Thursday, 29 May 2014

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up 
by Daniel Handler (illustrated by Maira Kalman)

Summary: I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
This book is an odd one. I went into it expecting to love it, then I sorted of hated it, but then when I finished the last page I realised that my final verdict was that I liked it. And I'm not quite sure when that shift happened, when the hate morphed into something else, I only know that it did.

I mean...the things I really didn't like are still true, it didn't cancel them out, but I guess it grew on me.

What I didn't like: the long, rambling, torturously boring stream of consciousness narration. It was so, so, so ridiculously dull at times that I wanted to give up on the book and hated myself for being too stubborn to actually do that (this is definitely just a taste thing though, I know some people will love it for the very reason I could've hated it).

I expected to love the writing, because it's Daniel Handler, and sure there were some sentences and rare paragraphs that were real gems in this book, but mostly the writing just irritated me. There were so many pages that you could literally skip completely and still know exactly what is going on in the story because it added nothing, other than boredom.

And Min...she was bloody irritating. Immature sometimes, pretentious kind of, too (I appreciate flawed characters, they're realistic, but it didn't make it any less annoying). And when it's revealed how short their relationship actually was before they started throwing around I Love You's like they were nothing...so much eye rolling. That, and the writing style, had me thinking pretty early in the book that I really didn't give a damn why they broke up anymore.

When the story got more dialogue heavy, it was easier to like it. And if I read without stopping, it got easier to overlook the things that annoyed me. If I stopped though, they'd annoy me all over again when I picked the book back up and I'd have to get used to it again.

And I know this review is really negative, but that's because not only do I not know when hate morphed into like, I also don't know why. I don't know why I liked it. Not a clue. I just know that somewhere along the line I actually started enjoying the story to the point where my feelings at the end were more positive than negative.

Has to be noted: The book is gorgeous. Like, it's a really aesthetically pleasing book. Maira Kalman's art work is lovely and it's worth having on your shelf even just to look at.

My review has been almost as long-winded as Min's narration, so I'll end it with this: I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

First Loves Global Blog Tour: Jillian Cantor


The First Loves blog tour was put together by Bloomsbury to highlight their YA contemporary romance books. There are five Spring/Summer 2014 books being featured on the tour and we have Jillian Cantor, author of Searching for Sky, on the blog today.

Searching for Sky 
by Jillian Cantor

Summary: Sky and River have always lived on Island, the only world they’ve ever known. Until the day River spots a boat. Across Ocean, in a place called California, Sky is separated from River and forced to live with a grandmother she’s just met. Here the rules for survival are different. People rely on strange things like cars and cell phones. They keep secrets from one another. And without River, nothing makes sense. Sky yearns for her old life where she was strong and capable, not lost and confused. She must find River so they can return to Island, but the truth behind how they ended up there in the first place will come as the biggest shock of all.

Sounds great, doesn't it? The fact that it was described to me as a sort of reverse dystopian intrigued me, considering I'm thoroughly bored of the dystopian trend, I think this might be refreshing (that, and the fact that it has a Blue Lagoon sort of element to it).

Seeing as the topic of the blog tour is first loves/romance, I asked her who her top three literary couples were and which ones influenced her writing most. Here's her answer:
It is honestly so hard to pick three – I’m always drawn towards reading and watching love stories. I loved Peyton and Lucas (in One Tree Hill, and also Nathan and Haley!). For something more classic, I’d have to say Daisy and Gatsby, from The Great Gatsby, which is a book I always find myself coming back to over the years. And for the third, I’ll say Peeta and Katniss.

I don’t know that any of these literary couples have influenced my writing (though I did lean towards the name Lucas in my book because I was thinking of Lucas in One Tree Hill!). I think I’m influenced more by my own experiences and history. I’m married to my high school boyfriend, and so I like to think that my characters can find real love in their first loves too.
You can read more about the tour and the featured books on the First Loves tumblr.

And the tour schedule:


Later.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead
by Ava Dellaira

Summary: It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person - any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain - he died young, and so did Laurel's sister May - so maybe he'll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people - Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart... it's like she can't stop. And she'd certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it's like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time - and how her family has shattered since May died.

But much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can't keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won't be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realisation that only you can shape your destiny.
I'm not sure what to say about this book really. It was really good, but I really have very little to say about it... I supposed it's because it's one of those books that feels like...like, if you try to explain why you liked it, the things you say will just sound so generic or negative when you don't mean them to be?

But yes. I guess I'll try.

I really enjoyed it. My favourite part was the writing. Seriously, there were so many quotes I marked in the book because the writing was lovely. I think the writing was the main reason I enjoyed it as much as I did.

The story... it's not a particularly long book, but it's one of those ones where you keep waiting for this thing to happen, and then when it does it feels like you're ready to be done with the story but it just keeps going.

It's hard to explain. I guess it's because there were moments in the book that got under my skin and made me angry or made me upset, but because of the kind of dragged out feeling, by the time I'd got to the end the book had lost some of its emotional impact. Like being on a rollercoaster that just keeps going in a slow, straight line for a while after you've already gone through all of the loops and the inclines and declines and you're just ready for it to be over and that impatience is what is most fresh in your mind when it finally stops.

