Waiting on Wednesday: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!I'll Meet You There

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Author: Heather Demetrios

Release date: February 3, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylar can taste the freedom—that is, until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s dusty Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper.

Why I’m excited: This sounds deep, you guys. Everything I’ve read about it so far has said how real and flawed the characters are, and I love flawed characters. This sounds different from your average contemporary and like something I’d really like. Sometimes you want easy-to-read fluffy romances and sometimes you just don’t. This is one of those times. I’ll be checking this one out for sure.

Add I’ll Meet You There to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.

Waiting on Wednesday: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!Saint Anything

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Author: Sarah Dessen

Release date: May 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.

Why I’m excited: Totally not ashamed to admit I am part of Sarah Dessen’s “legion” of fans. I love her books. They always make me inexplicably happy and warm. They’re sweet and fun and lovely. I am so freaking excited for a new one. Six months is a long time to wait but I had to talk about it. I love books that focus on family and the Chathams sound a lot like my “a warm, chaotic family”. Absolutely one of my most anticipated reads of 2015!

ARC Review: Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn’t Fly

Floating Boy and the Girl Who Couldn't Fly

Author: Stephen Graham Jones and Paul Tremblay

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Publisher: Chizine Publications

Publication Date: November 11, 2014

250 pages

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Chizine Publications for letting me read this.

Mary is a normal teenager, but her life gets flip turned upside down when, at her young cousin’s birthday party, a teenage boy climbs up into a tree and takes off – floating away in the wind. When most of the other kids in town start to float as well, including her little brother, things start to get weird. Her brother Terry gets kidnapped and the government puts a quarantine on her town. How is Mary supposed to figure it all out when she’s completely grounded and everyone and everything else is up in the air?

This book just kind of fell flat for me, which is weird since everyone in the book is floating in the air. I think I had higher expectations for this book than I realized: that title, that cover, the synopsis. It sounded so cool, and the book has a lot of potential, but the book just didn’t match up.

I thought that it moved way too fast. This book happens over the course of, like, one day…? I think. It all just kind of blurs together into this one big lump.

As for Mary, I’m not sure how I feel about her. We are told that she has these anxiety problems, but we never really get to experience them before she apparently evolves into someone who is able to take charge to go on a mission to save her brother. I wish we’d been able to see her with her anxiety first. However, one thing I do like about Mary is that she doesn’t really fit in with the story (which did make it hard to connect with her at first). I think that’s the point of her character though: to show how absurd everything that’s happening is. She sticks out, and because she can’t fly, she’s grounded unlike the other characters. This helped make the fantasy aspect of the story feel like it could actually happen.

As for the other characters…meh. They were interesting, but other than the crazy, Bible-bashing cult of relatives Mary has, none of them were particularly memorable. Well, except for the villain. The writing about him actually made my skin crawl, so that’s a plus – not that I like my skin to crawl, but obviously he was creepy enough to get a physical reaction from me.

The bottom line: I suppose I did enjoy this book, and obviously I was intrigued enough to finish. I just don’t know if this’ll be one I remember.

Rating: 5 – take it or leave it

Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young Elites was my first book by Marie Lu, but I am ridiculously impressed. It is incredible.

The Young ElitesAuthor: Marie Lu

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: October 7, 2014

355 pages, hardcover

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

Adelina Amouteru is a malfetto, one of the children who were marked after the blood fever swept through the land. But she isn’t just a regular malfetto, she’s a Young Elite, one of those marked that came out of the blood fever with not just markings, but powers too. And now she’s being hunted for them: by Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition Axis who may just have a secret or two hidden under his robes, and by Enzo Valenciano, leader of the secret sect of Young Elites called the Dagger Society who seeks out others like them. Adelina has powers no one has ever seen before.

This isn’t real. This is a nightmare. This isn’t a nightmare. This is real. – page 25

HOLY CRAP, you guys! This book is freaking incredible. I kept having to put it down and take a break because it was just that good. I’ll start by talking about my favorite part: the world building. Even 25 pages in, I already had a pretty clear picture of what everything looked like, and as the book went on, the little details became clearer. It wasn’t just the city around Adelina. We were given small details about the bordering countries, so that the entire world was being painted around us. I don’t know how she does it, but Marie Lu must have entire worlds in her mind and be able to pull out even the smallest of details to add to the story. Plus her world building isn’t done in an obvious way either (some authors are like, “Here. This is what everything looks like.”). Lu does it in a completely subtle and beautiful way in which you barely notice that you now know how the city, the sky, the streets, the people look. I am definitely not doing her writing justice, but I loved it.

Her eyes are very dark, so dark that sometimes they seem wholly empty. Like he could fall to his death in them. – page 57

That quote is not about Adelina, but I’m going to talk about her now. I really liked her. She’s strong and super stubborn (super stubborn), but I liked her. I enjoyed seeing her grow into herself and her power. Adelina’s darkness was so cool and even though it’s frightening, it’s hard not to root for her.

All of the character have a purpose in this book. No one is just there. It’d probably be pretty difficult to discuss them without giving away the twists and turns in this book, of which there are several. So I’ll just say that everyone is awesome.

