Monday, August 30, 2010

Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson

Here's a bit about Border Crossing from Ms. Anderson's website:  Manz is sure of one thing—he lives on the wrong side of the tracks in dusty Rockhill, Texas. Life is tough for everyone—his hard-drinking mother, her truck-driving boyfriend, even his privileged friend Jed—but especially for Manz, the mixed-race son of migrant apple pickers. If he could only get out of town, his life would be better.

When the summer heat sets in, Manz and Jed take a job rebuilding fence for a cattle ranch outside town. There he meets Vanessa, who works in the ranch's kitchen. The two hit it off, but Manz isn't sure he can trust her. As the dog days drag on, Manz must negotiate an unwieldy terrain involving an unpredictable, alcoholic mother, a best friend whose father uses him as a punching bag, and a simmering, creeping delusion that "Operation Wetback"—which brutally relocated illegal aliens deep in Mexican territory following World War II—has been put back into effect. Manz's bright and questioning mind begins to give in to its own claustrophobic temptations as he finds guidance in the voices that have been growing louder and more insistent each day.
*Note: I won this book from Nerds Heart YA.  I want to thank them.  Stop by their site sometime.

My Take

To represent a young adult with mental illness in a book can be challenging.  To depict them beautifully and with any kind of honesty is even more difficult.  However, that is exactly what Ms. Anderson winds up doing.  She masterfully writes about the frightening descent into schizophrenia.  Soon enough we feel Manz's terrifying paranoia that everyone is out to get him.  His fear of being deported, despite his being a legal citizen is crippling him.  Manz's family does not discuss their problems.  His mother drowns the grief of the loss of Gabriel (Manz's half brother) in the whiskey bottles she hides.  Tom, Manz's stepfather covers his grief in constant jokes. 

Manz wants to help Jed, his best friend and Jed's sister Sally.  Their father is physically abusive to the entire family.  Sadly, he can't seem to ignore the voices long enough to see any avenues of assistance for them. 

This book was lovely, in a heartbreaking sort of way.  It was sad to see Manz deteriorate and fall under the spells his own mind was casting on him.  As a parent, you long to be the balm that soothes, to have the hand that heals.  Mental illness is a cruel monster indeed.  You loved one often looks whole and healthy, while inside the confines of their mind, they're waging a war for their very life.  Ms. Anderson depicts that desperation, the spiral that pulls you in deeper so well.  I appreciated this book for exactly what it was, an honest story, beautifully told.  Four big kisses for the honesty and integrity of this one!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dusk til Dawn *yawn* & Contemps Challenge Info

Okay, so I'm trying to keep the caffeine flowing to keep my eyes open.  No seriously, it's not that bad.  I was only up until midnight last night.  Not too shabby.

I received both Crescendo (Traveling ARC Tours) and Mockingjay in my mailbox yesterday.  I had to cast aside Extraordinary for the time being.  I managed to get almost halfway through Crescendo last night.  I went straight to Back to School night and I do believe the Lang Arts teacher was coveting my copy of Mockingjay. 

I passed the flyers for The Contemps Challenge to both him and the library.  Oh and he seemed genuinely excited to enter the challenge.  They're also talking about reading Hunger Games for one of their books this year.  I'm hoping so, as I've been unable to get my son to read it. 

Tonight and the rest of the weekend is devoted to finishing Crescendo, and Mockingjay.  I don't know that I'll make it beyond those two.  Wish me luck! :)

Oh, and this Dusk 'Til Dawn Challenge comes with maid service right?  Right?
Hmmm, I'm guessing not.  Darn it all. :o)  Here's to turning as many pages as possible.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beautiful Darkness

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is book #2 in the Caster Chronicles. Here’s a blurb from the website:  Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena’s family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

My Take

Let me start by saying, I did not read BEAUTIFUL CREATURES. However, I really enjoyed this book! It was easy to fall into Ethan’s love for Lena. You could feel his desperation at reaching her in time. I loved the fact that his mother was looking out for him, despite her passing. Amma was a terrific, feisty character. I even liked Lucille Ball.

