Thursday, March 26, 2015

ARC Review: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Solitaire
Author: Alice Oseman
Publication: HarperTeen (March 31, 2015)

Description: In Solitaire, Alice Oseman has brought to life a vivid, clever, and heartfelt portrayal of what it's like to be a teenager today. This stunning debut novel—which the Times (London) called "The Catcher in the Rye for the digital age"—is perfect for fans of Melina Marchetta, Stephen Chbosky, and Rainbow Rowell.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year—before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of exams and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people—I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that's all over now.

Now there's Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don't know what Solitaire is trying to do, and I don't care about Michael Holden. I really don't.

My Thoughts: This was a very hard book for me to read. I didn't like the main character at all. Tori Spring tells the story and it would be hard to find a more pessimistic, self-absorbed character in fiction. She doesn't care about anything and all the people around her are just wallpaper for her boring, depressing life.

We learn that her younger brother Charlie has gone through some mental health issues. He went from being obsessive to being anorexic to hurting himself. He is out of the hospital now but the family still has to force him to eat. I think Tori's parents are so concerned with Charlie's problems that they don't have the energy to notice that Tori is falling into a deep depression.

Things get even more difficult for Tori when two boys enter her life. Lucas was her best friend when they were in primary school but she hadn't seen him for years until he transferred to her school. Michael Holden is also a new transfer to her school who wants to be her friend. He is another awkward, socially maladjusted teen.

Then there is the new blog Solitaire which intrigues people. Solitaire instigates a series of pranks at Tori's school that all seem connected to her in some way. The pranks escalate from the annoying to the dangerous. But it isn't until someone gets hurt that Tori decides that she is going to find out who is behind Solitaire and stop them. She finally gets out of her own head a little bit.

Reading this one was hard but I was encouraged at the changes Tori managed to make through the course of the book.

Favorite Quote:
There is a line that you cross when making relationships with people. Crossing this line occurs when you transfer from knowing someone to knowing about someone, and Michael and I cross that line at Becky's seventeenth birthday party.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WoW: The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

I'm waiting for The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver. Here is the description of this April 28 release:
A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters."

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When--after a heated argument--Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception or live her sister's life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
I hate the phone. It's the worst invention in the history of the world, because if you don't talk, nothing happens. You can't get by with simply listening and nodding your head in all the right places. You have to talk. You have no option. It tales away my freedom of nonspeech. 
My teaser this week comes from Solitaire by Amy Oseman. Here is the description from Amazon:
In Solitaire, Alice Oseman has brought to life a vivid, clever, and heartfelt portrayal of what it's like to be a teenager today. This stunning debut novel—which the Times (London) called "The Catcher in the Rye for the digital age"—is perfect for fans of Melina Marchetta, Stephen Chbosky, and Rainbow Rowell.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year—before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of exams and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people—I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that's all over now.

Now there's Solitaire. And Michael Holden. I don't know what Solitaire is trying to do, and I don't care about Michael Holden. I really don't.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (March 22, 2015)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

Just one new addition this week...

For my Review Stack...
  Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne. This sequel to Midnight Thief will be released on August 4.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

ARC Review: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Liars, Inc.
Author: Paula Stokes
Publication: HarperTeen (March 24, 2015)

Description: A dark and twisted psychological tale that will keep readers guessing, perfect for fans of I Hunt Killers and Gone Girl

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money. So with the help of his friend Preston and his girlfriend, Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something, and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn't think twice about it. But then Preston never comes home. And the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead to Preston's body.

Terrifying clues that point to Max as the killer….

My Thoughts: Now, I haven't read I HUNT KILLERS or GONE GIRL, both of which this book has been compared to, but I do know something about them. So I was expecting twists and potentially unreliable narrators and spent a lot of time analyzing everything that was happening as I read. I came to like the main character and narrator Max Cantrell so much that I really, really hoped that he was telling the story straight.

So, here's the story. Max was adopted by Darla and Ben Cantrell as a nine-year-old after his parents died and he spent some time living alone on the beach. He was almost mute, had PTSD, and didn't know how to love or trust. Nine years of love and support by Ben and Darla have helped but he is still reluctant to trust and to talk about love.

Max has, however, found two good friends. Preston DeWitt is the son of a senator and the high school golden boy with a checkered past. He was expelled from a private school and met Max when he began taking the surfing lessons Max was teaching. They hit it off but don't talk about the past. Parvati Ames was Preston's pal at the private school and was expelled along with him. She wants to work for the CIA when she finishes school. She and Max are dating - secretly - because her soldier father doesn't think Max it right for her.

