Book Review, Books, YA Book Club

IF YOU FIND ME – All. The. Feels.

First thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-galley of this book…I already bought the paper version of it as this book is so far one of my favorites of 2013. And it´s my first Debut Author Challenge Review!

Debut Author Challenge

There are books that make you smile, or cry, or feel so full of emotions you´re not quite sure how the writer managed to instill those into the novel.

And then you have the books that do all those things not and stay with you for long after you turn the last page (or click the last “next” on your Kindle). IF YOU FIND ME is one of them.

IF YOU FIND ME

Summary by Goodreads: A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.

If I close my eyes and think about Emily´s story, I see people. Not characters but people and then I simply feel. Emily managed that elusive magic of making me fall in love with her characters, even though the situation they find themselves in is so difficult. Carey and Jenessa found a place in my heart. They made me think, made me tear up but there´s also hope in those pages. Yes, their situation is tough. Yes, they suffered and there were moments where I cringed, where I clutched my sides and where I closed my eyes. But they are both so full of life still, so full of love. Their love for each other. Their love for others. Despite everything.

I will pick up everything Emily Murdoch writes after this heart-wrenching, beautiful and powerful debut!

Book Review, Giveaway

Blog tour – Hysteria – a review and giveaway…

I have a secret.

I love scary books, suspense, psychological thrillers – usually they do need a bit of romance and a touch of hope.

So, when I saw HYSTERIA by Megan Miranda up for grabs on NetGalley I didn´t hesitate. I requested it and grinned when I got approved. I may have done a bit of a happy dance. And when I was selected to be part of the Blog tour I was even happier 🙂

HysteriaSummary from Goodreads.com: Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can’t remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn’t charged. But Mallory still feels Brian’s presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others

Mallory was at times an unreliable narrator. She doesn´t remember details, she feels the presence of the one she killed around her. It makes her insecure, worried, never able to let go. Her parents don´t know how to deal with her. Only her best friend continues to look at her like she still knows her.

But I liked her, I rooted for her, wanted to know more about her.

The entire novel, one wonders exactly what happened that night and what is going on in the boarding school. The setting feels real and the boarding school stories are a nice touch. The love interest is truly adorable and got my heart racing a few times.

I couldn´t stop turning the pages. I had to know what happened next. I found Miranda´s writing really engaging and I remember taking notes on some of the tricks she used, or some of the hints she dropped.

I wish there sometimes could have been more from that night and more on the actual resolution. (I´ll leave at that to not spoil anything).

But I really enjoyed it 🙂

(and I´m now writing a YA romantic suspense, finally trusting myself to take that love of thrillers and suspense to my YA writing)

Oh…and before I forget:

GIVEAWAY 

Open until March 21st

  • You can win a COPY of HYSTERIA (US only as per the guidelines I received)
  • For you all my international readers: you can win a copy of Miranda´s first book FRACTURE.

What do you need to do?

  • Simply tell me the last movie or book that scared you a little 🙂 (and please mention if you´re located in the US or any other countries)
Book Review, Books, Road Trip Wednesday

July Books – Spotlight on SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week´s topic: Best Book of July

I have read some wonderful books this July so I will not be choosing the best one, rather I´ll be telling you about one which really took me by surprise.

This month I read:

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick: I gushed about it here (and you could win a SIGNED book by just commenting on this post…)

PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry : This one was also very good, it had different types of characters. I explained why I enjoyed it here (hint: layered characters, siblings and hot romance)

CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers: Wow! This book is the first one I read from Courtney Summers and definitely not the last. It´s  very raw but also very true and I connected with the main character who wanted to be perfect. All the time. And then doesn´t know how to deal when it collapses. Really really good.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT´S NIGHTMARE by Kody Keplinger: Kody is a must-buy for me. I really enjoyed her two first books and this one didn’t disappoint!

THE ONE THAT I WANT by Jennifer Echols: I picked up this one based on Jessica’s Bookanista Review and I don’t regret it one bit! Really, to get the full picture, you should read Jessica’s review 😀 Like her, I agree that the book actually makes us understand the dysfunctional relationship which sometimes can happen between friends and thus, give a reasoning behind some of the main character’s actions. Plus the swoon-factor is major!

So as you can see, I was on a contemporary kick, probably since I was finishing up my novel, I was trying to immerse myself in the same genre.

The one that totally took me by surprise though was: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard! I loved it and I highly recommend it! I picked it up based on Katy´s recommendation and she does a fabulous job in explaining why this book is great (so go ahead, read her review and then come back to know why I loved it too :D)

Okay, thanks for coming back! So, why did I love it?

I have never read Steampunk before and it has some elements of it…Very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  1. The writing. Really, you can feel like you´re with Eleanor in the streets of Philly looking for her brother. You can feel the corset and you can laugh and open wide eyes when Eleanor discover more than what she bargained for.
  2. Eleanor. Talk about a girl with character! And she just appears very human, like you could hand her an umbrella through the pages of the book and tell her “aim for the knees”. Disclaimer: I usually do not talk to my books. Or only rarely
  3. Daniel. Oh Daniel. So annoying and so charming. Loved Daniel!
  4. The story. It has action, it has feelings, it has romance…it has friendships and it has that little something something which creates magic in a book!

