Jun 30, 2011

Freedom Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to
The Irish Banana Review!
This is my spot in the Freedom Giveaway Hop, #169!
This contest will run from July 1-7, 2011.

The Prize:

I actually have several books I'm offering (yes, as in more than one). Winner will get their choice of any of these books:

Abandon by Meg Cabot (ARC edition)
Born At Midnight by C.C. Hunter (ARC edition)
Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg (Hardback)
Slayed by Amanda Marrone (ARC edition)
Tighter by Adele Griffin (ARC edition)
Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow (Paperback)
Limos, Lattes, and My Life On the Fringe by Nancy Rue (ARC edition)

Now, this is a lot of books so if I get more than 300 GFC followers during this contest, I will pick TWO winners. The second place winner will get the choice of book after the first place winner chooses theirs.

The Rules:

1. Must be a GFC follower (and I will be checking, so don't lie, K?).
2. Must be over 13.
3. Must have a US address I can ship this to (I am not responsible for anything lost in the mail, but I do use delivery confirmation).
4. The winner(s) will be selected via random.org on July 8th. Winners will have 48 hours to contact me before I have to choose someone else.

Ways to Enter:

-This is an easy one - just be a GFC follower. If you want to follow via twitter, goodreads, etc. feel free, but there are no bonus points. Quick and painless so you can move along to the next blog.

Jun 29, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

"Waiting On"  Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking  the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on....
Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison.
I have been a long-time fan of the Tristan and Isolde saga for years. I love that Tristan was a knight of the round table with King Arthur, and his love with Isolde was damned from the start. Something about impossible loves just sparks a serious interest in me. I cannot WAIT for this title.
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
A modern retelling of the German fairyales "Tristan and Isolde", Tris and Izzie, is about a young witch named Izzie who is dating Mark King, the captain of the basketball team and thinks her life is going swimmingly well. Until -- she makes a love potion for her best friend Brangane and then ends up taking it herself accidentally, and falling in love with Tristan, the new guy at school.
Tris and Izzie will be released 10.11.2011 by EgmontUSA

Review: The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Gathering
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 4.12.2011
Pages: 359
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Yes (Darkness Rising #1)

Rating: B

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Maya is just an ordinary teen in an ordinary town. Sure, she doesn't know much about her background - the only thing she really has to cling to is an odd paw-print birthmark on her hip - but she never really put much thought into who her parents were or how she ended up with her adopted parents in this tiny medical-research community on Vancouver Island. Until now.

Strange things have been happening in this claustrophobic town - from the mountain lions that have been approaching Maya to her best friend's hidden talent for "feeling" out people and situations, to the sexy new bad boy who makes Maya feel . . . .
. Combine that with a few unexplained deaths and a mystery involving Maya's biological parents and it's easy to suspect that this town might have more than its share of skeletons in its closet.

This is most definitely not a book for the faint of heart. The action pulses with each flip of the page and the romance sizzles at an audible level. And there is the pesky matter of a cliffhanger that is driving me insane with curiosity. Kelley Armstrong is a fantastical writer, and this book is a great addition to any reader’s shelf.

I found Maya to be an extremely likeable character. She was somewhat sheltered, but how could she not be considering the way she (and all the other kids in town) have been raised? In fact, the whole cast was fun to read. I loved reading the scenes where several characters interacted (like at Maya’s birthday party) because they played so well off each other. Writing a chapter that throws 90% of the characters together but still gives each a distinct, individual voice is quite a talent that Armstrong seems to have mastered.

My only hang up was the predictability of the book. Well, that and the brutal cliffhanger that the reader is left with. But this book wasn’t one to throw a curveball at you. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and other times not so much. I think I just had higher hopes for this book, and was somewhat disappointed when I figured out the plot less than three chapters in.

I most definitely recommend you guys check this one out … you just might want to wait until the next book is almost published so you aren’t left feeling bereft and alone when you finish the last sentence.

