Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

After winning a tour around the world for her violin recital, Carmen Bianche was all about success and winning the upcoming Guarneri competition. That was until Carmen saw her main competition, Jeremy King, a British 17-year-old who was also world wide known for his violin talent.

Carmen really wanted to hate Jeremy. She even started out hating him, but after she met him and saw the person behind the violin, she realized that she may actually have feelings toward Jeremy.

In order to prepare herself for the competition, Carmen keeps her distance away from Jeremy, keeping all feelings put on hold until the winner is chosen. Fate wasn't having that though.

In addition to her feelings toward Jeremy, Carmen was also fighting a battle with her self, along with her mother. Her mother, Diane, was a famous soprano singer before losing her voice through a surgery. Now, Diane is helping Carmen get her musical career going, living through her daughter's success.

Carmen also has been taking Inderal, a prescription drug to "take away the edge" and calm Carmen down during her performances. She decides she wants to feel the adrenaline rush during and after her performances, so she stops taking the medicine, putting Carmen on the wrong side of her mother.

After dealing with some major setbacks, Carmen has to decide if she loves music, or if she loves the idea of winning more to determine where her future career will take her.

My Thoughts/Reflections
I've actually been reading a lot of YA novels about music. Out of those novels, I think this one was by far my favorite one. Reading how Carmen was struggling with so many inner demons (her attraction to the enemy - Jeremy, battling against Inderal, going against her mother's wishes) showed me the hardships that professional musicians go through - something I've never thought about before.

The pressure that Carmen goes through before the Guarneri competition would be enough to crack a grown man. I don't know how Carmen was able to think straight, let alone make two of the hardest decisions in her life.

The romance between Carmen and Jeremy was very heated - even though there wasn't too many romantic scenes between them. The attraction they feel toward one another is forbidden, but there none the less. Both are able to see the person, rather than the violinist, the competition, making their thoughts and feelings very confusing about one another.

I really loved this book, which is a surprise to me. I thought I would like it, it would be a nice, different read, but the iron will of Carmen and her grown up ability to make decisions instantly attracted me to her character.

I would recommend this to anyone aspiring to be a musician, or to any teenage girl who feels trapped in a family situation and has no freedom to do what they want. It's a great novel to read if one is feeling pressured or lost in their own world and needs a way to clear their head to find the right path to take.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith

Leah Johnson has a pretty good life. She is blond, smart, and has her whole future mapped out for her by her two older sisters, Yorke and Freddie. Both sisters were homecoming and prom queen, valedictorian, and dated the captain of the football team - all that are in line for Leah to join in her upcoming senior year.

The summer before her senior year, though, Leah is still working at the swimming pool as a life guard - something her mother hates - and just found out that her oldest sister, Yorke, is getting married at the beginning of August and her other sister, Freddie, is going to France for oversea studies.

Another thing that has happened during the summer is Leah meeting Porter - a mysterious, handsome stranger who works at the country club and seems to find Leah at random times.

Leah feels this undeniable attraction with Porter, something she's never felt with her boyfriend (captain of the football team) Shane, before. As Leah is trying to figure out what the attraction means, she's becoming more and more distant with Shane, finding his habits annoying and overbearing.

Leah's mother sees the disconnection Leah has with the family traditions and starts keeping Leah on a tighter leash - trying to make Leah another version of herself and of Leah's two sisters.

However, Leah is starting to understand that she doesn't have to be exactly like the women in her family to have a good and happy life for her own wants and needs.

My Thoughts/Reflections
I have to admit, I picked this book up because of the cover. I got very interested after reading the back excerpt and thought this would be another steamy romance like Perfect Chemistry or Hush, Hush.

However, I found myself not particularly connecting with this book. Don't get me wrong, the story and meaning behind Leah finding her own self rather than following the footsteps of her mother and sisters is a great storyline, but there were times when I thought Leah was complaining too much and not doing something about her life.

She eventually did go off on her own path, but it took a little longer than I thought it should have.

