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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Letter to 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

By Becca @ Pivot Book Reviews

First off, I want to send Andye a HUGE thank you for having me here on Reading Teen! Second, I'm going to be reviewing 100 Sideways Miles a little different than normal. I'll be writing a letter to the book, saying what I did/didn't like, similar to how I normally review on my own blog!  Be sure to check out more of my review letters at Pivot Book Reviews!


Dear 100 Sideways Miles, 

You and I weren't a good fit. It's as simple as that. You had all the ingredients to make me like you...a fantastic, eye-catching cover, a unique premise, and you promised me parts of Oklahoma. If anything, I really wanted to see my state in your pages, because not a lot of books are set in Oklahoma. At least, not many that I've found. 

100 Sideways Miles, your storyline follows Finn Easton, a boy who counts minutes by the amount of miles instead of actual minutes/hours (which seemed to get redundant the more it happened), because it's the only way he knows to reassure himself that he is, in fact, a real boy and not the Pinocchio of his father's best-selling book, which also features an MC named Finn, who is epileptic, has heterochromatic eyes, oh, and this weird scar on his back. Except the Finn in his Dad's book just happens to be an alien. 

Finn has two friends, the insufferable, perverted Cade and the new girl, Julia. In my opinion, 100 Sideways Miles, there wasn't much of a point to you. Maybe you were too deep for me. Maybe it was the fact that Finn basically fell in love with Julia on the spot. Maybe it was all the cussing and disgusting boy things that I never in my life wanted to know about. I'm not really sure. Maybe it was a combination of all of those things. I just didn't get you. We didn't mesh. It just felt like a bunch of random things were thrown together onto your pages. By the time, you started interesting me, you were nearly over!

Although, you did have some funny parts, particularly how Cade constantly looked for ways to sing Ohhh-K-L-A-H-O-M-A. I'll admit, I snickered each time he did it. But then he would go and talk about getting a 'boner' every few paragraphs. *rolls eyes*

 You were my first Andrew Smith read, but I just don't understand what all the hype is about you, and that's fine, because not every book works for everyone. You were a "MEH" book for me, but you might be a "WOW" to someone else. Regardless, maybe I would have liked you a bit better if you were more like the book Finn's dad wrote. More aliens, please! Less drinking, cussing, and icky boy-related grossness! Please, excuse me while I go wash my brain of the cooties!
Still Meh-ing about you,

Becca @ Pivot Book Reviews !


100 SIDEWAYS MILES
by Andrew Smith
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (September 2, 2014)
Language: English

goodreads | amazon
Destiny takes a detour in this heartbreakingly hilarious novel from the acclaimed author of Winger, which Kirkus Reviews called “smart” and “wickedly funny.”

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Monday, September 1, 2014

FAKING NORMAL by Courtney C. Stevens

"Review My Books" Review by Toni

FAKING NORMAL
by Courtney C. Stevens
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 25, 2014)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

An edgy, realistic debut novel praised by the New York Times bestselling author of Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys, as "a beautiful reminder that amid our broken pieces we can truly find ourselves."

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer by her backyard pool. Instead, she hides in her closet, counts the slats in the air vent, and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox—"the Kool-Aid Kid"—moves in with the Littrells after a family tragedy, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in this quiet, awkward boy who has secrets of his own. As their friendship grows, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her summon the courage to find her voice and speak up.
I expected to like this book. I expected this book to be a tough read. Considering the subject matter, I wanted it to be tough. I needed  it to be tough. And I knew in the first few pages, toughness, was one thing it promised to deliver.
So I expected to like this book.
But I didn’t expect to LOVE it nearly as much as I do because I didn’t realize just how many times I’ve faked normal. Or how important it is to be brave, even when everything seems on the verge of ruin. Or how many secrets I’ve kept that I should have told. Seriously, this book punched me. Right. Where. It. Counts.
Early on I knew I was in trouble. Alexi has a secret and she keeps it so well, if you blinked you might have missed it. She’s living in a nightmare but portrays a fairy tale. She’s gotten so good at telling lies that everyone in her life missed what’s going on. Her parents. Her sister. Even her friends. (Or so she thinks.) But one person sees through her facade because he lives in one too.
Bodee. Oh Bodee. Seriously, everyone’s life would be better with Bodee in it. He’s broken. Knows he’s broken. But not once does he use it as an excuse for anything, not for his words, or his silence. Not for his actions or lack thereof. Not to use it to hurt other people or gain sympathy. And honestly, he has some pretty good reasons for being broken. But he takes things slow, analyzes every word Alexi says and the hidden phrases she isn’t brave enough to utter. As Alexi describes, “He’s the guy who can walk straight through the House of Mirrors on the first try. It’s almost annoying. No one should ride tragedy like a pro surfer while I drown.” That was the sentence that pretty much summed up Bodee for me. On the first try, I might add.
Parts of this story were predictable, sort of. I knew Alexi’s secret before reading and honestly it didn’t hurt the story at all. In fact, if you’re not aware that Alexi was raped, the story may not be a good fit because triggers are laced within every page, every awkward silence and few fits of rage. But I thought I had figured a few things out only to be wrong, in an Omy-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming way. And there are parts of this story that I can’t tell you about without giving a huge chunk of the story away and I won’t ruin it for anyone. But… Captain Lyric. Also, I gave my heart to page 147, will never look at thumb prints the same. And then HIM.
Never saw that final twist even though the author takes the reader effortlessly on a downward spiral. Ultimately, the spiral is important. This book is important. More so than I anticipated. Because I relate to Alexi. Because I understand her reasons and her justifications far too well. Because anyone could be faking normal. And we aren’t brave enough to see it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

