Sunday, October 31, 2010

Review: The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance by Catherine Ryan Hyde

To end my awesome week of Jumpstart the World, the awesome book by Catherine Ryan Hyde, I have another review of a book that she wrote: The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance! Today's the last day to enter my giveaway for Jumpstart, so go enter!

Title: The Year of Miraculous Reappearance
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Page Count: 240 pages
Summary: Cynnie takes care of herself—and more importantly, she takes care of her little brother, Bill. So it doesn't matter that her mom is drunk all the time. Cynnie's got her own life. Cynnie's the one Bill loves more than anyone. Cynnie's the real mother in the house. And if there's one thing she knows for sure, it's that she'll never, ever sink as low as her mother.

But when things start to fall apart, Cynnie needs a way to dull the pain.

Never say never.

This unflinching look at the power of addiction is the story of one girl's fall into darkness—and the strength, trust, and forgiveness it takes to climb back out again.

Review: I'm doing a book tour for the awesome Catherine Ryan Hyde, who also wrote Pay It Forward, to promote her new book, Jumpstart the World. Her books are so inspirational - I love them!

Again, I'm not going to be able to do this review in my normal format, just because they get me so emotional and it's hard to whittle down my thoughts into bullet points.

Hyde's books are so raw and real - characters are definitely her strong point. You root for them even when you know that they are going to make bad decisions, and in this novel, Cynnie was such an awesome character. She was strong but she didn't know it and even when she turned to alcohol to solve her problems, I rooted for her the entire time to get better.

I could go on and on about how awesome this book is, but I don't think it was quite as awesome as Jumpstart. The characters were amazing, the story was amazing and heartwarming, and the reality of it sometimes astounded me. There wasn't anything that I disliked persay, but I think that, in comparison to Jumpstart, this one is a close second.

Overall: 4.5/5 stars

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sorry for my complete lack of posts! I've been swamped with school and I haven't been getting much reading done, although my review for another of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books - The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance - is coming up tomorrow or the next day. Coupled with homework and papers is the fact that I'm going home this weekend, so I'm frantically trying to get everything done! So, have no fear, I will be back!

Also - if you haven't already - enter my Jumpstart the World contest! :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review: Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Title: Jumpstart the World
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde
Page Count: 192 pages
Summary: Elle is a loner. She doesn’t need people. Which is a good thing, because she’s on her own: she had to move into her own apartment so her mother’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with her.

Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door. He’s older and has a girlfriend, but Elle can’t stop thinking about him. Frank isn’t like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He’s gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard.

But Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he’s transgender. And when Elle learns the truth, her world is turned upside down. Now she’ll have to search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.

Tender, honest, and compassionate, Jumpstart the World is a stunning story to make you laugh, cry, and honor the power of love.

Review: For this novel, I'm going to deviate from my usual format of reviews because I feel that this would do it better justice.

First of all, I loved Jumpstart the World! Loved, loved, loved it. There's something about the way that Hyde writes that is so authentic and real and raw that you can't help but love the characters - this happened in The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance as well. And Elle, she was so endearing. She said awkward things and then overexplained herself and ended up offended people more than usual, something that I tend to do a lot. She also didn't have a very good relationship with her mother - and for good reason!

Frank was another amazing character. I don't read much LGBT literature, but the way that the issue of him being transgendered is portrayed is as though it really isn't an issue at all, just a part of life, which I thought was really awesome. And I could tell why Elle loved him; he was just one of those characters that, like Elle, are so raw and real and even though they've been through crap in their lives, they came out of it a better person and just make everyone around them happy. It touched my heart.

I think the thing that made this book amazing are the characters. I cannot stop talking about them, I swear. I keep trying to write about the plot or something else, but it always comes back to them - Frank, Elle, Elle's friends, Elle's mom - they all just pop off of the page. And they have faults, yes. But it didn't make me dislike any of them because it just made them seem like real people.

Honestly, I don't have a bad thing to say about this book. It was really, really great and it touched me in a way that Hyde's books only can, in the same way that her other books have. I definitely think you should go buy a copy, if you haven't already! Also, if you haven't, you should check out my giveaway for the book! 