I'm glad that Leah was able to get her own identity, though, in the end. No one should feel the need to have to follow their siblings footsteps. I'm an older sister of just my sister and I, so I don't know what it's like to have that pressure, but I know that my younger sister and I are definitely different from one another, making us have different goals and achievements.

I would recommend this novel for any teen girls who feel the need to follow their older sibling's footsteps. They would be able to relate to Leah's story and maybe figure out their own hobbies or likes to change their future from their sister's decisions.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Indigo Blues by Danielle Joseph

Indigo Jackson is a senior in high school ready to go off to college. She's also getting a bad reputation from the newest hit single "Indigo Blues" written and sung by her ex-boyfriend, Adam Spade in his band, Blank Stare.

Becoming "famous" was never Indigo's intention. In fact, she would rather NOT be as well known as she is because it is interrupting her normal, everyday life. Now she has to dodge classmates wanting her autograph, host show sponsors on TV, and Adam's phone calls every day or so.

Adam was very upset when Indigo said she wanted a break from their relationship. He wrote the song in anger and hurt, not knowing he was going to produce the next big hit song. Now he has to try to figure out his feelings toward Indigo now, while scrambling to write another hit song to save his band from being a "one hit wonder".

Both Adam and Indigo are angry at one another - one for breaking up and breaking his heart, the other for having a song written about her that portrayed her as a mean, callous person. Will they ever be able to get over their anger and be friends again, or is the damage done and can't be fixed?

My Thoughts/Reflections
This was a short, easy read and I enjoyed hearing both Adam and Indigo's stories through alternating chapters. I could see both viewpoints of why each character was angry from the break-up/creation of the song and it was nice to see them battling through the after effects of the song apart rather than together.

Throughout the novel, Indigo and Adam didn't see one another until the very end, so they were able to come to their real feelings without being influenced by one another's presence - which usually doesn't happen in relationship break ups for teens. Many times, they are still going to the same school together which makes the avoidance stage hard to do.

I would recommend this book to both genders of teenagers, and especially teens who like music. Being able to hear both Adam and Indigo's thoughts helps to better understand what they were going through and also makes this story relatable for both guys or girls who have been in a bad break-up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

The year is 1996. For those readers who never lived through the nineties, here are some dramatic differences:

  • Cassette tapes are still  used, along with Beepers and Discman's. 
  • Titanic and Harry Potter have not been created yet, among other movies and books. 
  • VCR's are still used, rather than DVDs or BluRay
  • No fancy technology, which include (but are not limited to) iPads, iPods, i or e anything, cell phones and barely computers. 
  • In this book, Emma's new computer has Windows 95. And uses Dial-up Internet. 
  • Same sex relationships are frowned upon. 
  • And a lot of other things...

Emma Nelson's father gave Emma a desktop computer - sort of as a guilt present since Emma's parents are divorced and her father now has a new daughter with his other family. Emma's mom is now on her 3rd marriage as well. 

Josh Templeton is Emma's neighbor, and, used to be, best friend. When Josh's mom hears that Emma has a new computer, she sends Josh over to see if Emma wants to download America OnLine (AOL) since Josh doesn't have a computer. 

Emma downloads AOL, which takes over  1 1/2 hours, and after making her username and password, is automatically logged into her Facebook account... Only Facebook doesn't exist in 1996!!

Throughout the next week, Emma and Josh look on the Facebook pages, seeing what their lives are like in 15 years (in 2011). However, every action Emma and Josh make create a ripple in time, changing information on their Facebook profiles. 

For instance, Emma realized she didn't like her husband in 2011, so she decided not to go to the college where she meets her future husband and her life changed on her Facebook profile. 

Josh has an amazing life with an amazing wife, so when Emma starts rewriting... the future... he gets upset and doesn't want anything to change for him. 

Will the Facebook website make Josh and Emma be on edge for the rest of their lives and run their lives? Or will they start living in the present and not worry about the future?

