books and reading

Waiting on Wednesday: 45 Pounds by K.M. Barson

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

45 Pounds by K.M. Barson

Expected Release Date: July 11, 2013

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 8 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in two months.

Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, terrifying wedding dance lessons, endless run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

(summary via Goodreads)

This looks to be the kind of book I like, and it’s already attracting some good buzz.  As long as the book walks the line between being entertaining and not overly-didactic, this is looking like a fun summer read.  I’ll definitely be checking this one out come July.

What are you waiting on this week?


books and reading

Top 10 Tuesday: Top 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2013

I don’t often participate in the Broke and the Bookish’s Top 10 Tuesday, but I am this week because it’s a topic I can’t resist: the top 10 books I’m most looking forward to in 2013.

Without further ado, here we go (in chronological order, kind of):

1. Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Schmidt
(January 15, 2013)

This book is probably my most anticipated read of 2013. I’m not sure what about it speaks to me so loudly, but something does.  This one looks to be dark and complex and layered, and I can’t wait.

2. Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
(January 15, 2013)

I feel as though I’ve been waiting for this one forever.  Appelhans’s dystopian debut looks to be genre-bending, exciting, and a little unconventional.  I can’t wait for this one.

3. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
(February 13, 2013)

Ruta Sepetys? 1950s New Orleans?  All I need to know. CANNOT WAIT.

4. Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister
(February 21, 2013)

The ghost of Dorothy Parker hitches a ride on an unsuspecting young woman.  Hijinks ensue.  Considering that Dorothy Parker is pretty much my favorite writer ever, how could I not read this one?

5. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
(March 5, 2013)

Despite the fact that I think the series got off to a rocky start and I still maintain that the ending of the second book was totally manipulative, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being super excited for this one.

6. 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
(March 21, 2013)

I think Nova Ren Suma is one of the most interesting women writing for YA these days, and I can’t wait to see how she follows up what she’s already done.  This one looks dark and compelling.

7. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
(May 7, 2013)

Is there a single YA blogger who isn’t looking forward to this one?  I feel like we’ve been waiting for the last companion novel in the Anna series forever.  I cannot wait for this romantic story.  CANNOT WAIT.

8. Goldfish by Kody Keplinger

I think Keplinger’s writing gets stronger with every one of her offerings, and this one looks to be just as interesting as her last one (which was my favorite of her books).  Keplinger imbues her characters with authentic characteristics and doesn’t shy away from dark issues, so this will be an emotional read.

9. All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Can we all just agree that Courtney Summers is doing some of the most interesting, edgy, and consistently quality work out there right now?  Can we all just agree that I will literally read anything she ever publishes, whether it fits into my preferred genres or not?

10. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
(August 2013)

I love Matthew Quick, and this one looks to be dark, dark, dark.

books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Faking Faith by Josie Bloss

Dylan did a little sexting to make her boyfriend happy, and now she’s a social pariah.  No longer on speaking terms with anyone at her high school–including her supposed best friends–Dylan becomes ensconced in an online world where she discovers the world of homeschooled Christian blogging.  Posing as a fellow homeschooler named Faith, Dylan makes fast friends with Abigail, one of the most popular bloggers.  It isn’t long before Dylan ends up going to stay with Abigail and her family.  It’s there that Dylan learns that her actions truly have consequences.

There was a lot of promise in Bloss’s novel about telling the truth and figuring out who you are, but it never fully develops.  Bloss goes for complete cliches and offensive stereotypes and doesn’t ever ask her readers to ask the hard questions.  Also, it’s not nearly as interesting as it should be.

Part of the book’s problem in being uninteresting is that Bloss doesn’t allow her characters to be complex in any way.  While Dylan herself is fairly well-developed and clearly facing a dilemma, everyone else falls prey to the worst types of stereotypes about Christianity.  All of the men in the world that Abigail (and “Faith”) inhabit are domineering and overbearing.  The women are meek.  Readers get the sense that these Christians are unenlightened.

This is made worse by the fact that Dylan’s life provides a stark contrast with no nuance whatsoever.  While it’s clear that Dylan’s life is flawed, it’s glaringly obvious that her secular life is preferable to the oppressive world in which Abigail lives.  It’s a disappointingly shallow exploration of fundamentalism, and readers deserve better.
Uneven, uninteresting, and overall not worth a read.  Readers would be better to seek out something with a more balanced perspective.

Faking Faith by Josie Bloss. Flux: 2011.  Library copy. Read for 2012 Cybils YA Panel Round 1.


Waiting on Wednesday: Also Known As by Robin Benway

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Also Known As by Robin Benway

Expected release date: February 26, 2013

ALSO KNOWN AS is the story of Maggie, a gifted teenage safecracker, who works alongside her parents as a spy for the mysterious entity known as the Collective. When she’s assigned to infiltrate a private Manhattan high school, she’s forced to make friends, investigate the mysterious Jesse, and solve the case, all without blowing her cover.

(summary via Goodreads)

This sounds like a pretty cute, maybe silly YA contemporary read, and I’m definitely in, despite not having much of a description.  I like Benway’s books in general and definitely consider her an author to watch, so this one is on my radar based on author reputation alone.  This one seems like total book candy.  Fans of the Gallagher Girls series will probably want to mark their calendars for the release of this one.

