This is the 62nd book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Published March 1st, 2010
Lennie plays second clarinet in the school orchestra and has always happily been second fiddle to her charismatic older sister, Bailey. Then Bailey dies suddenly, and Lennie is left at sea without her anchor. Overcome by emotion, Lennie soon finds herself torn between two boys: Bailey’s boyfriend, Toby, and Joe, the charming and musically gifted new boy in town.
While Toby can’t see her without seeing Bailey and Joe sees her only for herself, each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. But ultimately, it’s up to Lennie to find her own way toward what she really needs-without Bailey. A remarkable debut novel perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block.
The Sky is Everywhere is a nice debut from author and literary agent, Jandy Nelson. The book was a little slow getting into, but once I was in about five chapters, it was harder to put down. It was a really neat idea with a great cast of characters. Death and grieving over a loved one is nothing new, but the approach the author took in this YA book was more original than most.
The characters obviously made the story work. Lennon (named after John Lennon), the main character, was pretty likable, easy to relate to, and three-dimensional. I liked hearing the story through her point-of-view. I also enjoyed Lennon’s family, particularly her grandmother, who is a wild spirit kind of person.
Love triangles are a hit and a miss with me, but this book did a pretty good one. I liked Joe and Lennon a whole lot better than Toby and Lennon, but the author made me understand why Toby and Lennon had such a complicated relationship. Joe and Lennon were pretty freaking adorable. I could read about them and their blossoming love all day.
I liked how this book wasn’t only about boys, but also about Lennon’s inner feelings and conflicts. Her back story is fascinating and another thing I could have read about all day, particularly when it comes to Lennon and Bailey’s mom.
Definitely an amazing read. It’s not perfect, but it has a great story, intriguing, likable characters, good setting, and I really like the scattered notes (and how they are printed on various items). Not your typical YA book on death, grieving, or love triangles.
This is the 61st book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.
7 Clues to Winning You by Kristin Walker
Published April 26th, 2012
When a humiliating picture of Blythe goes viral, she’s instantly the target of ridicule at her new school. To salvage her reputation, Blythe teams up with Luke to win the Senior Scramble scavenger hunt. But Luke is an unlikely ally and potentially can’t be trusted.
Perhaps it’s his Shakespearean witticisms that reel Blythe in despite her better judgment . . . or maybe she just craves the thrill of the game. But as the hunt progresses, their relationship heats up. Soon their madcap mischief spirals out of control. Blythe is faced with arrest and expulsion, among other catastrophes – until Luke shows her what the Scramble (and love) is really about.
***This review may contain slight spoilers. Read at your own risk***
At first, I didn’t like this one. The main character, Blythe, came across as spoiled and bratty. The plot seemed interesting, but I wasn’t all that into it to start with. The “booger” incident seemed a little dramatic. I think a more compromising picture would have made the story a little stronger, but I also know there’s plenty of immaturity in high school students.
Thankfully the character and the plot got better and I found myself liking Blythe. The character development in this book is pretty strong. By the middle of the book, I was completely rooting for her.
I also really enjoyed the love interest. His character went through some nice development as well. He and Blythe were simply adorable and made a good match. I also enjoyed Blythe’s friends, Cy and Jenna. The only thing that irked me about them was the constant making out, but I do recall knowing a few couples in high school who were like this so it’s not completely unbelievable.
Ms. Eulalie and Ms. Franny were the funniest characters in the book and I enjoyed every single one of their scenes. I really loved those crazy ladies! The only character I didn’t get was Luke’s ex. She seemed to be randomly thrown into the story just to add drama to one scene. I think the story would have been fine without her, but that’s just my two cents.
7 Clues isn’t a really deep story, but it was enjoyable and has some great themes in it, especially when it comes to being yourself and looking beyond first impressions/judgments.
