Saturday, May 31, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

There's something about a book that has a lot of hype that makes me want to take a step back from it until things cool down and I can read it without a billion voices telling me how amazing and life-changing it is. It's for exactly that reason that it took me awhile to pick up Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, but I'm definitely glad I eventually did.

If you somehow managed to stumble upon this review and you haven't already read Eleanor & Park you can consider me shocked, but here is what it is about: two teenagers that seem to have nothing in common, but find each other anyway and have to deal with all the messy ramifications of first love between two people that don't seem to belong together except that they do. It takes place during the 80s, was a bit unexpected and also maybe a bit unnecessary except that it means no cell phones and internet so communication was a lot harder.

That said, what made Eleanor & Park one of my favourite 2013 releases I read last year was the writing and the characters. It was impossible not to fall in love with Eleanor and Park as they fall in love with each other, and to want things to work out, especially for Eleanor who has a horrible family situation going on at home. Park experiences a lot of pressure from his dad and feels like he doesn't really fit in with his family and isn't masculine enough, and I really appreciated that voice and perspective, as it felt different from a lot of the love interests in young adult fiction, but still authentic.

What makes Eleanor & Park special is how real the characters and their relationship feels, this sort of star-crossed love has been done before and will be done again, but Rowell captures raw emotion in a way that makes it feel new. After finishing this book, I am definitely hungry to read more by her soon.

Release Date: February 26th 2013 Pages: 325 
Source: Personal  Publisher: St Martins Press  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

At the end of last year I read Tease by Amanda Maciel, which I reviewed recently, and I was pretty disappointed by it. I was really interested in the idea however, which is a book told from the perspective of a bully. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu tackles a similar issue, but this time I am a huge fan of the results.

The Truth About Alice is told from four perspective, but none of them (until a brief chapter at the end) are Alice. This is the story of Alice Franklin, who may or may not have had sex with two guys in one night, and then one of those guys, the much-loved, popular Brandon, dies in a car crash which is rumoured to have been Alice's fault. It doesn't matter anymore if the rumours are true, because everyone believes them. The book alternates between the popular Elaine, former outcast and Alice's best friend, Kelsie, Brandon's best friend, Josh and the loner, Kurt. Each of these people plays their own role in what happens to Alice, and just like when people are bullied, Alice's own voice is silenced.

The Truth About Alice is a very quick read, both in page number and in pacing. It alternates between four perspectives but I was never confused about who was who. Each character has their own bit of defining back story although it can be a bit predictable as there isn't a ton of depth on top of that. However, the setting itself is also a bit of a character, as it takes place in a small town where everyone knows what is going on with other people, which I thought added an interesting element to the story. Mathieu's writing is clear and easy to read although not especially gorgeous, it did a good job crafting a novel I basically devoured in one sitting.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed reading The Truth About Alice and I thought it tackled a lot of important issues well and I would definitely pick up future books by Mathieu.

Release Date: June 3rd, 2014 Pages: 208  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Roaring Brook Press   Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carre

After my first experience with Hearts I knew what to expect with Toon Books, which are easy-to-read comics designed for new readers, in these cases, Level 1 which is kindergarten to grade 1. Although the level a book is unites it in terms of how easy it is to read, the amount of detail and images as well as characters, each book is totally unique in terms of images and story. Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carre is about Tippy, a girl whose mom gets upset every morning when she finds her room a disaster. But Tippy doesn't know how it happened, all she remembers is falling asleep!

I much preferred Tippy to the previous Toon Book I tried. The illustrations for this are so cute and so is the story, which is easy to follow and full of adventure and animals. The blue of the illustrations that take place at night add to the mood, and there is so many little details to see on each page. It's a funny story and there is lots of excitement. My favourite part? Searching for all the animals Tippy found on her walk the next morning in her room! Such a cute book, I highly recommend Tippy and the Night Parade.

Release Date: February 11th 2014 Pages: 32  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Toon Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

I'm a huge Jenny Han fan and I've read nearly all of her books (there's a middle grade still out there I need to grab) so of course I had to pick up her latest release, To All the Boys I've Loved Before. This is a contemporary YA novel about Lara Jean, a girl who never confronts her crushes but instead writes each boy a letter about how she feels, hides it away, and moves on. Then one day all her letters are stolen and mailed off, including one to her sister's ex-boyfriend Josh. Not wanting Josh to know she still has feelings, Lara Jean instead fakes a relationship with another letter recipient, Peter.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is a really cute, well-written novel. The romantic storyline is sweet, but what really makes the book stand out is the relationships between Lara Jean and her sisters. Han really captures the dynamic between the three girls, and even though the oldest one moves away at the beginning of the book, there are still plenty of heartwarming moments and memories explored. Also Lara Jean's younger sister Kitty is just so cute!