Jun 22, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

"Waiting On"  Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking  the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on....
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.  Where do I start? If the cover art doesn't do it for you (I swear Harper has some of the prettiest covers), then the plot has to at least pique your interest! Also? Thank God Elisa isn't another sleek, slender blonde who kicks butt on a daily basis. Sounds like this is a real girl with an imperfect body - something teens reading this need to see. It's totally OK to not be stick thin and you can still rock.
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do. 
The Girl of Fire and Thorns will be released 9.20.2011 by Greenwillow/HarperCollins

Review: The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Title: The Beginning of After
Author: Jennifer Castle
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 9.6.2011
Pages: 432
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

I will begin by saying I typically need a good romance for me to enjoy a novel, and while The Beginning of After does have a thin ribbon of a love story, the real story is of Laurel. It’s watching a girl be smashed apart and then pieced back together. Jennifer Castle’s debut novel is thought-provoking and moving, and it’s impossible not to fall for Laurel.

Laurel is quite the average teenager (stressing about SATs and boys) until the night her father, mother, and brother are all killed in a horrific accident. In the weeks that follow, she keeps pushing her emotions deeper and deeper under until they surface at the most inconvenient of times and she breaks. Then begins the painstakingly grueling process of letting herself heal and figuring out how to live in a world that makes absolutely no sense.

The journey that Laurel embarks on is both heart wrenching and hope inspiring. There is a simple elegance to this story that rings true with everyone because this is something that happens in everyday life. The threat of a vampire attack is fairly non-existent in everyday life. The idea that your entire family could be torn from you in a single, horrific moment? That is a jarring reality that this novel forces you to confront and accept.

The Beginning of After is a book I had to digest slowly and in increments. Castle does such a realistic job of putting you in the moment with Laurel, that it becomes easy to share the burden of her pain on an emotional level. I found I needed to walk away from the book several times (often stopping in each room of my house to check on family members and reassure myself of their location) so that I could breathe. By the conclusion of the book, I saw Laurel’s hope shining like a beacon on the horizon.

**Thank you HarperTeen for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel**

Jun 19, 2011

Review: Babe in Boyland by Jody Gehrman

Title: Babe in Boyland
Author: Jody Gehrman
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: 2.17.2011
Pages: 292
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Comedy
Series: No

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
When high school junior Natalie--or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper--is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want.

But the guys in her class won't give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys
and girls in ways she never expected--especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?

This was another one of those books I’ve had on my Nook forever and just decided to see what happened one lazy afternoon when I had a little time to kill. That being said, I was beyond pleasantly surprised with Babe in Boyland. It seriously is a gem of a novel that I fell in love with.

I will say this book was extremely predictable. Anyone who has seen She’s the Man with Amanda Bynes a few years back can literally map out the entire book, but it didn’t make it any less fun to read. Jodi Gehrman is a wonderful storyteller and her words draw the reader in and keep them focused until the very last page.

Gehrman also doesn’t pull any punches or shy away from icky subjects (like how Natalie shoves a pair of socks in her underwear to perfect the male walk … seriously, it’s as funny as it sounds). The book is chock full of vibrant characters and amusing scenarios that will certainly elicit the “church giggles” in the middle of a silent library.

This is an easy read that I could relax into. It made me outright laugh and cringe multiple times, and there’s even this sweet little love story that is literally the butter cream frosting on this cake. It’s a delicious, guilty pleasure book that I know I will turn to when I need a pick-me-up after a crappy day.

Jun 14, 2011

Review: Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz

Title: Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: 6.28.2011
Pages: 384
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Yes (Spellbound #1)

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
Life hasn't been easy on sixteen-year-old Emma Conner, so a new start in New York may be just the change she needs. But the posh Upper East Side prep school she has to attend? Not so much. Friendly faces are few and far between, except for one that she's irresistibly drawn to—Brendan Salinger, the guy with the rock-star good looks and the richest kid in school, who might just be her very own white knight.

But even when Brendan inexplicably turns cold, Emma can't stop staring. Ever since she laid eyes on him, strange things have been happening. Streetlamps go out wherever she walks, and Emma's been having the oddest dreams: visions of herself in past lives—visions that warn her to stay away from Brendan. Or else.

I think I will forever refer to this book as a “sleeper cell book.” I swear this book came out of nowhere. I started reading it on a rainy afternoon, thinking maybe it would be fun, but what I got was a breathless read that left me swooning and reeling at alternating times for next several hours.

