Book Review: Wildlife

20380942Novel: Wildlife (Six Impossible Things/Widlife #2) by Fiona Wood | Goodreads
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Poppy
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

Life? It’s simple: be true to yourself.
The tricky part is finding out exactly who you are…

In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi.

Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago. Despite herself, Lou becomes intrigued by the unfolding drama between her housemates Sibylla and Holly, and has to decide whether to end her self-imposed detachment and join the fray.

And as Sibylla confronts a tangle of betrayal, she needs to renegotiate everything she thought she knew about surviving in the wild.

A story about first love, friendship and NOT fitting in.

This book is pitched for fans of Melina Marchetta, so I assumed – hey, I’ll adore this. However, I was quite disappointed with this book.

It’s nothing like a Marchetta book. Not the writing style, the characters, the plot – nothing. Wildlife focuses around two main characters, Lou and Sibylla, and their unusual relationship at this wilderness camp for their high school. (Honestly, I never quite got the point of this camp.) I liked Lou most of the time – she was introverted but opinionated, broken and strong, all at the same time. I never quite knew what to expect from her, and I liked that – she surprised me, and she was honestly the only reason I even finished this book. Sibylla, on the other hand, was boring, naive, and someone who in real like I wouldn’t be able to stand, so I struggled with her narration. She was predictable and her friends bugged me to no end. These two characters were an unusual match, but I think I could’ve dealt with them if the plot had been better.

But it wasn’t. Wildlife is slow, which I can usually deal with, as long as there is something keeping my interest. With this book though, there wasn’t one thing keeping me interested. I put it down for a week at one point because I was just bored with it. And once I picked it back up, I had to force myself to read, thinking that it might get better, and to give it a chance – I was holding out for that Marchetta-ness. But it never came. The ending was just as unsatisfactory as the rest of the book, and I felt just plain let down after reading it. As if I wasted time on this book.

The one thing I liked in this entire book was Michael, this mysterious boy from Sibylla’s childhood and Lou’s present. He was kind, funny, and kept me guessing. I honestly wish the book was about him! Sorry, Fiona Wood. I was expecting more.

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Texas Teen Book Festival Wrapup

Last Saturday I had the absolute joy of working with the BookPeople Teen Press Corps at the Texas Teen Book Festival, where I covered panels, interviewed authors, and ran around like a madwoman. I met some incredible people and had an absolutely blast, and I’m going to share some of my adventures with you!

Some Interviews I Did:

I interviewed Alaya Dawn Johnson, author of Love is the Drug, which I read over the summer and adored. She was fantastic to talk with, and so sweet! I really enjoyed this interview with her. You can check out the interview on the TTBF blog here: http://texasteenbookfestival.org/ttbf14-interview-alaya-dawn-johnson/

I also got to interview Jason Reynolds, the author of When I Was The Greatest, which was probably my favorite interview I did at the festival. We talked about poetry, the need for diverse characters in YA, and the importance of telling your story. My interview with him is on the TTBF blog here: http://texasteenbookfestival.org/ttbf-interview-jason-reynolds/. Go check him out! He’s a super cool guy.

I also sat down with Gayle Forman, one of my favorite people and authors, for a brief interview. We talked about her the If I Stay Movie, her next book called  I Was Here, and the book tour road. I’ve included the audio from our interview below for your listening enjoyment!

Other Fun Things:

I did some panel coverage over on the TTBF blog which you can check out here and here. I love panels, and these were some great ones!

I had some great conversations with authors on Saturday, including not only those who I interviewed but also Kevin Emerson, author of Exile; William Ritter, author of Jackaby; Jandy Nelson, author of I’ll Give You the Sun; James Klise, author of The Art of Secrets; Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Childrenand Lauren Oliver, author of PanicI adore Book Festivals, and had such a fun time talking to authors and meeting other readers!

If you want more coverage from the festival and read more interviews from my associates, check out the TTBF blog here: http://texasteenbookfestival.org/live-2/, and for photos from the event check those out here: http://texasteenbookfestival.org/photos/. Also, TTBF was in Publisher’s Weekly – check that out here and show your support: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/64469-2014-texas-teen-book-festival-in-photos.html.

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Book Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

20820994Novel: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson | Goodreads
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Publisher: Dial
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

I’m a massive Jandy Nelson fan – I read The Sky is Everywhere when it was a little known novel that I fell in love with immediately, so when I got my hands on an ARC of I’ll Give You The Sun you can bet there were happy dances and scream fests.

I read this book in one sitting.

Nelson has this utterly gorgeous, lyrical writing style that I could read for days. Jude and Noah, the main characters in this new novel, have to be some of my favorite characters in YA. They’re complex, interesting, and incredibly relatable. Nelson explores the pushes and pulls of the characters, what makes them tick – both in the past and the present – and I think this allows you to connect to these characters in such a unique way. Noah and Jude are a pair of characters who are so thoroughly explained to the reader, that it’s impossible not to adore them both. They screw up, they fall in love, they cry, they’re human.

In I’ll Give You The Sun, Nelson explores the sibling and family dynamic, and what a tragic event can do to a family – two of my favorite topics to read about, and she does it beautifully. By switching between past and present, you get a broken view of the family dynamic, but with hints of a major change to come. And once you discover what happened and how it changed everything, the book comes unraveling at the seams. This is my favorite part of a Jandy Nelson book – she builds and builds and builds and then you hit that point and the book just comes apart and you’re flipping pages like a mad person and then you reach the end breathless and begging for more.

This book is worth every penny – it’s heartbreaking, addicting, poignant, and utterly breathtaking. Go buy it. Now.

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Music Monday {17}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

1. Above the Clouds of Pompeii by Bear’s Den

These guys popped up on my Spotify recommended, and after seeing them all over Tumblr and Twitter, I went for it. And hOLY HEcK they’re good. I need this album in my hands right now. This is my favorite song from the album, and their most recent music video!

2. I Forget Where We Are by Ben Howard

This song is off Ben Howard’s most recent album which came out last week, and probably my favorite. I still need to give this album a bit more listening, but so far I’m loving it. Ben Howard is incredible, and if you haven’t heard him yet, go spend some time listening!

3. Houseboat Babies by Reptar

A bit more upbeat than my two previous picks, Reptar is another Spotify discovery. I’m loving this song, and thought you all might as well – I’m a big fan of the loops and the lead singer’s voice. (Interesting, right?!)

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Book Review: The Young Elites

20821111Novel: The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1) by Marie Lu | Goodreads
Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

This was my first Marie Lu book (I know, you’re all shocked) and OH BOY WAS I IMPRESSED. I’ve been wanting to read the Legend series for a while now, but I just never got around to it. (This is what happens when you have ARCs for a year and haven’t touched them.) The Young Elites blew my socks off though, so hopefully I’ll be getting around Legend sometime soon.

The Young Elites tells the story of Adelina, a lonely girl whose father has told her for the past years that she is worthless. This book is her tale of finding her people, the power within her, and learning how to use it for both good and evil. The other Young Elites in the Dagger Society are quite the cast of characters, helping Adelina along the way, but they are also doubtful of her usefulness. They’re an exclusive group of tight knit friends who don’t let a newbie in just for fun, and so Adelina must prove herself, in the process learning about herself and her own self worth.

One of my favorite things about this book is that Lu takes basic issues many people struggle with as teenagers – self confidence, doubt, and loneliness – and heightens them. She throws these characteristics into Adelina and puts her through trial after trial, taking the world of The Young Elites, as well as Adelina and the other Elites and making it relatable to the reader.

As far as the plot goes, the beginning is a bit slow. Lu builds the world in the first couple chapters, as well as helping us to understand Adelina. But once you get into the middle, the book picks up fast, with missions for the Young Elites and trials for Adelina. This book is one of my favorites of the year – I can’t recommend it enough!

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Classics Review {2}: A Farewell to Arms

This year, I’ve given myself a challenge of reading more classic literature, specifically from the 1920’s. I’m going to be chronicling my journey through some short reviews in this “Classics Review” series, and if you’re interested in tagging along, read with me!

46167Novel: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway | Goodreads
Release Date: 1929
Publisher: (my edition) Scribner
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway’s frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto—of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized—is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

I’ve been wanting to read some Hemingway for a long time, and A Farewell to Arms exceeded my expectations in so many ways.

Hemingway’s prose is like nothing else I’ve ever encountered – it’s simple, easy to grasp, and interesting to read. For “classic” literature, I was expecting prose a bit more complex and difficult to understand. Instead the length of his sentences, which are short giving it a unique sound and pacing.

As far as the plot goes, it was definitely a bit dry in the beginning, but as the book continued it picked right up. Catherine and Henry’s relationship is unlike relationships in much of literature now, in my opinion, but I don’t that’s necessarily bad. Catherine takes everything in stride, not even blinking an eyelash at some of the more surprising points of the plot, which fascinated me. The war element of this novel I think could’ve had a serious influence on the romance – what are your thoughts on that?

As far as being a classic, I think that A Farewell to Arms is a fascinating look at love, war, and sacrifice, and is timeless in so many ways. I can’t recommend this book enough!

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Music Monday {16}

music mondays

On a Music Monday, I will introduce a couple of new songs that I’m enjoying with you all and put the Youtube video in so you all can check out the song. You can find the playlist on Spotify with all of these songs here.

This week will be new discoveries at ACL edition!

1. Maiden by MØ

I saw MØ at ACL last weekend and oh my gosh I loved it. She has such a fun and exhilarating stage presence. I bought her album right after I saw her perform and met her and she was such a sweet woman – I’m now a huge MØ fan!

2. All The Days by HAERTS

I knew very little about HAERTS before going to the show on a Sunday morning, and I was blown away by this band. I couldn’t get enough of their sound, the vocals, the instrumentation – all of it. I need their album right now.

3. How Good Does It Feel by Empires

I completely stumbled across Empires at their early morning show in the drizzle, and I loved it. Their music is so fun to listen to both live and at home, and I’ve been converted to a fan. I’m super stoked for the album!

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