Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lennie Walker has forever been the sidekick to her older sister Bailey’s racehorse-self. One day though, fate allows for a nasty twist in Lennie’s seemingly complacent life when Bailey dies. Lennie then falls into a world filled with grief. She feels like no one can understand her and cannot fathom how to go on with her life without her sister there to guide her. 
She then finds one person who she can find solace in – her sisters boyfriend Toby. The thing is her relationship with Toby quickly develops into something more, things she’s not used to. Then there is Joe Fontaine. The new boy in town from Paris, who has a musical gift and the good looks to have all the girls swooning, including Lennie.

As time reels forward, Lennie realizes that its time to step up and be the racehorse and to take control of her life. She has so much to learn about herself and how to feel, after everything seems to have been taken away, all while seeing that grief can never leave, but can be healed with love. 

This book is beautiful in every sense of the word. It all starts before the first page is even turned, with the magnificent cover that gives you just a glimpse into the heart of this stunning novel.  From the very first paragraph you can feel the magnificence of the writing that is present throughout the entirety of the novel and are thrust into the grief that Lennie Walker feels. The beauty of the book does not end there, but continues throughout the story as you see Lennie discover her true being and see her heart stiched back together through the power of love in all forms, her clarinet and the people in her life. The characters also radiate this beauty, allowing the reader to see and share their innermost feelings. And the ending does not disappoint, as it provided one of the most realistic and wonderful endings I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  

So - a little elaboration to back up my gushing of the book, starting with the characters. Lennie, well sometimes I wanted to shake some sense into the girl, wanting her to realize that she could live without Bailey, no matter how hard it may seem. At other times I wanted her to know how proud I was of her for accepting love into her heart and learning to stand up for herself. Then there is Joe Fontaine – who I’m pretty sure could have any girl drooling just at the thought of what Paris beholds! This boy is absolutely the best literary crush to have. He’s caring and isn’t afraid to show his love, all while being a stupendous (or, using a favorite word of the characters in the novel: unfreakingbelievable!) musician. Honestly, the characters are what made the book. Their incredible ability to show their true beings allowed the reader to feel all their emotions, allowing for many tears and smiles along the journey.

Overall, this book was spellbinding. It grabbed me from the beginning and threw me into a world where there was no escaping the grief that so many people in this world feel. It made me wonder how incredible difficult it would be to loose my sister – who means the world to me, much like Bailey did to Lennie - and how I would react. This thinking lead to more thinking, which then made me realize that no mater what situations you have encountered thus far in your life, there is some way to relate to this book, making it easy for any person to tear through this book. This was an absolutely stunning debut, that made me laugh, sob and think more than any other book I’ve read, making it a novel I will not soon forget. I very much look forward to reading more of Jandy Nelson’s romantic, sad, sexy, and magical stories.

Now what are you waiting for! Go grab a copy from anywhere you can and experience the magic for yourself. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

In two different Chicago suburbs, that really aren’t that far from each other, there resides two very different boys with the same name – Will Grayson. Although they are not that far apart they have never met, until a twist of fate brings them together.

One Will Grayson seems to always be in the shadow, both literally and figuratively, of his massive gay best friend Tiny Cooper – an offensive lineman and musical theater enthusiast. When he loses his circle of friends, after standing up for Tiny, he rarely knows what to do with himself and starts spending more time with Tiny and his friend Jane – whom he finds himself oddly attracted to, although he cannot act on his feelings due to the “rules” he has set for himself on how to get through life without to much attention.

The other Will Grayson is also in a social funk – although his is a bit more permanent. The only friend he has at school is a girl named Maura, although he doesn’t really even like her all that much and just likes to talk with her about his depression. He does though have a strong friend in Isaac, a boy he met online that he might just be in love with.

When things don’t go according to plan though, both boys seem to breakdown and have a heartfelt revolution towards their interactions and feelings for others, all while aiding in the production of the best high school musical of all times.

When you put two powerhouse authors together you expect a boom, a big one at that. Now putting John Green and David Levithan together, that’s more like expecting an earthquake. As for the reality occurred, there was definitely a boom, and some tremor of that quake, but it wasn’t as earth shattering as I had expected.

First off, I’ll talk about John Greene’s Will Grayson – the one with Tiny Cooper as the best friend. To me, he was the best. He was snarky and funny, and emotional at the right times. Most of all he was believable and I just came to really enjoy his part of the story. John Green was also the fabulous inventor of Tiny Cooper – who I think is one of the best characters to have ever been created. He was funny and sincere and truly the “life of the party.”