The only things that I disliked about this book was the Cy/Jenna constant makeout sessions (seemed a LITTLE overdone), the slut-shaming (it wasn’t quite enough to annoy me, but enough to make me scowl), and some of the dialogue sounding a little too formal. Also, while I enjoyed the writing and Blythe’s POV, a lot of sentences tended to start with “I”. Just a nitpicky thing, but it made the writing sound a little repetitive at times.
Other than that, this was a great, kind of fluffy read. I’ll probably re-read this one again one day.
This is the 60th book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.
Cut by Patricia McCormick
Published November 1st, 2000
“A tingle arced across my scalp. The floor tipped up at me and my body spiraled away. Then I was on the ceiling looking down, waiting to see what would happen next.”
Callie cuts herself. Never too deep, never enough to die. But enough to feel the pain. Enough to feel the scream inside. Now she’s at Sea Pines, a “residential treatment facility” filled with girls struggling with problems of their own. Callie doesn’t want to have anything to do with them. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with anyone. She won’t even speak. But Callie can only stay silent for so long…
Cut was a fast and enjoyable read. The main character, Callie, is staying at a mental institution because she not only cuts herself, but has also stopped speaking. I really liked the setting because for some reason the idea of it fascinates me.
I liked the writing style well enough, though I didn’t really enjoy the way the 2nd person perspective was done. It seemed to only be present at certain times and took me a while to figure out the story was being addressed to Callie’s therapist.
I liked the characters, especially Ruby. The relationships between the characters were strong and interesting, especially between the girls. I feel the book did a good job with the subject matter, though I have no experience with it. Seemed pretty legitimate, however.
A nice, short read that tackles real issues.
Hey guys. Since I’m behind on book reviews, I’m going to have to post one or two a day to get caught up. Hope that’s okay!
This is the 59th book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.
Vigilante Nights by Erin Richards
Published June 18th, 2013
A “good boy” will do anything for vengeance when a gang rite kills his twin sister. Will Lucas win, or follow his sister Silver into the darkness?
After a hideous car wreck, Lucas wakes from a coma to find that his world is gutted. Not only is his beloved twin sister, Silver, gone forever, but Lucas is broken in body and spirit. He will never be a college athlete, and is robbed of what he now realizes was the most important bond of his life. Although they weren’t identical twins, Lucas and Silver shared a bond so fierce it defied reason, and was nearly supernatural.
After her death, that bond seems to endure when Lucas sees Silver everywhere he turns. Either he’s crazy, or Silver is trying to tell him something about the California gang initiation they stumbled into that cost Silver her life. Lucas is bent on revenge, turning on Raymond, Silver’s former boyfriend; the one Lucas never wanted her to date. He forms a posse of vigilantes to take out the gangsters responsible for Silver’s death, but he risks not only his own life, but the love of the new girl on his block, who knows more about Lucas and Silver than can be accounted for by mere chance.
Many thanks to Adams Media for giving me the chance to read and review this book from the Goodreads First Reads program.
***The following review may have slight spoilers. Read at YOUR own risk***
Vigilante Nights started out great. The beginning was exciting and held my attention well. After the accident, I found myself enjoying the book pretty well. I also liked the bit of paranormal activity in this otherwise realistic-seeming story. In the beginning, I could imagine this being amazing.
But then I encountered the racism. At first I thought it was just me, but other reviews have also touched upon it. I’m not sure if it was intentional or what, but it really annoyed me. If a character has already been labeled as being from a certain race, don’t keep reminding the reader. We’ve got it, I promise. If you’re not sure, subtle hints work just fine (describing looks, etc). There’s no need to point out what race a familiar character is every time we encounter them again.
But you know, I could have overlooked all that until one line was read and still bothering my conscience. The main character has been approached by a Mexican gang. Of course, the gang smells like tacos. And then, “What else would a Mexican gang smell like?” I honestly wanted to stop reading at that point. It was such a ridiculous stereotype that I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it. I managed to move on, but that line has been bothering me throughout the entire book. That made me like the book less.