And that sounds more negative than I mean for it to be, because I did really like the book, but I think that explains why I didn't end it feeling like I loved it...it's like I almost loved it and I definitely love parts of it (also, it had the misfortune of being the book I finished after reading We Were Liars).

The book was like a bunch of other books I love thrown into a blender (Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Sky is Everywhere, Saving June, etc. Perks of Being a Wallflower most of all, because there are a lot of similarities) mixed together with Ava Dellaira's own style and the end result was really good and heartbreaking and I really want to read more books by her.

I've seen people who hated the book and people who loved the book, I'm definitely leaning more towards the latter. I'd rate it 4 stars out of 5 (mostly because of how much I liked the writing, otherwise it'd be more 3-3.5).

Later.


Monday, 26 May 2014

New Adult on the Block: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack Review

All Lined Up
Cora Carmack
William Morrow Paperback
[May 14, 2014]

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.
So, this is technically part of the blog tour, but since I was at my parents', the internet was REALLY slow, but especially seemed to have a vendetta against goodreads? I figured I'd wait until I was back at my apartment to finish up the post and get stuff from goodreads and just post the first part earlier.

ANYWAY

Cora Carmack kind of blew me away with her first series. She was one of the first New Adult authors I read and she gets a special place in my heart for it. And this series is no different.

Cora has a real talent for making her college characters feel like college students. There were all these concerns about running into people you didn't want to and futures and scholarships and not all of it was solved. These were really problems for Dallas and Carson and some of it was worked out, but there were still some gaps because you can't solve everything easily.

And it wasn't all about sex! Of course sex played a role in the book and the main characters had a couple of steamy scenes, but it never took over the plot. It was never most of the plot. It was SO well balanced and ugh. Ugh. So much yes.

Then her writing and her plotting is just amazing. I really needed to know how things worked out with these two and their individual plots as well as the overall arc and stayed up WAY later than I intended to find out. I had such a hard time putting the book down when I'd start because it's that insanely good. I HAD to stay up until 4 am to know every. Little. Detail.

Carson and Dallas and Stella and Dallas's dad were all just so perfect and everything was perfect and I NEED THE NEXT BOOK NOW. Also can we work on more NA books involving sports? KAY THANKS.

Bottom Line: Y'all need to get yours hands on this book PRONTO.

For your patience, you get...a chance to win one of 5 signed copies of All Lined Up! ...If you live in the US (sorry about that!)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

--Julie

All Lined Up Tour: Cora Carmack's Playlist



As a writer, I get inspiration from everything around me, and music is no exception. I’ve found that I write best with music playing in the background – although this does occasionally also lead to impromptu dance parties when I should be writing. While I was working on All Lined Up, I put together a MASSIVE playlist (seriously, y’all, it was gigantic) of music that “felt” like the story. There were songs for Carson and Dallas and Coach Cole and the Wildcats as a whole….even one or two for Beanie Boy. ;) Since I didn’t want to inundate you with five hours of music, I narrowed the list down to these twelve songs. All of them have something to do with the world of ALU in some way or another. Here’s a little bit more explanation about a few of them:

Wherever This Goes - The Fray 
“We could slow down 
Waste away in this town 
Standing on the sidewalk 
Watching this parade… 
….Cause it feels like I’ve been here forever.” 

This song as a whole doesn’t really match the feel of All Lined Up, but I love these few lines. They really speak to the way Dallas feels trapped in her town, her life, her role as the coach’s daughter.

Stuck on You – New Politics 
“What did I do? 
To get my mind stuck on you.” 

I can just imagine Carson having this song stuck in his head – wondering how he allowed himself to be distracted from the plan and how Dallas managed to squeeze her way into his head and his heart.

I Will Be There - Odessa 
“If you ever need someone 
To just love you
If you ever need someone 
To simply adore you I will be there.” 

And then, of course, once he decides that it’s totally okay to have his mind stuck on Dallas, I can imagine Carson playing this song for her. It’s reassuring and romantic without being sappy or overdone.

The Boys of Fall – Kenny Chesney 
“It's I got your number, got your back 
When your back's against the wall 
You mess with one man, you got us all.” 

Of course I had to have a few country songs in here – this is a book about Texas, after all! This song is all about football and the camaraderie of the team. I love this song for the imagery it uses – whenever I listen to it, I can see the team gathered under the “No Easy Days” sign in the locker room while Coach Cole gives a rousing, soul-stirring speech during halftime.

You I Want – Jesse Thomas 
“I am not one for games 
I say the things I think 
I do not want your ring 
Cause baby tonight, I'm dancing.” 

This song is so Dallas, I can’t even handle it. She says exactly what she’s thinking, for better or for worse. And she’s pretty straightforward when it comes to what she wants (especially when what…or who…she wants is Carson).

Roar – Katy Perry 
“…already brushing off the dust 
You hear my voice, you hear that sound 
Like thunder gonna shake the ground.” 

At first I included this song on the list just as a funny little nod to Dallas’ balcony scream at the beginning of the book. Then, as I listened and thought about it, it’s actually kind of perfect in describing Dallas’ journey towards standing up for what she wants. I can also imagine Stella blasting it in the dorm room while getting ready for a night out.

