A BOOK : Panic

Something I am super excited about….

PANIC by Lauren Oliver

17565845

I happened upon an arc through the bookstore I work at, which made my day because it is something I have been looking forward to for like, ever. I love Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Absolutely positively adore it. I love the way Oliver writes everyday life and her interpretation of the modern world, which is why I have been eagerly anticipating this contemporary realistic teen fiction novel.

It ended up being a LOT different than what I expected, in a good way. It was soooo much darker.

The entire novel takes place in a small poor town in America over the summer. This is one example of where the setting has a personality of its own. A majority of the characters don’t have a lot of money and come from homes where bad things have happened, and as a result it raises the stakes of the game so much more. These people need to win. So you have a lot of characters that need to win, and you want to win. But there can only be one winner.

Then you have pressure from the authorities and the adults trying to crack down on the game because people actually get hurt in these things all the time.

You also have the mystery of the game makers, who seem like mysterious and powerful puppet masters and pretty much could be anyone.

And finally you have the game itself. I was physically cringing as I read some of the tasks (for those of you who read this, I am talking about the one with the cage. GAH! That got me.) because nothing good could come out of these tasks and this game.

To put it simply, Lauren Oliver drove me to be an anxious stressed out mess while reading this.

Other things: A lot of the times I didn’t like most of the characters, and I like this book so much more because of that. This novel is split into two different narrations: Nat, who seems like the main main character to me, and Dodge, who still seems like a secondary character. At the start of the novel both of them know of each other since it’s a small town, but don’t really know each other. As a result you get to see events and people from two different perspectives. Even though I didn’t particularly like a lot of the characters, I still cared about what happened and wanted to know what was going to happen.

Panic will be out in stores March 3, 2014 (so SOON!!).

Pre-order it | Add it to your to-read shelf on Goodreads.com

Advertisements

Recently read: I Hunt Killers

Today somebody asked me what I was reading recently. My response?

“OH MY GOSH, YES.” There was also some flailing and jumping involved.

My top favorite book I read recently has been…

7766027

I am not exaggerating when I say I Hunt Killers has been one of my favorite things ever these past two weeks. This book is about Jazz, a high school senior who’s dad is a serial killer. Not just any serial killer either, but pretty much one of the most violent ones (he killed around 120 people if I recall correctly). But everything is okay. Jazz’s dad is in jail. Things aren’t perfect… but they’re okay. No one has forgotten that Jazz is the son of a serial killer (especially not Jazz), but things are okay.

And then the bodies start showing up.

Jazz may be the only one who can solve the mystery of who the killer is, because he is the only person who has the mind of a serial killer. Since he was young his dad has trained/brainwashed him to think like a killer, act like a killer, and be a killer. In order to solve the mystery he HAS to access these memories and these “skills”.

As a result, Jazz’s thoughts can get SUPER disturbing and this book induces a lot of shudders. But they’re the good kind of shudders (if that’s possible– ha!) and they are absolutely necessary to tell Jazz’s full story. Because Jazz’s story is more than just trying to find the serial killer. It’s about a boy trying to make sure his apple falls far from the tree and overcoming years of what he essentially calls brainwashing.

SO.

If you are looking for a book with GREAT characters, this is one you need to pick up.
If you are looking for a book with a little mystery to it, this is one you need to pick up.
If you are looking for a book where YOUNEEDTOKNOWWHATHAPPENSBECAUSEHOLYSMOKES, this is one you need to pick up.

To put it simple: this is one powerful story you need to read.

🙂

Review: Never Enough

Never EnoughNever Enough
Denise Jaden
Published July 10, 2012
Simon Pulse

From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.

Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special… even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship —and her sister—before it’s too late?

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

Ugh. This made me cry for like 15,000 days in a devastating but good kind of way. Devastating because my heart had been ripped out, but good because I was impressed that Denise Jaden was able to so successfully handed me a slice of life.

This is a story about two sisters striving to be perfect in some manner or other. Well, Claire is striving to be perfect and Loanne kind of wants to be like Claire. This is told from Loanne’s perspective the entire time as she tries to navigate through catty friends, stupid boys, smart boys, and her family. Some specific things I like:

1. Claire is not a jerk. She is a well-rounded girl, looking out for her younger sister yet still going through a hard time in life.

2. Loanne has discovered her own passion. One of my favorite parts is that Claire plays a hand in this.

3. Loanne’s new friend in the book. It’s a two steps forward, one step back kind of friendship as he has his own things going in his life.

4. There is a WHOLE lot going on in this, and I think I like it. I was unsure if I did at first, but then I started thinking about what story line I would take out and I couldn’t decide. Everything felt like it needed to be there for some reason– whether to help Loanne come to a new realization or to show the depth in a different character. I think one of my favorite scenes is the end of the play, which is when we get to see behind the scenes a little bit of one of the secondary characters.

