Tuesday, October 22, 2013

As You Wish by Jackson Pearce

Standalone. HarperTeen (August 2009) Library
Ever since Viola's boyfriend broke up with her, she has spent her days silently wishing—to have someone love her again and, more importantly, to belong again—until one day she inadvertently summons a young genie out of his world and into her own. He will remain until she makes three wishes.

Jinn is anxious to return home, but Viola is terrified of wishing, afraid she will not wish for the right thing, the thing that will make her truly happy. As the two spend time together, the lines between master and servant begin to blur, and soon Jinn can't deny that he's falling for Viola. But it's only after Viola makes her first wish that she realizes she's in love with Jinn as well . . . and that if she wishes twice more, he will disappear from her life—and her world—forever.                                                          

Jackson Pearce spins a magical tale about star-crossed lovers, what it means to belong . . . and how important it is to be careful what you wish for.

As Viola sits in class she starts to contemplate everything wrong in her life and everything she wished she could change. There's been something missing inside her ever since her best friend and former boyfriend told her he was gay. Now she isn't Viola and Lawrence anymore. She doesn't feel like she's anyone anymore. So she's just thinking, wishing that her life can change and then... eyes are staring back at her. This boy just suddenly appears before her and claims that she can have three wishes that done right can change her whole life. Much to the genie's, Jinn, chagrin Viola is taking her time on her wishes trying to find exactly what will make her happy. As Jinn and Viola spend time together their perspectives of each other change and love blossoms. But after three wishes Jinn will be gone. What will happen when Viola and Jinn are faced with that one last wish?

Viola is feeling invisible. She's lost a lot of confidence and can't seem to get back on track. I can relate to her feeling like she doesn't belong. She's doesn't fit into a certain group, she's in nowheresland. She feels all this after her break up with her boyfriend (who is still her best friend) which is a realistic reaction to a teenage breakup/first love. Although, towards the end her reactions to things seem a little childish and over dramatic. Viola is still a very relatable character who's story is enchanting.

I love that there is a world of genies! As soon as I read that As You Wish was about genies I had to read it. I mean genies... come on! That is so cool. I've never read or heard of a book with this kind of original story line. The magical aspect of the genies and wishes were fantastic. I liked the imagery of Caliban, the genie world, and the system in place to keep the genies "safe". Caliban is supposed to be a world of beauty and peace. But, in that world no one has a name or real individuality to them. Their life is endless. There is no real passion, pain, or love. 

Jinn wants to grant his wishes and leave right away to go back to his home in Caliban but he is faced with the contemplative Viola. Jinn is a bit perplexed by Viola. He's never met anyone like her and has him facing the real possibility that the life he is living is not a very satisfying one. I liked Jinn even more than Viola. He was a bit moody but in an endearing way. He really cared about Viola and his relationship with her was sweet. Jinn's coming to terms with his life in Caliban and his life here on earth was a real central part of why I liked this book so much. Again towards the end it was a bit dramatic but the magic, originality, and growth in characters really made this book a very light, fun read. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Post: 10/20/13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received and share news about what's coming up for the next week ahead.

This Week:

I finally got around to do more than one review this week which I'm really happy about. School's going really good so far. I only have to worry about this one class but I am studying for it like I need to so I should be fine. It's ridiculously hot over here! It's 86 degrees all the time. It's kind of worrying. I mean it's almost November and it isn't cool at all. It's been a great week and hopefully next week will be the same only with a lot more reading. Oh, also I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday. It is so weird to see all these new books that you know about but you've never seen a physical copy of. I really miss going to bookstores... all the books there are just so beautiful!

Last Week on the Blog:

I reviewed My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, The Practice Pet (picture book), and 13 Little Blue Envelopes (finally!). I got four books from the library yesterday: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers, The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, and Hide and Seek by Sara Shepard. Hide and Seek is from the Lying Game series. I really hope it's better than the last one. The last one was more building up to this book and events that are going to happen so I'm excited about that. But, the book I'm really looking forward to reading is Cracked Up to Be. It seems like it would be a really enjoyable and fast read.

Around the Blogosphere (a.k.a. my to-read list is now larger):

Some books I added to my to-read list that I can't wait to get my hands on: Being Billy by Phil Earle and Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale.

Posts/articles/videos I enjoyed: 

Plans for Next Week:

I plan on reviewing As You Wish and The Shining. I also want to spotlight this website I recently discovered. I'm currently reading Pivot Point which is good so far. 

I want to read Cracked Up to BeCrash14 Fibs of Gregory K., and Pivot Point. I don't have that much going on this week so if I am able to read at least three books it's been a good week.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Little Blue Envelope #1. Harper Teen (Dec. 2010) Library
Would you follow the directions?

Would you travel around the world?           

Would you open the envelopes one by one?                                                                         

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.                         