The three of them come up with a way to liven up their senior year. The start a business called Liars, Inc. which supplies alibis and other services, like forging signatures on permission slips and fake parental calls about absences, So, when Preston needs an alibi to take a quick trip to Las Vegas to meet a girl, Max doesn't think twice about providing one. Then Preston disappears....

Things quickly spiral out of control for Max when he is interviewed by the FBI. Things get even worse when he and Parvati find Preston's phone in the trunk of Max's car and what looks like blood spots. This section of the story was so tense that I had to keep putting the book down for breaks. Things reach the peak of tension when police find Preston's body in a burned building and arrest Max for murder.

But things aren't quite what they seem. I really enjoyed this story. It had a great main character and the tension that was built couldn't have been higher. I liked the resolution and Max's new realizations too. Fans of mysteries will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
"No way. She paid you?" Parvati's eyes widened. "Who knew lying could be so lucrative?"

"Lawyers," Preston said.

Parvati smirked. Her mom was a defense attorney. "And politicians," she shot back. Preston's dad was a U.S. senator.
I got this ARC from the author via Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Memes: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

This week I am spotlighting Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes. I was approached by the author to review this one. Here is the description from Amazon for this March 24 release:
A dark and twisted psychological tale that will keep readers guessing, perfect for fans of I Hunt Killers and Gone Girl.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money. So with the help of his friend Preston and his girlfriend, Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something, and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn't think twice about it. But then Preston never comes home. And the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead to Preston's body.

Terrifying clues that point to Max as the killer….
Beginning:
I don't make to-do lists, but if I did, today's would have gone something like this: 1. get drunk, 2. get laid, 3. go surfing (not necessarily in that order). Noticeably absent from the list: get arrested.
Friday 56:
"You are weird in the best possible way." I kissed the top of her forehead. "And I think it's cool that you don't like all that boring girly stuff."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

ARC Review: Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Blackbird Fly
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Publication: Greenwillow Books (March 24, 2015)

Description: Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That's no choice at all. Apple Yengko moved from the Philippines to Louisiana when she was little, and now that she is in middle school, she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams.

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. Her mother still cooks Filipino foods, speaks a mix of English and Cebuano, and chastises Apple for becoming "too American." It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple's class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple's friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple's conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.

My Thoughts: This is the story of middle schooler Apple Yengko. She and her mother emigrated from the Philippines after her father's death when Apple was four. She is the only Filipino in her Southern Louisiana middle school. And middle school is one of her main problems.

Middle school can often be a time of casual cruelty when every kid wants to be just like all the other kids and every kid is sure that everyone is watching them all the time. It can be especially cruel if a kid is outside of the norm in some way. Apple's best friend Alyssa has bought into the myth and is determined to have a boyfriend and be one of the popular crowd. When Apple finds herself on the Dog List - the list of the ugliest girls in school - Alyssa dumps her in a very cruel manner.

Apple wants to be a musician. She is a huge fan of the Beatles and wants to play the guitar like George Harrison. However, her mother refuses to get her a guitar and wants her to concentrate on her schoolwork and getting a good education. Americanized Apple is sometimes embarrassed by her mother who still speaks with an accent, still cooks Filipino foods, and still spouts her Filipino values. 

Apple's attitude starts to change when she meets a new boy in school from California named Evan Temple. Evan isn't swept up in the middle grade desire to be life everyone else. He accepts her just like she is and doesn't want her to change. Well, except maybe, to stop letting the crowd influence her. Apple also gets a chance to get to know another girl on the Dog List. Helena has been hiding the fact that she has an amazing voice.

I felt all of Apple's pain as she tried to make a place for herself in her middle school. I also felt a lot of happiness when I saw her deciding to stop letting the crowd set her value.

Middle graders - misfits or not - will see a lot they recognize in Apple's story.

Favorite Quote:
"My name is Analyn Yengko," said the girl in the mirror.

I pulled up my hair into a ponytail like Gretchen's.

Analyn Yengko: popular and funny. Analyn Yengko: the prettiest girl in school. Analyn Yengko: lots of friends and boyfriends. Analyn Yengko: does not eat dogs for dinner.

"Good-bye, Apple," I said. "Hello, Analyn."

But what was the point of a new name when everyone knows who you really are?

I was Apple Yengko: none of the above. And everyone knew it, including me.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.