisses me hard. Then he lets go of me. His eyes dart from me to whatever's next. When Penna Weaver's boyfriend goes off to Iraq, she's left facing life without him. As summer sets in, Penna tries to distract herself with work and her art, but the not knowing is slowly driving her crazy. Especially when David stops writing. She knows in her heart he will come home- but will he be the same boy she fell in love with?
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In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox is hosted at The Story Siren.

I was so excited when Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols arrived in the mail this week. Personalized and signed by Jennifer.Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I started reading it asap and I love it.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa for review from NetGalley. Courtesy of Harlequin Teen.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
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400 Followers Giveaway

I want to thank everyone who decided to follow my blog by having a giveaway. I am so excited to be celebrating 300+ 400+ followers!

Contest Rules:
  • Giveaway is open internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to your country.
  • Must be a follower of my blog to enter. Either via GFC, RSS, Email, or Networked Blogs.
  • This giveaway will end on April 1, 2012 at 12:01 am.
  • I am not responsible for lost or damaged books from The Book Depository.
  • Winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
  • You must be age 13 or older to enter.

Winner will have the choice of one book from The Book Depository (up to a $15.00 value).

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Review: Rock On by Denise Vega

Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls, and a brother (not necessarily in that order)Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls, and a brother (not necessarily in that order) by Denise Vega

Publication Date: March 5, 2012
Page Count: 304
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Ori Taylor is the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of the Band To Be Named Later, a garage band he started with his friends. After years of being known only as the kid brother of sports star Del, Ori is looking forward to stepping out of his older brother's shadow, learning to perform in public, and rocking the Battle of the Bands contest. Oh, and maybe finally working up the nerve to talk to a girl in person instead of just over e-mail. But when Del suddenly returns from college, he expects Ori to step back into his role of little brother, just when Ori is starting to come into his own.

With his confidence wavering, will Ori be able to overcome his stage fright and lead the band to rock glory? Will the Band To Be Named Later ever get a real name? Will their best performances remain in the garage?

Denise Vega's deft exploration of brothers, bands, friends, and crushes promises to have readers tuning in page after page, because among all the ups and downs of being a teen, one thing's for sure: We all just want to rock on.

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This was a fun book and a very realistic story (with a very long title). 16 year old Ori and his friends have a band, and they have a dream of making it big. Their first major goal is to come up with a name for the band as they work towards getting ready to compete in the High School Battle of the Bands. Ori is musically gifted and loves to write songs, and what is going on in his life is reflected in his lyrics.

I really enjoyed all of Ori's friends and band mates. They were all unique characters, and even though none of them were well developed, they all played a part in the story. I especially liked Ori's friend Alli. She had a refreshing voice as she subtly steered the band and it's members towards their ultimate goal.

When Ori's older brother, Del, unexpectedly returns home from college, he is so moody and volatile that Ori never knows what to expect from one minute to the next. They tiptoe around each other and Ori starts to resent Del's presence. This part of the story was hard to read - knowing that the 2 brothers used to be so close and were now like strangers. I was glad that Del finally got around to admitting to Ori why he was acting the way he was. While I knew what the problem was all along, I think Ori was too close to the situation and couldn't see what was right in front of him. I really like that Ori got the chance to grow and be his own person without always being in the shadow of his older brother.

The beginning of chapters had excerpts from the band's website and snippets from their message board. You could follow along with their quest for the perfect band name, keep up to date on the countdown to Ori buying his new Les Paul guitar, and meet some of the band's crazy fans. These items really put the teen vibe into the book. This is one YA book that I would actually recommend to teenagers.

I really like that this book is so realistic in depicting the ways that Ori has to balance school, work, and playing his guitar. Both parents are present and active in Ori's life. His older brother is a pain, but Ori really likes his younger sister. I thought it was cute that Ori liked when she brought her friends to rehearsals and shows - they were his biggest cheerleaders and really helped him feel more at ease while onstage.