I hope you enjoy listening to my All Lined Up playlist, and I’d love to hear what you think! If you were making a playlist to represent the book, what songs would you put on it? Leave your picks in the comments or, if you’re feeling extra creative, make your own playlist on Spotify and share it with me!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Book Haul (170)

Julie:
I could try to add ALL the books I've gotten since my last book haul, but I actually attempted a book haul a few weeks ago, but of course Goodreads wasn't helping out. It was a lot. So...we're gonna start a new and just cover the last two weeks.

For Review:
Winterspell by Claire Legrand (egalley from Edelweiss)
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (egalley from Edelweiss)
Pawn by Aimee Carter (finished copy from Harlequin Teen Panel)

Purchased:
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (purchased at Barnes and Noble for signing)

I'll see you...with a BEA haul.

--Julie

Lanna:
It's 1:15am as I write this and I'm on Skype with my two best friends (one watching Breaking Dawn Part 2 with a frown and the other dancing to cheesy 90's music with me), so I'll probably forget books I got. And instead of a photo, I'll just give you a Shelfari print screen.


For Review:
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (already read and reviewed - tl;dr version: it's awesome, read it)
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Bought:
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Later.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been Gone
Morgan Matson
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
[May 6, 2014]

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...
Oh Morgan, how you pull at my heart strings every time.

The very idea of this book is a little heartbreaking. You go away and come back and your best friend - kind of your only friend - is gone without a trace and won't answer your calls and texts. But the reality that Morgan Matson writes is so much more painful. I could feel all of Emily's pain and the memories she had of Sloane were so revealing about the kind of amazing friends they were. I feel like it's so hard to find really great, genuine female friendships in YA, but Emily and Sloane are definitely in that category.

I did love watching Emily flourish without Sloane, though. By going through this list, she learns so much more about herself and really comes out of her shell. Emily becomes a more daring, extroverted person with an unlikely gang of friends, Frank Porter, Collins, and Dawn. And these friends are so willing and eager to take her under their wings and help her finish off this list Sloane made, but they never insulted Sloane either. They got that she was important to Emily. 

SPEAKING OF her friends - they were so good for her. Collins and Dawn and Frank Porter were all accidentally friends with her, but they were really loyal and true to their beliefs. Their friendship was willing to do whatever it took for Emily, but they did have lines that she had to learn.

And Frank Porter. Much like Matt Finch, he can't be Frank or Porter, he must be Frank Porter. The stereotypical valedictorian overachiever type with an equally overachieving girlfriend who volunteers to help find the code in Sloane's list. He was swoon-worthy in the nerdiest of ways. He asked Emily to teach him how to run and he helped her when her tank ran out of gas and they both understand that their families are bizarre and it's best not to ask too many questions. And these two had some majorly romantic scenes, guys. Many feels. Much swoon. Wow.

Unsurprisingly, the writing is gorgeous. Morgan Matson has such a skill with words that I will forever gush about. This book was a little bit heartbreaking but also a lot fun. I found myself laughing out loud at times and covering my face with secondhand embarrassment on others. It was amazing every step of the way. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour still might be my favorite by Morgan Matson, but this would be a REALLY close second. And Second Chance Summer is just too different from these two to be in the running.

Basically, if you don't have a life full of Morgan Matson, you're missing an important chunk of life and you should fix that.

--Julie

BEA: The After-Hours Events

I hadn't intended to do any more BEA-related posts, then I realized there's nothing that talks about the public events you can go to! No BEA badge, no invites, all the people! There's a ton of these events in NYC leading up to and coinciding with the conference. All you gotta do is be in the city!

Tuesday

Storytime with Scott Campbell
3:30-4:30
Books of Wonder
18 West 18 Street

Reader Meet Up featuring Christina Lauren (Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings)
6:30 pm
Lillie's Time Square 
249 W 49th St

Wednesday

5:00-7:00
River Pavillion of the Javitz Center
*Tickets cost $105*

Teen Author Carnival featuring over 20 authors
Doors open 5:15, starts 5:30, first panels at 6:00, signing at 8:00 
Jefferson Market Library
425 Avenue of the Americas. On the corner of 6th Avenue and 10th Street

7:00 pm
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street

Thursday

7:00 pm
Housing Works Bookstore
126 Crosby Street

Friday

6:00-8:00
Central Park West, between 59 and 62nd Street

6:00-8:00
Books of Wonder
18 West 18 Street

Saturday 

6:00-8:30
Jefferson Market Library
425 Avenue of the Americas. On the corner of 6th Avenue and 10th Street

8:00-10:00 PM
Tir Na Nog
315 West 39th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenue) 

If you know of any other invite-free events in NYC this upcoming week, let me know and I'll add it to the post. Celebrate books and friends responsibly guys!

--Julie 

Friday, 23 May 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart



We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart

Summary: I'm actually not going to post the summary, for reasons I will explain below. But I will link it and if you still want to read what it's abou (although the summary isn't particularly long or detailed) after reading my reasons for not posting it, then go for it. :)
This is probably going to be the shortest review I've ever written on the blog, but it's better that way.