My Thoughts/Reflections
I have been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it, and it did not disappoint! Emma and Josh were on the mend of being friends - not as close as they once were but not ignoring each other either. Getting AOL and Facebook brought them together again, but also kept them arguing about certain actions taken. 

Honestly, if I were in Emma's shoes, I'm not sure what I would have done if I saw my future Facebook account. I probably would have tried to find out what happened to make my life the way it was and if I didn't like it, probably change it. 

Both Emma and Josh had some tough choices to decide on throughout the week of installing AOL on Emma's computer. They definitely thought like adults and made some adult decisions when they are only 16 years old - When I was 16, I was definitely not thinking like an adult. 

Trying to figure out what to do in the present to make their future what they want was very stressful for Emma and Josh, along with doing day to day routines such as going to school and hanging out with friends. I think the ending of this book was amazing after the choices Emma and Josh decided to follow panned out. 

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone - guy, girl, adult, teens. The chapters are alternating between Emma and Josh, making it relatable to both gender readers, and the references to 1996 would take adults down memory lane when they first got a computer and the Internet. Teens today might think some references (such as cassette tapes or VHS) might be hilarious, but the relationship and friendship storyline would be relatable for them to follow as well. 

This became one of my favorite novels, especially since I've read both of the author's previous works and liked both of their books. I will be recommending this to everyone I know! (So beware, friends ;-))

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Bar Code Rebellion by Suzanne Weyn

This sequel in the Bar Code series, The Bar Code Rebellion, follows Kayla on her journey to rebel against the bar code tattoo, which by law is required in the year 2025. I did a blog post on the first novel, The Bar Code Tattoo, (title is linked to post) which explains the differences in 2025 and will help you understand the storyline better if you read before this post.

Kayla feels that she can't keep hiding in the mountains from the Global-1 officials. After the officers raid the mountain, she knows for sure that she can't stay there anymore and decides to fight for her freedom and try to stop Global-1 from forcing the tattoos on everyone.

She goes to Washington D.C. where a government official, David Young, is advocating for no requirements on bar code tattoos when everyone who doesn't have the tattoo gets ambushed by the Global-1 officers and are put into jail.

Kayla barely escapes with the help of an old friend, Dusa. They are creating fake bar codes and helping out everyone against the bar code tattoos.

After that, Kayla needs to find answers and goes west to find her friend, Allyson, who is working for a genetic school in California.

Meanwhile, Kayla is having more visions about girls who look like Kayla, but are not her in different parts of the world. Come to find out, Kayla was part of an experiment that initiated the bar code tattoos! She is a sixtuplet - and a clone! All of the visions she's been having are with her other "sisters" and now Kayla wants to find them to find out who they are and where they came from.

Will Kayla be able to save all of her friends from getting the tattoo? Can she stop Global-1 once and for all, or will they keep bar coding everyone? Read both The Bar Code Tattoo and The Bar Code Rebellion to find out how this futuristic series ends!

My Thoughts/Reflections
I was not disappointed with this sequel, and final, book of Suzanne Weyn's books! Kayla definitely grew into more of a leader instead of a hider in this novel, making herself face her fears and find answers to what has been happening to her for almost a year.

Weyn created a future that was believable because of how advanced technology has gotten in the past few years. Her ability to go "back in time" to show how everything was initiated was also a great thing to read because the reader was able to understand how this could possibly happen in today's society.

I also liked how the author was able to explain the scientific terminology and concepts in a way where the reader can understand. I do not enjoy science and do not understand anything about science, but after reading these two novels I was able to wrap my head around what the scientists did to create such a future. That's talent, I think, to break down the concepts of science for anyone to understand!

