Thursday, July 24, 2014

[Review] Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando



Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Roomies
[contemporary YA]

You can buy it here:
Roomies (Amazon hardcover)
Roomies (Amazon paperback)

FTC: I received an eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: (via Netgalley)
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.
As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.
National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

My thoughts:
What happens when two girls who are absolute opposites are placed as roommates in college? Elizabeth - EB - is an only child who lives with her mother only on the East Coast, whereas Lauren is the oldest child in a family of many (eight, I believe) and lives in a house in San Francisco with both her parents. Lauren originally requested a single room, so she is bummed when she gets her roommate assignment. Just once, she wanted to have a room all to herself. EB on the other hand is happy to not be alone. She always hoped to have siblings, so she's excited to meet her new roommate.

Over the summer, the girls write each other emails to get to know each other, but their lives also change. I enjoyed the dual point of view in this novel a lot. Sometimes it can bog down the development of the story, but with Roomies it worked out just perfect.

Now, what would a young adult novel without some love interests? Over the summer, the girls also meet boys that summer and this is a nice addition.The boys seem to complement the girls even, so it was not overdone or set up to cause drama, which happens frequently.

All in all, I am very happy with how this novel turned out and I am glad I got to read it! If you enjoy dual point of view in young adult novels, give this one a try!

Rating:
4/5


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

[Top 10 Tuesday] On a Deserted Island



Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's topic is: Top 10 Characters I would want with me on a deserted island

1) Hermoine from Harry Potter (duh!) - she is smart, well-read and probably has a lot of good ideas on how to get things taken care of and on how to get us off that island - because that is the ultimate goal, isn't it?

2) Tris from Divergent - she knows how to kick ass and sticks with her friends

3) Four from Divergent - because he also kicks ass and I have a good feeling about him there

4) Jane Rizzoli from Tess Gerritsen's series - she takes down bad guys like no other

5) Maura Isles from Tess Gerritsen's series - she's the one with the medical knowledge here

6) Watson from Sherlock Holmes - because he's smart and no matter what you say about Holmes, I absolutely love Watson!

7) Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files - more magic is always a good thing

8) Severus Snape from Harry Potter (duh! again) - because you have to love Professor Snape, he rocks!

9) Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter - because she balances out Snape's roughness, yet she's darned good!

10) MacGyver - you don't know him? well, everybody needs a MacGyver in their life, especially on a deserted island!

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (July 20, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

Last Week

Last week marked the end of yet another semester, so I was rather busy for the past 2 weeks. I did not read much, to be honest. However, I tried to finally make a list of all the books I have on my Kindle. I already have a list sorted by genre for my paper books, but I figured I should see my unread e-books as well. This sets up the basis for my TBR short "stacks" on a sticky.



Nonetheless, I read - and skimmed a good part - of The Empire Writes Back by Bill Ashcroft et al. This is a text book on post-colonial literary theory and I had a good time reading / skimming it. It will be useful for a paper I have to write.



And I believe I did not finish Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter before my last Monday post? Anyway, I finished it and loved it!

Reading right now



I am still re-reading Dubliners by James Joyce. It's a great short story collection and I am glad I took a class where we talked about nothing but Dubliners!



Also, I am reading another collection of short stories - this one by P.G. Wodehouse: The Inimitable Jeeves. It seems to be the month of short story collections?! Some of you may know the TV show Jeeves and Wooster starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, and these are the stories the show was based on. Jeeves is the valet of Bertie Wooster, an English gentleman in circa 1910 (?). I absolutely love the stories as they are oftentimes laugh out loud hilarious!

New In

During the past 2 weeks (or has it been three?!) I received these books for review via Netgalley:



B, uzz Books 2014: Young Adult (not pictured), which is a collection of excerpts of up and coming YA books for the fall/winter season; Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is the second installment in the The Naturals series, a bit of a crossover of Criminal Minds and The Mentalist, maybe; and I Only Read It For The Cartoons by Richard Gehr, with information on the The New Yorker's cartoon artists.



Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts is the story of two cancer patients and while this sounds a bit like a very well known novel by John Green (The Fault In Our Stars, in case you didn't get the hint), I have high hopes that I will love it at least as much as most people loved TFIOS; and finally Vivian Apple At The End Of The World by Katie Coyle, which is the story of a girl living in our world but society believes that the end of times is near and at the day that has been proclaimed as the day of the Rapture her parents disappear.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

[Top 10 Tuesday] Movies and TV Shows



Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's topic is: Favorite Movies or TV Shows - and I'm adapting it a bit - based off of books/book series

Favorite Movies

1) The Princess Diaries - I absolutely love both the books and the movie! Princess Mia is awesomely awkward at first and warms up and becomes more confident as her story progresses.

2) 10 Things I Hate About You - Heck, my brother (!!!) knows the lines by heart! No kidding, he knows every single line, he likes the movie that much! As for me, this is an amazing teen movie based off Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. I enjoy the chemistry between Heath Ledger and Julia Styles, but I love the two actors anyway. If you haven't watched it yet, get a copy. I highly recommend it!

3) She's The Man - Another Shakespeare-based teen movie, this time with Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum (I love me some Channing anyway!). It's a movie based off Twelfth Night and the jokes in this movie are probably very much for teens, but I love them. There were so many laugh-out-loud scenes and I still have tears in my eyes when I watch this one. I mean, tampons for nosebleeds? Hello!

4) The Harry Potter movies - all of them. Because they're awesome! It's that simple!

5) The Lincoln Lawyer - For this one, I have to thank a former lecturer. Matthew McConaughey's character, Mick Haller, ends up in a difficult and dangerous situation. I have the audio book here and hope to listen to it this summer!

Favorite TV Shows

6) Rizzoli & Isles - while there is a significant difference between the show and the books, I still love the way the characters are portrayed. It's not accurate, but it is done in a way that makes me still enjoy and appreciate it.

7) Bones - Another inaccurate portrayal of a series of mysteries. But let's face it, Emily Deschanel as Tempe Brennan and David Boreanaz as Seeley Booth - that's hot!

8) Elementary - For one, I love mysteries, in case you haven't noticed yet. And then I like that Watson is a woman and a tough one at that. And Holmes is this odd and insanely clever former drug addict. I love it!

9) Jeeves & Wooster - How could I leave this out? I mentioned in a previous TTT how much I love P.G. Wodehouse's books, and I love the show just as much! Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are doing an amazing job portraying Bertie Wooster and his valet Jeeves. You have to read the books and watch the show, trust me!

10) M*A*S*H - It's a classic with lots of laughs.

Bonus

11) Pacific Rim - Though not officially a movie after a book (series), you can ask almost anyone who has watched the movie and read the manga series Neon Genesis Evangelion that it is incredibly similar. It's a rip-off, if you ask me!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

[Review] Impostor by Susanne Winnacker



Susanne Winnacker
Impostor
1st Variants
[YA paranormal]

You can buy it here:
Impostor (Amazon hardcover)
Impostor (Amazon paperback)
Impostor (Amazon eBook)

FTC: I received an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: (via Netgalley)
X-Men meets Veronica Mars in this thrilling first book in the VARIANTS series

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she's spent the last two years with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. There she trains with other Variants, such as long-term crush Alec, who each have their own extraordinary ability.

When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. Tessa hates everything about being an impostor - the stress, the danger, the deceit - but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she'd do anything to keep.

Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

'Fun and suspenseful' Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of CINDER

My thoughts:
X-Men meets Veronica Mars? I'm not so sure about that. I did not see much of Veronica Mars' character or abilities in Tessa, to be honest. The X-Men part though, that one I agree with. I have a proposition for a better match of a second show, but we'll come to that at the end.

Tessa does not have her ability completely in check, when she is thrust into her first investigation in order to find a serial killer, so some things go wrong and she does things she knows she should not do even before her assignment - like impersonate a fellow variant in order to get a kiss from a certain hot guy. In some ways, Tessa is still very much a teenager, yet, she is tasked with a job for an adult. In fact, I think even adults might have problems with her task.

Her pining for her colleague, Alec, who has a girlfriend, even though she is portrayed as an evil hag, and Alec's confusing behavior towards Tessa (come hither, stay away) was what annoyed me quite some times. I wanted to tell her "Girl, you will find a better guy, one who does not have a girlfriend, no matter how hot you think he is right now!" multiple times throughout the book.

