Friday, October 20, 2017

REVIEW: The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster - Erin

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
The Gatekeepers 
by Jen Lancaster  
Hardcover, 448 pages
Expected publication: October 10th 2017 by Harlequin Teen
ISBN (ISBN13: 9780373212613)
Received From NetGalley In Exchange For Honest Review

About:
Anyone passing through North Shore, IL, would think this was the most picture-perfect place ever, with all the lakefront mansions and manicured hedges and iron gates. No one talks about the fact that the brilliant, talented kids in this town have a terrible history of throwing themselves in front of commuter trains, and that there's rampant opioid abuse that often leads to heroin usage.

Meet Simone, the bohemian transfer student from London, who is thrust into the strange new reality of the American high school; Mallory, the hyper-competitive queen bee; and Stephen, the first generation genius who struggles with crippling self-doubt. Each one is shocked when lovable football player Braden takes his own life and the tragedy becomes a suicide cluster. With so many students facing their own demons, can they find a way to save each other—as well as themselves?

Inspired by the true events that happened in the author’s home town.
(Goodreads)

Rating: 


I gave this book 4 stars, despite many issues that I had with it, because in the long run if you stick with the story until the end, it really is a good suicide prevention novel. It should end up being right up there with “13 Reasons Why”. I also gave it a little more lean way since it was based on true events. 

First off, the problems I had with the story. I really didn’t care for any of the characters. I know it is how they were raised and the pressure that was put on them and such, but OMG, they were all for the most part stuck up brats! I wanted to smack most of them. I also realize that they’re teens and this is how teens act but wow. Just wow. I thought after the 2 deaths mentioned in the beginning of the book that people would start acting to stop the trend, but no. It took over half the book and 2 more deaths for the kids to step up. It took a (spoiler alert for the rest of sentence) near fatal car accident cause by drugs for the parents to react, and even then they were still more worried about themselves and the town being upper class and everyone being elite then their kids dying. I just couldn’t believe it! I know I’m not “upper class” but wow! The people in the book were just cold. Is this really how the upper class elites live? It made it hard for me to connect to parts of the story because of this. 

Now for the good things in the novel. The book it’s self was well written. It was an original perspective on a nationwide issue.  They eventually cover all the aspects of teen suicide including: warning signs, depression, alcohol, drugs, survivors guilt, and the grieving process. There are times where some of the kids try to reach out for help which gave the story a bit of a new view. I feel like usually you don’t see that part until after the person is already dead in most books. One kid tells his girlfriend that he’s having trouble with drugs and could use help. He gets ignored because she’s too busy (which made me mad) but it does lead to more happening in the story and probably does sometimes happen in real life. This book focuses on the extreme pressure these teens are put under to succeed. They must get the best grades, must get into the best schools, must date the right people, must win every sporting and academic event, must be skinny and look perfect. In some ways I can see many teens relating to this. Everyone is under some kind of pressure, maybe from parents, maybe from peers, maybe from school or work, or maybe from the media. The book, to me, makes it hard for regular people to feel bad for the characters though, even though we can understand them. One student thinks he bombed an interview to the elite school he “has” to get into with early admissions. I’m sorry but normal teens are more worried about getting into college in general and most don’t worry about early admissions. At least that’s how it was in my middle class school, and yes we did have some students who went off to Harvard, Yale, etc. I do give this book a lot of credit when it came to the support group that the teens make. I feel that the “Gatekeepers” group should be something that every school looks into making. Everyone can use at least a little support sometimes. 

Over all I think this book will be useful to a lot of people. It has inspired me to look into potential programming for the library I work at that might be able to help people, like the gatekeepers did. The characters weren’t my favorite, but it was well written and dealt with a tough topic and there for earns a 4 star rating despite it's flaws.    

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Blog Tour: Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 5:40 PM 0 comments
Are you looking for a new, amazing series for your son(or daughter) to get lost in? It can be hard trying to find books that are suited for younger boys. The Alex Rider series by the amazing Anthony Horowitz is packed full of action and adventure that your young read will absolutely love! Never Say Die is the 11th installment to this series so you can be sure to get plenty of reading material when it comes to these books!

Title: Never Say Die( Alex Rider #11)
Genre: YA Action/Adventure
Author: Anthony Horowitz
Publisher: Philomel Books
Publication: October 10th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5


Here are links to the first book in the series, Stormbreaker, Anthony Hororwitz's website and his Twitter if you find yourself interested in purchasing the series.