RUMBLE by Ellen Hopkins {Review}

"Review my Books" Review by Kaitlin

RUMBLE
by Ellen Hopkins
Hardcover: 560 pages
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 26, 2014)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

Can an atheist be saved? The New York Times bestselling author of Crank and Tricks explores the highly charged landscapes of faith and forgiveness with brilliant sensitivity and emotional resonance.

“There is no God, no benevolent ruler of the earth, no omnipotent grand poobah of countless universes. Because if there was...my little brother would still be fishing or playing basketball instead of fertilizing cemetery vegetation.”

Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything.

Not in family—his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide. Not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough. Not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen. And certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.

No matter what his girlfriend Hayden says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.

Source: I received an ARC from Andye @ Reading Teen in exchange for an honest review.

I'm a big Ellen Hopkins fan. I just love her writing and her stories. I love how she tackles such difficult topics and doesn't hold back the ugly parts. I love how her books suck me into them and make me feel what the characters are feeling and understand what they're going through. She is an amazing author! Going into Rumble, I was expecting amazing . . . and that's exactly what I got.

How much did I love this book? Well, it made me literally jump up and down in my seat a couple times because it was so GOOD. A couple pages made me teary eyed. Some parts made me smile. Other parts made me incredibly angry at certain characters that were just so UGH. The majority of the book made me think. It made me view the task of writing this review as a tough thing because how the heck am I going to explain how amazing this book and why I just want everyone read it right now. And right now, the book is making me think that it's possibly my favorite out of all the ones I've read by Hopkins.

Okay, to the specific stuff now. First, the writing. It was lyrical. It was raw at times, beautiful at others--sometimes it was even both. There were actually some parts in prose, like an essay and a letter, and I absolutely loved how those were written. The content wasn't as mature and explicit as in anything I've read by Hopkins, but it dealt with topics just as serious. The characters' lives were less dark and tumultuous, but Matthew sure went through a tough time in his story. There was really good character growth and development. They had layers and that made me see both the good and the bad parts in each one of them (even the ones I wanted to hate completely). The story was very interesting and kept me invested in it from cover to cover. I was able to truly connect to Matthew and feel what he was feeling. Resentment, deep sadness, anger, happiness, frustration--I felt his emotions. The setting was awesome for me because I have a thing for books set in Oregon. There were so many things in this book that made me love it! I know I'm leaving out a few things, but the bottom line is that Rumble was executed very well.

My favorite thing about this entire book--the thing that makes truly love it--was its focuses/themes and the way they were dealt with. Faith and forgiveness the core focuses, but there was also spirituality/religion, love, homosexuality, sex, independence, speaking up/out, censorship, guilt, suicide, depression, and communication. There was so much packed into this book and that was the part that made me jump up and down in my seat while reading. There were so many things to spark discussions and so many things to think about. It was like brain candy! I had so many thoughts running through my head as I was reading and I always love it when that happens.

Another thing that I loved and absolutely need to mention is The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I haven't read it, but since it had a role in Rumble, I think both books that similar themes. This was where speaking up/out and censorship gained focuses (the former larger than the latter) because one of the big events concerned the content in Perks (mainly dealing with sex and homosexuality) and characters' views on it. That part of the story in Rumble was my favorite. I had already thought Matthew was a good guy (despite many of his actions), but at that point I was convinced that he truly had good morals.

Two more things. One: the ending felt rushed. Things were resolved too quickly and too easily for me. It didn't leave as huge of an impact on me as I wanted it to. However, that wasn't enough to bring down my rating. Two: although there was a lot of religion in it, the book didn't feel preachy.

Overall, Rumble is one that I highly recommend reading. I think a lot of people will love this one as much as I did. Admittedly, the book is not for everyone, but I still recommend everyone to give it a try because the focuses, the themes, and the story are all very important ones.

I believe I've covered everything, so I'll just leave this review by saying this: read Rumble!


Thursday, August 28, 2014

ANATOMY OF A MISFIT by Andrea Portes

"Review my Books" Review by Natalie

ANATOMY OF A MISFIT
by Andrea Portes
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (September 2, 2014)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon
In this Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower tale, narrator Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl at Pound High School. But inside, she knows she's a freak; she can't stop thinking about former loner Logan McDonough, who showed up on the first day of tenth grade hotter, bolder, and more mysterious than ever. Logan is fascinating, troubled and off-limits. The Pound High queen bee will make Anika's life hell if she's seen with him. So Anika must choose—ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever? An absolutely original new voice in YA in a story that will start important conversations—and tear at your heart.

