Jul 29, 2013

Win a copy of Alienated!

A few months ago I had the absolute pleasure of reading what is sure to be a huge hit in 2014 - Alienated by Melissa Landers. It is full of romance, mystery, and a seriously hot alien that will have girls swooning in every galaxy.

Melissa, being the awesome author she is, is letting me giveaway an advance copy of this book. Sadly this is only for bloggers, but she has made it international.

The only mandatory part of this contest is you have to in some way promote Alienated on your blog or Tumblr - either feature it in a WoW, a cover love post - anything counts as long as you give some love to Alienated. And trust me, guys, this book is so worth the love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The contest will run from now until the Aug. 31, 2013. 

About Alienated:
Interplanetary relations have never been more exciting! The first in a funny, romantic YA sci-fi series.

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. 

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

About Melissa:

I call myself a compulsive over-reader, because my appetite for books is insatiable. While I enjoy all genres of fiction, I'm always drawn to romantic plots. There's no substitute for a happy ending, and let's face it: I'm in love with love! 

A former military brat, I like to say I grew up everywhere. I  graduated from high school in Munich (Go Mustangs!) and went on to earn a BA in  English from Texas State University and a teaching license from East Carolina  University. I taught middle school for nine years before "retiring" to write  romance, and after residing in eleven different states, I finally abandoned my  nomadic lifestyle. 

Now I live in the heart of Ohio with my very patient  husband--who kindly tolerates my neglect while I'm penning a new book--and our  three spirited children, who aren't so easily placated. 
My work is  represented by the fabulous Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency, and in  addition to YA, I write adult romance under the name Macy Beckett



Jul 26, 2013

Review: Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Title: Anatomy of a Boyfriend
Author: Daria Snadowsky
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 1.9.2007
Pages: 272
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult
Series: Anatomy #1
Source: ebook from author

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Before this all happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation. Okay, so maybe that sounds pathetic, but it's not like there were any guys at my high school who I cared to share more than three words with, let alone my body.

Then I met Wes, a track star senior from across town. Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too. I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing—and touching—parts of the body I'd only read about in my 
Gray's Anatomy textbook. You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring. It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

When Daria Snadowsky first approached me about reading Anatomy of a Boyfriend, I did a little research. I quickly saw a lot of polarizing reviews on Goodreads and I also noticed that this book was released several years ago. And while I don’t normally review books on the blog that have been out that long on the blog, I felt like this one really warranted the attention.

Let’s first address the host of negative reviews that this book has garnered: The problem is that this book is very much a New Adult genre book that hit the market well before that genre blew up. This is very much the story of a girl growing up and becoming an adult and experience adult situations and circumstances. Yes, there is sex (graphic sex) in this book. But Snadowsky in no way glamorizes it. There is no magical moment where everything is perfect and blissful and both parties are immediately in forever love. Kudos to Snadowsky for showing a first time for what it is: awkward, messy, embarrassing, and above all else, memorable (even if you really might want to forget it). There were several moments that I was embarrassed for these characters.

Speaking of characters, let’s talk about Dom. I’ll be honest: Dom is funny, cute, insecure, frustrating, and loveable all in one package. In short? She’s a teenager. A realistic, every day, lives down the street from you/was you in high school teenager. She is one of the most realistic and accurately portrayed characters I’ve ever read. She doesn’t subscribe to the school of Dawson’s Creek where every teen speaks in an adult manner and with total sophistication. I was texting a friend while reading this and here’s sort of how it went:

Me: This character is so annoying I want to slap her!
Friend: LOL. Seriously? What’s she doing?
Me: Being a teenager!
Friend: And that’s a bad thing in a YA book?
Me: Touché.

Is this book for everyone? Absolutely not. Would I hand it to a younger teen to read? I think that’s a personal call. To say teens are having sex, thinking about sex, or contemplating sex is obtuse and ignorant. My personal beliefs and issues aside, it’s just fact. But what I love about this book is how is doesn’t make everything glamorous and happily ever after. It is an accurate depiction of a teenage relationship and all the mess, drama, tears and disillusions that go along with it.