The characters themselves are mostly well fleshed out and realistic. Lucas, Silver, Tara, Denny, Alyssa, and Lucas’ parents were especially easy to like, though I do admit that there were times where Lucas annoyed me. I’m not a guy, and though I think the author did a great job with the male POV, it seemed a bit overdone at times–mostly when Lucas started to feel like he was less of a man for showing emotion. I know some men still feel this way, but Lucas really seemed to have a huge issue with it and I just couldn’t figure out why.
I loved Silver. She brought amusement into every scene. The rest of the cast was okay, but no one I especially loved. I also really didn’t care for the romantic relationship all that well, though it was intriguing at the start.
What I really liked about this was the plot about the gang, and of Lucas avenging his sister. I felt like the romantic relationship kind of derailed the story at times. The next-to-last 25% (before the incident with the girls at the mall) also began to drag, but the last 25% of the book didn’t disappoint.
The writing was strong, and as I’ve already mentioned, did a great male perspective. I’d give the book 3.5 stars. I honestly would have probably given this a higher rating if the hints of racism/stereotyping hadn’t been there. While I didn’t love it, it was pretty good and is definitely an intriguing read.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for this review. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.
This is the 58th book from my 200 Book Reading Challenge.
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
Published June 4th, 2013
Danny’s mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.
Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn’t know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.
When he gets a letter from his mom’s property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother’s memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew.
There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.
I’m a huge fan of Daisy Whitney. I couldn’t put her first book, The Mockingbirds, down. It took me about four days to read this book, and while it wasn’t one of those I-can’t-stop-reading stories, I still loved it.
When You Were Here is a beautiful and raw story about a teenage boy who has lost his mother to cancer. Poor Danny is also still reeling from the fact that she didn’t live long enough to attend his high school graduation as well as dealing with his ex-girlfriend, who he is still head over heels for. When graduation ends, Danny makes a decision to venture out to Tokoyo, where his family, particularly his mother, loved to travel. She had spent a lot of her last times there searching for a cure and now Danny wants to know what happened there.
While the story itself is original, it’s really the characters that make this book. Daisy did an amazing job with Danny, the main character. Sometimes female authors have trouble making a male POV sound realistic, but I didn’t feel this was the case in this book. Danny was an easy character to like, even when he was troubled. Having lost family members to different cancers, it was easy to emphasize with him. There were times where I wanted to hug the poor boy.
I also really liked his ex-girlfriend, Holland and it was easy to tell why Danny had fallen for her. While I didn’t “love” her mother, who also happened to be Danny’s mother’s best friend, I admired her for her strength and compassion. Through the flashbacks and memories, I also grew to adore Danny’s parents, particularly his mother. Kana was simply adorable, and I loved every scene that she and Danny were in. They had the kind of “friend” relationship that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. And obviously, the same can be said for Sandy Koufax and her relationship with Danny.
The second thing I adored about this book was the setting. I have never traveled outside of the US, but the settings of Tokoyo were so well described that I practically felt like I was there. It sounds like an amazing place to visit. The setting of L.A. was also described well.
The book took me on some surprising adventures and spilled some heartbreaking revelations. The characters and plot caught me completely by surprise. When I started this, I knew that I would like it based on the writing style and POV of Danny alone, but I never imagined how awesome this book would be. If there were flaws, I don’t recall them.
I cannot wait to read the next book Whitney has to offer (Starry Nights!).
This week’s book recommendation is Delirium by Lauren Oliver. At first, I wasn’t so sure about this one, but it didn’t take long for me to get caught up in the story. Lauren Oliver also has a beautiful writing style and did a great job with the characters, especially Lena. The idea of love being a forbidden thing was a neat thing to read about. I remember really loving the romance in this one.
Lena Haloway is content in her safe, government-managed society. She feels (mostly) relaxed about the future in which her husband and career will be decided, and looks forward to turning 18, when she’ll be cured of deliria, a.k.a. love. She tries not to think about her mother’s suicide (her last words to Lena were a forbidden “I love you”) or the supposed “Invalid” community made up of the uncured just beyond her Portland, Maine, border. There’s no real point—she believes her government knows how to best protect its people, and should do so at any cost.
