Thursday, July 31, 2014

Book Review (ARC): Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Review copy from Netgalley

Release Date: September 9th, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Age group: YA
Pages: 304
Preorder the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. 

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.


A popular high school junior Liz Emerson from Meridian High school has decided to commit suicide. She has decided that the world would be a better place without her. That the lives of those around her would get better if she stops to exist. Falling into Place delves right into WHY Liz Emerson thinks that she should die. And what happens when her attempt fails. 

The narration of this book is something I haven't seen before. I don't want to spoil the narrator for you, but all I'll say is that it's definitely something I did not expect. The story gives you little hints about it and I did figure it out myself pretty quickly, but despite that, I really enjoyed Zhang's twist to the narration. Zhang has bravely decided to use nonlinear narration in her debut, which luckily works well and gives the novel a puzzle like element - you have to keep reading to fill the gaps, to get more information, to understand why Liz has decided to end her life.

Though Liz is the main character of Falling into Place, she isn't the only character the novel focuses on. Through flashbacks, the novel highlights Liz's relationships with people around her - her friends, her mother, the boy who has liked her since 5th grade, the people she used to bully.  Through these flashbacks, we get to see Liz through the eyes of other people - we see that to some she is special and loved; to some she is a threat.

Though the flashbacks show Liz as a bully and bit of a bitch, I felt for her. The regret inside her is so intense and she knows that she needs her, but she does not know how to ask for it. Zhang does not glorify her, does not glorify bullying, but shows the intense truth of it, proving that those who bully are usually a lot more troubled than those who are bullied. Liz feels bad for what she has done, but she does not know what to do - it seems like no one notices or cares that she is feeling bad, and eventually thinks the only way for her to stop tormenting others and also herself is to end her life.

Falling into Place is one of those books that I had to read through on one sitting. The story pulled me in from page one and the nonlinear, puzzle like narration made me want to keep turning the pages.  The pacing is brilliant, with short and long chapters mixed together in perfect combination. Falling into Place holds its grip throughout and I wasn't able to put it down until I reached the last page. And when I did, I wanted to go back to the beginning and read it again.

I immensely enjoyed Amy Zhang's debut. Her writing is poetic, flowing and fast paced. Her characters are interesting and extremely multi-layered- just when you think you know all about these characters, a new flashback takes you back in time and shows a completely different side to them. Zhang's approach to high school drama and bullying is honest and raw, which shows Zhang really knows what she is writing about. In a post on her blog she says that Falling into Place is everything she wanted to say during high school but didn't and while reading the novel, I went back to my own high school memories and started to wish I would have said a couple of strong words for several different people. If you have been in high school, I promise you that you can identify with at least one of these characters. I went to a very small high school and still found some familiar characters from Falling into Place. I have a feeling Amy Zhang will hit it big time with this one. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#15): Come Back to Texas (Twelve Beats in a Bar #1) by K.K. Hendin

"Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

For more information, click here

Come Back to Texas (Twelve Beats in a Bar #1) by K.K. Hendin (expected publication August 18th, 2014) 

Everyone thought we’d be the ones who made it through high school. The ones who’d get married and stay married forever. The example of how young love can work. 

We thought so, too. 

Too bad life had other plans.

It’s been three years since Hayley and Nate broke each other’s hearts. Three years, and a lot has changed. Hayley’s a freshman in Bushwick University, and the only things keeping her sane are stress baking, and her a cappella group, Twelve Beats in a Bar.

Nate’s a Marine, stationed in Afghanistan. The only thing that’s keeping him sane is the last picture he has of him and Hayley, and the hope that maybe when the hell of deployment is over, he can find her again and apologize.

One explosion will change everything.

When a bomb kills all of Nate’s unit, leaving him missing a leg and eyesight in one eye, he’s sent back home to Texas. Texas, where he loved Hayley more than he could possibly imagine ever loving anyone else.

With seemingly endless amounts of free time and needing something to distract himself, Nate starts making YouTube videos, imploring Hayley to come back to him, and come back to Texas.

