Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Taking on Real Issues in YA

I recently came upon an older article from The Wall Street Journal. It talks about the dark issues that young adult books have been taking on recently. At first I thought that this article was going to just be totally one sided (it kind of is) and that I was just going to read it and think nothing really of it. I thought this way because I know as I'm sure everyone knows by now that young adult books aren't afraid to take on any issue that's been faced by anyone. It will take on rape, kidnapping, murder, oppression, and anything else that doesn't suit many parents. As I read on there were examples of books that I do agree with some that they go too far like a book where a boy is kidnapped and nearly raped. What followed with this boy's journey was really odd and disturbing. There was also an example of a quote from a book about a girl who cuts herself. It had me cringing. It was gruesome. It was ugly. But isn't the world filled with this ugliness? There is violence and despair that we hopefully will never have to feel but that are real.

I can see where people are coming from when they say that books are just too dark. Where are the books with the happy endings that promote a good loving family? But, I feel like that's just not always the case unfortunately. Families are complex. There's abuse, divorce, sibling rivalry, and more issues. There is always conflict and books should be able to show it. I also feel like the article's author just got the worst kinds of examples and just threw them in there to scare me. I had never heard of these books before and don't plan on reading them. Teenagers have better judgment than most might think. If they think it's too much, they won't read those books.

The thing is what people consider "dark" isn't as dark as they may think. Young adult books deal with real issues but not all of them go overboard. The most exciting stories like dystopians where there is fear and oppression there is also an overwhelming want for that character to succeed and champion the bad guys. It's always been the bad guys against the good guys whether or not the bad guys were other people or parts of yourself that you struggle with. Here are some examples of young adult books that take on real issues:

Dark Theme: Suicide
Thirteen Reasons WhyWith access to the internet and the news we know what bullying can lead to. In Thirteen Reasons Why you track a young girl's progression to her suicide and the reasons why she did it. She feels so alone and empty that she doesn't want to live anymore. It's with the different forms of bullying and seeing what it feels like to be invisible, feeling like you don't matter, that we are shown what hurtful words can do. This is so reminiscent of real life. It would be an act of injustice if there wasn't talk about it. What could this book lead to? Maybe it leads to more people paying attention to what they say, being better people. Maybe it shows others that if you only looked there were people that care. There is hope that things can change. That is the message of this story. Is it wrong that adults don't feel it's right for teenagers to be in this world and feel that character's pain or is it even more wrong to take away this powerful knowledge that this book gives its readers?

Dark Theme: Death
If I StayIt seems like everywhere you look there is a book about someone who's either in the afterlife or is close to it. In If I Stay a girl loses her family in a car accident and has a choice: continue on with the knowledge that she will never see her parents again or fight on and live the life she always wanted. In the beginning the story even tells of how she saw cauliflower all over the ground before she realized it wasn't cauliflower but one of her parents scattered brain remnants. It's an awful choice to make. I can't help but feel how this story while reading it could get any better. It's all about the time we have and how we should take care to be with our loved ones because you don't know when they are going to be taken away. It's a truth we know of, we all die so why is it so wrong to write about the truth? Is it a dark story? Yes, it is but it's the knowledge that comes with it that I find invaluable.

Dark Theme: Violence
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)I know the article already wrote about The Hunger Games but I wanted to talk about it too. First, of all I don't think I noticed the violence of it all as much as they think. I mean towards the end yeah but I don't think they are getting the point. I don't think they understand what the world is capable of. The story also provides a great main character that just exemplifies strong teenage female heroines. The story is about this character facing the odds and not going with the crowd. Defending her home and shaking things up by just being herself. It's not just about the violence but the violence does help show what the world is capable of. You know that boys have been trained to be soldiers to kill innocent people and there so much wrong with the world. This world isn't cookie cutter. Not by a long shot. Living in a bubble won't help save it.

So what do you think? 
Do you think young adult books have gotten too dark?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Title: The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Series: The Mockingbirds (Book #1)
Format- Hardcover
Publisher- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published- November 2nd, 2010
Pages- 322
Source- Library

Some schools have honor codes.
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way-the Themis way. So when Alex Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds-a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

In this account of a teenage girl's search for her voice and the courage to use it, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that standing up for someone, especially yourself, is worth the fight.

Alex doesn't wake up in her room. She wakes up next to a boy she doesn't know. As she tries to piece together the night it becomes clearer and clearer that she was raped. With a school that looks the other way and sweeps things under the rug she goes to The Mockingbirds, a secret society founded by her sister to right the wrongs that the school won't acknowledge. If it's proven through trial that the boy did indeed rape her that he will lose the one thing he loves the most. But, Alex isn't so sure what happened and as she starts to slowly remember she starts to think twice if she was raped or not.