But 95 days before her cure, Lena meets Alex, a confident and mysterious young man who makes her heart flutter and her skin turn red-hot. As their romance blossoms, Lena begins to doubt the intentions of those in power, and fears that her world will turn gray should she submit to the procedure.
In this powerful and beautifully written novel, Lauren Oliver, the bestselling author of Before I Fall, throws readers into a tightly controlled society where options don’t exist, and shows not only the lengths one will go for a chance at freedom, but also the true meaning of sacrifice.
Hey guys. Back in May, I was excited to reveal a cover of a book. Well, today that book has been released!
Sleeper (Book I in the Toy Soldiers series) by S. M. Johnston
Released December 2nd, 2013 by Entranced Publishing, RUSH
A new heart should mean new life, not a living nightmare.
Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on.
Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.
Torn between the blossoming love and the obsession, Mishca must decide if she wants Ryder or Colin. But the organization responsible for her changes and her connection to Colin, is moving to secure Mishca for himself so that she can be the weapon he always intended her to be. If Mishca can’t resist her programming she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.
Amazon | Kobo | B&N
Excerpt from Sleeper by S.M. Johnston © S.M. Johnston
SOMEONE WILL DIE SO I can live. I’ve come to terms with that. It used to turn my
stomach, how my donor might die, but now I’m used to it. It’ll most likely be a car accident or a
drunken fall from a height, especially at this time of year, with all the end-of-school parties. But
not from illness or any other “natural” causes. A violent, painful death will be my savior. That’s
how I will get my new heart.
I open my eyes and stare upwards, hoping the white, fluffy clouds that splotch against
the blue sky will distract me from the images of people dying that flow through my head. I guess
I’m not as used to the idea of getting someone else’s heart as I thought. The harsh Australian sun
brings beads of sweat to my brow and a squint to my eyes. I swing my legs around and hoist
myself upright on the stadium bleacher, looking out over the sports field. I readjust the singlet
strap that had slipped off my shoulder and try to think happier thoughts. At least I won’t be
responsible for the person who dies so I can get a new heart.
Yeah, happier thoughts.
I let out a sigh. This is not how I expected to be spending my schoolies week, with my
dad as he puts hopeful rugby league players through their paces. My friends are all doing the
traditional, Aussie, end-of-high-school celebration with a weeklong party, but instead of Airlie or
the Gold Coast, they’re all in Bali, where I should be. It’s the big party to start our summer
holidays before we find out which university we’ve been accepted into. When Mum and Dad
found out I was at the top of the transplant list, they vetoed my November plans in case
someone croaks this week. So all my friends left, minus me. I know it’s because Mum and Dad
care. They’ve proved time and time again that you don’t need blood ties to be great parents, or
“All right, boys. That wraps it up for today,” Dad calls out to the pack of sweaty guys.
“Hit the showers, and I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
I do my best not to stare as the group heads towards me. Half of them are shirtless, their
muscles glistening after the training session. Okay, so I’m staring. A cute, red-haired guy catches
me looking and winks. So, I reward him with a smile. A guy from school, who obviously chose a
potential sporting career over a party week, nudges Cutie Ginger and then shakes his head. I
hold back a huff. I thought with the end of an era, I could have a fresh start, but my reputation
looks like it will haunt me beyond high school. Mishca the untouchable.
Dad lingers behind, deep in discussions with the managers and trainers, no doubt
discussing the fates of the young men desperate to break into rugby league at a national level.
They were all trying so hard to get Coach Tom Richardson’s attention. If only I had that many
guys chasing after me. I wipe the sweat that’s formed at the edge of my almost afro, before it
trickles down my brow. Yuck. Finally, Dad makes his way towards me, leaving his entourage
“So, any contenders in your latest batch of victims?” I ask, picking up my discarded copy
of West Side Story. I’d been rereading my university audition piece, torturing myself on how I
could have performed it better. I wish I had tried out for plays at school, but I was a closet actor,
only performing in drama class for fear that somehow my weak disposition would get in the way.