Jul 25, 2013

Review: The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

Title: The Silent Deal
Author: Levi Stack
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: 5.2.2013
Pages: 358
Genre: Historical, Mystery
Series: No
Source: ebook from author

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
When Viktor and Romulus, two peasant boys, dig too deep into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. As the blood brothers struggle to survive, their search for answers takes them through gambling parlors, bare-knuckle boxing matches, and dark forests full of wild animals and men alike. But even with the help of their friends, can they escape the deathly experiments their foe is creating in Staryi Castle?

Enter the bold lands of the Russian Empire where the colorful characters of The Card Game dwell, from the fortune-tellers and fire-jugglers of the Romani Gypsies, to the dangerous criminals that make up the Thieves World, the predecessor of the Russian Mafia.

An explosive mixture of adventure and mystery, The Silent Deal is a young adult novel that will rip readers through the pages. A perilous journey awaits…

Hello Russia! I have always wanted to travel and experience different places around the world. Especially old cultures, with their ways so different from ours. After reading this, I felt as if I actually traveled there!

Levi did an outstanding job bringing this story to life. I can just imagine the streets, the fair, the people with their clothes and even their attitudes in this epic journey. He was so detailed in the "brass art" and the cards that I believed there was no way he could have described this so clearly without having the real thing. The setting of Russia was detailed, I could close my eyes and imagine myself running through the forest or down the alley with any of those characters. You just have to read this to understand.

Not only was the setting beautiful, the characters are no disappointment either. Viktor had an amazing, yet heartfelt and sad, childhood. Levi gave you his history to better understand him and it was well worth it. Without it, you would have been clueless to countless question and the need to understand the answers Viktor sought. Romulus was by far one my favorites. You get a glimpse of his past but it's hard to understand at the beginning. Which is great, as you slowly unravel his life it all makes sense and your left with that "ahh I get it now" feeling. Or you suddenly make sense of things.

One of my favorite things about this book is that while you have the main plot between Viktor and Romulus, you also have the agenda of the Leopard, the Roma Gypsies, and all the while still trying to decipher what The Silent Deal is on your own.

The title holds true to this book. I loved that about it. I was so blown away by this first book that I cannot wait to have the second. I am left gasping at the end, wanting, no needing to know more.

Buy: Amazon

Jul 24, 2013

Review: Imperfect Spiral by Debbie Levy

Title: Imperfect Spiral
Author: Debbie Levy
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Publication Date: 7.16.2013
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: B+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Danielle Snyder's summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she's watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented alien, outsiders use the accident to further a politically charged immigration debate. Wanting only to mourn Humphrey, the sweet kid she had a surprisingly strong friendship with, Danielle tries to avoid the world around her. Through a new relationship with Justin, a boy she meets at the park, she begins to work through her grief, but as details of the accident emerge, much is not as it seems. It's time for Danielle to face reality, but when the truth brings so much pain, can she find a way to do right by Humphrey's memory and forgive herself for his death?

Heartbreaking, poignant, and utterly sweet, Imperfect Spiral is a quiet book that showcases the subtle awesomeness of debut author Debbie Levy. I was hooked from beginning to end as I wandered down the path with Danielle as she struggled to grow up and find herself in the face of an unthinkable tragedy and the fallout that resulted.

As someone who frequently babysat neighborhood kids growing up, what happens to Danielle is easily worst-case scenario. I think that’s why I was able to so quickly identify with her—what she went through is something I could have easily experienced. There was something so beautifully raw and exposed about the way Levy writes Danielle in the beginning stages of the book, which picks up after the accident. There’s a numbness and confusion that is so heartbreaking and made me want to protect this fictional girl that could have been my best friend growing up.