Hayley’s life is wrapped around the Beats, making sure she doesn’t flunk out of biology class, and babysitting Ohio’s smallest monster, Brandon. She doesn't want to admit it, but she misses Nate more than anything.

It’s too bad she doesn’t know just how much he misses her, too…










Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (#19)

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This week's topic is Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From (since I have books in two different countries at the moment, some of them at my home in Finland and some at my apartment in Edinburgh, I might not remember the exact number of books I own from these authors)

Cassandra Clare
I think the only book written by Clare that I don't own is the Shadow Hunter's Codex (+The Bane Chronicles which hasn't been released yet). I have read The Mortal Instruments and I am eagerly waiting to get started with The Infernal Devices

Jane Austen
I LOVE Jane Austen and used to be quite obsessed with her at some point - I still am, but not quite so fanatically. I own all of her novels (some in several different editions) and a collection of her letters as well. 

J.K. Rowling
I own the entire Harry Potter series as well as The Tales of Beetle the Bard.

Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite YA contemporary writers and I think I own a total of 5 of her novels on paperback. The ones I do not own yet I am definitely planning on buying at some point.

Meg Cabot
I own the Princess Diaries series both in Finnish and English and it still remains one of my favorite series of all time. I grew up with Harry Potter, but I also grew up with Mia Thermopolis!

James Patterson
I occasionally feel like reading crime novels and during those times I always go for James Patterson and his Alex Cross novels. I think I have the first six books in the series back at Edinburgh.

William Shakespeare
Shakespeare is probably the author I own most titles from. I own a big copy with all of his works collected into it as well as several separate copies of the plays. I think in total I have about 40 books with the name 'William Shakespeare' on the cover.

Dan Brown
I have copies of the Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons both here in Finland and at Edinburgh. Back at Edinburgh I also have the two other Robert Langdon books. And I think I also have an illustrated copy of The Da Vinci Code somewhere in storage. 

Stephenie Meyer
I have a copy of Twilight here in Finland and at Edinburgh I have the whole Twilight series plus The Host. I have read The Twilight series several times (yes, I used to be obsessed with those books), but I still haven't tackled The Host. Is it worth a read?

Rosie Rushton
I think I own all but one of her modern YA retellings of Jane Austen's novels. I used to love these back in the day - super quick and fun to read! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Release date: July 8, 2014
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 308
Age group: Adult
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?


Attachments, Eleanor & Park and Fangirl all managed to make me a Rainbow Rowell fan, all gaining five stars review from me. So obviously, I was really excited for Landline, Rowell's second adult title. Some of the excitement paid off, while a part of me was left a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy Landline. Not just as much as I expected.

Georgie is a TV comedy writer, working on a writing team for a popular sitcom while dreaming about her own network show with her best friend Seth. When her dreams about the show she has been working on since college start to come through, she has to skip a family holiday to Omaha to stay in Los Angeles to work with the show. This means that her husband Neal and her two daughters travel away for Christmas while she stays at home, eventually ending up staying at her mother's place. 

After Neal and the girls leave, Georgie tries her best to contact Neal, but fails continually. Their marriage has been in strains for a while and though she loves him and her children more than anything, she feels like she's a fourth wheel in a vehicle that runs perfectly with three wheels - she isn't necessarily needed, or at least that is how she feels. Finally, when she calls him via the landline at her mother's house she gets a connection but quickly realizes that she isn't talking to Neal of the present day - somehow she has found a connection back to 1998 and the days they weren't married yet, to a time they were in love but quite unsure about their future. 

At first, the time traveling phone freaks her out. But once she talks to the 1998 Neal more, she realizes that she misses him more than she ever realized. Not the Neal from the past, but the Neal of the present time, the Neal that isn't answering to her calls. The works starts to pile up and she isn't able to concentrate - she knows that she has to do something to get her family back, but at the same time she isn't ready to let go of her career and her dreams. 