I honestly didn’t have high hopes when I began this. I found Emma to be intriguing by the end of chapter one and addictive by the end of chapter 5. I fell in love with this girl hard, and it’s nearly impossible not to. Cara Lynn Shultz created a protagonist so strong and so vulnerable at the same time that I couldn’t not cheer for her. And don’t even get me started on the awesomeness of Brendan. This boy has it all: bad boy, romantic, savior and cynic all rolled into one delicious package. It would have been so easy for Brendan to become a cookie-cutter, YA boyfriend, but Shultz never once made me roll my eyes at something he said or did. Quite impressive.

The only flaw I could find in this novel was the inevitable can we/can’t we be together shuffle that nearly every book has nowadays. The reader and the characters know their love is inevitable, so maybe next time we can skip the angst and go straight to the lovin’? But I suppose it does make the union all the sweeter … Sigh.

This is the type of book romantics will fall for over and over. It’s one of the books I know I will buy and read time and time again when I need a good romance fix. It has one of the best romantic pairings I have ever read. Emma and Brendan are the real deal. Edward and Bella beware: this is your competition.

Teaser Tuesday (3)

Teaser Tuesday is weekly meme hosted by Mizb at Should be Reading 
Grab your current read 
Open to a random page 
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page 
This week I am reading:

"The word hit me in the stomach, a real punch that knocked the wind out of my lungs. I looked at Suzie Sirico the way, in a movie, someone looks at the person who just stabbed them, that moment of surprise before the pain kicks in and the blood starts gushing."
pg. 15
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Laurel's world changes instantly when her parents and brother are killed in a terrible car accident. Behind the wheel is the father of her bad-boy neighbor, David Kaufman, whose mother is also killed. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Laurel navigates a new reality in which she and her best friend grow apart, boys may or may not be approaching her out of pity, overpowering memories lurk everywhere, and Mr. Kaufman is comatose but still very much alive. Through it all, there is David, who swoops in and out of Laurel's life and to whom she finds herself attracted against her better judgment. She will forever be connected to him by their mutual loss, a connection that will change them both in unexpected ways.

Publication date: 9.6.2011

Jun 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (3)

Book Blogger Hop

Hosted by Lori @ Lori's Reading Corner!Do I really have to pick just one? Ugh, but there are so many ... I suppose I would have to go with Jennifer L. Armentrout, since I literally just finished Half-Blood and I'm dying to know what happens in Pure ... which won't be out for another year. *sigh*

“Who is the ONE author that you are DYING to meet?"

But I must give honorable mentions to Richelle Mead, Andrea Cremer, Kimberly Derting, and Josephine Angelini.

Review: Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Half-Blood
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: 9.15.2011
Pages: 281
Genre: Mythology, Romance
Series: Yes (Covenant #1)

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure-bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:

Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

It’s not very often a book piques my curiosity so much that I have a deep craving in my gut to read it. This book has been blowing up across the blogosphere, and I can assure every person reading this review: it’s that freaking good. It’s one of those books that you open to read and then set it down four hours later, head spinning like you’ve spent an afternoon on the tilt-a-whirl with the biggest grin on your face. It has everything you could want: action, romance, angst, and so much more.

I have the utmost respect for an author who can literally hurl you into the story. With Jennifer L. Armentrout, you hit the ground running with Alex as she tries to evade a group of daimons within the first few pages. She also throws several characters out in quick succession, but takes the time to explain them all with such clarity, that I was never confused. Alex starts off as a brash, abrasive girl but you soon come to realize that her smart mouth and sarcastic quips are a big defense mechanism. Alex is the leader of an all-star cast, though. I fell for everyone from Caleb to Seth, and even Marcus wormed his way into my heart.

While it seems there is a romantic triangle being set up in this book for the series, I am 100% Team Aiden. The chemistry between Alex and Aiden burns across the pages so hot it’s a wonder my fingers didn’t blister. And who doesn’t love a forbidden romance? Especially one where the stakes are as high as this one.

The worst part about reading a book so far in advance from its publishing date is that it makes the wait for the sequel that much longer. Thankfully I was not left with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger, but more of a hopeful looking to the future of Alex. I recommend everyone pre-order this book now. This is one read you won’t be sorry you indulged in.