This book is one of those ones that you're better going into blind. The less you know about it, the better it will be. So I'm not going to talk about the plot or the characters or anything specific.

All I'm going to say is that it's beautifully written and it wrecked me and it's now sitting on my favourites shelf. I thought The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was a good book, but this one was in a whole different league.

I cried like a baby reading this book (even though I guessed two major things very early on, it still didn't dull the impact). I read through a headache because I didn't want to put it down. I almost fell asleep (because of painkillers for the headache) but I forced myself to sit uncomfortably to stay awake and finish the book. I skipped dinner to finish the book...so basically, go read it.

Later.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

Sweet Filthy Boy
Christina Lauren
Gallery Books
[May 13, 2014]

One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him.

But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play.

When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.
I've gushed before about how much I love Christina Lauren, both as individuals and as writers. So when I heard about the Sweet Filthy Boy blog tour, I said "hell yes!" to joining and downloaded the egalley and devoured it as soon as possible. And I loved it, maybe more than the Beautiful Bastard books.

The trope they tackle is amazing - we accidentally got drunk and married and one party refuses to divorce. Thus begins Mia's transformative summer from a fate that looked miserable, but would satisfy her dad, to a possibly amazing, surreal new life in Paris with Ansel Guillaume. 

I understood Mia a lot. It's not an issue I've ever had with parents' trying to push me in to a certain future, but I go to an engineering school where a lot of the engineering majors only went into it because they wanted a secure future or their parents' wanted it or other reasons that didn't equate to it being what THEY wanted. I've helped talk many friends out of doing this, especially since they're on full scholarships, so WHY waste a free degree on something that will make you miserable? So I got from page one where Mia was coming from and what a terrible idea it would be. That immediate connection pulled me in and I was gone on this ride with those two.

Ansel. Or man, Ansel. He's probably one of the most romantic, sweet, yet absolutely filthy romantic interests I've ever read. Like...dear God. He's the kind of guy you read about and there's a chance you're forever ruined for men because how does anyone stand up to that? 

The writing is, yet again, fantastic. I've never been to Paris or Vegas, yet I could see everything in my head and was falling in love with Paris as Mia did. The sex scenes they write are still some of the steamiest I've ever read. The romance and Mia's journey pull on your heart strings in a physically painful way. I was utterly swept away by Christina Lauren's words and story. Words cannot do justice to my feelings for this book.

I just. Ugh. Guys. I can never express the intense love I have for Christina Lauren's books. They're so amazing and so well written and have such fantastic characters. If you're not reading their books, you're making a horrible mistake. If you like good characters, good writing, and good romance, you need to pick up their books (and start looking out for their YA, but...we'll talk about that in the fall.)

--Julie

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Hero by Alethea Kontis

Hero
Alethea Kontis
Harcourt Books
[October 1, 2013]

Rough and tumble Saturday Woodcutter thinks she's the only one of her sisters without any magic—until the day she accidentally conjures an ocean in the backyard. With her sword in tow, Saturday sets sail on a pirate ship, only to find herself kidnapped and whisked off to the top of the world. Is Saturday powerful enough to kill the mountain witch who holds her captive and save the world from sure destruction? And, as she wonders grumpily, "Did romance have to be part of the adventure?" As in Enchanted, readers will revel in the fragments of fairy tales that embellish this action-packed story of adventure and, yes, romance.

I really loved Alethea's YA debut, Enchanted, so I was thrilled when I was able to pick this up last year at BEA. I was less thrilled with the book itself.

Alethea is an amazing writer, there's no doubting that. She's got these vivid descriptions and an amazing imagination unlike anything I've seen before in YA. The stories are always full of these gorgeous landscapes and incredible adventures and unreal creatures. It's a joy to read those, honestly.

I think my problem with Hero was that it was too crowded. There was a LOT of story packed into a relatively small book and what felt like a really small time period. It was also kind of confusing since there were so many magical aspects to it that I didn't feel were fleshed out as much as I would've preferred.

The other issue I had was with the romance. It was very sweet, but felt like it was crammed into the story. It was a MAJOR case of instalove and didn't really feel necessary to everything going on. Peregrine was a great character and he and Saturday had an amazing banter and their characters got a fantastic conversation going on about  gender, but I didn't feel any chemistry between them and never saw how they could fall in love, especially in the time frame they had.

That said, they did have a great friendship. And while this was such a fantastical tale, there was a really creative look at gender in this book. Peregrine was in this because he was forced to pretend he was the witch's daughter and had to look the role, while Saturday ended up there because she was mistaken for her brother and had to stick to that. On top of that, Saturday was kind of a "tomboy" who got along with her brothers and her father more than her many sisters. It wasn't often brought up outright, but the way these things were woven into the story was thought provoking.

I also love how Alethea manages the family in these books. There are seven girls, two boys, and an adopted brother, plus their mother comes from a long line of sisters, so it's a really big family, but they're all distinct and all have their stories, even if they don't all have their own books. This family also clearly loves each other, even as they squabble and fight. I love reading about the Woodcutters interacting with each other and seeing how much they care.

