Review: Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Anthem for Jackson Dawes Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Page Count: 240
Published by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Megan Bright and Jackson Dawes are two teenagers who first meet each other on the hospital ward where they are both being treated for cancer. Megan is scared and worried about her illness, but Jackson seems to be an old hand, having been on the ward for ages. And everybody loves Jackson! He is a whirlwind of life and energy, warmth and sparkle. Megan will need to borrow some of Jackson's extraordinary optimism to face her and Jackson's future. A moving story of first love and a remarkably powerful debut novel.

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Anthem for Jackson Dawes is an emotional and thought provoking story. It's a short book at only 240 pages, but sure to touch your heart. It was an enjoyable read, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

The protagonist, Megan, meets Jackson on her first day in the hospital. She feels an instant connection to Jackson and finds herself drawn to him. Megan was young and innocent, and I thought her crush on Jackson was really sweet. Meeting Jackson had a huge impact on Megan, as he gave her a better outlook on life during a very difficult time.

Jackson is very likable and he has such a winning personality. Everyone can't help but notice him when he walks into a room. Because Jackson has been in and out of the hospital for a long time, he tries his best to make the new patients feel welcomed and get them acquainted with the newness of being in the ward. I really felt for him because you could tell how hard he tried to make it easy for the new kids.

Anthem For Jackson Dawes covers only a very small part of Megan and Jackson's lives, which is when they are in the hospital at the same time. I wish I could have gotten to know Megan and Jackson better so I could have become more attached to their characters.

This is a nice, clean read that would be suitable for younger readers since a lot of the heavier stuff is glossed over or skipped altogether. I thought the writing was really good, the story was short and emotional, and the details were kept to a minimum. I would have loved for the characters to have been better developed and for the story to be longer.

Overall, I did enjoy reading Anthem For Jackson Dawes. I liked the the themes of friendship and hope. While the story did make me cry, I didn't connect with the characters like I would have preferred. This is a solid debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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Contemporary Reading Challenge
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Tune In Tuesday (21) Road Trip Edition

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly feature in which bloggers get to showcase another one of their loves, music! This feature was originally created by Ginger over at GReads!, but is now hosted at Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands.

Road Trip Edition
(aka songs that I enjoy while driving that I can't help but turn up really LOUD and dance/jam and embarrass the kids. Yeah, right, like the kids don't do this to US. Thrift Shop anyone? Okay, wait. I like that song now.)

Civil Twilight - Letters From The Sky
I love these guys! My husband and I go see them live all the time, and they are really the nicest bunch of fellows. It's always weird when they stop by and chat with us. I am always a big nervous dork (read that as super duper NERVOUS with butterflies and the shakes and can't breathe.... big sigh when they walk away. Nicest bunch of guys ever!) I listen to their CDs from beginning to end, not just this song.

OMC - How Bizarre
RIP Pauly Fuemana

Muse - Supermassive Black Hole
Crank it UP!

Donnie Iris - Ah Leah
Terrible video, but awesome song! Don't watch, just LISTEN!

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge
This is actually the only song I like by them. Weird.

Jake Owen - Anywhere With You

My latest listen to it LOUD obsession is Florida Georgia Line w/Nelly - Cruise (Remix)

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Review: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Revenge of the Girl with the Great PersonalityRevenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Page Count: 272
Format: Hardcover
Published by: Point
Source: library

Synopsis From Goodreads:
A hilarious new novel from Elizabeth Eulberg about taking the wall out of the wallflower so she can bloom.

Don't mess with a girl with a great personality!

Everybody loves Lexi. She's popular, smart, funny...but she's never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the attention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi's sick of it. She's sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She's sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She's sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she's sick of having all her family's money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection.

The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren't going to know what hit them. Because Lexi's going to play the beauty game - and she's in it to win it.

