Book Review: Tease

18599901Novel: Tease by Amanda Maciel | Goodreads
Release Date: April 29th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

The interesting thing about this book is that it’s a hard book to love.

As much as I want to love it, and profess my undying love for not only the message but also the book itself, I can’t. And I think that’s because Sara is such a hard character to like. I wanted to yell at her about 100 times while reading this. But, I think as hard as it is to read about a character like that, it’s also a good thing to do, because guess what? There’s people like them in our world. There are people like Sara who bullying others and don’t understand that they did anything wrong.

Tease focuses on Sara’s life after Emma kills herself, which for the most part consists of lawyers, therapy, and being bound to her house. The book flips between the present and the past, with all of the past moments being ones that would eventually lead to either Sara making decisions to bully Emma or the actual bullying in action. (I actually have a real problem with books that flip to the past and present so I struggled with this part of the book.) Through this parallel storyline though, you get to know the entirety of Sara’s character, and also see her motivation in action. As the reader you can see the horrible things Sara did from a more neutral point of view rather than just Sara’s description of the events.

The importance of Tease is that it happens. This book is based on true events, and I think that is what is both so difficult and also what is so important about it. Bullying stories like this happen everyday, but we also see the people who bully as these monsters, and in Tease you see them as people. You understand them, as painful as it is. And that is what is so important about this book, and why you should read it.

*Teachers/Librarians: I highly recommend incorporating this into your curriculum and/or purchasing it for your library when it is released. I read Speak for an English class, and I would choose this book over Speak because it is more relevant.*


Music Monday {9}

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. Thunder Clatter by Wild Cub

I’m absolutely obsessed with Wild Cub at the moment. They’re going on tour and coming to Austin this month with the #2 song and band, and I’m hoping to go! Their entire album is such a diverse grouping of music that you can listen to while doing absolutely anything.

2. The Struggle by Grizfolk

Grizfolk’s EP is also one of my favorites to listen to right now. A bit more upbeat that Wild Cub but just as awesome and fun to listen to. I can’t wait for their full length album!

3. Not Going Home by Great Good Fine OK

Rachel recommendation right here. Such a great song that gets stuck in your head very, very easily. So beware.


Book Review: Unhinged

17449197Novel: Unhinged (Splintered, #2) by A.G. Howard | Goodreads
Release Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Amulet
Format: Hardcover
Source: TT4L 2014 (Publisher)

Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the guy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly seductive Morpheus and the vindictive Queen Red. Now all she has to do is graduate high school and make it through prom so she can attend the prestigious art school in London she’s always dreamed of.

That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland—where she (partly) belongs.

As prom and graduation creep closer, Alyssa juggles Morpheus’s unsettling presence in her real world with trying to tell Jeb the truth about a past he’s forgotten. Glimpses of Wonderland start to bleed through her art and into her world in very disturbing ways, and Morpheus warns that Queen Red won’t be far behind.

If Alyssa stays in the human realm, she could endanger Jeb, her parents, and everyone she loves. But if she steps through the rabbit hole again, she’ll face a deadly battle that could cost more than just her head.

I absolutely adored A.G. Howard’s Splintered, the first book in this series (it was one of my favorite from last year) and so I couldn’t wait to see what she did with Unhinged! I got to see A.G. again at TT4L and she was so sweet – one of my favorite authors ever! And she did a wonderful job with Book Two. Unhinged picks up the threads that Splintered left, deeper explores Alyssa’s character, and makes you want a Morpheus and Jeb.

In Unhinged, we pick up where Splintered leaves off, but a while later. Alyssa is at school, Jeb has just come back from time in London, and Morpheus is still present in Alyssa’s dreams. What was so wonderful about this book is that it takes a lot of the feels Alyssa experiences for the first time and heightens them – her conflicted feelings between Jeb and Morpheus, the duty she feels to Wonderland and the desire to stay in the human world, the unresolved feelings with her mom – A.G. does an incredible job of really exploring those in Book Two and making Alyssa a more complex character.

