Friday, February 26, 2016

REVIEW: What's Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments
Title: What's Broken Between Us
Author: Alexis Bass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication: December 29th 2015
Cover Rating: 5/5


What's Broken Between Us is a sad book, for many reasons. It's about death. coping, loss, love, hate and so many other screwed up  things. I really liked the book but after having time to sit down and actually think about all the chaos that actually went on... I am not sure how I'm feeling towards the book. But if you don't want to read my review and you just want a simple yes or no answer as to whether you should even read this book, my answer would be yes, if you like chaos.

After sitting here for a while, I am not sure how I feel about Amanda OR Henry. Amanda is a hypocrite, but so is Henry. They are both preaching to their older siblings about what the did wrong... But they aren't exactly the best people to be teaching right from wrong. And Henry has an anger problem. I admit, he has a right to be upset about what happened to his sister. But the way he reacts around Jonathan are ridiculous. Maybe if Jonathan or Sutton told Henry what really caused the accident he would calm down. 

Jonathan is an asshole. Yes, Amanda still loves him and keeps looking for redeeming qualities in him but there aren't any. Yes, after he admitted what truly happened with the accident I did kind of feel sorry for him and light was shone on the fact that maybe the accident wasn't entirely his fault. But he is still an asshole. He was given a wonderful chance to start over, even after killing his best friend in that accident, but he pissed it away with whiskey and some whore at Starbucks. Maybe his grief was just too bad and he couldn't figure out how to function in the normal world after what had happened. Who knows. 

AND THEN you have Amanda and Jonathan's parents. I do admit their dad tried. But it was a little too late. But their mother... Talk about a basket case. Her son when to jail and she completely vanished from Amanda's life. She hid in her room and went to the spa with her friend. That was it. So Amanda had two absentee parent's. Her dad did admit to not wanting to raise them like his parents raised him but sometimes being your child's friend instead of their parent is the worst thing you can do for them.

Alcohol... This book is about alcohol. I don't think I have ever read about drinking so much in any other YA book. Even a book about an alcoholic teenager... And it is so ironic, even after watching what alcohol did to their classmates and siblings, everyone is still drinking like fish. Everyone still hates Jonathan, Amanda's brother, yet they are still partaking in the EXACT behavior that got him to where he is now. Everyone in this damn book are hypocrites.

One thing that always gets me with books like this is WHY are the siblings held accountable for what their older sister or brother did? I don't understand that. Like with academic records, athletics, and then horrible things like drunk driving or school shootings. Why are the siblings frowned upon? They didn't do it. And it's not like shooting up a school is genetic...

Plus, something along the lines of the previous paragraph... Why did Henry and Amanda choose to ignore each other for sixteen months after the accident? If anything that should have brought them closer together. Maybe then Amanda could have mourned. Since she was weird and didn't allow herself to do that. UGH. So many things were wrong with this book and the characters. I don't know if this book was meant to make the readers mad but it has made me mad. Yet, I still enjoyed it. What does that say about me?

This book also contains cheating. I have now read two books in a row that have cheating teenagers. I don't approve of this being in YA books. And the fact that the author is kind of making cheating into a positive thing is disgusting. It's almost like she is saying "as long as you are cheating for love then it's okay." But it isn't okay and this is teaching younger generations that cheating is normal and perfectly fine. This world has enough problems without THIS being shoved in kids faces. 

The ending was sad. But if Amanda hadn't of done what she did he brother would still be getting drunk and not facing his responsibilities. I just hope the second time around he has learned not to take second chances for granted. 

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Author Spotlight: We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments


Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of The Deathday Letter, fml, and the forthcoming The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. He can be reached at shaun@shaundavidhutchinson.com. He currently lives in South Florida with his partner and dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.

Title: We Are The Ants
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: January 19th 2016
Cover Rating: 4/5

When the first line in a book says "Life is bullshit.", you know it's going to be a pretty good book. It also makes me think about the book I submitted to a contest last year. I was told that "Young Adult books shouldn't have cussing in them.". I am starting to think that that was bullshit as well! If you think that teenagers don't cuss then you need a reality check. So with that being said, yes, this book has cussing, and yes, you should definitely let your teenagers read this.

