Saturday, February 26, 2011

Book Review: Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers—known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile. (From Goodreads)

After having to fake a relationship at the command of their PR reps, it's understandable why Charlie and Fielding (aka Aaron) loathe each other. During an extended vacation taken to hide from the paparazzi, they slowly begin a friendship. Both characters grow to understand each other, and in the process they each learned about themselves, and what they really wanted from their careers. I have to briefly mention my favorite thing about Jenna & Jonah, and that was the Shakespeare! Toward the end of the book, Charlie and Aaron take on parts in the Shakespeare play, Much Ado About Nothing (my personal favorite). So, I was really delighted when I realized that the entire book was much like a mirror of their characters, Beatrice and Benedick. It took me quite some time to pick up on, and it was a nice way to bring in the romance between the two.

I think that my main issue with the book was that it wasn't really long enough to get a little deeper with the characters. Franklin and Halpin seemed to be moving in that direction toward the end of the book, but by that point everything was wrapping up. This wasn't a huge deal breaker for me, but I think it could have taken the book a step above the stereotypical cute YA read.

Overall, it was a fun read that had some funny moments. I did like the characters, the way Much Ado About Nothing was tied in, and thought that the alternating perspectives worked really well with the story. Still, I think that if it had been a little bit longer the authors would have had more time to give more substance to characters.

Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance
By Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Published by Walker Books (a division of Bloomsbury)
229 Pages
Rating: C

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (February 23)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever. (From Goodreads)

Published by Bantam
Release Date: March 22, 2011

So, the blurb above is heinously long, but Allen's books usually involve female characters dealing with flaws, and magic is always tossed in. They're adult fiction, but I feel that they have a lot of crossover potential.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (February 20)

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi of The Story Siren, who was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. All of the synopses you see below were found on Goodreads. Here are the books I got this week...

For Review:

Betrayal (Haunting Emma 2) by Lee Nichols

Emma Vaile is the most powerful ghostkeeper in centuries. Which is great when she's battling the wraith-master Neos, but terrible when she's flirting with fellow ghostkeeper (and soul mate) Bennett. When ghostkeepers fall in love, the weaker one loses all power, and that's not something Bennett can handle. Heartbroken and alone, Emma tries to lose herself in school with fellow ghostkeeper, Natalie. When a new team of ghostkeepers arrive—one a snarky teen boy, the other a British scholar—Emma finds solace in training for the battle against Neos. But as the team grows stronger, they are threatened by an unknown force. One they thought was good.
As chilling and page-turning as Deception, this sequel will grab readers and hold them to the last page. No one is safe from suspicion as Emma closes in on the traitor.

Published by Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: March 1, 2010


Across the Universe by Beth Revis
A love out of time. A spaceship built of secrets and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone-one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship-tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Author Interview: Suzanne Selfors

Suzanne Selfors is the author of Saving Juliet, Coffeehouse Angel, as well as a middle grade series with Little, Brown. She held a number of jobs before becoming a writer, including children's photographer, video producer, organic flower grower, and marketing director. She lives in Washington. Her newest release, Mad Love, was released January 4. (From Bloomsbury).

Suzanne's website:

Mad Love Book Trailer:

1. Would you describe Mad Love in a few words for the readers?

Teen girl meets strange boy who claims to be Cupid. Together, they write a love story.

2. Mental Illness plays a major role in Alice's life, why did you choose to feature it in the book?

I needed Alice's mother to seem larger than life. I needed a reason for Alice's mother to be missing-in-action. I needed Alice to feel alone and unloved. Bi-polar disorder fit all the needs of the plot because it gave my opportunities to shower Alice with affection during her mother's episodes of mania, then to take that affection away during episodes of dark depression.

3. As someone going into the counseling field, I was really impressed with your accurate portrayal of life with mental illness. What research, if any, went into creating those characters?

Lots of research, but also lots of personal experience. In my senior year of college, I went into a deep funk. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, was barely functioning. I was diagnosed with severe chronic depression and anxiety. And it took me years to pull myself free of it. Fortunately it hasn't come back. So when I wrote about Belinda's depression, I was drawing from experience.

Also, my father had extreme bouts of mania. He was never diagnosed because he never sought help. He turned to drinking, instead. So I get what it's like to live with someone whose mood swings are unpredictable.

4. Your book also features the myth of Eros (Cupid) and Psyche. What inspired you to use this particular story in Mad Love?

It's a great story. And I love Greek and Roman mythology. But I never quite believed the part of the story where Cupid accidentally shoots himself with his own arrow. I thought, what if he didn't put himself under a spell? What if he really, truly loved Psyche. What could I do with that?

5. Do you have any current projects in the works?

I'm writing my next teen novel, which will be out in 2012. I'm having fun with it. It's a bit of a fairy tale.

A HUGE thanks to Suzanne for answering my questions!