Overall, it wasn't a bad book and I do fully intend to read the next book, Dearest. But I would've liked it more if there had been some better editing to flesh out the storyline and the romance.

--Julie

Monday, 19 May 2014

Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

Plus One
Elizabeth Fama
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers
[April 8, 2014]

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

I'm not even going to pretend - I wanted this book because of some major cover lust. And then I read the description and was intrigued enough to get a copy from the office (Quick Note: I was an editorial intern at FSG, but my internship ended last week. This is also why you're now getting a bunch of Macmillan-title reviews). And I enjoyed the book but...I had some issues. Really big issues that a lot of people would probably overlook and may not even be in the final copy.

It was a really interesting read. Lots of back and forth between the characters with some really great banter and it was really action packed, though you had to ignore how unrealistic it was. I was never bored when reading it. The world was also interesting too. It brings up these very real issues in this different light because so often we don't want to read about these issues of segregation and prejudice in the real world, and this just helps us see it and even better understand how ridiculous it is.

The love story was kind of Romeo and Juliet-esque because of this separation of people. They were never supposed to meet, much less work together and fall in love. Forbidden love stories are often some of my favorites, so I thought this was a really great aspect.

I also enjoyed some of the side characters and the complex relationships shown, especially among families. Sol and Darcy both had some major family issues going on that were relevant to the story and complex and heartbreaking. Those were actually some of my favorite parts of the book.

So, everything sounds good, right? I'm rolling along, enjoying the read, thinking "Damn, I'm going to come out of 2014 with so many favorite reads!" And then it happened. 

A rape threat was used as a punch line.

I remember rereading it a couple of times, trying to figure out if that actually just happened and...yeah. It did. It was over dramatic and really uncalled for in the situation, which is how I knew it was supposed to be funny. And rape jokes are never okay, but I thought maybe I could overlook it...until it happened a second time from the same character. This was no longer an accident, something other people missed in earlier editing passes. These were left on purpose.


This book openly discusses sex and prostitution in a really great way, genuinely bringing attention to it. But when it came to rape, it was kind of awful. This same character who has these "punch lines" also threatens to rape the main characters as a form of payment, and it's played off like no big deal and we're supposed to feel bad for this character and like her. Admittedly, she has a pretty tragic story, but that doesn't mean it should be okay for her to act like this and treat other characters like this. It left me feeling really gross.

I've noticed NOBODY else has mentioned these in their reviews (that I've seen) and I don't have a copy to verify they happened (and even then, I read an ARC), but I did have a friend who was able to show me some of the scenes involving rape (including the one where this girl threatens to rape the main characters) and I feel gross all over again.

If that's the kind of thing you can get over, then it's a fun, though rather unrealistic read. If not, you may want to steer clear. Or at least check it out from the library in case I did imagine it/it has been taken out.

--Julie

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Behind the Books (6)

For anyone who doesn't know, Behind the Books is a very occasional feature we do here on the blog to talk about what's going on in our personal lives.

1.) This past semester, I was an editorial intern at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Books for Young Readers, which is an imprint of Macmillan's Children's books. It was an incredible experience that I really loved and I had an amazing group of supervisors. It definitely cemented that publishing is where I want to be and that children's publishing is probably my best fit. This is also why, as sporadically as I reviewed, they were never Macmillan titles.

2.) After two years, my job as C.J. Redwine's assistant ended...about the same time as I was hired as Sarah Mlynowski's assistant. It all came down to my location. It's a lot easier to be an assistant in person and since Sarah lives in the city...it works out pretty well.

3.) Last August, I launched my own editorial company, True Blue Editorial, which has been doing pretty well so far. I'm currently booked through the month and possibly into June, so openings go fast if anyone's interested!

4.) Yes this means there was a period of about a month where I was working three jobs while going to school. Can you really blame me for being an awful blogger this semester?

5.) Speaking of, my semester is just about over. I have a 2-3 page paper I'll be emailing in by Wednesday and a final Monday morning, and then it's all over for me! I'm excited. I wasn't enjoying most of my classes - one had a grading policy that made no sense, one required a lot of field trips I couldn't make, and one was at 6:30 at night, so even if I loved it...nobody wants to be in class until 8:30-9. I'm MUCH more excited about my classes next semester and the schedule looks much better. I had a couple of weird-length breaks this semester, including a 3 and a half hour block on Wednesdays, but I only have one, 90 minute break next semester. I'm NOT really feeling my 8 am Spanish class though.

6.) I spent a lot of time going back and forth between NYC and my parents' this semester. It was a weird combo of things - my mom had surgery, my grandma's birthday, my other grandparents' anniversary, me trying to get my braces off, a family wedding in Charlotte that I worried about missing my flight, and an eye doctor appointment. I was basically back at my parents' every two weeks since Christmas. That trend continues when I go back again, probably on Wednesday, for my brother's tenth birthday and some end of semester relaxation...then again two weeks later for my follow-up appointment after getting my braces removed. But THEN that trend will end...maybe.

