May 31, 2012

Amplified by Tara Kelly

Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 304
Series: n/a
Review Source: Library

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . .

In this fresh new novel by critically acclaimed author Tara Kelly, Jasmine finds out what happens when her life gets Amplified.

My Thoughts:
I loved 'Harmonic Feedback', so I was really excited to read 'Amplified', especially when I kept reading such great reviews for it. 'Amplified' ended up being just as good as I expected, and a lot of fun to read. The band aspect of the book was awesome. Tara Kelly is basically synonymous with music in my mind because you can just tell how much she loves it by how she describes it. All of the band members were lively and fun, and I loved the friendship connection that occurred between Veta and Jasmine.

And then the romance... omigosh, the romance. Spine tingly connection!! I just have to squee about Sean and Jasmine, because I adored their automatic love/hate chemistry, the slow flirting and growing admiration into something more. I loved how it was swoony and realistic at the same time. There were real feelings there, but no rushing into declarations because of both characters dealing with real situations.

I just really loved this book. It kept me up late despite having to get up early for work, and really, what could be a better sign of a good book than that? ‘Amplified’ is a feel good music romp with an awesome romance aspect as well.

The Cover:
Love! Especially in person.


Find Amplified by Tara Kelly on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 30, 2012

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker

Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 240
Series: n/a
Review Source: Bought

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life.

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now.

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

My Thoughts:
You know how some books are just the perfect read at the perfect time? Well, ‘Unbreak My Heart’ was one of those reads for me. I loved how it was about romance, about friendship, and about family and it never felt like too much. It combined those aspects seamlessly, making them each a part of Clementine’s life, just as we experience those different relationships in real life.

At the heart of the story is Clementine’s relationship with her (now ex)best friend Amanda, and Clem’s growing realization of how much the break up of a friendship can hurt. I loved how the story went back and forth between Clem’s summer with her family on a boat and the past year when the whole situation unfurled. It didn’t feel like a gimmick to tell the story that way; it felt like a natural unfolding as Clem grieves for her broken relationships and starts to heal and have revelations as the summer continues.

I can’t write this review without mentioning two fabulous characters. First is Clem’s sister Olive, who is just adorable and funny and sweet, and is basically the perfect little sister. She’s brutally honest and just the right amount of clingy-bratty to seem like a real little sister, but she is also Clem’s biggest fan. The second amazing character is James, who Clem and her family meet on their boating trip. James is one of the most adorable YA guys I’ve read about in a long time. I love how upbeat and cheerful he is, despite the things going on in his own life, and I loved how much he rooted for Clem and how well he treated her and her family.

This book made me sad and nostalgic for lost friendships, but it also filled my heart back up with the sweet romance and the moments between Clementine’s fabulous family. ‘Unbreak My Heart’ was so emotionally satisfying. I absolutely love Melissa Walker’s writing, and this may just be my new favourite of hers. Recommended to those who love contemporary romance and to Sarah Dessen fans.

The Cover:
Prettttty, and it's even nicer in person.


Find Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 28, 2012

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 295
Series: ?? Not sure
Review Source: For review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Happily ever after is a thing of the past.

A series of natural disasters has decimated the earth. Cut off from the rest of the world, England is a dark place. The sun rarely shines, food is scarce, and groups of criminals roam the woods, searching for prey. The people are growing restless.

When a ruthless revolutionary sets out to overthrow the crown, he makes the royal family his first target. Blood is shed in Buckingham Palace, and only sixteen-year-old Princess Eliza manages to escape.

Determined to kill the man who destroyed her family, Eliza joins the enemy forces in disguise. She has nothing left to live for but revenge, until she meets someone who helps her remember how to hope—and to love—once more. Now she must risk everything to ensure that she not become... The Last Princess.

My Thoughts:
As soon as I heard this book’s concept I knew I had to read it. Despite the huge amount of post-apocalyptic books that have come out in the past year I still love reading about the concept and seeing the different ways that people survive after world-ending circumstances. I also happen to love stories about royalty, so the fact that this book combined the two made it one I couldn’t miss.

In some respects this book definitely lived up to my expectations. It was exciting and featured some great characters living through horrific circumstances. I loved the plot of the book and where the story went, yet somehow in the past week since I’ve read the book it’s all become a bit forgettable and jumbled up in my mind. I think one reason for this is because of the book’s length. Usually I find myself wishing an author will stop with so many details and just get on with the plot. On the opposite side of the spectrum I feel like ‘The Last Princess’ could have been split into two books in itself, therefore giving room for more details and development.

I enjoyed the concept of this book a lot, I just found the writing to be a bit sparse. I would have liked more development for the characters and the situations they were in, because I actually really enjoyed what was there. I also had an issue with the romance because it really just came out of nowhere. I’m one of the hugest fans of romance in YA novels, but this one really didn’t need that added element (unless it was developed further and felt more like a natural part of the story, rather than a gimmick).

Is this worth a read? I think so. Despite my issues with it I found the book to be exciting, and I had a good time reading about the circumstances and the characters.

The Cover:
I like it, it's pretty evocative.


Find The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

May 27, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (2)

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers can share the latest books they've received and discover new titles while visiting other blogs.

Here's what I've received in the past two weeks:


Bought for/at the Rochester Teen Book Festival:
- Forgotten by Cat Patrick
- Revived by Cat Patrick
- Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
- Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker

- The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
- The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
- The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Bought with a gift card I won:
- Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready
- Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready
- Bring on the Night by Jeri Smith-Ready

Preorders that came in:
- Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
- Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

- Slammed by Colleen Hoover
- Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

For Review:

From Netgalley/Edelweiss:
- Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
- Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
- Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells #4) by Meg Cabot

So that's an insane amount of books, am I right? I'm trying so hard to get through the many review books I have so I can read some of the ones I've bought over the last few months.

