Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (56)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
by Jenn Bennett
Release Date: November 3, 2015

From B&N:
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she's spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Da Vinci's footsteps, she's ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital's Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.

Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is-and tries to uncover what he's hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix's own family's closet tear them apart?

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |
Sounds interesting and that cover is gorgeous!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review (68): Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Written in the Stars
by Aisha Saeed

Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

My Thoughts: 
Naila is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants. She has spent the last seventeen years living a normal American life. Despite their traditions and beliefs, her parents have always allowed her to dress how she pleases, study what she wants, and even go to the college of her choice. The only thing they forbid her to do is chose who she will marry. When they catch her at prom with her boyfriend they are enraged and very disappointed because Saif, although also Pakistani-America, does not come from a “respectable” family. Naila’s parents feel that they have failed her and that the only thing to do now is to spend a month in their homeland so Naila can understand where she comes from and why this is so important to them. 

Her parents use their time in Pakistan to scout for an honorable boy for her to marry. It’s obvious from the beginning what her parents are trying to do and I think deep down Naila knew but she didn’t want to even imagine that option. Everyone tells her that her fate has been sealed, that her destiny has been written in the stars, and that fighting will only make things worse for her. But she refuses to give up on the life her parents are stealing from her. She fights, runs away, and downright refuses but instead of listening to her, they drug her so she complies. I admire her resilience and bravery. She fought and continued to fight despite knowing that doing so could get her killed. I also admired the fact that she didn’t let this break her. She resigned herself to her new life, yes, but she did so on her own terms once she realized that this was a better option than being empty inside for the rest of her life.

At first I was a little apprehensive about the writing style because it was so simple, but I think that is what made it possible for Naila’s emotions to be so well understood and felt. The reader is able to focus on what is happening without being distracted trying to figure out what the author means

This was a little hard to read because of the subject matter. It is heartbreaking to know that there are so many young girls (even in 2015) that are forced to endure what Naila goes through, some with fates ten times worse than hers. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to feel that helpless and hopeless. I have never really understood arranged marriages as I do not come from a culture that practices them, but reading this showed me that an arranged marriage is most definitely not the same thing as a forced marriage. This is a fantastic book that brings awareness to this issue. Definitely read the Author’s Note at the end of the book and Saeed’s guest post over at YA Highway for an even better understanding of the different types of arranged marriages. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (55)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

These Shallow Graves
by Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: October 27, 2015

From B&N:
  Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

    Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort shot himself while cleaning his pistol. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was a partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun. 

    The more Jo hears about her father’s death, the more something feels wrong. Suicide is the only logical explanation, and of course people have started talking, but Jo’s father would never have resorted to that. And then she meets Eddie—a young, smart, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. But now it might be too late to stop. 

    The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and this time the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Review (67): Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Everything That Makes You
by Moriah McStay

Series: None
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
March 17, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books (HarperCollins)
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

My Thoughts: 
Fiona/Fi are the exact same person living completely different lives because of a decision made when she was just five years old on that fateful trip to the zoo; whether to get a bag of popcorn or visit the panda exhibit. One lead to a tragic accident that, twelve years later, she is still trying to come to terms with. The other left her with little more than a stuffed panda and some great memories. But despite being on separate paths, their two lives are connected and intersect in odd and amazing ways. 

Sometimes when making decisions I wonder what could have happened if I had taken the other option; choosing one class over another, leaving earlier to not miss the bus, etc. Sometimes even just one second of delay can end up saving someones life… I thought this was a great concept and an interesting book to read. I’m a believer in fate and this definitely has a lot of it interwoven in the plot. 

Despite the two girls being in alternate universes, there are some similarities and coincidences that prove that even though their two lives could not be more different, they are still meant to end up where they do and to meet the important people in their lives that influence them. McStay does a great job of connecting all the characters and their stories in both versions of Fiona’s life. A lot of relationships stay constant between both, but others are completely different from one version to the other, yet they work very naturally and are easy to believe and follow along with.