I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in dystopian worlds, science fiction, cloning, rebellion/war, and survival. Kayla really had a lot going on but she never gave up and fought for her freedom - something a strong character needs throughout the story to keep the reader cheering the main character on until the very end of the story.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn

It's the year 2025. Some things are different than we know now, such as:

  • There is no paper money - only e-cards, and most recently bar code tattoo's (also called 'too) on a person's right inside wrist where they are scanned, like food at a grocery store. 
  • Minimum wage is $18 an hour. 
  • Global-1 is issuing that everyone at the age of 17 must get a bar code tattoo or the ones who don't get the 'too will be a felon. 
  • AgroGlobal (a district of Global-1) creates all food. They replicate the seeds in plants, creating food when they want to rather than planting seeds in the ground to produce natural food. 
  • Robots run cash registers. 
  • Desktops in schools now have an iPad or eReader installed in it. 

Kayla Reed has just turned 17 and has been conflicted over whether she wanted to get the bar code 'too. After watching her father go crazy and try to cut the 'too off of his wrist, killing himself, she's inclined to stay away from her own bar code. 

However, Global-1 won their lawsuit against the government, stating that everyone of the age of 17 must get the 'too, or they will be committing a crime. 

After Kayla's world starts crumbling around her, losing everything and everyone she was close to, Kayla finds herself running from the government and police officials. She wants to keep her own identity instead of having her every action being followed. 

She decides to find a haven where others who are rebelling against the 'too live together. Instead of living in high society, they are living in the mountains, living day by day as the cavemen used to without technology. 

But they are also psychic - they can talk to one another through their minds and use energy to move things if they are strong enough. After seeing images of a war in the near future, Kayla is unsure what will happen to her and her new friends in their future. 

My Thoughts/Reflections
I really liked this book. When I first read the back, I got the image of Dark Angel television show with Jessica Alba where she had a bar code on the back of her neck after she broke out of a prison as a child. This is different, though, because everyone wants the 'too rather than only a select few can get one. 

Kayla had to grow up very fast in a short amount of time and I liked that about her. She might have complained about how tough things were, but she never gave up and always tried to find somewhere safe to be. 

This is the first book in a two book series, so I'm excited to see where Suzanne Weyn went in the second novel, The Bar Code Rebellion (which I'll be reading next to find out!). I hope I see more of the rebellion members and see Kayla initiate actions to hopefully get rid of the bar code law. 

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to read a "futuristic" novel and if anyone is interested in the future of credit cards/banking topics, since this is basically related to those topics. The twists and turns Weyn takes throughout the novel is also refreshing as I didn't see all of them coming ahead of time. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

New Yorker, 16-year-old, Miranda Merchant is going to be a scientist. She even has an internship with the Museum of Natarual History for the summer to gain more experience with science topics.

Before she can start her internship, though, Miranda goes to Selkie Island to meet up with her mother. Her grandmother just passed away and both Miranda and her mother are getting the family house ready to sell since no one visits the island anymore.

Miranda is a level-headed girl, so when she hears the island stories about the kraken, sea monsters, and merfolk, she obviously thinks that they are just stories to bring in tourists.

After looking through the family house, reading a "historie" book about Selkie Island, and meeting a local boy, Leo, Miranda's not so sure if the stories are true or false anymore.

Being logical all of her life is making this trip on Selkie Island more confusing for Miranda. She's unsure why she feels the strong connection with Leo, but in the end she realizes that chemistry is more than a science experiment - it can be just a connection that ties two opposite people together.

Does the enchantment of the island keep Miranda's logical attention or will she want to go home to New York for her internship after her trip is finished? Read Sea Change to find out!

I really liked this novel. It has a little bit of science fiction, but enough contemporary issues to capture a wide variety of readers. The struggle that Miranda goes through with herself to determine if a legend is happening or if science is right and everyone on the island is just making up stories is amazing to see.

It's also very realistic when Miranda has to decide if the attraction between her and Leo is "for real" or just a rebellious streak she is having against her mother. I think a lot of teenage girls would like this storyline and the inner struggle Miranda has with her logical self vs. her romantic self.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sticky Fingers by Niki Burnham

What does one do when, as a senior student, gets accepted into Harvard University through Early Admission? That means throughout the whole second semester of senior year, a high school student doesn't have to apply to anymore colleges.

