The Ruining by Anna Collomore

The Ruining by Anna Collomore - YA new release 2013Book Title/Author: The Ruining by Anna Collomore
Publisher/Release Date
: Razorbill – February 7th 2013
Genre: YA Thriller
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None — The Ruining is her debut title.

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

 

Annie can’t wait to leave home after she graduates high school — there’s too many things that haunt her there. She’s lined up a nanny job with a picture perfect family across the country where she’ll also attend her freshman year of college. Immediately she gets along great with the Cohens and she absolutely adores the wife, Libby, who seems like a sister to her. It doesn’t stay perfect for long — Libby starts snapping on her and accusing her of things she knows she didn’t do (like staring flirtatiously at her husband). The job becomes more demanding and Libby seems to go from hot to cold easily and Annie finds her privacy suddenly stripped away when the door is taken away because Libby thinks it’s broken and needs to be repaired. Annie finds herself struggling to keep up and on Libby’s good side but has a hard time staying afloat as she becomes more and more suspicious of Libby and also haunted by her past.

I have beyond complicated thoughts right now about The Ruining. My whole brain is just feeling like it’s in a post night out drinking haze where I’m like “How did I get into bed with my shoes still on, the key still in the door and why did I call Pizza Hut 50 times?” My brain is just reaaaaaching to find some clarity here so I can tell you about this book and my thoughts on it but the book was complicated. It’s complicated further by the fact that I can’t say TOO much or I will spoil it for you because it’s the kind of book that really relies on the element of the MindWTFery…like most psychological thriller type books.

The first 50-75% of this books was flipping fantastic for me! I was intrigued by Annie’s new life as a nanny and immediately I kept getting little pricks of “something isn’t right here!” within this picture perfect family and giddily awaited the potential MindWTFery. As the story progresses, my mind went into overdrive trying to figure out if the things that were happening in the story were real or if Annie was  crazy. I pretty much changed my theory every chapter as things escalated. Sometimes I thought Libby was a psycho and then other times Annie’s reactions to things were so extreme and then I would feel all suspicious of the family again….all to sit there and think, “I really have no idea because at the end of the day Annie seems like she could be a pretty unreliable narrator and now I feel crazy because I’m in her head.” The suspense was perfect and clever because you never felt completely sure what was going on and things just got crazier and crazier.

The part that really keeps from me RAVING, in the way I thought I would as I breezed through the first 75% of The Ruining, was the ending! It was a huge letdown. Friends, I am a HUGE lover of a good mind-you-know-what. I relish in them and am a psychological thriller junkie. And normally I never see it coming. And remember all those theories I told you I came up with? There were some I never wavered from because I felt so strongly about them and, honestly, a lot of them seemed so obvious. I kind of figured I would be wrong about them. But then unfortunately I was right about all of them. Admittedly, I DO guess things in books and movies but it’s quite rare in a really good psychological thriller that I do. I walk away stunned with the ending and my head spinning and this was not the case.

But not only did the actual ENDING let me down but the way the ending WAS just killed the mood. Through the first part of this book I was very on edge and feeling everything — that tension of truth and not truth was intense. But then the ending and the revelations were just so dull, rushed and anti-climactic. It wrapped up so quickly and without much oomph ( I wish I could explain more but I don’t want to give it away). Revelations were just sort of told rather than experienced and I kept thinking, “that’s all?” all the way up until the end. Resolutions happen very behind the scenes and we aren’t a part of it like we were in the beginning. I get WHY because of what’s happened to Annie but it just, for me personally, was a let down to how Anna Collomore had me feeling before.

Random but this also reminded me of a movie or something that I CANNOT for the life of me think of!

My feelings on The Ruining are so complicated. I very much enjoyed the ride of feeling like I couldn’t tell what was real or who was the crazy one in this story. I knew SOMETHING wasn’t right. The tension was perfect that I flew through. But then the ending…the execution and the conclusion of that last quarter of the book were just such a let down for me that I can’t really rave about this book as much as I would have had it stayed on par with what I came to expect or would have hoped for it. I’m a huge fan of the MindWTFery and maybe because I’ve read and watched so much of those psychologically jarring books/movies that I was hoping for something more WOW. It was pretty much the most obvious things and the storytelling  became dull compared to how fantastic it was before. If you are new to psychological thriller type books, I’d say you might like it compared to someone who has read a lot of them.