The ending was exciting and had me on the edge of my seat. The epilogue was crazy awesome and I seriously cannot wait for book two. I need it. Now. Please?

The bottom line: I could probably talk about this book forever. I am so impressed with it. I checked it out from the library, but I will need my own copy so I can reread it a billion times. HIGHLY recommend this one.

Rating: 9.5 – I don’t think I’ve given a 9.5 before. Basically, it means THIS IS AWESOME.

Stacking the Shelves: New YA Library Books!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

I only do this meme sporadically when I have something I’m really excited about, and this week I do. Pretty much all of the YA books I ordered for my library for the month of October came in this past week, and of course, I checked most of them out.

I already read Marie Lu’s The Young Elites (review soon), but these are three more I checked out. I also bought My True Love Gave to Me, which is a collection of holiday themed short stories by some awesome authors (Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, David Levithan, etc.). I was going to wait until closer to the holidays, but after seeing some glowing reviews of the stories, I decided that I couldn’t wait, so I headed to Target and bought it. I’m looking forward to starting it soon.

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My True Love Gave to Me by various authors / Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick / Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer / Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

What about you guys? Did you buy any new books this week?

ARC Review: Get Happy by Mary Amato

A sweet, fun, emotional read from Mary Amato (author of Guitar Notes), Get Happy made me…well, happy.

Get HappyAuthor: Mary Amato

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publisher: Egmont USA

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

256 pages, hardcover

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Egmont USA for letting me read this.

Get Happy is about high-school girl Minerva just wants to buy a ukulele and play songs while hanging out with her friends. In the novel, she learns that her father didn’t abandon her like her mother told her, and so she begins to investigate him. As Goodreads says, she “builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.”

I’m not going to lie, I’m also a little iffy with books I get approved for on Netgalley. They can be hit or miss with me. It was also said to be for fans of Sarah Dessen (hit) and Gayle Forman (miss), so I was worried, but I shouldn’t have been. This one was a HIT. I’m really impressed with Amato’s writing and with this book.

Get Happy is a coming of age story for Minerva; we see her grow up and into herself as she navigates her first job, finding out her father is not who she thought he was, and fights with her mother. Realistic fiction has a tendency to feel decidedly not real, but not this book. Minerva’s feelings and actions all felt real and genuine, and because of this, I was really able to connect with Minerva and feel for her when it all went to hell. There was one part where something horrible happens (which I will not spoil) that I actually felt like I’d been punched in the gut. That’s a great author that can make me have such a reaction.

Minerva wasn’t the only great character either. Her best friend Fin is so full of life and a ton of fun. New friend Hayes is developed well too. Even the girl we don’t like is fully developed, so we actually do feel annoyed when she shows up. No characters were wasted or useless. I also liked that the parents in the book weren’t just in the background; they care about and protect their children. Even if they don’t always do the right thing, they’re still there.

The bottom line: Get Happy feels like a fun, light, easy read but it has some pretty deep feelings to get through. I really enjoyed it and am happy that I was able to read it.  Recommended for anyone who likes good contemporary, realistic fiction.

Rating: 7.5/10

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!The Fill-In Boyfriend

Publisher: HarperTeen

Author: Kasie West

Release date: May 5, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Why I’m excited: I’m in the mood for a cute book, and this one fits the bill. Unfortunately, I have to wait like SEVEN freaking months to read it! 😦 Maybe I’ll be able to get my hands on ARC of this one! I certainly hope so. The Fill-In Boyfriend sounds adorable and fun and different. Whether or not I get an ARC, I’ll be checking this one out!

Audiobook Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

PanicAuthor: Lauren Oliver

Narrators: Sarah Drew

Audiobook length: 8 hours, 11 minutes

Genre: Young adult, thriller

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks (book via HarperCollins)

The plot of this book is really intriguing: in a small, boring town named Carp in the middle of nowhere New York, the students give a dollar every day for the whole year into a pot. The pot is the prize for the winner of Panic, a game that the newly graduated seniors can take part and which tests their courage, smarts, and daring through a series of exceedingly ridiculous and sometimes illegal stunts over the course of the summer. Heather wasn’t going to participate, but she does and throughout the game, her friendships are tested, alliances are made (and broken), and her life is put on the line. Interesting, right?

Well, it was a little underwhelming for me. I’m really glad I listened to this as an audiobook because Sarah Drew’s narration made this book for me. Her cadences and emphasis and ability to race through words to give the listener a sense of the overwhelming panic Heather feels throughout the tasks was amazing. There are lots of feels in this book too. Heather’s family problems with her mother and the relationship between her and her friends goes through a rollercoaster of emotions and changes, and this is definitely a part that Oliver did a seriously good job with.

On the other hand, several parts of this story are unrealistic. To illustrate, I’m going to quote my friend over at Booknerderie’s review of Panic:

The game itself. On what planet do teens participate in a game that consists of breaking and entering, arson, russian roulette and tigers. Not this planet.

In addition to being somewhat unrealistic, it is also seriously predictable at times. I called the end by about halfway through, which is disappointing.

