Thu, May 29, 2014

Take Me On by Katie McGarry Review

Take Me On book cover

Take Me On book cover

Take Me On
By Katie McGarry (Pushing the Limits #4)
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Harlequin Teen, 544 pages
Source: Publisher

Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has to train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her-fighting for her-is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Hayley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

— description

If you like your plots gritty, your romances steamy and your characters all sorts of flawed…WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THIS SERIES YET?

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: What I like most about Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series is that book after book she surprises me. They’re all entertaining stories by themselves, but what wows me is the seeing characters I either disliked or dismissed in one book take the lead in the next. McGarry totally upturns everything I thought I knew about them!

I didn’t think much of West in the last book, but I loved his strength and loyalty in Take Me On. And Haley! What a kick butt girl. She’s equal parts strong and vulnerable and I loved her sportiness.

I also totally forgot how Crash Into You ended in a cliffie. AHHH! Loved seeing the resolution there — and it didn’t take me long at all to get caught back up to speed.

If you started this series, please continue. If you haven’t yet, give it a try when you’re in the mood for something YA that still feels a little NA. Think Simone Elkeles!

My previous reviews in the series:
Pushing the Limits
Dare You To
Crash Into You

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: abuse, family, katie mcgarry, romance

Wed, April 23, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead book cover

Love Letters to the Dead book cover

Love Letters to the Dead
By Ava Dellaira
Publication date: April 1, 2014
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 323 pages
Source: Publisher

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

— description

Love Letters to the Dead is the sort of book that hits you like a punch in the gut.

You’re off-kilter from the get-go, a bit woozy as you read…but wow does it make you feel something.

It’s a poetic and haunting story that made me feel its highs and lows so very sharply as Laurel shifted between euphoria and depression. It’s a difficult and uneasy read, for sure, but if you are in the right mood to accept and appreciate that, it is not to be missed.

The story structure! How beautiful. Each chapter is set up as a new letter from Laurel to a dead person, from Kurt Cobain to Judy Garland. It’s quite brilliant and ties in so well with the story.

I loved the depth of emotion this story conveyed, its complexity and, ultimately, its characters’ strengths. Highly recommended.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: abuse, angst, ava dellaira, death, depression, family, friendship, romance

Mon, June 24, 2013

Dare You To by Katie McGarry Review

Dare You To book cover

Dare You To book cover

Dare You To
By Katie McGarry
Publication date: May 28, 2013
Harlequin Teen, 462 pages
Source: Publisher

Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. “Dance with me, Beth.”

“No.” I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again….

“I dare you…”

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…

— description

Dare You To is the companion to McGarry’s earlier novel Pushing the Limits. Back in 2012, I wrote that I was “very caught up in the storyline and [was] not once in danger of putting the book down” with the first book, but that the terms of endearment went a little overboard.

Well, ditto — sort of — when it comes to Dare You To. Once again, I loved McGarry’s storyline about two messed up kids coming together. It was filled with plenty of romance, drama and entertainment value.

But, like with the terms of endearment in Pushing the Limits, parts were a little too dramatic for my taste. I tend to lean that way, though, in my reading…a LOT of readers who are on the pro-drama side of the spectrum are going to eat this one up because of the drama.

One thing that I think that really worked in my favor was that it had been a long time since I read Pushing the Limits. I vaguely remembered disliking Beth and being upset when I heard the second book was going to feature her. But I’d forgotten many of the bad feelings over time and she grew on me as the book went on. Now let’s hope the same thing happens when it’s time for book three, which is all about Isaiah, whom I REALLY disliked this time around.

Bonus factor: A good boy. Three cheers for all-American Mr. Honorable, Ryan Stone. Loved him!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: abuse, family, katie mcgarry, romance

Thu, April 18, 2013

Live Through This by Mindi Scott Review

Live Through This book cover

Live Through This book cover

Live Through This
By Mindi Scott
Publication date: Oct. 2, 2012
Simon Pulse, 304 pages
Source: Borrowed from Ginger — thanks, G!

From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a mom and stepdad who would stop at nothing to keep her siblings and her happy.

But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted façade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now that Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.

In this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel, Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an everygirl living a nightmare that no one would suspect.

— description

Oh my gosh, Mindi Scott, you just slayed me with words.

Earlier this year, I read her book Freefall and got really mad at myself for waiting so long to read such a beautiful story. Okay, well, ditto for Live Through This. Lesson learned! Mindi, I love you!

Live Through This is a heartbreaking, powerful and (unfortunately) all-too-real book about a young woman’s experiences with sexual abuse. It was a difficult read, but Coley’s story moved me so much that I had a hard time putting it down. I stayed up far past my bedtime until I got to the last page, tears in my eyes and unable to sleep for quite some time after. It really affected me — which I think is a sign of a great piece of literature.

Live Through This is an unforgettable must-read for teens.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: abuse, mindi scott

Mon, February 25, 2013

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell Review

Eleanor and Park book cover

Eleanor and Park book cover

Eleanor and Park
By Rainbow Rowell
Publication date: Feb. 26, 2013
St. Martin’s Press , 320 pages
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

— description

I read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell right after my friend Magan and thank goodness I had someone to talk to about it because, you guys, it was SO GOOD. It was one of those books that I could not stop thinking about and needed to dissect IN DEPTH. Do we like or hate so and so? What was the deal with the ending? DID YOU LOVE IT AS MUCH AS I DID? Etc.

Like…I tried to write a review, but it was just so fangirly, I had to calm myself down. So, instead of a review, here are bits and pieces of my side of our gChat…I think you will get the gist of my love…

me: ok that book
is why i love to read
i sat down and would not get up for like 5 hours

me: i just really enjoyed being in his brain

me: they were both so fascinating and lovely

me: the whole time i was reading it i felt like somehow rainbow rowell was reaching out and grabbing my heart and that is really emo but it is also TRUE

me: holy mother of mercy magan
was that not the hottest thing ever

me: ugh that slays me
i love it
i love that book so much

me: it’s so hard when a book ends and you just want to imagine what the rest of their lives are like
but will never KNOW

me: can we make everyone ever read this and love it as much as we do?
i’m feeling evangelistic over it

me: oh man what do people do when they don’t have people to dissect books with them

So, basically, here’s what you need to do:

1. Read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I immediately preordered a hardcover version after I finished my Kindle version. Be prepared to do the same.

2. Then let’s discuss it even MORE. I’d be lost without bookish friends like Magan (mwah. xoxo.), so know that I am here for you too if you need to freak out as much as I did!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: abuse, family, rainbow rowell, romance