Rock On is all about Ori finding himself and where he fits in the world. Throughout the story we see Ori deal with his struggles - from being the insecure younger brother of a well liked all-star, to having to overcome his fears of being the front man of a rock band, and learning how to deal with girls. Overall, this was a really good book, especially if you are a fan of music.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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Waiting On Wednesday (18)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My choice for this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Expected publication: May 15th 2012 by Entangled Publishing

Synopsis From Goodreads:
Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.
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Top Ten Tuesday (9)

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Review: You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

You Are HereYou Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 19th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
YA Contemporary
Source: Library

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Emma Healy has grown used to being the only ordinary one in her rather extraordinary family. But when she finds a birth certificate for a twin brother she never knew she had, along with a death certificate dated just two days later, she realizes why she never felt quite whole. She sets off on a trip to visit her brother's grave. Peter Finnegan, her neighbour, comes along for the ride. Emma thinks they can't possibly have anything in common, but with each passing mile, they find themselves learning more and more about themselves and each other.

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After reading Smith's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight I wanted to read another book by her to see if I would like it better. Then I saw the new cover for You Are Here and I decided to read it. I have to say that I did like You Are Here more than TSPOLAFS.

I enjoyed reading You Are Here, but I thought it was very wordy with little action throughout the book. It just sort of meandered along, and I went with it. The plot was really good, but the story itself felt really flat. The book revolves around Emma and Peter's road trip, which had various stops along the way, but nothing overly exciting ever happened. The writing was good, and the story was mostly believable, but I felt that it just wasn't engaging or interesting.

I liked Peter and his love of maps and geography and how much of a dork he was over the Civil War battlefields. I could understand his background with his dad, and I sympathized with his desire to go basically anywhere other than where he was. I had a really hard time connecting with Emma. Her situation with her family was described so often, yet I still felt that I didn't have a good understanding of why she had the need to try and not fit in. She chose to be different and not be like the rest of her family, but then felt disconnected because she was different. She was also a bit of a b!tch, moody, and slightly self-centered. I loved the stray dog, though I wished they would have given the poor thing a name.

Overall, You Are Here is just an okay read. It had a few cute moments, but it's not very memorable.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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Here is the new paperback cover that will be released on April 24, 2012:
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IMM (6)

Won! from Krystal over at Live To Read. Awesome!
In Darkness by Rick Lake
Perception by Kim Harrington
Irises by Francisco Stork
Melody Burning by Whitley Strieber
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

Bought! from Pudd'nHead Books Even though I couldn't attend the Lauren Oliver event, I still had all 3 books signed. Yay me!
Before I Fall
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Reviews: What My Mother Doesn't Know and What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

What My Mother Doesn't KnowWhat My Mother Doesn't Know (What My Mother Doesn't Know #1) by Sonya Sones

Paperback, 261 pages
Published February 2003 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
YA Contemporary Novel In Verse

Synopsis from Goodreads:

My name is Sophie.
This book is about me.
It tells
the heart-stoppingly riveting story
of my first love.
And also of my second.
And, okay, my third love, too.

It's not that I'm boy crazy.
It's just that even though
I'm almost fifteen
it's like
my mind
and my body
and my heart
just don't seem to be able to agree
on anything.

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What My Mother Doesn't Know is told from Sophie's POV. 14 year old Sophie is pretty, artistic, and has 2 really great friends. But her home life isn't all that great. Through Sonas' poetry we follow Sophie while she discovers the ups and downs of boys. When her crush finally notices her, they start dating, but the relationship isn't what she thought it would be. Sophie also meets someone online who turns out to be a creepy pervert. Over Christmas break, Sophie starts spending time with the school's biggest dork, Murphy, and she finds what she's been looking for in a relationship. Sophie realizes that true love can be found where it's least expected. But will her friends accept her relationship with Murphy? And what will happen with her and Murphy when they return to school? Can their love survive the harsh criticism of their classmates?