Now, my first problem was the end. I'm not sure it was the best end the book could have and the way the mystery was resolved was a bit off. While the main idea behind it reminds me of the counterorganization of X-Men, and I believe it would be very likely, if variants existed, something simply felt off to me. Also, in the end I feel incredibly sorry for Madison's family, as they have to deal with the loss of their daughter now.

Secondly, Tessa often seemed unable to really do anything despite two years of training. Granted, two years is not much when it comes to the art of spying and crime solving (want to check how long it takes for people to join any federal crime solving agency?), however, I believe she should have been more capable, whether she has fully mastered her variant or not.

I believe this series has lots of room to grow into something amazing! Like I said before, it really reminds me in X-Men meets Get Smart. You have the heroes with the supernatural abilities, and looking at Tessa, you have the clumsy spy on top of that. Since I love both shows, this worked well for me, despite the issues I had.

Rating:
3.5/5


Thursday, July 10, 2014

[Review] The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes



Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals 1st The Naturals
[YA mystery]

You can buy it here:
The Naturals (Amazon hardcover)
The Naturals(Amazon paperback)

FTC: I recieved an eARC via Netgalley for review.

Summary: (via Netgalley.com)
Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But, it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there's more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms close. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

Think The Mentalist meets Pretty Little Liars—Jennifer Lynn-Barnes’ The Naturals is a gripping psychological thriller with killer appeal, a to-die-for romance, and the bones of a gritty and compelling new series.

My thoughts:
I heard a lot about this book before diving in. Some related it to Criminal Minds, some to The Mentalist - and many said it was like those crime shows, but for young adults. To me, all these comments do have a point, but: I love the book with or without the similarities to shows I admittedly enjoy a lot. To me, The Naturals was a nice entrance to a new series that hopefully will not end after book two or three.

Our main character, Cassie, has been through a lot in her few years. Her mother was brutally murdered (no spoilers here!) and she lived with family until she decided to go off on an adventure on her own, when she is recruited as a sort-of profiler for the FBI. She will be one of a team of young adults with special abilities. Where seasoned agents have to learn the tricks of the trade, these young people have a natural gift and I found the explanation considerably reasonable. They do not have supernatural abilities, they just have natural traits that help them notice things sooner than other people. It only recquired a minimal amout of suspension of disbelief on my part, especially as I have met people who could pinpoint to certain important aspects way before anyone else had noticed.

Cassie stumbles into her new home with her team mates just as a new serial killer is on the loose and the FBI agents responsible for the project are in the midst of it. While the young adults are supposed to stay out of it, we all know what a big "No" does - it entices even more. And thus, the action starts for all of them.

The novel was gripping from the start and would not let go even after I read it. Jennifer Lynn Barnes did a wonderful job working out the different characters. They came to live to me and I had no problems imagining them standing right in front of me, in all their colorful (or dark, in some cases) glory. I thoroughly enjoyed The Naturals and am looking forward to the second book in this series, which will be out later this year!

Rating:
4/5


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

[Top 10 Tuesday] In the confessional



Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's topic is: Blogging Confessions

1) I have an insane amount of unread books on my shelves - and on my Kindle! I have no clue when I am going to read them, but I'm on a book buying ban right now, so hopefully I can make a dent? Yeah, who am I kidding!

2) I have recently resolved to make a short list of books to read. Of all the unread books I have, I try to write seven books on a post-it which I keep in my Filofax. These seven books should be a goo dmix of YA, mysteries, classics and romance novels, and naturally, they should not all be ebooks or print copies. Once I am down to one book on the list, I am allowed to make a new list. I'm at the second list right now and I hope it works this well with the next list. It is rewarding to see the books you can cross off an incredibly large TBR list!

3) I am bad at reviewing and blogging in general on a regular basis. Back in the day, I had more time and would bring my laptop almost anywhere. Then, I managed to keep what resembled a schedule, but nowadays? Noooo! Not happening. I don't know why, but oftentimes, the baby will wake up in the evening and I have to take care of him. Or I'm exhausted from the day. (He's an active little guy, and at days "I solemnly swear, I am up to no good" seems to be his motto for life! Gosh, I love that precious boy!)

