Thursday, April 9, 2015

Throwback Thursday (#4): Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Let's travel back to April 2, 2014 and my review of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Release date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Walker Children's/Bloomsbury US
Age group: YA
Pages: 368
Description (from Goodreads):
After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O'Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. Her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah's 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of healing hearts and break-up ballads.

But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in this growing genre, Emery Lord's gorgeous debut hits all the right notes of contemporary romance.

Reagan's heart has been broken and her rebellious spirit and desire for fast life of parties and booze has driven her to a point in which she realizes that in order to start again, she needs to leave home behind and look for a new beginning. When Reagan's best friend, a rising country superstar invites Reagan to join her on her summer tour the summer vacation before Reagan's senior year, Reagan packs her bags and moves to the road with Dee (to public known was Lilah). The US-wide tour of different cities and arenas, stadiums and audiences gives Reagan the perfect chance to start again, to clear her head, and to spend time with her best friend.

Dee's life isn't only rainbows and sunshine either. Though she loves her career, the publicity of it all gets more and more difficult for her - everything she does, wears and says is inspected by the public. Like Reagan, she is also suffering from heart break and having her best friend on the tour with her gives them a chance to spend time together and forget boys for a while. But when rumors about her relationships, both past and current, start to appear on magazines, the record label has to maneuver an emergency publicity trick to keep up Dee's "girl-next-door" image. 

Perfect, charming, talented and handsome Matt Finch with his good looks and boy-next-door charm is invited to the tour to open for Dee while posing as his potential new lover. Dee welcomes Matt to the tour with open arms - they are friends, and she knows that she can trust Matt. And though they don't have any romantic feelings towards each other, they don't completely say no to the faux relationship, just to make Dee's publicist's live a bit easier. Reagan is not so sure about Matt - he is handsome, kind and more talented than she thought he would be, but she still feels like Matt might be there just to gain more publicity and push for his own career. But as they spend more time together, it becomes more and more difficult for Reagan to say no to Matt and his charm. 

I loved everything about this book. Reagan is strong, funny and independent, but also has some issues she needs to deal with. She is prejudiced, stubborn and afraid to show her true nature to people. She has trust issues and it seems like the only person she can count on is Dee. The friendship between Dee and Reagan is not perfect, but it is clear they love and trust each other. When Matt joins the tour, he is still going through a major loss and heart break, but the more and more he spends time with Reagan, he realizes that he might he healing, or at least enjoying life again. 

I loved how Emery Lord takes her time to establish these characters and these relationships. With a concept like this there is always the danger of being too cliche, too predictable and cheesy. I feel like she avoids this by creating real and honest characters who have their flaws and obstacles. Though Matt is dreamy, he is not perfect. Though Reagan is witty and strong, she is also temperamental and rebellious to an extent that hurts people around her. Lord's characterization and language are spot on and the way she builds the story makes you want to read the book on one sitting. The lyrics and the world of music are excellently integrated to the story and really give more insight to both the world these characters inhabit and as well as the relationships between them.

So put some country music on, kick back and enjoy this wonderful debut by a very talented author! 

I fell so in love with this book that I had to make an 8tracks mix inspired by it. This will, for sure, be one of my main playlists for the summer.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday (#3): This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Let's travel back to December 23, 2010 and my review of This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Publication date: March 8, 2004
Publisher: Speak
Age group: YA
Pages: 345
Description (from Goodreads):
When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about?
I remember seeing this book for the first time during a time when I had no idea what YA states for. It feels such a long time ago, but actually it isn't. I think it was 2007 when my host sister Ale tried to make me read this book, but for some reason I did not do so. I had read "The Truth about forever" by Dessen, I still remember buying it from the clearance section at Books-a-Million, but for some reason I did not get excited about this one after seeing it. And how stupid I then was.

"This Lullaby" introduces us to Remy who has stopped believing in love. You could think that is is because there are no guys in her life. But it is quite the contrary. Remy has had several boyfriends, I don't think that her fingers and toes would be enough to count them. But it is her mother's several marriages and their failures that has shown her that love is not all that glorious everyone seems to think it is. For years she has been the one planning the weddings and eventually settling the divorces. But now she is over with it. It is the summer after her high school and she is counting the months for her personal freedom= university of Stanford. 

Everything changes when Remy meets Dexter. She first thinks that he is just one of her normal flings, one that lasts until she feels like ending it. But on many ways, Dexter is different. He is so unlike the "ideal" guy of Remy. He does things that she normally hates, but while she is with him, she is able to ignore those things. When her friends start to talk about love, she gets annoyed. But could what she feels for Dexter be love? Or is she even capable of feeling love? Does love even exist?