Henry is such a raw character. He isn't trying to fit in, he isn't trying to be someone he isn't and he doesn't sugar coat things. He is just living life, if you can call it that. He is tormented everyday, not just by bullies, but by the death of his boyfriend. So, if you were given the chance to save the world, would you? Would you let humanity die a fiery death? Or would you save the world? And if you chose to save the world, what would your reason be? Would it be purely selfish? Or would you have an actual good reason? Henry has this choice to make. The world is literally on his shoulders.

Then, aside from Henry having to decide whether this shitty world is worth saving, we have a whole slew of side characters that make the book and Henry's life what they are. We have a dead boyfriend. We have a brother who is pretty horrible. We have a brother's pregnant girlfriend. We have a ex best friend turned back into best friend. We have love interests. We have bullies, teachers, a single mother and a Alzheimer's ridden grandmother. All of these people flesh out the book and without them life would be pretty boring. But maybe Henry would have enjoyed that. Who knows? Oh! And Aliens... We can't forget them. 

I have read a few other books since finishing this one and it's so hard because I keep looking for Henry's voice in every book I pick up. I loved Henry so much. He is just one of those characters, like Harry Potter, that will always be with me now. 

I wish I had other books to compare this to but, in all honesty, there is no comparison. This book is the strangest book I have ever read. Yet it is the most real book, besides the aliens, that I have ever read. The author says things that most people are too afraid to say or admit to. There is a raw, brutal truth that the main character expresses that just makes me stop and think about how truly terrible this world is.

This book was amazing, I loved it. It was definitely out of my comfort zone and not something I would normally pick up. Reasons being, A) I don't normally connect OR enjoy books with male protagonists and B) The synopsis honestly made the book sound like something stupid. That sounds horrible but I found the book on a shelf at Barnes and Noble a week early, picked it up, read the synopsis, sat it back down and moved on. Then I saw someone on Instagram praising it so I figured "Hey, I need more male authors on my author spotlight." So I emailed the author and here we are. So never be afraid to pick up a book that sounds weird or different than what you usually enjoy. You will never find out if you enjoy other things if you don't step outside of your little box.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.














1) Did you always want to be an author?

Pretty much since third grade.  We had to write these short stories for class.  I was a major geek back then.  Glasses, knobby knees, the works.  I was used to people laughing at me.  So I wrote this weird, wild story about the Kool-Aid man going on a rampage, and instead of the class laughing at me because I was a geek, they laughed with me because of something I’d written.  I discovered the power of words that day, and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.

2) If you weren't an author what would you be?

Well, I’m a computer nerd, and I work with databases (which sounds boring, I know), but I think I probably would have wound up teaching.  I studied medieval and renaissance literature in college, so I probably would have gone on and gotten a master’s degree and PhD and taught high school or college English.

3) Would you push the button?

Absolutely.  I know a lot of people will probably think Diego said it best when he tells Henry that the world is so beautiful, but I think Jesse’s mother said it best when she said, “Jesse thought life wasn’t worth living, and I refuse to prove him right.”

4) Are any of the characters in We Are The Ants modeled after people you know in real life?

Not wholly.  I think bits and pieces definitely are.  Audrey shares a lot of qualities with my best friend (we’ve been friends since high school).  Henry’s mother share’s my own mother’s love of Motown.  Marcus is kind of an amalgam of all my ex-boyfriends rolled into one obnoxious package.

5) Are you currently working on any new books?

Well, I’ve got a book coming out early 2017 about a young man who thinks the universe is shrinking.  The book starts with a plane crash and goes to some really weird places after that.  And I’ve got couple more in the pipeline that I can’t really talk about.  But I’m always working on something really weird.
 
6) If you had to pitch your book(We Are The Ants) to a potential buyer, what would you say?

We Are the Ants is a book about a boy named Henry who’s trying to find a reason to live after the suicide of his boyfriend.  And there are aliens.  I’m really terrible at pitches.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Author Spotlight: Consent by Nancy Ohlin + Giveaway!!

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments


I am the author of Consent (Simon Pulse 2015) as well as Always, Forever, a YA retelling of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, and Beauty, a YA retelling of the Snow White tale. 

I've also contributed to several celebrity novels, including a New York Times-bestselling YA trilogy.

My favorite cures for writers' block are long walks, long showers, popcorn, chocolate, and really expensive coffee. I talk to myself a lot while I write (you know, to make sure the dialogue zings).

