Monday, June 1, 2009

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Publish Date: June 16, 2009
Pages: 384
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Group

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

Just like Lock and Key, Along for the Ride went above and beyond the high standards I set for it. Sarah Dessen has yet again outdone herself.

Along for the Ride is only the second Dessen novel I have read and so I was surprised by the connections between L&K and AFTR. Both novels used the same schools, locations and even jewelry. The strings that held the two books together were perfect, not too much but just enough to make you think back.

One of my favorite parts of Dessen's writing is her structure. Just the other novel of hers I have read AFTR started off explaining background information about the main character. Then they were introduced to a new situation where they slowly come out of their shell with the help of a cute boy. And best of all, there is the happy ending! Okay, so that might sound corny, but Dessen uses this structure perfectly.

Firstly, I love Auden's name. It is unique but somehow familiar. I also think that it reflects her personality. Its sounds formal and studious, but also has this soft ring to it.

I think I am officially crushing on Eli. His character is so unique. Like many male characters he is beautiful and will only talk to the main female character. However he has a depth that makes him so much more than just eye candy. Although the book is centered around Auden, I felt as though Eli's character was just as developed as hers.

The complexity of relationships in this novel surprised me. There was so much conflict between Auden and every character in every second of the novel, yet there was never any confusion. With everything that was going on I always knew exactly what was happening.

I have absolutely nothing negative to say about AFTR. If I am forced to say something negative, it would be that it wasn't long enough. I never wanted it to end.

AFTR is beautifully written and highly anticipated for good reason.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Susane Colasanti Waiting for You Blog Tour Stop #1 + Book Review

Hey, friends and neighbors! I'm stoked to share my list of the Top Ten High School Myths with you. These are things that I wish someone would have told me back then. Hopefully, they will help make this time in your life a bit less horrific. Hang in - your real life will start soon.

Each day of my blog tour, I'll be presenting one lie that everyone says is true about high school but it totally false. Today we begin with Myth #1: This is the best time of your life. That one always made me laugh so hard. Enjoy!

-Susane Colasanti, author of Waiting For You

Myth #1. This is the best time of your life.

Uh, no it’s not. It’s the worst time of your life. I never get it when grownups say how being a teen was so fabulous. Either they were super popular jock types back in the day (in which case, that’s great and all, but most of us cannot relate) or they just forget what high school is really like. It’s amazing how much pain time erases.

Here’s the good news. The more pain you endure now, the stronger you will become later. This strength will help you be the best version of yourself. Things will get better after this. When I was a teacher, my students would always ask me why I was so happy all the time. They wanted to know how I could be so perky at 8:00 on a Monday morning. I was so annoying that I actually had a whole TGIM thing going on, all how you should live for every day, not just Fridays. Here’s the secret to my grownup happiness: high school was the worst time of my life. Even when things are bad, life is so much better now. That’s something you can look forward to. So hold on. And never give up.

And now I have something I am super excited about! An interview with Susane!! :D

1. Being a high school senior in the final stretch toward graduation, I keep finding myself daydreaming about the past four years, both the good and the bad. What is your favorite high school memory?

I was pretty much living for graduation day the whole time. Not only because I was so anxious for my real life to begin, but because I really wanted to move away from home. So I guess it makes sense that my memories of graduation day are the sharpest of them all. Walking across the stage, picking up my diploma, and then walking down the steps…I just felt this overwhelming sense of relief. That was a good day.

Senior year was a nostalgic time for me in a way, too. Knowing I was so close to the end made me more forgiving. Things that were such a big deal up to that time, like fights with my friends, suddenly felt like nothing. I remembered the fun things my friends and I did over the years. Like how we would perform sock puppet shows or tape our own music videos. Now that I think about it, we were a very creative group.

2. On your website you mentioned that the people who say high school is the best four years of your life obviously forgot what being a teenager is really like. It is good to know I'm not the only person who thinks that! What was the hardest part of high school for you?