Though I enjoyed the whole time traveling, magic phone aspect of the novel, I was slightly disappointed about the fact that Rowell doesn't really explain HOW the phone works the way it does. Georgie tries to figure out the mechanics of the phone, but only very briefly (I think almost too briefly - like if I had a phone like that, I would probably only ponder about how it works and nothing else).  Maybe I am just overly curious or something, but I really wanted to know more about this phone. 

Georgie is a bona fide Rowell character - funny, slightly troubled, ordinary, honest. I loved the fact that she is a comedy writer because some of my favorite people ever are TV comedy writers (Fey, Poehler and Kaling - I'm talking about you). I know this novel was not about her work as a comedy writer but as a wife, but I kind of wished there would have been more about her work and the world of television comedy writing. I also wanted to know more about Seth, Georgie's best friend. It is interesting because he's the guy who would be perfect for her, but she fell in love with someone else, someone who really isn't her match. I guess that's the whole "opposites attract" thing right there in action. 

I feel like Landline was very different from Attachments, Rowell's debut novel and her previous novel for adults. Whereas Attachments reads like a romantic comedy, Landline reads more like a romantic drama/modern woman's film - a film about a woman trying to figure out what to do with her life and her family while learning something new about herself. As mentioned before, Georgie is an interesting main character and definitely one I would like to see in film format as well. She is strong, loving and driven. Though she loves her family, she also loves her job and her career. For a different type of reader and one who has dedicated her life for family and children, Georgie might seem selfish for making her husband "suffer" in a life that he did not want, but I personally loved the fact that she wants to keep up with her work and realizes that thought she is a woman, she does not have to necessarily be the one who sacrifices everything. Pretty much, in conclusion, YAY FOR STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS!

Landline is entertaining, touching and well written. The story is well paced and constructed and the character development from the college aged Neal and Georgie to the present day was well established through flashbacks and the phone calls via the magical landline. The lack in explaining the workings of the phone left me a bit disappointed and thus made me give this one only four stars, but other than that, I really recommend Landline to everyone, especially the fans of Rowell's previous novels. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. 

Ps. If you are familiar with Rowell's previous novels, be in the lookout for some familiar faces from this one!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran #1) by Nancy Farmer

Release Date: 2002
Info about the author: Goodreads - Website
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Age group: YA
Pages: 380
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

At his coming-of-age party, Matteo Alacrán asks El Patrón's bodyguard, "How old am I? ... I know I don't have a birthday like humans, but I was born." 

"You were harvested," Tam Lin reminds him. "You were grown in that poor cow for nine months and then you were cut out of her." 

To most people around him, Matt is not a boy, but a beast. But for El Patrón, lord of a country called Opium--a strip of poppy field lying between the U.S. and what was once called Mexico--Matt is a guarantee of eternal life. El Patrón loves Matt as he loves himself, for Matt is himself. They share identical DNA. 

As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister, grasping cast of characters, including El Patrón's power-hungry family. He is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards and by the mindless slaves of Opium, brain-deadened 'eejits' who toil in the poppy fields. 

Escape from the Alacrán Estate is no guarantee of freedom because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect. Around every turn in this vivid, futuristic adventure is a new, heart-stopping surprise.


Somewhere in the near future, there is a country called Opium located between the United States and the former Mexico, now called Atzlán. At Opium, as you can guess from the name, drugs are the main, and pretty much, only business. Matt is Alacrán, which means that he is connected to the powerful family that is on the lead of the drug market. But Matt is not like others. He is a clone, more specifically, a clone of El Patron, the leader of the drug market. El Patron is very old and respected, and even though Clone's are usually treated as animals, Matt gets some kind of special treatment, just because of his link to El Patron. 