4) I envy all those living in the US for their wonderful library system. No kidding, you live in paradise and I hope you notice it! Here the library books are dusty, smell yucky, and let's not go into the whole issue of finding current acquisitions of books that would even remotely fall under any of the categories or tropes I enjoy.

5) I hate, hate, hate creases, dogears and the likes on my books. Really, if you want to read one of my books, you might have to live with the most scrutinous exam (*cough* I'll spy on all your reading habits *cough*) before you get to hold one of my books in hands!

6) I smell new books! There's nothing better than the smell of a new book. Well, maybe babies smell better, but new books smell heavenly!

7) I have never read Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. I know, how can I? But LotR is just not my cuppa. Believe me, I tried. And GoT? Well, the significant other and his BFF talked about it frequently without giving away much - that is, not much other than "whenever you like a character, he or she dies soon enough". So no, that's not for me either *sigh*

8) I hate it when the books in a series don't match on my shelves. On one hand, I cannot wait to read the next in series, on the other, if it's the wrong binding, I might have to buy a second copy, you know? The probably first time this happened was with Harry Potter, and right now I have the same issue with Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series.

9) I admit, I do not feel like receiving an ARC means I absolutely have to write a review. I may very likely do so, but occasionally, the book just doesn't work for me and I hardly ever review DNFs.

10) I hate reading books for university because it takes away reading time for fun. Chances are, these books are also fun, but the forced reading is kind of off putting to me.

BONUS
11) I kept the saddest confession for last: No matter what I do, I'm always, always behind on reviewing. I wish I had little gnomes that could help out!

Did you join in this meme? If so, leave a link, please, or add your answers in the comments! br>

Monday, July 07, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading? (June 6, 2014)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I have not participated in any of the reading and TBR stack memes in ages, but I believe I want to get back into the habit of doing that - along with blogging on a more regular basis in general. If you join in on any of these memes, please let me know!

Last Week



Last week I blogged again for the first time sind the last 24 Hour Readathon. I started with a Top 10 Tuesday on Classics. This was a nice foray into the world of classics, which I ended with a short list of classics I want to read next. Now I just have to remember I made this list!



I followed up with a review on Camp Payback by J.K. Rock. I previously reviewed the first installment in this series, Camp Boyfriend.



I also finished reading Jessi Kirby's Golden, a book which has a special place in my heart for a very particular reason. I started reading this book approximately one year ago. Yes, it took me that long to finish it. And no, it is not bad! However, I started reading the book in the last stretch of my pregnancy and even brought it with me to the hospital when I was in labor. Silly me! I actually thought I might have a couple minutes in between contractions to read. I just finished it, about 3 weeks before the precious boy turns one year old. I figured it would be a nice way to enter this last stretch of his first year on earth.

Reading right now



Right now I am reading Dubliners by James Joyce. This collection of short stories is set in Dublin and while the main characters change with each story, we see or hear about previously mentioned characters several times. I certainly enjoy this collection, though at times their lives are harsh.



Ally Carter's Uncommon Criminals is the second novel in the YA series The Heist Society. I am almost up to date with her Gallagher Girls series, but I decided to take a break in order to catch up with The Heist Society first. Both series are wonderful, but not much alike (unless you take the kick-ass teenage heroines into account). I cannot wait to finish this book!

New In

I am actually on a book buying ban, however, I could not resist these two books. I finally finished Rescue Me by Jill Shalvis, which is the third book in the Animal Magnetism series, last weekend, so I had to order these two. Never mind all the other unread books on my shelves!



I also received Accidentally Married by Victorine E. Lieske and Doppelganger by Milda Harris via Netgalley. I am curious to read those two books, so watch out!


Sunday, July 06, 2014

[Review] Camp Payback by J.K. Rock

J.K. Rock
Camp Payback
2nd Camp Boyfriend
[contemporary YA]

You can buy it here:
Camp Payback (Amazon paperback)
Camp Payback (Amazon eBook)

FTC: I received an eARC via Netgalley for review.