Alex went to a party, got drunk, and was raped. She started getting accounts of what other people saw that day and she's starting to remember in her own way what happened. Her friends and sister want her to go to The Mockingbirds so she can get some justice, she's really reluctant but finally concedes. The friends and the sister... even Alex didn't seem to understand how big this was. It's rape. It's this disgusting thing. The worst thing you could do to a woman. You take away her confidence, her safety, and her freedom. I wanted them to be more upset and I wanted Alex to show a little more emotion. She did at points but more towards the end when everything was revealed and once when she was playing her piano. One of the most stand out moments was when she was playing her heart out on the piano because she felt he took her favorite song away from her. To take her music away from her was like to take her soul away so I liked that singular moment that showed deep pain.

Through all this she is realizing her feelings for this geekish boy who's always very respectful of her. He was very nice and all but I kept on thinking how these people didn't care that much. It was like she was the subject that needed to be fixed. It was weird. My mom mentioned how they should have went to the police. She didn't want to deal with that which I understand but more and more I think especially the ending made me think he should have paid more. You can imagine what my mother would think the most important thing a guy should lose after he raped someone. The guy denied the accusations. You just want to hurt him so much because you can hear the evil in his voice. He disgusted me. Even if I didn't feel like the friends and victim didn't react the way I wanted to. Alex was the victim. Nobody deserves to be scared that way. Nobody has to feel that pure terrifying feeling that I'm sure she felt when he came near her wondering what he was going to do. That's what made the story what it was.

I was surprised that the author was date raped. I know authors write about things that happened to them or have characters that resemble them but I didn't expect that. I think she wasn't given too much justice herself when I read her story but I guess to her having it acknowledged and putting the guy out in the open - that was justice enough. I think it's because I expected something different that I liked this story but not as much as I thought I would. It is a good attention grabber for teenage girls. It's good for them to know what the world is capable of and how there are people who care enough about you that they will stand by your side at your worst time. There is evil but there is also good.

For more info about Daisy Whitney and her books go to:

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #8

This book meme is hosted by Book Journey

I've been thinking a lot about the blog. I'm thinking I'm going to have less reviews in February (the week after this one). Thirteen reviews should do it. I might have reviews backed up for awhile but honestly it's not a big deal. I will get to them eventually. Most likely summer when I have more time. 

Past Week Reads

Very girly last week I know. Charlotte's story was wonderful. I loved hearing her perspective and about all that food! As well as how the restaurant worked and what it all meant to her. Shadow Breakers was a great surprise for me. I'm thrilled I was able to find and read the first part of the series. I expect only great things. Boundless - perfect ending to a great angel trilogy.

Past Week Reviews

This past week I reviewed: Being Henry David, Article 5, Shadow Breakers, Offside, and Boundless. I was able to get two NetGalley reviews down, two books I had just read, and another I know everyone was talking about so it all worked out well.

Currently Reading

I reviewed the first book of the April Grace series recently. I saw this one at NetGalley so I had to read it. It's the third one but I can follow along pretty well. There was one big shock from the last book I wasn't expecting (I'm about midway into the book) and another one that was a part of this book. Things are going to go DOWN.

Look What I Got!

I got The Juvie Three from a giveaway at The Flashlight Reader and Blaze from a giveaway at Icey Books. I'm getting lucky all of a sudden. Well I never tried to win anything before so that helps. Aren't they beautiful!?

And there both signed! Buahahaha! I'm so content with readers and authors. I love being a blogger. I also got some great ebooks from a friend! She's so awesome. Again I didn't even ask!

Book Discoveries

Reclaimed by Sarah Guillory
Jenna Oliver doesn’t have time to get involved with one boy, let alone two. 

All Jenna wants is to escape her evaporating small town and her alcoholic mother. She's determined she'll go to college and find a life that is wholly hers—one that isn't tainted by her family's past. But when the McAlister twins move to town and Jenna gets involved with both of them, she learns the life she planned may not be the one she gets.

Ian McAlister doesn't want to start over; he wants to remember.

Ian can’t recall a single thing from the last three months—and he seems to be losing more memories every day. His family knows the truth, but no one will tell him what really happened before he lost his memory. When he meets Jenna, Ian believes that he can be normal again because she makes not remembering something he can handle.

The secret Ian can’t remember is the one Luke McAlister can’t forget.

Luke has always lived in the shadow of his twin brother until Jenna stumbles into his life. She sees past who he’s supposed to be, and her kiss brings back the spark that life stole. Even though Luke feels like his brother deserves her more, Luke can’t resist Jenna—which is the trigger that makes Ian's memory return.

Jenna, Ian, & Luke are about to learn there are only so many secrets you can keep before the truth comes to reclaim you.