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The protagonist, Lexi, has always been told she has a great personality. Which is not always a bad thing. But Lexi's mother constantly makes Lexi feel 2nd best next to her younger sister. Sadly, Lexi's mother and sister come straight out of Toddlers & Tiaras, and they have all of the bad behavior and bratty attitude that the show is known for. Lexi has come to resent the shallowness of the beauty pageants, so she makes no attempt with her own appearance. When Lexi and her best friend, Benny, make an agreement to go after their crushes, Lexi finds herself glamming it up - and she surprisingly enjoys the new found attention. Lexi quickly becomes part of the 'in' crowd, but discovers how challenging it is to keep her great personality while working so hard at being popular. Lexi realizes that she is better off with more of a middle ground between not caring about her appearance at all and the beauty pageant look.

Lexi's family life is a mess. Her parent's are divorced, and her father doesn't play much of a role in her life (and he also doesn't get much of the blame for everything that has gone wrong). The mother was written as pretty pathetic, and I found it difficult to have any sympathy for her. I wanted to feel sorry for her, but she was written so over the top that I really couldn't make myself care for her character. I do wish that there had been more of a resolution with her storyline since she never really had to answer to Lexi for being a terrible mother.

I never really felt much for the supporting characters, especially Lexi's 2 best friends. I found them to be pretty flat and not well developed. The author tried to give them little personality quirks to make them interesting, but it just didn't work for me. What did work was the closeness that Lexi and her friends shared. I enjoyed their honesty and loyalty.

I really wanted to like this book, but I thought this was just okay. It had too much 'beauty pageant' bad behavior for my taste. I was disappointed that after all of the build up, the boy of Lexi's dreams turned out to be not so great. But, by suddenly displaying behavior that he had never shown before, it felt like it was just an easy 'out' for Lexi to stop liking him and start liking someone else.

In the end, I did like that Lexi learned that you don't have to lose part of yourself to be well liked. She started to discover who she is and who she wants to be. But overall, this book fell short for me. I don't think it was everything that it could have been. It was a quick read and did have some moments of humor that lightened things up a bit.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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Stand Alone Reading Challenge
Contemporary Reading Challenge
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Waiting On Wednesday (75) Untold

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

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

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Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2013 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Free from bonds, but not each other.

It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?

I really enjoyed reading Unspoken, and I can't wait to read Untold and find out what happens next!

What are you waiting on this week?
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Review: The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) by Stacey Kade

The Rules (Project Paper Doll, #1)The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) by Stacey Kade

Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Page Count: 416
Format: ebook
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Source: eARC provided by publisher

Synopsis From Goodreads:

1. Never trust anyone.

2. Remember they are always searching.

3. Don’t get involved.

4. Keep your head down.

5. Don’t fall in love.

Five simple rules. Ariane Tucker has followed them since the night she escaped from the genetics lab where she was created, the result of combining human and extraterrestrial DNA. Ariane’s survival—and that of her adoptive father—depends on her ability to blend in among the full-blooded humans in a small Wisconsin town, to hide in plain sight at her high school from those who seek to recover their lost (and expensive) “project.”

But when a cruel prank at school goes awry, it puts her in the path of Zane Bradshaw, the police chief’s son and someone who sees too much. Someone who really sees her. After years of trying to be invisible, Ariane finds the attention frightening—and utterly intoxicating. Suddenly, nothing is simple anymore, especially not the rules…

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The Rules has an engaging and easy to follow storyline. The main focus is on the characters instead of action or world building. I know I really enjoyed this book because it actually reads more like a contemporary than sci-fi.

The Rules begins in the present with Ariane and her father and their life. Ariane's early years spent in a lab were told through flashbacks. This is how she explained her reasons for why she acts/thinks/feels the way she does in certain situations. Her father has set forth a list of 'rules' that Ariane must obey to remain hidden among regular humans. Ariane follows these rules to stay safe, but that ultimately means she lives a sad and lonely life. At least until a boy comes along and makes her start to break the rules and to question everything in her life up til now.

I liked the protagonist, Ariane, even though she isn't terribly exciting as a character. I still found her to be interesting enough and really likable. Zane turned out to be a lot deeper than his appearance and attitude would suggest. He was really intrigued by Ariane and wanted to take the time to get to know her and figure her out. There was no insta-love between Ariane and Zane. Instead we got a nice slow build up and genuine interest on both sides. I thought they were really cute together and had great chemistry.

