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Monday, July 9, 2012

YA Review: Family

Family by Micol Ostow

Published: April 26th, 2011 by EgmontUSA
Genre: YA Fiction... in verse? I don't know how to categorize verse books and I'm also not sure if I want to call it historical or contemporary. It never said exactly when it was set but I assumed in the 70s at the latest, honestly. So... um... not sure on the exact genre.
Binding: ARC
Page count: 376 in my ARC
Part of a series? Nope, standalone.
Amazon / Book Depository / IndieBound

Summary (from goodreads): It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road for San Francisco, leaving behind her fractured home life and a constant assault on her self-esteem. Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, collapsed on a park bench, and offers love, a bright new consciousness, and—best of all—a family. One that will embrace her and give her love. Because family is what Mel has never really had. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs. And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do. No matter what the family does, or how far they go.

Review: I'm going to be completely upfront and honest with you guys: I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this one. Honestly, I'm quite conflicted about my emotions. I'm not sure if it's me or the book... but I'm having a heck of a time summarizing my thoughts. Maybe I should just move on to breaking things down?

Plot: The book is loosely based on the Manson Family murders so if you're familiar with what happened, you'll actually recognize some of the elements in Family. (And if you're a bit hazy on the details, a quick Wikipedia read was fine for me and not even necessary. But it is interesting to see the parallels.)

Characters: To be fair, I haven't read a ton of books told in verse. It's an adjustment for me, for sure. But I had trouble connecting to Melinda. She was hard for me to understand at first and, honestly, I did not understand her thinking a lot of the time. That could very well be me and not the book and your mileage may vary but I can only say how I felt.

As for the other characters... okay, I sorta thought they were all bat guano insane. Henry was just... ugh. All of the whole "family" was sort of insane. But I guess that was sort of the point, huh? So it's not really a bad thing, just an observation.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: There are almost no capitals beside Henry's name and whenever Melinda mentions him, "Him" and "He" and "His" are always capitalized. It's a bit disconcerting at first, but you get mostly used to it.

But there were a couple pages where "I", which wasn't capitalized for most of the book, was capitalized. Mind you, that could have been a typo that was fixed in the final verson so I'm slapping a big ole "Here be an ARC" on this. But it was hard to tell within the context of the book for me.

PG-13 stuff: There's some language (oddly, not a ton), violence and, ah, a lot of drugs and sex. If that's not your thing, totally fair. Honestly, I wasn't really comfortable with a lot of it (and I like to think I'm pretty fair when it comes to this stuff) because... well, cult sex is creepy. When a character (slash person) is having sex with someone because someone else wants them to... it's creepy and I don't like that.

Cover comments: It's a striking cover. The faceless girl, the flowers, the blood splatters. It's like if you look quickly at it and you only see a girl and flowers, your brain could almost fool you into seeing a bright, happy cover - until you look close. I like it a lot.

Conclusion: I'm still conflicted. I'm glad I read it and I'm pretty sure I'd read it again. Maybe if I did, I'd be able to tell you better how I felt about it. It's an interesting book and worth reading. I think fans of Ellen Hopkins would be interested in this. And I think the writing was good.

But I'm still conflicted about how I feel. I recommend it, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters and the ending left me a bit unsatisfied, both of which are important things for me to enjoy a book. So because I honestly feel this way, I'm not going to rate this one. I feel it would be unfair to put a rating on it when I'm not sure how I feel.

Long story short - good book. Recommended. But I have many complicated feelings that are hard to describe.

So, have you read Family? Tell me what you thought in the comments.

Peace and cookies,

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fun Friday: Give Me Something to Sing About! (100) (!!)

Fun Friday: Give Me Something to Sing About! is where you guys get to see a song or two I like or that I want to talk about each week. Thanks as always goes to J.J. at Random Musings for help with the title.

I've done two songs by this band already but I really, really like them. Also it's the hundredth Fun Friday post I've done!! Plus 80 and 90 were songs by them. That wasn't on purpose, but this could become a tradition!!

Anyways. *deep, calming breath* Here's another song by Safetysuit.

(Stay by Safetysuit.)

I just love this song so much. :)

What do you think? (I realize it seems like I'm setting you up here, but honest opinions are valued around here!!)

Peace and cookies,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (121)

Waiting on Wednesday is, of course, brought to us by the lovely Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Meant to Be by Lauren Morril - To be released November 13th, 2012

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

(Summary from goodreads.)

Why I want to read this: Because it just sounds FUN. Also, London.

Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Ask the Passengers by A. S. King - To be released October 23rd, 2012

Astrid Jones copes with her small town's gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she's sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they'll know what to do with it. Maybe it'll make them happy. Maybe they'll need it. Her mother doesn't want it, her father's always stoned, her perfect sister's too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There's no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she's trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love--and asking the right questions--will affect the passengers' lives, and her own, for the better.

(Summary from goodreads.)

Why I want to read this: Um, because it sounds freaking incredible? Also I'll probably cry but that's okay.

Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

So what are you guys waiting on this week?