Oh, you know. Everything. I didn’t have anywhere near the kind of money the kids I went to high school had, so fitting in was entirely out of the question. I had low self-esteem back then. I was embarrassed that I’d be sitting there in a Kmart tee while everyone else had whatever was in at the time (Esprit sweaters with weird shapes on them are all I can remember). Ironically, now I rock my $6.99 Forever 21 tees like they’re never going out of style. I pride myself on being a frugal shopper. But back then, all I wanted was to have the same things everyone else had. Kids are especially cruel when they think you’re inferior. I hate that I let them make me feel that way.

3. I read that your solution to high school drama was reading. Do your characters reflect any similar characteristics to the characters you lost yourself in during high school?

What an interesting question! Well, my favorite book in junior high and then into high school was The Outsiders. I love how Ponyboy Curtis is so sensitive, like how he notices sunsets and colors and stuff. Hopefully, my main boy characters share some traits with Ponyboy. I always try to create an ideal boy for each of my books, and I definitely felt like Ponyboy was ideal.

Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti
Publish Date: May 14
, 2009
Pages: 336
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Group

At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road—including her parents' unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek—test Marisa's ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school's ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is—or does she?

Waiting for You was amazing! I was hooked from the very first page. Colasanti writes novels similar to those of Sarah Dessen that allow any reader to relate to the main character. Although Marissa has an anxiety disorder, I still felt like I found a part of myself in her.

During the beginning of the story I found myself hoping Marissa would eventually snag Derek, but once she did he completely changed. I think that any guy who says "hey sexy" first thing isn't the best choice in boyfriend. Maybe that is just the hopeless romantic inside of me hoping for the guy who says "hey beautiful" instead.

I was also fooled about who was Dirty Dirk. The whole time I thought it was easy, Dirk is a nickname for Derek, duh. However, it wasn't! Surprise! I loved everything Dirk's character stood for, he reminded me a lot of Miss Unpleasant from Paisley Hanover. I wish I had an anonymous person at my school podcasting about all of it's dirty secrets.

Waiting for You is a great novel for any teen. There are characters from every range on the spectrum, and the story moves quickly so there is never a good place to put the book down. I give Waiting for You a 5+/5.

Since I love Waiting for You so much, I'm giving you readers a copy! That's right, just comment below with your e-mail address to be entered in a contest! The giveaway will end on the last day of the tour, 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents (sorry foreigners!)

Also, don't forget to check out the first three chapters of Waiting for You

Make sure to check out the next stops on Susane Colasanti's tour where she unveils the next 9 high school myths!

Blog Tour Schedule

  1. Friday – 5/1

Taylor – For the Love of Books

  1. Monday – 5/4

Lenore – Presenting Lenore

  1. Tuesday – 5/5

Khy - The Frenetic Reader

  1. Wednesday – 5/6

Kristi – The Story Siren

  1. Thursday – 5/7

Carol – Bookluver-Carol

  1. Friday – 5/8

Kelsey – Reading Keeps You Sane

  1. Monday – 5/11

Lauren – Shooting Stars Magazine

  1. Tuesday – 5/12

Alea – Pop Culture Junkie

  1. Wednesday – 5/13

Laura – Laura’s Review Bookshelf

  1. Thursday – 5/14

Tirzah – The Compulsive Reader

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

Publish Date: February 2009
Pages: 192
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Random House
Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap.
Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the church pews. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she’s certain it’s the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to?
The girl on the cover of this book, I think it is supposed to be Iris, looks EXACTLY like this girl from my school. Every time I see the cover I have to do a double take because it is crazy how alike they are!
I honestly hadn't even read synopsis for Shadowed Summer before picking it up. I saw it at my local library, it had a cool cover, and I checked it out. On my drive down to Colorado I brought a bunch of books with me, and this was one of them. I was pleasantly surprised.
I loved the premise of this story. Ghost tales always intrigue me, and Shadowed Summer was no exception. The idea of Iris awaking Eli and solving his death sounds corny, but surprisingly I was intrigued.
There were several elements of this story I enjoyed. First, I love that the girls ran around playing make believe and magic, it reminds me of my childhood. Second, I loved that the girls were just playing around in the graveyard pretending when Iris accidentally awoke Eli. For some reason this just really excited me. I also loved how the story ended up relating back to her parents because at first I felt as though her father's character was under-developed. I also liked how they used the cliche crazy old religious lady in some way.
I felt as though the reason the story was so short was because it lacked character development. I never felt connected to any characters except Iris. I think the idea for Collette was great, but she was never explained in any depth. I wish the story could have been an extra twenty pages or so filled with more character development.
Overall Shadowed Summer was short and cute. If you need a quick read to fill a little bit of extra time, this novel is your best bet. 3/5