But next year will be different. A new heart and new hope.
“There may be some. Tomorrow will be the clincher,” Dad replies, humouring me. He
knows I’m not that interested in his latest player acquisitions. He puts his hand on my shoulder.
“I’ve got to grab some paperwork from the office before we go.”
“Sure thing,” I say to his back as he retreats up the tunnel under the stadium. I trudge
behind him, my book clutched in my hand.With each step the tips of my curls brush lightly against my bare shoulders. It tickles and
I regret agreeing with Mum to grow my hair out. I shove my hands into the pockets of my denim
shorts and focus on the cool shade I’ll get once I’m inside.
My nose wrinkles the moment I step in the door. The whole place smells like dude, and
not in a good way, but in the male equivalent of a stinky, wet dog way. I walk down the corridor
and lean against the cool cement wall outside Dad’s office.
My heart transplant operation is like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, only there’s
no countdown to watch. Evil thoughts invade my mind again, only now about my parents.
Would they still have wanted to adopt me if they’d known I had a congenial heart disease, or in
simpler terms, a hole in my heart?
“SLEEPER is a fast-paced adventure filled with mystery, romance, action, and humor. Mishca and Ryder rank up there with my favorite heroines and heroes ever! S.M. Johnston is an author to watch out for.” ~Wendy Higgins, author of Sweet Evil, Sweet Peril, and Sweet Reckoning.
Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review’s Young Adult short story contest with KARMA. By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.
Sharon’s Website @ http://www.smjohnston.com
Sharon’s Blog @ http://www.downunderwonderings.blogspot.com
Hey guys. I thought I would post about my overall NaNoWriMo 2013 experience before moving on with the usual blog schedule.
I felt that this year was my best NaNoWriMo year yet. I’m not sure if this is because of the book or the experience I had with it or maybe both, but that’s how I feel. For this year, I decided to re-write my novel, Whispertown. Since I started the original draft in 2009 or 2010, it really needed to be edited. But over the years I kept getting new ideas for it so I decided it needed a total re-write. Now that the book is complete, I can confidentially say that was the best decision I could have made. I thought it was a great book before, but now it’s even better.
One reason I enjoyed this year’s NaNoWriMo more than ones of the past is that I had a great group of writers to word war with. Word warring is when you get other writers to write with you. You agree on a certain amount of time to write, post what you’ve written, and get feedback. Then you keep doing this until you can no longer spend that time writing. I think it’s a great way to get a lot of writing done in a day AND get some early feedback. Others can also help nudge you in the right direction as well.
Sometimes NaNoWriMo can be difficult if you don’t have a quiet place to write as well, and this is a problem I usually have because my fiance’ is not always the quietest person ever. This month he became more interested in an online roleplaying game so I found myself having more quiet than usual. I believe that has helped contribute to my getting more done on a daily basis.
I’m proud to say that I only lost the inspiration to write for three or four days, and two of those was because I got sick and felt too terrible to write. Sometimes writing day after day can be tough! But I can fairly say that I enjoyed almost every day of it.
How did you feel about this year’s NaNoWriMo? Did you meet your goal? Was there anything that you think would have made it better? I’d love to hear how your experience was!
Here’s my NaNo stats for today:
NaNoWriMo 2013 Stats:
Day 27 & 28 = Zero Words
Goal: 50,000 words.
Current: 50,024 words.
Remaining: 0 words.
Days Until Deadline: 1.
Feelings toward novel: Loved how the book turned out!
I DID IT!
How is your NaNo going?
Here’s my NaNo stats for today:
NaNoWriMo 2013 Stats:
Goal: 50,000 words.
Current: 47,772 words.
Remaining: 2,228 words.
Days Until Deadline: 4.
Feelings toward novel: Wasn’t really feeling it today. Maybe tomorrow.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you participated before? If you’re doing it this year, what are you writing? How’s your progress going?