Book Review:Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Writing her own love story could drive a girl insane!

When you’re the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can’t write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast. That’s when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol’s voice in her head and see things she can’t explain, she must face the truth—that she’s either inherited her mother’s madness, or Errol is for real.
(From Goodreads)

Mad Love is an engaging read with great characters, realistic issues, and the perfect amount of romance.

Mad Love features a subject which doesn't often make it into YA fiction, characters who are struggling with mental illness. It's unfortunate that it isn't more common, because mental illness such a prevalent issue in our society. Selfors has done a superb job pointing out that people with mental illness are still people. Alice's mother clearly still cares about her daughter, although it didn't always seem that way. During manic spells, Belinda was attentive and loving to Alice. During the depressions, however, the disorder came first, leaving Alice to care for herself. I also thought that she did an excellent job showing the strain that mental illness can create for a family. Alice is not only trying to cover for her mother, but she's also trying to find some way to pay the bills. Add this to the stress of worrying that she'll develop the same issues as her mother, and seeing her mother in a catatonic state...well, you can see how Alice would be a bit on edge.

Selfors ties in the mythology of Eros and Psych, but adds her own spin to it. To be frank, the version found in Mad Love felt more like a Greek myth than the actual myth. I mean, myths always seem to end tragically (see Echo & Narcissus, Prometheus, Persephone, etc), so I always find it odd that somehow Eros and Psyche ended up united forever.

I don't often give out A ratings, but there was something about Mad Love that really wowed me. The characters felt consistent, the plot seemed to flow effortlessly, and it didn't gloss over the deeper subject matter. Selfors surpassed the expectations that I had for the book, and I'm looking forward to her next release.

Check back later today for an interview with the author!

Mad Love
By Suzanne Selfors
Published by Bloomsbury
336 Pages
Rating: A
Received for Review

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (February 16)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

In the Shadow of the Lamp by Susanne Dunlap

It's 1854 and sixteen-year-old Molly would give anything to change her circumstances as a lowly servant in a posh London house. So when she hears of an opportunity to join the nurses who will be traveling with Florence Nightingale to the Crimea, she jumps at the chance. The work is grueling, the hospital conditions deplorable, and Miss Nightingale a demanding teacher. Before long, the plight of British soldiers becomes more than just a mission of mercy as Molly finds that she's falling in love with both a dashing young doctor and a soldier who has joined the army to be near her. But with the battle raging ever nearer, can Molly keep the two men she cares for from harm? A love story to savor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes imagining of the woman who became known as "the lady with the lamp."

Published by Bloomsbury USA
Release Date: April 12, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (February 15)

What is teaser tuesday?
t's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules:
Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"I automatically look up, even though I fel inclined to point out, "I'm not Jenna!" This is said with a cheery smitle of course, and I catch none other than Bret Huckley, infamous paparazzo complete with his multiple cameras, lenses capable of capturing the insides of your pores."

-Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance, page 19, by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review:Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris

Planning for prom’s supposed to be fun—the dress, the accessories, the devastatingly handsome date—but Quigley Johnson never thought that agreeing to her best friend Ann’s Betterment Plan would ruin her life!

After a series of bizarre part-time jobs, the prospect of being a live model for a fashion-design class has Quigley ready to throw i
n the towel, until she meets Zander. He may not be able to sketch, but he’s smoking hot, cool and funny, and every outfit he creates might as well be made for her. But is he too good to be true? Then there’s David, the self-professed “Art King” whose competitiveness has always meant cutting Quigley down, until he sets his sights on making her his prom date and “Art Queen.” And this preparation for the formal was supposed to make Quigley and Ann even closer, but it’s tearing them apart! How will Quigley make it to prom, when she’s barely making it through high school? (From Goodreads)

When I first picked up this book I expected some fun fluff. Even the blurb made it seem like a light read without much substance. I was delighted that Will Work for Prom Dress exceeded my expectations in numerous different ways. The first was that it had more substance than I was expecting. It's hard to explain this without giving away a major plot point, but it deals with the ramifications of acting without considering consequences. The story also looked at Ann's mother, and the father who isn't in her life. We read about this through Quigley's eyes, and that allowed me to see that Ann's mother did care about her daughter, even if it Ann didn't always believe it. The characters were both believable, and likable. It was easy to connect with Quigley, and I think that most readers will be able to find something that they have in common.

The romance was a nice addition to the story, but didn't take over the entire plot. In fact, the budding romance between Quigley and a certain character (I don't want to give it away) actually contributed to the growth of both characters. I also appreciated the time that it took for their relationship to move forward. One of my pet peeves is that strong female characters are ruined by falling in love with a guy after locking eyes with him across the room. Having the relationship build slowly over the book, and face a realistic problem was rather refreshing. There are two guys in the book, but I wouldn't really call it a love triangle. I may be afraid to label it that way, because I think people are totally turned off from the L.T now that it's a common occurrence in YA. So, I'll just say that she has two options to choose from, and does so in a non-annoying way (hurrah).