For the first 6 years or so of his life, Matt was hidden from the estate and kept in a small house in the fields with Celia, the cook for the family. One day Matt does a silly mistake and goes outside with other children even though he is supposed to stay in and hidden - soon other's discover that Matt is the clone and start to despise him. People treat him like he is an animal or even something dirtier. But then there is Maria, a little girl who sees Matt as something different. With the help of Maria and Celia, Matt is able to begin a somewhat normal life at the estate. He forms a relationship with El Patron, but also with his bodyguard Tam Lin (who is supposedly Scottish - that is a very weird Scottish name). As Matt grows, he starts to figure more about the actions of El Patron and realizes that he was created for a very specific reason. He plans an escape in order to save his life. But the world outside Opium isn't quite as promising Matt expected it to be.

The House of the Scorpion was such an interesting read. The way the hierarchy in Opium was established was quite scary, to be honest. El Patron, who is over 140 years old, keeps everyone controlled - he has extremely wealth, but he also owns the people that surround him. And once you are owned by El Patron, there is no way out. The people who work in the farms for him are called Eejits - they are controlled by their supervisors. Their only function is to work and they can stop only when told so. They are like shells of the people they once were, like robots controlled by someone who is still "a full" person. The fact that his could very well happen in the future, with people collecting more and more for their personal fortunes and other people being desperate just belong and work, is a very scary fact. 

The book begins from Matt's childhood and is divided into different sections of his growth. I really liked this structure because it gives you a look at the different ways Matt is treated - because of the fact that he is a clone he is seen differently. Matt is an interesting character because he is strong and brave, but at points there are also glimpses of El Patron in him - basically Matt is supposed to be exactly like El Patron was when he was a child, but while you read the book you start to notice that it really is not only the genes, but also the environment in which you live that molds you into the person you are.

The character relationships of the novel are very well established and even the characters with smaller role with regards to the whole story are very well described and established. In the copy of the novel I read there was a list of the numerous characters in the beginning with a family tree - this kind of freaked me out in the beginning because I did not feel like reading a book with so many characters that I would all the time have to go to the beginning to see who is who. I was happy to notice that all the characters were well explained and I did not have to go back to the list at all. 

There is a so-called romance in the book as well, but I really liked the fact that the novel did not focus on this. It was more on the sidelines - an important element, but not the most important element. Matt did not do what he does JUST to get to Maria. That is one of his motivators, but not the only one. Maria is an interesting character - at points I liked her and at points I found her extremely irritating. But the case is somewhat same with Matt - sometimes he acted in a way that made me very angry, but that was usually under the influence of El Patron. Thus, this became a very well established characterization - the influence of El Patron on Matt develops throughout the novel and is an interesting relationship to follow.

I thoroughly enjoyed The House of the Scorpion. It was action packed, but it also included some very interesting, scary images from a future that could be very possible. It kept me interested from page one and I cannot wait to read the second book The Lord of Opium

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: April 12, 2012
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Orion
Age group: YA
Pages: 336
Buy the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


After all the hype about Eleanor and Park on several booktube channels I follow, my expectations were sky high - I was expecting a realistic romance, likable characters, real-life problems etc. Thankfully all of my expectations were filled.

The setting is 1986. High school. Eleanor and Park meet in a school bus. Eleanor is the new girl - awkward clothes, bright red hair, fat. Park is the half-Korean guy who just wants to blend into the crowd. At first Park does not now how to react to Eleanor. Other kids in the bus start to make fun of her, but for some reason Park cannot get past the fact that he should have said something to her. Once he realizes that she is reading the comics Park reads, he starts to bring her comics. First they do not speak, but once they start, it seems that they cannot stop.

I LOVED both Eleanor and Park. I really felt for Eleanor - her stepfather is probably the biggest asshole known to man. The house she lives in does not have a bathroom door and she has to share her room with all of her siblings. And since there is no money, she has to make due with the torn down clothes etc. her mother has given her. So no wonder other people think she wears weird clothes. She also describes herself as fat (other people call her "Big Red") which I found refreshing because usually the young adult female protagonists are described as "small, thin, petite" etc. This was just a nice change because I feel like I was able to identify with Eleanor in the sense that I am not "small, thin or petite" either. Park is charming, funny and totally the type of guy I would have liked in high school. He sometimes feels like he is in the shadow of his younger brother. He is not very confident and at the beginning he is humanly selfish - he is not sure what it will do to him if people start to see him around Eleanor who everyone has started teasing. But as he sees more and more of her, he realizes that what other people think does not really matter if he is not happy himself. And Eleanor makes him happy.