7.) I will be going to BEA again this year! Fortunately, there is no moving before it as my roommate and I renewed our lease, but I will once again be helping out at Teen Author Carnival, then starting my BEA madness early Thursday. I'll be Instagramming and tweeting (link in the side bar) and I will hopefully do a recap in the week after. If you see me there, please say hi!

8.) We're working on coming back. I know I say that a lot, but we're actually scheduled through the next week and a little bit of the week after that. I genuinely feel like blogging again, which is wonderful. So, give us a bit more time to readjust, but things are going.

--Julie

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

Broken Hearts, Fence, and Other Things to Mend
Katie Finn
Feiwel and Friends
[May 13, 2014]

Summer, boys, and friendships gone sour. This new series has everything that perfect beach reads are made of!

Gemma just got dumped and is devastated. She finds herself back in the Hamptons for the summer—which puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friend that she wronged five years earlier. Do people hold grudges that long?

When a small case of mistaken identity causes everyone, including Hallie and her dreamy brother Josh, to think she’s someone else, Gemma decides to go along with it.

Gemma's plan is working (she's finding it hard to resist Josh), but she's finding herself in embarrassing situations (how could a bathing suit fall apart like that!?). Is it coincidence or is someone trying to expose her true identity? And how will Josh react if he finds out who she is?

Katie Finn hits all the right notes in this perfect beginning to a new summer series: A Broken Hearts & Revenge novel.
I picked up Broken Hearts thinking it would be this really light, fun, perfect summer read. I mean, Katie is also Morgan Matson and okay, Second Chance Summer ripped me to shreds, but it was SUPPOSED to. I didn't expect this to be a bit of a gut-punch. And I didn't expect this would be one of the first books in a long while I wanted to throw at a wall when I finished.

I really liked Gemma. She made mistakes and wasn't a great person, necessarily, but she was trying to hard and felt so bad. It made me think of times I've made mistakes and how it still haunts me, no matter how many years it's been. (No lie, I still think about that one spelling test I failed in second grade.) But she wanted nothing more to move on from those mistakes, even if the world wasn't really working with her.

And then there was Josh. JOSH. Oh Josh. He was the greatest. Just...so great. And he cared so much and Gemma couldn't just let things happen slowly and it was PAINFUL because they could be so great together! But! The problems! Gemma's need to work through things! Sigh.

I really loved the skill Katie used in making it a little ambiguous as to if these were just accidents or not. As a reader, it seemed obvious what was going on, but Gemma was SO determined to believe one way and I wanted it to be true for her sake. I wanted Gemma to be right.

Then there was THE. ENDING. Man that ending. It was so good and SO MEAN. I can't believe she could end the book this way. BOOK TWO IS TO FAR AWAY AND I AM WILLING TO GO TO GREAT LENGTHS TO ACQUIRE IT. Seriously, I finished it and probably would've thrown it but the wall across from me is lined with precariously piled things I was not willing to fix. It logically made sense as an ending but like...my patience is not that high. I am not okay with it and I read this book a month ago. STILL NOT OKAY.

I mean...you all need to read this book. I loved it so much and Gemma was such a realistic teenager. BUT OH MY GOD THE ENDING. Read it and suffer along with me in the wait for book two! DO IT.

--Julie

Friday, 16 May 2014

Books I'm Most Excited For

So...my TBR pile is massive and I'm trying to cut it down. I'm trying to do this by only adding the books I'm most desperate to read (well, and by reading what I've already got, obviously). That's what this is, a list of the books I'm most excited to read that are out this year (or next year).


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (released this week) - The funny thing is, I don't even know what this one is about really? I just know I've been dying to read it since I heard about it (probably a mix of John Green recommending it and the fact that The Disreputable History of Frankie Landou-Banks is a favourite). I was actually sent this one to review today (lvkjnlfkvlb!), and the UK publisher will be doing a live read on Twitter at 1PM tomorrow (UK time), so join in/follow that here.

Sustain by Tijan (released: some time this year?) - I love Tijan's books, and she's one of the few self published authors I read (I think this is the third in a series, but I'm not sure if it's a companion or direct sequel, but I'll read the other two soon anyway). I think she mentioned she'll be releasing my favourite novel from her fictionpress days this year too (A Whole New Crowd). The only thing is, I'm not sure of the release dates but she posts updates on her facebook.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (released: August 14th 2014) - I don't think there's much I need to say about this one. Her books are an insta-read and it feels like we've been waiting forever for this one (I stupidly read the first chapter when it was posted and it was as good as I hoped it would be and now I'm pining for the rest of it).

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (released: September 2nd 2014) - The third book in the Throne of Glass series. I'm slightly less excited to read this one now that the series seems to be like 6 books long, I was hoping this would just be a trilogy because as much as I love the series, I'm bored of series that are dragged out too long, but I still can't wait to read this one.

Oblivion by Kelly Creagh (released: August 26th 2014) - The first is one of my favourite books, the second wasn't as good because it felt a bit slow and filler-ish, but I'm still dying to read the final book. One of my favourite series.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (released: September 16th 2014) - I have been desperate to read another book of hers ever since The Sky is Everywhere was released, her writing is so beautiful and just...lnjfvlb. I need it.