This was a great debut, and it reminded me that you should never judge a book by it's cover. I can't wait for the next book by Ferris!

Will Work for Prom Dress
By Aimee Ferris
Published by Egmont USA
240 Pages
Rating: B

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (February 9)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch

After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?

As in her popular adult novels, Crouch's poignant and humorous voice shines in this seductively atmospheric story about girls growing up in a magical Southern city.

Published by Poppy
Release Date: May 3, 2011

Book Review:The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor

Jane, Victoria, and Natalya. Together, they are the Darlings. Best friends forever. They have matching necklaces, their own table at Ga Ga Noodle, and even a shared motto: May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.

When the friends begin freshman year at three different high schools in distant corners of New York City, they promise to live by their motto and stay as close as ever. The Darlings know they can get through anything as long as they have each other. But doing scary new things is a lot easier with your friends beside you. And now that the girls aren’t spending all their time together, everything they took for granted about their friendship starts to feel less certain. They can’t help but wonder, will they really be the Darlings forever? (From Goodreads)

I've found that in many YA books, I tend to have major issues with characters who have unrealistic problems. The Darlings Are Forever is a book which deals with realistic issues, and strong teen characters. Jane, Natalya, and Victoria are all headed to separate high schools, and this strains their friendship. They each have their own individual issues, and those build up until things reach a breaking point in their friendship. Fights/arguments in YA always risk the possibility of seeming silly. Sometimes characters fight for no apparent reason, or the topic of the argument is really minor compared to the drama unleashed. So, it felt refreshing to read a book where an argument between friends was the natural next step in the book.

I think that I would have connected more with the characters had I read this somewhere between eighth grade and senior year of high school. The book felt like it was on the younger side of YA, and while I would definitely suggest the book to girls at that age, I think this may have prevented me from connecting more with the problems of the characters.

I thought this was a cute read, and a nice start to a series. The subject matter isn't dark, and it shows a realistic view of girls determined to maintain their friendship despite their lives moving in different directions.

The Darlings are Forever
By Melissa Kantor
Published by Hyperion
336 Pages
Rating: C

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review:Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs… (From Goodreads)

I have very mixed feelings about Born at Midnight. One on hand, I enjoyed the story, and am interested to see how it progresses. On the other hand, I didn't like the main character, and I thought that it went on longer than it needed to. I'm really torn about the rating, and how to effectively review it.

I'll start with what I enjoyed: the plot was interesting. I think that it had something unique to the paranormal YA genre. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I never felt like it was victim to the many cliches of the genre (except for the love triangle). It also set up well for a sequel, without feeling like the first book lacked an ending. I liked Kylie's friends Della (vampire), and Miranda (witch), and am really interested to learn more about them in the sequel. I'm also a fan of ghosts in paranormal YA, so that aspect of the book was nice.

My main concern with this book was that it had too much romance. Kylie goes back and forth between three guys, and it was hard to like her character because of it. It is possible for a teen guy and girl to just be friends, and I would have respected Kylie if she had been able to have a platonic relationship with one of them. It was also hard to be sympathetic to a character who is in complete denial of their true nature. Sure, I felt bad for her when she first discovered what she was...but I think she should have gradually accepted that she was some sort of paranormal.

So, you can see my dilemma. Parts of the book entertained me, while others left me frustrated. I've given numerous books a C rating, and I had more good than bad to say with those. Still, a D seems rather harsh, so it's falls somewhere between. I will say that I'm going to pick up book two, I am interested to see what happens, and hopefully watch Kylie mature.

Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1)
By C.C. Hunter
Published by St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Rating: C-/D+

*I'm going to be m.i.a for the rest of the week. I'm headed to a retreat for school, and I won't have access to the internet. I've scheduled posts, but I won't be able to return comments until sunday/monday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (February 2)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This weekly meme shares the upcoming books that I'm most excited about.

Huntress by Malinda Lo

Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn't shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people's survival hangs in the balance.

To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls' destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.

The exciting adventure prequel to Malinda Lo's highly acclaimed novel Ash is overflowing with lush Chinese influences and details inspired by the I Ching, and is filled with action and

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 5, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (February 1)

Happy February!

What is teaser tuesday?
t's a meme hosted by Should Be Reading and here are the rules:
Grab your current read...
Open to a random page
Share two teaser sentences from somewhere on the page
Don't include spoilers.

"Natalya's first-period class was Intro to Greek. Ever since she'd told her dad that Intro to Greek was a mandatory class for freshman, he'd been going around saying, "It's all Greek to me."
-The Darlings are Forever, page 15, by Melissa Kantor

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