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday #12

Once Dead, Twice Shy by Kim Harrison
Madison Avery's junior prom killed her-literally. She doesn't know why a Dark Reaper came after her‚ but that didn't stop her from stealing his amulet‚ which she discovered allows her soul to continue living on in a temporary body. But now she's being babysat by a disgruntled Light Reaper who's supposed to be training her‚ while angels try to figure out what's supposed to happen to her next. But Madison can't stay out of trouble for long‚ so along with her prom date Josh (who is getting cuter by the minute) and her guardian angel Grace‚ Madison takes matters into her own hands-only to discover that she is fated to become one of the most powerful leaders in the realm of the dark and light reapers. Well‚ if she believed in that stuff.
Yay! A supernatural book with a HOT cover. Need I say more? I love suspenseful novels, and this seems to nail that right on the head. I have also heard amazing things about Kim Harrison, though I have never read anything by her. Once Dead, Twice Shy will be released May 26.
What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald

Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald

Publish Date: March 2009
Pages: 304
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher:Candlewick Press

Take an administrative snafu, a bad breakup, and what shall heretofore be known as "The Hot-Tub Incident," and you’ve got two unprepared sophomores on a semester abroad. For American party girl Tasha, an escape to Oxford may be a chance to ditch her fame as a tabloid temptress, but wading Uggs-deep in feminist theory is not her idea of a break. Meanwhile, the British half of the exchange, studious Emily, nurses an aching heart amid the bikinis and beer pong of U.C. Santa Barbara. Soon desperation has the girls texting each other tips — on fitting in, finding love, and figuring out who they really are. With an anthropologist’s eye for detail and a true ear for teen-speak, exciting new novelist Abby McDonald has crafted a funny, fast-paced, poignant look at survival, sisterhood, and the surprising ways we discover our true selves.

What a great book! Being that I am a high school senior, soon to be college freshman I love reading books set in college. Sophomore Switch was an addicting story about two college sophomores finding themselves in the least expected place possible.

Throughout the story both Natasha and Emily are struggling at living outside of their comfort zone. Natasha is a party girl from California and Emily an over achiever from Oxford. Both girls have trouble breaking out of their stereo types and truly figuring out who they are.

My favorite part of this story was how realistic it was. I can picture Natasha struggling, yet succeeding, in Oxford. I can also picture Emily finally walking around in a bikini with a fake ID and loving it. McDonald didn't rush either of the girls down their path or over explain anything.

I also thought the Sebastian thing was funny. I can't believe he was Natasha's 'busy' next door neighbor!!!

Another element I loved about this book was how each chapter switched between girls. In each girl's chapter they would go through similar changes, but in two completely different places. It's amazing how similar their stories are, yet so completely different. The only time this chapter idea became slightly confusing was when the girls met up in Florida. I kept having to check who's chapter I was reading.

If you haven't picked up Sophomore Switch, do it. The story is addicting and fun, the perfect summer read! 5/5

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Contest Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered my contest for Take My There by Susane Colasanti!

According to RANDOM.ORG, the winner is


Congratulations Katie!!

Be sure to keep checking back for new contests!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Guess What!!!

I got a four-year full-ride scholarship to the University of Oregon!!! I'm so excited I just thought I would share!

Do any of you guys go to college? If so, where?