Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: The Mockingbirds

The Mockingbirds
Author: Daisy Whitney
Published: January 2, 2012
Paperback, 332 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Some schools have honor codes.

Others have handbooks.

Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.

Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way-the Themis way. So when Alex Patrick is date-raped during her junior year, she has two options: Stay silent and hope someone helps, or enlist the aid of the Mockingbirds-a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of the student body.

For someone who can't even think about the possibility of being raped, I certainly read a lot of books revolving around it. I am always drawn to books about girls who have been through something terrible and come out on top in the end. Sometimes they win in a small way, but other times, like in The Mockingbirds, they get all the justice they could want. Yes, no matter what happens, there is still the fact that the assault occurred, but there are ways to help you sleep at night, and Alex certainly got hers.

This book jumped right into it. We don't see the event happen, just the aftermath. Alex doesn't remember anything when she wakes up in a dorm that isn't her own. She listens to the guy she wakes up beside when he says they had a great night together. It isn't until she gets home when she realizes something is wrong. It's hard for her to admit what happened, and when she finally finds the strength, her sister suggests The Mockingbirds, a secret society inside the school that holds trials for cases that the school board chooses to ignore. Frightened, Alex agrees and is soon transported into the underbelly of her school. Suddenly her fear is replaced with bravery and she's ready to stand up for what happened and make sure the man who did this to her pays.

What I liked most is that even though she novel revolves around rape and a trial about it, it doesn't seem preachy. We find out the information about what happened that night throughout the book with Alex, feeling the pain of thinking it's her own fault for drinking too much, and the fear when she passes him in the hall. The Mockingbirds are a great touch. Named after To Kill a Mockingbird, they fight for justice in a school that decides it doesn't need to. The more Alex discovers, the more I rooted her for to get to the end where she feels safe enough to go out at night. The scariest thing about being assaulted is the fear of moving on with your life. Yes, there is no way to get over it in a night, but justice and knowing that the person who did this to you has been outed, would certainly help me sleep at night. The Mockingbirds protect the student body and help everyone feel safe. I think every school needs a society like this. 

The plot was fast paced enough to make me want to keep reading. The bits and pieces of Alex's night staggers throughout the pages crept into me just like they did her. This book stood apart from the other books about rape that I've read. Even though they all have the same major theme, Alex's story sounded real and believable. She was not attacked, she was date raped, and something like that is more likely to happen to a girl in college or university. Whitney approached it in the best way possible. Alex's story has happened to many girls, including the author, and the more we write about it, the more these girls will be strong enough to stand up and get the justice they deserved. No one should have to fear this happening to them, but if it does, they should know it's safe to tell someone about it. 

“In this moment I'm not defined by the other things, the things that happened to me, the things I didn't choose. This is the part of me that defines for all time, for always. The thing I choose completely.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Bright Before Sunrise

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.
This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Bright Before Sunrise
by Tiffany Schmidt

When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him. 

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance. 

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.? 

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.

A: I'm excited for this because of Tiffany Schmidt. Her first novel, Send Me a Sign, blew me away so I can't wait to read everything else she writes.


B: YAs written in a guy's point of view always intrigue me. I haven't read many of them because I'm always afraid I won't relate, but everything by John Green is amazing and I learn a lot when looking at the world through a guy's eyes. This book looks like it will be from both perspectives, which is another thing I love.

Expected publication: February 18, 2014

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: The Spectacular Now

The Spectacular Now
Author: Tim Tharp
Published: October 20, 2008
Paperback, 294 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

SUTTER KEELY. He's the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

I picked up this book because there is a movie coming out this summer based on it. I didn't really know what it was about, just that the movie looked good and I wanted to read the book first. I was surprised when I started reading it. Sutter has such a unique voice that I was pulled into his world until the last page. I went to every party with him, drank large 7ups mixed with whiskey with him, and even found a friend in Aimee like he did. This book was unlike any book I've read before. It's in a category of its own with a protagonist that you're probably not rooting for. But somehow Tharp made Sutter likeable even when he's the most unlikable character there is. Because even though I wasn't rooting for him for most of the book, I was disappointed with him in the end. This of course, means I cared what happened to him, meaning I was rooting for him.

