Thursday, August 29, 2013

Something Like Normal (Trish Doller)

Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Length: 217
Rating: 5/5

Travis is home from Florida, on leave from active duty as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. He’s not only haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death, but his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his parents are having marital trouble. What a vacation. But then he runs into Harper, a girl he’s known since middle school, and things start to look up.

This book was awesome. Like read it in one night, cry a little, laugh a little, have the characters grow on you as if they’re real people kind of awesome.

Things I loved:
-A male narrator who seemed REAL (and not just YA girl fantasy real). Travis is kind of a jerk, but the more you learn about him, the more you understand why and love him anyway.
-I learned so much about the U.S. Marines from reading this book. Trish really did her research to get at the issues marines face coming home, but without making them out to be sob stories or overly-dramatized heroes.
-The romance. It was like a Nicholas Sparks novel, but shorter, snippier, and better. Harper’s pretty great, and I liked her spunk.

Let’s keep this review short, because I want to direct you to the coolest thing ever. I’m a huge fan of the blog Real Men Read YA, who read this book, and then challenged Trish Doller to a rap battle.  Check out the comments, because it’s Something Like Freaking Awesome.

*I read this book months ago, and I still love it this much. Also, keep your eyes out for Trish's new book, Where the Stars Still Shine, which I loved EVEN MORE than this one, coming out in September!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2nd Birthday Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

I can hardly believe this blog is already two years old!

So much has changed in my life since I first decided to create this blog at the Denver Publishing Institute in the summer of 2011. I've read hundreds of books, married off two of my best friends, found my dream job working games with Sporting Kansas City, married myself to a trophy, started writing for a sports website, interned at a library where I created a separate blog just for middle grade books, moved to New York, met so many wonderful authors, and found my other dream job working at a children's publisher (just to name a few of the crazier things!). And of course, I've eaten a ton of ice cream along the way.

It hasn't always been easy, and I haven't always been the best at posting regularly, but I love this blog. As a thank you to my followers, I'm giving away these ARCs to three different winners!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for following and good luck!

PS Here's a present for you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just One Day (Gayle Forman)

Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Length: 369
Rating: 4/5

Sparks fly when American good girl Allyson encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem, so she follows him on a whirlwind trip to Paris, upending her life in just one day and prompting a year of self-discovery and the search for true love.

This book is for every girl who wishes she could break out of her good girl image and do something wild.

Allyson does just this. But it’s not easy, and it actually goes horribly wrong. Willem disappears after their one day together, and Allyson is left inept and changed in ways she doesn’t know how to deal with. She spends the next year dealing with the emotional fall-out, but she becomes out a better person for it.

And not necessarily just because of Willem. Yes, the romance is key in the story, but it’s more because for that one day, she was a different person, and she loved it. She’s been changed as a person, and it takes her a while to find herself again. I loved the parallels in this book of how passive she is at the beginning of the book to how much of a go-getter she is at the end.

Call it New Adult or older YA or whatever you like, but I really like this sub-genre of YA that deals with self-discovery of college-aged protagonists. This book reflected (in more extreme ways) the changes I went through in college and while studying abroad, and the challenges I faced through those changes.

A wonderful book of older self-discovery and change, and I am anxiously awaiting the next book, Just One Year, which will be told from Willem’s perspective. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

In Honor (Jessi Kirby)

Title: In Honor
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: 235
Rating: 4/5

Three days after she learns that her brother, Finn, died serving in Iraq, Honor receives a letter from him asking her to drive his car from Texas to California for a concert. And when his estranged best friend, Rusty, shows up suddenly and offers to accompany her, they set off on a road trip that reveals much about all three of them.

This book is the perfect road trip read. It’s poignant and fun and ultimately adorable. You will inhale it and wish there was more (and then maybe book your own road trip- that’s what I did!). I loved that this book wasn’t just about a boy and a girl, thrown together and voila: romantic tension. It was about Honor’s relationship with her brother, and Rusty’s relationship with Honor’s brother, and eventually, the relationship between all of them.

Honor, who skips college orientation to fulfill what she thinks is her brother’s dying wish, is just at the right age to really discover who she is, and this book is all about that discovery. Rusty is a bit of a disaster after falling out with his best friend, and then losing him, and he is the perfect foil to Honor, who think she has her life perfectly together. And don’t worry, there is plenty of swooning over Rusty to be done by the reader- who can resist a mess of a Texas gentleman?

The only reason this book didn’t make it all the way to five stars, is that there were a few clich├ęd things in the beginning of the book that made it hard to get into the story. The start of the road trip was a little too similar to the start of any Supernatural episode (car and soundtrack included). And I’m pretty sure Kyra Kelley (the girl whose concert they’re going to see) was just a stand-in for Taylor Swift. But maybe I’ve just spent too much time listening to Taylor Swift. Let me know if you thought differently!

In the end, this book made me cry, and laugh, and feel along with Honor, and I would definitely recommend it.