Title: Consent
Author: Nancy Ohlin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication: November 10th 2015
Cover Rating: 2/5

Consent is a beautiful book. It is about a student-teacher relationship. There is nothing nasty or horrible about this book. A lot of people find this subject to be extremely taboo but we are human. And you cannot help who you fall for. As long as it is consensual and not some nasty fetish where some 50 year old guy likes young girls, then whatever.

Bea was such a sad girl. She pretended everything was okay but her entire life was messed up. She couldn't follow a dream of playing the piano because her father was some emotional wreck. This poor girl grew up basically without a father and her brother. She taught herself the piano and had to hide her passion so her father wouldn't get mad. 

Dane, Mr. Rossi, was great. I had to look up who Kit Harington was though. And I do have to say that I didn't picture him like that, but hey, whatever. He was intelligent and wanted so much for Bea to flourish and become the person she was meant to be. It was like he KNEW she was hiding her true self. Their relationship was beautiful. Nothing dirty or disgusting. It was natural. Their bond was formed over a mutual love for music. 

I envy the friendship that Bea and Plum had. Even after Bea lied to Plum for years, they still managed to somehow remain friends. I do think it was kind of wrong for Plum to push her own dreams onto Bea but I also think it was her way of helping. Maybe she say that Bea didn't have the support from her family so she tried to help.

I find it rather sad that it took some scary events to make Bea's father to open up his eyes and finally try to be a dad. Yes, his wife is gone, but he still had the children SHE gave him. I can understand mourning for a while but he was in mourning for pretty much ALL of Bea's life. 

When Bea was with Braden at the coffee place I just KNEW he was the one who did it. Did he think he was saving her? Protecting her? I just don't understand the logic behind his actions other than the fact that maybe he had a childish crush on her. But did he think that his actions would bring her into his arms? HA!

In the end, I still hold out hope for Dane and Bea. These books always end so badly and it sucks. I will always stand by my words when I say that as long as it's not some weird fetish and the girl/guy is almost legal and agrees, then it is their business. But I hope the universe brings them back together. They had some real chemistry.

I truly enjoyed this book. I was yelling at Dane at the end of the book. I even had to put the book down when I found out about Porter. I will never know the entire story and the truth behind that and IT SUCKS!!!

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.



 


***GIVEAWAY*** The giveaway for this book will be held on my Instagram account. So head over there to enter. @hellokittyreads

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments
Title: This Raging Light
Author: Estelle Laure
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication: December 22nd 2015
Cover Rating: 5/5

This Raging Light is an amazing book. I thought it was going to be a fluffy, contemporary YA book but it is so much more. 

Lucille is brave as hell. Not many people would be able to do what she did if they were in here shoes. She became the adult and took care of her little sister. She stepped up and made sure that they could keep living their lives all while going through emotional turmoil and a lot of confusion. If I was ever put in a situation like this I can only hope that I would be as strong as Lucille was.

Wren was an amazing little sister throughout the book. She was, sadly, forced to grow up too quickly but she didn't complain and she was pretty good. I do think she will have some issues in the future. Maybe a fear of abandonment? 

I really liked Eden. She was very peppy and full of positive energy. I think the friendship between Eden and Lucille was great! It just sucks that what happened DID happen. Hopefully everything will be okay in the end.

I don't know how I feel about Digby. Normally you swoon over the male love interest but I feel like we really didn't get to know him. I still have no idea why Lucille felt so compelled to be with him. I think it was the "best friends brother" syndrome that you see in some books. 

I do not condone what happened between Digby and Lucille throughout the book. It was cheating and I despise that. But Digby did the right thing in the end. I cannot say the same for Lucille. She was pretty evil about the situation. Saying to herself all these things about wanting Digby no matter what. Either way, I think they belong together despite the way they got to that point.

I liked the job Lucille got. It wasn't exactly practical to the real world, unless you live in a ritzy area or its an expensive restaurant, but it was nice. The people she worked with were helpful with her situation and treated Wren very nice. Her boss was a good guy too. He liked girls in sexy clothes but he was actually a genuinely good guy.

The guardian angel thing was such an amazing aspect of the book. It just shows that there is still some good left in this horrible world. I can honestly say that I didn't expect the do-gooders to be who they were. I mean it should have been obvious but it played out really well.

The ending was kind of left open. Did Eden wake up? I prefer to think that she did and everything was happily ever after. So I am just going to stick to that frame of mind. Did their mother come back? Did their father finally get better? Will Lucille get to live her life outside of being Wren's caregiver? Just so many questions and things to think about.