Sutter has a drinking problem. He drinks morning, noon and night. He of course does not see this as problem, but it slowly creeps in around him when others start telling him they've noticed it. He loses his job, his girlfriend and best friend, but somehow gets Aimee, the good girl in school, to party with him. Sutter swears he won't fall for Aimee, that she's just a girl who needs help with her self esteem and he's there to help. But the more they spend time together, the more he realizes she may be the person he needs to change his life. Aimee has a troubled life, is very quiet, and finds herself falling hard for Sutter. To her, he is exactly what she needs, but he's not sure it goes both ways.

The narrative really stuck out to me. Sutter's way of talking is unique and strange and different. He'll interrupt with stories, go on binges while he's drinking, and claim the inner workings of his mind are not what they seem. Even at the end of the book, I still didn't quite understand him or his motives, and I think that's what's kept him in my thoughts. I've never read a character like him and I'm still not sure I even like him. The story could have been reminiscent of a John Green novel, with the character who doesn't quite fit the status quo, but it's completely different at the same time. This is not a love story. This is not a book about issues. Sutter's drinking problem is not what needs to be fixed, nor is it. Sutter doesn't really learn anything from his actions and he doesn't get very far throughout the book. Every time I thought he'd change, he wouldn't, and every time I thought I knew what he would do next, I was wrong. 

I'm interested to see how this story will play out on the big screen as most of the interesting aspects of it are inside Sutter's head. I wonder if they'll change the ending or make this into something that it's not, because it's perfect in its uniqueness. It is not your average YA novel and that's what I love about it. Unlikable characters are hard to master, but Tharp has done a fantastic job.

“Besides, it doesn't matter if it's real. It never does with dreams. They aren't anything anyway but lifesavers to cling to so you don't drown. Life is an ocean, and most everyone's hanging on to some kind of dream to keep afloat.” 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with boarding school settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, that lets all us list makers have some fun!

Today’s TTT topic is: Top Ten Favorite Books With X Setting (ie: futuristic world, set mostly in schools, etc) I’ve chosen to pick my top ten favorite books with a boarding school, special school setting.

Boarding Schools:

 Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Special Schools:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Pivot Point by Kasie West

And since I couldn't come up with ten - a book I want to read with this setting:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Monday, August 12, 2013

A to Z Survey

This is an awesome survey that Jaimie  from The Perpetual Page-Turner put together. I'm obsessed with surveys, so I knew I had to fill this out!

Author you’ve read the most books from:
Nicholas Sparks and Rachel Vincent

Best sequel ever:
Catching Fire (can't wait for the movie!)

Currently Reading:
The Mockingbirds By Daisy Whitney

Drink of Choice While Reading:

E-Reader of Physical Book?
Forever physical books. I love dog earring pages and looking to see how many pages I have left. Not quite the same with an e-book

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: 
I liked my skinny rocker boys, so I'd have to go with Adam from If I Stay or Will from Masque of the Red Death

Glad you gave this book a chance:
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe. Great Canadian author!

Hidden Gem Book:
Inside Out by Maria. V. Snyder

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
I'll have to say it was reading The Lord of the Rings in high school. I didn't know what true literature was until I read those books and it was hard for me to read anything similar (I didn't finish the Harry Potter series because I found it to be a slight ripoff) Also, reading The Hunger Games opened me up to the world of YA, which I love and now write for. 

Just Finished: 
 The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

 Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
Anything related to Fifty Shades of Grey and most books that are compared to Twilight. I couldn't even finish it, so I don't want to read anything like it!

Longest Book You’ve Read:
Most likely The Lord of the Rings. I tend to avoid large books

Major book hangover because of:
Insurgent, every book in the Soul Screamers series and This is Not a Test

Number of Bookcases You Own:
Three, but I'm not taking them with me when I move. I'm hoping to purchase a nice big one!

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
I don't re-read many books (though I keep meaning too!) so I'll have to go with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland because I could read that every day!

 Preferred Place To Read:
My bed or outside in the sun

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:
"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations" - The Fault in Our Stars

Reading Regret:
Beautiful Disaster. What a waste of time. Yes!

 Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):
The Mortal Instruments
The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
The Hunger Games
The Lord of the Rings
This is Not a Test/ If I Die (it's a tie)

Unapologetic Fangirl For: 
Rachel Vincent and Courtney Summers

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Worst Bookish Habit:
I buy em faster than I can read em

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Your latest book purchase:
Truly, Madly, Deeply/ The Disenchantments/ The Mockingbirds

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
Canary by Rachele Alpine

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Sequels Please!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they post a new topic that the participants come up with a top ten list for.

This week's topic is books we wish had sequels. Yes, they are complete stories, but the characters and story made you crave more.

1. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers: Yes, yes, yes, do I ever want a sequel to this book! I know it will never happen, but I really want to find out if Sloane gets out alive. Agh.

2. Oath Bound by Rachel Vincent: Yes, I know there are three books in this series, but I fell in love with this world and I'm not ready to let it go. Can't it be a seven book series like Soul Screamers?

3. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: Ok, I understand Sam is dead, but I really liked the whole idea of redemption after death and Lauren is such a magnificent writer that I think she have made this into a series, each revolving around a different character from this town. Still my favourite book of hers.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: I know there are two more in this series, one's not even out yet, but I could read about Anna and Etienne forever. They need more books about only them!

5. Curse Workers series by Holly Black: Three books was not enough for this series! More please!

6. Paper Towns by John Green: My favourite Green book, I'd love to see what happens next for Quentin and Margo.

7. The Forest of Hands and Teeth series: Because who can resist zombies

8. Reunited by Hilary Wiseman Graham: Mostly because I want to see the antics the girls get up to with the band!

And two books that I wish didn't have sequels:

9. Fifty Shades of Grey: Because who even read the first one?

10. Beautiful Disaster: It was bad enough reading the first one, let alone coming out with the same book written in a different P.O.V. Why not continue the story instead?

Anyway, those last two may have been a bit harsh, but maybe I'm jut mad that some of my favourite books still don't have sequels. What do you guys think? 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: Anna and the French Kiss

 Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Published: July 13, 2013
Paperback, 372 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. She is less than thrilled about boarding school in Paris - until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, he has it all - including a serious girlfriend. Will Anna get her French kiss?

Paris, the city of love. It's magical and anything can happen when you're far from home. Anyone would be happy to spend the semester abroad in this beautiful city, everyone expect Anna Oliphant. She's happy with her life in Atlanta, ready for her senior year of high school with her best friend and Toph, the boy who could very well become something more than a friend soon. So when her family ships her to France, she's content to stay in her room and pretend none of this ever happened. But life won't let Anna dwell on the past. Immediately, she finds herself friends with the girl next door and soon enough with Mer's friends. They force her out of her room and into the wonderfulness that is Paris. She finds herself drawn to Etienne St. Clair, the very handsome British boy who lives upstairs from her. And although she knows he's very taken and her feelings for Toph have not gone away, she can't help but want to be with him all the time. As she struggles to keep her feelings for him aside, she starts to discover the real beauty of Paris.

Paris is just as much a character in this book as Anna is. When Anna finally leaves her room, we see the cityin a beautiful light, like a new chapter in Anna's life. From Notre Dame to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, the more Anna loses herself in the city, the more she changes from who she used to be. Throughout the pages, we see her grow up. She realizes some things can never be the same with her friends and family back home, and she realizes just how important some friendships are. She learns to except that paris is part of her life now and slowly she finds herself falling in love with a city she never wanted to be in. 

Every character stands out. Some have your basic characteristics, but Perkins makes them her own. Anna, who is shy and reserved quickly becomes the girl she never thought she could be.  St. Clair is your typical YA crush, but he has his own demons to deal with and tries to make the right choices in life. Mer is a girly sporty chick, Rashmi is a cool indie chick, and Josh is a loud artsy guy. The characters made this book what it is. Each one had their own story inside this story, each with their own drama to deal with. And even though Anna and St. Clair's story was the main focus, no one was forgotten in the background. Our main characters wouldn't get to where they ended up without help from their friends. 