Han's writing is authentic and eloquent, she always gets just the right amount of details and although this was a fun, light read, the family elements help make the story just a bit deeper. I wasn't super happy with the ending of the book, but it turns out there is a sequel coming out next year, which helps. I did like seeing Lara Jean grow and change throughout the novel. Overall, I was charmed by To All The Boys I've Loved Before and if you're looking for a sweet book with some great romantic and sisterly moments, it's definitely worth checking out.

Release Date: April 15th, 2014 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Simon and Schuster   Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Time to Say Good Night by Harriet Ziefeat illustrated by Barroux

It's Time to Say Good Night written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Barroux is a cute children's book where a little boy says good morning to everything--the cow, the piggies in the pen, the garbage and the cans--only to find out by the time he's done, it's time to say good night to everything again.
The illustrations are cute and vintage looking and match the story well. The text is also well-placed, and moves along with whatever the boy is saying good morning/ good night to, as well as having the emphasis be on the good morning or good night part by having it in larger text of a different colour. However while the story is a fun, cute, list of things, it is a bit weird that the boy goes from saying good morning straight to saying good night. However the bright illustrations and adventures of the main character in It's Time to Say Good Night would still make it a fun read for a young child, especially as a bedtime story.

Release Date: October 22nd 2013 Pages: 36  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Blue Apple Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Sunday, May 25, 2014

I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder

I Haiku You is a picture book written and illustrated by Betsy Snyder. I really love haikus and think it's a perfect form of poetry for a picture book, so I was really excited to pick this up. Snyder's drawings are really adorable and really make the cute, sweet haikus that accompany them. There are lots of little details and I really love the illustrations overall.

In terms of the writing, I am just okay about I Haiku You. Some of the haikus are nice, but there is a little too much reliance on things that expected and feel a bit cliche and boring to me, such as "you be my jelly, / i'll be your peanut butter--/let's stick together!" and even though it is a children's book I though that they could be a touch more original with the metaphors, something like peanut butter and jelly is quite expected.

I Haiku You would be an adorable bedtime book for a young child who is unlikely to have the same complaints I do regarding the writing and would instead just appreciate the sweet, simple words and the adorable drawings that match.

Release Date: December 26th 2012 Pages: 28  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Random House   Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Forever by Emma Dodd

I am just so in love with Forever by Emma Dodd. This is absolutely the perfect children's book, and when I someday have children, I definitely hope that I remember to grab a copy because it is flawless. The words are simple, and tell a sweet, easy to read rhyme for a parent to read to a child.

Along with the text are gorgeous illustrations of a polar bear and parent, doing things together. There are only a few colours on each page, mainly blues, but there is also a touch of metallic silver, sometimes just tiny spots, sometimes the entire water in an ocean scene. The silver element adds something extra special to the book and will likely help keep the child's attention. Overall, Forever is a sweet, endearing, book from both a text and illustration perspective, with a universal message of love that would be perfect for any parent. Dodd's book definitely deserves to be a childhood classic for those who experience it.

Release Date: October 22nd 2013 Pages: 24  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Templar  Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, May 23, 2014

(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

 I was trying to write my reviews in order of when I read books to somehow manage to get back on track with them, and I was doing an okay job at it, but then I read (Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn and I instantly had to skip ahead. I needed to share my thoughts on this book right away, because honestly, I absolutely adored it. And sometimes it's just really nice to write a gush fest about a book that you love, and for me, this is one of those books.

(Don't You) Forget About Me is a gorgeously written, eerie novel about Gardnerville, a place where nobody gets sick and nobody dies. Of course, there is a cost for that and every four years strange urges come over the teens in the town and it doesn't stop until people end up dead. Those who caused the damage are sent to the reformatory, a strange building where nobody comes out the same. Four years ago, Skyler's sister Piper lead 16 of her peers into the river, and she's been missing ever since.

