Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti



  •  Release Date: May 20, 2014
  •  Pages: 273
  •  Genre: Contemporary YA
  •  Publisher: Viking Juvenile (Penguin)

So, I'm starting to realize I may have a new book kryptonite and it's the what I like to call "I'm with the band" stories.  These  are the books were either a friend, parent, or the love interest is a rock star. I haven't read many of them, but if I see one it instantly goes on to my TBR pile. I'm not sure why I'm so interested in this.  Maybe its because my guilty pleasure movie is the Disney Channel Original Movie Starstruck or that Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby was my favorite book as a teen. Either way, pair this knowledge with the fact that I've been meaning to read Susane Colasanti for years and Now and Forever was the perfect choice.

High school senior Sterling is just one month into her relationship with classmate Ethan Cross and she feels like the luckiest girl in the world. They have the same sense of humor, are both passionate about their interests and intend to make senior year there best year ever. But when Ethan's band is discovered and he becomes a teen idol, Sterling isn't sure their relationship will withstand the pressure of the spotlight.

 I don't want to say this book disappointed me because  Now and Forever wasn't terrible or anything it was just kind of... meh. It lacked the characterization and depth that really invest me in a contemporary YA. I kept reading because the low the low stakes  linear storytelling meant  that I could read a chapter or two of on my phone while I was waiting in a long line. I read 90% of this book on my phone.

What really interested me was the culture around popstar celebrity. I've always found the phenomenon of young male singers becoming idols seemingly overnight interesting. I've seen documentaries and watched YouTube videos about  the Justin Bieber and One Direction fans of the world and I think Colasanti captured the "bandom" aspect well.

There is a section where Sterling eavesdrops on a group of Ethan fans bragging to each other about how big of fans they are and Sterling remarks on how they all want to take ownership of Ethan. I see that all the time in any fandom and even have thought it myself (*cough* Darren Criss, Starkid *cough*). I also liked the way she portrayed the online fans of Ethan's as not just being jealous and hating Sterling, a lot of them start to "ship" them and  make online collages and stuff.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is the typical Colasanti book. I looked at her website and  her other novels seem more issue based than this one. I may try some of her earlier stuff.









Nitpick to end all nitpicks: the title refers to a song in the book, but the song in the book doesn't have an ampersand and neither does the book title  when you look up it's ISBN so why is there an ampersand on the cover ??? It makes it so hard to search for this book in the library.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

NOVA TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL 2015

Arrival

After attending the inaugural event last year I was excited to head back to my hometown of Northern Virginia for the NoVa Teen Book Festival !


via novateenbookfestival.tumblr.com
The morning started out a little rough because I left Richmond much later than I planned plus there was an accident on I-95. I made it to NoVaTeen at 11:00 am just in time for the second main author panel with Jason Reynolds, Shaun Hutchinson, Kat Spears, Jennifer Niven and Jasmine Warga. I wasn't there for any specific author this year and stuck in the main auditorium so I could chillax in the comfortable chairs.

This year NTBF had a dedicated lunch hour, which I think  was a great improvement because last year you had to choose between attending a panel or going to lunch. I hope they keep this for next year !  I tried Mac's Donuts Truck . . . because donuts and Kat was able to drive up the street and get something.

Family Feud 

Family Feud was fun to watch !
During lunch they hosted a YA Family Feud where two teens from the audience got to compete with authors teams. It was great because one of the teens was a big fan of Snow Like Ashes and got to be on a team with Sara Raasch. I think it's great when authors get to interact with their audience in a fun way. Both the host and tech people where on point ! I don't know how they did it but it was really fun to watch.


The Keynote

Matt De La Peña gave the keynote and I was excited to see him since I've been reading his book The Living. De Le Peña was a pro and he had so many funny stories from his early life and career. I never realized his relationship with books and that he didn't start reading until college.

The Signings

I was really decisive about what I wanted to buy and by the time I was ready most of the books were gone. But I did get When I Was The Greatest signed and asked Jason about what he thought of Virginia since his next book is set in South Hill, VA.

Last year the signings portion was at the Arlington Public Library and attendees walked over, but this year they were in the school cafeteria which was convenient considering NoVa had been pummeled with snow that week and there were still ice patches. I liked the set up and they are really organized about handling books.

With so many authors in one room it could get chaotic, but their staff of volunteers kept it organized.The longest line was for Marie Rutkoski and even then Kat was able to get in and out under  20 minutes. I think NTBF does a good job looking out for readers who can't afford to buy all the books day of.  They offer signing sheets you could buy for $1 and bookplates that can be signed and stuck in the books later.

I see nothing but more bright things for this festival in the future !



Sunday, March 15, 2015

We Heart Diverse Book Covers !

We love diverse books and we love pretty covers so it makes us extra happy  when there is diversity loud and clear on the covers in the YA section. Here is a collection of some of our favorite covers that clearly show LGBT or characters of color right on the cover. Tell us which ones are your fave or ones you love that we don't have. 