Initially you think that Fi’s life—the version where she is not badly burned and scarred—is the perfect one, but she isn’t happy either and suffers quite a bit as well. She becomes lost after losing both of the things she loves the most and spends a whole year trying to get out of this funk and get her life back on track. Fiona—who has had to deal with angry scars covering the entire right side of her face basically her entire life—is actually the one I found more inspiring. She is very self-conscious, as I image anyone would be in her situation, and unfortunately she lets this stop her from doing what she truly loves. Eventually she realizes that everything happens for a reason and what you do with your situation is what ultimately defines who you are, so why worry about something you have no control over?

Interview with Ryan Hill, Author of Barking Madness

Title: Barking Madness
Author: Ryan Hill
Release Date: October 19, 2014
Pages: 469


"My life is crumbling away before my eyes while I do nothing to prevent it. I have visited too many funerals, for too many friends who haunt my dreams. Everybody dies eventually, right? No, everybody dies young when they befriend me. Was I born to die young? I don't think so. I'm the only one here with the nerve to stay alive. I can't be left alone. Not with that hollow man, the one who hides his face. That's what he wants, me to be alone, because once I'm alone he's going to kill me!" 

Seventeen-year-old Rosetta Harper is plagued by nightmares of a masked man. With her father’s new career move, her family has just relocated from Florida to the small New England town of Ashwood. A quiet town and close-knit community where you know your neighbors, and trouble is a word unspoken. But soon after her arrival, her world and the worlds of her classmates come crashing down. 

Michael hates his family and feels alone and unloved. He only finds comfort when he's with his friends, but even they get on his nerves. Everything about Ashwood and his life bores him, until Rosetta Harper moves into town. With her as a new classmate, Michael finally gets the excitement he was looking for, but it may be at too high a cost.

| Goodreads | Amazon |

Hi Ryan! Thank you for taking the time to talk with us! 
Describe BARKING MADNESS in 3 words. 
Witty, spooky, paranormal

Which scene was most difficult to write? Which was your favorite? 
The argument between Michael and his father was the most difficult scene for me to write.  I had to make sure the argument seemed legitimate and meaningful but at the same time support each character and their side of the argument.  I really didn't want the reader siding with either character during that scene.

My favorite scene is when Rosetta awakens in the snow after her first night on the prowl, so to speak.  Tommy and Zach are waiting for her and the conversation that unfolds, in my opinion, is the best in the story.  I just love the strange nature of the discussion and how sudden it all is.

Are any of your characters based on yourself or someone you know?
No, but a lot of characters have traits from me or my friends or people I know.  I put a little bit of everybody in each character.

What are your thoughts on the cover? Did you have any input in the design?
I didn't love it at first glance, but as I looked at more ebook design covers online, I decided it was the best one for my book.  It fit the eeriness of my story, and there is a masked figure within my novel that has an important role.
I had no input in the design.  I found it online at The Cover Collection.

If your book was being turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leading roles?
I would love to cast newcomers for my characters roles.  I always enjoy seeing new faces in movies, especially for big roles.

What was your favorite book growing up?
When I was really young my favorite was The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers.  I had a World War Two phase in elementary school, and this book was action-packed and geared toward children, so I loved it.

What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I can't think of any authors in particular who influenced the way I write, but authors like Stephanie Meyer and Christopher Paolini inspired me to start writing.

This or that: 
Pancake or Waffles?     Pancake
Baked or Fried?     Baked
TV shows or Movies?     Movies
Pen or Pencil?     Pen
Phone Call or In person?  In Person
Video Games or Board Games?     Video Games
Rain or Snow?     Snow

Once again, thank you for sitting down with us & good luck with your next novel!

About the Author:
Ryan Hill is a YA Fiction writer. Born in Connecticut, Ryan now lives in Massachusetts with his family and is a student at UMass Amherst. His novel appeals to young adult readers and people of any age who are looking for a good psychological thriller. It’s a Girl Interrupted meets Shutter Island kind of story. When not in front of his computer writing or studying, Ryan can be found playing Xbox with friends, watching movies (He’s a huge movie buff), or working out at the gym. 

Ryan’s knack for writing fiction emerged at an early age, when he wrote stories for his own enjoyment. He decided to put his hand to writing a book at 17, when he came up with the concept for the dark, witty, and suspenseful psychological-thriller, Barking Madness. He enjoyed creating the different layers of characters and relationships in his story, and like any debut author, found it difficult to stop. Science fiction and thrillers are his favorite genres.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (54)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

The Distance from Me to You
by Marina Gessner
Release Date: October 20, 2015

From B&N:
Wild meets Endless Love in this multilayered story of love, survival, and self-discovery

McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily.

Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives.

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |

I love any book that is traveling/journey/pilgrimage related so this should be fun!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review (66): The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne

The Wrong Side of Right
by Jenn Marie Thorne

Series: None
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
March 17, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Pages: 390
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

My Thoughts: 
Imagine being told, after 16 years of total ignorance, that your father is the man currently running for the United States presidency. That is exactly what happens to Kate Quinn after her mother tragically passes away in a car crash. She is thrust into the public eye when she joins Senator Cooper—and the rest of her newly discovered family—for the summer as they get to know each other and campaign around the United States. Along the way, she befriends the presidents son. He understands exactly what she is currently going through and so he becomes one of the few people she can confide in. But when both your fathers are running for the most powerful position in the world, things can get a little tricky. 

This was cute, yet emotional; it really focuses on love and family and what those two things really mean. Kate struggles to get to know her father because he is somewhat distant and is constantly off trying to rack up votes. As she learns more about him and tries to understand his conflicting views, their relationship becomes strained. It takes a lot of tears and talks for them to find common ground.

Meg, Kate’s stepmother, is strong, supportive, and kind. I respect her so much for the way she handles taking in, and loving, her husbands daughter. I’ve known people in the same situation as Kate who are not always as welcomed. (I’m glad that this is not the case because it is heartbreaking to see these children get the backlash for something they have no control over.) The twins are adorable—Gabe in particular. He is the complete opposite of his sister Gracie—timid & reserved—yet he warms up to Kate a lot quicker. 

There are slow parts that I found myself trying to rush through because they were frequent and all pretty much the same. A majority of the chapters seem to be of Kate stuck at home worrying about the campaign and about how she isn’t the perfect daughter. And while she travels around the country with the senator and the rest of the family to promote the campaign, we only get glimpses into these events before she is whisked back home again. I wish there had been more scenes with Andy; their first “date” was adorable and more of that would have been welcome. I feel like some of these filler chapters could have been left out altogether or substituted for some that brought more to the overall story. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

First & Then
by Emma Mills
Release Date: October 13, 2015

From Goodreads:
Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |
The synopsis isn't super unique, but what drew me to this is that amazing cover--I think it's gorgeous!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Review (65): Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything 
by Nicola Yoon

Series: N/A
Other Reviewed Titles: N/A
Release Date:
September 1, 2015
Publisher: Random House Kids/Delacorte
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley

My Thoughts: 
Everything, Everything tells the story of Madeleine, an eighteen year old with SCID (severe combined immune deficiency). She is allergic to the outside world and, therefore, has not stepped through her front door in seventeen years. Her house has been turned into a safe, sealed environment that allows her to continue her studies online and live as normal a life as possible. Her only friends have been her overprotective mother and her kindhearted nurse until the new neighbors move in next door. She’s always been fine with her sheltered, monotonous life, but the second her eyes meet Olly's, everything changes.

Maddy is a great character. She has a really likable and noteworthy voice. I expected her to be a bit immature because of her upbringing (she has been sheltered from virtually everything her entire life), but she really wasn’t and I quite admired her—I know for a fact that if I was in her position I would not have been as strong, optimistic and accepting. Olly was a nice, quirky addition. Their friendship started off a bit unconventional. They had to come up with interesting ways to get to know each other at first since she isn’t allowed to leave the house and isn’t allowed visitors. As their relationship grows, it is obvious how much he cares for her by how much he is willing to sacrifice. 

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but there is a pretty major plot bomb towards the end. I had my suspicions, but was still genuinely surprised when everything unfolded. 

By far my favorite thing about this was the little extras that are sprinkled throughout the book. There are emails, journal entries, IMs, drawings, web pages, and diagrams. For some reason I always like it when stuff like this is included, I feel like it adds a little bit of fun to the book, especially to one that has some serious and emotional subject matter like this one.

This is a fantastic debut! Fans of The Fault in our Stars will definitely appreciate this (not that the two books are very similar). Can’t wait to see what else Nicola Yoon has in store for us!

| Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon |

* Thank you to the author and publisher for an eARC in return for my honest review *