Skyler is not a narrator you can trust. She keeps forgetting things, which isn't helped by the pills she's started taking ever since Piper disappeared. There are a lot of unreliable characters and weird things going on in this book, but somehow they all fit perfectly into place. Quinn's storytelling reminds me a little of Nova Ren Suma in Imaginary Girls but this is an even more magical story, where it is clear from the beginning that things are different in Gardnerville. The writing itself is gorgeous and there are tiny perfect details that just made me fall more in love with the words with each page. If I had one small complaint, it's that it is a bit predictable at times, but there are enough twists and turns that there were still a few small surprises in there as well.

(Don't You) Forget About Me is filled with creepy moments and surreal images. Past memories that Skylar has with Piper are told through short chapters about the past between each present tense chapter. This kind of technique can be annoying, but Quinn uses it so well, and the chapters themselves are short enough, that I really felt like it added to the story and helped to reveal all the pieces rather than being distracting. As a result, I really felt like the book flourished in the second half as things started to come together. There is a hint of romance, but to me it was not very important to the book.

Overall, (Don't You) Forget About Me is an amazing book and one of my favourites I've read so far in 2014. I am so excited that Quinn has an earlier novel which I will definitely be picking up, as well as whatever she writes next. Highly recommend this book!

Release Date: June 10th 2014 Pages: 336  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: HarperTeen  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hearts by Thereza Rowe

Hearts by Thereza Rowe is designed as a first comic for brand new readers, so it's actually a bit different than the picture book I expected when I picked it up, because it's meant to be read by the child, not to them. As a result, there are very few words in Hearts, and the story is mainly told through the illustrations, with words here but mainly ones that add description about what is happening on the page. For example, as Penelope the Fox struggles to catch up to the dolphin holding her heart, she says "Wait!" and the dolphin goes "Whoosh!"

I think the biggest issue with Hearts is when I spent too much time trying to make sense of the story instead of just enjoying the dream-like journey Penelope takes. Sometimes the illustrations are difficult to follow, but they are all very beautiful and detailed so there is a lot for a younger reader to look at. It also leaves a lot of opportunity for a child to discuss what could be happening in each scenario, so I think Rowe's book makes a fun learning tool rather than a standalone book, but that's exactly what it's intended for. That said, I would worry that younger children might have the same difficulty following that I did and might become confused or frustrated, so that will depend on the child.

Release Date: January 7th 2014 Pages: 32  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Toon Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

I am huge, unabashed Lauren Oliver fangirl, and the first book I read by her was Delirium so I was a little sad when the trilogy came to an end with Requiem. Both of the first two books in the series left on massive cliffhangovers, and when it turned out Alex was alive at the end of Pandemonium? Yeah. I was definitely shocked, and maybe disappointed. I really loved Alex, but I didn't want these books to turn into the typical love triangle situation. I still wasn't a huge fan of that element in this book and there were quite a few points when Lena was annoying to me. Alex was also pretty disappointing considering I loved him in Delirium.

One thing that makes Requiem different than the first two books is that it's actually told from two perspectives-- half from Lena's, and half from Hanna's. It's interesting because it lets the reader inside the mind of somebody who has had the procedure done, and reminds me of the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld for that reason. Regardless of who is narrating, Oliver does an excellent job with the writing, which is always the strongest element of her books.

Unfortunately, I am just not as obsessed with Requiem as I felt about the other two books in the trilogy. This isn't bad, and it's definitely still a trilogy worth finishing, but I was a little disappointed. I am still trying to catch up on 2013 reviews, so this is nearly a year late, but in retrospect my feelings are a bit meh over this one. This is a trilogy I started off loving but the ending got a little bogged in love triangle stuff, and although the story was still lovely to read because of Oliver's amazing prose, it totally win me over like the first two books. Ah well. Can't win them all I guess?

Release Date: March 5th 2013 Pages: 391 Source: Personal  Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sick by Tom Leveen

I was a surprisingly big fan of the last book I read by Tom Leveen, Zero, which was a contemporary read I wasn't really sure about before I picked it up, so when I saw that he'd written a zombie book, I was very curious to see what he would do with the genre. Sick is the story of a group of teenage outsiders, including the main character, Brian as well as his friends, sister, and ex-girlfriend. When their high school is overcome with a virus that turns people into mindless bloodthirsty beings, Brian and his best friend are stuck safe in the theater department. Unfortunately, his sister and ex are not, and Brian makes it his goal to bring them to safety, even if it may end up costing him his own life.

