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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Giveaway Hop

August 1st to August 7th

My Giveaway: 

Winner will get to chose ONE (1) of the FIVE (5) books I've listed below and that I think make GREAT summer reads! 

1) My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick 

2) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

3) 45 Pounds by KA Barson 

4) Altered by Jennifer Rush 

5) Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Sionhan Vivian 

  • This giveaway is open internationally as long as the book depo ships to your country.  
  • Just fill out the Rafflecopter below.
  • Make sure to check out all the other blogs participating in this hop- links below! 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Thoughts: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it's all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family?

Now her life is completely different...every moment is a gift. Because now she might not have many moments left.

Sometimes you just need to read a book that you can get through in one sitting. And that is exactly what I got with Jessica Verdi's debut My Life After Now. There are so many reasons why I read this one so quickly: It hooked me from the beginning, it was an emotional read that had me in tears most of the time, it was about something that not a lot of authors have written about.

I wanted this review to be a completely spoiler free, and not reveal what Lucy is dealing with, I don't know that it's supposed to be this grand secret but it's not in the synopsis and I thought I shouldn't, but all you have to do is go to the book's Goodreads page and that'll give everything away. So be warned.

First things first- this is an issues book. So if you are scared unsure of those steer clear. But if you are wanting to try one out, My Life After Now is a good place to start. Verdi tackles the heavy subject of HIV/AIDS in an authentic and honest fashion. She doesn't gloss over anything and she doesn't glorify anything either. She also doesn't make light of things and make them less than what they are. HIV is a life altering and devastating disease and she makes that known to readers. Verdi presents to us a situation that is very real, it's a "that could have been me" kind of scenario.

Lucy our female protagonist has a pretty charmed life. Two dad's who love her, she's got the perfect boyfriend and she's a rising star ( a shoo in for her school's production of Romeo and Juliette). But all of that comes crashing down when she's not cast as Juliette and her boyfriend dumps her for her competition and on top of all that her estranged mother shows up so Lucy loses it. And like most teenagers, Lucy goes out for a night on the town with her two best friends. It is here that Lucy makes some not so great decisions and ends up spending the night with a stranger and it is here that she contracts the HIV virus.

What is important to realize and Verdi does a fantastic job of relaying is that being HIV positive does not mean you have AIDS. They are not one in the same. HIV will someday morph into AIDS, but it's not AIDS. As an adult reader reading this young adult novel, I knew that, but I couldn't explain to you how it the two things were not the same. My Life After Now does a fantastic job of differentiating the two in a way that most teenagers will be able to understand.

Lucy's reaction upon finding out she has contracted the virus is extremely heartbreaking and naturally she enters a state of denial. Initially this bothered me ( I remember yelling at her- you need to tell you dads they can help you). But realistically Lucy needed to come to terms with this on her own. I was little frustrated though with who she chose to tell first- this did not sit well with me. When Lucy did tell her dads what was going on in her life was one of the most heart wrenching scenes I have ever read. I could feel her fathers anger, their heartbreak and their devastation. Their baby's life was changed forever and they couldn't do anything about it. Thinking about it now, causes me to blink back tears. Lucy's fathers are one of my favourite things about this book. They take charge in a way that Lucy cannot. They are her rocks and it's a beautiful thing.

Overall, My Life After Now is a fantastic novel that I think all teens...everyone should read. HIV/AIDS isn't just for drug users and people living on the street, it doesn't discriminate that way. It could happen to you and Jessica Verdi forces that home with this book.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Thoughts: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

At this point I am sure that everyone and their cousin has read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (and loved it). If they haven't read it, they've heard of it and have it on their TBR. That was exactly what happened to me. There was so much hype surrounding this book that I just had to get my hands on it. Readers everywhere were saying this was the best book they had read this year, maybe even this decade and that Eleanor and Park brought out all kinds of feels. There were SO many fantastic things being said about this book and when I finally got around to reading it my expectations were high!

Unfortunately Eleanor and Park fell a little flat for me and I will be the first to tell you it was partly due to the amount of hype it received. I didn't hate the book, I just didn't love the story as much as everyone else and I'll do my best to tell you why.