In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–-though utterly romantic–-results.
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it's all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Ginny is about to embark on the journey of a lifetime and it is all thanks to her crazy, artist aunt. She must follow the directions her aunt has laid out for her in 13 little blue envelopes. After she finishes one task, she goes on to next one, traveling around Europe from London to Paris to Venice and all the places in between. Ginny wouldn't be called the "adventurous type." Only when she was with her aunt did she truly let herself be free. Ginny goes on this reckless journey because her Aunt Peg asked her to, a person she has a great bond with, at a time when she is trying to discover who she is. Along the way she meets a cast of mismatched characters including a starving artist who captures her heart. Through this journey Ginny begins to discover herself in an off beaten path type of way all because of her favorite aunt.

I read this awhile back specifically because I wanted to read a book with a good romance but I found that this book isn't nearly so much about romance as it is about Ginny growing and learning things about herself on a trip to Europe. Ginny is very much the type of person that "follows the rules" but when she's with her aunt she's very LOUD which is very much like me so instantly I liked Ginny's character. I liked that her aunt was guiding her throughout her journey.  It was pretty clear what Ginny's aunt wanted her to learn from this trip but it took awhile for Ginny to understand which was nice because you got to see Ginny discover what she needs to with this trip. 

I've never read a book where there is this much traveling so I enjoyed going to all these new places and seeing them through Ginny's eyes but as Ginny got tired of all the new places so did I. I was left feeling rushed towards the end which I'm not too happy about. I also didn't like the romance portion which seemed a little useless to be honest. It didn't really add anything for me. I really did love the story and Ginny's character. There were things that I had fault with towards the end but I always enjoyed reading about Ginny's growth as a character. Everyone comments on how the sequel is better than this first book so I really want to read it and see if it lives up to its hype. I would recommend giving 13 Little Blue Envelopes a try if you are looking for a good travel book with a character trying to figure out her place in this world.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Practice Pet by Anne Scully Illustrated by Robert Scully

Standalone. StoryPanda (September 2013) Publisher

Sammy wants a pet snake, but has to prove he's ready to take on the responsibility by caring for a "practice pet." As you read you can help Sammy show he’s ready for the responsibility of a new pet. 

Sammy asks his dad one day if he can have a pet snake but he's dad answers no. As a compromise he announces that they will go to the toy store the next day to get a practice pet - a toy Sammy will take care of to show that he can be responsible enough for an actual pet. Sammy chooses his practice pet, names him Rex, and goes all over the place having fun with his new pet until something seems off with Rex. So Sammy tries to find a way to get his friend feeling better.

I was slightly worried I wasn't going to like this book as much as I enjoyed Stumble, Trip, Fall by the illustrator but I have to say that Anne Scully did a remarkable job creating a unique story that kept my interest throughout the book. I don't know how I've never heard of such a thing as a practice pet. It's such a simple and great idea for a story and for real life. I can just see kids loving The Practice Pet and later on begging their parents for one of their own. 

Sammy's story was so charming and sweet. Sammy really shows dedication to help his new pet. His story can really show kids the importance of responsibility while being easily absorbed by this fun little adventure and it's wonderful illustrations. I am completely satisfied and happy to be seeing Robert Scully's illustrations once more. I loved all the purple everywhere and how it all seemed to jump at you. It's very bright and dynamic. I'm excited to read more great books by this duo. I'm loving all these Scully books so far and hope to enjoy more in the future.

Overall: Sammy's story was delightful and the illustrations were of course wonderful. 

You may be wondering why the summary says that you can help Sammy show he's ready to take on the responsibility of a new pet, well with StoryPanda this is an interactive book. There are different animations and sounds that come with The Practice Pet. You can create your own story with Sammy and Rex by having them go on different adventures as well as having them say what you want them to and then you get to share it with your friends and family on the web. StoryPanda does a lot of interactive books which are all pretty cool. It could be something fun for kids to do and I'm sure they'll enjoy reading more because they are able to interact with the books story. It's just another way to get kids to love reading! You can find the book app here.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of The Practice Pet in exchange for an honest review!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman

Standalone. Abrams/Amulet Books (Oct. 2013) NetGalley
During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for "star") Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o--who might also be her boyfriend--and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith.  


Tara is a Jewish-Indian-American girl who is preparing for her bat mitzvah. On her journey to her celebration she tries to find balance with her Jewish and Indian roots. When she's trying not to let her Indian heritage fall behind, she's facing a whole bunch of mishaps and changes surfacing in her life like how her best friend, Ben-o, is all of a sudden acting nervous around her and how her other best friend, Rebecca, is moving away from her and towards being friends with know-it-all Sheila. On top of all that Tara faces the tough question on whether she really believes in God or not. My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age story that has great elements of culture, family, friends, and faith.