Jenna Kassarian is that student. She has been working her tail off trying to get the best grades with the best after school activities to get into Harvard for college.

Right before Christmas, Jenna got the acceptance letter, so, really, what was Jenna to do with all of her free time not spending on applications?

Maybe have fun? Jenna's never had fun - she always spent an extra 10 minutes studying for an exam than talking gossip with her best friend, Courtney.

Jenna also has an amazing boyfriend, Scott, who they've been going out with for over a year and he wants to take their relationship to the next level. He also wants to get into Harvard, so they will hopefully be going to college together, and they are in love.

However, Jenna's not sure if she's ready for that commitment during this time of her life.

With the pressure from her boyfriend, and the weird vibe Jenna's been getting from Courtney, Jenna is not sure what has happened from getting her acceptance letter to going to a party - something Jenna is not known to do.

Is Jenna changing for the better or worse? Does Jenna want to change or is she feeling forced?

I really liked Sticky Fingers. I definitely didn't see the ending of this book, which was refreshing for me since many novels are predictable nowadays. If you are looking for a contemporary, real life story, this novel should definitely be on your list - especially if you are a senior high school girl finding yourself at crossroads between teenage years and "college years".

*Side Note* - I have no idea why this book is called Sticky Fingers. It wasn't mentioned at all in the novel (that I saw anyway). Whatever the title of the book is, though, I did enjoy reading Jenna's story and inner struggle about what to do with Scott, Courtney, school, and herself. Her character definitely developed throughout this novel.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kissing Booth by Lexie Hill

Lisi Jared has had a crush on Brett Jacobson for over 3 years. It's his senior year, last semester, and Lisi has had this fantasy that Brett would be her first kiss - but Brett doesn't even know Lisi's name!

What's a girl to do? Well, host a Kissing Booth at the school carnival, that's what! The way Lisi sees it, she will get the most tickets at her booth and will also get her first kiss with Brett at the same time.

Well, that's what Lisi thought before everything started to go downhill...

One of her best friends decided to start hanging out with the popular, snobby group, her other best friend is more concerned with getting a boy's attention, and her guy friend is focused on getting the first prize from the carnival to go to New York City to visit a college he wants to get into for film.

Lisi is getting out of control with all of the secrets and lies, that by the time it comes to host the Kissing Booth at the carnival, Lisi doesn't know what is true or not anymore.

Will Lisi get her first kiss with Brett? Will she tell the truth to all of the lies that have been building up? Read Kissing Booth to find out!

This was a cute, short story about friendship, crushes, and honesty. If you are looking for a light, fun story, I would definitely recommend this to you! It took me a day to read it and made me chuckle during a few  parts. Although I was able to figure out what happened at the beginning of the book and predict the ending, it was still an engaging story overall.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Daelyn Rice has tried to commit suicide twice, but in her words, she "failed" both times. This book follows Daelyn as she gets ready to attempt her third try.

In order to prepare herself, she finds a website called "Through the Light" where others sign in to talk about their experience with bullying, suicide attempts, sexual harassment, and ranting discussion boards with other people about to commit suicide.

The last attempt Daelyn tried to commit suicide, she ruined her vocal cords, which left her mute until they healed themselves. Everyone at school started calling her a freak. Before that, Daelyn was called the "fat girl" and other similar names because she was overweight.

Daelyn was tired of her life. Nothing seemed worth living for anymore, so, according to the website "Through the Light" her next attempt would be in 23 days.

As Daelyn was waiting for her parents to pick her up after school, a boy with bleach white hair sat next to her on the bench and started to talk to her. He didn't mind that Daelyn ignored him, he just kept talking.

Daelyn doesn't want to talk to Santana - she wants to be detached from everyone: classmates, teachers, parents, Santana. However, Santana starts to get under her cracks and she wonders if committing suicide is the right thing to do.