I had a hard time believing the romance between Eleanor and Park. They never spoke to one another beyond sharing some reading material twice a day on the bus. Even than they didn't really talk. So I don't understand how they developed this amazingly strong connection when they weren't even friends. It was the whole lack of communication that made the whole relationship unbelievable.

I also didn't like how Eleanor treated Parker. I understand that Eleanor had some things to work through and that she didn't trust easily. But she knew when she was being unreasonable and when she was mistreating Parker. What also really got me was that she never apologized for it. throughout the majority of the novel I wasn't a huge fan of Eleanor. Her attitude towards a lot of things didn't sit right with me. In saying all of that. Eleanor had it rough. She was unhappy and her life was not at all stable. Her step father is abusive and her mother does not stick up for her. So while I understand where Eleanor is coming from, I still can't appreciate the way she related to others.

Park on the other hand was SO sweet. I really liked him. I can't say that he'll ever make it to my book boyfriend list, but I think we could be best friends. Park was laid back and didn't take life to seriously. He had a great family- his mother was hilarious and I thought she was great. Unlike Eleanor, Park had a fantastic relationship with his family- even his dad who Park often thought expected to much from him sometimes. Park was also able to deal with Eleanor's crazy attitude without much frustration.

I may be the only one who actually liked the end of Eleanor and Park. It was perfect. It was the most realistic ending that's for sure. It was absolutely what was best for Eleanor.

Overall, even though I didn't particularly like Eleanor and I didn't find the romance believable I still enjoyed the story (I just didn't love it).  Rainbow Rowell certainly knows how to write a compelling and complex story. I am a fan of her storytelling that's for sure.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My Thoughts: Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess

Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess is the first novel in her brand new series about five twenty-something friends—Pia, Angie, Julia, Coco and Madeleine—sharing a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn, and discovering the ups and downs and ins and outs of their “semi-adult” lives. The first story belongs to sophisticated, spoiled, and stylish Pia, who finds herself completely unemployed, unemployable, and broke. So what is a recent grad with an art history degree and an unfortunate history of Facebook topless photos to do? Start a food truck business of course! Pia takes on the surprisingly cutthroat Brooklyn world of hybrid lettuce growers, artisanal yogurt makers and homemade butter producers to start SkinnyWheels—all while dealing with hipster bees, one-night-stands, heartbreak, parental fury, wild parties, revenge, jail, loan sharks, playboys, karaoke, true love, and one adorable pink food truck. And that's without counting her roommates' problems, too.

**Review copy received from publisher**

For some unexplained reason I have been on a New Adult kick these last few weeks. So when Brooklyn Girls made its way to me I was excited to read it. I hadn't heard of the novel or it's author Gemma Burgess prior to reading the synopsis, but I was willing to give it a go. The story sounded light and fun and perfect for a summer read. I seem to love most novels that take place in New York. Luckily Brooklyn Girls was exactly what I was looking for and it didn't disappoint.

Brooklyn Girls the first novel in a series of five (I think) begins with Pia getting fired from a job she had for only a week which results in her being cut off financially from her parents and given an ultimatum to either grow up and be self sustaining or to move to Zurich live with them and take the job they provide her. For Pia living with her parents and having to leave New York is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to her. She's determined to find a job and stay in Brooklyn. This leads to a number of interesting jobs for Pia and ultimately to her purchasing a food truck and starting her own business.

Pia is a pretty hilarious character who does not really think before she does things. She's very self involved and doesn't really see the big picture. You would think a character like that would drive some people insane, but with Pia it's actually a little funny because you can see where it's going to get her. You can't help but root for her though. I really liked the relationship she has with her roommates. They all seemed to really care for one another (even when they hated each other) and that was nice.

Brooklyn Girls is a little over the top and little extreme sometimes. It seems like Pia and her four roommates are constantly getting drunk and partying, which sometimes included harsh drugs. I was annoyed by how unconcerned Pia was when she decided to do cocaine one night while she was out, it seemed like because she was out and already drunk, doing the coke was a natural progression, this made me roll my eyes. Drugs are something I have no tolerance for and this particular instance almost caused me to put the book down for good.

Overall despite the novel's Girls (the HBO series) feel, I really enjoyed the story and I enjoyed Gemma Burgess' characters. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
— Roald Dahl