*First I would like to thank Andye from http://www.readingteen.net/ for letting me review her books!*

I finished this book a couple days ago and I have yet to figure out what the plot of this book was. So I'm gonna go ahead and say that it is safe to assume there was none. Nada. Zip.


description

You have your main character Anika (which is pronounced Ann-ika, just like it's spelled. I thought for the longest time it was pronounced Uh-kneeka....don't judge), who is the third most popular girl at Pound High. The first most popular is Becky, Anika's not so friend. Anika has to go with whatever Becky does which pissed me off so much, Anika had no backbone. Becky was terrible, terrible. She started a rumor this one girl was pregnant when she wasn't and she taunted her in front of everyone, but did Anika stand up? Nope. She stood there and let it happen. Albeit, later she tried to right it, but there are other instances of Anika's lack of moral sense of right and wrong. So if it wasn't clear, I did not like Anika. She was a bad cup of tea. And that's serious.

I was not a fan of this story's writing. Granted, there were a couple times when I laughed out loud, but it was the dialogue (my favorite part, so yeah, I'm gonna be picky) I had the most problems with. I felt like all of the characters had the same way of speaking. There was no way to differentiate the characters based on their speaking habits, everyone said the same stuff. And like. Ugh. There was like not a moment like when like they didn't say like like every other word like how annoyed are you at this sentence like imagine like a whole book like that.

The romance aspect. Was there any, really? I mean, yes, there was, but there was nothing to build it up and we didn't actually get to read moments in which the characters were really together and learn about their relationship. And I like me some romance in my books, all that teenage angst and tension, I'm a fan. This did not deliver in that department. (Gosh I feel terrible, I don't mean to rip on this book so badly)

Then came the ending that you could totally foresee, but left you questioning how the book built up to that. Where did that come from? I'd tell you, but I don't know.

description

All in all, Anatomy of a Misfit was a really quick and easy read, but not a wholly enjoyable one at that.

Happy Reading!!!.....something else?
Natalie

Content:
  • Violence: Some hitting with an oar (questionable, I know) and some abuse 
  • Profanity: Freely talked about sex and some kissing, but none that we really get to witness 
  • Language: Lots of swearing, F bombs included

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

8 Reasons I WON'T Visit Your Blog

I recently did a post called 8 Reasons I Visit Your Blog, so I thought I'd do a little opposing post to talk about the things that make me not want to visit your blog (or not return once I have visited).  These are my own personal reasons, and may not reflect the masses.  Thanks to Meg Ryan for helping me illustrate.

1. Automated music or sound effects. I seriously hate this. Most of the time, I won't realize my volume is turned way up, and I open a blog and *BAM* I'm blasted with some random music or other noise, and I basically pee my pants and click on five hundred things in my frantic attempt to close the window. If you have this, I will not be returning (sorry)!


CRINGE!



2. You're a jerk. Listen, I'm all about the snark. One of my favorite book blogs is Cuddlebuggery.com, and Steph, Kat & Meg have perfected the snarkasm. I'm talking about just flat out being a tool. If you spend your time looking for reasons to jump down anyone and everyone's throat, or you're just waiting on people to screw up or say the wrong thing, I just don't even have time for that. See ya (not sorry)!





3. Your blog is too cluttered. I get that everyone has different tastes, and this is totally a personality thing, but my brain just can't handle five thousand and seven different colors and patterns happening at the same time. It makes me stabby.






4. You misspell a ton of words on a regular basis, or your grammar is terrible. I'm not overly picky about this (I don't think). I mean, I don't keep my posts completely proper, and everyone makes mistakes (I probably have in this post (like possibly using too many parenthesis (but at least I said "too many" and not "to many."))), but if your post is filled with mistakes, it just looks like you didn't care enough to even use spell-check.






5. Your posts are almost all made up of memes or blog tours. Again, this is personal preference, but I'm just not interested in reading those types of things over and over. I'd rather read a blog that only posted once a week with something original than one that posts daily memes or tours etc. I'm just like, "Hello?  Is this it??"






6. All your sidebar pics or ads are hanging off your sidebar. Ok, I know I'm being nit-picky here, but when you do that, it just . . .






7. You are entirely too loquacious or sesquipedalian. If your blog is replete with a copious magnitude of superfluous, discursive ruminations, then I am inclined to expeditiously dematerialize, never to return.


Uh . . . what?




8. Your posts are all geared toward your blogging friends. Don't get me wrong, I think it's awesome that bloggers have made such good friends (I know I have), and they all visit each other's blogs, and know all the inside jokes. But if I'm not part of it, I don't get it, and it just makes me feel left out. I'm not saying you shouldn't, I'm just saying I probably won't be sticking around.







These are just a few of my pet peeves when it comes to blogs (they might be a tad exaggerated), and just because something bugs me doesn't mean it's the same for everyone, or even most people. What are the things that keep you from returning to a blog? I hope it's not excessive gif usage, or I may be in trouble . . .


P.S. All these gifs, pics and videos are from French Kiss, which is an older movie, but so cute, and so completely quotable! You should check it out!

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