25 November 2015

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz

Release Date: 8 September 2015 | Publisher: Candlewick| Format: Hardcover


Set in a near-future world, Lizard Radio opens with our main character, Kivali (or Lizard), being dropped off at CropCamp by her usually non-conforming guardian, Sheila. CropCamp is where teenagers go essentially to become good little conforming citizens, learn a trade, and find a like-minded, heterosexual partner. Kivali, however, doesn't fit the norms (she's a "bender" in this world's lingo--someone who doesn't conform to a gender) and has a hard time fitting in at CropCamp (well, she's always had trouble fitting in anywhere really). It's not ALL bad for her at camp because she does love being outdoors and she makes some real friends. However, she falls in love/lust with another girl and that's really just another thing that sets her apart. Lizard Radio is the kind of book that I wanted to love. It has good writing, a unique storyline, and it truly does deftly explore gender queerness in a sensitive way. I think what brought this one down some for me was that I found myself wanting and needing more world-building along the way. I didn't get a clear picture of what was really going on in this world and why it was the way it was. So while this book has some REALLY good things going for it, I simply couldn't fall in love with it. It was a quick read and its exploration of gender and sexuality definitely secure it a place on my library shelves.


23 November 2015

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow

Release Date: 10 March 2015 | Publisher: Calkins Creek | Format: Hardcover


The Ebola outbreak of 2014 may be the scariest virus outbreak in recent memory but it is certainly not the first time that the world--or the United States--has experienced widespread disease and panic. In Fatal Fever, Jarrow brings readers to the frontlines in the fight against one such epidemic--typhoid fever. Typhoid fever killed thousands of Americans each year and Jarrow spares little detail in informing the reader about the unsanitary conditions that contributed to its spread. The story focuses in on the intersecting lives of three key players in the fight against the disease--Mary, the woman who unwittingly spread the disease; the epidemiologist who found her; and the health department that sealed her fate. Jarrow crafts the story into a compelling narrative paired with images that make this a quick and fascinating read that will make you want to get up and wash your hands! I would love to see this book paired in a classroom with an examination of the Ebola outbreak; I think the comparisons could be interesting and make this highly relevant.


19 November 2015

City of Savages by Lee Kelly

Release Date: 3 February 2015 | Publisher: Saga Press | Format: Audio


Sky, Phee, and their mom have been living and surviving on Manhattan ever since the Third World War turned the island into a POW camp. The island is ruled by the iron fist of Rolladin, the island "native" appointed by the conquering Red Allies to maintain control. The world, however, is not quite what the inhabitants of the island have been led to believe. Newcomers threaten to expose long-kept secrets and drive Sky and Phee to look for answers--and what they find along the way is not at all what they expected. City of Savages offer an action-filled, compelling read that I think will be appealing to fans of YA dystopian novels, but it wasn't without its flaws. While the story is told from both sisters' perspectives, I found their voices to be incredibly similar and at times difficult to differentiate (even with the added benefit of two different audio narrators). I found myself wishing for two more distinct personalities to come through. My other criticism of this book is less about the book itself (which, like I said, I really enjoyed) and more about the marketing. For me, this read solidly like a YA novel--full of action and the requisite suspension of disbelief (because of lacking details)--but it was published (and is shelved at my local public library) as an adult novel. I think readers who largely enjoy the more nuanced, detailed adult fiction might be disappointed by this book. That being said, this has a lot of potential to be a hit with teens and adults who read YA, especially since it is a standalone novel (YAY STANDALONE NOVELS!)


18 November 2015

Alive by Chandler Baker

Release Date: 9 June 2015 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | Format: Hardcover

Review: .

After years of waiting for a heart transplant, Stella miraculously receives one but it comes with some strange consequences--recurring pain, nightmares, and hallucinations.  Despite these effects, Stella is determined to make the most out of her second change and that includes going after new student and bad boy Levi Zin.  Stella's magnetic attraction to Levi is intense from the beginning and eventually she begins to question the forces pulling them together and why she experiences less pain in his presence.  With the help of her friend, Henry, she begins to investigate and finds that there's much more to Levi than meets the eye. Thrown in brassy BFF, Brynn, and paranormal twists, and you have this creepy, engaging read. The plotline is a bit predictable but with a creepy atmosphere that will appeal to fans of paranormal suspense and horror. 


04 November 2015

Oh, How Time Flies...

I knew it had been awhile since I posted anything on this blog.  Life has a way of unexpectedly getting in the way of keeping up with things like this.  However, when I logged in, I realized that my last post was in January 2014.  2014?!  In January 2014, I was seven months pregnant with my daughter!  Now she is a crazy 19 month old toddler.  Time seems to have simply flown past me while I let this blog just sit here!

So, my GOAL is to start posting again.  Yay!  I feel like I finally have time to get reading done and I want to start writing reviews again.  I miss writing reviews because it made me seriously sit and think about my reading.  I'm tentatively excited to get back to blogging, but I certainly don't promise miracles.  Hopefully I'll be able to balance family life, work (and my work blog), and this a little more efficiently. :)

Looking forward to diving back into this fun adventure!

So, do YOU have any tips and tricks for finding that family/work/blogging balance?  Please share!

13 January 2014

YA Book Review: Crash Into You

Release Date: 26 November 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Hardcover
Source: Own/Purchased

Goodreads description:
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.

My Thoughts...

Katie McGarry's other two books, Pushing the Limits and Dare You To, were definitely some of my favorite contemporary reads of the last year plus.  She writes with a very authentic YA voice that draws me in quickly and easily.  Crash Into You did the same for me and was a great read to start off 2014 on the right foot (even if it was my 4th book of the year...).

Isaiah's character has basically haunted me since the first book in this series.  He was so dark and broody on the outside but we never really got to see what was going on inside his head.  It was eye-opening to get a more in-depth look into his personality and start to see him in a different light.  Usually, I'm not a fan of romantic relationships that change one person or the other but I felt like Rachel really opened Isaiah up to the possibilities in front of him and allowed him to dream for what was probably the first time in his life.

Rachel, well, I didn't think I was going to like Rachel at first.  I thought she was going to be a typical slightly whiny, wimpy rich girl with some problem and an attraction to bad boys.  But, thankfully, she wasn't that way at all.  Her family situation was truly a disaster, although no one on the outside looking in would ever know and you could almost feel her desperation to break free and be herself.  She also knew her family was well off and didn't try to hide it or turn her back on it.  She simply wanted them to accept her the way she truly was inside and she found that acceptance with Isaiah (after a little prodding).

Isaiah and Rachel may be the "life of this party" so to speak but the other characters in this one really pulled the whole story together for me.  We get fantastic glimpses into the other characters that we saw in the previous two books, moreso than we ever really did in the second book.  Each minor character has a crucial role to play and didn't feel like a throwaway.

Crash Into You was an enjoyable read, even if it was a tad predictable (like any good romance), and I look forward to more from the author.  The ending has a sort of rushed feeling to it and I wasn't sure how I felt about it as a way to wrap up the storyline.  However, neither of those minor issues will stop me from reading the next book in this series because they are really fun, quick reads.  Ms. McGarry's books are great read for YA romance-obsessed teenagers who enjoy the angst and the kissing that books like this offer.


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