 

For Fans  Of: psychological type thrillers, MindWTFery, suspense, books dealing with mental illness, people who don’t mind a bit of predictability

Get Another Opinion: The Quiet Concert loved & gave it four stars!

The Ruining by Anna Collomore

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Did you enjoy it/not enjoy it? Heard of it? If you have read it, did you find that your theories were right in the end? And what did you think about Owen? Because honestly he seemed charming but towards the end I was getting some controlling vibes. ALSO, have any of you ever been loving a book but then the end of the book is a complete let down for you?  Anybody have any good psychological thriller recs? I’m talking Fight Club-ish. :)

Top Ten 2013 YA Debut Novels I’m Looking Forward To!

toptentuesssTop Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic:

Top Ten 2013 YA Debut Books I’m Looking Forward To!

 

top YA debuts 2013

1. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza:  I plan on starting this soon but it sounds like an amazing science fiction novel about a girl who find out she’s not actually human but an experiment of artificial intelligence. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
2. The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston: This was one of my Catalog Creepin’ picks for Disney Hyperion and I’m excited because I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Witness Protection program and the MC’s family has been placed in it and she has no idea as to the reason why. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
3. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: I love a good beach read and this is one of my #1′s for summer 2013!  Set during the summer the MC, Cricket, experiences a tragedy that changes her life and has her working instead of having the perfect summer she’s imagined. She never expected that she’d fall in love either with someone she isn’t supposed to. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
4. The Ward by Jordana Frankel: I can’t but help being excited about  post-apocalyptic sorts of books and this debut looks so thrilling that I did a happy dance when it showed up in my mailbox this week. The premise is that Manhattan is underwater and people are becoming ill because of pollution. The MC accepts an offer from the government to go in search of a freshwater source and learns the situation in the Ward may not be exactly how it seems. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)

Must Read Teen Books 2013

5. The Ruining by Anna Collomore: I love a good psychological thriller and this seems intense and mysterious! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
6. How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski: I have been pining for this book every since I saw it! I think my initial thought was “I wish I had the balls to set an ex’s car on fire” but this book seriously looks like an awesome contemp! And UM a road trip? Total win if you know me! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
7. The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna: This cover drew me in initially and then I read the synopsis and was sold. It honestly just seems so whimsical and quirky and why it definitely was a book I picked out as I creeped the Penguin 2013 Spring/Summer Catalog. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
8. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith: I am not normally a gal swayed by author blurbs on a book but when I saw this blurbed by Gayle Forman in the HarperTeen Spring/Summer 2013 catalog I knew this book had to be mine.  So excited to read this one!  And I love the cover! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)

2013 teen books

9. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley: When I originally saw the cover for this I though it was paranormal so I was pleasantly surprised when I found it was contemporary psychological mystery. It sounds like an  intense page-turner! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
10. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher: Though I was not bullied in high school, I find myself drawn to books that delve into bullying to some degree because of what a sad reality it is these days. In this novel, the main character’s best friend gets bullied, her reputation is tarnished and then she commits suicide. The MC then feels like she owes it to her friend to find out just who hurt her enough to make her not want to live. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)

Bonus Titles (Because I hate limiting this to ten):

anticipated-YA-books-2013

Ones I’ve already read that would be on this list: Level 2 by Lenore Applehans, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shephard

So tell me…are you excited about any of these 2013 debuts?  Have you read any of them? Which ones aren’t on my list  but you think  I might like/should check out?

Catalog Creepin’ — Penguin Spring/Summer 2013

Catalog Creepin’ is a feature here at The Perpetual Page-Turner that was inspired by the “Books to Pine For” feature over at Kristi’s blog and really fueled by my obsession with scouring catalogs from my favorite publishers to see what upcoming books I should be adding to my already-ready-to-topple-over To Be Read list. Each Catalog Creepin’ post will spotlight a different catalog from my favorite publishers and their imprints. I won’t be covering all publishers — just my personal favorites whether they be the big honchos or smaller publishing houses.

Last week I creeped HarperCollins catalog and I was really heavy on the dystopian/science fiction. Penguin’s catalog? HOLY GOOD CONTEMPS!

YOUNG ADULT

 

** PSA: I have been informed that May 7th is only a placeholder. WAHH PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME WHAT LONGER! **You know my love for Anna & The French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. If Stephanie Perkins was a boy band and I was teen Jamie in the 90′s I’d have bedazzled t-shirts declaring my love. This book and Just One Day by Gayle Forman are my two most anticipated books of 2013. I CANNOT WAIT.