Sick reminded me a lot of the "stuck in a high school edgy YA zombie novel" This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers, but unfortunately I preferred her variation. This book was just a bit forgettable for me, but it is an easy read and in combination with the male narrator, might appeal more to a younger audience. Leveen's zombies are kinda cool, and the story has lots of action, but in terms the actual storyline it got a bit ridiculous with coincidences. I was most disappointed with the lack of explanation of about how the zombies started. I really wanted more background and science behind the storyline, instead of just feeling like something the reader had to accept. Brian is an okay narrator, but he's again, nothing memorable, and I just really preferred the title character in Zero.

Overall, I'm glad I gave Sick a shot as it was a quick read I devoured on an airplane ride, but I will be sticking to Leveen's contemporary in the future. There could be a sequel to this, but if there is, it's not for me.

Release Date: October 1st 2013 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Amulet  Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Books catch my interest for various reasons, and when it comes to Tease by Amanda Maciel, that reason was definitely the premise. This tells the story of Sara, a girl who, along with three of her classmates, has been charged with the bullying that lead to another girl's death. In the summer before her senior year, Sara spends her time in meetings with lawyers and a therapist, going over what brought her to this moment, and whether or not she believes she had a role in Emma's suicide like everyone else seems to think.

I can't think of many books told from the point of view of the person who was the bully, and that was definitely what interested me in reading Tease. Unfortunately, I just didn't like Sara at all. She judges everyone, including the other bullies, but not herself. She is so incredibly selfish and all she feels is pity for herself and the fact that her life is ruined because of these events. She basically believes that Emma had it coming, and takes no responsibility in what happened. She is incredibly frustrating as a narrator, and when she has good things happen to her it's just hard to feel happy about them.

However, I am willing to accept a difficult to like narrator, and I'm sure that her feelings are believable or else it is hard to imagine how people could do such horrible things. However, I just felt like there was too much of an attempt to redeem the character in a way that didn't feel authentic, especially the ending of the book which seems to happen quite sudden and out of nowhere. I had spent all these pages reading Sara act a certain way, and her change just didn't come across as real to me. So while I ultimately do find the unusual perspective in Tease really interesting, the final execution of it left me wanting more.

Release Date: April 29th 2014 Pages: 336  Format: EgalleySource: Edelweiss  Publisher: Blazer + Bray  Buy It: Book Depository

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

In Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor, Zoe and her best friend Olivia are both ballet dancers, and that's what they plan to do with the rest of their lives, until they are both let go from the prestigious ballet school they go to. As they adjust to life outside of competitive dance, Olivia learns devastating news: she has cancer. The novel is told from Zoe's perspective, as she waits to see what happens to Olivia, as she starts to develop feelings for the boy Olivia has a crush on, and as she tries to figure out what she wants out of her own life.

Unfortunately, although this was an easy read, it is a melodramatic one where events are played for maximum intensity even when it doesn't make sense, like Zoe and Olivia both being told they are leaving the dance school at the same time (in the same room) or Olivia's daylong journey from hospital visit to cancer diagnosis. Kantor admits she went for story over medical truth, but when it seems like the illness is just being exploited for tears, it is a bit frustrating.

That said, the characters themselves were what redeemed Maybe One Day and what kept me reading it. Zoe feels like an outsider, especially now that she's no longer a dancer, and I was really rooting for her and wanting her to find her place and something she loved. Olivia is just a genuine good person, so it is impossible not to want good things for her, and exploitation of illness or not, Kantor had me feeling real sadness for the character. I also really liked the element of dance and the idea of finding your place after the thing you love is no longer enough, which is a theme I really appreciate in YA. So overall, there was enough in Maybe One Day to keep me reading, but not enough to make me fall in love with it, and if you are looking for an emotional read it is worth considering.

Release Date: February 18th, 2014 Pages: 384  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Harper Teen  Buy It: Book Depository

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

Smoke is the sequel to Ellen Hopkins' book, Burned, which was okay but not my favourite from her. Hopkins writes in verse which is a format I adore, and her books are the kind that deal with dark issues in a raw and honest way. As a result, I would easily pick up anything she wrote ever, so when I had the opportunity to read Smoke, of course I did. Unfortunately, it reconfirmed that this is just not my favourite Hopkins series. It's not bad, but it's just not to the standards of some of Hopkins other books for me.