I am SO looking forward to the sequel!!! (and it is going to be set in Paris….)

So, tell me, what book pleasantly surprised you recently?

Book Review, Books

I missed my bedtime for PUSHING THE LIMITS (Book review)

First, thanks to Netgalley and HarlequinTeen for enabling me to read PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry a tad earlier than its official publication date. I loved it so much that I pre-ordered a copy. Be warned, my emotions ran high throughout this entire book. My husband was not happy about the fact that I read it until late at night and could not put it down during the morning, thus making me a bit late.

“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

It’s like meeting two people for the first time and not expecting you would click but you do and you KNOW you were meant to run into each other.

Both Noah and Echo have a voice since it’s told in alternate POV. They both resonated and shone or cut through the pages (depending on the moment).

Let me tell you why I lost sleep because of this book:

1. Noah. Noah. Noah. Did I mention Noah? This guy reminded me of my own male character in my WiP so I may be a tad bias but Noah is – loss of words – well he is complicated. He has a golden heart, he has problems, he made me laugh and he made me cringe. Totally swoon-worthy even with his issues.

2. Echo. She broke my heart. And I wanted to reach out to her and tell her that I would be like her best friend Lila, I would sit with her at lunch and I wouldn’t ignore her or whisper or make fun of her.

3. Noah and Echo together. Hot, steamy hot. Real. Fun. They open up to one another in such a way that again I want to wrap them in a hug and tell them they’re much stronger than they give themselves credit for.

4. The rest of the cast. Noah’s little brothers. I think I went “awwwwwwwww” every single time there was a scene with them. Echo’s dad and stepmother, the difficulties, the pain, again all felt so real and so painful. Echo’s friends, Noah’s friends…

5. Because it felt like I knew them: this one is totally subjective (maybe some of the other ones too – hmmm pondering away about the meaning of subjectivity when it comes to my reviews – pondering done with no tangible results) but I almost could be sitting in the same classroom as them, I could laugh at their jokes and smell the burger at the mall. I connected with both characters. Maybe it’s the alternate POV but you really can get into both their heads and it’s honest. When Noah is feeling “hot and dirty” you know it, when he deals with his feelings you know it, when Echo freaks out, you freak out right along with her. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect but I let myself be carried by this story.

WikiCommons
I love how mythology plays a role in this book too 😀

Two of my favorite quotes (please keep in mind that this was an e-galley so maybe they have changed…). There are many more but I don’t want to say too too much…

“Luke used to give me butterflies. Noah spawned mutant pterodactyls.”

We’d read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful, their voices so enchanting, that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real because every time I saw her, I lost my mind.”

So, tell me which upcoming books are you most looking forward to?

Books, young adult

Five Reasons To Fall in Love with My Life Next Door

 Summary from GoodreadsA gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another. “One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.” The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase’s family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

In an interview with YA Bound, the author – Huntley Fitzpatrick – summarised her book in ten words. I think they also fit perfectly:

A girl who watches and a boy who knows it.

There are many reasons to read this book: the story is compelling, the writing flows and the voice is mostly natural. Some may say that it feels slow at times and maybe rushed at others. But isn´t it how life sometimes is? Slow, rushed and everything in the middle? Everybody always stayed in character. I could have come up with even more reasons to fall in love with My Life Next Door but I tried to contain myself.

1- George: One of Jase´s little brother. This child is ADORABLE. He is neurotic, granted but his worries and his wit make him so real and so cute and just a little child you want to protect to make sure that he doesn´t find additional reasons to worry about every single thing.

 “His bed´s really comfortable and he never pees in it”

George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although at this point, with green teeth. “I might marry you,” he allows. “Do you want a big family?” 

I like that. You look like Sailor Supergirl.

***********************

2. Jase: There are not enough words to describe Jase. He is…confident, honest, mature, sexy, funny, smart, driven, athletic, real. He is the type of guy you can lean on, talk to, make a fool out of yourself with, have fun, laugh, do daring things. Yep. Quite a character.

***********************

3. Jase and Sam: For those two, I´m just going to put four quotes from the book. I think it pretty much says a lot about them.

“So now you’ve met my mother,’ I say to Jase that night, leaning back on the roof. 
‘I sure have. That was awesome. And completely uncomfortable.

“You have to kiss me,” I find myself saying.
“Yeah.” He leans closer. “I do.” 

But I like being Sam. I like being Jase´s Sam. It sounds relaxed, easygoing, competent. I want to be that person (Page 184)

And the way he does look at me makes me feel absolutely beautiful.

***********************

4. Jase´s parents, all of the Garrett family: What really amazed me in this book was how I could picture each and single one of the members of the Garrett family. The little one who says “boob” and “poop”  a lot, Alice the angry one who´s actually quite tender, the other hot brother and I could continue but I will leave you with another of my favorites i.e. Andy:

Andy spends all her time on Facebook and reading, rereading Twilight again and again.

***********************

5. Tim: The way he speaks about Hot Alice, the way he messes a lot of things but he´s actually not that messed up, the way he was there for Sam when she was young and is still around and because he says things like this:

“Why do all the hot girls want the jocks and the good boys? We losers are the ones that need you.”