I really loved this book! Remy was an interesting character to read about because in a way she reminded me of myself. Remy is a control freak and she has totally lost her trust in love. I don't say that I have completely lost my trust in love, I think I have misplaced it (like Remy eventually learns as well) and I just need to find the person who can bring it back to me. My friends always laugh at me because I love romantic movies, books etc. but I am the one who is planning not to get married etc.

Dexter is completely adorable, and even though he has many traits I would not at first look, find attractive at all, I would eventually adore a guy like him. He is a bit of a slacker, but also artistic, funny and oh so optimistic. A total opposite of control freak, pessimistic Remy. It is really interesting to read how the chemistry develops between then, and how eventually, they become to be the perfect match, which Remy tries hard to deny. 

If you are familiar with the other works by Sarah Dessen, you will love this one as well

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday (#2): The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Let's travel back to November 3, 2010 and my review of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Publication date: March 9, 2010
Publisher: Dial Books
Age group: YA
Pages: 288
Description (from Goodreads):
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.
This is one of those novels I wanted to read because of the fact that some of my favorite book bloggers had hyped about this. I actually went as far as making a request for the local library to order this one in English (I don't know is the going to be a Finnish translation...)

Lennie and Bailey. Bailey and Lennie. 
When Lennie suddenly loses her big sister Bailey her whole world feels like it is crashing down. They have been seen together forever, and Bailey has been the one Lennie has been able to trust in everything. What will Lennie do now when she feels like she has lost a part of herself?

Toby. Bailey's boyfriend, who knows something Lennie does not. When Toby and Lennie start to spend time together, they notice that when they are together, they can feel Bailey's presence. But their friendship turns out to be something more when they both, under grief, try to get help for the grieving process. 

Joe. A new boy in town. An amazing musician who has moved from Paris. Joe's long eyelashes, outlook and musical talent catch Lennie's attention, and as their relationship develops, Lennie notices, that when she is with Joe, she does not feel grief over Bailey.

Lennie is between two guys; Toby who feels as she does and Joe, with who she is completely in love with. What happens if Joe finds out about the weird connection between Lennie and Toby?

I really liked this novel even though it wasn't as good as I expected it to be. I liked Lennie as a character, but at points she just really annoyed me. I don't know how to explain why. If I need to state my favorite character, I would say Joe, since he seems to fill most of the traits of my dream guy. 

What I really liked about this book was the little notes written my Lennie. Those really told something about Lennie as a character and in that way I was able to get into the story better. As the goodreads synopsis says, if you are a fan of Sarah Dessen, I bet you would like this one as well. 

"The Sky is Everywhere" is a beautiful and effective debut novel which will leave you thinking about loss, love and second chances.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday (#1): Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Let's travel back to December 30,2010 and my review of Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Release date: April 10, 2007
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Age group: YA
Pages: 288

Description (from Gooreads):

A teenager struggles through physical loss to the start of acceptance in an absorbing, artful novel at once honest and insightful, wrenching and redemptive.

On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, fifteen-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything — absolutely everything — changed. Now she’s counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, "That’s her — that’s Shark Girl," as she passes. In the meantime there are only questions: Why did this happen? Why her? What about her art? What about her life? In this striking first novel, Kelly Bingham uses poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings to look unflinchingly at what it’s like to lose part of yourself - and to summon the courage it takes to find yourself again.

Shark Girl, a debut novel by Kelly Bingham, is a book that you cannot put down. A beautiful, heart breaking and inspiring story written in verse will make you cry, laugh and honour your life, just as it is. 

On a normal summer day Jane goes to the beach with her mother and Michael. At the morning when she woke up she never though that that day would change her life...for good. Jane goes to swim and after 10 days in coma she wakes up in a hospital bed without her left arm. Everything she has dreamed about changes.

For years Jane has been the best artist of her school, winning prices from her art pieces. Now, without her right hand, she feels like that part of her life, the part she loved the most, is over. In hospital Jane meets Justin, a 11 year old boy who's other leg has been amputated. Through Justin, inspirational letters by others who have gone through the same and through the support of her friends and family she tries to build her world again. 

But none of the support is enough if she herself isn't ready to face her loss.

As mentioned before, "Shark Girl" is a novel written in verse. It is Bingham's debut novel and I must say how positively surprised I was about the language, the story, everything. The novel is so beautifully written it keeps you reading until you reach the end, and even then, you want for more. Bingham's description of Jane and her feelings is heart-breaking and it really makes you feel happy about the things you have. Shark Girl is also an inspirational story about how we all should accept ourselves as we are, because sometimes the things in us we don't like are ones that we cannot change. We just need to get along with them to be happy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#22): Deadly Design by Debra Dockter (June 2, 2015 by P.G. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

For more information, click here.

