Monday, September 1, 2014

An August 2014 Retrospective

It breaks my heart just the teensiest bit that August - my birthday month - is already over! I've had so much fun this month, from spoiling myself rotten with presents, to being spoiled by others with presents, to getting to be out and about in the summer sunshine. A part of me, honestly, doesn't want it to end! But end it has, and now we're welcoming in the month of September - and starting things off right with Labor Day off.

September is going to be an exciting month! On the blog, I'm doing a bunch of posts to celebrate some of my favorite books + authors, and I'm finally back to one post a day (which is a relief). In real life, Macky is finally coming to New York (which I'm thrilled about!). And we're taking the last week of September off to go to Florida to celebrate our first wedding anniversary (which I'm still shocked about, because the year went by so fast)! Plus, there are signings I definitely plan on being at with some of my favorite authors - Sarah Maas, Susan Dennard, Gayle Forman, Stephanie Perkins, I'm looking at you! All in all, it's bound to be pretty epic, and well, I'm grateful to you readers for being along for the ride.

Rites of Passage - Joy N. Hensley
Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins
Lover Reborn - J.R. Ward
I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

 The Art of Lainey - Paula Stokes
Saving Francesca - Melina Marchetta
Forever Interrupted - Taylor Jenkins Reid
Making Faces - Amy Harmon
Firebug - Lish McBride
Wildlife - Fiona Wood
The Perilous Sea - Sherry Thomas
Neverhome - Laird Hunt
I Shall Be Near To You - Erin Lindsay McCabe

Three Bird Summer - Sara St. Antoine
Heir of Fire - Sarah J. Maas
After I Do - Taylor Jenkins Reid
Let's Get Lost - Adi Alsaid
Empire Girls - Suzanne Hayes + Loretta Nyhan
Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo
The Promise - Robyn Carr
Rites of Passage - Joy N. Hensley
The Homecoming - Robyn Carr
Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins
The Vault of Dreamers - Caragh M. O'Brien
Of Metal & Wishes - Sarah Fine
Say What You Will - Cammie McGovern

Alexa & Judith's Epic Summer Read-Along:

Books in Real Life: Racing Savannah
The Monday Mix: #34
Stacking the Shelves: #12: The Birthday Haul

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dangerous Boys - Abigail Haas (Review)

Dangerous Boys book cover
Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: August 14, 2014
Source/Format: Author (Thank you!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Three teens venture into an abandoned lake house one night. Hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding. The other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense? Or murder ...? Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece the story together - a story of jealousy, twisted passion and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful faces... (from Goodreads)

Dangerous Boys is a novel that is fascinating and creepy in equal measures. Like Dangerous Girls, there's a strong sense of "What the hell just happened?" that emanates from all the twists and turns Haas guides us through. But unlike the former, Dangerous Boys will leave readers with questions not just about these characters, but also about themselves.

There are many things about Dangerous Boys that make it interesting: the small-town setting, Chloe's familial circumstances, her relationships with brothers Ethan and Oliver. Haas manages to juxtapose the contrasts well - safety versus risk, helplessness versus power, light versus dark. The most intriguing bit? How Haas teases Chloe's complex personality out as the novel progresses, multiple facets coming under scrutiny.

Dangerous Boys is different from its predecessor. There's a quietness to the way its told, almost like its a secret that this sleepy small town is keeping. It's definitely terrifying, and also horrifying, and yet, I couldn't help myself and had to keep turning the pages. While I do wish that I'd formed a stronger connection with the characters, the novel is still a pretty solid read.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Say What You Will - Cammie McGovern (Review)

Say What You Will book cover
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks Harper Collins!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected. (from Goodreads)

“It’s not you, it’s me.” I pulled out this age old adage in my review of Say What You Will, because it feels relevant. There are a lot of things about this novel that, in theory, would have worked for me: the offbeat and unique main characters, the issues they face, the storytelling style. And yet, something just never clicked, even though I did finish. Even now, I can’t quite pinpoint what it is exactly that bugs me, so bear with me as I try.

As usual, here is a list of the things I liked about Say What You Will:
  • Concept – Okay, seriously, the concept behind this novel is pretty great. I was really looking forward to it after I read the synopsis the first time. It sounded clever, and different, and, admittedly, it was! I seriously liked the angle the author took in telling this story. 
  • Moments – There are a few moments that really stood out to me, moments that felt really special and wonderful and great for these characters. I loved how raw the emotions were at times, and how real everything felt. Plus, the ending really appealed to me and didn’t feel cliché in any way!
And here is the (pretty major) thing that didn't work for me with Say What You Will:
  • Characters – Honestly, I just never clicked for me with Amy or Matthew. I can definitely say that they were portrayed in a realistic light. However, I just didn’t like some of their actions, nor was I particularly able to connect with either one very well. I honestly felt pretty ambivalent towards both. Since this contemporary novel is predicated on working if you care for the characters, this just wound up becoming the reason I didn’t enjoy this one.

Still, in spite of my personal reaction, there is something about Say What You Will that has the potential to appeal to readers (as I know it did, for many of my friends). It might not have been my particular cup of tea, but it could be yours. So, if you think this story sounds intriguing or find yourself curious about these characters, I can encourage you to at least give it a shot!


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