The Rules is told in dual POV, alternating between Ariane and Zane. I always enjoy dual POV because I get to experience both characters' thoughts and feelings. I especially enjoyed Zane's perspective because he wasn't at all what I expected.

There was a huge chunk of storyline in the middle that revolved around Ariane and a mean girl at school (who just happened to be one of Zane's oldest and closest friends.) I didn't especially enjoy this part because it was so petty and made the characters seem very immature. I felt most of it was not necessary to move the plot forward, and it was a huge distraction for me. A few twists were revealed throughout the book that took me by surprise. Towards the end of the book, the story takes a very interesting turn. The ending was satisfying and close to perfect.

The Rules is an entertaining book that has a good pace and is easy to read. I really enjoyed the plot and the characters, and I am excited to see where this story goes from here.

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
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Sunday Updates (29)

Inspired by features from The Sunday Post from Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Sunday Summary from Book Twirps.

These are the books I have received in the past 2 weeks. I've been slacking on the posting because I am concentrating on reading more books this month. Less time posting = more time for reading. Gah.

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Received For Review:
352 pages, Expected publication: September 24th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books
eARC Courtesy of Harper Collins Children

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Received For Review:
272 pages, Expected publication: May 14th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
eARC Courtesy of Random House Children's Books

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Received For Review:
264 pages, Expected publication: September 8th 2013 by Flux
eARC Courtesy of Flux Books

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Received For Review:
448 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Paperback (with the pretty pink cover!) Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company via Shelf Awareness

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Received For Review:
248 pages, Expected publication: June 11th 2013 by Soho Teen
Paperback Courtesy of Soho Teen

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Find out what I thought about these 2 books:
Review: Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1) by Kate Brian
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Waiting On Wednesday (74) Starry Nights

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

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

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Expected publication: September 3rd 2013
by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel. A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print.

I love that cover! Doesn't this book sound totally awesome? And! I am also looking forward to reading Daisy's other book that comes out in June, When You Were Here.
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Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Taken (Taken, #1)Taken (Taken #1) by Erin Bowman

Publication Date: April 16, 2013
Page Count: 352
Format: ebook
Published by: Harper Teen
Source: eARC provided by publisher

Synopsis From Goodreads:

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

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Dystopians are not my first choice in reading material. I'd much rather read a nice contemporary. However, I knew I HAD to read Taken as soon as I saw the synopsis. I was immediately intrigued by the mystery surrounding the heists and I was eager to read it. I was not disappointed! It was SO good! This story really had it all - mystery, action, adventure, and romance!

I thought Gray was a terrific protagonist. I liked him immediately, and I enjoyed reading the story through his eyes. He was definitely strong-willed and a bit impulsive, which led him into more than a few dicey situations. Yet, somehow, he always managed to retain his outwardly calm demeanor in the most dire circumstances, and I liked that about him. I also really loved his loyalty, even if it was misguided at times. He was quick to take sides, even when he wasn't sure if it was right or wrong, and slow to forgive. I hope his character stays true as the series continues, because I sincerely like him. (Gray really reminds me of Robin Hood with his primitive upbringing and the way he always wanted to do the right thing. I loved his bravery, honesty, and the way he stuck by his beliefs.)

What I liked the most about reading Taken was discovering the details surrounding the wall and the heist along with Gray. As the mystery unfolds and more and more details emerge, you start to realize that everything is not what it seems. The story takes so many twists and turns that you never know what is going to happen next.

I thought the writing was spectacular. The author managed to convey not just the scenery, but the overall feeling and mood of Claysoot and what lay beyond The Wall.