My Chemical Mountain by Corina Vacco
My Chemical Mountain

Rocked by his father's recent death and his mother's sudden compulsion to overeat, Jason lashes out by breaking into the abandoned mills and factories that plague his run-down town. Always by his side are his two best friends, Charlie, a fearless thrill junkie, and Cornpup, a geek inventor whose back is covered with cysts. The boys rage against the noxious pollution that suffocates their town and despise those responsible for it; at the same time, they embrace the danger of their industrial wasteland and boast about living on the edge. 

Then on a night the boys vandalize one of the mills,  Jason makes a costly mistake--and unwittingly becomes a catalyst for change. In a town like his, change should be a good thing. There's only one problem: change is what Jason fears most of all.

Precious by Precious Williams
Where are you from?’ is a question I always find hard to answer. England in the 1970s: an ad in Nursery World. Private foster parents required for a three-month-old baby – me. The lucky applicant is a 57-year-old white woman who has adored ‘coloured’ children ever since reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and falling in love with the character Topsy… My mother arrives, a haughty Nigerian woman in a convertible with a Moses basket on the seat beside her, setting the net curtains in this all-white council estate twitching. And though my privileged mother claims the whole place makes her skin crawl, she returns to London with an empty basket beside her, choosing this home for me because, unusually for the estate, my new foster mother talks proper, and I’ll need a posh white accent for the bright future I supposedly have ahead of me.

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
School Spirits (School Spirits, #1)

Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy’s older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break.

Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it’s not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it’s strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush.

Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? 

Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
Burning Blue
When Nicole Castro, the most popular girl at her high school, has her face splashed with acid, her classmate, loner and brilliant hacker, Jay Nazarro, does more than just gawk at her. He decides to find out who did it. 

The deeper he digs, though, the more he falls for Nicole…and the more danger he’s in. Everyone is a suspect—even Nicole herself—and whoever did it seems ready to strike again. 

Burning Blue is a high-stakes, soulful mystery that explores just how far love, or the other side of love, will take us.

What are you reading this week?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Title: Boundless
Author: Cynthia hand
Series: (Unearthly Trilogy) Book #3
Format- ebook
Publisher- HarperTeen
Published- January 22nd, 2013
Pages- 270
Source- Own

The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

I really don't know what to say. This will probably be a short and sweet review because I don't want to give anything away. I'm going to be very aloof and as mysterious as I can be so nothing is taken away when you actually read the story. There's so much to say but I can't find the right words. Unearthly was my first angel book. The only other angel books I've tried other than this trilogy was Hush, Hush and the sequel - Crescendo. It just didn't measure up as Unearthly so when Hallowed came out I was ready to get back into the comfort of a wonderful angel book which, as you may know, I consider to have the greatest love triangles I've ever come across. I was ecstatic when I realized that I loved Hallowed like I loved Unearthly. Now when I finished Boundless, in complete awe of what this trilogy has accomplished, I could say that I've loved each and every one of the books in this trilogy. How rare is it that an author is able to do that?

I completely forgot about Angela's vision that sent her, Clara, and Christian to Stanford. They all had to deal with their own visions. I really liked how it all came together. Their visions were forecasting events that impacted their lives so greatly. There was a chance that the visions wouldn't play out as well as they hoped. To put everything on those visions, having faith that it will all work out, was a major stress factor for me. All the shock that this book gave me was insane. My emotions by the end of the story were everywhere. 

I liked how Jeffrey came around and Clara seemed to care for him more than she usually did. Before I've complained how she should have paid more attention to her brother. He's an angel blood too with visions of his own. I felt sometimes she was a bit selfish before but in this book she made up for it in my eyes. She was good with Angela too. 

What really got me with the story is that even if there were questions about where Christian and Tucker stood with her (I know! Tucker's around) the book was more about Clara and what she was facing. In the other books I felt like a lot of attention was focused on the romance which for me was no problem at all but the change worked well now that the trilogy has come to an end. For some reason even if the romance was in there I felt like it wasn't the biggest part of the story. It was about Clara and her choices. Hand really tugged on my heart strings with this one. It was such a incredible ending although bittersweet. I'm going to miss everyone so much. I don't think I'll ever find an angel series quite like this.

I'm going to stop here. I know if I write a more detailed review like I'm used to I might inadvertently give something away or give more review than you need. You can see that I loved Boundless and that's all you really need to know so you can go in reading Boundless with a positive attitude. I know this review probably wasn't as short as you or I expected but I'm ending it here. There is only one more thing to say: lovers of Unearthly and Hallowed - you won't be disappointed with Boundless.