This story is the perfect length. As I was reading it, I thought it was going to be long, I thought there would be a lot of filler before I got to the parts I wanted to read. But there is no filler. Everything that happens needed to happen. In fact, by the end, I was hoping for more. I can't wait to see what's next for Anna and Etienne, but I'm also looking forward to meeting Perkins's new characters in Lola and the Boy Next Door, where I'm hoping Anna and Etienne will make a guest appearance. I'm still new to the YA contemporary genre, but this book certainly stood out among the rest and will forever stay in my heart. Also, can I go to paris now, please?

Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Stacking the Shelves: Disenchanted Mockingbirds

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to showcase all the books we got in the past week. Those can be bought, won, gifted, for review, borrowed, print or ebooks... no matter, just share what you got :)

I don't do this meme very often because I usually only buy one book at a a time. But this week I made a purchase from, so I've got some awesome books to look forward to in the coming weeks!

The description of this book caught my attention. Books about assault seem to catch my eye, and I hope the author can accomplish writing about it in a way that works.

Road trips, bands, and drama? Sign me up! This looks like a fun summer read!

A creepy looking thriller about someone helping someone else in the worst way possible. Haven't read a thriller in a while, so I'm eager to open this up!

I'm super excited about my books, it's going to be hard to decide which to read first. Anyone have a fave from this list? Did anyone get anything good this week?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: Canary

Author: Rachele Alpine
Published: August 1, 2013
Paperback, 400 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.

Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete. 

But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Canary tells a hard story exactly how it is. There is no build up to an event like assault, it creeps into your life unknowingly and steals a part of you. Kate Franklin's life is exactly how she wants it to be. She is going to a new school where her mother's death doesn't follow her around every corner, and she has great new friends and a boyfriend on the basketball team. From afar, it seems perfect, but up close she's breaking. Her dad cares more about the basketball team he coaches than her, and her brother is struggling on his own and there is no way for her to help him. To Kate, it's just hardships that come with high school. She would never expect someone to take advantage of her, and she could never expect what happens after. 

What I think I loved most about this book is that I knew going into it that Kate is assaulted at a party, but there is no telling when that is going to happen in the book. Just as it is in real life, everything seemed perfect until it happened and suddenly nothing was the same. The assault is one of the main themes in the book, but it does not own this novel. Kate's life as she's trying to put the pieces back together after her mother's death fill the pages with hopes, fears, and open honesty. Kate writes for a blog which breaks up the scenes quietly yet dramatically, giving us a deeper look into her mind. She experiences many things for the first time, not all good, and I quickly fell in love with her voice and her pain. By the time the assault happened, I knew so much about Kate, yet I wasn't sure if she would be able to do what she had to do.

Every character stood out to me. I disliked every character at least once in the book, making each of them feel real. People make mistakes, people take the wrong sides, and if that doesn't happen in a book than it doesn't feel right. Kate is by far not perfect, neither is her perfect coach of a dad or her star athlete boyfriend. What matters is how you fix what you've done or how you reacted that makes you a good person. Privilege is a key factor in this book. Most of the characters make the mistake of thinking they are entitled to what they do, including the assault. It's easy not to see what's happening or to ignore it just because athletes are involved. It's a telling tale of what happens when we put the popular kids on pedestals and allow them to do whatever they please. Canary shows the hard truth about popularity, high school, and most of all, privilege. I was rooting for Kate the whole time and I couldn't be happier with the ending if I tried. It was a nice change from what I'm used too in YA and I think it was needed.

Subjects like this can be hard to master. There is a fine line between getting it right and going overboard. Alpine told what she needed to tell and left it at that. It was simple, clear, and heartbreaking. I have not been assaulted, nor have I known anyone who has been, but I know how I act when I read or watch it being portrayed. Canary captures the fear, guilt, and aftermath like a real victim, the weight of the act baring down on Kate. There are a lot of books about rape and assault, but this one stands on its own. Kate does not back down and I think that's an important lesson to teach girls, women, anyone. If you let someone get away with what they've done, than they've won. You need to fight back. You need to speak up.

"I woke over and over again, relishing the first moments when I'd forgotten what had happened, those two, three, four seconds when things stayed okay, right before the world slammed back into me, the heavy wooden stake of memory too close to my scarred heart."

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