I appreciated the detail and the weaving of the storyline. There was a lot of detail included in this book. My family is all from the south and I can appreciate much of the little nuances of the book. Little southern things referred to here and there, and certainly the art of being a gentleman. ;)

I liked the ending and was surprised by the one little twist that I didn’t see coming. No spoilers here. I don’t know that I appreciated the flat out set up for the next book though. It’s probably just the slight headache I have coming on right now. No worries. In the end, the main characters were dealt with fairly well, but some others were left unexplained to a certain degree. I know this too is probably set up for the next book, but it leaves me feeling a little ambivalent.

In the end, I enjoyed the story and the characters quite well. The setting was wonderful and made the reader feel absorbed into it. So to use a southern term, I am going to give this book 3 big sugars!

Note: This book is one I reviewed as part of the Traveling ARC tours.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lovely Blog Award

I want to thank Lisa Potts (great name btw), for giving me this award.  She has to be awesome since her name is Lisa, AND she uses her middle initial like me too.  However, beyond that she has a lovely blog that is chock full of awesomeness.  It has great writing advice, etc.  If you click on Lisa M. Potts, you'll be whisked away to her brilliant blog. 

I'm still trying to recover from back to school, which I can promise you has taken more of a toll on me than my teenager.  I've listed the rules for this fabulous award below and the names I've chosen to pass it on to.

Here's how it works:

1.Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2.Pay it forward to fifteen other blogs you have newly discovered.

3.Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.
Got YA
WORD for Teens
Oasis for YA
The Daily Harrell
YA Addict
Cry Havoc! Reviews
The Bibliophiles Journal
Adventures in Children's Publishing
Page Turner's Blog
Voracious YA Appetite
YA Books Reviewed
Wicked Awesome Books
YA Edge
/-La-Femme Readers-/
YA Urban

So go check out some of these fabulous blogs and spread the love.  :o)

Dusk Til Dawn Read-A-Thon

I decided that I would join the Dusk Til Dawn Read-A-Thon.  I spend alot of time reading anyway, and this sounded like fun.  You can find out more about it and signing up by clicking on the banner to the right.

I'm planning on trying to get through:

Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
April & Oliver by Tess Callahan

Like that will even be possible, considering I have to work too.  Sheesh, why couldn't I have been born independently wealthy.  I could spend my days reading and writing, and working if I choose to. ;o)  C'est la vie!  Check out the Read-A-Thon and join us.  It'll be a blast!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rise of the Fire Tamer by Kailin Gow

Here’s a brief summary from the Amazon page:  After winning a contest for a popular game called Wordwick Games, five teens Gemma, Sparks, Rio, Kat, and Jack, are invited to stay at Wordwick Games inventor Henry Word's mysterious castle and play the newest level of Workwick Games. Little do they know, the castle is the doorway to a wondrous world call Anachronia where words can be used as weapons, power, and commodity. There is unrest in Anachronia, and if the five teens can follow the rules of Wordwick Games and prove to be the best player, one of them will be crowned Ruler of Anachronia.

My Take

I love the premise of this book; the thought that words have power was very enthralling to me. The world building was wonderful and it was very easy to follow along through the story. I appreciated the fact that while the characters appeared to be stereotypical, they were in actuality far from it. No one wants to read about the jock or cheerleader in their same old roles.

I will say there were a few issues that bothered me. Number one, if a book is placing so much importance on words, it should be thoroughly edited. I did not see this book labeled as an ARC and was unsure if these errors have already gone through in print.

Number two, in the storyline these teens were supposedly chosen because they play an online version of the game quite well. However, we reach a point and one of the characters does not know any of the magic words on an extensive list. It’s never really addressed any further in the book. It’s a minor point, but had me wondering if he suffered from some learning disability to not know any of the words.

Lastly, (and this is a totally minor issue) when they reach a point to have the list of magic words available to them, why don’t they take it and have a couple soldiers carry it, if it’s large and heavy. It might have been of great assistance. Just a thought on my part.