For more info about Cynthia Hand and her books go to:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Offside by M.G. Higgins

Title: Offside
Author: M.G. Higgins
Series: (Counterattack)
Format- ebook
Publisher- Darby Creek (Imprint of Lerner Publishing)
Published- January 1st, 2013
Pages- 116
Source- NetGalley

Between finishing late school projects and looking after her brothers and sister, Faith Patel barely has time to play soccer. And when she's at practice, surrounded by girls who can afford to play in club leagues, she doesn't even feel like part of the team. So when Coach Berg starts to give Faith extra attention, she feels . . . really special. It might be crazy, but suddenly Faith has a crush on her coach. Can she keep her head in the game? 

The situation gets worse after Faith's frenemy Caitlyn decides that Faith's getting special treatment. Will Caitlyn tell the rest of the team and make Faith into a total outcast?

Faith doesn't have the prospects the other girls in her soccer team have. She isn't very wealthy what wither her mom working night shifts to make ends meet without anyone to help her with her four children, well there is always Faith. Faith has been designated as her sibling's babysitter so her mom has some time to get some sleep between her shifts at the hospital. In exchange she gets to play soccer.

Faith is Faith Patel which means she's Indian which makes me oh so happy because hello! How many female Indian main characters have you met reading YA? The only problem is that I wish the book cover reflected her. Don't get me wrong, the girl on the book cover is very "I am woman. Hear me roar." but it would be nice if I can actually see Faith. Faith feels stressed out and like she's got the short end of the stick. Having to take care of your younger siblings - not fun. She's missed a lot of homework too but she doesn't even think she will be able to go to college so why bother?

Although Faith may sound annoyed that she has to take care of her siblings when something happens to one of them she shows a very caring side of her. Faith's very quiet so other on her soccer team may think she thinks she doesn't like them or maybe that she's even better than them. I don't know why the soccer team does this especially Caitlyn because have you never met a reserved person before? They are everywhere. You need to think about where that person's coming from. Caitlyn was her real trouble throughout the story. She would make snide remarks to her face. She's the one who got it in Faith's head that her coach, Coach Berg, liked her because he was letting her try out for another position on the team. When Faith started thinking that her coach liked her I couldn't help to laugh out loud. It was just so ridiculously funny. I mean this all in a good way. It's kind of sad that when someone was actually listening to her she felt that they must like her in a romantic way. It was like no one else had ever cared to bother to learn how she was feeling.

The book may have been just a little over one hundred pages but I really got a sense of who Faith is and what her story was telling me. I liked that it was just about a regular girl and like regular girls we tend to fall in love easily. I also liked it was about soccer which I played way back when. I wasn't good but it was nice to read about the action on the field. It made me reminisce. I don't know why but I think of this as a very "clean" book, one where girls can use to learn lessons from. I've read about the other Counterattack series and their summaries sound like that. I actually don't mind. They're very fun; light reads that I could see myself enjoying like I did with Offside.

For more info about M.G. Higgins and her books go to:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Shadow Breakers by Daniel Blythe

Title: Shadow Breakers
Author: Daniel Blythe
Series: Shadow Runners #1
Format- ebook
Publisher- Chicken House (Imprint of Scholastic Inc.)
Published- January 1st, 2013
Pages- 256
Source- NetGalley

Can she escape the shadows and face the truth before the darkness destroys her?

"If the enemy is a fire, the evil is its shadow, flickering upon the wall."

"That's very poetic, Miss Bellini. I just wish I knew what it meant."

Miranda's new home is a dull seaside town at the edge of the world, the sort of forgotten place where nothing ever happens. Until something does. Something strange and sinister. With her schoolteacher and her classmates, who might be more clued in than they let on, Miranda sets out to uncover the mystery. Her bravery borders on recklessness. She thinks she's chasing shadows, tortured spirits from centuries past, but could true darkness lie within? With a mixture of science and magic, Miranda's got to figure out how to break and banish the evil before it destroys her.

An electrifying paranormal thriller that will have readers guessing till the end!

"I call it the Shape because I don't know what it is. It's just... formless, like a shimmering, ever-changing shadow. But somehow I know - I just know - it's made of three things: fire and water and the purest, coldest darkness. And then there's the whisper.
Miranda. Come away, Miranda. Come to me."

Miranda can't sleep because when she sleeps she dreams. She dreams of the Shape, this unidentifiable thing filled with darkness reaching out to her, calling out to her, and whistling a familiar tune. When she wakes she must get up to go to her new school in her new town. On the way she finds a group nicknamed The Weirdos by her later friend Jade. The Weirdos talk about strange things when they think no one's listening, they seem to know what's going on with the sudden bizarre events happening around town, and they unnerve her with their staring. Miranda has had enough with the constant stares. She's going to find out what they know no matter what but when she does uncover their secrets she's swept up in a world where impossibilities are possible and her dream and reality intertwine.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Right away I was hooked with Miranda's story. It started off with her nightmare of the Shape. The Shape transformed throughout the story and she could see what it was. It was this really great mystery that I couldn't wrap my head around. Sometimes I try to figure out what's happening in a book and sometimes I just go with the flow. This time I went with the flow so there was these speculations and theories throughout the story that kept me wanting to read more. It was kept a mystery until the end so it was a real shock and there was a little bit of confusion about what the heck just happened. There was such a fantastic lead up to the reveal of what really was going on. It was a more than satisfying ending. But, I'm getting to ahead of myself let's talk about the characters shall we?