Overall: 5/5 stars

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jumpstart the World Blog Tour (Excerpt)

Hey everyone! I hope all of you have entered by Jumpstart the World giveaway! Today I'm going to be showcasing an excerpt from Jumpstart the World, Catherine Ryan Hyde's newest novel. The summary is in the post below, in case you're interested. Just a little background on the excerpt, just in case you're wondering: Elle has moved into her own apartment at the request of her mom, whose boyfriend didn't want her in the house. She has a cat named Toto and in the excerpt, the cat has become sick, and Frank, her next-door neighbor, is going with her to the animal hospital. Hope you enjoy!

"We walked fast to the subway together, and Frank held the carrier. I felt like I should, because he was my cat. But he was heavy, and it’s hard to walk fast lugging an extra fifteen pounds. I could barely keep up with Frank as it was.

The street was crowded with people, walking in both directions, and now and then someone wouldn’t yield, and I got separated from Frank and Toto, and had to run a few steps to catch up. Half the people who passed us were chatting on their cell phones, and their cigarette smoke blew back and caught me in the face, and I waved it away.

I felt relieved when we trotted down the steps into the subway. I like the subway. I’m not sure why.

Right away I could feel it get cooler. It’s always cooler down in that tunnel, and a little bit moist, like a cave.

I used to like to stand right by the edge of the platform and look down the hole, waiting to see the lights of the train. Back in the old days, when hardly anybody got pushed onto the tracks.

Without a word to each other, without any discussion of how we do these things, Frank and I took a spot with our backs up against the cool wall. I could feel the edge of an ad frame against my back. I could feel the wood of the bench we’d chosen not to sit on. It was right up against my left leg.

I thought about Frank’s friends from the party, then pushed the images out of my head again. But I kept having that constant feeling like there was something I was purposely not thinking about.

When the train came, the lightness of the inside of it seemed comforting somehow.

We sat on the hard plastic seat, the cat carrier between us on the floor. I was wondering why we weren’t talking.

Then I realized it was me.

I clam up when I’m upset. But realizing that didn’t exactly fix it.

I just sat there, stony, watching the lights flick off and then on again. Listening to the clatter of the metal wheels on the tracks. Feeling the rocking that is pure subway, that just doesn’t feel like any other transportation in the world.

Then I said, “I should’ve known he was sick. What was I thinking? Letting him sit in there for days. I never even looked around for him.”

“He’s a different kind of cat,” Frank said. “You expected that kind of remote behavior from him. If he ever came around on his own, I’m sure you would have missed him when he stopped.”

I wondered if that meant Frank thought it was Toto’s fault. I didn’t figure it could be. It was never the cat’s fault. That would be like blaming a three-year-old. I was the grownup in charge. The buck had to stop with me.

“Are you saying it was Toto’s fault?”

“I’m saying there’s no point blaming anyone in this case.”

We sat quiet a while longer, feeling the distinctive rocking. Comforting.

Then Frank said, “Nobody else would have taken that cat out of the pound, Elle. You know that. That cat would already be dead if it wasn’t for you. You’re taking the best care of him you can, and he doesn’t make it easy. Can you let yourself off the hook for this?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Sure. I guess.”

But I was halfway lying. Telling Frank what he wanted to hear. Maybe I could let myself off the hook. Eventually. But not just like that.

Another very long silence. But this one was more strained and painful. At least for me.

“What’s top surgery?” I asked.

I heard him pull in a deep breath. It was probably only a second or two before he answered. But it was the longest second or two in the history of civilization.
“It’s a phase of gender reassignment surgery.” A heavy, dead weight in my stomach. A little nauseating. “It’s a double mastectomy, but then also with some cosmetic surgery to give the chest more of a male shape and appearance.”

“I guess it’s none of my business,” I said.
The words sounded like they were coming from someone else. My lips felt numb. Also my brain.

“Well, you’re my friend,” he said.

Which I took to mean I could ask more questions. If I wanted to. But there was only one more question I could think to ask.

I didn’t want to."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jumpstart the World Giveaway!

Elle is a loner. She doesn’t need people. Which is a good thing, because she’s on her own: she had to move into her own apartment so her mother’s boyfriend won’t have to deal with her.

Then she meets Frank, the guy who lives next door. He’s older and has a girlfriend, but Elle can’t stop thinking about him. Frank isn’t like anyone Elle has ever met. He listens to her. He’s gentle. And Elle is falling for him, hard.
But Frank is different in a way that Elle was never prepared for: he’s transgender. And when Elle learns the truth, her world is turned upside down.  Now she’ll have to search inside herself to find not only the true meaning of friendship but her own role in jumpstarting the world.