5. This deals with eating disorders. It deals with it seriously and carefully. Starting with little hints we get to see the progression as a girl gets stuck further and further, and we get to understand the mental process behind what is happening.

Overall Review: For people who love stories about sisters, tough issues, misfits in high school– this one is for you. Loanne is a character who starts out unsure and gets stronger as she finds her own place in the world. The story starts off small, and grows to be bigger and bigger the more involved we get in the lives of these characters.

Other fun things:
You can get a free e-book copy of Never Enough Stories over at Denise Jadens website. These are deleted scenes and companion stories to Never Enough. 

Read an interview with Denise Jaden over at A Good Addiction!

Review: Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Crash Into Me
Albert Borris
Published July 2009

Simon Pulse

Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae have one thing in common: they all want to die. When they meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, the four teens make a deadly pact: they will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides…and at their final destination, they will all end their lives. As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impulses, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living–or if there’s no turning back. “Crash Into Me puts readers in the driver’s seat with four teens teetering on the edge of suicide. But will their cross country odyssey push them all the way over? Only the final page turn will tell, in Albert Borris’s finely-crafted tale of friendship forged from a desperate need of connection

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

5 Quick Reasons Why I Really Liked Crash Into Me:

1. Albert Borris is really blunt. The story is about four kids on a road trip visiting the graves of famous people who have committed suicide, with the resolve at the end of the trip to commit suicide together. Borris does not tiptoe around the topic of suicide, but plunges right in. Honestly, it made me  really uncomfortable at first, but the reason I had that reaction was because it touched on so many real human emotions, which is one of the main reasons I really liked Crash Into Me.

2. I didn’t imagine that there would be twists in this story, but there ended up being twists! Borris did a great job of keeping me out of the loop without making me feel stupid or annoyed. Hurray!

3. Each character had a distinct personality and I feel because of that more readers are more likely to find a character to relate to in some capacity. Maybe it’s because he was the narrator, but I saw bits of myself in Owen at times.

4. I really like how the story was told. The main story was told moving forward, however dispersed through the book Borris told the story of how the four characters in the story met and became friends through sharing their chatroom conversations. Pretty awesome!

5. Surprisingly, I didn’t find Crash Into Me to be a downer of a book. While suicide was the preliminary connection between the four characters in this book, they weren’t just defined by their desire to commit suicide. Borris did a great job of bringing his characters to life, allowing the reader to see the downs, but also the ups and the in-betweens. I laughed, I wanted to cry, I was hopeful, I was sad– pretty much I was all over the place on this one!

Overall review: This is great for those in high school and up. While the content is a little intense, it is handled very maturely.

Review: Want to Go Private?

Apologies for my absence! I’ve been off working and playing Final Fantasy IX and attempting to bake and reading and trying to hang out with people in my daily life and and catching colds and watching things (like Lord of the Rings and New Girl), so I have been off away from my computer(or on it, just doing other things– just not blogging)!

So anyway, today I do have a review for you! I was going to just write little blurbs about what I have been reading (and not blogging about), but then I ended up talking wayyyyy too much about this book, so I couldn’t with good conscience call it a blurb.:)

Want to Go Private
by Sarah Darer Littman
Published August 2011
Scholastic Press

Abby and Luke chat online. They’ve never met. But they are going to. Soon.

Abby is starting high school—it should be exciting, so why doesn’t she care? Everyone tells her to “make an effort,” but why can’t she just be herself? Abby quickly feels like she’s losing a grip on her once-happy life. The only thing she cares about anymore is talking to Luke, a guy she met online, who understands. It feels dangerous and yet good to chat with Luke—he is her secret, and she’s his. Then Luke asks her to meet him, and she does. But Luke isn’t who he says he is. When Abby goes missing, everyone is left to put together the pieces. If they don’t, they’ll never see Abby again.

 Photo and Summary from Goodreads.com

 

1. This was kind of creepy (and by kind of I mean REALLY). One of the reasons why it’s so creepy is it so realistic. It’s a story about how a girl befriends this guy on the internet and ends up meeting him in real life and goes missing. The first half is all about her meeting and getting to know the guy, and the second half is the aftermath told in varying perspectives. What struck me the most is how this girl is REALLY fourteen-years-old. Littman captured the inner thoughts perfectly of a girl growing up and having to deal with changing to a whole new school. It kind of weirded me out, because I remember thinking the same things back when I was a freshman in high school. One of those things was I took everything so seriously and viewed everything as an attack on myself, regardless if it was helpful criticism or some one trying to reach out to me. Just ask my family! It blew my mind how well Littman captured the girl so well.