"Nobody's a misfit. Some people take longer to find the space they fit into, that's all."

Miranda is our main character who everyone seems not to trust. She's the new kid not only with the school but with her new group too. She doesn't know much of what is going on so you don't know either. Everything is just this one big wonderful surprise because of that. Anything can happen. I expected Miranda to be this outcast that doesn't really go for things like she did. She surprised me right away with her cunning ability to find the groups secret hideout. There was a moment where she was learning about the group and her disbelief was kind of eh but that was one of only two sort of hiccups in the story. Miranda has this power. She doesn't have intuition really but a sense of foreboding so she can act before something bad happens. I can see her being this very confident fiery character in the next book. She was strong in this book by being loyal to her friend I just see her kicking it up a notch in the next one. I really admired her integrity and I liked being able to see this new and strange world through her eyes. The second only sort of hiccup by the way was the way others reacted to her obvious tiredness. She was describing herself as being very pale and grayish but hardly anyone really noticed or cared.

Jade was her first friend. She's this gypsy girl who's sarcastic and has her own style. She's an outcast who acts tough but really is quite lonely. She had personality on her. She didn't like that Miranda started hanging out with The Weirdos.  She felt betrayed. Miranda still was loyal to her and tried to make it right. Jade had some mystery masked into her life. You didn't really know where she stood. The famous Weirdos consist of two boys and two girls plus a teacher's in that group too but no one knows that except them. So I should explain what this group is. They hunt the shadows, the paranormal. You really don't get a sense of what they are doing until the end. Well that was me. I'm sure someone would have figured it out. Anyways it's very 'secret society" with unknown gadgetry. All of this is being funded by people who don't want to deal with what's going on directly.

Cal is the bossy one of the group. She has a very bad attitude that needs to get adjusted. She clearly doesn't like Miranda. She could have her nice moments. Although she could be rude, she was entertaining. She has intuition about things. She can sense things from objects and people. The oldest of the group at fifteen, Josh, is like Cal in a way. He's pretty sarcastic. When I think of him I think of a cute smirk playing at his lips. He's the historian. Ollie is the computer guy. Anything technology he's on it. He's this quiet, intelligent kid who if you ask him anything he'll know it. He's a little computer himself. He has this whitish blond hair with either blue glasses or blue tinted glasses. It doesn't really matter because he really captured my heart especially with his story. The last kid in the group is little Lyssa, the child prodigy. She's the numbers girl. She's pretty tough herself and is more excited by everything than scared. Last but not least everything is headed by Ms. Bellini, a kind and patient teacher. She was the science teacher and had a way about her. You couldn't tell if she was angry or happy according to Miranda because the tone of her voice was always a reassuring and thoughtful one. All the kids might have their quirks and flaws but you can find goodness in each and every one of them. They all have a story and they are all quite sad. It makes you feel for them. They are all very interesting, sweet, and intelligent kids who are just more observant and curious than most of the other kids. I can see other kids looking up to them.

This book was way better than I could have hoped. It was full of mystery, suspense, and just oddities that made this book such a gem. A gem I say! This is one of those books that more people need to know about and read. This is a book that kids should be clamoring for. It was charming and had these amazingly likable characters. Characters that you can look up to and go on a real journey with. I know it's only going to get better. I seriously can't wait to see what happens next. I struggled with this review for some reason so more than anything if it didn't translate right know that basically this book was awesome.
For more info about Daniel Blythe and his books go to:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

Title: Article 5
Author: Kristen Simmons
Series: (Article 5 #1)
Format- Hardcover
Publisher- Tor Teen
Published- January 31st, 2012
Pages- 364
Source- Library

New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

Ember has always kept her head down like everyone else, not wanting to cause any trouble. She didn't want to be one of those kids who were taken away and never seen from again. She didn't want to have her mother like the families of those kids to move away out of grief. Her mother on the other hand likes to cause a little trouble. She does small things to protest the upheaval of her rights. She reads books with shirtless men on the cover, she sometimes argues with soldiers, and she's not married. That last one is her real trouble. Article 5 states that a family consists of a man, woman, and child(ren). The man and the woman must be married and her mother is not. She's more of a free spirit. This "free spirit" gets taken away to trial while Ember is sent away to a girl's reformatory and rehabilitation center. Ember is angry and desperate to get to her mother because her mother needs her. More than anything she feels betrayal.  Betrayal of a former love turned cold soldier who stood there while they ripped her hands away from her mother.