Tender, honest, and compassionate, Jumpstart the World is a stunning story to make you laugh, cry, and honor the power of love.

Hey everyone! This week is super exciting because not only am I participating in the Jumpstart the World blog tour - I'm also hosting a giveaway of the book! Catherine Ryan Hyde also wrote the super-famous Pay It Forward, the  book that inspired the movie, and I got a chance to read not only Jumpstart the World but also another awesome book of hers - The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance (review to come this week!)

Anyway, the way to enter this giveaway is super easy and simple! The entries are:
+1 for email and name
+1 for Tweeting about the contest
+5 for blogging about the contest
+1 for adding all your entries

Leave all of  your entries in a comment and the giveaway is set to end at 12AM on November 1st, so get all of your comments in by then! This giveaway is not international, unfortunately, but I promise the next one that I have will be! I'm so excited for this giveaway and this blog tour - I love Catherine Ryan Hyde's books! :) This giveaway is not international, unfortunately, but I promise the next one that I have will be!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Title: Firelight
Author: Sophie Jordan
Page Count: 326 pages
SummaryWith her rare ability to breathe fire, Jacinda is special even among the draki—the descendants of dragons who can shift between human and dragon forms. But when Jacinda’s rebelliousness leads her family to flee into the human world, she struggles to adapt, even as her draki spirit fades. The one thing that revives it is Will, whose family hunts her kind. Jacinda can’t resist getting closer to him, even though she knows she’s risking not only her life but the draki’s most closely guarded secret.

Review: I've heard such good things about this book and I was so excited to read!

What I Liked:

  • Sex! Alright, there was no actual sex in this book. But Jacinda getting all worked up at the sight of Will? It got a little steamy. And I loved that! Teenagers + hormones + Jacinda being a dragon = some hot times.
  • Jacinda's struggle. I felt so bad for Jacinda. She messed up once and almost died, so she has to suppress this whole part of herself? It just sucked, really really badly. I wanted to throttle her mother sometimes. It just wasn't fair at all. And even though this is a book about a girl who can turn into a dragon of all things, it really resonated with me. Sometimes your parents are unreasonable and even if it makes you angry and it makes you want to throw a temper tantrum, you still have to listen.
  • Will! Oh god, there is something about how forbidden this is that just makes me want Jacinda and Will together! She tries to fight so hard against it because she knows what he is and it just, argh. It kills me! I can't even describe it.
What I Didn't Like:
  • Dragons? Well, I knew this going in to the book - the people can turn into dragons? Dragons? For real? And it worked, but only somewhat. Maybe it was more a me thing than a bad thing about the book, but that seemed far-fetched.I know it's fantasy, I know, but sometimes my disbelief was not really suspended.
  • Pacing? It got a little slow at times. I read most of it on the bus to Tampa and I had to put it down and do other things sometimes. It just didn't drag me in. 
Overall, I really enjoyed Firelight, although not as much as some other reviews have said. I was a little let down by the pacing, but I did love the sexual tension between Will and Jacinda - it was so strong you could feel it! 

Romance: 4.3/5 stars
Overall: 4/5 stars

(Sorry for the lack of reviews lately. Stress + relationship drama + midterms = not very much reading. Hopefully things will be a little better after this weekend, but I'm not sure. Over Thanksgiving and Christmas break though, I'll be posting all the time!) 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

Instead of a teaser from my current WIP, I'm here to give you a little teaser from the book I'm currently reading, Losing Faith! 

"Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!"

This is from page 192: "I wonder what happened to make Dad freak this way. Did he suddenly just decide that it's time for Mom to get over her daughter dying, and that's that? And shouldn't the solution be for us to talk about it?"

I'm loving this book so far! It's mystery and grief, all rolled into one! 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

In My Mailbox (9)

This week, I didn't get much, probably because I didn't let myself buy a lot of books. :) 

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

What did everyone else get?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday! :)