REVIEW: It's Not Like it's a Secret by Misa Sugiura - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Rate:
3/5

Goodreads Desciption:
Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

Review:
About the first 40-60% of the book was enjoyable at first but then slowly I started to grow bored of it. I don't know what exactly happened. At this point of the month I have started to read average after average book and that could've been the reason. At this point in the year, I have read a shit ton of books and when that happens, I start to see a pattern and books become predictable. Shit starts to happen for Sana and towards the last half it is almost as if the author remembered that Sana needed to have a moment of growth and have her have problems in her life and added everything to her storyline. After that she tried to resolve them all and it all just jumbled together. It felt as if I was trying to watch a movie and the signal kept going amiss. 

Now the last thing that really fucking irked me, SPOILER ALERT

Cheating. Let's just... that's not cute. Sure the characters are like madly in love and they didn't have the heart to break their partners heart and they couldn't stay away from their loved one any more but really. Must you cheat. Like, for some people reading these types of plots its like awwww they are finally together. Like no... That's a douche thing to do.

Recommend it?
Eh....

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Author Spotlight: All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry - 4 stars

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments
Samantha was born four days before the death of John Lennon. she grew up in Dallas, playing bass guitar along to vinyl records in her bedroom after school, writing fan letters to rock stars, doodling song lyrics into notebooks, and reading big, big books.

She spends as much time as possible in the west Texas desert.


Title: All the Wind in the World
Genre: YA
Author: Samantha Mabry
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication: October 10th 2017
Cover Rating: 4/5

All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry is a beautifully written western novel. That is the best way I can describe it. There are deserts, horses, maguey plants(used to make tequila), poor living conditions, fear, pain, love, hate, life and death. This novel contained things that I never thought I would enjoy in a book. I am not huge on horses or farms or anything that has to do with the things in this book. But, somehow, I ended up enjoying the story more than I thought I would.

Our main character is Sarah Jac. Her are her 'cousin' James are living the life of migrant workers. They hop from farm to farm cutting plants to make a little bit of money to save for their big plan. They aren't really cousins but they pretend to be in order to keep each other safe from jealous, angry workers. Jealous and anger make people do some pretty crappy things. After an incident at their last ranch, Sarah Jac and James end up at a new ranch, The Real Marvelous. But there are problems with this ranch. Problems that involve curses and death. Lots of death. 

The world this book takes place in is our world but not at the same time. I had a problem telling whether this was a future or past world. There was no technology but the way Sarah Jac would describe things, especially Chicago, made it seem like the world was ending. Droughts and small wages and poor living conditions. But at the same time when she was describing life with her grandmother it seemed like the book was from the past. 

In the end, I did struggled to read this book, but only because some of the scenes were hard to get through. There was so many sad and painful things that the people in this book went through just to make a few pennies. Knowing that people actually live like this every day was pretty hard to swallow. Aside from that, the ending was very difficult. Sarah Jac was hurt and ready to accept death. James did some pretty horrible things. But somehow, both of them ended up in a pretty decent situation after some pretty terrible events.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.


1) If you could bring any of your characters to life, who would you pick and why?
There’s a character in A Fierce and Subtle Poison named Rico. He’s one of Lucas’ best friends, and he curses a lot and drives a scooter. I’d like to meet him, I think. We’d get in trouble together.

2) Tell us 5 random facts about yourself:
I’m an amateur welder (I make/hope to make furniture). I used to be a yoga teacher, but I’m still not very limber. I’d rather be in a hammock strung up between two trees more than anyplace else in the world. My favorite food is birthday cake, like a big white sheet cake with super-sugary white icing and super-sugary purple and red icing flowers on it. If I have a pattern, I can knit and/or crochet almost anything.

3) Where did the inspiration for All the Wind in the World come from?
The inspiration for All the Wind in the World came from several sources, but two main ones: far West Texas, where it’s dry and rugged and beautiful, and an old(ish) film called Days of Heaven, which is romantic and sad and rugged and beautiful.

4) If a future version of yourself went back in time to when you were a teenager and told you that you were going to be a great author, would you have believed her?
Oh…maybe? I had high hopes for myself! I knew I wanted to do something great and creative and that was meaningful to people. But I was teenager, I wanted more than anything to play bass in a famous rock band and tour the world. So, I thought I might become a great bassist, not so much a great author.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?
Sort of? I have a couple of things cooking: a ghost story set in San Antonio and a tale about bandits. Both are in very, very rough, though and exist mostly just in my head still.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Author Spotlight: There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins - 1 star

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

Hi, there! I'm Steph, and I wrote Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After. I also edited (and contributed a short story to) a romantic holiday anthology called My True Love Gave to Me and its companion anthology, Summer Days and Summer Nights. My next YA release is a horror novel called There's Someone Inside Your House, which will be released Fall 2017.