From left to right:

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
No One Needs To Know by Amanda Grace
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Two Boys Kissing by  David Levithan
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
This Side of Home by Renée Watson
The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Lanthan
Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Hooked by Liz Fichera
Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidiers
About A Girl by Sarah McCarry
Endangered by Lamar Giles
Of Metal Wishes by Sarah Fine
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Biggest Flirt by Jennifer Echols
Hollow Girl by Sean Williams
Sound by Alexandra Duncan
Most Likely To Succeed by Jennifer Echols
Ashes To Ashes by Jenny Han and Sibohan Vivian
To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han




Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray


  • Release Date: November 14th, 2014
  • Pages: 368
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Publisher: HarperTeen 


Marguerite Caine's parents are geniuses. Literally. They've invented the Firebird, a device that allows a person to travel into alternate universes. Just as they are about to go public their graduate assistant, Paul Markov steals the technology, kills Maugerite's father and escapes into another dimension. Now, with the help of their other assistant, Theo, Marguerite is going after Paul to figure out what his plans are and avenge her father's death.

 I don’t typically read the trendy science fiction YA books, but this cover is so unique and I always liked Gray's 'I'm not like the other girls' blogpost and I needed to break my contemporary kick.

Jess is always telling me how time travel books can always be hard to understand and as I started this I imagined alternate universes traveling would be even more confusing. I hand waved most of the science stuff, but  basically the book  says that all around us multiple alternate universes exist where different choices have created different timelines. When you travel you are put into the consciousness of yourself in that dimensions and when you leave the version of yourself has no memory of you being there.

 The book gets very twisty, and turny what with all the different people in different dimensions so I won't talk about the plot to much. I will say there are a lot of big reveals and for the most part it's a fun ride as  they travel from place to place.  Despite the initial main drive of  this book being finding Paul Markov and his secrets, this quickly becomes less Dan Brown and more of a  romance complete with the typical YA love triangle.

 This book  hinges on a YA trope I really hate where the (typically) male characters don't tell the female protagonist things for 'their own good' and causes a series of misunderstandings. I hate this because it makes the female character look stupid. I think there still could have been a story if she had known all the secrets that were being kept from her.

 I didn't realize this was a series when I picked it up, but I found out midway through the book so I expected this book to end on a cliffhanger, but it actually wraps up most of the plot and I think you could read this one as a standalone. Although I will probably read the next one to see what dimensions Gray has next.


Monday, March 2, 2015

If These Books Were Judged by Their Covers Vol.4




This cover was done by Regina Flath who has designed some of my favorite covers. This one  feels like the usual gender neutral dystopian ala Endgame...but I am kind of side-eyeing how big Scott Westefeld's name is here. Apparently this is a collaborative project between the three authors, but his name is SO much bigger than the other authors.  - Kat


This cover is super on the nose...this book is about a girl who senses gold in the ground during the Gold Rush and this cover has so much gold in it. I'm sure it will be super shiny in person. -Kat



This is another body positive book from Harper Teen. Like Dumplin is clearly states this is about a girl who is plus sized. I like the colors and I am really likeing these illustrated covers because it's clear each artist has their own style. I wonder if Eleanor & Partk inspired this trend ? Will we see those 90's illustrated YA romances make a comeback ?


There is way to much text-pyrotechnics going on here with the different fonts. It doesn't have the flow her last book cover Say What You Will does.  


At first glance this is a pretty decent girl in a pretty dress, but looking closer the faded images of her face in the corner look like something from awkward family photos.


I think this is the UK cover and I really hope they keep it for the U.S. because it's so clean, the fonts mix nicely and I like how it looks like a graphic-T design. Also, this books sounds amazing, it's like shifted perspective of the person who is just a background friend to  the "chosen one" protagonist of a YA novel.



I don't know anything about this book and this cover and title doesn't tell me anything. It's kind of spooky and I wonder if it will be shiny in person ?


I feel like Laurie Halse Anderson always gets the strangest covers.  The cover looks very 90's to me...maybe it's the jean jacket ? It's also worlds away from the original cover which is mostly text. 

This is Smith's first book and this design makes this te third cover  re-design for this book. They've changed it fit more with her other books, but the handwritten comic-y text just doesn't work with such a short title. I have to admit I'm partial to the original paperback design (that yes, I own)


This is a companion to Duncan's previous novel Salvage, I want to say yay person of color on the cover, but this image looks so processed. I wish they'd just stuck with no model. But still...yay POC on a book!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Audiobook Review: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick


  • Release Date: October 16th 2012
  • Audiobook Hours: 7 hours 22 minutes
  • Genre: Adult Fiction
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
I have this thing where I tend to read popular fiction waaaaay behind the curve. I read The Fault in Our Stars 3 years after I bought it, Gone Girl is still on my TBR and I bought 50 Shades two years ago and I will get past the first 50 pages at some point.