 

Invisibility by David Levithan & Andrea Cremer (May 7, 2013)

I am so stinking excited about this one! I remember at a book signing with Andrea she mentioned she and David were writing a book. You know my love for David so it was automatic OMG YES but then I read Nightshade & loved Andrea’s storytelling. SO YES YES YES TO THIS. It’s about a boy who has literally always been invisible because of a curse until one day when the new girl in town actually sees him.

 

 

 

 

How Not To Find A Boyfriend by Allyson Valentine Schrier(June 13th 2013)

This one had me at “for fans of Stephanie Perkins” but honestly this sounds cute! A used to be nerd turns social butterfly but when a smart & cute guy moves into town she realizes she needs to prove that she’s not JUST the popular girl she has turned into.  Always love these stories about teens figuring out who they are. This one sounds FAB!

 

 

 

 

The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna (July 11th 2013)

This one I’m super excited about! It looks super quirky AND the MC loves 80′s rock music! Her whole life her father, who has disappeared, has seen things that nobody else does and suddenly Sophie has started seeing things too. She starts to discover her father’s research on string theory & alternate universes in hopes to find him. ALSO marching pandas?? SIDEBAR: Does the model not look like the same model as on Lola and the Boy Next Door’s cover?

 

 

 

 

Five Summers by Una LaMarche (May 16th 2013)
I love books about friendship, like SEEK THEM OUT, and this one looks great! For five summers the girls have gone to camp together but their last summer was tinged with betrayals, lies and secrets. Three years later at a camp reunion the girls are reunited. Seriously, this sounds fantastic!

 

 

 

 

 

Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg (May 2, 2013)
I’m really intrigued by this one! Olive had a near death accident and ever since she has been haunted by a melody. When she joins a support group (The Near Death Society) she meets & falls in love with Nick, a mysterious boy who she ‘s strangely drawn to, who helps her put together the pieces of what happened on the night of the accident. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imposter by Susanne Winnacker (July 11th 2013)
Tessa has a special ability in which just by touching she is able to absorb their DNA and pose as them. She uses her skills to help a secret branch of the FBI and they have her impersonating a local teen to help stop a serial killer in a small town. This sounds mysterious and very likely a page turner! Curious to how that ability works!

 

 

 

 

 

Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke (August 15, 2013)
This sounds pretty freaking amazing! The Devil disguised as the hot boy next door? Count me in!

 

 

 

 

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (June 4th 2013)

It’s SARAH DESSEN. And it sounds like the perfect summer read!

 

 

 

 

 

ADULT

 

 

 

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead (June 4th 2013)

I can’t even explain this. If I tried I would just be copying and pasting the summary pretty much. It sounds so intricate. I’m fascinated by this future world in ruins thanks to religious extremists. I’m intrigued about the supernatural element and what could be lurking in the shadows!

 

 

 

Omens by Kelley Armstrong (August 1st 2013)
I loved The Gathering and have been SO late to the Kelley Armstrong love so I’m all about this one.  A 24 year old girl, from a very wealthy family, finds out she is adopted and goes to seek out who her parents were. She finds out her REAL parents are serial killers in jail and tries to learn more about them while also discovering she has some supernatural abilities and something dark living in the hometown of her parents. SOUNDS AWESOME!

 

 

 

 

 

No Cover: Headhunters On My Doorstep by J. Maarten Troost (Out June 13th): I LOVE LOVE LOVE travelogues and J. Maarten Troost writes some of the best ever! This journey? Following the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) he hops the islands of the South Pacific. SO EXCITED.

 

 

Which ones are you most excited for?? Any other 2013 releases from Penguin that may have flown off my radar? Especially any adult titles!?

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

teen summer romanceBook Title/Author: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Publisher/Year: : Simon & Schuster 2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: Yes — it’s the first book in the Summer series!
Other Books From Author: Shug, Burn For Burn, rest of the Summer series!

Amazon| Goodreads | Jenny Han’s website

The Story

For as long as Belly can remember she, her brother and mom spent their summer at the beach house with her mom’s best friend Susannah and her sons Jeremiah and Conrad who along the years have been her playmates, her enemies, brother-like figures and in the recent years — her crushes!  This summer it seems as though the boys are starting to see how much she’s grown up and are actually letting her hang around.  Summers at the beach house were always perfect for Belly and she lived for those months when they’d be back at the beach house — all the other seasons just led up to Summer. This summer seems like the summer that will change everything but will Belly be ready for just how much change?