Remembrance by Meg Cabot (released: some time in 2015) - I lovelovelove the Mediator series, so I was so ridiculously happy when I saw that she'll be releasing another book to the series. Can it be 2015 now?

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail (released: October 14th 2014) - This one sounds so good and I've been looking for more good YA WW2 books. I think the UK version of the book is already released under the title The Wrong Boy, I prefer the US title and cover, so if I can wait until October, I'll get that one.

Lone Star by Paullina Simons (released: I don't even know but I'm hoping it'll be 2015 instead of later...) - I love The Bronze Horseman and Red Leaves, so I kind of want to read all of her other books. This one sounds really good (especially if it's another one set in Russia).

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (released: October 14th 2014) - It just sounds really good and I want to read more high fantasy, so...

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough (released: July 22nd 2014) - Same reason as above really.

Stray by Elissa Sussman (released: October 7th 2014) - Again, same as above...

And I think that's enough for now. Those are the ones I'm most excited for right now. What books are you looking forward to most coming out in 2014-15?

Later.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Lazy Person's Guide to BEA

I didn't intend to write a guide for BEA. Because
1.) It's rather exclusive to the majority of people who aren't going to BEA.
2.) I've only been...once. Though I have now conquered Javitz 3 times and conferences 4.
3.) There are like a bajillion.

BUT I still read the guides and I wasn't seeing a lot of things that worked really well for me so...that's what I'm gonna work on today.

I'm a highly anxious person. I stress about everything for ages in advance. I'll spend WEEKS trying to plan the books I'll bring for short trips. I've built schedules and wish lists for BEAs I didn't even go to. I currently have 5 spreadsheets for this year's BEA to cover the books I need to read first, the books I want to get there, and the signings, panels, and giveaways I know of so far on each individual day. I make these grand game plans to get everything done, but when it comes to actually doing things? I pack in an hour before running out the door and usually more than I can justify. I probably only did half of the things I intended to last year. I even, as many who went last year may recall, slept through a breakfast I was invited to. Slept. Through.

I DID learn some valuable lessons from all this though, that I'll happily pass on to you.

1.) Why on earth are you showing up so early? I hear all these people talking about waiting in lines and the huge crowds, especially the first day with badge pick up. They wake up at 6 am to get there by 7 am and camp out for two hours. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT?

I'm not a morning person by ANY means and I love my sleeps, even if I stay up way too late. Last year, I slept through the breakfast because I'd been out until around 11 with Teen Author Carnival, then stayed up until like 2 or 3 because I had just finished moving earlier that afternoon. This left me arriving at Javitz around 9:30, about half an hour after the doors opened.

And you know what? There was like five people in front of me in line to grab badges. I went through the line and checked my bag within ten or fifteen minutes, had a friend who stayed with me the whole time, then we were off. For the following two days, I just showed up at 9 and I didn't really miss out on anything. So unless you REALLY need to be there at 9 for a panel, signing or drop, skip the line. Get some sleep. Show up at 9.

2.) Get your badge early. This isn't something I did last year, but I will be doing this year. I mentioned there were still a few people in front of me on line last year half an hour after the conference began because we all had to pick up our badges. But you wanna know a secret? You can get your badge on Wednesday. And I fully intend to do that, if partially because I may swing by Book Blogger Con. I'll have my badge and be ready to go when I show up on Thursday. It's not like I've got anything else major planned early Wednesday.

3.) Get your fuel first. I picked this habit up at probably my first NYCC. There's not a lot of reasonably priced food options at or near Javitz and frankly, sometimes you don't want to carve out time to eat and hydrate. But, back in more civilized areas near the subway stations, there are Duane Reades and Dunkin Donutses and Starbuckses galore! I usually make my way into a Dunkin Donuts on my walk to Javitz and buy a bagel or two, maybe a donut, and a couple of water bottles. It comes out to maybe $10 to keep myself fed and hydrated. I keep a bagel on me and rip off parts when I start getting hungry or I'm waiting in a signing line, have the donut to eat on the walk there if I didn't get breakfast before hand, and the water bottles are a MUST. No leaving the floor to eat, no super overpriced foods, super convenient. You can obviously mix it up, but this is my pretty successful combo.

4.) Do as much meeting/greeting on the floor as you can. Last year I wasn't invited to any of the evening events and I haven't been so far this year either. And it's kinda sad, but it's also kind of a relief. BEA is EXHAUSTING. Especially when you do it like I do and don't have any real meals during the day. So I was more than happy to see everyone I could while I was running on adrenaline on the floor, but then I wanted nothing more then to go home. Usually I'd end up stopping and resting or at least picking up food at a place near the subways. There's a few fast food places and restaurants when you get closer to them. And then I didn't have to worry about bringing my suitcase back to my apartment (which is probably more of a trek then most of you will be making) then making myself presentable again and going back out. Super low stress that way.

Introduce yourself to that person who might be the same person you've seen as a tiny square. Talk with your line mates. Look for name tags. Don't be weird, but get in all the face time you can as you venture.

This year, I encourage everyone to come to Teen Author Carnival, as I'll be working the event and it's smaller, so I'll be easy to find. I'm also going to try to make the Blogger Picnic or the Blogger Bar meet up this year...maybe.