The emotional power of If I Stay meets the survival story of Maze Runner

Genetically engineered identical twins Kyle and Connor McAdams were born two years apart. Their parents figured it was safer that way, to increase their odds of survival. Connor was born first, paving an impossibly perfect path for Kyle to follow. He was the best at everything—valedictorian, star quarterback etc. Kyle never thought he’d be able to live up, so he didn’t even try.

But when Connor, 18, suddenly drops dead of a heart attack, and Kyle learns of other genetically modified kids who’ve also died on their eighteenth birthdays, he’s suddenly motivated—to save his own life. Like Connor and all the rest, Kyle was conceived at the Genesis Innovations Laboratory, where the mysterious Dr. Mueller conducted experiments on them. The clock’s ticking as Kyle searches for answers: who was Dr. Mueller really, and what did he do to cause their hearts to stop at eighteen? He must unravel the clues quickly, before, he too, becomes another perfect, blue-eyed corpse.
"emotional power of If I Stay"
"genetically engineered"
"he's suddenly motivated - to save his own life"
"mysterious Dr. Mueller"
What are you waiting for this week?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: March 4, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Age group: YA
Pages: 355
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Dear Winner's Curse,

After seeing your beautiful cover, I wanted to like you so badly. I wanted to read you, love you and buy you to my own collection. My expectations for you were extremely high. And the way other people, readers that opinions matter to me, talked about you, I was sure that we would connect. But alas, rather than writing a love letter for you, I have to write something else.

Don't worry, this isn't a hate letter. I almost wish that I could write a hate letter, because that way I would feel at least something towards you. Because right now I don't feel anything. I feel like reading you did not do anything for me. Like someone could erase those two nights I spend with you and I wouldn't really even notice it (expect then I would not have a memory from those awesome Twizzlers I ate while spending time with you).

I was so excited to meet Kestrel, even if her name sounds kind of weird. I was also really looking forward to meeting Arin, mostly because his name reminds me of someone I know. I had heard such praise about your world building that I was sure I would be able to delve right in. But no! Rather than finding myself immersed with your world building, I was bored. I feel like nothing happened. Yes, Kestrel buys a slave. But after that there's a lot of stuff that did not feel move the story forward at all. Or at least that is how I feel.

The more and more I read you, I started to find it harder and harder to like Kestrel. I constantly felt like she has no idea what she is doing or what she wants from life. And I do get that we all struggle with questions like that sometimes and that I in no way can put myself in the shoes of Kestler, but hey, I needed something to grasp into and unfortunately I did not find it from you. Yes, she cares for her family, but outside of that, it feels like it is all the same what happens to people. Someone else, someone who really liked this book, might interpret this differently, but I just want to say how I felt. I constantly also felt that though she tries to seem like she does not care about her superior status, she acts differently. And that kind of behaviour always annoys me to no end. Given, she proves herself towards the end, but by then, it feels like too little too late.

This love story of Kestrel and Arin? When did it really happen? Did I miss something? Yes, Kestrel is constantly feeling like she shouldn't feel anything towards Arin, but she can't help it. I do get that this whole forbidden love thing is usually a fundamental part of books similar to you, but after a while it just gets annoying, especially since you know that in the end it is going to happen anyway. I wasn't looking for any grand romantic moments or clich├ęs, but I didn't want to feel like I missed the whole falling-in-love process either.

When it comes to Arin, I felt even less that towards Kestrel. Like seriously, I felt nothing. And I must admit at points I was kind of terrified of him. Yes, he's protective, but seriously.... sometimes you can go too far. Once again, this is a point I feel a lot of people are going to disagree with me.

I think one of the reasons why I felt so disconnected from you is the fact that I am not a regular fantasy reader. Maybe as someone who extensively reads fantasy, I could have appreciated your very slow-building plot a bit more. One aspect that I did find interesting was the politics of your world, the division of the people into different groups and so on, but unfortunately that wasn't enough. I also had some problems with the way you were written. The style your author uses is very fast-paced and unfortunately I did not work for me when it felt like nothing really happened in your most part.

Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I started with you thinking that I am going to meet my new favourite book. Maybe at the point when I noticed that I am not connecting with you, I gave up and started to look for flaws. I still don't quite know what happened, and since I did not feel any sort of connection with you, I probably won't even think about it too much.

You and I were not meant to be, but hey, don't despair. It seems like you are getting plenty of love elsewhere.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#21): Tracked by Jenny Martin (May 5, 2015 by Dial Books)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

For more information, click here.

The Fast and the Furious gets a futuristic twist in this action-packed debut!

On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn't stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her charming new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It's up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?


"father disappeared mysteriously"


"Cash, her charming new teammate"

"Can a street-rat destroy an empire?"

What are you waiting for this week?