What are you waiting on this week?


books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

When Taylor’s dad gets really bad news, the family decides to spend one last summer at their family lake house in the Pocono Mountains.  This is hard for a lot of reasons: Taylor and her siblings aren’t exactly close-knit, and cramped quarters means increased interaction.  But Taylor’s also haunted by her past, and what happened at that lake house five years earlier.  It isn’t long before she’s confronted with the ghosts of her past and starts to learn that second chances are possible–and that love sometime shows up when you least expect it.

Morgan Matson’s heartfelt family drama is a quiet, contemplative read that will likely resonate with readers who like their stories with a healthy dose of character development.  This is a satisfying, emotionally resonant story, and it’s a great summer read for those looking at books with a little depth.

The main characters in the novel are particularly well developed.  The exploration of Taylor’s relationship with her father is extremely well done, and when the book reaches the inevitable conclusion of their story, it doesn’t feel overly manipulative because Matson has taken the time to create characters who are wholly human, fleshed out, and authentic.  This isn’t a cancer book so much as it’s a book about love, loss,and forgiveness, and Matson walks that line gracefully.

Unfortunately, it’s also overly long.  The book clocks in at over 450 pages (in hardcover), and it’s absolutely stuffed full of subplots and extra characters who are completely unnecessary.  While the stray dog story was clearly a metaphor, it was also a waste of time.  Valuable page space was given to Taylor’s younger sister Gelsey when it could have easily been excised.  Cuts could have been made to tighten up this story and bring it from good to great.

Even so, this one will work for lots of readers.  Recommended for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han (you’re going to see that in nearly every review, I’d wager).

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson Simon & Schuster: 2012. Library copy. Read for 2012 Cybils YA Round 1 Panel.

books and reading

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  The purpose of the meme is to discuss books we are reading this week, as well as books we completed the previous week.

Books I Completed Last Week:
The Rivals by Daisy Whitney: I was surprised by how much I liked this one.  In some ways, much stronger than the first, and in others, weaker.  Review to come.
Fangirl by Ken Baker: This one is super cute, but there are things about Baker’s writing that don’t sit right with me.
It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Ann Peters: This one was a disappointment.


Books I’m Reading This Week:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: I’m still working on this one, but it’s definitely worth it.
Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff: This one is taking a bit to get into, but I’m still hopeful.


What are you reading this week?

pop culture

Viewed this Week (31)

Inspired by Ticket to Anywhere’s What I Watched, I post on Sundays about what movies and/or TV shows I watched the week before.  Some weeks will be epic, and some weeks…won’t be.  Let’s get to it!

The Mindy Project 1×5 – “Danny Castellano is my Gynecologist”
New Girl 2×7 – “Menzies”
Happy Endings 3×3 – “Boys II Menorah”
Parenthood 4×7 – “Together”

Office Space

Thoughts on what I watched:

This week’s episode of The Mindy Project was a study in uncomfortableness.  While there were certainly parts that were really funny, I get really, really tired of the constant jokes about Kaling’s weight.  I don’t think it’s funny, and I think it’s a cheap shot. Every. Single. Time.  I want this show to be so much better than it is, and there are moments where it almost accomplishes that.

New Girl this week was pretty funny, but I didn’t seem to love it as much as other people have.  I agree that Nick is the show’s standout this season, and that Jake Johnson consistently brings it every week.  I loved watching him have a meltdown, but I don’t know–I want the show to be moving forward more than it is.  I’m not sure what’s missing for me. I just know that something is.

This week’s episode of Happy Endings was pretty funny, too.  I love that Boys II Menorah has made a comeback, and I loved watching Max and Brad dance at Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.  The show has some of the best one-liners every week, and hands down the best pop culture references a girl could ask for.  I just wish it wasn’t going head-to-head with New Girl.

My sister texted me this week to see if I’d watched Parenthood yet, because she was crying so hard.  This is a weekly occurrence for me.  Parenthood is my catharsis, y’all.  This was another tear-jerker, and I’m happy to see them handling Cristina’s cancer so well.  I’m also totally into Amber’s burgeoning relationship with Ryan, but I worry for her.  These are my people, you guys.

J. and I watched Office Space after a particularly crappy day, and I have to say, I forgot how depressing it really is.  I mean, it’s a very funny movie, too, but there’s something inherently depressing about cubicle life and what that means for a person. I don’t know–it made me want to watch Clockwatchers again, so that’s probably coming soon.

What did you watch this week?

pop culture

Lists & Procrastination: 5 Things I’m into for the Moment

Gentle Readers, welcome!  It’s time for another installment of Things I’m Currently Obsessed With.  Previous installments can be found hereherehere, hereherehere,  here,  herehere,  here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here.

1. Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)

I don’t know what it is about this particular song that I find so interesting, but I do know that I can’t stop listening to it.  Kendrick Lamar’s album is probably the best new album I’ve been listening to a lot, and this song is one of my pump-up songs before I go out.  There’s something completely voyeuristic about listening to Lamar’s whole album, and this song definitely showcases his talent at creating songs with soul-baring lyrics.


