Mon, April 14, 2014

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith Review

The Geography of You and Me book cover

The Geography of You and Me book cover

The Geography of You and Me
By Jennifer E. Smith
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Little, Brown for Young Readers, 352 pages
Source: Publisher

Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

— description

Here’s what I really enjoy about Jennifer E. Smith: Each of her books has a very different vibe, yet they all have a beautiful sense of thoughtfulness and expanded worldview about them.

This time around, with The Geography of You and Me, I loved how understated and real the story felt, even considering the unlikely “caught in an elevator” scenario. Lucy and Owen’s circumstances might be out of the norm, but their experiences felt very true-to-teenage-life.

I loved the travel aspects — I adore a book that can take me on a mental vacation or so perfectly capture what it is I love about a place I’ve been. And while that was beautifully done here, what really drew me in to The Geography of You and Me was the romance and the family troubles.

Lucy and Owen were faced with tough decisions, distance and wandering hearts. For anyone who has ever gone off to college, moved away, gone through a rough patch with their families or even fallen in love as a teen, these feelings will seem familiar.

Overall, though, like I said: This book is understated. It isn’t loud and it isn’t very fast-paced. I worry some people will expect this book to be “OMG swoony” and will be put off by this, but I think that’s what I loved about it most. That helped the book’s main message come through, and that message (or what I took it to be) was quite beautiful.

In the words of The Apache Relay’s “Home Is Not Places” (which I really think should be this book’s theme song): “Home is not places, it is love.”

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: Uncategorized

Thu, April 10, 2014

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summerbook cover

Open Road Summer book cover

Open Road Summer
By Emery Lord
Publication date: April 15, 2014
Walker, 342 pages
Source: Publisher

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

“A fabulously entertaining story of friendship, healing, and love. Filled with laughter, heart, and a side of sass, this rock star debut will have you cheering for an encore!”—Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

— description


I mean, really, there’s no better way to sum up this book. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord has summer, romance, best friends who don’t suck, celebrities, music and road trips. Um, WHAT ELSE WOULD I WANT FROM A BOOK?

After finishing it, I (1) tweeted the author to say how much I adored it and thank her and (2) immediately texted my friends to recommend it. You all are going to love it.

Lilah (who goes by Dee in the books and is super Taylor Swifty but in a better way) and Reagan are the BFFs I’ve been dying to read more about. Sure, they fight. They disagree. But they have each’s others backs and backstabbing never even crosses their minds. We need to see more of that in YA.

Plus, the romance. Oh, my word. It’s that “I hate you, but I sort of like you” thing that grows into “Ack! I like you? I didn’t see that coming! Must resist!” to melt-your-heart amazing.

And the character growth is really beautifully done.

Yep, this one’s going to be one of THE books for summer 2014. Mark my words!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: Uncategorized

Wed, April 2, 2014

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Ask Again Later book cover

Ask Again Later book cover

Ask Again Later
By Liz Czukas
Publication date: March 11, 2014
Harper Teen, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…

— description

Cute cute cute!

I read Ask Again Later on an airplane for a work trip and it was the perfect distraction and de-stressor.

Heart’s story (yes, that’s her real name) flips between two alternate realities, depending on who she chose to go to prom with. Usually I think setups like this are confusing, but it wasn’t at all.

It was fun, funny, easy, romantic, light-hearted and wrapped up just perfectly. JUST what I needed. If you want to sink into a book and just escape and relax, I’d absolutely tell you to give this one a try.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: This is the first I’ve heard of Liz Czukas, but I just saw she has another book coming out this year, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless. Check it out too! Sounds cute as well, right?

Posted by: Anna   •   In: Uncategorized

Wed, March 26, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver Review

Panic book cover

Panic book cover

By Lauren Oliver
Publication date: March 4, 2014
HarperCollins, 408 pages
Source: Publisher

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

— description


That’s basically all I could think while I read this book.

In Panic, a end-of-year high school challenge gets out of hand. Lives are endangered, lies spread like fire and manipulation runs rampant. Things keep spiraling and spiraling and I loved how Lauren Oliver kept upping the stakes and building the tension.

It’s extreme, sure, but it reminded me of how my mom always used to go on and on about how “kids just think they’re invincible.” I always just rolled my eyes at her, but goodness if I haven’t become her because I was just was wanting to yell at this book: “MAKE BETTER CHOICES! STOP RISKING YOUR LIVES!”

Old Lady Syndrome, yeah?

I loved the writing, loved the tension. That being said, I didn’t totally connect with the characters or the small romances. But I think the game itself was so intriguing and, well, freaking scary that it definitely made it worth it for me.

If you like those sort of books where it just builds and builds and you are like “How are these characters ever gonna get out of this” (think Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler most recently, or even Pretty Little Liars), this will so be up your alley.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

Posted by: Anna   •   In: Uncategorized

Wed, March 19, 2014

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary book cover

Side Effects May Vary book cover

Side Effects May Vary
By Julie Murphy
Publication date: March 18, 2014
HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray, 336 pages
Source: Publisher

What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.

— description

At one point in Side Effects May Vary, a character describes Alice as “rotten inside.” Which pretty much sums her up for much of the book. So if you can’t handle books with an unlikable main character, this is not the book for you.

But, really, that would be too bad.

Because as gosh-darn rotten as Alice is, it’s interesting to try to understand her perspective and watch her begin to change (as slow and painful as that process is for her in parts).

And it’s soooo sad and awkward watching Harvey pine for her. Oh, poor Harvey! I love you!

So maybe I’m not totally selling it by using words like “sad” and “painful” to describe the story. But within that sadness and the pain, there’s a lot of beauty and hope and struggle. And a lot of really excellent writing. Julie Murphy absolutely caught my attention with this one. The voice, the pacing, the humor — it was all spot-on. I can’t wait to read more from her.

Definitely recommended for people looking for a strong new writer to follow and something a bit heavier to read. What a lovely debut!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

PS: OMG the mean girls in this book made me SOOOOO glad I never have go to through high school ever again! What torture!

Posted by: Anna   •   In: Uncategorized