 If you think back to late 2012 it was all about Silver Linings Playbook because they movie was super buzzy.  So buzzy they have the actors names on the movie tie-in cover. When I saw this as one of the audiobooks available on Scribd's audiobook section I figured it was time

 The story opens up with Pat Peoples, a man in his 30's being taken out of what he refers to as "The Bad Place", a mental hospital in Maryland. It becomes obvious early on that Pat's first person narration is completely unreliable. Not only is Pat missing three years, he is also obsessed with physical fitness and winning back his estranged wife Nikki, who no one else seems to want to talk about.

 The first part of the book follows Pat as he tries to assimilate into life back home with his parents. It's not easy with his distant father, whose emotions are controlled by whether or not The Philadelphia Eagles win a game or his well off brother he can't relate to anymore and Tiffany, the depressed sister-in-law of his best friend who seems to have taken an interest in him.

 I really haven't read a lot of  these quasi-literary popular adult fiction books to really know how to review this . At first this book really captured me, I was trying to see around Pat's narration to  figure out the mystery of what happened to Nikki, why Pat was in the mental hospital and why Kenny G makes him so angry. But towards the end it felt like it was dragging out way too long to get to what "really happened."

  As a non-football person I found the Eagles and football stuff pretty fascinating. Pat immediately takes a liking to Eagles player Hank Baskett. Pat wears his jersey all the time and talks about him a lot---I wonder if it's weird for the real Hank Baskett to see himself as a big part of this book.

The narrator of the audiobook, Ray Porter, did a solid job, he made Pat's narration sound kind of childlike which fits how the character was treated. He also does a good range of female voices for Pat's mom, Tiffany and a few other female characters. I like it when male narrators just lower their pitch and don't try and do high feminine voices. The audiobook also does pretty well for the Eagles stuff because he does the chants, but I don't know if the tone of the Fly, Eagles, Fly song was right.

 The film version of this is on Netflix and I plan to watch it just to see how they interpret Pat's unreliable narrator-ness into the movie( update: saw the movie, they took it out).  Also, the character of Tiffany in the book is in her late 30's early 40's and has a very specific back story, I'm curious how they translated her character into a 21 year old Jennifer Lawrence. Tiffany was kind a quirky character without getting into Manic Pixie Dreamgirl territory and since this part got JLaw an Oscar I'm sure it's a great performance.

  This is one of the first popular fiction titles I've read where I can't pinpoint why it is so popular. Silver Linings Playbooks it has some interesting moments,  it's not exactly the feel good story of the year.

Overall I enjoyed this book enough that I think I will definitely check out Matthew Quick's YA titles.






Friday, February 20, 2015

If These Books Were Judged By Their Covers Vol. 3





City of Bones has a hardcover, movie tie-in paperback and now this new paperback cover. I like the  powerful posing in this, but I'm not feeling that mustard yellow coloring on the font. I can see a lot more people carrying this around since there is no bare chest on it.  - Jess


I like how this image looks like it is moving and keeps in line with the other books in the series. I also like the green--we don't see a lot of green in YA covers. - Kat



This cover is very striking and I think it will have great crossover appeal it looks like a YA, but also a dark literary fiction or even a steampunk. I like the metallic  feel and coloring in the background. That said, it looks a lot like her Grisha Trilogy, but maybe that is intentional - Kat


The graphical elements on this cover makes it look like a graphic novel cover to me. I'm not a fan of the muted colors on this cover and the font that the author's name doesn't really mesh with the cover.  - Kat




This kind of reminds me of the I Was Here cover by Gayle Foreman, but something about the font and books make it look cheesy. I also had a hard time reading the title font. - Kat


This cover looks a little too photoshop-y to me and also unfinished. Maybe it's all the white space ? - Kat


Based on this cover I would have never thought this was YA. This book is about a plus sized girl who enters a beauty pageant and I like how that is all right there on the cover. The fonts are clean, the colors are complementary and I can't wait to see what this looks like in person. - Kat



This is another graphical, cartoon-y cover that if I didn't know any better I'd think was for a graphic novel.  I think this cover is fun and fits the book theme of complicated friendship. Also, I think that's a person of color I see in there... - Kat


This is a cover re-reveal. The originally released cover was red and I have to admit I like the purple better. - Jess



For some reason I saw this and went "meh". I see what it is trying to do with the creepy black and white image with striking red font, but it doesn't jump out to me. - Jess


This cover has a lot of leg for a YA cover. How can I see this cover and not think of the Unbecoming Of Mara Dyer series ? With that side I like the font placement but something about the image being reflected at the top looks awkward. - Jess


I like the covers in Higgins' Sweet Evil series, even though they are the cliched YA paranormal covers .  Kai is in the front because this is told from his POV.  I have to be honest that tagline just creeps me out . . . - Jess



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