Peace and cookies,

(Also, what do you guys think of the new linking? Both Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links, just fyi, and the Indiebound one will be soon if I get into that. I write Waiting on Wednesday posts way into the future, though, and I know I'll be too lazy to go back and change them. Anyways, if affiliate links offend you... well, don't click them but trust me, I'm not exactly raking in the cash from them :P Tell me what you think in the comments.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Things I've Read Recently (4)

If you're new around these parts, Things I've Read Recently are basically mini-reviews. Sometimes it'll be because I didn't have that much to say about a book for whatever reason, or it isn't the main focus of this blog (like the romance novels I love) or that the books are overdue from the library and I desperately need to return.

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

Published: January 2nd, 2007 by MTV Books
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 212
Part of a series? No, it's a standalone.
Amazon link. (It's 4.80 when I'm typing this. For the physical copy, not the kindle. That is a seriously awesome price.)

Summary (from goodreads): They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out.

Thoughts: So many feelings. *sobbing* I just - her MOTHER I hated that woman so much. I wanted to light her on FREAKING FIRE. And then - zomg.

I'm sorry, I have no words and too many feelings to describe this book. I really really don't know what to say about this book. I don't want to say it was good because the subject matter of the book was so horrible, but the writing was amazing and... I honestly have no words. It was told in first person, present tense, and it this is an example of just how well that can be done. Recommended if you know you can handle this because it's... a hard book to read because of what it's about.

Oh, and can I just say how much I love this cover? I know the idea of it is a bit common now, but the flower being withered like that is just... I don't know. I just think it makes an impact.

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Published: December 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Binding: Paperback
Page Count: 214 in my copy
Part of a series: No, standalone.
Amazon link.

Summary (from goodreads): When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Thoughts: It is a TERRIBLE idea to read this and Such a Pretty Girl on the same day. That was a really, really, really bad idea. But, ZOMG, such a good book. It was also told in first person present tense and Courtney Summers is amazing at it. Reading Cracked Up To Be has actually made me MORE interested to read This Is Not A Test because... well, this kind of writing plus zombies??? How could you go wrong? Parker was seriously messed up but she had such an awesome voice and... I just can't handle how awesome this book was. Seriously. So good. Highly recommended.

Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita

Published: May 1st, 2009 by Little, Brown
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 297 in my hardcover copy
Part of a series? Nope.
Amazon link.

Summary (from goodreads): When Sam's best friend gets her first boyfriend, she's not ready to spend the summer listening to the two of them call each other "pookie." Sick of being a third wheel, Sam applies to be a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. But what she doesn't realize is that it's not going to be all Kumbaya sing-alongs and gooey s'mores.

If Ashley, the alpha queen of Whispering Pines, doesn't ruin Sam's summer, then her raging crush on the surfer-blond and flirtatious Hunter just might. At least she has playful Cole, who's always teasing her, but is oh-so-comfortable to hang out with, and the singular gang of girls that become fast friends with Sam-they call themselves the Sleepaway Girls.

Thoughts: Okay. Here's the thing. I've had this book since... I don't even remember. Thank goodness I have a blog, huh? Ah-hah. May 2009, I've had it from. So that's 3 years, pretty much since it came out. I haven't cracked it once in all that time. And honestly... it didn't overwhelm me.

It was predictable at times, the characters were a bit flat, the writing wasn't great, there were blatent mistakes (2 kids at the camp needed daily allergy shots - I asked online and googled and everything I found said kids who get allergy shots only get them once or twice a week decreasing over time, it has to be at a doctor's office, and one woman whose daughter got them told me they had to wait in the office for half an hour to watch for an allergic reaction to the shot; another girl in the book used an inhaler and it seemed like she was using it every five minutes and I don't you're SUPPOSED to do that - I mean, it's not breath spray) and, honestly, Samantha kind of annoyed me.

Okay, she kind of really annoyed me sometimes. She was SUCH a pushover, whiny, a craft snob, she didn't have a backbone to speak of, and she never seemed to actually spend time with the kids she was supposed to be practically responsible for.

Also there was this:
pg. 153
"Warning," Cole said ominously. "They're using glue today, and lots of it. Caleb dumped a bottle all over the floor."
"I don't know why they let them do projects with it at this age," I said. "Last week, Serena glued her hand to the table. I had to find nail polish remover to get her loose." Cole laughed.
Disregarding that I'm pretty sure the "Cole laughed," part breaks grammar rules, these are six to eight year old kids. I let three to five year olds - and once in a while a 2 year old - use glue at Storytime EVERY WEEK. Liquid glue. In a small container. With a paintbrush. Granted, we're not going to let them run away with it, but you know what? They can handle it. Six year olds are first graders, generally, and if not, then they are almost definitely done kindergarten. They can DEFINITELY use glue without getting into trouble.

Not to mention, I don't know what the heck kind of glue they're using that would both run out of the bottle fast enough to make a mess without somebody catching the kid and glue a kid's hand to a table. Whatever it is, I bet it's not non-toxic.

Anyways, done ranting now. To be fair, it was fun to read most of the time. It had its funny moments. It was very very sweet. It would probably be a good beach read because it's totally not deep at all. But it didn't do it for me. Personally, I give this one about two and a half roses, but if it's your kind of book, you might like it. Not really recommended unless you think you'll love it.

Well, that's everything!

Peace and cookies,