This wasn't my favorite book, but it was very informative on how a teenager feels when thinking about ending their life and the reasons why they would want to do it. Daelyn has had a hard life and sees no happiness in her future.

If you want a short read that goes into the heart and mind of a troubled, sad, hopeless teen, this would be a good book to pick. If you want a cheerful, uplifting book, I would not recommend this book.

So... does Daelyn succeed in her third suicide? Does she try to commit suicide again? Read this short story to find out for yourself! ;-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bound by Guilt by C. J. Darlington

Roxi Gold
A 16-year-old teenager who has been parentless since she was 8. Her mother was a drug addict when Roxi lived with her and then was a charge of the state when social workers found out that Marie, her mother, had a serious addiction.

Now Roxi is living with distant relatives after horrible foster family situations. However, as well as living with family can be, Roxi is part of the "family business" where her aunt, cousin, and her steal rare and expensive books to sell online to make money.

Abby Dawson
A 41-year-old cop who lives alone and tries to contact her 16-year-old daughter, Kat, but finds that her daughter doesn't want anything to do with the woman who birthed her finds out that her younger brother was murdered in his bookstore.

Abby just got suspended from her detective work for 2 weeks and then had to deal with the details of her brother's death, making Abby act rashly and not at all like the cop she has been for the last 18 years of service.

Roxi and Abby
Even though Roxi and Abby don't realize it, they are connected after the accidental murder of Hunter Dawson: one running away from the horrible incident and the other running to find the murderer and close the case.

The hardships Roxi goes through during this novel show how not every teenager is blessed with a family, a roof over their head, or someone to lean on when times are tough. Abby's life is bleak and lonesome after she takes a hard look at what's happened with her family and her estranged daughter who she doesn't know anymore.

This novel shows the destitution and unhappiness that can occur, but how far some are willing to go to have the life they deserve and the life they want to happen for themselves.

I would recommend this novel. It might be a little slow reading, but the reader can feel the emotions that the two main characters feel throughout the story. Also, it's about books, rare books, and I couldn't pass up a story revolving around my favorite pastime hobby :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

This is a great cover! Definitely
different than most that are out
Having to travel halfway across the world to be a part in your father's wedding is one of the worst feelings a 17 year old can feel. Just ask Hadley Sullivan. Her parents divorced 2 years prior, and while Hadley wasn't happy with their decision, she respected their choice.

When she was told she had to participate in her father's wedding with his soon-to-be wife who she's never met before - well she wasn't very willing or happy about that prospect. Off to London Hadley went, though, to be a part of her father's second marriage.

But fate has it's own way of choosing Hadley's future. On the day of her flight, just about everything went wrong, to traffic, clothes mishaps, fixing the bridesmaids dress, and finally, missing her flight by 4 minutes. Those 4 minutes was all it took to Hadley's future changing forever.

Those 4 minutes meant that Hadley met Oliver, a Britain who was traveling to London as well, on Hadley's new flight. And also happened to be sitting right next to her for 10 straight hours on the airplane.

Oliver was a great character to love at first sight - at least for me. He's charming, a gentleman, funny, mysterious, and, of course, has that British accent that very few can resist. His story was very emotional, but he's one tough cookie and definitely felt a connection with Hadley from the very beginning. 

During the flight, Hadley and Oliver talked about everything and nothing, but the attraction between the two was undeniable and when the flight ended, Hadley was upset that she would probably never see Oliver again.

Fate has its design though.

Jennifer E. Smith wrote a great story here! This touches a lot of tough subjects, from a teenager stuck with feelings from his/her parents divorce to meeting new "family" and not knowing if they are happy or mad about it, from meeting a stranger who understands your problems to figuring out what is really important and what can be forgiven.

I read this book within a day. It's easy to read, fun, and is a great love story - all of which happened in ONE DAY. This book gives hope for finding that one person and shows the inner struggle inside a girl stuck between her feelings for both parents.