Overall, I liked this story. I appreciated the fact that there were definitions for many of the words in back. I think that’s a wonderful asset. I thought the twist at the end was amazing, I did not see it coming. The editing issue drove me a little buggy, but all in all it was a decent read. I’m giving this one 2 ½ swaks!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Accept the Challenge

I love YA literature.  I mean, obviously, the name of my blog is YA Literature Lover, but I really do mean it.  Young Adult literature really moves me.  I think it's because I remember struggling to figure out who I was back then, to really be me, and trying hard to be the best version of myself that I could be.  Don't go thinking I actually got it right all the time either.  Not by a long shot!  But it's those failed attempts that teach us a lot about ourselves as well.

Needless to say, I love young adult books.  I'm sure you do too or you wouldn't be trolling my blog. :o)  For which I truly thank you too.  Go have a look at this website: The Contemps  They're a group of YA authors who are keeping it real.  They write contemporary YA literature.  Everyone likes a little fantasy now and then, but I find I'm drawn to contemporary literature too (and no, it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm writing a YA contemporary novel).  There is something about sitting down and reading a book about a character going through something you've been through, or maybe it's something similar.  At any rate, they are all something relatable.  I love that.  Through these books, we come together.

So cruise on over there and become a part of this challenge.  It will be fun and you'll get a chance to read some great books.  Heck, you might even win something. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Here's a link to Ms. Block's website and the brief info about the book is from Publishers Weekly: An offbeat heroine shares a Hollywood cottage with three equally quirky companions; in PW 's words, "Block's first book is related in a breezy, knowing voice; her strange and sparkling tribute to growing up in L.A. is a rare treat for those sophisticated enough to appreciate it."

My take:
I picked up this book at a library book sale.  I thought it sounded interesting and I had heard good things about it.  I even liked the size of this little book that I could manage to carry everywhere with me.  I will say that the characters are definitely quirky.  But ya' know, I really really liked them.  I read this in two days.  The characters are this funky hodge-podge of people who wind up together and grow to love one another.  Each character is distinctly different.  The imagery is amazing, little interesting jewels tucked in here and there.  There is some sex in the book.  Despite it's funkiness or because of it, I'm giving this one 3 1/2 big ol' kisses!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fire by Kristen Cashore

Here's a short bit about this from Ms. Cashore's blog: Fire, Graceling's stand-alone prequel-ish companion book, takes place across the mountains to the east of the seven kingdoms, in a rocky, war-torn land called the Dells.

Beautiful creatures called monsters live in the Dells. Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, fish. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored-- fuchsia, turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green-- and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans.

Seventeen-year-old Fire is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she is hated and mistrusted by just about everyone, and this book is her story.
My take:
I grabbed this book assuming it was the follow-up to Graceling.  Once I adjusted to the fact that it was a pre-quel to Graceling, it sailed along.  Fire is an amazing, strong character.  She sounds lovely.  I wish I could have red, orange, and fuschia in my hair without looking like I've lost my mind.  Archer was a good guy, a bit impulsive, but a good guy nonetheless.  I don't want to give anything away for those that haven't read it.  I'll just say I like Archer. 
Brigan was amazing.  Don't we all long for a guy like Brigan?  It was long, but a great read.  I enjoyed it and didn't have too tough a time keeping all the characters straight.  The world building in this book was truly amazing.  Very detailed and very well done.  I would recommend and say 14 and up, maybe even a touch younger.  Four big kisses for this!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dark Flame by Alyson Noel

Here’s a bite from Ms. Noel’s website: In this eagerly awaited continuation of the bestselling Immortals series, Ever struggles to help her best friend Haven transition into life as an immortal—trying to keep her from doing anything that puts them at risk, while attempting to gain control over her enemy Roman, so she can finally obtain the antidote that will allow her and Damen to be together. But when the spell she casts backfires, resulting in a strange, foreign pulse that binds her to Roman instead, Ever turns to Jude and dark magick, desperately attempting to break free of the curse, and ultimately risking everything she knows and loves—including her beloved Damen.