The added layer of dealing with illegal immigration was something I was admittedly worried about. Thankfully I never once felt like Levy was preaching in support of one side or the other. But she also did a phenomenal job of showing that there is more than one side to every story. Imperfect Spiral is a book that made me think and really evaluate some of my beliefs.

Yes, Imperfect Spiral is an emotion book. I was exhausted by the end of it because it’s very heavy, but I also feel like it’s an extremely important book. There’s a lot going on—the accident, illegal aliens, romance, coming of age … Maybe, at times, there was even a little too much going on, but I can honestly say this is a book I wouldn’t want to miss for the world. It’s a discussion sparking book that I will love sharing with friends. As soon as I finished this book, I immediately passed it on. Get your own copy and be ready to share.

Waiting on Wednesday - After Eden by Helen Douglas

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly waiting to get into our hands.

This week I'm waiting on....

By: Helen Douglas

The day Eden met Ryan changed her world forever. Actually, not just herworld. Ryan has time traveled from the future to save the world. In a few weeks, Eden’s best friend Connor will discover a new planet—one where human life is possible. The discovery will make him famous. It will also ruin the world as we know it. When Ryan asks Eden for help, she must choose between saving the world and saving her best friend’s greatest achievement. And a crush on Ryan complicates things more than she could have imagined. Because Connor is due to make the discovery after the girl he loves breaks his heart. That girl is Eden. 

Grounded in a realistic teen world with fascinating sci-fi elements, After Eden is a heart-pounding love triangle that’s perfect for dystopian fans looking for something new to devour.

Why I Want It:
I am becoming a big fan of time traveling books and this one just seems like it's going to be so, so good. I cannot wait to get to know these characters and devour this book!

Jul 19, 2013

Blog Tour: Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Welcome to the last stop of the Touching the Surface tour! I am sure you all are going to love this book (and Kimberly Sabatini) as much as I do!

~The Book~

Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

     Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

     As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: October 30, 2012
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

~The Review~

One of the very best parts about being a book blogger is that I get exposed to so many books, often months before they hit the shelves. But one of the realties of being a book blogger is that there are so many books coming out every year, month, and day that sometimes you miss an amazing one.

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is that book that fell through the cracks last year for me. I am so thankful I got a chance to correct that wrong.

I fell in love with the very start of this book. Something about the way Sabatini writes just reached out through the pages and grabbed my attention right away. I was utterly and completely under her thrall during this book. The main reason I was able to sink so effortlessly into this story is Elliott.

Call me a masochist or angst whore, but sometimes I love when a character is a little bit broken. Elliott is struggling. She is full of self-doubt and self-criticism. She’s dark and brooding and there are so many layers to her that even when I came to the end of the book, I was still learning more. But don’t think that this makes for a dark, depressing read. It just means you need to go into this not expecting hearts and flowers. Let Sabatini and Elliott sweep you away on this journey.

While reincarnation stories are frequently more miss than hit with me, I love the originality that there isn’t an endless supply of do-overs. It adds to Elliott’s desperation and helps propel the story along. It means this is her last chance to everything is heightened, everything is dissected.

Touching the Surface is a raw, lyrical novel that drew me in and carried me off on an amazing ride that I cannot wait to share with others. Sabatini is a gifted writer, and I cannot wait to see where she goes from here.

~The Author~

(Photo credit: *Author photo by Dawn Sela Photography - www.dawnsela.com.)
Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for three and four year olds. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys.

Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel. (Simon Pulse – Simon & Schuster, October 30, 2012)

~The Giveaway~
A SIGNED hardcover copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini to FOUR (4) winners – US ONLY.
A SIGNED hardcover copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini to ONE (1) winner – International ONLY.
It is a tour-wide giveaway shared across all the stops via a common Rafflecopter.
Giveaway #1 is US only. Giveaway #2 is International only.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Giveaway ends July 22 at 12:00 a.m. Pacific.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter and contacted by email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~The Tour~
Week One
July 8 – The Book Cellar – Guest Post
July 9 – Alluring Reads – Review
July 10 – The Happy Booker – Guest Post
July 11 – In Bed With Books – Interview
July 12 – The Book Belles – Review

Week Two
July 15 – Parajunkee – Guest Post
July 16 – Reader Girls – Review
July 17 – Books Complete Me – Interview
July 18 – Imaginary Reads – Review
July 19 – The Irish Banana Review – Review

Jul 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Redemption of Callie and Kayden

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly waiting to get into our hands.