This is a definite yes - a must read for everyone! Even though it's a girl narration, I think young guys would be interested in this story because it's a fun and relatable storyline that any gender could relate to if they've been through parents divorcing or traveling to a foreign country for a not-so-pleasant event.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin

In this young adult novel, My Beating Teenage Heart, we meet two characters: Ashlyn and Breckon. The beginning of the story starts off with a character falling from the sky. This person has no idea what has happened, where they are going, or why they are falling - just that they don't want to crash into the ground the closer they get to Earth.

We then find out that it was Ashlyn, a 15 year old girl, who was falling - and that her destination was to oversee Breckon, a 16 year old boy.

As the reader gets farther and farther into the story, we find out that Ashlyn's memory of who she is comes to her slowly, while she is forced to be with Breckon 24/7. She's never tired and she can't go wherever she wants to (like her own house with her own family).

The more Ashlyn watches Breckon, the more she learns about him and the troubles he's been having lately. The main problem, though, is that his 7 year old sister, Skylar, died. Breckon is having a hard time finding a reason to go back to his normal schedule after this tragedy and Ashlyn, while watching Breckon, tries to find a way to communicate to him what he should and shouldn't do.

As the story gets further and further by, we gain more pieces of Ashlyn's past. Or, rather, Ashlyn figures out who she is. What she likes to eat, her favorite tv shows, her friends, and, eventually, how she came to be attached to Breckon and what the purpose is for her surveillance on him.

Breckon, throughout the novel, goes through the hardship of losing someone that he loves dearly and comes to realize that he can lean on others and doesn't always have to be strong all of the time.

This novel was told through alternative viewpoints: Breckon's and Ashlyn's. In each of their narration, the reader becomes aware of both character's thoughts and realizations, learning just as they are what has happened to both of them. Being able to understand Ashlyn's frustrations by not being able to communicate with Breckon and also not understanding her own history and how she got there makes the reader understand what she is going through.

The same occurs when Breckon tells his story about what he is feeling after losing his little sister and if fighting everyday is really worth it.

There is some content in here that touches some tough subjects, but in a way that young readers would be able to understand even if they have not lost someone they were close to. C.K. Kelly Martin really was able to show the emotions with this subject without making it too psychiatric, and easy to understand for a younger audience.

Also, by making this an alternative viewpoint narration of a guy and a girl, it can be read by both genders because it's not just talking about two subjects, but two subjects with a different viewpoint.

I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, but I think it would be a great way to learn about the survivors of a death in the family and it can make the reader get a glimsp into what those victims could be feeling after losing a loved one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wildfire - TV Series

Season 1
In 2005, ABC Family aired a new series called Wildfire. The show is now complete - it finished in 2008 after 4 seasons.

The show focuses on a Thoroughbred horse (Wildfire) and Kris Furillo, a  juvenile who was sent to juvie jail for stealing a car and "resisting arrest". Kris met Wildfire through the equine center at Camp Lagrange (the Juvie center) where Kris connected with Wildfire and they became amazing friends.

Season 2
In the first season, after Kris gets on parole from Camp Lagrange, Kris gets a chance to go to Raintree Farms where Pablo works. He was the trainer who helped the girls at Camp Lagrange with the horses and he saw Kris really care and connect with the horses.

Kris gets a job there and stirs up trouble between two close friends: Junior and Matt. Matt is the owners son at Raintree Farms and Junior is the family's rival farm (Davis Farm) and also very rich and successful. Raintree was not successful in their horse training and was struggling with money when the show starts.

Season 3
The longer Kris is at Raintree, the longer the tension gets between both Kris and Matt, and Kris and Junior. However, the training that Kris does with the horses turns out well - so well that she decides to get a jockey license to start professional racing.

This is a great series! I've actually watched the first 2 seasons when they aired and then watched the whole series twice - back to back! There are only 13 episodes in the 4 seasons (so 52 episodes total) and it is drama and action filled with every episode.