Overall, Taken was a book that I enjoyed tremendously, and I highly recommend it. There was a ton of action, and quite a few plot twists that kept the story interesting. I thought the pacing was perfect, the characters were well developed and felt realistic, and the story was fresh and intriguing. I love where this story is heading, and I can't wait to read the next book in this series!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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2013 Debut Author Challenge
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Review: Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1) by Kate Brian

Shadowlands (Shadowlands, #1)Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1) by Kate Brian

Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Page Count: 336
Format: Hardcover
Published by: Hyperion
Source: Library

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis From Goodreads:

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

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Be prepared to put all logic aside while reading Shadowlands. Or, at the very least, most of it. I thought this was a pretty good read overall. There were a few times that I thought the story to be very unrealistic, and at times it didn't really make any sense. But if you can suspend your disbelief long enough, there is quite an intense and emotional story underneath.

Rory and her family are placed into the witness protection program after Rory survives an attack by a serial killer. They are sent to live on an island while the FBI tracks down the bad guy. From the beginning, the island's inhabitants and the overall atmosphere really creeped me out. There was just so much weirdness and suspicious behavior going on. It's not difficult to see that things are 'off', but I could never put together what it all meant.

Rory has a lot to deal with - the circumstances that brought her to her new home, her grief stricken father, and her discontented sister. And it doesn't help that Rory has ongoing nightmares of her attacker. Mysterious events begin happening, and Rory starts thinking that her killer is there on the island hiding amongst the thick fog that rolls in every day.

I enjoyed most of the characters, and I thought each one brought something different to the story. The suspenseful writing kept me turning the pages in an attempt to solve the mystery. The ending was a complete shocker to me. I really did NOT see that coming at all! I enjoyed the ending, and it makes the whole book really come together and make sense. Overall, I thought Shadowlands was a terrific beginning to a new series, and I can't wait to read the next book.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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2013 YA Contemporary Challenge
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Waiting On Wednesday (73) Playing Dirty

Follow on Bloglovin

I have added Bloglovin' as a way to follow my blog.

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

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

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Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Expected publication: October 29th 2013 by Pocket Books

Synopsis From Goodreads:
A public relations expert tries to prevent the breakup of a raucous country band and corral their wild—and very sexy—lead singer in book 2 of the Stargazer Series.

As an expert in public relations crisis management—that is, babysitter to the stars—Sarah Seville just spent nine months in Rio trying to keep rock singer Nine Lives out of jail long enough to record his new album…and barely succeeded. Now she needs a triumphant success so she can keep the Manhattan-based job she loves. Trouble is, her new assignment is to travel to Alabama to prevent the breakup of the raucous country band The Cheatin’ Hearts, headed by sexy Quentin Cox. As she edges closer to Quentin, she discovers layers of secrets. It seems Quentin is taking the spin doctor for a spin.

The Cheatin’ Hearts have stayed on top of the charts two years following three rules. Rule One, no drugs. Rule Two, no sex with other band members. Rule Three, no sex with record company spies. Quentin figures he’d better follow the rules, because he made them. And because if you break a rule, you’re out of the band. But he can’t resist the record company’s beautiful PR agent, and inevitably he breaks Rule Three with hot Sarah Seville. As he falls for her, he finds out that she has plenty of secrets of her own, and one of them comes knocking on her door: what really happened to her in Rio.

It was an easy pick for me this week. I read everything Jennifer Echols writes.

What are you waiting on this week?
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March Recap and April TBR

Do you really want to know how sad I am that I only read 3 books last month? I spent a ridiculous amount of time attempting to read a book that I didn't really like. I thought I was determined to read it, but right now it's a DNF. Now THAT makes me sad. I need to step it up and read more.

Books read in March:
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1) by Kate Brian
The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnik

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Total pages read: 960

Reviews Posted in March:
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Falling For You by Lisa Schroeder
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
The Trouble With Flirting by Claire LaZebnik

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April TBR:
This is a ridiculous list for me. Obviously there is no way I will actually finish all of these books at the rate I am reading lately. However, I have to at least make an effort and have a goal in mind. I haven't included the arcs I intend to read this month.
The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) by Stacey Kade
The Program (Program #1) by Suzanne Young
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
The Collector (Dante Walker #1) by Victoria Scott
If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

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April books that I have already read. Reviews coming soon!
Taken (Taken #1) by Erin Bowman - This is SO good!
Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce

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