This one is embarrassing because it’s so consumption-driven.  I like to troll the websites pictures because they have some ridiculous stuff for sale.  They also have some really cool stuff.  I’m not going to lie: I want the sweatshirt with the mermaid dance quote on it from Pitch Perfect.

3. Crafting a decent holiday gift list

I’m not going to lie: I have a hard time picking out presents for people, whether it’s birthdays, parent days, or the holidays.  I try to start fairly far in advance so that I can get what I need to get for the people closest to me.  This year, I’m spending a lot of time trying to figure out what to get people that isn’t a total waste of time or money.  I also value giving gifts that the person will actually use.  In order to do this, I’m making liberal use of Pinterest, Wanelo, Uncommon Goods, and Evernote (to track it all, duh).

4. French Bulldog Puppy

I stumbled across this while doing searches for stupidly cute animals.  I don’t know what it is about this short video I find so endearing or affecting.  I just know that it makes me stupidly happy.  How can you not love it?  I just want him to get up at the end.  YOU CAN DO IT.

5. Stacked Books hosts Contemporary YA Week

Have you checked out Stacked Book’s Contemporary YA week?  If you haven’t you should.  They have tons of great recommendations, discussions, and information about my favorite genre.  There are great lists of books (my favorite thing in the world) for any YA fan to geek out over.  This is a blog that consistently delivers some of the best content on the internet (in my humble opinion).  GO AND SEE.

What are you obsessed with this week?

books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Althea is seventeen and the only hope for her entire family.  If she doesn’t marry well, her mother and brother stand to lose everything, which isn’t much.  The family lives in a crumbling castle near some cliffs with Althea’s two (sort of) evil stepsisters.  While Althea is very beautiful, it’s more complicated than that: there are very few wealthy suitors to choose from, and even fewer handsome ones.  Then Lord Boring arrives and sets all the eligible women in town into a flurry of flirting.  To complicate things, Lord Boring’s friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks seems to tag along to all the events and outings, and he tends to cause trouble wherever he goes.

A delight of a book, Kindl’s Regency-set romance is a witty, frothy good time.  Kindl has crafted a strong, smart heroine in Althea, who wants to have adventures but fully realizes she will have to marry for money.  She loves her family but recognizes that they’re mostly useless, and as a result, she has to be the strong one.  Althea’s smart, funny (really, really funny) narration propels this sweet little book.  Although it’s largely predictable, it’s also incredibly fun.

There’s a lot of silliness to be found within the pages of Kindl’s breezy novel.  The characters are charming and funny, and Kindl’s gentle mocking of the Regency-era tropes adds a layer of entertainment to the already compelling story.  Althea’s attempts to attract a suitor are engaging and very funny.  Readers will be as enamored with her as her eventual marriage prospect is.

Funny, witty, and satisfying.  This is a great, sweet historical romantic comedy.  Teens looking for clean, clever reads will gobble this one up.  Recommended especially for fans of Jane Austen.

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl. Viking Children’s Books: 2012. Library copy. Read for 2012 Cybils Round 1 Panel.

books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Easy by Tammara Webber

Jacqueline follows her high school boyfriend to college.  Then he dumps her at the beginning of sophomore year, and she’s not sure what she’ll do next.  When she’s assaulted by her ex’s frat brother, her rescue comes in the form of a stranger who saves her and drives her home.  All Jacqueline wants is to forget about the attack, but her savior Lucas sits behind her in one of her classes and doesn’t seem to be making it easy for her to move on.  It doesn’t help that Lucas is seriously hot and her would-be attacker seems to be almost stalking her.  Sophomore year ends up being more than Jacqueline ever could have imagined.

Gentle readers, I’m not sure about this one.  I’ve been sitting on this review for a long time, trying to figure out exactly what it is that I want to say, and I’m still unsure of how I want to review it.  While it’s certainly an enjoyable book and isn’t lacking in the heaps of praise department, something about this didn’t sit right with me from the beginning.

Using an attempted sexual assault as a meet-cute for our heroine and hero feels manipulative and wrong.  It’s possible that not every reader will view the inciting event in this way, but I couldn’t get past the feeling that Webber was pulling every string at her disposal to make the plot work.  Although the novel had some good things to offer and Webber certainly creates a compelling story with well-developed main characters, I couldn’t get past the uneasy feeling that followed me throughout.

There’s also the issue that the book is in serious need of editing and trimming down.  There was no reason for Webber to include some of the book’s elements, particularly in the case of the mistaken identity subplot.  And while Webber does indeed write some steamy scenes, there’s also so much waffling on the part of both main characters that the novel feels much longer than it should.  Some of this could have been tightened with the help of a strong editor.

That being said, this book has found an audience and will continue to do so.  The fact that it’s a self-published book that got a major-publisher pickup and features older YA characters sets it apart from other titles in the genre.  There’s certainly stuff to like here; I just wanted it to be better and not make me quite so uncomfortable.

Easy by Tammara Webber. Create Space: 2012. Electronic copy. Read for 2012 Cybils Round 1 Panel.