Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Roomies - Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando (Review)

Roomies book cover
Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 24, 2013
Source/Format: Borrowed from Rachel (Thanks!) || ARC

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met. (from Goodreads)

I'll be honest: I really wanted to read Roomies because I had the whole roommate experience in college. The relationship you form with the people you share a room with is both that of friend and family, as you live, work and play together for four years (or maybe even longer). Even though Roomies is actually more about each girl's summer-before-college experience, and their correspondence during that time, it still wound up being an incredibly charming novel.

I really liked EB and Lauren, and felt that the shifts between their points of view was done quite seamlessly. It helps that they're very different people - EB is the only daughter of a single mom who is looking forward to moving away for college, while Lauren is from a big family with wonderful parents and lots of siblings who is looking forward to having some privacy and space. Their summers play out very differently, but have similar themes: figuring out how to keep tight with old friends, addressing some family things, and just a hint of romance.

Honestly, Roomies has a pretty basic premise, but I really liked it. Perhaps it's the fact that I could totally relate to how, slowly but surely, Lauren and EB formed a friendship. Or maybe it's because I could relate to parts of their separate stories about the summer before college. But what I really appreciated most of all? Roomies makes it clear that friendships can form between the unlikeliest of pairs, given time and proper communication. If you're looking for another contemporary novel to check out, definitely give Roomies a shot!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Zac and Mia - A.J. Betts

Zac and Mia book cover
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source/Format: BEA 2014 (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

"When I was little I believed in Jesus and Santa, spontaneous combustion, and the Loch Ness monster. Now I believe in science, statistics, and antibiotics." So says seventeen-year-old Zac Meier during a long, grueling leukemia treatment in Perth, Australia. A loud blast of Lady Gaga alerts him to the presence of Mia, the angry, not-at-all-stoic cancer patient in the room next door. Once released, the two near-strangers can't forget each other, even as they desperately try to resume normal lives. (from Goodreads)

Right from the start, Zac and Mia was interesting. It had the same vibe as this novel, so I wasn't particularly surprised that I instantly found it appealing. The premise is pretty straightforward, but what I really liked were the two main characters - Zac and Mia. 

Of the two, Zac is the one I instantly liked. He was really positive, in spite of the difficult circumstances he's in, and I admired his spirit. This is not to say that he didn't have his moments of weakness, because he totally did and that just made him seem human. He's a guy that it seems like it would be easy to be friends with in real life! Mia, on the other hand, is a girl who is prickly and angry and guarded when she first shows up. She's very dramatic, and though it's just a manifestation of her rebellion and anger, it still kind of bothered me. But she experiences quite the transformation, so by the end, I liked her well enough.

There are so many facets to this story - family + friendship, attraction + romance. But the biggest element is, of course, the cancer. Cancer is the reason Zac and Mia even cross paths in the first place, since they're being treated at the same place, and cancer is the thing that ties them both together. The different outlooks on life that cancer patients have is certainly part of Zac and Mia, and something I thought made it fascinating.

Even though I did find myself engrossed in Zac and Mia at the start, my interest had started flagging by the time we reached the (unexpected) end. My feelings for Zac and Mia are quite muddled, considering it started so strong and had pretty well-crafted characters but had an ending that I'm not sure worked for me, as well as some pretty dramatic moments that felt a little too contrived.  So, this time around, I think it's fair to ask you to decide for yourself if you're interested in this one or not!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Monday Mix (35)

Well, well, well, it's been ages since I was able to do The Monday Mix! I'm sure most of you know how much I enjoy sharing the link love, whether here or on Twitter, so I'm happy to be bringing it back this week. Hopefully, this becomes a more regular feature again, as there are some really great posts being shared all over the web, and I want you to see them too!

I'm always tickled pink by a great discussion post. Here are a few I loved:

There's nothing lovelier than enthusiasm for books, and here are some incredible endorsements:

Goodness, but I just adore reviews that are thorough, coherent and full of feels:

Looking for fun posts to read? A post that might amuse you or make you smile? Look no further!

I don't just read book blogs. There are so many other blogs out there, and I enjoy them too! Here are a few life-related posts that I really liked:

And there you have it, friends! A round-up of some of the posts I've enjoyed (even though I do have a lot of catching up to do). Let me know if you've come across any posts that you feel I'd be interested in reading in the comments!


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