** Special thanks to Kate @ Spencer Hill Press for providing me with an advance copy for review & the awesome swag! **

Jun 8, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

"Waiting On"  Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking  the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week I'm waiting on....
Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This is the second book in her Raised by Wolves series, and I've had it on preorder since I got about halfway through Raised by Wolves this past winter. I'm a fan of werewolf books, but find so few actually take to the level that Barnes does. It's not just a stellar paranormal book, but she actually took the time to explain real wolf pack dynamics, and keeps the wolves in her story true to that. I absolutely adored book one, and I have extremely high hopes for this one.
Here's the Goodreads blurb:
Bryn is now leader of the Cedar Ridge pack of werewolves and she's convinced that her pack is different - it's democratic and fair. Then Bryn finds a battered teenage Were, Connor, bleeding on her front porch. He begs Bryn to protect him from an abusive leader; Bryn takes him into her pack.

But Bryn's Were partner Chase doesn't trust the new boy, and the more time she spends helping Connor, the more aggressive Chase becomes. Bryn is not sure if it's jealousy, or Were possessiveness but for the first time she starts to feel suffocated by the bond she and Chase share.

Filled with action, unlikely allies, and deadly conspiracies, TRIAL BY FIRE will change Bryn forever. She is soon to realise that to lead a pack of werewolves, she must give in to her animal instincts and become a little less human. And as hard as it's going to be, Bryn is going to have to do it alone.

There can only be one alpha.
Trial By Fire will be released 6.14.2011 by Quercus Publishing Plc.

Jun 7, 2011

Tune In Tuesday (1)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by the awesome Ginger @ Greads. It's a weekly meme that lets people share new music with each other. I love books as much as I love music, and the two usually go hand-in-hand for me. I've even been known to make my own soundtrack for a book I really like.

This week's song is "Come Undone" by My Darkest Days. It's a cover of the Duran Duran song of the same name, but personally? I love this one more.

Review: Steel by Carrie Vaughn

Title: Steel
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 3.1.2011
Pages: 304
Genre: Historical, Action, Time-travel
Series: No

Rating: B-

Summary (from Goodreads):
Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from
New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

I wasn’t sure what exactly I was expecting when I started Steel, but I don’t think it was this. Let me start by saying the cover is stunning breathtaking and while everyone knows not the judge a book by its cover, we all do it. Including me.

Steel is a very appropriate summer read. It has the Bahamas, pirates, adventure at sea, and a decent female lead. I was fascinated by how much I learned about piracy and sword fighting/fencing while reading. Carrie Vaughn doesn’t glamorize pirate life: it’s smelly, sweaty, and a lot of hard work for a few days of action. I have to commend her for not trying to make this tale a sweeping romance with a lot of flowery scenery, which it could have easily been. She has clearly done her homework on fencing, using the terminology frequently, but not so much as to confuse the reader. I appreciate that.

Unfortunately, the book had its drawbacks. Several times Vaughn used a single sentence to sum up what she should have described over several pages. Instead of explaining the ways the sails were hoisted or how the dynamics of the ship worked when the crew was setting sail, she would sum it up with one sentence. This happened several times. It was almost like being told a story from an actual person: When telling a story, a person won’t go into the heavy details, but I want these details when I’m reading a book. Another 50 pages of fleshing out these scenes would have gone a long way, in my opinion.

I also felt like Jill was a weak heroine. She tried to be strong, but I just could not connect with her. I couldn’t find that spark that would make me adore her. She was pretty, but bland.

Please don’t get me wrong: Steel is a fun book that I did enjoy. I just feel like it is more appropriate for the younger YA readers. The romance hinted about in the tagline is really more of a middle school crush that barely lasts past two pages. Blink and you miss it. If you’re reading this book hoping for a romance on the high seas, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a carefree adventure you can read on the beach on sunny afternoon, this is your book.

Jun 5, 2011

In My Mailbox: #5

Hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren, I thought this would be a great way to share the reads I got this week by purchasing, trading/swapping, or for review. All links lead to Goodreads. This is several weeks' worth of books since I haven't posted one in a while.

Anathema by Megg Jensen (thanks, Megg!)

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini - Read my review HERE!
Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson
One Night That Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt
Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
Virals by Kathy Reichs
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Daimon by Jennifer L. Armentrout

What did you guys get this week? Post a link and I'll be sure to check it out!