5.) Bring a suitcase. Everyone says this, but seriously. You may declare you're only going to grab X number of books, but have you thought about how heavy books are? And how long you'll be walking around with them? And getting to your hotel/apartment/next event? Is the $3 a day really THAT much of a sacrifice? No. No it's not. And there's like a 80% chance you'll be getting more books than you anticipate.

6.) Your essentials. This is what I always bring to a conference
  • ONE tote bag. This is the master tote bag. Not overly large, but enough to hold a couple books should it take me some time to find another one. This bag always stays with me and almost never holds books.
  • Wallet/clip. At the very least, have a place to hold a MetroCard, a debit/credit card, some cash, and your ID. Wallets can get bulky, so some little holder or bag would be great.
  • Pens. Sharpies and pens. You never know when you'll see an author on the floor or need to write something on the back of your...
  • Business cards. Or something you can write your information down and hand to someone. My business cards are HORRIBLY out of date at this point and not well made, but I have like 500 of them anyway and I can write any updated information on the back.
  • Phone and charger. You won't have a ton of time to sit and charge your phone, but you MIGHT. And your battery will go fast as you take pictures and use the BEA app and check our notes on your phone and try to find people with twitter/texting/DMing/snapchatting. Give yourself the option, but maybe keep the charger in your suitcase.
  • A sweater. Last year was disgusting, so this wasn't really an issue, but bring a sweater, put it in your suit case. Javitz is really well air conditioned. REALLY WELL AIR CONDITIONED.
  • Glasses. Just because you never know.
  • A notebook/note pad. Again, you never know. I also have a lot of my BEA schedule written down in my usual notebook. And if it gets too heavy, I can always toss it in the suit case. 
  • Refreshments. Because we've talked about this. And again, you can keep extras in your suit case and refill as needed.
  • Headphones. You might just need some time in your head every once and a while and this is your best shot in NYC.
  • Chapstick. You'll need it.
I usually keep all of this in my medium-sized tote bag so I don't have to worry about accidentally putting things into my suit case and mixing things up or not being able to find anything. It's a little extra weight, but not substantial enough to make a big difference with everything else. And if you're other tote bag(s) are somehow full and you can't get to your suit case for a drop, then you have some extra room to work with. BONUS: If you have an ARC and missed a signing but think the author is still roaming, you can put the book in this bag for easy access if you find them!

7.) Download the BEA app. It's one of the worst apps in existence, but it still has all of the information you could need within it. and you can keep track of your schedule and have it send your reminders so you don't have to worry about it.

8.) Plan. Bring back ups of your plan. Ignore the plan. Last year, I planned obsessively, had paper copies and the information on my phone. This year I have spreadsheets I'll probably print and my notebook and the app. I will actually follow through with about 50-75% of what's in the plan. I even marked in my spreadsheet a bunch of things that are optional or I can get in other means that work better for me. I picked up books I'd never heard of and went to signings I didn't know of and met people last year. Hell, I ended up meeting Veronica Roth because I was with someone going to the signing and didn't have a ticket, but they had extras there. I went to a romance novel signing with Eloisa James and Sarah MacLean and others that I happened upon and had the time for. But I also liked that I knew what my options where for 95% of the show and where they would be.

9.) COMFORT. I tried wearing a dress, leggings and flats on the first day and it was the worst idea. The. Worst. This year, it'll be all about the jeans and sneakers, unless I can find cute and comfy shoes that work with my dresses (sans leggings) or padding to put in my flats. Seriously. Do it. I promise this is a good life choice. Be lazy, don't try to be cute (but don't be a slob either).

10.) Don't ignore panels. Be aware of the panels going on you may be interested in. Not only can you learn a lot, you might see your favorite authors around. And bonus? YOU GET TO SIT. IN A CHAIR. It's a wonderful excuse to rest your feet!

And the buzz panels? After the YA panel last year, they had ARCs of all the books mentioned in the panel. FANGIRL was one of the first ARCs I actually got at BEA because it was at the table when I left the panel. Don't blow off these chances when it could be a slightly less stressful way to both rest and get a book you want.

11.) Embrace twitter culture. Last year, I had a name tag from TAC that also had my twitter handle on it and I wore it all three days of BEA. And people recognized me. People I didn't think would know who I was did because they knew my twitter handle. Not my face. Because that face? Is a tiny square. We can't generally look at tiny ass squares and then a person and say "Ahh! Yes! YOU!" But a twitter handle? 500% more likely you'll get recognized by your twitter friends. So, write your handle on your badge or have an extra thing with your handle visible.

But the most important tip? Have fun. If you're not enjoying your BEA experience, any part of it, then try to change things up! I mentioned having all my anxiety and being an obsessive planner. I do that because having plans makes me comfortable. It's a stress relief tactic and because of timing, it also helps me procrastinate on finals. So really, not having fun means you're probably doing it wrong. You need to step back, take a breather, and reevaluate.




Anyway, these are all versions of my face/hair combo, so if you see me on the floor, feel free to say hi! It may look like I'm going to run over something if you try, but seriously, do. Just know that you may be dragged with me if I actually am going somewhere.

--Julie

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