Season 4
Also, I was able to watch the show completely on Hulu.com, so if you're interested you can go on there and watch it for free! (Hint, hint!). ...Not that I'm trying to tell anyone to go watch them...right now...or anything!

While watching the show, you'll get emotionally attached to all of the characters. And! When Kris is racing in her jockey matches with her horses, it is very intense. I would go at times without breathing because I was waiting to see if she won or not. My heart was definitely racing by the end of each race and I was either very excited or very disappointed, depending the end results.

I think this show could be for any audience. I'm not a teen anymore and I still love this show - and this show has been finished for 4 years and I still think that teens today would like the storyline and characters in this show.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

City of Lost Souls - Cover Reveal

I just saw the new cover of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series #5, which comes out May 8th, 2012!

I have to say, it looks really good! I'm especially glad that the people on the cover have faces this time :)

So... Here it is!

What do you think? Like, dislike?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate

Being popular in high school is tough. Sure, it looks simple to all of the other students who want to be popular, but for those who are popular? Not so easy. Just ask Natalie Hargrove. She transferred to Palmetto her freshman year and was already trying to impress the popular crowd. By the time she became a junior, she was the "IT" girl. 

And Palmetto is no easy place to be popular either. Their tradition is to crown the Palmetto Prince and Princess with a week long of activities to honor the "royal" couple that was chosen, including (but definitely not limited to) having a white horse drawn carriage transport the Prince and Princess to the Royal Ball... Who would want that stress?!

Natalie Hargrove. That's who.

Unfortunately, someone is getting in the way of her wish come true. J.B. Another contender to be the Palmetto Prince. Having to ride with him was not part of Natalie's plans. So she decides to make sure that her and her boyfriend for 3 years, Mike, are crowned the "royal" couple - no matter at what costs. 

Natalie just wasn't aware of what those costs would be. Nor at what would be unveiled from her past when she makes those choices. 

This was a good book. Not as good as Lauren Kate's series Fallen (which I absolutely adored). There is one similarity between this book and her series, though. They have mystery and suspense down to the last page. 

I would definitely recommend this book. It is a fast read that will keep the reader's attention. And this is a single book - no waiting impatiently for the next in the series. Lauren Kate gave us a good mystery with high society demands of high school that would make the popular kids of high school today cringe. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Going off to college is a tough transition. Especially to a college that is far away and you only know one person: your ex. That's what happened to Courtney. She was dating Jordan when he tells her that he is seeing another girl through MySpace and that he wants to see other people rather than be in a committed relationship two weeks before they were going to road trip together to college in Boston (from Florida, mind you).

But. There are always two sides to every story. Lauren Barnholdt wrote this novel in a very interesting way. First, she wrote each chapter alternating the narrators. One chapter was through Courtney's viewpoint and then Jordan would get his say of what happened. However, Barnholdt switched it up even more by changing the time of the story. Some chapters were during the 3 day trip to Boston, when Courtney and Jordan were broken up, to 6 months before the trip when Jordan and Courtney were starting/currently dating.

The reader finds out throughout the series of narration exactly why Jordan broke up with Courtney and also how each character really felt about the other. After getting to Boston, Jordan and Courtney have to deal with the events that unfolded through those very long 3 days of their trip, while also transitioning into their college dorms and classes.

This was very well written. Barnholdt kept the reader in suspense as to what really happened between these two characters and was able to keep each characters thoughts unique to their own style, showing that each character really had strong emotions about the events that unfolded.

I think that this book could easily be read by both guys and girls because both characters were expressing their thoughts. I'm not used to reading a guy's perspective about starting a relationship and going to college with either a girlfriend or an ex-girlfriend, so being able to get some insight on Jordan's feelings was a great change.

While the trip might have been difficult for both Courtney and Jordan, they were able, in the end, to find the truth and be honest with one another, which is a hard thing to do. This would be a great story for anyone, whether they are in or just ended a relationship, scared about going to college or a new school, or having troubles with their parents. This book covers a lot of hard topics, making it a very relatable book to all audiences.