Wed, July 9, 2014

On the Fence by Kasie West Review

On the Fence book cover

On the Fence book cover

On the Fence
By Kasie West
Publication date: July 1, 2014
HarperTeen, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

— Goodreads.com description

I’m a sucker for romance.

SHOCKER!!!

You probably know that if you’ve read, like, ANY post on this blog.

Anyway, I’m a sucker for romance, which is why I love Kasie West for her lovely YA stories.

For On the Fence specifically: Did I see a lot of the plot coming? Yeah. Did I care? Not too much.

I liked that Charlie is not traditionally girly and that that’s presented as totally okay. But when she does start to slowly embrace female friendships and girlish clothes…that’s okay too.

I liked her brothers. They certainly made some questionable decisions, but overall they were close-knit and loving, which I loved to see.

So. Plenty to like here, though it’s not my favorite from West so far (read my reviews of The Distance Between Us and Pivot Point). On the Fence is a book I just really enjoyed reading, and I hope you will, too!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, friendship, kasie west, romance
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Mon, July 7, 2014

Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker Review

Wildflower book cover

Wildflower book cover

Wildflower
By Alecia Whitaker
Publication date: July 1, 2014
Poppy, 320 pages
Source: Publisher

The best songs come from broken hearts.

Sixteen-year-old Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family’s bluegrass band, and playing everywhere from Nashville, Tennesee to Nowhere, Oklahoma. One fateful night, Bird fills in for her dad by singing lead, and a scout in the audience offers her a spotlight all her own.

Soon Bird is caught up in a whirlwind of songwriting meetings, recording sessions, and music video shoots. Her first single hits the top twenty, and suddenly fans and paparazzi are around every corner. She’s even caught the eye of her longtime crush, fellow roving musician Adam Dean. With Bird’s star on the rise, though, tradition and ambition collide. Can Bird break out while staying true to her roots?

In a world of glamour and gold records, a young country music star finds her voice.

— Goodreads.com description

Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker is perfect for fans of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord or Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols.

That is to say: If you like music and Nashville and country in your books, you’ll want to read this.

Personally, I love those things in books so it was up my alley. Plus, there were tons of interesting family dynamics that really caught my interest.

Still, I do have to say the ending was too abruptly tied up for me and got me thinking that maybe I was more attached to the setting and music aspects of the story than to the characters themselves.

Excellent bonus factor: I hear the finished version includes the sheet music to Bird’s song. How fun is that?!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: alecia whitaker, family, music
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Thu, June 26, 2014

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel Review

Second Star book cover

Second Star book cover

Second Star
By Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Publication date: May 13, 2014
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 248 pages
Source: Publisher

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete’s nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she’s falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up–and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

— Goodreads.com description

The feelings I got when I read Second Star certainly matched its oceanside, surfer setting. As a reader, I felt like I was caught in a wave, forced underwater, not knowing which way was up.

What is true? What is real? What is happening here?!

Yup, we’ve got a potentially unreliable narrator in Wendy, which made the vibe of the book very disturbing, mysterious and, well, trippy.

I guess I’d compare it to the feeling I got when I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, though I didn’t exactly like that story. Maybe it’s something to do with my love of surfer books (aka Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar) but it worked better for me here.

My problem with the book was more related to the Peter Pan references. I mean, clearly it’s a take on the classic: Her name is Wendy Darling, for goodness’ sake. But it was a little too vague of a reference for me; I almost wish the author had left it out altogether and just said Peter Pan “inspired” her rather than using the names so literally. I found it distracting!

A mixed bag for me, I guess. Has anyone else read this one?

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: alyssa b sheinmel, drugs, family, Uncategorized
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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.

— Goodreads.com 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
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Mon, May 26, 2014

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt Review

We Are the Goldens book cover

We Are the Goldens book cover

We Are the Goldens
By Dana Reinhardt
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Wendy Lamb Books, 208 pages
Source: Publisher

Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They’re a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell’s a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she’s happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it’s wrong, and she must do something about it.

— Goodreads.com description

We Are the Goldens is a short book — I read it in two quick sittings — but it’s also a powerful book.

Nell finds out her sister is in a relationship with one of their teachers. AHHH! Right? This big secret opens up a lot of really interesting dynamics in terms of their sibling relationship and whether she should keep her trust or tell her parents what’s going on.

The story is written as Nell addressing her sister, Layla, which made it feel really personal and intense. I thought the format was a brilliant choice.

I also enjoyed Nell — she struggled with her decisions, sure, but being in her mind showed what a really good sister and really good friend she is.

All in all, I was really impressed by Dana Reinhardt’s writing. The story really showed how doing the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Absolutely recommended.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: dana reinhardt, family, friendship
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