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman Jay Kristoff
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Hardcover: 599 pages

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is to do something worth remembrance.”

Five years ago, a friend loaned me a copy of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I got a quarter of the way into the 700 page tome and decided it just wasn’t for me. I absolutely hated the non-traditional formatting the author used to tell his story. I considered taking scissors to the book in order to “correct” it a handful of times before I finally called it quits. I promised myself that I was done with “unique” formatting. My OCD simply couldn’t handle it. 

I stuck with that promise until Christmas, when I asked for Illuminae. I couldn’t help it. I knew going in that the formatting was going to be… different. I knew that I would probably hate it, but the reviews were just too good to ignore. Plus, I can’t get enough space opera. So, I broke my promise, and I read it. It took me a grand total of three days to blow through all 599 pages. 

And guess what? I didn’t reach for my scissors once. 

Illuminae is wonderful. 

Kaufman and Kristoff took a risk with the storytelling and it really paid off. I was certain there would be issues with character development due to these decisions. I was wrong. Katy and Ezra were extremely well developed and easy to love. They even utilized IM chat speak in order to show the differences in personality. It was very well done (if a tad bit annoying at first). 

This book was like reading a puzzle. The reader is constantly storing information provided in the dossier in order to piece together the entire story. It made the story more engaging. Nothing was obvious or predictable, and nothing was given away too soon. I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout most of the book. 

To top it all off Illuminae is the most beautiful book I have ever owned. Each page is more visually stunning than the next. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into creating this graphic masterpiece. It is truly stunning. 

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys science fiction or just wants to read something fun and attractive with a nice romance. My only suggestion would be to buy it in hardcover or paperback, as this book would be nearly impossible to read in an ebook format.

Overall, I gave the book 4/5 stars.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 1:00 PM 0 comments
Title: Why Not Me?
Author: Mindy Kaling
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Publication: September 15th 2015
Cover Rating: 5/5


 I absolutely loved this book!
It was funny it was relatable it was so Mindy!
I love her I loved her book. 
I am usually not one for memoir books but I'm so glad I got this one from blogging for books. 
I liked how she talks about simple things, like her thoughts on some people, her experiences in Hollywood and all that stuff that people could only truly guess about ! What I really want to check out now is the audiobook and of course her first book xD It is now a must have for my shelf.


Recommend it?
Yus!

Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Topic Tuesday[5] - Relationships - Boy+Girl

Posted by Jenn Christensen at 2:30 PM 0 comments

So, since Valentines Day occurs this month I thought doing topics about relationships would be a good plan. So the first topic is going to be books with awesome Boy+Girl relationships. Which pretty much can cover every young adult book ever written. But I am going to pick a few books/authors that I think are pretty awesome. And I am going to stick to contemporary. No supernatural or anything else.


I loved this book. And all of Kasie West's other contemporary books. She just has this way of creating really cute love stories that seem real. If you are looking for a book you can fly through in a day then you should really try her books. 


I think this duology was my favorite romantic read of 2014. I couldn't help but fall in love with the story and the character. The main relationship is so cute but also dangerous.These books were also very quick reads. I don't know why, but for some reason Nantucket just makes me think of romance. I hope to see more from the author in the future.


Now this book... I had no idea I really loved the relationship in this book until I sat here and found myself thinking about it. It wasn't a HUGE relationship, but in the end it was the main one. It took a while for it to develop and I was actually afraid it wasn't going to for a while there. It was just adorable and the guy was adorable. I actually wonder what happened with them. Lauren Morrill! I demand an update of their future, please. 


This duology was super cute. There were so many love interests and twists and turns. But I knew who I wanted Lara Jean to end up with. This book doesn't just have a great relationship aspect but it also has a great family aspect. It has some sad parts and some not so great parts but, overall, the books are really good and quick reads. 


I really enjoyed this book. This one is a little bit heavier with the subject matter. But the relationship between the two main characters is really strong. A lot of shit goes down in this book and I think they needed each other. There will be more books in this series but each book with be about another main character. Still, I hope the author lets us see how West and Maggie are doing.

I could keep going and add every cute romance book I have ever read but sometimes a great relationship is more than just the romance. If you have any other books you would like to add to this list please comment down below for everyone to see. Thanks!

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