Tara acts like a typical 12 year old. She makes mistakes and can act rashly. She hasn't really paid attention to what's going on with her friends so she may seem selfish at points but really she's acting like a regular kid. She's tough and doesn't like it when she's told she's not really Jewish. She can get herself into quite some trouble when she acts on her emotions. I like that this is a coming of age story where the main character already can stand up for herself. She's growing in a less pronounced way but she's still growing.  I love that she wants to make sure that both her cultures remain important in her life. 

I really liked that Freedman brought up someone accusing her of not being Jewish. I've had a similar thing happen to me when someone said I wasn't really Hispanic.  That really hurt and I could understand how Tara was feeling. I love that I was able to relate to Tara's story in that way. I didn't really know that is something people just say so it was kind of comforting in a way. I also really enjoyed the talk of food. So many different words to say so many delicious foods! Food is a very important aspect to a person's culture so I really liked that it was incorporated so much in the story.

The only thing that slightly bugged me was the romance. It was very awkward which you would expect at their age but I never really understood why it was there. It didn't really bring anything to the story for me. I wish there was more of Rabbi Aron too. I liked the whole mentor thing going on with him and Tara. He helped her through questions and doubts she was having throughout the story. I loved when he told her "Find comfort in your doubts... Only the weak are absolutely sure of everything." I feel like that's something a lot of kids should hear especially when they get to be at that age where everything seems to be changing -when you doubt everything. This was a great story coming of age story that delved deep into a multicultural girl's life. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari

Book #1. Albert Whitman & Co. (Sept. 2013) NetGalley
Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic, and outspoken family in which it's not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie's health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. An incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance--and often injustice--of life and death. But at its heart, it's a celebration of friendship, culture--and life.

Mira is a very shy, precocious girl. She's at this pinnacle moment in her life where everything is changing. From facing the upcoming loss of someone close to her, becoming a "woman", falling for her first love, and finding her voice, Mira represents the changes a lot of young girls face in their tween years. Brahmachari creates a heartwarming story about growing up and how moments and choices in your life can shape you.

Mira is very quiet and let's her friend do the talking for her. She becomes visibly red when she talks in front of the class as well as in front of the boy she likes. Unlike me at that age she's very brave. She stands up for herself. You see her facing the fact that her grandmother is going to die soon and you see her change from that. There's also a writing group that she goes to with a couple of other students. You get to read about her life through her journal entries as well as from just the events occurring - her journal entries basically playback her thoughts on some significant moments that happen to her. I loved her bravery and seeing her come out of her shell. I think this is a great book for a lot of young girls that haven't yet shown the world who they are.

"When someone is dying, everything you say and do means more than it normally does. When someone is dying, you notice things... everything really. The whole of life is in slow motion." 

Nana Josie, her grandmother, is dying and that's obviously tough on Mira. Mira is very very close with Nana Josie probably because they both  love art so much. Nana Josie is an artist and she really wants to leave with a bang. She's a very charismatic person who is the type of person who makes friends at every turn. She's quite the character. She's a very sweet person and very... zany. She leaves it all out there. It's very heartbreaking to see this woman full of life dying. She embraces it though like how she and Mira paint her own coffin bright colors, she's just like that.

Being a 12 year old girl you expect a certain change. Mira gets her period which she talks about some. It's actually weird how there's like no books that mention a character getting their period. I mean it might be sort of awkward to read about but all us ladies go through it. It's not some big conspiracy and it's good for girls to relate to that situation especially if they read it during that time. 

"Most people, by the time they get old, have grown themselves tough little shells around their hearts... The outside layers of an artichoke are so tough they're not even worth eating, but they get more and more tender as you come closer to the heart. These tough outer layers stop you feeling so much, so people walk around with hard little hearts that no one can touch."

I enjoyed Mira in the Present Tense. It's a bit slow until you get used to it and there was some of what felt like repetition or over talk about some topics. Other than that Mira's story was great. I cried at the right moments and Nana Josie broke my heart. Mira's brother at the end also got me going. I kind of feel like this book is for all the awkward girls out there. It's a great tween book that shows a girl facing real issues in her life. I also want to say that I'm super happy the main character is Indian. Very rare in books these days to have a protagonist that has a different culture and we need a little change every now and then. A sweet story.

This seems to be an old book that is being released again with a new cover and title. The original title is Artichoke Hearts which makes perfect sense for this story. There's also a sequel called Jasmine Skies. I don't know if there is going to be a new title and cover for it next year or what but both original book covers look great to me. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cover Love Sunday: Flowers

Cover Love Sunday is a weekly feature hosted at The Quiet Girl Talks, where you choose your 3 favorite covers for each weekly theme. (I always pick 4)
 This week's theme is...