In Smoke, Pattyn is on the run after Ethan's death and the loss of her baby, while her sister Jackie is left at home trying to tend to their large, shattered family. Both Pattyn and Jackie have secrets, and unlike Burned the book is told from both their perspectives. I thought that added in a unique element and I am always blown away at how different Hopkins makes her narrators sound even when they are both using the verse format.

I'm not convinced that Burned needed a sequel, and although it did end on a cliffhanger asides from tying that up Smoke feels a bit unnecessary. Although it's a very dark novel, it also manages to tie things up a bit too perfectly, *spoiler* and is too reliant on finding magical love interests who can solve everything, *spoiler* something that just doesn't feel authentic, or empowering, in the context of the book. I will definitely continue to recommend many novels by Ellen Hopkins in the future, as well as pick them up myself, but unfortunately Smoke will not be on the short list.

Release Date: September 10th 2013 Pages: 543  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry  Buy It: Book Depository

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Bear by Claire Cameron

Adult books told from the perspective of a young child aren't generally my thing, I've read a couple including the renowned Room, but The Bear by Claire Cameron is actually the first one I've loved. Even better? It's Canadian.

The Bear is told form the perspective of 5-year-old Anna, who is camping in the Canadian wilderness with her parents and younger brother, when a bear attacks. Thanks to some quick-thinking by her parents, Anna and her brother survive, but both of her parents are killed. Alone, confused, and responsible for her brother, Anna must survive the wilderness and get her brother and her to safety.

It's obvious from the story description, but this is a heartbreaking book. From the first page I was holding my breath, anxious about what would happen left. As soon as Anna let her brother out of her sight for a second, I was so nervous. That said, this isn't a story with much plot-- it's really a stream-of-consciousness type experience that's not linear, as Anna wanders the woods and thinks about things that have happened before. Despite the lack of "excitement" after the initial bear attack, Cameron had no issues at all keeping my attention with The Bear. I was just totally taken in by Anna's voice and turning the pages hoping that things worked out for her. I also appreciate that this book wasn't incredibly long, because as much as I enjoyed the narrative voice, I don't really want to read 500+ pages that way either. However, The Bear is just long enough to tell the story, and tell it well, without losing my attention.

Overall, I was a huge fan of The Bear and I think Cameron did an amazing job realistically capturing both the Ontario wilderness and the voice of a 5-year-old while still having enough depth to the story to keep an adult reader interested. If you can handle the storyline, this is a book I highly recommend.

Release Date: February 11th, 2014  Pages: 240  Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Doubleday Canada   Buy It: Book Depository

Friday, May 09, 2014

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

Teeth is the first book I've read by Hannah Moskowitz, a prolific young adult author I had always been curious about but never managed to pick up a book by. Teeth is a story about a teenage boy whose family moves to a remote magical island to save his sick younger brother--the cure? Fish.
However when Rudy meets Teeth, a half-fish half-boy determined to save his half-siblings from being eaten, he learns that things aren't as simple as they appear.

Like all the characters in Teeth, Rudy and Teeth are complicated and messed up. This is a surprisingly dark book and as the story progresses, it only gets darker. At times, I was definitely searching for a little bit more light in the darkness, but there's something very raw and emotional about the storytelling, and the mix of metaphors and fins brought to life into something that feels real and true despite the fantastical elements. Ultimately, that authenticity in the characters and in the writing are what make Teeth memorable, even when the story itself lost me on occasion, and it has definitely left me inspired to pick up another work by Moskowitz in the future

Release Date: January 1st 2013 Pages: 288  Format: ARC
Source: Publisher  Publisher: Simon Pulse  Buy It: Book Depository

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen

I actually read a ton of books recently and so I have a lot of reviews to write (plus the ones I never wrote in 2013...) but I have decided to review Shipwreck Island by S.A. Bodeen next, for a very important reason. Basically, I want to review this so it is out of my head and I don't have to think about it and get annoyed anymore.