This week I'm waiting on....

By: Jessica Sorensen

The dark secret Kayden has kept hidden for years is out. Worse, he's facing charges for battery. The only way he stands a chance against the charges is if Callie speaks up, something he'll never ask her to do.

Callie knows Kayden is going back to his dark place and desperately wants to save him. But saving him means admitting her secrets aloud. Callie and Kayden are stronger than they think, especially when they're together. Together they move forward, face their demons, and finally start to heal from their traumatic pasts.

Why I Want It:
Those who read the first book, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, know this book ended with one of the worst cliff hangers in the history of cliff hangers. I need to know what happened from there. I need more time with Callie and Kayden.

The Redemption of Callie and Kayden will be released Aug. 6, 2013 from Forever

Jul 15, 2013

Blog Tour: Interview with Debbie Levy

Today I am so excited to have Debbie Levy here on the blog. Debbie is the author of Imperfect Spiral - a debut novel about loss, love, and growing up. It's one of the most heartfelt contemporaries I've read in awhile and I'm hoping you guys are as excited about it as I am.

~The Interview~

1. How does Imperfect Spiral differ from anything else you’ve written?
It has a non-Platonic kiss. 

It has more words than any other book I’ve written.

It has a fictional main character who dies.  In my book before this one, The Year of Goodbyes, people die—the difference being that those were real people, as that was nonfiction, and Imperfect Spiral is fiction.  And writing about their deaths was devastating.  In Imperfect Spiral, Humphrey dies—we are not giving anything away here; this occurs right at the beginning.  Humphrey is fictional, but writing of his death was upsetting in its own way.  I loved Humphrey and he, like my other characters, felt so real to me.  I thought about having him survive his injuries, but rejected this possibly early on in the writing process.  I think I didn’t want all those who are affected by what happened to him let off the emotional hook in that way.

2. What inspired you to write Imperfect Spiral?
Thinking about my own adolescence.  Thinking about the adolescence of anyone who feels not quite up to the wonderfulness of her peers, who fears that she is not-in-a-good-way quirky, who feels left behind, and not in a big dramatic End Times sort of way, but just in a schleppy sort of way.  So that’s Danielle.


Thinking about my own boys when they were five or six, and how great they made me feel just by bringing out the uncensored girl in me.   What magic did they exert to get me laughing, singing, dancing, in ways that I was too shy to reveal to my (grown-up) peers?  I gave that magic to Humphrey, and he sprinkles it on Danielle.

3. If you could sit down and chat with Danielle, what advice would you give her?
I try not to give unsolicited advice.  I’d be more likely to want to hear from her about how everything that happened in the story is going to shift her relationships with her friends Becca and Marissa.  And I’d like to visit with her some years from now.  Does she pursue a law career?  Have family of her own?

4. What projects are you working on next?
I’m working on a new novel for young adults.  What I can tell you about it at this point is (a) it has no five-year-old characters, (b) it has some elements of a book-within-a-book, (c) one main character is not having nearly enough fun for someone in his situation, and (d) the other main character is having way too much fun for someone in her situation. 

And I’m working on a nonfiction picture book about an historical event that I think will be of interest to young readers.  I also have a picture book coming out in December, We Shall Overcome:  The Story of A Song, about—yes, the song “We Shall Overcome,” illustrated by the talented Vanessa Brantley-Newton.  It’s all finished and I have the uncorrected proofs in hand (the F&Gs).

