Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: Kissing Ted Callahan

Title: Kissing Ted Callahan
Author: Amy Spalding
Published: April 7th 2015 by Poppy
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist meets Easy A in this hilariously realistic story of sneaking out, making out, and playing in a band.

After catching their bandmates in a compromising position, sixteen-year-old Los Angelenos Riley and Reid become painfully aware of the romance missing from their own lives. And so a pact is formed: they'll both try to make something happen with their respective crushes and document the experiences in a shared notebook.

While Reid struggles with the moral dilemma of adopting a dog to win over someone's heart, Riley tries to make progress with Ted Callahan, who she's been obsessed with forever-His floppy hair! His undeniable intelligence! But suddenly cute guys are popping up everywhere. How did she never notice them before?! With their love lives going from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, Riley and Reid realize the results of their pact may be more than they bargained for."

Thoughts: Wait, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist meets Easy A? Those are two of my favorite things, so naturally I had to read this book. Now, the question is did it live up to such high regards? In this case, my answer is yes. This book promises to be quirky and fun, and it definitely delivers in that department. The only thing is, have you ever read a book where some of the circumstances felt a bit too childish for the age group? If so, this best explains some of my feelings towards certain aspects. I'll further explain, but for now know that all in all I found KISSING TED CALLAHAN to be an entertaining, often laugh out loud experience.

First off, let's talk about the journal. These girls swap love and relationship advice/experiences in a journal which they share. The cover is definitely great, because it looks like how I would assume the notebook would look. My only complaint about this is it felt like something a tween would do and not a 16 year old. Maybe times have changed since I was that age, but I remember my friends and I sharing something called a slambook back when we were in middle school (not high school). It basically noted everyone we thought were cute, smart, would be our version of the "prom" (i.e. 7th and 8th grade dance) king and queen, and so no. Nothing malicious, but basically our way of stalking our crushes with our friends pre-Facebook/Twitter/Instagram era. Anyway, my point of explaining this is the notebook concept felt like something that would be done in middle school, not high school. With that said, it was still entertaining, and the story would not have been the same without it. Just my two cents though.

Now that I got the negative out of the way, let's talk about everything I loved about this novel. I loved Riley. Riley is hysterical and hands down one of the funniest characters I have ever met in any book or even TV series. When I said laugh out loud, I meant it. Fair warning, you will find yourself bursting with laughter if you decide to read this book in public. Just saying.

I enjoyed reading about Riley's complicated, often messy life and how she dealt with friendships, crushes, and everything in-between. The novel would not have been the same without her, and I don't say that because she's the protagonist. I say that, because the author created a three dimensional character out of her. She has so much personality to the point of feeling real.

When it comes to Reid, she's in many ways Riley's opposite. Keep in mind, this all starts because the girls are in a band with Lucy and Nathan and caught them getting down and dirty. This sparks up their need to experience relationships with the opposite sex and document it, giving each other advice and kind of sharing their experiences together. Reid isn't as outgoing nor confident as Riley. More insecure, I guess? At any rate, the dynamics between the two is interesting and made for a great friendship.

Though this book deals a lot with chasing boys, I feel like it centered more around friendships and how easily they can be lost because of boys. It's a reminder that guys may come and go but the best friendships last forever. That part of the novel felt real to me. Overall, if you love slightly cheesy but fantastic 90's movies such as Ten Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed, KISSING TED CALLAHAN is the book for you.


4 Stars

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: The Start of Me and You

Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Published: March 31st 2015 by Bloomsbury
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live? "

Thoughts: After reading Lord's debut novel OPEN ROAD SUMMER (and completely loving it), I knew I had to get my hands on THE START OF ME AND YOU as soon possible. I knew it would be good, but what I wasn't expecting were the amount of feelings I'd endure over the course of this novel. Ups, downs, love, heartache, and above all else friendship- Those are only a handful of things you'll experience along this journey. Sit back and enjoy the ride, because once it end, all you'll want to do is flip to the beginning and read it all over again.

First and foremost, I must declare to the world my love of Max Watson. I'm a sucker for a nerdy boy but oh my goodness, just like the book, he's so much more than that. Everyone in their life deserves a Max, whether he merely is your friend or something more (hopefully something more!). I cannot imagine anyone not falling in love with this guy, and I cannot imagine this novel without him. To put it simply, he completely stole the show.

Paige was definitely a great heroine. Can you even imagine losing a boyfriend so young? To the adults out there, remember how all-consuming your first love was? Those feelings were so intense, and I can't fathom the hurt Paige went through and then having to move on. The author knows how to write raw and pure emotions making it easy to just feel everything Paige felt. I love her for it, even though there were times when I was reading this book in public and almost burst into tears. Okay, I lied... I totally started bawling in public and attempted to hide it behind the book. It was worth it though.

If you're looking for the perfect Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter read, THE START OF ME AND YOU is the book for you. Emery Lord sucked me out of a reading slump, and then threw me into another one. Of all the books I read this year thus far, this is definitely in my top two (the other being THE WINNER'S CRIME). I recommend this book over and over again and look forward to experiencing this journey multiple times. I see rereads in the future!


5 Stars

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review + Giveaway: Shadow Scale

Title: Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)
Author: Rachel Hartman
Published: March 10th 2015 by Random House Children's Books
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?"

Thoughts: Good gravy, I have been waiting a long time to read the sequel to SERAPHINA, especially since the ending for the novel leaves with a bit of a cliffhanger. Though I really enjoyed SHADOW SCALE, I must admit that it is not my favorite novel. It's definitely well-written to the point of being beautiful, but the ending left me with my head spinning. Once I put the book down, the whats and huhs starting pouring out of me. We'll get to that in a bit, but let's start from the beginning of this journey.

As you can see in the summary, Phina is in for a bit of a journey. I loved that the author chose to take her to new lands and exploring different cultures, languages, and people. The world building is incredible and felt remarkably real. Though I missed Kiggs, I'm also grateful this novel was more about adventure and deception versus romance. There will be new characters, but be careful in who you trust. Everyone seems to have ulterior motives, and it'll have you questioning whether they're good, evil, or something else all together. War is on the horizon, so be cautious.

Now, one thing I must admit is I did struggle with the pacing a bit. While it was interesting and I adored meeting the new characters (especially the ityasaari), I found myself struggling through some of this. Once the novel started picking up, I enjoyed it more, but then I would encounter a scene or two that fell a bit flat.

Also, the ending. I personally felt like it was a bit rushed. Everything happened so fast, especially in the last chapter or two. There was closure, some strange and some great. In regards to the Phila-Keggs-Selda love triangle, I just wasn't happy with how it was wrapped up. I'm not sure how I wanted it to turn out, but this was just too strange for me.

Overall, I liked SHADOW SCALE and would recommend it to those who enjoyed SERAPHINA. It's a good follow-up, and it has enough closure to satisfy any reader. Whether this is the last book or if there's more, the ending is fitting and doesn't leave the reader with too many unanswered questions. I still continue to look forward to Hartman's books and cannot wait to read whatever she's working on next!


3.5 Stars

Giveaway: Thanks to the amazing people at Penguin Random House, I am giving away a copy of SHADOW SCALE. This giveaway is only open US/CA participants and ends April 18th. No, this isn't an April Fool's joke, so what are you waiting for? Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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