You can imagine how much I hated this new America. It really drove the story for me. If you noticed not only did the man and the woman have to be married they had to be a man and a woman. Everything is like no progress has happened. The women had to dress in their "roles" wearing really long skirts and basically looking like a nun. I'm sure they thought men were the providers too... When Ember went to the rehabilitation center she met a woman named Ms. Brooks. She was the ultimate betrayer to women all over the world. With her pursed lips and snide comments. She thought she was better than everyone else and oh did I want Ember to bring her down a peg. The time she spent in the reformatory was exciting. The story brought out all the feelings that dystopians are supposed to convey. You were sitting there feeling total contempt for Ms. Brooks, the soldiers, and the government. You wanted Ember to fight and put back the right America.

About the first half of the book everything was exciting. I was anticipating what was going to happen next. I cried out when she was suffering under their cruelty. I wanted to kick some soldiers where they would feel it the most. All these soldiers had this blank look in their faces and some were just plain evil. One in particular was later on going to be the bane of Ember's and my existence. He's such a chauvinist. Argh!!! Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. Stop trying to bend the rules to your will. It's a fact. Get over it. He did some unthinkable things. How dare he. Ms. Brook was no better. I don't know where in her little mind that she thought herself to be a lady. She was horrid. Ugh. I'm going to stop with them here because I'm getting upset. So the first half was really intense and stirred up all kinds of emotions but then everything changed when the former love came waltzing in to save his damsel in distress. 

I don't know why when a guy enters in a book that there has to be this complete shift in the mood of the story. This part I did not like. Ember acted like an idiot. Where did that strong girl go? She was worth reading about. Then Chase comes in and poof. There go her brains. She was angry at Chase for letting the soldiers take her mother away. She was in the wrong of course. He was always there for her and she was always thinking where did my love go? He's been replaced by a stranger (dramatic sigh). What does he do? Protects her all the time! It's like she can't put two and two together. It's ridiculous. Chase was an alright character. He was strong and always made sure Ember was safe. He's trying to reunite her and her mother so that's really what keeps Ember from leaving him like that would be a smart move. I can't really say much about him because I couldn't connect with him and maybe that was the point. He was to be seen as a stranger to Ember and readers too I guess. He was really whatever for me and I couldn't find him swoon worthy at all or even very anything really. He was really tall so he's got that going for him. 

Mixed feelings with this one. I honestly feel like the next one is going to be better based on Ember's attitude at the end. There was a shift and I feel like it's what I've been waiting for. I still really enjoyed the story and I want to read where it's going to go. I think it can only go up from here. Just remember Ember. You are your own woman. Get into fights and make some trouble.

For more info about Kristen Simmons and her books go to:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Characters that Inspire

There are character you love, characters you hate, characters that make you laugh until you cry, characters who you want throw a few punches at, characters who you swoon over, characters who completely change your lives. That last one is the one I want to talk about. The characters that change your life. The characters that inspire you to be better than you are. Here are some characters that inspire me:
D.J. from Dairy Queen

I've talked about this girl before as I have with all these other characters that have inspired me so for those of you who don't know who D.J. is she is the main character in Dairy Queen. She talks slow, is too big for guys to date, she's dedicated, and her family never talks about their issues. All that changes when she meets a guy. Don't think because this guy was so dreamy that it was his charms that convinced her to change her life. No. He actually insulted her which made her make the choice to go out for football. I am so utterly jealous of her ability to stand up for what she wants to do and be this crazy athletic girl. She may not have always been able to speak her mind but her actions speak louder than words.

D.J. Inspires me to: Be Who I Want to Be

“But you know, even worrying about haircuts couldn't depress me. Because every time I started sinking low, I'd just remember about football. All this time I'd thought I wanted to be a trainer, when it turned out I wanted to be a player instead. I saw something I wanted to do and I decided to do it. The feeling of freedom this gave me—I can't even describe it. It was my decision. I chose it. I am not a cow.”

                                               Charlie from A Little Wanting Song

Charlie is from A Little Wanting Song and she is very shy. She lives this double life. On the outside she just looks like this very introverted person who doesn't talk to anyone. On the inside she's this incredible singer just waiting to show herself to the world if only if she was able to let herself shine.

“You're always saying people don't like you but people can't like something that's not there.”