Many young adult novels rely on instalove, on some higher force that "forces" the couple together. Eleanor and Park relies on chemistry, on getting to know someone before falling in love. I really loved how realistic the story was - Eleanor's problems and Park's family life make it seem like something that could definitely happen. I especially found Park's mother hilarious. 

I know the ending of the story is not for everyone - I personally too felt like I wanted more - but a couple of days later, I was happy it ended the way it did. I am not going to say more about that in order not to ruin the story, but I just want to say that you really should read this one. It has deserved all the hype it has gained among the readers. Rainbow Rowell definitely is the new queen of contemporary! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#14): The Memory Key by Liana Liu

"Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

For more information, click here

The Memory Key by Liana Liu (expected publication March 3rd, 2015 by HarperTeen)

In a five-minutes-into-the-future world, a bereaved daughter must choose between losing memories of her mother to the haze of time and the reality-distorting, visceral pain of complete, perfect recall.

Lora Mint is determined not to forget.

Though her mother’s been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most importantly, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer’s, that isn’t easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora’s key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother’s disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever?

Lora’s longing for her lost mother and journey to patch up her broken memories is filled with authentic and poignant emotion. Her race to uncover the truth is a twisty ride. In the end, Liana Liu’s story will spark topical conversations about memory and privacy in a world that is reliant on increasingly invasive forms of technology.







Top Ten Tuesday (#18)

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This week's topic is Top Ten (Male) Characters I Would Want With Me On A Deserted Island

Some of these guys I would like to take for a romantic island getaway only whereas I guess some of them would actually be kind of helpful if I accidentally got stranded at a deserted island.

1. Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Peeta. I love you. So much. We could stay in a little cabin and you could bake me bread.

2. Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

He's just so funny and kind and handsome. And he has to be strong too because of all that farm work. And I guess he could so those ten thousand smiles at that island - that ought to be good entertainment for a couple of days.

3. Carson from All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

Though I am not big on football otherwise, I do like some fictional football players, Carson being one of them. He's super fit so he could do the heavy lifting at the island. (I searched for this photo using the words "hot football player"... I was so happy when I actually recognized him even when I don't follow football AT ALL.)

4. Matt from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

He could play me some guitar and sing and just me cute and handsome and hot. (I am starting to sense a team - I searched for this picture using words "hot guitar player". I have no idea who this guy is.)

5. Jace Wayland/Morgenstern from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

His shadowhunter skills would probably be handy at the island. And if there ends up being something dangerous there, he probably could protect me. (I did not agree with the casting for Jace AT ALL but oh well... And the film sucked anyway.)

6. Josh from Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros

He's kind, caring and funny. And we could talk about ice-hockey. And he has that perfect hockey body. (For this one I had so many pictures I wanted to use, but decided to go with that perfect smiling Sidney Crosby - an actual angel.)

7. Ridge from Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

He could also play me some music. And maybe we could make some songs together.
(This picture is the result of "hot guitar player" search pt.2... Does anyone know who this perfect man is btw?)

8. Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I have always had a soft spot for Draco. His magic could get very helpful at the island, especially if we end up there by accident and need food and other supplies. He probably would have to use his magic also for getting us some sunscreen because we probably would both have a strong possibility to get sun burned. :D

9. Rusty from In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Spending time with Rusty would almost be like spending time with Tim Riggins, one of the most perfect fictional men ever, and seriously, who wouldn't want to spend time with Tim Riggins? 

10. Roger from Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Roger could make awesome playlists for us to listen in the sun while enjoying some drinks and good food. 
(The reason I chose Zac Efron is because he's hot - simple as that.)