Shipwreck Island is the story of a girl who goes on an unwanted family vacation with her dad, new stepmom and stepbrothers, and gets shipwrecked. In order for this to happen, they board a really sketchy ship that doesn't seem safe at all, and just when things start to get interesting, the book ends. I think this is probably a trilogy, and if so, it makes sense because this feels exactly like the first third of a book instead of a full book. The characters were cute and had some charming moments, but I was just really annoyed by the time I got halfway through and realized I was going to be strung along for a big cliffhanger at the end and not resolved storylines. Even the bits that were supposed to be creative on the island just felt more like sketches than full creations.

That said, I don't read much middle grade and for the appropriately aged reader, this could be a fun but predictable series, but as an adult looking for a brief escape into fantasy, it didn't work. I won't be picking up book 2, but I have heard good things about other books by Bodeen including a shipwrecked YA novel called The Raft that I do want to try out in the future. 

Release Date: July 29th, 2014 Pages: 192  Format: Egalley
Source: Netgalley  Publisher: Feiwel & Friends   Buy It: Book Depository

Monday, May 05, 2014

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

 Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann is a really short book--like a hundred pages of poetry including plenty of pictures--which is kinda fun to read once in awhile because it makes me feel like a super fast reader even though I'm not at all because I can finish it so fast. But I actually didn't rush through Heppermann's debut, because I really loved it. These are retold fairytales, modern and sharp, with twisted fantastical photos to go along with them. The poems themselves reminded me a bit of Anne Sexton Transformations as any well-done, realistic fairytale poem retelling is liable to. However, Poisoned Apples is definitely an original collection.

Heppermann's writing is sharp and full of metaphors. The poems may be short but her turns of phrases leave an impact, and this book is bigger than its page count. I feel like there are so few poetry books for teens and I really loved all the important issues that Poisoned Apples tackles, while not dumbing down the imagery either. These may be fairytales, but they are real. I think Hepperman's writing will also be appealing to people who don't like poetry because of how well it dissects life and emotion. Her words slice things apart and then put them back together again. Poisoned Apples was gorgeous and the photographs included (although some were missing in my advance copy) all matched perfectly and added to the impact. I will easily be reaching for anything Heppermann writes next, and encourage everyone to pick this up when it publishes in September!

Release Date: September 23rd 2014 Pages: 128  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Greenwillow Books  Buy It: Book Depository

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Book Recommendation: Unteachable by Leah Raeder

I won't be doing a full review of Unteachable by Leah Raeder because I am lucky enough to have known the author before she published her book, and I don't feel "removed" enough to review it properly. However, as I was going through the list of books I read in 2013 I realized this one had never gotten to share the little space that is In The Next Room and I had to fix with that as best as I could. It's actually fantastic timing, as the book was just republished by Atria with a new cover (shared above) so now it is easier than ever for you to pick up a copy and read! The paperback release date is October 23rd.

Unteachable is a New Adult novel about a teenage girl and a teacher, but it's more complicated than that. It's a hookup that should be something more, a passion that has too much fire to survive. Raeder's writing is vivid and gorgeous, and her words are edible and rich. This is the only NA book I have read, and although there is some sex in it, the core of it is the main character, Maise. She may be damaged, but she's still full of life.

I don't have much more to say about this book besides that you absolutely need to pick it up! Here's a Book Depository link if you want to pre-order! I have the old cover but I am thinking I need to have twin copies.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock

 I almost don't want to review Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town by Stephen Leacock because I don't want to spend another minute of my life thinking about this book! It is a Canadian classic and with the new illustrated edition released, I thought it was about time I read it. However, it was not an easy read. I actually put this book down for so many months I had to reread the first 50 pages just to remember what happened. That basically never happens with me. Unfortunately, when I picked it up again finishing it was an exercise in endurance and stubbornness (I mean it's not really that long!) rather than one of reading enjoyment.

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town tells a bunch of short stories about the people living in a little town called Mariposa. I know this book is supposed to be funny and clever, but it just didn't keep my attention at all. The characters felt like caricatures, and I didn't care about them. The illustrations weren't even a style I particularly enjoyed, and by the end I was just bitter I was still reading the book. I just did not connect at all. These are boring adventures that Leacock writes about as if they were exciting, and I know that's part of the point and appeal, but to me, they were still boring adventures. I'm sorry if it makes me a bad Canadian and I'm disappointed I was so disappointed, but I cannot see myself picking up any future Leacock books after my experience with Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. 

Release Date: October 15th 2013 (originally 1912) Pages: 288  Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher  Publisher: McClelland & Stewart  Buy It: Book Depository