5. If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
Nancy Drew.  If she’s taken, then Ratty, from The Wind in the Willows.

6. What’s the last book or movie that made you cry?
Book:  To End All Wars, by Adam Hochschild, about World War I.  Such folly and tragedy, presented in an engaging, absorbing work of nonfiction.  I know, this may not be the bread-and-butter of The Irish Banana Review, but I cried, and you asked. 

Also, much crying was involved while reading the wonderful Wonder, by R.J. Palacio.

7. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
Deborah “Debbie” Levy:  Not To Be Confused With Acclaimed British Writer Deborah Levy Who Was Shortlisted For The Booker Prize in 2012 (Yet They Are Both Published By Bloomsbury) But She Still Did A Few Good Things

~The Book~
Danielle Snyder's summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she's watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented alien, outsiders use the accident to further a politically charged immigration debate. Wanting only to mourn Humphrey, the sweet kid she had a surprisingly strong friendship with, Danielle tries to avoid the world around her. Through a new relationship with Justin, a boy she meets at the park, she begins to work through her grief, but as details of the accident emerge, much is not as it seems. It's time for Danielle to face reality, but when the truth brings so much pain, can she find a way to do right by Humphrey's memory and forgive herself for his death?

Blog Tour: Camp Boyfriend

Arts & Crafts Day – Bringing Camp Home

There is something so fun about camp style. You see it in the casual clothes- bright tees and funky shades, floral backpacks and laidback flip flops. It’s obvious in the hair styles too- messy braids and casual up-dos. Maybe a few daisies tucked behind one ear. Camp style is easy, low-key and anti-glam. It can be natural and pretty or fun and bright. But their way, it lifts you up and makes you smile.

How can you recreate the look of camp- not just in your wardrobe- but in your room? We asked ourselves this when setting up book signing events, designing our websites and putting together our Pinterest page, especially the “Camp Style at Home” board. How can we make give a room that easy, casual vibe without going- forgive us- too campy?

Allow us to share what we’ve learned since we are total camp converts! Tip one is for your bedroom… you can recreate the coziness of camp and ghost stories with bright blankets or a canopy that hints at tent or blanket fort. Drape mosquito netting over your bed. It comes in colors now, so you can snag pink or blue, but white or cream is tried and true. Or, if you don’t want to invest in something that serves only one purpose, you could use an old floral sheet in the place of mosquito netting and drape it around your bed. Bonus points if you frame the sheet with simple white lights (not too close!).  You’ll feel like you’re stargazing or watching fireflies as you sit beside your tent.

Speaking of white lights… we love them everywhere for camp style! Check out the make shift bedposts made from tree branches with white lights strung around them. You can put this together after a trip to the woods to hunt for branches and a trip to the basement to dig up some Christmas lights. Easy, pretty, fun. Perfect.

But now for the hard core arts & crafts part of this post… we’re suggesting a mason jar lantern. Next time your neighborhood holds a garage sale weekend, check out the glassware options and scoop up some old mason jars. Pick up some bailing wire at your local craft store and tie it around the top of the jar. Tie a second piece of wire in a loop to hang the jar. Fill the bottom of the jar (an inch or two) with sand. Add a white votive and voila! Camp style you made yourself. These look pretty indoors or out, alone or in bunches.

***Are you crafty? Tell us about your artsy side on the boards today… we’d love to hear from you!

Jul 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Faking Normal

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly waiting to get into our hands.

This week I'm waiting on....

By: Courtney C. Stevens

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

At school, nobody sees the scratches or her pain. The only person she connects with is the mysterious Captain Lyric, who writes song lyrics on her fourth-period desk for her to complete. With pencil marks and music, Alexi carves out a comfortable space for herself as she and the Captain finish each other's songs--words on a desk feel safer than words spoken aloud.

But when Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend who understands her better than anyone. He has secrets of his own and knows all about suffering in silence. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally speak up.