Review: Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Title: Starcrossed
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher:  HarperTeen
Publication Date: 5.31.2011
Pages: 496
Genre: Mythological Romance
Series: Yes, Book #1 (Starcrossed)

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

Let me start off by saying I have been staring at this computer screen for nearly 10 minutes trying to formulate a review. But sometimes there just aren’t the words to convey that deep, gut-moving love you have for a book, and that is how I feel about Starcrossed.  Some writers will fumble through decades (or at least several years) before writing a book this good, and the fact that Josephine Angelini did it in her first publication is to commended and awed.

I spent five glorious hours completely enraptured with this book, and if the sequel were available, I would gladly give up another five hours of my life to climb back into the world Angelini has created. Not only does she put a creative spin on the Trojan War (something that will forever endear her to me because I have spent countless days immersing myself in the histories of Helen, Paris, Hector, Achilles, Briseis, and King Priam), but she blended it artfully with Greek mythology (another passion of mine).

The characters are well developed and have an amazing dynamic when thrown together. Some of my favorite scenes were those in Noel’s kitchen when the whole family milled about. Angelini masterfully juggled having multiple characters in the same scene, giving each of them an independent and different voice that carried the chapter. Watching Helen blossom from a gawky, awkward girl into a young woman beginning to own her powers was an absolute joy to watch.

If I had to pick my least favorite part? Probably that sneaky little curve ball that was thrown at Helen and Lucas, but I have my suspicions that that particular issue will be resolved by the end of the series (it better be, anyway). I’m a girl who loves her fairytale ending sooner rather than later, but I can be patient … for now.

Starcrossed is a smashing debut that will have readers and bloggers in the YA community buzzing for a while, probably until the sequel comes out. It really is that good. I cannot recommend this book enough, and if I wasn’t intending on rereading my copy in the near future (i.e. this week), I would be thrusting it into the hands of my family and friends to read.

Maybe I should just get another copy to loan out.

Jun 4, 2011

Wanna see my R.A.K.?

RAK is hosted by Book Soulmates. Its a way to pass on the book love.
Here is my WISHLIST for this month. 
If you want to participate this month sign up is HERE.

• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.
• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)
• Create a wishlist and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}
• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wishlist and contact that blogger for their address.
• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!
{Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes}

Jun 2, 2011

Review: Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Title: Where I Belong
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 2.8.2011
Pages: 289
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No

Rating: C

Summary (from Goodreads):
Meet Corrinne. She's living every girl's dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was. . . .

When Corrinne's father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she's stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she's supposed to be living. She doesn't care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.

I picked up this book while trying to kill time in my local library. I remember thinking it looked good and I wanted to read it, so why not? I sat down and proceeded to read through the first 100 pages without really wanting to stop.

Here’s the thing: You’ve seen the plot before. Gwendolyn Heasley plays it on the safe side, keeping the plot completely predicable. Rich girl suddenly a poor girl and exiled into a (to her) hellish, sub-par way of living that she ultimately finds has transformed her into a better human being. Yes, it is cliché and yes, it has been done, but there’s a reason stories like this one work: People love to think that other people can be redeemed the way Corrinne is going to be. I can appreciate the lesson in it, and the comfortable familiarity with the plot. It’s a sweet tale, but there are flaws.

I found the wording to be incorrect. I don’t know any teenager who always says “I am.” Nearly everyone uses the contraction “I’m.” I could probably count the contractions used in this book with both hands. And while I get that that may seem nit-picky, I’m a word whore and notice these things. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending of the book. It leaves too much open and unanswered. Kind of felt like the end of a rollercoaster (the one with only a lap bar and some hills, not a harness and upside-down loops) where the rider is jerked to a stop with a squeal of the brakes. I turned the last page and muttered, “That was it?”

The biggest redeeming quality in this book is not the main character, but the girl who ultimately becomes her best friend, Kitsy. Kitsy was a fun, energetic character who get dealt a lot of crappy cards growing up. She has an alcoholic mother that is the source of much whispering in a small town, but Kitsy never let it bring her down. She totally infused life into the story, so much so that I wanted to be reading a novel about Kitsy and not Corrinne. Kitsy was the girl who needed her own book, not Corrinne.

This book is a decent book. It’s not spectacular, but it’s also not a painful read. I breezed through it in an afternoon. It’s the kind of book you read in between stellar novels to give you a moment to rest and not have to think. It’s a book I definitely recommend you check out from your library, but I’d read it first before purchasing.