2. This is a pretty graphic book. Personally I think it is all very crucial to the story and I don’t think Littman goes overboard with the sexual activities in this and how she describes it all. What’s especially interesting about the whole book is I went into it thinking “oh, I wouldn’t do that. I would never do this.” That, however, is the mindset Littman seems to be trying to reach. Especially with it being so easy to access personal information on the internet and make online friends. To me the book never ended up being preachy though, although there is a moment toward the end where it was really close to the preachy line.

3. The relationships in this were really good to read. Between sisters, best friends, boys, and parents, while not always “perfect” Abby’s relationships were strong and realistic. This is a story about two best friends entering high school together and having to deal with making new friends and changing individually. It’s also a story about sisters who fight all the time, and what happens when something terrible happens? It’s about parents struggling with their teenage daughter, and that teenager struggling with boys. This books has soooo many different stories inside of it, because the relationships were so strong.

Ultimate Review: Read it! Parents, I’d recommend reading it *with* your kids. Everyone else? I just recommend reading it. Short and simple:)
Hey, guess what: This was apparently based off of a real story Sarah had heard. Crazzzzziness!

Review: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
by Peter Cameron
First published Sept. 2007
Picador

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the story of James Sveck, a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it. James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan. Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him–including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall. he would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker. Nothing turns out how he’d expected.

“Possibly one of the all-time great New York books, not to mention an archly comic gem” (Peter Gadol, LA Weekly), Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the insightful, powerfully moving story of a young man questioning his times, his family, his world, and himself.

Summary and photo from Goodreads.com

Do you wanna know a secret?  I’m actually INCREDIBLY dramatic in  my head. I try not to let that side of me get the best of me, because it can be ridiculous. Today was for the most part one of those “THIS DAY IS TERRIBLE AND THE WORLD IS GONNA END” which is why this book stuck out at me for some reason. I was pessimistically reading all of these summaries where the girl has a problem, but then with perseverance and luck its fixed and some extraordinary thing happened and BOOM she meets the love of her life and all is well and I got really frustrated. I wanted something more… unhopeful.  Hahahahahaha.  So I picked up this one.  And it gave me EXACTLY what I was looking for.  By jove, Peter Cameron– you’re a psychic.

I tell you this because I feel like the mood I was in plays a big factor to my reaction of this book. Pretty much we were two peas in a pod. It’s interesting though now, because as I write this my mood is COMPLETELY opposite (happy, content as opposed to gray, ugh).

1. So here’s the thing. If you’re looking for a book to wallow in this one is for you. The main character, James, is a smart 18-year-old boy who is having a ton of problems finding his place in the world. He feels extremely lonely, yet has no real desire to reach out and make connections with people (save for two already established people in his life). His family is pretty broken. His parents are divorced and his mother (whom he lives with) is having a hard time finding love again and his older sister is openly in a relationship with a married man who has children (this kind of caught me off guard). Already James doesn’t have any good role models for love, which probably doesn’t help an already reclusive boy pave his way into friendships and romance.

2. Considering it’s a first-person narrative you pretty much see the world and James through James’ eyes. The thing that stuck out the most about him to me was that either he didn’t really know himself or he didn’t want us, the readers, to know him. Even little things like the lack of romance in his life wasn’t just easily given up to us. We don’t officially learn more about his love life until way later on in the book after it has been mentioned by others at least twice. While it made it a little harder to understand James, it fit the book perfectly. One of the things about this book is James doesn’t know why he is happy and he doesn’t like to draw close to people. Thus we, like James, were able to experience his lack of place in the world by being in his head, but we were separated just enough from him to still be an outsider and not completely sucked into his head.

3. In the summary from Goodreads I have above, I found that the use of the word “portrait” to describe this book was amazingly accurate. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You was a portrait of James at 18. Since the book ended rather abruptly with a ton of loose ends left dangling it felt like I was looking at this book, then, left with nothing else to look at, I had to keep on walking. Yet again, it really fit James’ personality. One thing is certain about his character– he’s not necessarily the “take charge!!” kind of boy, so it fit that the story sort of faded until it was finally gone. Which makes me sad, because it’s probably how the rest of his life is going to go unless somewhere outside of this book he comes across a catalyst for a character change.

4. Honestly, I feel like I’m missing something about this book. Once I was done I flipped to the author’s bio on the back to see if there was any more information and well, it is the most minimalist author bio I’ve ever seen! I kind of can’t stop looking at it. It’s literally three lines long with no picture. So coming up empty handed with information I searched Peter Cameron’s website, but didn’t find too much information that would lead me to the key of this book. Maybe it’s just the quietness of the book or maybe I missed something.