Title: There's Someone Inside Your House 
Genre: YA Contemporary Thriller-ish with High School setting
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Publication: September 26th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins was one of my top 10 most anticipated book releases for 2017. It was supposed to be this really awesome thriller/horror story and I was SO ready for it. Sadly, I was greatly let down by every. single. part. of this book. What happens when a super fluffy, Young Adult Romance author tries to write a thriller/horror book? Well, that part is scarier than the actual book.

Our main character is Makani, the new girl in town. She was sent to live with her grandmother to 'help her out' but in reality she was sent to live there because she did some stupid, super teen-angst filled, thing that got her in a lot of trouble. She has settled well into her new life. Then the murders start. And this little girl thinks everything is about her and her past. She also has the audacity to start a VERY sexual relationship in the middle of all of this chaos. Big let down is the understatement of the year.

The overall plot and romance aspects of this book were beyond pointless and frustrating. The murderer's reason behind killing people? SO STUPID. The loner/rebel dude ending up with the 'new' girl with a shady past? UGH!!! Is there a stronger word than cliche? The shady past of the new girl? WTF even was that? The only part I even remotely liked was the grandmother and MAYBE the best friends. They were kind of fun.

All in all, the author needs to stick to writing her romance stories. This book could have been good but the fact that I feel it was a rip off of the movie Scream AND the annoying romance really KILLED it for me. I will still read the author if she goes back to fluffy books but never again will I make this mistake.

Overall, I gave the book 1/5 stars.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Author Spotlight: Warcross by Marie Lu - 5 stars!

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 9:00 AM 0 comments

I write young adult novels, and have a special love for dystopian books. Ironically, I was born in 1984. Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an Art Director at a video game company. Now I shuffle around at home and talk to myself a lot. :)

I graduated from the University of Southern California in '06 and currently live in LA, where I spend my time stuck on the freeways.

Title: Warcross
Genre: YA Sci Fi
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam
Publication: September 12th 2017
Cover Rating: 5/5

Warcross by Marie Lu is a fantastic Sci-Fi story about Emika Chen and her struggles with life in a futuristic world not too far off of where we currently are. She is a self taught hacker and she makes money to pay the bills by being a bounty hunter, catching criminals that usually commit crimes in Warcross. What is Warcross? It is a virtual world where you can fight other people while attempting to steal the other teams Artifact. The game is played through a pair of glasses and almost the entire world is in on the craze.

Warcross is having their yearly tournament and somehow, while Emika is watching it, she glitches the game and everyone can see her. She is afraid that she will be going to jail now but the exact opposite is what really happens. Her idol, Hideo Tanaka, the very young inventor of the Warcross teachnology, has a job offer for her. A very interesting job offer, with high stakes and high pay. Which is perfect considering she was struggling to pay her bills. From there we are taken on a really fun journey through the Warcross tournament and possibly straight into Hideo Takana's arms.

If you are a gamer or just like reading books about gamer stuff then this is totally for you. No, it is NOT Ready Player One and I AM GLAD! I am so tired of people comparing every game-related book to that one. This book stands on its own as so much more than just a gamer book. It has some really deep meaning to it and I just completely loved it.

The ending of the book was surprising but also not. I kind of guessed who Zero was but I didn't guess the Hideo part. So many people wish for world peace but to what extent are you willing to go to achieve that world peace? That is the question I felt was floating around at  the end. I cannot wait the read the next book to find out what happens with EVERYTHING. This book was insanely good!

Always remember, it's not just a game. It's a way of life.

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee - Valeria

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Rate:
4/5

Goodreads Description:
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Review: 
If you are in the book universe you know that this was a highly anticipated read for which I had so many high hopes. Now the book didn't disappoint buuuuut it also wasn't the world's best book like everyone was dishing. The ending really made the book the best part for me. It was incredibly fucking cute and gave me all sorts of feels, making me forget any sort of complaint that I had over this book. Now there are things that some might cringe at, myself included but to be honest I think that the author handled the way that people were back in the day without being OVERLY offensive and created a love story that didn't seemed forced but rather flowed naturally. And I say forced because I will come out and say it. To me I have read some LGBTQ+ stories out there that are written by authors almost in a way that seemed like they forced themselves to write a love aspect to their characters. Like
if you aint feeling it, neither will you characters or readers.
Lee on the other hand is as in love with the characters as they are with each other and therefore. I ship them.

Recommend it?
Yup

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