September 29, 2010

And Then I Found Out the Truth by Jennifer Sturman

Release Date: July 1, 2010
Publisher: Point
Pages: 272
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Delia Truesdale is still searching for the truth about her mother, who is in hiding somewhere in South America. But for now, Delia has to make do with her mystery-solving in New York City, alongside her Aunt Charley (a downtown hipster), her Aunt Patience(an uptown ice queen), a detective with a questionable taste in neckties, an eccentric psychic, her brainiac friend, and Quinn, the wealthy, gorgeous boy who--gasp!-- seems to return Delia's affections. Too bad Quinn's shady CEO dad may be involved in the scheme Delia is trying to crack. And a trip to South America may be in order after all...

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this book, much like I did the first one. I liked it, but it never wowed me. I liked Delia and Quinn, and I even liked Natalie, Charley, and Gwyneth... but I never really felt like I got a full handle on who they were. Maybe part of the problem is that, besides Delia, most of these characters seem like stock characters. There's the quirky aunt, the uptight aunt, the smart best friend, the gorgeous and perfect love interest, and the villains. The "bad guys" of the story are probably the most interesting, mostly because throughout the book you're trying to figure out who is all bad, and who might be good.

I didn't really understand the point of the gambling ring plot, except perhaps to create some tension between Delia and Quinn... but it felt unnecessary, and I would have rather spent more time on the main mystery. I also found the ending a bit of a letdown. Everything happened so quickly and without a lot of explanation, and I didn't feel like I could fully appreciate the reunion between Delia and her Mom, T.K.. All of this probably sounds harsh, but it was still a worthwhile read. If you enjoyed the first book you will definitely like this one. One great aspect of Sturman's writing is her sense of humour. If you can appreciate over the top characters and hijinks, you will likely find something to appreciate here.


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September 27, 2010

And Then Everything Unraveled by Jennifer Sturman

Release Date: July 1, 2010 (originally published 2009)
Publisher: Point
Pages: 256
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Delia Truesdale has no idea her life's about to change forever. She's too busy enjoying the California summer. Her internet tycoon mother, T.K. Truesdale, is out of town, and that means Delia can spend all her time at the beach, surfing. That is, until everything unravels.

Her mother suddenly goes missing, and everyone thinks she's dead - except Delia, who knows T.K.'s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia's still sent to New York to live with her two aunts - a downtown bohemian and an uptown ice queen.

And in case that's not bad enough, she also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding her mother.

As she delves deeper into the tangle of conspiracies and lies surrounding T.K.'s disappearance, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy may be the right guy...and that some secrets - especially the dangerous ones - were never meant to be unraveled.

My Thoughts:
I had heard good things about this book and its sequel, so I was really looking forward to picking them up. I think this cover is wonderful, although I don't know how much it reflects the tone of the book. However, I love that it's not white washed: the model actually looks like she's of Indian descent, as Delia is. I loved how Jennifer Sturman managed to combine a well written mystery with a more typical boy meets girl story. I would have liked the background characters, such as Gwyneth and Grey, and even Patience, to be more well rounded. I even felt like we could have gotten to know more about Quinn, besides the fact that he's cute and rich, and that his father is potentially a Very Bad Man.

Delia is a likeable character, and despite the fact that her thoughts about her mother end up having evidence behind them, I found it a little unrealistic that she would have very little emotional reaction at all to the fact that her mother is, or at the very least, might be, dead. This changes a bit throughout the book, but despite her emotional outbursts, she seemed a bit too levelheaded about it all. However, I enjoyed her narrative voice a lot. As the book leaves off on a cliff hanger, there's no real resolution to the mystery. You sort of know what's going on, but you have to wait for the next book to find out how it all works out. I have also read the 2nd book, and I will be posting a review of it soon.