Sorry if I've been a little dead on the blogosphere - my boyfriend and I broke up last week and thankfully I had all my posts for last week scheduled so I didn't have to stress about that as well as homework, so that's the reason for my absence. I'm trying to get back on track but it's kind of hard with all my schoolwork/crew practice/friends. However! I have been writing, or rather rewriting, TSTB. I'm not sure if I'm actually going to overhaul the whole thing and do another epic rewrite for NaNo but I definitely have been sympathizing with Celeste as of late. Anyways, here's a brief little snippet!
“I need to tell you something.” He kept staring at the comforter; he didn’t even raise his eyes when he said it.
I sat down next to him, thighs touching through our jeans. “What’s up?” I asked, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. He turned his head at the last moment and I caught his lips. And he kissed me, hard, but only for a moment. Quick and passionate.
I’d forgotten to breathe when he pulled away. He looked into my eyes as I tried to catch my breath. “Celeste…” he said, my name like a sigh.
He stood up, pushing himself up off of my bed. And the sentence, the one that broke me, came out of his mouth: “We have to break up.”
I blinked, not comprehending. “What? Why?”
“I’m moving,” he said, not meeting my eyes. “On Friday.”
“Friday? What? When were you going to tell me this?”
He shoved one hand in his pocket and shrugged, but I could tell it was forced. “Now. I told you now.”
I think the fact that he hadn’t told me hurt me more at that moment than him saying we had to break up. Because I could fix a break up, because we could get back together, but this? Out of my power. And he’d waited until the last moment.
“Where?” I felt like a reporter, ‘Who? What? When? Where? Why?’
“Seattle,” he replied, leaning on my bed post.
“Well,” I said, “We can handle long-distance. Seattle’s only a few hours away.”
He shook his head. “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, Celeste. And I don’t think we should. I think it would be better to do this now because neither of us have cars and it’s not like your mom would drive you to see me.”
“Are you serious?” I asked and I wanted to yell, but I could feel the tears starting behind my eyes. I could feel that catch in my throat, that bitter taste in my mouth, and I knew I was going to cry. “Alex, we’ve been together for a year. A year. Are you really going to do this?”
He shrugged. “I still want to be friends. You’re my best friend.”
Something snapped inside of me when he said that, like I could be his friend after going out with him for so long. Like he hadn’t just broken my heart a moment ago. “Get out, Alex,” I said.
The worst part? He listened.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In My Mailbox (8)

I went to visit my boyfriend last weekend in Tampa, where he goes to college. Technically, I bought these all last week, but we won't worry about semantics. We went to this really awesome used bookstore and I got a couple of classics along with a newer YA book.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

When It Happens by Susane Colasanti

I've been in love with Steinbeck ever since I read Of Mice and Men and I read East of Eden last year as well. I've seen Les Miserables the movie a million times and I loved it, so I figured the book should be even more awesome. The other books are just ones that I've wanted to read for a while! 

What did you guys get this week? 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Title: The Duff
Author: Kody Keplinger
Page Count: 288 pages
Summary: "Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone."

What I Liked:

  • SEX! Maybe just because I'm still a teenager, but I love that this book didn't edge around the fact that teenagers do have sex. This always gets a big star from me because a lot of YA books like to think that the most teenagers do is kiss, which is obviously not true! 
  • Ugly Ducking Narrator? The main character isn't a beautiful girl who just doesn't know it, although she does realize near the end that she isn't as ugly as she thinks she is. I just liked that she wasn't absolutely gorgeous and just had low self-esteem like everyone else on the face of the YA-verse. 
  • Mmm, Man Whore! Enough said, Wesley sounded pretty gorgeous.

What I Didn't Like: (These are a little spoilery!)

  • Wesley? Although Wesley did sound pretty hot, I did not believe his transformation at all. I just felt like I didn't get a very good handle on his character and because of that, him liking Bianca besides what they had going on didn't make much sense to me. It seemed like a little fairytale.
  • Ehh... I'm hesitant to say this, but this whole book just seemed like a fantasy for the author. I know it's been said that it's awesome that Keplinger wrote the book in high school (go her, by the way! I wrote some but none were good enough to get published, not that I tried.) but it seemed like something that someone in high school would write. I don't mean to attack the author but that's just my point of view on it. I know the first novel I wrote was pure fantasy-fulfillment. Those are the best kinds because they're just for you! :) 
  • I just couldn't get into it! There are some books that just absorb you completely and you can't wait to get back to reading them when you're away from them. The DUFF was not one of those books. I wanted to read it, but I didn't have any sense of urgency.

Overall, I did enjoy The DUFF because it didn't skirt around the subject of sex and the narrator wasn't a gorgeous Mary-Sue. However, the novel did feel a little like fantasy fulfillment and I couldn't get into one of the main characters.

Overall: 3/5 stars