December 5, 2014

Mistletoe & Mr. Right - Lyla Payne

Title: Mistletoe & Mr. Right
Author: Lyla Payne
Pages: 150
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…but lust refused to settle in for a long winter's nap.
She might be all nestled, snug in her bed, by why, oh why, do visions of the wrong guy dance in her head?

Jessica, (not Jessie), figures that nothing could be better than a trip to the Emerald Isle for Christmas break. So she takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays, not only sure that he will finally agree they're destined for each other, but also that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily-ever-after. 

But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and even the family goat seems to be conspiring against her well-laid plans. The only person making the trip worthwhile is the very last one she should be thinking about, but Grady, the local farmhand, has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most...and least.

I will reading literally ANYTHING if it says it's about Christmas.  Christmas is my favorite holiday and I want everything that I come into contact with in December to be Christmas themed.  When I saw this up on NetGalley I knew I had to request it.  Not only is it Christmas, it's Christmas in IRELAND.  It sounded totally up my alley.  And it was...kind of.

Jessica, (not Jessie - annoying), is a very structured person.  She has her whole life meticulously planned out and she's still in college.  The one thing not going according to her plan?  Her relationship with Brennan, the cute boy she met at a frat party at the beginning of her junior year.  They're dating, but it's not as serious as Jessica wants it to be.  What's a girl to do?  If you answered fly to Ireland to barge in on your boyfriend's family Christmas celebration with no warning to anyone at all, you are absolutely correct.

Okay, here's the thing.  This is a crazy thing to do.  We can all see that, right?  She doesn't tell Brennan or his family (who she's never met before) that she's coming to Ireland for Christmas.  She doesn't make any hotel plans, she just expects to drop in on these people at what is generally accepted as the busiest time of the year and stay at their home.  Not only is this so incredibly rude, but for someone who needs to have her entire life planned out by the time she's 21 I cannot for one second believe that she would not have planned to stay in a hotel in case the reception wasn't the one that she hoped for.  She could have just pretended to be on vacation when people gave her the 'girl are you serious???' face.  "Oh, me?  No I was just passing through the Irish country side (even though I never mentioned any kind of trip to Ireland at all to you) and thought I'd drop in to say Merry Christmas to your family."  Still not great, but much better than, "Hi, I'm your son's girlfriend who he clearly has never mentioned before and oh, by the way, I expect to take up space in your home during this busy time."

Now, this clearly happens very early on in the book and it was something that I absolutely could not get over.  The rest of the novella was fine.  It's pretty much the expected drama - ex-girlfriend that the family still loves to bits and the bf is clearly not over, hot farmhand who saves the goat that Jessica RAN OVER WITH HER RENTAL CAR and she is super attracted to, wacky family hijinks like almost killing her boyfriend's father with pie spices.  You know, standard fare.  

I wasn't really expecting to be wowed by this one, so (besides getting me all riled up about her travel non-plans) it was a decent read for me.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for something Christmas-y or who has a thing for hottie hot hot Irish farm boys.

November 13, 2014

This Is What Happy Looks Like - Jennifer E. Smith

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Pages: 416
Publisher: Poppy

From goodreads.comWhen teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 
Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Another solid contemporary romance from Jennifer E. Smith.  I really enjoy her straightforward, not-too-flowery writing style and I love her characters.  I really liked seeing Graham's perspective, a little peek inside a movie star's head who doesn't really feel like a movie star, and Ellie was awesome too.  The only thing that felt slightly off at first was the storyline with her dad.  I wound up liking how it played out, but at the beginning it felt a little unnecessary.  Also, something about the pacing felt choppy, but it may just be how it was broken up while i was reading it.  Overall this was a great contemporary summer read- just what I was looking for when I read it.

November 6, 2014

The Scar Boys - Len Vlahos

Title: The Scar Boys

Author: Len Vlahos
Pages: 256
Publisher: Egmont USA

From goodreads.comA severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out. 

Like an older, punk rock version of Wonder.  The Scar Boys tells the story of Harry, a boy badly disfigured by burns when he was a kid.  Everyone in his school is terrible to him, except one person - Johnny.  They become best friends and, as so many do, they start a band.  Turns out, they're pretty good.  They go from playing local events to clubs to the point where they want to take it on the road before Johnny leaves for college.

The Scar Boys is an exploration of a lot of things in a very quick moving time in your life.  The summer before college is that time where you start questioning EVERYTHING: your parents, your friends, and especially yourself.

From a bookselling point of view this book is a godsend.  I'm always looking for new books to give to reluctant teen boy readers and this is perfect.  It has a really great boy voice and is about one of my favorite things - music.  An easy sell and a great read.

November 4, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (74)

This week's topic is

I am 100% a rereader.  I get attached to characters and never want to let go.  There are series that I’ll always reread that I’m not putting on this list because it is just a constant level of wanting to read them again in my brain (Harry Potter, The Princess Diaries, Secret Society Girl, Anna/Lola/Isla).

These are books I need/want to reread so I can continue the series:

The Darkest Minds
Throne of Glass
I Hunt Killers
The Mara Dyer series
Rebel Belle

And there are some books that I will never ever tire of rereading:

Some Girls Are
Also Known As
Where She Went

 Love Happens (this is a totally cheesy 90s Christmas book that I have loved forever and reread every year DO NOT JUDGE ME)

What about you guys?  Do you like to reread or do you feel like it's a waste of reading time?