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September 23, 2010

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony

Release Date: May 13, 2010
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pages: 320
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book, although I didn't fully connect to it, and that's why the rating is a bit lower. Molly was likable: strong, brave, caring, and smart. I liked that she was able to do things on her own, but also able to accept help from people when she knew she needed it. 'Restoring Harmony' is a dystopia, yet it doesn't have a dark tone to it. I guess the adults in the novel are a bit more bitter about their situation because they knew what it was like before the oil became government controlled, and before organized crime took control of everything. Molly and the younger generation seem to have accepted their fate to a certain extent. They don't know any different, so they feel hopeful. I think 'Restoring Harmony' would appeal to those who don't usually read dystopias because of this lighthearted tone. There are certain dangers that happen in the book, but you never really feel like horrible things could happen to the characters. Because of the genre, I almost expected (and wanted) Molly and her friends and family to try and take down The Organization, but instead, the book remains a personal narrative about Molly and her journey to bring her grandparents back to Canada. And somehow? That really does work. The book has a satisfying ending that I think most people would be happy with.


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September 20, 2010

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Release Date: June 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 290
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

My Thoughts:
I read this book in one sitting, with only a brief stop to eat dinner, and even then I read while I ate. That really tells you how good this book was, and how engaged with it I was. I was so moved by the characters and what they were going through, still reeling a year afterward with the loss of their best friend (possible boyfriend), brother, and son. Sarah Ockler really made me feel what Anna was feeling. Whether it was butterflies in her stomach, sobs of grief, feelings of anger, or love, I was there with her through all of it. I generally don't like "sad books," but I fully appreciate a book about grief and loss that can also involve lighthearted things like silly girl talk or learning to surf. "Twenty Boy Summer" reminded me of Jandy Nelson's "The Sky is Everywhere," in that it manages to include optimism and hope while dealing with a very serious theme.

I don't really have any complaints about this book. I originally thought Anna moved from grief to acceptance too quickly, but I think it was actually building for quite a while. I think the events of the book allowed her to have a quick break and realize what she had known, but not wanted to fully accept, all along: that Matt was gone and not coming back. I enjoyed Anna and Frankie's friendship, and I loved the character of Sam. While Frankie's parents were more background characters than anything else, I thought they were developed quite well. I deeply enjoyed the plot, the characters, and the lovely writing style of this book. A truly engaging read which was beautiful and sad, but ultimately hopeful.


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September 15, 2010

Fins #1: Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Release Date: May 19, 2010
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 293
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Lily Sanderson has a secret, and it’s not that she has a huge crush on gorgeous swimming god Brody Bennett, who makes her heart beat flipper-fast. Unrequited love is hard enough when you’re a normal teenage girl, but when you’re half human, half mermaid like Lily, there’s no such thing as a simple crush.

Lily’s mermaid identity is a secret that can’t get out, since she’s not just any mermaid – she’s a Thalassinian princess. When Lily found out three years ago that her mother was actually a human, she finally realized why she didn’t feel quite at home in Thalassinia, and she’s been living on land and going to Seaview high school ever since, hoping to find where she truly belongs. Sure, land has its problems – like her obnoxious, biker boy neighbor Quince Fletcher – but it has that one major perk – Brody. The problem is, mermaids aren’t really the casual dating type – when they “bond,” it’s for life.

When Lily’s attempt to win Brody’s love leads to a tsunami-sized case of mistaken identity, she is in for a tidal wave of relationship drama, and she finds out, quick as a tailfin flick, that happily-ever-after never sails quite as smoothly as you planned.

My Thoughts:
This was a really cute, fun book that I was able to fly right through. You could definitely use it as an end of summer beach book (especially because of the mermaid/water theme!), but if you're looking for a bit more depth, this book has that as well. I really liked the main character, Lily, even though she was a bit clueless at times. I think she fell into the trap that a lot of us fall into sometimes: that just because she's had certain feelings or beliefs for a long period of time, she believes them to be real... that moving away from those feelings is somehow dangerous or wrong. Lily's devotion to Brody despite not actually knowing him that well was a bit annoying, but I think it was forgivable. I generally found Lily, and her ocean-life related swearing (e.g. saying "damselfish!"), quite endearing.