I’m glad I listened to this as an audiobook, because I think if I had read this, I would’ve given up. Unrealistic, predictable, eye-rolling inducing. Yeah, I would’ve given up, but Sarah Drew’s narration made this book actually thrilling. So yay for audiobooks!

ARC Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue
So if you’ve read my reviews of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves, you could probably tell that I LOVE The Raven Cycle series. I was super excited to get approved for an e-ARC of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and I was not disappointed.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 21, 2014
416 pages, hardcover

WHY? WHY IS IT OVER??? WHY DO I HAVE TO WAIT SO LONG TO FIND OUT WHAT’S NEXT?? Ahhh.

Okay. Breathe, Stefani. Breathe.

If you haven’t read either of the other two books in the series, this review might contain some spoilers. If you haven’t read either of the other two books in the series, what the heck are you doing with your life?? Seriously. Drop everything, and go read them.

This book picks up where The Dream Thieves left off. Everyone is heading back to school. Blue’s mother is still missing. The Gray Man is still in Henriette, but now so is his employer, Greenmantle. I don’t want to give anything else about the plot away, so if you need more, check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

This book was all about character development. Stiefvater continues to develop the characters in these books in such a subtle and careful way. The characters develop in ways that make you wonder if you haven’t always known that about said character. Stiefvater is a master of her craft.

The Raven Cycle series hypnotizes you when you turn the first page. The books put you under a spell. I don’t think about whether the book is good or not. I completely forget that I’m even reading a book and I float through the pages spellbound by the magic and power of Stiefvater’s words.

The pacing in this book was perfect. It had me on the edge of my seat or relaxed and grinning like a fool when I needed to be. This book had more Gansey and Blue moments that the other two, which was lovely. SPOILER if you haven’t read: I wish it had a few more Ronan and Adam moments. I ship them SO hard.

Even though there’s A LOT happening in this book (mysterious caves, lawsuits, missing people, new characters, tombs, death) this book is about friendship: the friendship between five people who are all in love with each other in different ways. The friendships between the Raven Boys and Blue are beautiful, obsessive, loyal, and downright real. Love love love.

Also, the ending.

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The bottom line: My only complaint is that I read this book on my Kindle. I wish it had been a print book so I could flip its pages and feel the magic brushing off on my fingers with each turn. I will most definitely be buying a print copy of this. I cannot wait to reread The Raven Cycle books.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream ThievesAuthor: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Scholastic

Publication Date: September 2013

439 pages, hardcover

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

I cannot fathom reading a series more powerful, magical, spellbinding, or beautiful as the Raven Cycle books. Diving into one of these books is a completely mesmerizing experience. These pages don’t want to let you go, and honestly, I don’t want them to either. It’s hard to put into words how absolutely amazing these books are. I love Maggie’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series too, but the Raven Cycle series perfectly fits her writing.

The prose (and book and characters and settings) feel otherworldly in a way that other books just don’t for me, even if they are about aliens or fantastical creatures. I said this in my review of The Raven Boys, but it’s as if you can feel the magic rubbing off the pages and settling onto your fingers. The experience of reading a Raven Cycle book is completely and utterly magical.

Okay, so I should probably talk about the plot, right? I don’t want to give too much away that could be potentially spoilery, so this review might just be super gushy about why I love everyone in this book. Ronan, who I think you’re meant to be uncertain about in the first novel, is the focus in this one. I really came to adore him throughout The Dream Thieves. I didn’t feel that warm and cuddly toward him in the first, but I just wanted to hug him a lot in this one. Also, Gansey. Oh, dear God, Gansey. I liked him in The Raven Boys, I think, in part, due to the fact that I could really relate to his passion, his need to find Glendower. But in The Dream Thieves, I fell in love with him. He’s so…swoon-worthy.

In The Dream Thieves, we get dream thieves. Shocking, I know. This is such an interesting idea! People who can pull things from their dreams. I loved that, even after we found out that sometimes it can be dangerous, especially when the ability is abused.

Like in my review of The Raven Boys, I want to give you a few examples of just how beautiful Maggie’s prose is. I reread these sentences a few times because they were…amazing (which feels like a completely inadequate word to describe this book).

“Anything that didn’t impale itself on the sharp line of the sleeping boy’s cruel mouth would be tangled in the merciless hooks of his tattoo, pulled beneath his skin to drown.” – 34

“It was a sort of ferocious, quiet beauty, the sort that wouldn’t let you admire it. The sort of beauty that always hurt.” – 364

“And Ronan did. Because Niall Lynch was a forest fire, a rising sea, a car crash, a closing curtain, a blistering symphony, a catalyst with planets inside him. And he had given all of that to his middle son.” – 370

I can’t tell you how many times throughout this book that I went, “Jesus. That’s good” or “Ugghhh. I will never write something as beautiful and lovely as this book.”

The bottom line: Read it. Do it for your soul.

Rating: 10 – Perfection. One of the best books I’ve ever read (one of the super rare 10s I give out on my blog)

Reading next: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. Thank goodness I had an e-ARC of this.