My take on things

I’ve been a big fan of the Immortal series in the past. However, I did not read Shadowland, the book just before this one in the series. I have to say that my favoritism is waning. I’m just not that into it anymore. Sorry Ms. Noel. It may have something to do with the constant gazing going on. If the characters looked at each other at all, they were gazing or averting their gaze or avoiding another’s gaze. It was like a gaze craze. At one point, it was there four times in the two pages I was reading.

I’m also getting a little worn on Ever not feeling that she’s deserving of Damen’s love. I mean at some point, get a little self worth. If you don’t see yourself worthy of this guy, then he might start seeing you in that same light. I know this is fiction, but young women today have enough self esteem issues without fictional characters validating those feelings; it is okay to start out that way, but character growth is important too. I don’t particularly like Haven (Ever’s best friend) anymore either. She’s a brat, plain and simple.

I will say that I did like the overall message of you as an individual being in control of what you give power to in your life. If you concentrate on something negative, even if it’s eradicating it from your life, you are still concentrating on it and drawing its negative energy to you. The message is to live the best life you know how, to surround yourself with positive energy and a feeling of acceptance in your life. By concentrating on the positive, you draw more positive energy into you and thusly improve your life as a whole. Like I said, I’m all down with that message. Not that I’m great at putting it into practice, but I do try. I just think that positive message is cloaked in some negative self talk by the main character.

So, I would love to say that I’ll read the next in what now seems like a never-ending series. But, sadly I think my romance with the Immortal series has taken a final punch to my heart chakra. I will give this 2 ½ swaks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George

Here's a quick blurb from Ms. George's website: The exciting sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball

Hoping to escape the troubles in her kingdom, Princess Poppy reluctantly agrees to take part in a royal exchange program, whereby young princes and princesses travel to each other's countries in the name of better political alliances—and potential marriages. It's got the makings of a fairy tale—until a hapless servant named Ellen is tricked by a vengeful fairy godmother into competing with Poppy for the eligible prince. Ballgowns, cinders, and enchanted glass slippers fly in this romantic and action-packed happily-ever-after quest from an author with a flair for embroidering tales in her own delightful way.

I'm going to have to go back and read Princess of the Midnight Ball now.  Ms. George is very adept at engulfing the reader in the story.  You feel as though you are a part of the time period in which the story takes place.  Princess Poppy is a delightful character who encompasses qualities at either ends of the spectrum.  She's tough, she swears, and is quite the little cardshark.  However, she is ladylike, loves to knit, and appreciates fine gowns.  The story of the Corley was left a mystery until towards the end.  I enjoyed the 'fairy tale' aspect of this book.  I have this unusual appreciation and even affection for colored glass.  So I found the story of The Corley very interesting as well.  I would say it would be great for 12 and up.  The cover is cool, but would have liked to have seen one of the dresses described or Prince Christian as well.  Overall, really loved the characters, the pace, and the plot.  I would definitely recommend. I give this one 3 1/2 big ol' swaks!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Here's a quick bit from the book's Amazon page: Grounded, logical Mia is trying to cope with a summer that hasn't been what she expected. Her vacation in New York's tony Hamptons with her extended family was supposed to be about spending time with her firecracker cousin Corinne and her sympathetic aunt as relief from her mother's criticism and her parents' fights about money and status. But quickly the bubble bursts: her aunt is tense and preoccupied while jaded Corinne is more interested in drinking and her cool friends. Adrift, Mia can't help wanting to be part of Corinne's circle, even though she doesn't like these girls. Struggling to remain true to herself, she strikes up a friendship with Simon, the boy next door. Through late-night walks on the beach, the teens become more than friends. A skinny dip after a storm brutally ends Mia's summer—but not the growth she's achieved.