One problem I had with the book was everyone's reactions to Lily when she admitted she was a mermaid. I found their immediate acceptance quite unbelievable. I can accept Quince's reaction, because we get more details about how he thinks, and there's a bit more of an explanation behind how he reacts. But I thought Shannen and Brody were way too calm about the whole thing, especially since the mermaid world is supposed to be such a secret. I would have thought some disbelief or laughter would be appropriate, but they seem to automatically accept the fact that mermaids exist and the person they've known for three years is one of them. Besides this small problem, however, I found the book very enjoyable. I loved Tera Lynn Child's writing style and her humour, and I am definitely going to pick up her other books from the library soon. If you enjoy mermaids and/or light fantasy titles, you will probably enjoy 'Forgive My Fins'. To me it read like a very cute romance and coming of age story which just happened to involve a mermaid. However, you are also able to become immersed in the mermaid kingdom if that's the type of story you like.


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September 12, 2010

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Release Date: June 7, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 326
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Scarlett March lives to hunt the Fenris-- the werewolves that took her eye when she was defending her sister Rosie from a brutal attack. Armed with a razor-sharp hatchet and blood-red cloak, Scarlett is an expert at luring and slaying the wolves. She's determined to protect other young girls from a grisly death, and her raging heart will not rest until every single wolf is dead.

Rosie March once felt her bond with her sister was unbreakable. Owing Scarlett her life, Rosie hunts fiercely alongside her. Now Rosie dreams of a life beyond the wolves and finds herself drawn to Silas, a young woodsman who is deadly with an ax-- but loving him means betraying her sister and has the potential to destroy all they've worked for.

Twenty-five-year-old Jackson Pearce delivers a dark, taut fairy tale with heart-pounding action, fierce sisterly love, and a romance that will leave readers breathless.

My Thoughts:
I loved the feel of this book... it was set it modern times, yet sometimes I forgot, because the writing had a timeless fairytale quality to it. I really adored Rosie, and I almost wish the whole thing had been from her perspective. I felt for Scarlett at times, but I couldn't really connect with her. She was too hard and too driven to hunt in a way that I couldn't understand at all. I also wish we could have connected a bit more with Silas and his thoughts, since we only get to see him from the perspective of each girl. The themes in 'Sisters Red' reminded me a lot of the concept of the TV show Supernatural. There are two siblings who hunt supernatural creatures, one of whom is totally committed, and the other who is flirting with having a normal life, separate from hunting. There is also a similarity in how a small group of people (the hunters) know the truth about these creatures, and the rest of humanity (the ones who the hunters are trying to save) are in the dark.

I agree with some reviewers who felt the whole thing dragged on a bit... because despite a lot of fights occurring there wasn't a whole lot going on. I liked the twist at the end, although I saw it coming for miles, and I'm usually the worst person ever for guessing "whodunnit" or seeing things coming in books or movies. Despite these things, for a short while I did feel myself engaged with the book and its characters, and I really cared about what happened to Rosie and Silas. As I mentioned, I found it very hard to connect to Scarlett, and I didn't really like her much at all, but I still appreciated the bond between the two sisters. I think anyone who enjoys re-tellings of fairy tales and stories with themes of good versus evil involving the supernatural would like 'Sisters Red.'


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September 10, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (2)

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Jennifer @ Crazy For Books. It is designed in the spirit of Twitter's Follow Friday, allowing readers and book bloggers to connect with one another.

This week's question: Post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months.

Since I'm a new blogger, I don't have that many to choose from, but I would say that my favourite review that I've posted so far as been of It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han. Because I wrote the review so soon after reading the book I was able to delve in a little deeper, and because I really enjoyed the book I was able to aptly describe how I related to the characters.

September 9, 2010

The Line by Teri Hall

Release Date: March 4, 2010
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 219
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from
An invisible, uncrossable physical barrier encloses the Unified States. The Line is the part of the border that lopped off part of the country, dooming the inhabitants to an unknown fate when the enemy used a banned weapon. It's said that bizarre creatures and superhumans live on the other side, in Away. Nobody except tough old Ms. Moore would ever live next to the Line.

Nobody but Rachel and her mother, who went to live there after Rachel's dad died in the last war. It's a safe, quiet life. Until Rachel finds a mysterious recorded message that can only have come from Away. The voice is asking for help.

Who sent the message? Why is her mother so protective? And to what lengths is Rachel willing to go in order to do what she thinks is right?