When to pick up this book?

  • Great Summer Read (but really you could cuddle with it in all seasons)
  • If you like Sarah Dessen or Jennifer Echols. Plus some of the first time moments did remind me of Judy Blume (!)
  • When you’re in the look for a great set of characters
  • If you want something which makes your heart feel warm
  • As a writer: The Life Next Door shows how to handle many many characters while giving them all a different personality and something which stands out. They don’t fall flat.
  • The kisses and the steamy sexy scenes

I am already anticipating Ms Fiztpatrick’s next book especially after getting a glimpse on what she’s working on (see below excerpt from an interview with YABound)

My next book, now tentatively titled, WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE, takes place in the same region as MY LIFE NEXT DOOR, but features a very different couple—one who have had a rocky history. Gwen Castle has come from a long line of fisherman and cleaning women on her small, exclusive Island. Cass Somers is heir to a boat-building business, and Gwen’s Biggest Mistake Ever. Now that he’s spending the summer slumming it on “her” Island, can they get beyond their rocky past and find common ground.
I even dared to contact the author on Twitter (overcoming my shyness and all :-)) and she was so kind to answer my question!
  
So tell me, did you have good relationships with your neighbors as teenager?
Books

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson…

You know when emotions run wild while you´re reading and you´re feeling ALL the feelings?

That was me on Saturday night at 2am. I was supposed to be sleeping. Really, I was supposed to try to beat jetlag but that was impossible to do once I got into that story. I even thought of hiding under the covers with a flashlight or in another room if hubby happened to wake up to tell me I really should sleep because of that jetlag thing. Hubby just doesn´t understand when I cannot put a book down…

Summary from Goodreads: Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.
Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

I really really enjoyed Morgan´s debut (yes she doesn´t know we´re on first name basis :D) AMY AND ROGER´s EPIC DETOUR but I loved this one.

Maybe it was because of the family dynamics which were much more present into this book or because Taylor is trying to deal with the illness of her father without really knowing how to or because I came to love the secondary characters so much I wanted to hug them through the pages.

The book includes flashbacks into past summers. Getting a glimpse into Taylor´s life as she was younger such as how her first kiss unfolded was so adorable, cute and at the same time so sad and so hopeful.

Source: favim.com via Emi on Pinterest

The relationship of Taylor and her dad felt real to me, just like the relationship she had with her mother and her siblings. I could hear them and see them. Taylor and her dad made me laugh and made my heart squeeze. So many times in that book, I tried to detach myself but couldn´t because the raw emotions running through me were too real. The gestures Taylor and her dad have for each other, their struggle to find a balance, his reminders to her throughout the book about how much he loves her, the hints she gives him are very powerful.

Taylor and her mom appear to not be as close but she recognizes it is also a result of all the walls she built around herself. I choked up at one thing Taylor says because it just felt so real. Taylor and her siblings pretty much discover each other during the summer and there are parts of this discovery that had me laughing (not too loud because of the sleeping hubby). But at the same time, you wonder just like Taylor if it´s ok to laugh in these moments. And then, there are Henry and Lucy….yes you should dicover yourself about Henry and Lucy. I think we all have a friend like Lucy, the childhood friend who knows you inside and out. And Henry, well…You´ll have to see for yourself.

This book is indeed about family, love, loss, friendship, growing up and about love. After all just like Taylor´s dad explains:

“And I’ve realized that the Beatles got it wrong. Love isn’t all we need—love is all there is.”

So tell me what is the latest book which made you feel ALL the feelings?

Book Review, young adult

Goddess Interrupted – A review and my take on mythology….

I´ve mentioned this before: I love mythology. I focused part of my Master´s thesis on the re-telling of MEDEA by Christa Wolf using feminism and new historicism theories. I immersed myself in the evolution of women´s image through the different adaptations of the myth. I also looked at MEDEA through Christa Wolf´s lens in regards to the divided Germany and her own personal history.

I breathed MEDEA for months. Christa Wolf did a big u-turn: in her story, Medea is not a child-murderer. I could spend hours discussing her version but this post is about GODDESS INTERRUPTED (sequel of The Goddess Test). Thanks to Netgalley, I read an ARC of this book on my kindle 🙂

Summary from GoodreadsKate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she’ll have to fight for it.Becoming immortal wasn’t supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she’s as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he’s becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate’s coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans.As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person who is the greatest threat to her future.Henry’s first wife, Persephone.

Some reviews focus on how Aimee Carter changed the myth or how this book doesn´t live up to the expectations one has from Greek mythology or the story of Persephone in general…For me, it did not matter. I wanted a story to entertain me and it did. I wanted a story which takes a new take on a myth and it did. I wanted a story in which I can feel for the characters and it somewhat did. There are certain part of the stories during which I wished I could speak to Kate to get some sense into her but in a way, I enjoyed this because this meant I let myself dive into the story enough to have an opinion on the actions of the main characters. I´ll pick up the last installment of the trilogy when it comes out 😀

Tell me, are there any adaptation of famous stories that you really enjoyed reading?