The images painted in the pages of this book leave you breathless.  I will say that I was cruisin' along through this book, hoping that Mia would find her own path.  That she would not be so susceptable to the acceptance of her cousins and their crew.  I was glad to see that happening and was loving her development as a character.  She was falling in love with Simon, things looked so grand.  Then BLAM!  I'm not going to tell you the ending, but it really wracked me.  It's tough to have something fraught with tragedy, yet have it remain beautiful and tender.  I think Ms. Howells succeeds in this. 

My favorite lines (because I can't pick just one) are: "I tried not to stare nor feel envious of their sun-kissed bodies, but when you see people like my cousins, no matter what your body type, you end up feeling squashy as a marshmallow and covered with hair, even if you've just gotten a bikini and leg wax."  This one for the image alone. "Corinne and Beth lay like tiny dolls way off on the dunes, but I averted my eyes and picked up my pace."  And this one for it's sheer honesty. "There's no complete truth.  There's only the way you see it, the way you remember it."

I definitely recommend this book.  There is some drinking and drug use in it.  I would say 14 and up is prime age for this book.  Maybe even a touch younger.  Have you read this?  How did you feel about it?  I give it 4 smooches!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Heart for Books and Kids

I bet each of us has memories surrounding books.  When we first discovered our love of reading or first found a book that we became completely absorbed in and were sad to see end.  I remember going to the Bookmobile when I was young; getting a gigantic pile of books. I was in heaven! Lovingly reading each one.  I remember books had a special smell and a magic all their own.

Most of us are book lovers.  To this day, I love going to my local library. Finding that one book that you could read over and over.  Having a book to call your own was exciting when I was younger.  If I allowed myself, I could spend a small fortune on books now. 

But not all kids have the ability to get to the library or own books. Imagine being a child plucked from the only home you've known and put into foster care. It's strange and I'm sure frightening. Many of these children have very few possessions with them when they're put into the social service whirlwind.

I'm involved in a group that has a mission to provide books to children in foster care. Please go look at our website A Heart for Books & Kids  It's so easy to make a difference in a child's life.  It doesn't have to be a huge number of books. Please consider becoming involved.  We have information on the site to make it easy to join in.  If you can't help out, I'm sure you know someone who can.  Please forward the link to them. 

In promoting literacy in children, we change all of our futures.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Adios Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Here’s the jacket blurb I took from the Amazon page for ADIOS, NIRVANA:

When you piss off a bridge into a snowstorm, it feels like you’re connecting with eternal things. Paying homage to something or someone. But who? The Druids? Walt Whitman? No, I pay homage to one person only, my brother, my twin.
In life. In death.

Since the death of his brother, Jonathan’s been losing his grip on reality. Last year’s Best Young Poet and gifted guitarist is now Taft High School’s resident tortured artist, when he bothers to show up. He's on track to repeat eleventh grade, but his English teacher, his principal, and his crew of Thicks (who refuse to be seniors without him) won’t sit back and let him fail.

I will be buying a copy of this book for my son. I loved it! Jonathan has lost his brother, his twin brother. Since that time he has reached a level of inertia. He barely makes it in to school, can bring himself to care about rectifying the situation, until he’s not given a choice. He has his Thicks, his best buddies, and they refuse to let him give up on making it through his junior year. They’re a great group of guys who care deeply for one another and support one another in their journey through life.

Jonathan begins writing the memoirs of David Cosgrove, a former Navy officer, who’s now in a hospice. As Jonathan meets with David, life begins moving forward again. He learns that others have suffered great loss in their lives too. And while it may not lessen the pain, it might ease the burden of carrying it if you share your story.

This book was chock full of wonderful little brillant quips, bits that were very profound and moving. I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to select as my favorite portion. However, the one I selected will undoubtedly stay with me forever. “To live is to swim toward the shimmer. To die is to never try.” That is a life lesson we take with us. If we are lucky, we learn it early on, if not well…regret usually follows. I would recommend this for ages 13 and up, especially for guys. Girls will love it too though (I think). I deeply <3 this book! Four big smooches for this one!

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