Unhinged felt like it was meant to bridge the gap between Alyssa’s visits to Wonderland. There’s a lot of plot that feels like prep for something HUGE that (I think at least) is coming in Book Three. That part of it was a bit disappointing, but after the HEART WRENCHING AND INTENSE ENDING I’m even more excited. Like, I need that book now.

This series has made me love the story of Alice in Wonderland even more than I did before, and I love how A.G. has created her own world. She’s taken Lewis Carroll’s story, made it darker, questioned it, and elaborated. She’s brought it to life in the modern day. It takes guts and a crazy good writer to do that, and A.G. is both of those – gutsy and talented.


Book Review: What I Thought Was True

15832932Novel: What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick | Goodreads
Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

From the author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle’s Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, is slumming it as a yard boy on her Nantucket-esque island this summer. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-me-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

YES THE NEW HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK! I’m a huge fan of My Life Next Door, Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, and this one possibly tops MLND. Huntley Fitzpatrick is a master at families, which is something I think should be explored more in YA literature, because it’s such a relatable topic. In WITWT, Fitzpatrick explores a child of divorced parents who got married young and are barely making it. Gwen Castle is the sarcastic, babbling, kind character that I love in YA. She felt so real – her regrets, her fears of people knowing the truth, and her desires to get away from her hometown – they’re all such relatable things that any teen deals with.

I especially connected to Gwen (and many of the other characters in the book) in their struggle to leave their hometown for college and to pay for that move. That’s something I’m going to face in the coming year or two, and so I really understood the feeling of being torn between the two that Gwen was experiencing.

Now for the romance. This was not your regular YA romance. Cass and Gwen have some… not so good history, to say the least, and they’re both still reeling from the hurt of that day. So when they’re thrown together, they aren’t exactly perfectly made for each other. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings for each other! Huntley Fitzpatrick is so good at allowing relationships to grow naturally in a story and not rushing the characters along. Gwen and Cass had to individually deal with a lot of issues before they could work through the ones between the two of them.

That’s another thing I love about Fitzpatrick – she does the deep conversations and hard discussions SO WELL. Her teens are mature people who have real discussions. They talk things through. That seems to be really rare in YA, and I think it needs to be more prevalent. It teaches us how to have those hard conversations but that they are necessary in a working relationship.

So, all in all, I adored What I Thought Was True. It’s relatable, well-written, and the characters are incredible. It was a “I stayed up until 1AM reading” kind of book for me, which always means it’s a winner.


Book Convention Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks

book convention survival guide_edited-1


We have entered the Spring and Summer convention season, and every season I talk to bloggers who are going to their first ever conference and are looking for tips. What kind of shoes? Where do I stay? What do I pack? So I’m going a couple of posts with a mish-mash of my tips, as I’ve been to a fair share and come at it from a different point of view than others: I’m a teenager! Today, I’m going to give my top Tips and Tricks to be a successful blogger at conventions.

Tip #1: Be polite to EVERYONE.

When at conventions it’s easy to get caught up in everything and get snarky (come on, we’re ALL a little low on sleep) and snap at publicists, bloggers, and people alike. Things to remember: these people are your friends. You need to be polite, nice, and leave everyone room to be themselves. This will get you a long way and make people like you a lot more.

Tip #2: Don’t grab every book in sight.

This is probably the hardest thing to avoid doing, and it something I’m still struggling with. After having gone to multiple conventions that lasted multiple days, I come home each time regretting having taken so much and never reading it all. I have ALA books from last summer I haven’t even read AND I gave some away. So be selective – you don’t need everything you see!

Tip #3: Find one or two people and stick together.

Prior to going to the convention find a couple of people you know through Twitter and make a pact to be a group. Meet up, go to lunch together, combat the lines together, grab books for each other. This allows you to divide and conquer when needed and always have someone to go to lunch with (because let’s face it, no one wants to eat lunch alone).

Tip #4: Share! Share! Share!

One of the best things about the postal service is you can ship books Media Mail for waaayyy cheaper. So take advantage and between your group of buddies (see Tip #3) grab one copy of something you’re interested in and share! Less books but just as much reading.

Tip #5: Don’t over do it in the Exhibit Hall.

One of the things I learned in ALA this past year was that although the Exhibit Hall ROCKS THE WORLD it also makes you exhausted and only adds to your book count (see Tip #2). So take a walk with some book buddies, head back to the hotel and drop off your books, go sightseeing, eat some yummy food, go shopping – get out of the convention center with some blogger buds and make memories!

Tip #6: Bring your phone charger. No. Matter. What.

Phones die SOOOO fast in the Exhibit Hall. I think this has something to do with the fact that everyone is texting and tweeting at the same time but who knows. Also – your phone will most likely be slow in the Exhibit Hall. Be prepared for this.

Tip #7: Talk to the publicists.

This should be a must for EVERYONE. Publicists are amazing and super nice people and trust me just as fangirly as you are and love books just as much. So ask them what their most anticipated read is for the coming season. Ask them what they recommend. Browse and ask about books your want to know more about. Compliment books you love from their booth. They’ll love you more. :)

Tip #8: Say “Hi!” to people you recognize from Twitter

We all see those people in the hall and go OMG I RECOGNIZE YOU FROM YOUR PROFILE PICTURE but then never go say hi. Do it. Be awkward. Laugh about your awkwardness. Make new friends. Be a social-able person even though this is what all of us struggle with the most.

Tip #9: Make dinner plans before going!

Find a group of friends and plan a dinner! I’ve been trying to do this for the past couple conferences I’ve been at, but I went to a lunch at BEA two? three? years ago and it was so fun. These are where memories are made! :)

Tip #10: Find a hotel close to the convention center.

If you can’t make it on the recommend list of hotels (conventions that are large usually have these and they’re awesome) then shoot for something close by. If you’re in city with good public transport, make it close to a stop. Be smart about where you choose, and something with a Continental Breakfast is always a plus because you will definitely be in a rush in the mornings.

Allright, that’s it for edition one of the Book Convention Survival Guide! Check back for another edition later this week or next week! (PS: I’m working on uploading my TT4L Haul. It’s coming!)


Book Review: This Star Won’t Go Out


Novel: This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl | Goodreads

Release Date: January 24th, 2014

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Source: Publisher (Thanks Julie xx)

Format: ARC

A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.

I am the kind of person for connects deeply to the books they read.

This Star Won’t Go Out was yet another book I sat down and read start to finish, simply because I felt so utterly connected to her. Although I didn’t know about Esther while she was alive, and only knew brief bits about her prior to this book, I knew about the impact she had had on both Nerfighteria and the world of young-adult literature. This book allowed me to get to know her in a certain way.

One of the elements of the book that really resonated with me was Esther’s relationship with Catitude. It reminded me in so many ways of not only Lit Up Review, where some of my best friends are housed, but also of my own version of Catitude, The Pom Pom Squad, which consists of myself, Jen, Vy, and Aneeqah, probably my closest blogging friends. I understand what it is like to feel so connected to people you have never hugged before. I’ve met my online friends IRL and that moment is something beautiful and unforgettable. I am so happy that Esther had people around her to love and support her, because she sounds like such a beautiful person. A person the world was blessed to have.

I connected to Esther in so many ways, especially because she passed at the same age I am now, so I understand a lot of the emotional things she was going through (not cancer, but the other things) and was able to see her through that light, which I think is powerful. This book is such a beautiful work, and I commend Penguin, Esther’s family and friends, and the countless people involved on a job well done.

We miss you, Esther. (Even if we didn’t know you.)


Music Monday {8}

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. Staying Up by The Neighbourhood

8tracks has been on repeat this week, and this song has been on multiple mixes. It’s such a fun song and matches my mood a lot.

2. Ms by Alt-J

This was on an 8tracks playlist and I fell in love. I haven’t been able to listen to a lot of Alt-J, but I like a couple different songs. This one is definitely one of my favorites!

3. Reunion by The xx

love The xx, and this is probably one of my favorite songs by them. I forgot about it until it came up the other day and fell in love all over again!