I didn't completely love Sophie. At first I found her to be a little shallow. By the end of the book I realized that she was confusing sex with the physical closeness that she longed for. I do think some of the content is for a more mature reader, and I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under 14. (My own daughter is 14 and thankfully doesn't act this way, but I would not want her reading this.) Themes covered include sexual harassment, online predator, thoughts of sex, lying to parents, and strained relationship with parents.

What My Mother Doesn't Know is written in verse. It is a very quick and easy read. The story flows along nicely and it is easy to get caught up in. I had a hard time finding a point that I wanted to stop reading, so I ended up reading it in one sitting.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know (What My Mother Doesn't Know, #2)What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know (What My Mother Doesn't Know #2) by Sonya Sones

Hardcover, 291 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
YA Contemporary Novel In Verse

Synopsis from Goodreads:

My name is Robin.
This book is about me.
It tells the story of what happens
when after almost 15 pathetic years of loserdom,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.

That seems like it would be
a good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be
a lot more complicated than that

Because I'm not gonna lie to you --
there are naked women involved.
Four of them, to be exact.
Though not in the way you might think.

Don't get me wrong -- my girlfriend's amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I'm starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,

is getting it.

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What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know picks up where What My Mother Doesn't Know left off. Only this time we get a male POV from Robin Murphy (aka Murphy). Robin is an outcast and loser at school. When he starts dating Sophie her social status drops and her 2 best friends turn their backs on her. Robin and Sophie try to tough things out together, but Robin can clearly see how hard things are for Sophie. When Robin gets invited to audit a college art course his life outside of high school brightens up. He is accepted and liked for who he is and easily makes new friends, which boosts his confidence. Then he starts to feel bad because he is happy when he is not around Sophie and high school and all the drama that their relationship has caused. Can Robin and Sophie's relationship stand up to the pressures of high school? Will Sophie's friends ever accept her relationship with Robin?

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know is told in verse form. I like how Sones uses differing forms of poetry throughout the book to fit specific scenes. This was a very quick read. It was really easy to get wrapped up in and hard to put down. I ended up reading it in one sitting.

I liked this book better than the first. Seeing things from Robin's perspective was very interesting. Sones manages to convey Robin's fears and desires very realistically. Alternately funny and sad, I think this book perfectly captures how difficult adolescence can be.

Even though What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know features 14 year olds, I would only recommend it for anyone over 14 for it's sexual situations and nudity.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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Follow Friday (15)

Follow Friday is a weekly feature hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee. It's a great way to discover new blogs and get new followers. I follow you, you follow me.

Q: What is the best book you've read in the last month? What is the worst book you've read in the last month?

The best book I have read in the past month would have to be Scarlet by A.C.Gaughen. Lots of action and great characters.

I have been reading a lot of crappy books lately. I have to stop trying to keep up with the latest hot books - they usually end up disappointing me. I still can't figure out why anyone would rate a book with 5 Jumping Fantastic Freakin' Stars and it turns out to be less than stellar to me. Does that happen to anyone else?

The worst book I have read in the past month is Illuminated by Erica Orloff. Which was my own choice to read, and it was less than what I expected.
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Waiting On Wednesday (17) A Fractured Light (A Beautiful Dark #2)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My choice for this week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

A Fractured Light (A Beautiful Dark #2) by Jocelyn Davies

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: September 25th 2012 by HarperTeen

Synopsis From Goodreads:
When she wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings, Skye knows something terrible has happened to her. But it’s not until she hears Asher, the dark, rebellious angel she fell in love with, that the memories of Devin and his shocking betrayal come flooding back.

Skye returns home, but with the knowledge of who she really is, nothing can ever be the same. As she tests the limits of her newfound powers, Skye discovers that she’s capable of far more than anyone could have imagined. Both the Order and the Rebellion want her for their side as war between the factions looms. She can’t forgive the Order for nearly killing her, but something holds her back from embracing the Rebellion.