As for David Levithan’s Will Grayson, he was definitely a darker character. I feel he whined a lot and pitied himself a little too much. Now with that being said, I did feel bad for him – I mean the kid had to go through some situations that no one should ever have to experience and learned to sympathizes for him. I did enjoy his budding relationship with his mom; it really clued the reader into his personality, as well as him popping out of his social outcast hole.

In regards to the writing – it was great, absolutely all of it. While the characters had two distinct voices, unique to their respective author, you couldn’t tell that it was written by two different people. Everything meshed and just felt right.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It took me a while to get into the story, but it soon enough got rolling. It also made me appreciate the importance of maintaining friendships and to sometimes let loose, as you could be missing out on a lot if you don’t. I would love to read another book co-written by these two fabulous authors, as I know it will be a lot of fun.  

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart

Ruby Oliver is back from Christmas vacation and well in all honesty, life hasn’t gotten any less confusing for her at Tate Prep. You see, she hasn’t had a boyfriend now in 37 weeks and the future is looking bleak as well, her panic attacks are getting worse, and her friend Nora has told her to stay away from the one boy she likes. Not only does she have to deal with all this drama, but Jackson, her old boyfriend, has all of sudden become very friendly, Nora’s brother Gideon is coming on to her, and rumors are flying around the school about Ruby again.

Ruby is just not sure how she is going to survive her second semester of Junior year. There’s bake sales, smelly feet, pygmey goats, and her constant struggle with her mental health to take into account, but hey she’s survived before so who says she can’t do it again!

I only read the first book in the series, THE BOYFRIEND LIST, but had no problem jumping into another of Ruby’s many escapades. Ruby filled the reader in on any information they may have missed by not reading the other books to make this a great book.

I thought that the whole story was side-splitting hilarious and was so full of crazy adventures that I couldn’t help but wish I could get caught up with it all myself. All the boy drama within the book was so real. It reaked havoc on friendships and drove everyone crazy, just like in real life. What made it even more authentic was the personality of they guys – it was so typical! While the boys had that typical personality, they were not super well developed. Ruby on the other hand was developed and relatable, but not always real.

Anyways, I really liked the book. The writing made the book easy to read and I loved how each chapter started out with a journal entry – it really set the mood. It was fun and light and I can’t wait to hear more about her adventures. This is a great book that I really enjoyed and had me laughing until the very last page. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bad Apple by Laura Ruby

Tola Riley is well, unique to say the least. With her green hair, nose ring, and intense love of art it is no wonder that she is so misunderstood by her high school peers. There is one person though who just gets her, Mr. Mymer, her art teacher. While some people might not understand this relationship, Tola is fine with it, as she is so used to being misunderstood. When her relationship with Mr. Mymer gets blown out of proportion though, Tola finds herself in the middle of a scandal. Even though she tries to tell everyone the truth, no one will believe her and she continues through the year as an even bigger misfit.  On top of this, Tola consistently deals with multiple family problems, friend problems, and of course the day-to-day issues of being a teenager.

I have to say that the author, Laura Ruby, has the teenage personality down to a tee. Tola was very real and I had no problem envisioning her as a real person.  Laura Ruby did a really good job making the reader feel connected to the characters playing on the reader’s heart strings and making them truly connect with Tola. While I felt that Tola was decently developed, none of the other supporting characters were developed at all. Yes there were a few minutes that they almost felt real, but then they seemed to fall right back into the pages.

The author also created a very interesting plot. It took a different perspective on the whole student-teacher affair, which seems to be a theme that has become very popular in YA books. I also really enjoyed how the plot looked at how one event in a family can affect each member differently.  Overall the plot was very realistic and I could easily picture this same situation happening in many high schools.

I liked this book. The writing was decent, but didn’t blow me away and the characters weren’t  as well developed as they could have been, but the reality of the book made up for these weaker points.  The ending was absolutely fabulous, probably the best part of the book and had me in fits of laughter. I look forward to checking out Laura Ruby’s other books and I highly suggest you check this book out when you are looking for some very real teen fiction.  

Friday, July 2, 2010

Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Katie’s house is just too big now that her mom has passed away and her genius dad is distant and more focused on the paintings that he restores. She’s also separated herself from many of her friends and has found herself very lonely.

The summer before her senior year of high school she decides that she needs a job. Katie soon finds herself working in the gardens of the local mystery woman, Miss Martine. Along with two handsome and goofy brothers, a chic librarian she becomes enthralled with the mystery behind Miss Martine and is determined to solve it.

There are secrets everywhere Katie turns. Behind locked doors, within old newspaper clippings, with the old man who works in the garden, and within old paintings. Beneath everything though, at the core of this mystery, is a love story. A love story within the mystery and one of Katie’s own. As Katie discovers more and more about Miss Martine, Katie also finds out more and more about herself and comes to turn with many of the ghosts in her life.