5. There were some quotes I really liked and thus will record them here:

“I think that’s what scares me: the randomness of everything. That the people who could be important to you might just pass your by. Or you pass them by. How did you know? Should I turn around and talk to the Mexican boy? Maybe he was lonely like me, maybe he read Denton Welch. I felt that by walking away I was abandoning him, that I spent my entire life, day after day, abandoning people” (198).

“Translations are merely subjective approximations and that is how I feel about everything I say: it is not what I am thinking but merely the closest I can get to it using the faulty reductive constraints of language. And so I often think it is better to say nothing than to express myself inexactly” (98).

This is one of the quotes before the book starts from Denton Welch in Journal, 8 May 1944 11:15p.m.
“When you long with all your heart for someone to love you, a madness grows there that shakes all sense from the trees and the water and the earth. And nothing lives for you, except the long deep bitter want. And this is what everyone feels from birth to death.”

So.
Ultimate Review: I loved this book because it was LIFE.  What happens if you’re a kid and you haven’t suffered some big traumatic event in your life and you’re just unhappy? I didn’t love this book because there was not much HOPE. Please, prove me wrong, but I didn’t find too many lights at the end of the tunnel.
Random thing I learned that fascinated me in this book:  So James is obsessed with this English writer Denton Welch. Apparently, Welch had set out to become a painter, but then he was hit by a car while cycling and suffered spinal damage. He wasn’t paralyzed or anything, but (from what I gather) he couldn’t continue to paint the same way, so he started to write instead. For some reason that really intrigues me– the whole painter turned writer due to situational circumstance.

Review: Stay

Stay
by Deb Caletti
Published April 5th, 2011
Simon & Schuster
Format I read: Egalley

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough….

Photo and summary from Goodreads.com

This is by far one of my FAVORITE Deb Caletti books.  It left me breathless.  The writing was beautiful.  I’m pretty sure that while Deb Caletti was working on this book all the stars aligned and channeled super human writing powers into her.  I’m not sure where I should even start, so I suppose I’ll just pull out the list and we’ll start at one.

1.  Her dad is a writer.  And not one of those oversold guys that have fantastic tans, white teeth, and picture perfect hair.  He has depth to him and he’s not a jerk.  Whenever the main character is the daughter or son of a writer often they have a pretty poor relationship, but Clara and her dad have a great one.  It’s not perfect, but it’s relatively normal.  Deb Caletti adds little things that attest to their bond (like noticing metaphors in daily life) that tells you so much about who Clara and her dad are together and apart.

2.  THERE ARE FOOTNOTES.  I love footnotes.  Clara makes a few comments every so often (not too much to be overbearing, but not too little to be inconsistent and pointless) about the story.  She’s pretty self aware, so it’s like instead of you reading the book she is telling it to you after it had happened and sneaking in her own informal quips or details.  It was another fun little thing, like the metaphor awareness, that revealed so much about Clara.

3.  The story was riveting.  It’s set after the relationship between her and this Christian is over and about every other chapter you get to read more and more about what actually happened.  This is great because you really get into her mind.  It reminded me a lot of Stolen where you can tell the main character is at a different place mentally with you.  Clara has so much guilt, and from my standpoint my immediate reaction is- “seriously?  Why are you guilty that the boy you trusted ended up doing terrible things?!”  Even if I have the perspective that she should not feel guilty, I’m able to understand exactly where that guilt is coming from and how hard it is to get over.

4.  I don’t like to read books with mean boyfriends.  I’m always hesitant.  The only reason why I read this was because I like Deb Caletti’s books.  But I’m soooooooooo glad I did.  It speaks so much to the craziness of love.  When does love go to far and turn into obsession?  We’ve all done it, I’m sure.  Start having a crush on someone and then it suddenly consumes us.  Some people start to change themselves a little bit for the other person, other people completely schedule their life and days around this other person… where’s the line between healthy and unhealthy?  Love makes everyone crazy, just some more than others.

5.  Overall this book was just incredibly realistic.  You see the changes in Clara and you get to see the red flags and why she ignored them.  Also, it has a plot going on in the present, so you’re not just living in the past.

Ultimate Review: If I could describe this book using only one word I’d say gripping.  Everything about it just completely pulled me in.  This is definitely another one of those kind of books that I’d love to read with a future daughter.  The contents of this book is living and breathing and while it is just a great simple story, it also really pushes hard topics forward (ie- forgiveness, bad boyfriends).
Hey guess what!: Only ONE more WEEK until this book comes out (April 5, 2011)!  I highly suggest it.

Pre-order today!