Summary: (via Netgalley.com)
Alex has big plans for camp this year, starting with making it the best summer ever. Having fun and breaking some rules will get her the payback she wants against her parents and her ex-boyfriend. Because of his disgusting texts, she's headed to a super strict all-girls school in the fall. Then she meets Javier and revenge doesn't seem nearly as important as getting to know the troubled loner determined to keep a low profile at camp. But Alex's trouble-magnet personality and Javier's need to stay in the background don't mix nearly as well as their irresistible chemistry. With her home life eroding under her feet and her last year of summer camp speeding to a close, Alex wants to make her mark on the world and squeeze every bit of fun out of her time with Javier. Too bad her old plans for revenge turn back on her just in time to ruin everything. Will she lose Javier too?

My thoughts:
After reading Camp Boyfriend (my review) I could not wait to read Camp Payback. I knew I would not see Lauren again, as she was off to another kind of summer experience, but her friends would be there still, along with some newcomers. This time around, Alex is the focus of the story. Her family is well-known throughout the United States for her parents' blog on all things parenting and child-rearing. The catch? Alex is the poster child for problematic kids, whereas her brother is the apple of his parents' eye. While she is described as a trouble-magnet, I believe it's more a matter of misunderstanding and of other people's expectations due to how she is described in her parents' blog that really cause the troubles for Alex. I really liked Alex a lot, and this book gave a lot of insight into who she is.

Javier has a vastly different backstory. He grew up on the wrong side of the tracks and led a difficult life. He is working hard on redeeming himself and the camp is his last chance to turn things around. At times he seemed it bit odd how he is on one hand all involved in seizing his chance and then he still risks it for Alex. Taking into account his age, however, I believe this can be explained.

One of the antagonists in this installment were Vijay. He was Alex' former camp boyfriend who significantly changed over the past months. This change ultimately led to the latest fallout Alex had with her parents, and everybody wonders what caused this change. I almost wish there would have been more information on this, but he is not a main character, so the amount of information and background provided by the authors (J.K. Rock is a pseudonym for a writing team) is actually well delivered. The second somewhat-antagonist was Yasemine, the new girl in Alex' bunk. I admit, she did go on my nerves quite a few times. She seemed to be this goody two shoes who always had an answer for Alex' troubles, whether it was asked for or not, which I found extremely annoying.

Some of my favorite scenes in this book were set at a TV set, which may be unlikely, but it gave Alex a break from the camp drama and also helped her figure out what she wanted to do with her life. I enjoyed that for a change Alex seemed to glow and actually knew what she wanted to do, after all those years of being told what to do and still not fitting in.

Rating:
4/5


Tuesday, July 01, 2014

[Top 10 Tuesday] Classics, anyone?



Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Today's topic is: Top 10 Classics (I still want to read)

This is a relatively easy TTT for starters (again). I tend to buy classics I want to read pretty much right away, especially when I see a cover art I love. I currently have 25 classics (or books I deem classics, as I included Toni Morrison and P.G. Wodehouse, who some may not necessarily include in that list). But alas, here we go with my Top 10 in alphabetical order:

1-3) Jane Austen's Prise and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility & Mansfield Park - because I need to read so many of her works still!

4) Arthur Conan Doyle's The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - because where would crime novels be without Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson?! Even TV these days would be nothing without it. Just think of Elemental and Sherlock!

5) James Joyce's Dubliners - because an Irish author should be on the list as well (and this one is a tiny bit of a cheat here, because I'm in the process of reading it)

6) Toni Morrison's Beloved - because I have heard a lot of things about it and finally want to know what is true and what is not!

7-8) William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice & As You Like It - because I will not stop until I've read them all! To be honest, I thought I had read the latter, but it's still on my TBR list, so I've added it here.

9-10) P.G. Wodehouse's The Inimitable Jeeves & Very Good, Jeeves - because many people know the TV series featuring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, but who has actually read the short stories? And they're amazing! I can tell you that because I have read a few before, and I even wrote a paper on how the gentleman is portrayed in one of the stories.

11) A bonus for you! Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre - because I really want to re-read it again!

Did you join in this meme? If so, leave a link, please, or add your answers in the comments!


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