I have to start off by saying that Beth Kephart is one of my all-time favorite authors. That being said I always have high expectations when I sit down to read her books and this one was no exception. I loved how the author was able to subtly weave several different tiny stories into the general plot and had me so enchanted that it was impossible for me to close the book.

I loved how unique the plot was. It was a mystery, but was different than anything I had ever experienced. Like any mystery though it had all those heart pounding suspense moments and moments of despair. The characters came in an enhanced the story to no end.  Katie was a great character who was extremely relatable and at time her curiosity created a sense of spontaneity that brought a smile to my face. The relationships that were created were very real and I just could not wait for them to unfold. All the characters were well developed and they were all so different that there was a great sense of diversity within the story.

Now this would not be a true Kephart novel if it did not have superior writing. Every sentence was truly brilliant and I loved the lyrical feel that was presented. All the grief and emotion within the story was so true, yet it was not overdone. She also created such an unexpected and amazing ending that perfectly suited the story that made me love her even more!

This was one of the best books of the year and was a spectacular prose that doesn’t easily leave the reader’s mind. I encourage you all to go and grab a copy and read it quickly, but not too quickly so that you don’t have time to savor every perfect word. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

Lia and Alice Milthorpe are sixteen-year-old twins whose father has just passed away, leaving them and their brother Henry orphaned. The two girls though couldn’t be more different. Lia is quite a bit more social and kinder, while Alice keeps to herself and is very mysterious. What the two girls don’t realize though, is that they do have something in common. They are both part of an ancient prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other.

Just days after her father’s death Lia finds an odd mark start to appear on her wrist. Keeping her new discovery from everyone, including her beloved James and Alice, she sets off to find the meaning of it. She quickly comes to learn about the prophecy and her role in it. She hopes with her new knowledge she will be able to come to understand the mystery behind her parent’s deaths, the lengths her sister will go to destroy her, and the havoc that the downfall of the prophecy could bring.

Michelle Zink has created a stunning debut novel with PROPHECY OF THE SISTERS that I thoroughly enjoyed. She had great characterization and a spell-binding plot that literally glued the book to my hands!

One highlight of the book for me was the setting. I loved the magic that surrounded Birchwood (the Milthorpe estate) and the town, as it really added to the mystery of the story. At many times I was reminded of Libba Bray’s Gema Doyle series, but this book is definitely its own story.

As for the plot, it was absolutely riveting. With the different worlds and the secrecy of the prophecy, I was completely transported into Lia’s life. The battle between the sisters was interesting and a concept that doesn’t seem to be too prominent in YA fiction. It added a whole new element of secrecy to the book, leaving the reader anxious and hesitant as to what was going to happen next.

I also loved the characterization. It was so easy to see the difference between the two characters and I never felt like they blended together. The writing was also fabulous, drawing me in at all times.

Overall, I thought this was a great debut and a fantastic start to a series. I cannot wait to read more about these sisters and learn more about their fates. Definitely pick this book up if you’re looking for a stupendously haunting novel that won’t disappoint! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson

Destiny Faraday has made it her duty to keep a distance from anyone and everyone at school, as the reality is her parents will move her soon enough. She’s been at Hedgebrook Academy now for almost two years and everything has fallen into a routine, careful that it doesn’t include much time to really get to know people.

With one turn of the calendar page though, Destiny’s careful routine is thrown to shambles. First her Aunt Eddie can’t come to visit her and secondly she runs into a very mysterious stranger, a stranger who just happens to leave his car running in the school parking lot. Looking for just a day out Destiny hopes in said car, along with three classmates, and embarks on an unauthorized road trip to a location only Destiny knows the true meaning of. All have hopes to make this day a fair day – a day where the good guys win and everything is just so right.

This book was, hands down, one of the most original stories I have ever read. There were so many twists and turns that it kept me on my toes and wanting more with every period. I loved the unique characters and their complexity along with the breathtaking writing that truly transported me to the car along with the students.

Destiny’s character absolutely blew me away. She was so alive and heartbroken that I couldn’t help but connect with her. I enjoyed seeing her layers peel back as the story continued and loved the mystery of getting to know her. All the other characters were well developed and I desperately wanted them all to be my friends, so that I could participate in their crazy adventures. It was also really neat to see the relationships that the characters formed unravel.

As I mentioned before the writing was spectacular. Everything was so real, the wind, the trees, and the emotion. It was definitely one of the few books that really took over my imagination and transported me into their car. The ending was also superb. It was unexpected and left me wanting so much more, but tied everything that had occurred in the book together.

I highly recommend this book to any reader looking for a very powerful, real and emotional read. It was one of the best books I have read in a long time and will give any reader chills. It really showed the true power of friendship and the magic of chance. 


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