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 goodreads.com:  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
From goodreads.com: 
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: 

October 14, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (71)

This week's topic is

You know that pretty cheesy saying, books can take you anywhere?  It's kind of true.  A good writer can totally immerse you in the setting and put you right alongside their characters in whatever they're going through.  Here are some of the places my reading has made me want to pilgrimage to outside the page:

Most recently, the stormy island setting of Salt & Storm made me want to seek out a nice rainy day on Cape Cod near the water. 

Open Road Summer made me wish that I had a best friend who was a performer so I could spend the summer hanging out on a tour bus.  (To be honest this has been a dream of mine long before I read Open Road Summer.  Why didn't I surround myself with musical geniuses when I was younger?)

Music City was one of the major settings in Wildflower, and I was lucky enough to read it the week before I left for Nashville.  I am now totally obsessed with Nashville by the way and am counting down until I can go back. 

What reader in their right mind wouldn’t jump to spend some time at Hogwarts?  I would gladly hang out in the Great Hall when it’s decked out for Halloween or Christmas, spend some time in front of the fire in the Gryffindor common room, or watch an intense game of Quidditch from the stands.

Anna and the French Kiss always makes me want to give Paris a second chance.

And then, of course, there's the London of Falling In Love With English Boys, the New York City of The Geography of You and Me and Isla and the Happily Ever After, the Moroi Court in Bloodlines/Vampire Academy, the San Francisco of Lola and the Boy Next Door, the Amsterdam of Just One Day/Just One Year...the destinations are truly endless.   Where have books made you want to go?

October 6, 2014

Twigs - Alison Ashley Formento & GIVEAWAY!

Title: Twigs
Author: Alison Ashley Formento
Pages: 272
Publisher: Merit Press

From goodreads.comOne pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.

* * *

Okay, so Twigs is the story of a girl nicknamed (obviously) Twigs who is desperately trying to ditch said nickname before college starts.  Her journey in this book starts when she meets Helen, a woman on the verge of a total mental breakdown.  Her husband left her and she reacts by destroying the hair dye aisle of the local pharmacy where Twigs works.  The unlikely friendship between these two was one of my favorite parts of this book.  It was really nice to see that Twigs had a place to run to when things got overwhelming at home.  It made everything that she had going on feel a little less tragic because she had someone on her side.

This, I think, is very indicative of where this book’s strengths lie, which is in the cast of interesting characters.  The goodreads description gives you a taste of some of them that we meet along the way.

I would say this is a solid coming of age story with a high amount of drama.  It almost feels soapy (and lord knows I used to love the soaps) because of how intense everything is.  At times the amount of plot twists became a little overwhelming for me.  I even think the story could have benefitted from a little bit less going on at times.  But, if you like your reads super dramatic with a kooky cast of characters, look no further than Twigs.  

We are lucky enough to have a signed hardcover copy of Twigs to giveaway this week courtesy of the author.  Must be ages 13+ and a US RESIDENT to win.  Winner will be notified by email.

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