Why I Want It:
I seriously need to know what happened over the summer, OK? I know whatever it is was bad and awful and I cannot wait to see Alexi fight her way back. Doesn't this sound oddly reminiscent of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson?

Faking Normal will be released Feb. 2014 from HarperCollins

Jul 9, 2013

Review: 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

Title: 45 Pounds (More or Less)
Author: K.A. Barson
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: 7.11.2013
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from publisher

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother. 

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

So rarely have I felt utterly and totally smitten with a book. 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson was the book that I started raving about as soon as I was done. I immediately jumped on twitter, facebook, and started texting all my friends because this is the book I want every teenage girl to read.

Ann is a funny, snarky, loveable character that worked her way into my heart in less than a chapter. She also happens to be about 45 pounds overweight. Following her journey across one summer as she tries to lose those 45 pounds is equally poignant and hilarious. I get Ann. I was Ann. I tried it all—Weight Watchers, every get slim quick diet craze, and everything in between. In a world where your value is often placed on the size of your waist, it’s easy to get lost in it all.

Watching Ann transition from a girl to a young woman was fascinating and awe inspiring. I wish I had had the courage to stand up for myself the way Ann did, and the ability to ultimately be able to differentiate between being thin and being healthy. Ann is such a positive role model for young girls. I want to run out and put copies of this in every high school and make it required reading. It’s that good.

But this isn’t just about Ann trying to lose weight. It’s also about why she got to the point and how outside influences (friends, family, and classmates) can alter the way we perceive ourselves and not always in a good way. Barson isn’t afraid to show the insecurities girls face on a daily basis. How things as seemingly trivial as eating lunch in front of people can make you as vulnerable as walking outside in your underwear.

This is that book that will stick with me for a long time. For the longest time I was Ann, but I’m happy to say we both made it out OK. Definitely get this book, especially if you think you can pass it on to a younger reader.

Jul 3, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: All the Truth That's In Me

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly waiting to get into our hands.

This week I'm waiting on....

By: Julie Berry

Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

Why I Want It:
Honestly, I was first drawn in by the cover. But then once I read the synopsis, there's something dark and intriguing about this book. I'm sure it will be very dramatic and emotionally draining and I cannot wait for that.

All The Truth That's In Me will be released Sept. 26, 2013 from Viking Juvenile

Jul 2, 2013

Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: 7.2.2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary
Series: No
Source: ARC from author

Rating: A

Summary (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

This is one of those reviews I wish I could do in person. I’d probably walk on stage, wait for the spotlight to center on me, and look out meaningfully into the audience. When asked, “Why read The Distance Between Us?” I would simply reply, “It’s Kasie West.” Cue microphone drop and me walking off stage. But I suppose you’re looking for something a little more in depth than that, right?

Let’s start with our girl Caymen, who took a bit of getting used to. She was a little abrasive, a little cold, and altogether amusing. Once I warmed to her, there was no going back and I loved reading about her life and her world with dolls. She has this insanely strong relationship with her mother that I think is lacking in a lot of YA novels. Did they have issues? Absolutely, but there was this deep love and loyalty there that gave the reader the constant reassurance that these two would be all right.

And Xander? He surprised me. I wasn’t sure if I liked him or was tolerating him at first, and then I felt bad because it was almost like Caymen wasn’t giving him a fair shot. Suffice to say, Xander works hard to win the read and Caymen over and he does it well.

I love that the relationship with Caymen and Xander progressed. It was awkward at times, it was funny, it was sweet … There wasn’t a BAM! we’re in love moment. It was very realistic and anchored. I adored watching these two interact. Their chemistry lit up the pages.

West is one of those authors I just love. She has these fantastical ways of writing a scene that just come alive for me. She proved earlier this year with her debut, Pivot Point, that she could write suspense and paranormal. With The Distance Between Us she proves she’s not stranger to contemporary romances either. Make sure you grab a copy of this one this summer!