She's such an amazing person. In the end it's up to her to go for what she wants. Reach for the stars. In many ways she's a lot like D.J. They both have something to prove to others and themselves but they are both unique. I look up to D.J. in a way that does not only have to do with putting yourself out there but being someone I can see myself being. I will never be a singer like Charlie nor do I want to because it's just not me. I'm more of a stranger looking in to her triumphant moment. 

Charlie Inspires me to: Take Chances & Be Confident in Who I Am

“I'm sick of staring at what I want, I thought. I'd do anything to hold it in my hands.”

                  Doug from Okay for Now

Last but not least - Doug from Okay for Now. Doug is seen as a troublemaker because of the actions of his older brother but he's such the opposite of what people imagine him to be. Everyone doubts him even when he does nothing to sway their opinions in a negative way. He's a great person with odd interests in birds that leads him to art. He proves himself time and time again being nothing but the great person he is. He deserves to be judged by what he does and not who he is related to. 

Doug Inspires me to: Be a Better Person

“It means, Doug Swieteck, that in this class, you are not your brother.”

What characters have inspired you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

Title: Being Henry David
Author: Cal Armistead
Stand Alone
Format- ebook
Publisher- Albert Whitman Teen
Release Date- March 1st, 2013
Pages- 321
Source- NetGalley

Seventeen-year-old "Hank" has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything --who he is, where he came from, why he's running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David-or "Hank" and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of--Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Cal Armistead's remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.

I have a thing for nature books. I don't know if it was A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements or My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George or maybe it was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (all favorite books by the way) that got me into reading books that dealt with nature but one thing's for sure - if there's a book like that I will surely love it. Basically this book was a shoe in for me right from the beginning. It helped that it was a wonderful read with a great premise and awesome characters. 

Henry "Hank" doesn't know who is. He woke up in a train station with this grubby old homeless guy asking him if he wants to eat that. Don't worry this book doesn't turn all zombie on you. He wants to eat the book near him, not Hank. Henry David Thoreau's Walden. I think it's because of my nature book love but I really admire Thoreau and like his outlook on life. I haven't read any of his books yet but one day I will have to take a crack at it. Hank is able to keep the book and since it's his only possession he looks at it as a guide to find who he is.

Hank deals with a lot in this book. He doesn't know who he is so he's homeless. He would have wandered aimlessly but he met Jack who lives in the street with his sister Nessa. Those two are runaways. Their lives are pretty sad. I cringe when I think of what Nessa's been doing to keep herself alive. Nessa's so innocent and she clings on to others for support. Jack's tougher. He seems protective of his sister but I don't see that much of it. All I see him as is very sneaky and dangerous but he was also sort of caring towards Hank which I appreciated because Hank was all alone in the world. 

There were times when Hank would try to remember (he did this a lot while running - he liked running which gives him bonus points in my book) he would freak out. He had this "beast" inside him that made sure he didn't go too far into his memories. It was his protector and it worried the hell out of me. As far as I can tell Hank didn't deserve to deal with all that pain. He was a protector, a runner, a Thoreau aficionado, and an all around nice guy.  I didn't like to see him hurting but on the other hand I was excited to find out what the terrible event was that makes his subconscious want to forget.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” - Henry David Thoreau

Hank has sort of a relationship with Thoreau, he sees him in his dreams. He's not the beast per se but he does tell him he's not ready to know the truth. These were very imaginative moments for me trying to see Thoreau through Hank's eyes and what he was doing there. I loved all the Thoreau quotes too. Hank had a lot memorized so it was cool reading about them. What Thoreau did, live off the land for years, is inspiring. I wouldn't be able to be away from my family and let's face it the internet for that long but I would love to go into the woods and just have everything stop for a moment. 

Hank has pretty good luck when finding friends. He meets another Thoreau lover, Thomas, as well as a love interest named Hailey. Thomas is this big, lovable guy that Hank is always bumping into. He's such a great person who is genuinely concerned about Hank's welfare. He sold me right away with his name (LOVE the name Thomas) and kept me liking him for his caring ability towards someone he doesn't even know. Hailey is this badass singer who at first seemed a little shy but her personality shines through later on. She has a bit of troubles herself. I liked her addition. I didn't really expect her. She just came along for the ride I guess. She was great for Hank. 

There were moments in the story that I thought needed to be more dramatic like the big reveal but there was a snippet that satisfied me some. By the end I was crying so it all worked out. I'm very partial to this book because it has a nature theme, it has Thoreau, the main character has amnesia, and he's a runner so basically this book was made for me more than others so I do recommend reading it especially if you like any of those things. But, I also recommend it solely based upon Hank who you'll be rooting for all the way.