May 22, 2012

Rochester Teen Book Festival 2012

This past Saturday I had the great pleasure of attending The 7th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival. I had heard about the event earlier this year, but I figured it was too far away to get to. Then on Thursday I randomly decided "why not?" (especially since it was a long weekend here in Canada), so I recruited my Mom and we drove down to Rochester (about a 4 hour drive) on Friday night in order to be there for the Saturday 9 am start.

The event started off with a parade of authors coming in in cool older cars, and there was a marching band playing. Once the doors were open we were free to grab seats and browse around the gym where they had lots of different booths set up. I bought some TBF merchandise (buttons and a bag), some raffle tickets (I didn't win, but oh well), as well as these books to get signed:

After introductions the event kicked off with the first TBF author game show. There were two contestants who had to try and match authors with their answers (for things like "which paranormal creature would you most like to be?" and "what is the furthest you've ever travelled?" etc), and there were also lightning rounds where every author answered questions. There was a favourite musical question which led to a bit of singing, and it was pretty funny/enjoyable overall.

After this all-author event the day was split up into four different session times, with each author (or author pairing/group) presenting 3 times. You could choose which authors you wanted to see, and the sessions were divided up into different buildings around the Nazareth College campus.

For each session I made some notes, so I'll try to summarize what was said/talked about.

Session 1: Cinda Williams Chima
  • It took a long time for Cinda to figure out what she wanted to do
  • She was named after a character from "House Divided" by Ben Ames Williams. She has a twin sister, Linda, and everyone thinks that Cinda was a made up name to rhyme with Linda
  • Believes strongly that it's necessary to READ in order to write
  • She wasn't a strong student early on, and becoming a reader changed her life
  • Her first poem she wrote in 3rd grade was called "Science is a wonderful thing" -- this was the first time she remembers getting support from a teacher, and it really changed her
  • As a teen she wrote romance novels starring her friends
  • Thinks that you should write the book that only you can write instead of trying to chase trends
  • Everyone has something unique to write about because we all collect databases of our experiences
  • Sees readers and writers as partners in fiction
  • With her first trilogy she wanted to bring magic into the real world, into a high school and world that American students would recognize (as opposed to Hogwarts, which is AWESOME, but not a typical experience for American teens)

Session 2: Melissa Walker & Jenny Han
  • These two awesome ladies were part of the "Girl Talk" panel
  • Jenny is a stress baker, especially when on deadline; that way even if the writing doesn't work out at least she has cookies
  • Melissa and Jenny are Friday Night Lights super fans; they talked about visiting the field when they were in Austin, and bidding on items from the set on eBay
  • They played "Kiss Marry Kill" with TV and YA characters, and answered some "Would You Rather?" questions
  • They both have taken things from real life inspirations; Melissa talked about using her experience interviewing models when working for Elle Girl to write the Violet books, as well as using the emotions of the break up of a friendship to write her latest book (Unbreak My Heart); Jenny talked about how in her first book 'Shug' a character has the same name and almost the same last name as a guy in her life from high school and some of college
  • Melissa and Jenny also talked about the importance of covers; how rare it was that Jenny got to visit the set of the photoshoot for the Summer books, and how with Melissa's blog series about covers that it's about 50/50 of whether people are happy with their cover or not

Session 3: Megan Crewe & Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • "The End of the World" panel
  • Megan's best publishing experience was when "The Way We Fall" sold at auction, as part of a trilogy, after 2.5 years after her first book came out
  • Susan's best moment was going out on a Saturday night for the Sunday NYT and standing on the streets of NYC reading a favourable review of her book in the paper
  • Susan didn't see her 'Last Survivors' books as science fiction; she approaches books as 'family problem' novels, that describe a family in unique circumstances
  • Megan enjoys YA because it's about the time when you're figuring out who you are, and making huge decisions about your life; everything is about "Firsts"
  • Susan loves the family dynamic of YA, and thinks from the teen's POV is the most interesting

Overall these sessions were so much fun! I was also able to pick up some swag throughout the day:

After all the sessions was the big autographing session in the gym. Besides the books I bought at the festival I also brought a WHOLE BUNCH from home. Here are the books I was able to get signed:

"A double sign"
(Yes, I was absolutely nerdy enough to bring all of Melissa Walker's books to get her to sign even though I had some book plates from her already in some of the books.)
"Safe travels"
"Remember everything"
"Stay out of trouble"
"The future is yours" ('Forgotten' by Cat Patrick)
"Thanks for making the trip down"
"Happy reading"
"Best wishes! You have a great mom" (I do have the best Mom, because she stood in a few of the lines for me and got books signed for me while I waited in other lines)
"Never stop believing in magic"
"Believe in magic"
"All my best"
"Read on"
"What matters is the way we live"

I haven't actually been to a lot of signings before, and only a couple big book events. This one was a lot of fun, and I feel very blessed that I was able to attend. It was definitely really aimed at the local high schools of Rochester, and there was a huge turn out. I think it's amazing that events like this exist for teenagers, and I was really excited to see how the teens were so excited to meet the authors. The authors definitely got the rock star treatment, and there was palpable excitement in the air. If I had the chance I would definitely make the trip down again, because it was such a fun day, with a great opportunity to meet a whole bunch of really great authors.


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