Why do I want to read A Fractured Light? Because I read the first book in the series, A Beautiful Dark, and enjoyed it. I like the idea of the dark and the light fighting over Skye, even though I don't know exactly who or what she is yet. I can't wait to find out!
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Review: The Fine Art of Truth Or Dare by Melissa Jensen

The Fine Art of Truth or DareThe Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen

Paperback, 380 pages
Published February 16th 2012 by Speak

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Pretty in Pink meets Anna and the French Kiss in this charming romantic comedy

Ella is nearly invisible at the Willing School, and that's just fine by her. She's got her friends - the fabulous Frankie and their sweet cohort Sadie. She's got her art - and her idol, the unappreciated 19th-century painter Edward Willing. Still, it's hard being a nobody and having a crush on the biggest somebody in the school: Alex Bainbridge. Especially when he is your French tutor, and lessons have started becoming, well, certainly more interesting than French ever has been before. But can the invisible girl actually end up with a happily ever after with the golden boy, when no one even knows they're dating? And is Ella going to dare to be that girl?

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The synopsis doesn't give much away about the storyline, so I really had no idea what to expect when I started reading The Fine Art of Truth or Dare. I did like reading this book, but there was nothing really special about it. I found it to be cute and sweet, with a bit of drama thrown in at times. It's more of a coming of age story, and about learning to accept yourself and your flaws. The writing itself is good, but the storyline moves along in spurts (there were a few times that I found myself wanting to skim over the boring parts.)

This book just has waaaay too many things that I didn't like. Such as:

1. Cliche characters that are often used in YA books. Protagonist is actually very pretty but doesn't believe it. Best friends - one is the 'quirky girl', the other is the dramatically gay boy. And we also get the way-too-good-looking-and-rich-and-why-would-he-ever-want-to-be-with-me boy as a love interest.

2. Way too much Italian and French and not all of it is translated, so I have no idea what it all meant.

3. Parts of this book just go on and on and there are parts that are really meaningless to the storyline. It felt like these things were there just to add more pages to the book.

4. I still don't know why Alex was interested in Ella. Sorry, but this romance just fell so short.

5. The Truth or Dare part of the storyline - not enough of it, AND it was all meaningless. No big truthful revelations. No big dares that have any consequences. It was just a silly game between friends to pass the time. Very disappointing.

From the start of this book we know that Ella has a large scar on her neck/shoulder/chest from being burned by hot liquid when she was younger. She is very self-conscious and keeps the scar covered at all times. Ella also has a huge fangirl crush on a long-dead artist named Edward Willing. She is planning her honors thesis on Edward, so she spends a lot of time in this book wrapped up in her research. Throughout the book she often has conversations with a postcard of Edward. I actually enjoyed Edward's voice of reason.

I was really hoping to read a good love story, but it was really just a lame relationship story. Ella had such a crush on cute, rich, amazing Alex. They are suddenly on 'friendly' terms when their French teacher suggests that Alex tutor Ella. From there they have a few study dates, and then they actually 'date' - only it's a secret from their friends. This goes on for a few weeks - Alex barely acknowledges her at school, and she doesn't tell her friends because they don't like Alex. I really hated all of the secret dating crap - Ella assumes Alex is ashamed of her scar and her lower social status. Alex tries to assure her that he just doesn't want to throw their relationship in his ex-girlfriends face. Uh-huh. Right. Then Alex has the nerve to tell Ella it's all her fault that their relationship is not okay because she is so insecure about herself. There is even one scene where Ella gets up enough nerve to take off her top and show Alex her scar, and he tells her that it is exhausting to always be reassuring her and it takes all the satisfaction out of telling her how he feels. That pretty much did it for me - Alex never redeemed himself to me after that. Then, just when you think that the relationship may have a chance in hell of working out, the book ends.

Oh, my last gripe about this book - not nearly enough Daniel. I loved Daniel, what little there was of him. I still have no idea why he was in the book, but I kept reading in an attempt to get more of him.

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
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