For more info about Cal Armistead and her debut book go to:

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #7

This meme is hosted by Book Journey

So the posts I had planned didn't really go... as planned. I just had a week where after school I wanted to just go to sleep and I did and it was nice. The reviews that I didn't do I will add somewhere else. Speaking of reviews I decided I'm going to add some of the new books I've read this January. Not my original plan but I want to be able to share them while I still have them fresh in my head. It'll probably go like this. I review three older reviews then one of my first reads and one of my last reads. So you may not know two of the books I'm going to review. Hmm... you know what? I'm going to leave the reviews a mystery from now on. It's more fun that way and helps me out to. Of course I'm going to mention the new look. Do you like it? I love changing things up. It's all bright and pretty. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

Past Week Reads

  Anya's Ghost

     Owls in the Family  

Yay! I read Article 5! Finally. Anya's Ghost had some beautiful illustrations. And as you can see I already started adding a new read review with Dr. Sam is Under Your Bed.

Past Week Reviews


How Not to be Popular: In a favorite book of mine Maggie, out of desperation, decides she will become so unpopular that by the next time she moves she won't be brokenhearted because she'll have no friends but when she does make friends can she keep from hurting them?

Something, Maybe: Hannah has an older father who's always with younger women and a mother who is never fully clothed. As she struggles with her family life a new conflict emerges that takes the form of a goofy coworker she's starting to have feelings for while her long time crush starts noticing.

Dr. Sam is Under Your Bed: A memoir about an actress growing up around her father's need to put a killer away and her need to find where her place is in this world.

Currently Reading

Sigh. I'm not going to get into the books I didn't read. I just didn't get to them so instead of me putting myself through a guilt trip I'm just going to say what book I'm reading right now and that'll be the end of it. I really want that cake every time I look at this cover...

Buddy Read

Gone (Gone, #1)

I'm reading Gone with a buddy on Goodreads so I wanted to share. Did you know this book was more than 500 pages!? That's insane. I haven't started yet because I just got it yesterday but I'm planning to start it today.

Look What I Got!

Aren't they GORGEOUS!? I originally got Past Perfect like a week ago just before the 14 day mark for shipping was up. I got Then I Met My Sister this week... 22 days of shipping!!! The customer service person was real nice and told me it could take me up to 21 days which is unheard of for me but I got them. They are safe and sound. Reading them to start off February.

Altered (Altered, #1)

I also got an ebook version of Altered from a friend on Goodreads. I didn't even ask! Readers are amazing people. It's going to be such a great treat to read a newly published book.

I wanted to tell you about this book I received for review. I just got it. It was written by a fellow blogger and she's looking for reviews. I love that I'm able to read a book by another blogger so it would be awesome if you did too. You can check out her post here. Thanks!

Book Discoveries

The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard
The Forgotten Ones
Allison O'Malley just graduated from college. Her life's plan is to get a job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She doesn't have room for friends or even Ethan, who clearly wants more. 

When Allison's long-lost father shows up, he claims he can bring her mother back from the dark place her mind has sent her. He reveals legends of a race of people long forgotten, the Tuatha de Danaan, along with the truth about why he abandoned her mother.

Renegade by J.A. Souders
Renegade (The Elysium Chronicles, #1)
Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.

But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. 

Her memories have been altered. 

Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. 

And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.

Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb... and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.

Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell
When Willa Dixon’s brother dies on the family lobster boat, her father forbids Willa from stepping foot on the deck again. With her family suffering, she’ll do anything to help out—even visiting the Grey Man.

Everyone in her small Maine town knows of this legendary spirit who haunts the lighthouse, controlling the fog and the fate of any vessel within his reach. But what Willa finds in the lighthouse isn’t a spirit at all, but a young man trapped inside until he collects one thousand souls.

Desperate to escape his cursed existence, Grey tries to seduce Willa to take his place. With her life on land in shambles, will she sacrifice herself?

The Town That Drowned by Riel Nason
The Town That Drowned
Living with a weird brother in a small town can be tough enough. Having a spectacular fall through the ice at a skating party and nearly drowning are grounds for embarrassment. But having a vision and narrating it to the assembled crowd solidifies your status as an outcast. What Ruby Carson saw during that fateful day was her entire town buildings and people floating underwater. Then an orange-tipped surveyor stake turns up in a farmer's field. Another is found in the cemetery. A man with surveying equipment is spotted eating lunch near Pokiok Falls. The residents of Haverton soon discover that a massive dam is being constructed and that most of their homes will be swallowed by the rising water. Suspicions mount, tempers flare, and secrets are revealed. As the town prepares for its own demise, 14-year-old Ruby Carson sees it all from a front-row seat. Set in the 1960s, The Town That Drowned evokes the awkwardness of childhood, the thrill of first love, and the importance of having a place to call home. Deftly written in a deceptively unassuming style, Nason's keen insights into human nature and the depth of human attachment to place make this novel ripple in an amber tension of light and shadow.

Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away. 

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

What are you reading this week?