October 30, 2014

Asylum - Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum
Author: Madeleine Roux
Pages: 313
Publisher: HarperTeen

From goodreads: For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

I picked Asylum because it looks so creepy, obviously.  Perfect for a Halloween read.  That being said, I didn’t wind up loving it as much as I had hoped to.  The concept is interesting, but I think there are just too many unbelievable and unexplained things.  I know this is a series, but I think more details had to be revealed in the first one in order to keep me interested in continuing.  Because (spoilers ahead) if it’s a past lives thing or a descendants of these people having revenge episodes I think it needs to be more clearly put that that is what’s going on.  Also, there is no freaking way in hell a summer prep course would be housed in an abandoned mental institution that sections of it still retain things from its past as an institution.  I’m talking pictures still hung on the wall – totally creepy – files still in the desk kind of thing.  No way, I don’t care if they can’t tear it down because it’s a historical site there is no way they would allow that stuff to still be there or let children live there for 6 weeks.  I also felt that, while people did die, it never really felt like it mattered at all?  Like, we didn’t know them very well and they had very little impact on the story except to make it seem like the killer was one specific person.  While I think this was a decent read, I don’t think I will be continuing with the series. 

October 28, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (73)

This week's topic is

I mean, it's top ten books/movies to read/watch to get you in the Halloween mood, but you get the point.  This is basically a list of everything I’ve read and watched this October.  Most of the movies are my standard Halloween fare (like, if I don’t watch Hocus Pocus at least once a week in October I’ve really screwed something up.)  I went to the library the very first week of October to pick out a bunch of spooky books and I actually read them all.  Kicking ass and taking names this October, honestly.

Hocus Pocus

Conversion - Katherine Howe

Practical Magic

Asylum - Madeleine Roux


Salt & Storm - Kendall Kulper

The Craft

Don’t You Forget About Me - Kate Karyus Quinn

Halloween H2O

Any Edgar Allan Poe collection

What do you guys do to get yourselves in a Halloween mood?

October 23, 2014

The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider

Title: The Beginning of Everything

Author: Robyn Schneider
Pages: 335
Publisher: Katherine Tegen

From  Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.
But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

I was in a weird mood when I read this, where it wasn't really what I was looking for but I needed to grab something to bring to work.  It turned out to be perfect for me.  It has: a love story that (SPOILER ALERT) doesn't end well, shattered dreams (and a shattered knee!), an awesome group of friends, and is generously sprinkled with pop culture references (Welcome to the OC, bitch!).

I think this book really benefits from its cast of characters.  Ezra is super likable and Cassidy is just a little bit quirky and out there without being annoying.  Toby is awesome and totally there for Ezra even though their friendship fell apart years ago.  The roller coaster story is both horrifying and wonderful at the same time.  Ezra and Cassidy's love story is heartbreaking, beautiful, and (amongst all the tragedy) exactly what a senior year romance is.  I think Schneider got it perfectly in this one.

October 21, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (72)

This week's topic is

This was a tough list for me.  I apparently have either started a bunch of series this past year or have totally sped right through them (I’m looking at you Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices.)  Here’s a list of series that I haven’t started yet and am still looking forward to reading.

The Ascendance Trilogy - Jennifer A. Neilsen
The Raven Cycle - Maggie Stiefvater
The Cahill Witch Chronicles - Jessica Spotswood
The Something Strange and Deadly series - Susan Dennard
The Lynburn Legacy series - Sarah Rees Brennan
The Young Elites series - Marie Lu
The Lunar Chronicles - Melissa Meyer
The Lumatere Chronicles - Melina Marchetta
The Agency series - Y. S. Lee
The Mediator series - Meg Cabot

Have you read any of these and loved them?  Are there any series that I've missed on this list?  Drop me a note in the comments!

October 16, 2014

You Look Different In Real Life - Jennifer Castle

Title: You Look Different In Real Life

Author: Jennifer Castle Pages: 355Publisher: HarperTeen
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Okay, I really, REALLY liked this book.  Justine as a narrator was great, she had a very relatable voice.  She doesn't feel like the girl from the movies anymore and that rang so true to me.  Who at 16 is who they were at 5?  At 11?  Practically no one.

At heart this book is about all five of these kids.  I thought that was going to be difficult to get everyone's story across when it was only coming from Justine's perspective, but it actually worked out really well.  Even though these kids didn't talk anymore, you could still tell that there was an underlying bond there.  It did take a while to uncover the bonds, but that made it feel real.  I really liked that Lance and Leslie (the filmmakers) didn't have nefarious intentions at all.  They were genuinely invested in these kids and their lives.

When it ended, I wanted more.  I wanted to stay with these kids and find out what happened next.  That is the sign of an awesome read for me.  Would they go on to do Five at Twenty One?  What does Felix's future look like?  How is Kiera?  Rory?  Nate?  Nate was just everything.  Possibly the only thing that was lacking in the story for me was more Nate.  I could tell from the beginning that he was going to be important and I wanted more.

Overall, this was a great read and I can't wait to check out more from Jennifer Castle!

Favorite quote: