Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (48) Get Even

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:03 AM with 9 comments
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.



16005219 Get Even

Authors: Gretchen McNeil
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Link to

Follows the secretive exploits of four high school juniors - Kitty, Olivia, Margot and Bree - at an exclusive Catholic prep school.

To all outward appearances, the girls barely know each other. At best, they don't move in the same social circles; at worst, they're overtly hostile.

Margot Mejia – academically ranked number two in her class, Margot is a focused overachiever bound for the Ivy League.

Kitty Wei – captain of the California state and national champion varsity girls' volleyball team, she's been recruited by a dozen colleges and has dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Olivia Hayes – popular star of the drama program, she's been voted "most eligible bachelorette" two years running in the high school yearbook and has an almost lethal combination of beauty and charm.

Bree Deringer – outcast, misfit and the kind of girl you don't want to meet in a dark alley, the stop sign red-haired punk is a constant thorn in the side of teachers and school administrators alike.

Different goals, different friends, different lives, but the girls share a secret no one would ever guess. They are members of Don't Get Mad, a society specializing in seeking revenge for fellow students who have been silently victimized by their peers. Each girl has her own reason for joining the group, her own set of demons to assuage by evening the score for someone else. And though school administration is desperate to find out who is behind the DGM "events", the girls have managed to keep their secret well hidden.

That is until one of their targets – a douchebag senior who took advantage of a drunk underclassman during a house party, videotaped it on his phone, and posted it on YouTube – turns up dead, and DGM is implicated in the murder.

Now the girls don't know who to trust, and as their tenuous alliance begins to crumble, the secrets they've hidden for so long might be their ultimate undoing
.

   
Why I'm Excited:

I know you've all seen this one already, but it just sounds so intriguing to me. I've only read one book by the author--Ten--which was kind of a disappointment, but anybody who knows me knows that I just cannot resist YA murder mysteries AND prep school settings. I cannot wait to get my hands on this one.

What are you waiting for on this Wednesday? Link me up! 

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader has gone/is going by the wayside. (I like to follow back, so please let me know if you're a new follower--and leave a link!) Thank you!!!




Monday, April 14, 2014

18295852
The Geography of You and Me

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Number of Pages: 352
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT THE SYNOPSIS: It's one of those that pretty much gives the entire story away. If you haven't read it yet, I'd skip it. Just FYI.

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they're rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen's relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and -- finally -- a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith's new novel shows that the center of the world isn't necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.


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MY THOUGHTS:
I've only read one other book by Jennifer E. Smith--last year's This is What Happy Looks Like--which I loved, so I was so excited to get my hands on the early edition of The Geography of You and Me. The premise of the book sounded so cute (although, for real, the synopsis is like one of those movie trailers that just condenses the movie into a 2 minute trailer which leaves you feeling like you don't even need to watch the movie because you now know EXACTLY what is going to happen. Why do studios/publishers do that? I want some surprises. So lame), and I eagerly jumped in. While I found The Geography to be perfectly pleasant and pretty cute...there was nothing about it that really grabbed me. I had absolutely no doubt about where the book was headed and the drama was very minimal. I actually started this one before picking up What I Thought Was True (which I reviewed a couple of days ago), but got sucked in and finished WITWT before returning to this one as it just wasn't really holding my attention. In fact, I finished this book not even 12 hours ago and I needed to look up the characters names to start writing this review. So...there's that.

The Geography follows two teens, Lucy and Owen, who live in the same NYC apartment building. Lucy is a long-time resident of the fairly swanky building and Owen just moved into the basement with his father who has recently taken over the role of super. Owen is on his way to the roof top on a especially sweltering summer evening and Lucy is on her way home when the elevator the two are sharing breaks down due to a city-wide power outage. The two start talking while waiting for rescue. Lucy's globe-trotting parents are in Paris and Owen's father has taken the day off to go to the beach. After they get out, the two decide to spend the rest of the evening together, eventually falling asleep on the rooftop under a blanket of stars. As far as meet-cutes go, this one is pretty adorable.

Soon after that evening, both Lucy and Own find out that they are moving. Lucy to Scotland where her father has accepted a job and Owen to...somewhere. The fact that he took an unscheduled day off the night of the blackout has put him in pretty hot water and a second incident costs him his job. Owen's mother has recently passed away. In fact, Owen and his father moved to NY in hopes of leaving their sadness behind in the family's beloved home in PA. The men decide to try their luck out west and pack up their car. Lucy and Owen share their first and good-bye kiss in the lobby of the building and promise to write each other using postcards.

This book very much reminded me of those old Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies, especially Sleepless in Seattle (in fact there even seems to be a couple of out-right nods to the film, but they occur later in the book, so I won't share them here). There is a mention of a long-distance relationship in the synopsis, but that is a bit of a misnomer. Lucy and Owen don't make any promises to each other. They spent one night together and shared a single kiss. They aren't a couple. Again, very reminiscent of Sleepless, this is a story of two people who the audience know are perfect for each other living out their separate lives.

I really liked both Lucy and Owen, but didn't really feel a connection with either of them. I liked how close Owen has with his father and the way in which he felt protective of him while both are trying to move past the death of his mom, but I didn't really feel like we get to really KNOW either of them. Everything just seemed to kind of skim the surface. The fact that Owen's mom died gives him some depth, but it is because of the event.

I loved the aspect of two teens sending each other postcards and enjoyed the cross-country trek Owen and his father take while looking for work and trying to find the perfect place to settle down, and also enjoyed reading about Lucy's adventures in Europe, but wish there had just been more characterization. While I liked the two teens, they were both very vanilla. 

Overall, I found The Geography of You and Me to be a pleasant experience, but I wish it would have had a little something more. I don't need crazy drama in my books and event after event that keeps two people apart. In fact, that kind of set-up usually drives me bonkers, but this had very little drama which kept it from being very interesting. Don't get me wrong. I didn't dislike this book, it's pretty cute, there just isn't much there. It was like the skyrail at amusement parks. It's a pleasant experience to float high in the air and see the park, or whatever, but I go to amusement parks for the roller coasters.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*



Sunday, April 13, 2014

What I Thought Was True (Early Book Review)

Sunday, April 13, 2014 2:02 PM with 18 comments

15832932

What I Thought Was True

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Dial Books
Number of Pages: 416
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.


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MY THOUGHTS:

I was completely charmed by Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut novel, My Life Next Door, so I was obviously thrilled when I was given the opportunity to read her newest offering. What I Thought Was True has several of the things I look for in a YA romance: a relatable female protagonist, a cute boy, an idyllic summer/beach location, feisty friends, and, of course, a sweet romance. I was a bit nervous going in after seeing a couple of early star-ratings and statements about how it doesn't come close to her debut, but I needn't have worried. I loved What I Thought Was True and found it just as charming, albeit different, from the author's beloved first book.

WITWT follows a teen named Gwen Castle. A half-white, half-Puerto Rican who lives on the small island of Seashell year-round. The island is full of beautiful houses that are owned by "summer people", while those who permanently live on the island are those who run it for the rich who come in the summer: the restauranteurs, the maids, the fisherman, etc. Gwen lives with her mother; her grandfather; her younger brother, Emory; and her cousin, Nico. The house they live in is tight with Gwen sharing a room with her mother, who works as a maid, and the three males sharing the other room of their small house. Nic and Gwen are the same age and have been raised together their whole lives. For years Nic has been dating Gwen's best friend, Vivien, and she is used to being their third wheel. Gwen's father also lives on the island and while she usually works as a waitress at his restaurant in the summers, this year she has decided to work as a "sitter" to the lovely old lady, Mrs. Ellington, who, after a nasty fall, finds that she is unable to do all that she used to do. 

Things get complicated for Gwen when she discovers that Cassidy Somers (Cass) is also spending the summer on the island as the official yard-boy. Cass and his best friend, Spencer, live across the bridge from Seashell in the town of Stony Bay, but have attended school with the local kids for the past year after getting the boot from their prestigious private school. Cass and Gwen have a past that is slowly revealed throughout the novel as they also start to grow closer once again.

Again, I really enjoyed What I Thought Was True. I absolutely adored the little town of Seashell. I'm seriously such a sucker summer books that take place on the beaches of the East Coast. It has always been my dream to have a summer house in a small East Coast beach town (and now that I'll have summers off, the dream is just that much closer--yay teaching). I loved Cass--so cute, and for the most part really liked Gwen although some aspects of her character got on my nerves. I really liked how the story wasn't all romance. A good part of the book focused on Gwen's family, especially her younger brother and her cousin. Focus was also given to Nic and Viv's relationship. 

Gwen's brother, Emory, has some sort of undiagnosed developmental problems. He isn't autistic, we are told a couple of times, but does display autistic-like symptoms. He becomes enthralled with Cass and calls him Superman. For his part, Cass embraces the little dude and decides that he is going to help teach him to swim when he finds out that the 7 year-old doesn't know how even though he lives on an island. I loved little Em and wanted to reach in the book and give him a giant hug.

I also liked the look at Nic and Viv's long-term relationship and the way older teens who've been together forever inevitably have to examine their lives and their relationship to see if it will last after high school (of which they all have one more year). Neither Nic nor Gwen want to get stuck on the island forever like Gwen's parents, but both know that they will be responsible for Em for the rest of their lives. Nic wants to go to The Academy and join the National Guard, but Viv is terrified that their relationship will not survive the separation. I found their relationship to be sweet and realistic and appreciated that the story allowed for the secondary characters to have a real story of their own. 

Speaking of realistic, I appreciated the fact that Gwen isn't a saint. She has made mistakes and has already slept with a couple of different guys at the beginning of the story. She regrets some of her decisions, but I liked that she wasn't the typical YA heroine. All girls are different. I personally was a bit of a late bloomer, but I had several friends who made regretful decisions in high school, and ones who made exactly the right decisions for themselves. There is no right way to be. Girls should never be judged by their sex lives--or lack thereof, and I love it when authors allow for their characters to be real.

My only, and truly small, complaint of the story is the way Gwen occasionally talks down about her body. Throughout the novel she makes comments about being fat or how if she ate too many cookies and now she is fat. It is obvious from the attention she gets that Gwen is a beautiful girl, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when authors perpetuate the idea that girls feel like they have to achieve some unattainable standard of beauty--which makes girls continue to believe they have to obtain that standard. A teen girl who is reading a YA novel should never have to hear the narrator refer to herself as fat because she ate too many cookies. Embrace the body God gave you! 

Overall, I loved What I Thought Was True. The romance is sweet, the location is ideal, the secondary characters shined, and all the characters were realistic and real. If you enjoyed the author's first book, have no fear, this one is different, but lovely in its own way. If you haven't read Huntley Fitzpatrick's debut, you should remedy that immediately and then read this one.

Highly Recommend.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekly Rewind 4.12.14

Saturday, April 12, 2014 1:08 AM with 24 comments




Weekly Rewind

The new books on my shelves, the links I loved, and my week in a nutshell.




Since I started this blog I've participated in Stacking the Shelves, which is a weekly feature hosted by Tyngas Reviews, and I'm going to continue linking to that meme. Throughout my student teaching semester I was using my weekend post as a way to let people know what's going on in my life, so I've decided to rename my weekend post because this feature is more personal than just what books I've received. The Weekly Rewind will be about what's going on with me and my blog, as well as about the books I've added to my shelves, and the links I've enjoyed over the past week from other blogs and the interwebs in general.  

My Life and Blog

Life: I'm still trying to shake this cold. I thought I was recovering, but early this week it suddenly reared its head again. I spent all of Wednesday in bed which seemed to help. I'm just running myself too thin, I think, and the combination of not-so-great food and little to no exercise isn't helping. It's just so hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle when so much is going on, but I definitely need to try harder. I'm trying to get to everybody's blog, so I apologize if you left a comment this week and haven't heard back from me. I'll do my best to catch up over the next few days.

I've been debating on whether or not to do a post about this, but haven't decided. As most of you know, I recently got my Master's in Education and have been working as a substitute teacher (among two other jobs) for the past couple of months...in Western PA. So this last school incident hit pretty close to home, literally. It has me pretty shaken. I love teaching (even if I'm not necessarily loving subbing), but the constant threat of violence is nerve-wracking. I don't feel scared when I'm in the schools and, frankly, have chosen some of the nicer districts to work in, but that doesn't really even matter as the school that got hit is considered one of the nicer schools. I haven't changed my mind about teaching or anything, but it sucks that we all have to be afraid. That students have to be scared to go to school, or that teachers have to be afraid to go to work. One of my fellow subs stated she thought of it like a plane crash, but I feel like schools are getting hit with more and more frequency. I know that bullying exists and it sucks, but that doesn't give you the right to take people's lives. I just. That's all I'm going to say about this for now. 

My Blog: Due to not feeling very well, I didn't post as much as I would have liked this week, but I did finally post a movie review like I've been promising. 
  • Monday: I reviewed The Museum of Intangible Things which had me torn. On the one hand, I loved the way the book focused on female friendship, but on the other, the book veered into some pretty unbelievable territory and I couldn't connect with either character.
  • Wednesday: I'm waiting on Famous in Love which is a fictional behind-the-scenes look at a beloved book that is being turned into a blockbuster film. It sounds really fun.
  • Friday: A movie review of the film The Wolf of Wall Street. I love me some Leonardo DiCaprio, but there isn't a single redeeming character in this one. 
New Books: I have some pretty titles to share with you this week, so without further adieu. I hope you all are having splendid weekends!

Review Books

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A girl growing up in the shadow of her "uncle" Adolf Hitler, finds herself falling for a Jewish reporter. Seriously, how good does that sound?
The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik
I have to admit that I found Ms. LaZebnik's retelling of Pride and Prejudice to be a total snoozefest, but I'm going to give her another shot as she tackles Persuasion
Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
This one follows a girl whose mom has been documenting her entire childhood through a "mommy blog". 
Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cramer
I don't read a whole lot of steampunk, but this reimagining of 19th Century North America where the Revolutionary War never happened sounds pretty interesting.
On the Rocks by Erin Duffy
A look at dating in the age of social media. I love a good chick-lit book every once in awhile.
Love, Nina  by Nina Stibbe
This memoir is told in the letters a nanny wrote home to her family while working in North London in the 1980s.
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
I really enjoyed Mr. Oppel's This Dark Endeavor and jumped at the chance to read his new MG novel set on a train. Isn't that cover charming?
Very Bad Things by Susan McBride
I felt so honored when Susan McBride contacted me to see if I wanted a galley of Very Bad Things after seeing that I featured it on a WoW post. A murder mystery set at a prep school? Sold, sold, sold! I can't wait to dive into this one. Thanks, Susan!!

What I snagged from the library

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Solving for Ex by Leigh Ann Kopans
Another Austen retelling, this one of Mansfield Park which I haven't read. It follows a girl who moves in with her aunt and uncle after being forced to leave her old school due to bullying. She falls for a mathelete. It sounds pretty cute and I've been wanting this one for awhile. 
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
This epistolary novel follows a woman as she goes through a divorce. Told entirely through letters, memos, emails, etc. I've made my love of the epistolary novel pretty clear--even creating an entire post about it--so I'm excited to read this. I hope I never, ever have to go through a divorce, though (and hopefully my husband feels the same). 

Link Love

  • The awesome Sabrina from I Heart YA Fiction which is one of my favorite blogs is Looking for a Co-Blogger.
  • Pam from YA Escape From Reality talks about how she Misses Print Books and shares some lovely photos of her bookshelves.
  • Mands from The Bookish Manicurist reviewed Grave Mercy with some pretty freaking cool matching nails.
Upcoming Reviews

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Well that's it for me this week. Feel free to leave a link to whatever weekend post you do (Stacking the Shelves, In My Mailbox, etc). I love to see what books people have recently snagged and especially enjoy hearing about my fellow bloggers' weeks. I hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street (Friday Film Review)

Friday, April 11, 2014 12:06 AM with 14 comments


The Wolf of Wall Street

Director:
Writers: (screenplay), (book)
Starring: , ,
Release Date: December 25, 2013 
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Rated: R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Sex. Money. Power. Drugs. Brace yourself for an outrageous true story from legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a young stockbroker hungry for a life of non-stop thrills where corruption was king and more was never enough. His rise to power earned him the title The Wolf of Wall Street. Together Scorsese and DiCaprio deliver a story of American excess.

********************************************************************
MY THOUGHTS:

I love Leonardo DiCaprio. I just do. And I have for many, many years, like, from back in his Growing Pains days. I loved that sitcom so much when I was a little girl and was immediately attracted to that baby-faced boy playing the homeless kid the Seavers took under their collective wings. Since then I've followed his career through What's Eating Gilbert Grape to The Basketball Diaries to Catch Me if You Can to The Departed (seriously, how freaking sexy is he in that movie? I just. For real). So I was, of course, thrilled to hear that Leo was hooking up with Scorsese once again.


The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie about excess and about how that excess can strip away your very soul. It follows Leo playing the real life character of Jordan Belfort who is chasing the American dream on Wall Street in the late 1980s. Belfort is married to a hairdresser who, since the two are in their early 20s at the beginning of the movie, are probably childhood sweethearts. Just when things seem to be happening for him at the big company he works for, disaster strikes, leaving him without a job. He eventually gets in with a shady trading company who work with penny stocks. I'm not going to lie, finance and stocks and that ilk just aren't my thing, but the film made it pretty easy to follow even if my brain stopped braining a couple of times when they started getting into the technicalities of the stockbroker world. Regardless, I understood that penny stocks were pretty shady making Leo's business that he starts and continues to grow throughout the film also pretty shady. Of course, it isn't long before the government starts looking into the business.

The cast of this film was amazing. Leo was just spectacular was the fairly despicable Belfort. I wish the academy would just give this man an Oscar already. How many times as this dude been nominated? I think people forget that he really is a good actor just because he's so easy on the eyes. Jonah Hill is also great in this film. It's fun to see the young actor really branch away from the stoner comedies that made up his early career (not that I don't still love them--Superbad cracks me up every time). He plays Belfort's right-hand man, Donnie, and is very good at being a disgusting human being. Matthew McConaughey was memorable as Belfort's would-be mentor at the first firm, and Rob Reiner was hilarious as Belfort's dad.


Speaking of hilarious, parts of this film truly are so funny. While there were some pretty serious moments, this film really is a comedy which is different for both Leo and Scorcese. I laughed out loud a few times and really did enjoy this film for the most part. That isn't to say it was without some issues, however.

My biggest complaint about this film is one I often have of Scorcese's films: the way in which women are portrayed. In this film women are just props. They are the naked creatures that Belfort and his cronies screw and discard (and there is a lot of female nudity in this film--and no male nudity). They are there so these men have something to snort their coke off of. Leo's first wife--because of course she is wife #1 (the curly-haired brunette)--seems to be a good woman during the 3 minutes of screen time that she gets, but wife #2 (the gorgeous blonde) is a golddigger whose sole purpose is to spend Belfort's money. There is, like, one woman who works as a stockbroker in the film that gets maybe 30 seconds of screen time. Nobody is portrayed very positively in this film. For the most part every single person is an asshole, so I'm not saying that I want some angelic woman to have a role, but it annoys me when women aren't even viewed as people in movies. They were literally just naked eye candy. I'm going to stop there because this rant can go on for awhile.


The other issue I have is simply just how long this movie goes on. The middle part of the film which is mostly just Belfort and Donnie doing copious amounts of pills and coke...and women. The film sags in the middle and would have benefited greatly from having at least half an hour trimmed from the final product. The story could have been told in 2 hours, easily.


Overall, I did enjoy The Wolf of Wall Street. It's a well-made, well-acted comedy that is certainly worth your time. The film is shot in an entertaining manner with Leo sometimes speaking directly to the audience, and the film really pops with bright colors and fast shots. If you are a fan of Leo and Scorcese, you'll probably enjoy this one, as well, but be prepared for a film with no redeeming characters, copious amounts of drugs and female nudity. Also, for those who find swearing offensive, don't watch this one. I believe I saw that this film breaks the record for number of times the f-word is used. It didn't bother me, and I barely even noticed it, but I tend to talk like a trucker so...

I'm going to leave with you this amazingly awesome GIF from the film: 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (47) Famous in Love

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 12:55 AM with 15 comments
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly anticipating. Click the link to see the original post plus a whole slew of links to other blogs. After you read this one, of course.



19245811 Famous in Love

Authors: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: October 21, 2014

Link to Goodreads:

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen.

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

   
Why I'm Excited:
I'm loving the idea of an insider look at a YA blockbuster. I'm totally picturing a Jennifer Lawrence type character (even though The Hunger Games wasn't her first movie, I know). This cover is seriously lame, but I love a good Hollywood story and this just sounds really fun.
What are you waiting for on this Wednesday? Link me up! 

Hey lovely GFC and new followers, please follow me by Bloglovin as we all know Google Reader has gone/is going by the wayside. (I like to follow back, so please let me know if you're a new follower--and leave a link!) Thank you!!!




Monday, April 7, 2014

18079542

The Museum of Intangible Things

Author: Wendy Wunder
Publisher: Razorbill
Number of Pages: 304
Release Date: April 10, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).

Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.

As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.

An unforgettable read from the acclaimed author of The Probability of Miracles, The Museum of Intangible Things sparkles with the humor and heartbreak of true friendship and first love.


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MY THOUGHTS:

From the moment I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it. I immediately fell for that gorgeous cover, but more than that, I absolutely adore books that focus on strong female friendships. My high school life was all about my girlfriends. Yes, I was obsessed with the cute boy in my algebra class, but my life revolved around my friends, so I'm always happy to see books that focus on the best friend more than the boyfriend. That said, I'm pretty torn on this one. The friendship is strong and is absolutely the focus, but this book wasn't at all what I was expecting and often drifted into unbelievable territory.

The Museum of Intangible Things follow best friends Hannah and Zoe living in a small New Jersey town. Hannah is the responsible one. She is smart and committed to making a decent future for herself. Her parents are divorced and both are wrecks. Her mother is a depressed, non-entity, and her father is a recovering alcoholic who works at the local news station as a weatherman. Even though he could probably help out his daughter for college, he refuses on the basis that she will probably just end up pregnant anyway so it would be a waste of money. In hopes of at least going to the local community college, Hannah runs a fairly successful hot-dog cart at the lake and little league games. Hannah is in love with a classmate who drives an ice cream truck and even though he has a girlfriend, things seem to be progressing in that department after a run-in at a party. When her father falls off the wagon in spectacular fashion and Zoe completely shuts down after the same party, though, Hannah starts to falter.

Zoe is the wild child. She lives with her single mother and her younger brother who has Asperger's Syndrome. The title of the book comes from the "museum" that Zoe runs for her little brother in the basement of their house in order to teach him social cues and human emotions. She puts up installations like "pride" or "laziness" which he studies and tries to internalize. Zoe herself suffers with manic depression, and the story takes a dramatic turn when, after laying in bed catatonic for a week, she all of a sudden shows up at Hannah's house the day before Thanksgiving demanding that Hannah go with her on a road trip. Zoe wants to teach Hannah some life skills like how she does with her brother, only on the road instead of the basement.

This is where the book started to fall apart for me a little which is a shame because I love a good road trip. I don't usually do bullet points in my reviews, but because I'm so torn, it just seems like the best way to show the pluses/minuses.

What I did love about this book:
  • Hannah and Zoe's friendship. I loved how this book focused on their relationship and how close the two girls were. Again, when I was in high school, my life was all about my friends and I found their friendship both admirable and realistic.
  • The "museum". I loved the idea of Zoe trying to teach her little brother about human emotions through a wide array of rotating installations.
  • The romance. Ok, I didn't LOVE the romance, but there were some pretty sweet moments. I hated that Hannah's love interest was still involved with his long term girlfriend when things start to develop between them. Also, at one point he grabs her hand and puts it on his dick after they've kissed, like, once--which is just no.
  • The way mental illness was handled. Mental illnesses like manic depression are hard to write about, and I always admire authors who are willing to write about the subject. 
  • The epilogue.
  • The writing. There is some beautiful writing to be found throughout the novel. Even though I didn't end up loving this, I would definitely pick up another book by this author.
What I didn't love:
  • While I really liked their close friendship, I never really connected with either girl. I wanted to shake Hannah for putting up with her stupid father and wish she would have put her foot down a bit more with the love interest. On the other hand, Zoe was just SO much. Again, manic depression is a serious topic, but when she starts her downward spiral, I just found it so hard to connect with her. 
  • I don't want to give anything away, so I'm not going to touch the second/road trip part of the story, but I just found so many things that happen completely unbelievable. There is supposed to be a feeling of is it happening...but just too much happens that had me shaking my head or rolling my eyes. 
So, yeah, overall I really liked certain aspects of The Museum of Intangible Things while not connecting with other parts. I admire the author's writing style and loved the strong female friendship, but wish that the second part of the novel would have stayed more grounded. If you enjoy books that focus more on friendships than romance and can easily suspend your disbelief, you may really enjoy this one. Don't go into this book expecting a light-hearted road-trip story like I did, however, because that is not at all what you will get.

If you've read this one, I would LOVE to talk to somebody about it. If you are so inclined, please PM me through twitter or send me an email.

*I received an advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review.*