Wed, August 27, 2014

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner Review

Can't Look Away book cover

Can't Look Away book cover

Can’t Look Away
By Donna Cooner
Publication date: Aug. 26, 2014
Point, 272 pages
Source: Publisher

Donna Cooner establishes herself as our own Jodi Picoult in this timely tale of sisters, loss, and redemption.

Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident — maybe because of Torrey and her videos — Torrey’s perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey’s internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there’s Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?

— Goodreads.com description

I adored Donna Cooner’s Skinny (click to read my review) and was thrilled that I enjoyed Don’t Look Away just as much.

This book is about Torrey, a popular beauty vlogger who has quite a bit to deal with: a backstabbing ex-bestie, a new school, haters on the Internet, a struggling mother and, most of all, the recent death of her little sister.

Despite the serious subject matter, in reading over my notes, I used the word “adorable” an awful lot. LUIS! It’s all his fault!

Torrey, meanwhile, gosh what a SNOB. This book has a lot of mean girl action, but I enjoyed watching Torrey turn the other cheek, see herself and her actions more clearly and begin to work through her grief.

And I thought it was really interesting and unique how Cooner used the Day of the Dead motif to help Torrey heal.

Two books in, I can definitely say I’m a big fan of Cooner’s work. Fans of contemps, especially with interest in grief and/or Internet fame/bullying, you’ll like this.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: death, donna cooner, family, mean girls, romance
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Mon, August 4, 2014

The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder Review

The Bridge from Me to You book cover

The Bridge from Me to You book cover

The Bridge from Me to You
By Lisa Schroeder
Publication date: July 29, 2014
Point, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place.

Lauren is the new girl in town with a dark secret. Colby is the football hero with a dream of something more. In alternating chapters, they come together, fall apart, and build something stronger than either of them thought possible–something to truly believe in.

— Goodreads.com description

What I love most about Lisa Schroeder’s books is how wonderfully READABLE they are. Her verse is beautifully written but not overwrought and I just seem to breeze through them.

The Bridge from Me to You was a wonderful book that kept me just enough in the dark about Lauren’s past to be intrigued but not annoyed. I loved Colby’s friendship with Benny and loved Lauren’s extended family — her aunt and uncle and cousins were all so sweet.

The romance was adorable — though Lauren and Colby have an instant attraction, they get to know each other as friends before they take it to the romantic level. It built and it grew until I was really rooting for them.

The character growth is definitely my favorite part of The Bridge from Me to You. Lauren and Colby learn to believe in themselves and follow their hearts in this story, and you can’t help but love that in a good YA. Definitely, definitely, recommended.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: family, friendship, lisa schroeder, romance, Uncategorized, verse
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Thu, July 24, 2014

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke Review

Dissonance book cover

Dissonance book cover

Dissonance
By Erica O’Rourke
Publication date: July 22, 2014
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 496 pages
Source: Publisher

Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

— Goodreads.com description

Dissonance is set in Chicago, which I loved (in one scene, the characters even walk by my office). And the concept is great — it sort of reminded me of Pivot Point by Kasie West. Del’s part of a special group of people who can walk through the multiverse, follow alternative realities that pop up based on the decisions people make.

It was a long book (nearly 500 pages!), but I made it through with no problems and will absolutely read more of the series.

But, and this is a big “but” for me, I think I was a little too slow on the pickup of certain plot points. The science behind the multiverse concept was tricky, and I never quite followed along. Honestly, it made me feel a little stupid as I struggled to keep up.

So, not a total win and “OMG WOW” reading experience, but like I said: It piqued my interest enough that I’d absolutely try the second book.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: For those who read it…my notes say “Addie & Monty intrigued, gay thing?” What the heck was I talking about?!?! Must’ve been a typo?

Posted by: Anna   •   In: erica o'rourke, family, paranormal
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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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