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson and Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
I love the simple blue flower in A Song For Summer which is my favorite cover out of all of these. The Body Finder series has great flowers on their covers that look see through and make the book all the more appealing.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley and Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
The striking purple in The Everafter makes it look amazing. It looks like a sci-fi or fantasy book with the odd flowers showcased on the cover. I have a thing for simple flowers and Once Was Lost is a very simple but pretty cover.

What are your favorite books with flowers on the cover?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Autumn by Sierra Dean

Dog Days #1. Month9Books (June 2013) NetGalley
Cooper Reynolds’s life is going to the dogs… literally.

As if being a high school senior in a small Texas town wasn’t hard enough, Cooper has bigger things to worry about than who he’ll take to prom and whether or not the Poisonfoot Padres will win homecoming. He has less than a year before his eighteenth birthday, when a curse placed on his family will doom him to live in coyote form forever.

The last thing he needs to complicate his already messed-up life is a girl, but fate has other plans in mind for him when it brings Eloise “Lou” Whittaker to Poisonfoot. She’s grouchy, sarcastic and has no love for her new Texas home, but she might be exactly the right person to help Cooper break the curse.
                                                                                                  The clock is ticking, and Cooper will have to decide if he’s willing to let Lou in on his dirty little secret before it’s too late.

Eloise "Lou" Whittaker lost her father to cancer. If that wasn't too much of a heartbreak for Lou, her mom has decided to move her all the way to nowheresville to a small town called Poisonfoot where her grandmother lives. So not only has she lost her father who she was very close with, she also loses all of her friends and the life she's always known. When she tries to make friends with the resident loner, Cooper, in her new town she's met with a lot of warnings about his character when he seems like a very normal, nice guy. Lou is determined to find out the conspiracy this small town has with Cooper and the Reynolds' family but as she delves deeper into the mystery of this particular family she discovers that she may have a connection with a supposed curse. What will happen when all is revealed to Lou?

Lou and Cooper are really likable characters. I connected with them both right away. Lou is this tomboy that is supposed to put out this tough exterior to the world but really is a sweetheart. Cooper is treated like an outcast but from what I can tell he is one of the nicest people in town. He keeps to himself and tries to stay out of everyone's way but he is still treated like the worst human being in the world. Lou and Cooper are just a match made in heaven. I love when they are together and seeing them interact. They are both such nice people and it's rare for me not to be able to think of anything (even slightly) bad about two main characters  who are romantically involved with one another. They don't make dumb choices. They don't hurt one another. They were a breath of fresh air. It was slightly bothersome for the whole town and Cooper repeating to Lou that she should stay away from Cooper but it is a minor detail in an otherwise great book.

I must have not read the summary correctly before reading this book because the series name "Dog Days" made me assume it was going to be about wolves. I actually really liked that the curse dealt with coyotes and not wolves because wolves/werewolf stories are so common. Coyote curses not so much. I enjoyed discovering this curse with Lou and discovering some other interesting things about the small town she lives in. I didn't want to stop reading and the cliffhanger at the end was simply amazing. I stayed up all night reading Autumn until my eyes screamed for me to stop. I can't wait to read the rest of the series especially since I see potential for another love interest. That might be a turnoff for some people but it's not as bad as you think. 

Overall: Autumn will keep you guessing and keep you wanting more well after you finished its story. It has fantastic characters that you can really care for and it has a great mystery and plot. I definitely recommend you give this one a try!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September 2013 Reads Wrap Up

October! I can't believe it. So many good things happened back in September. I got my groove back with the blog but it's been rough trying to balance school with books and blogging. I have so many plans for October which has one of my favorite holidays ever! I don't dress up anymore but I can appreciate the atmosphere October brings. It makes me want to read some dark and thrilling Cormier books. 

Here are the books I want to read in October:

The Shining by Stephen King
Carrie by Stephen King
Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker Smith
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman
Pirouette by Robyn Bavati
Endless by Amanda Grey
Made of Stars by Kelley York
Shattered by Kathi Baron
Shredded by Karen Avivi
Invasion by Jon S. Lewis
Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
This Girl Is Different by J.J. Johnson
Crash by Lisa McMann
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
In This Moment by Autumn Doughton
Maybe some Robert Cormier books...

My favorite book of the month:

It's a toss up between Gameboard of the Gods and Autumn so the indecisive part of me is going to say both! I can't wait to read the rest of these two series. They really made September all that much more awesome.

It's going to be a great month! Not only in books but in great shows! How I love you Fall. 

What books are you excited to read this October?

P.S. I kind of missed my two year blogoversary which just happens to be on the date my parents met. I just wanted to say that's it's been a crazy two years and I've enjoyed all the ups and downs. It's been amazing. Hopefully I stick around for more years to come. Thank you to all the readers and commenters who visit my little blog. You make blogging special!