My Thoughts:
This book had a bit of a slow start, and I found it hard to absorb all the facts about the Unified States, the National Border Defense System, and, most importantly, The Line. Hall tells the reader these details through the history lessons Rachel's mother, Vivian, makes her do, and it feels a bit prescribed. Nevertheless, I was drawn into this book by my curiosity, because it became clear that all the characters have secrets, and I desperately wanted to know what they were. The perspective of characters goes back and forth a few times, but not in a confusing way. It lets you get to know each main character a little bit better, which I appreciated. Once things started happening in regards to The Line the pace of this book picked up, and I became more deeply engaged in the characters and their actions. This was a good read, though I wasn't overwhelmed by it. My one main complaint is that despite the fact that I knew there was going to be a 2nd book, the novel feels incomplete. It doesn't even feel like a cliffhanger, it just feels like the first half of a book. Maybe this is because not a lot actually happens, I'm not sure. I'll definitely read the 2nd book when it comes out because I'm curious about what Away is like and what will happen to Rachel, but it will be one I pick up from the library.


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September 7, 2010

Faithful by Janet Fox

Release Date: May 13, 2010
Publisher: Speak
Pages: 336
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Maggie Bennet’s life is in tatters. Her mother has disappeared, and is presumed dead. The next thing she knows, her father has dragged Maggie away from their elegant Newport home, off on some mad excursion to Yellowstone in Montana. Torn from the only life she’s ever known, away from her friends, from society, and verging on no prospects, Maggie is furious and devastated by her father’s betrayal. But when she arrives, she finds herself drawn to the frustratingly stubborn, handsome Tom Rowland, the son of a park geologist, and to the wild romantic beauty of Yellowstone itself. And as Tom and the promise of freedom capture Maggie’s heart, Maggie is forced to choose between who she is and who she wants to be.

My Thoughts:
I was first drawn to this book because of the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous. In fact, I think I first read about it on Melissa Walker's blog, in one of her cover stories. 'Faithful' is an interesting story which features a cast of characters, all of whom are quite different from one another. Despite figuring out the "mystery" part of the book early on, I was still intrigued to discover the circumstances under which the events happened. I really adored the romance between Maggie and Tom, even though there aren't a lot of purely romantic scenes in the book. Janet Fox makes you really root for their forbidden romance, and I was scared about whether a relationship between the two of them would be able to work out, since Maggie is of a higher class and Tom has no money. At times I found the narrative a bit stilted, but perhaps it was just because of the many descriptions of scenery. I don't usually read for setting, but if you do you'll love reading Fox's descriptions about the wild of Yellowstone. I would recommend 'Faithful' to fans of historical novels and to those who enjoy stories of women standing up for themselves, trying to make the best of their life despite the station their gender placed them in.


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September 5, 2010

Summer #2: It's Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Release Date: April 27, 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Pages: 288
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Last year, all of Belly's dreams came true and the thought of missing a summer in Cousins Beach was inconceivable. But like the rise and fall of the ocean tide, things can change--just like that. Suddenly the time she's always looked forward to most is something she dreads. And when Jeremiah calls to say Conrad has disappeared, Belly must decide how she will spend this summer: chasing after the boy she loves, or finally letting him go.

My Thoughts:
Reading this book makes me want to re-read the first book and then start this one all over again. Jenny Han really makes you feel for Belly and all the other characters; it's like you share their history and know all their secrets. It would be easy to say that this is a novel which explores loss and deals with the ramifications of a love triangle between three people who have known each other forever, but it's so much more than that. Belly is sweet, sincere, insecure, and mature yet naive. She's so lovely, and Han's writing really allows you to get to know her and feel like you're a part of her somehow.

Conrad and Jeremiah are equally amazing male leads. Jeremiah is earnest, loyal, and everything Belly could ever need in a guy, but Conrad is the one she's always wanted. She loves him, or at least she thinks she does, and it seems as though he does love her too, although he cannot seem to show it. This book deals with the loss of the boys' mother, Susannah, to cancer, and throughout the book you can really feel the grief which all the characters are experiencing. Despite this sadness, 'It's Not Summer Without You' has a hopeful and uplifting feel to it. I cannot wait for the third book to come out so we can find out what happens next, as the epilogue of this book alludes to some very interesting possibilities. An emotional and "unputdownable" 2nd addition to this series.


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