The Review:

The Summer I Turned Pretty is one of those books that everyone has told me I must read! After having read it I understand why! It’s just one of those really wonderful contemporary YA books that I’m so glad I finally read — it seems like a rite of passage or something for most people who are hardcore contemporary YA fans. And I definitely understand why it’s on all the “Great Beach Reads” lists — it’s got a great summer vibe, romance, fun — but also some substance that makes for some pretty serious and REAL moments that balance really well with the general lightheartedness of the book. Moments that are quite raw and real; a striking contrast to the carefree picture perfect moments of the summers Belly recounts.It’s really quite everything I love in my contemps!

I just love the way Han paints this picture of these summers at the beach house through flashbacks of summers past and obviously through the current summer. She just makes you feel Belly’s love for the beach house and why it’s so special to her. I just got those warm, fuzzy feelings towards my own childhood & teen summer memories — beach days, pools, lazy days lounging in your swim suit, iced tea and more! Han creates the perfect setting for fun and romance and the beach house seems like this perfect backdrop to some of the growing up and self discovery that happens to the characters– something that I feel like will happen even more in the remaining two books with how this one ended!

I loved the boys! Jeremiah and Conrad are just so wonderful and I loved the relationship Belly had with each of them. During the whole book I couldn’t figure out which one was RIGHT for her but I just loved the tension between her and Conrad. I can’t help but love Conrad — I felt like there was something more going on with him and his “brooding” and then at the end when all of his feelings came out…OH MY GOD. I would have been a heaping pile of mess on the beach next to him. I cannot WAIT to see where the next books take her relationships!

I liked Belly. I think I’ll grow to love her. I didn’t feel as though I didn’t get a sense of who she was outside of her love for the beach house and the boys — and the fact she’s kind of whiny. I mean, I know that all we know of her exists in the confines of her summers at the beach house mostly but I did wish I got to know MORE of her — I just didn’t really feel like I KNEW her; but I suspect in the next two books will get a REAL sense of who she is. I hope! The good thing is — she felt REALLY authentic and seemed like a normal girl that anyone could relate to on some level.

 

My Final Thought

Love the start of this series and so glad I finally listened to all my blogger friends on this one! It’s just a really good example of really wonder contemporary YA. It’s just so real and finely written. Jenny Han gets straight to the heart but not in some contrived, overly dramatic way. She creates something light and fun but with substance and heart — the epitome of what I look for in a beach read! Cannot wait to devour the rest of this trilogy! I also will say I wish I was a teen when I read this because  I would have been even MORE obsessed with this!

 

You May Also Like: books by Sarah Dessen, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

Review of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Book Title/Author: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From AuthorFixing Delilah, Bittersweet & out in May 2013 — The Book of Broken Hearts

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Ockler’s Website

Every girl dreams of their first real romance. When Anna finally experiences this she is dying to tell her best friend Frankie. Only problem is that her new boyfriend is Frankie’s brother. A tragedy occurs before Anna and Matt can tell Frankie the truth and Anna keeps the truth hidden from everyone — especially Frankie. A year later, Anna is still holding on to her lost romance with Matt and Frankie decides that Anna is in need of a summer romance. Whilst on their summer vacation together at Zanzibar Bay, Frankie plots that for every day they are there (20) they will have a competition to see who can snag a new guy each day. Under the weight of her secret, Anna halfheartedly agrees to go along with the plan though conflicted with being true to her love for Matt.

I got interested in this book back when the whole Scroggins-was-a-douche-and-tried-to-ban-this-book-without-reading it drama llama happened. I procured a copy and so it has sat on my shelf like a lot of other books I really want to read. So this summer, as part of  my Read Backlisted Books Plan, I decided to read it. So take that Scroggins, your stupid little tirade made a lot more people interested in this book. SUCKER.

Seeing as though it was part of a banning debacle, I kept WAITING for something “bad”  or “edgy”. I was waiting. And I just didn’t really understand why this was being challenged at all. Ok, so teens drink sometimes (a pretty minimal part in this book)?? Shocking. And they sometimes have sex (SAFE SEX with a condom in this novel) and think they want to lose their V card? Really? And this is different from what teens are experiencing for real in their high schools? Different from things they are seeing on tv and the movies?  I don’t know. I’m not seeing why it’s so dirty and filthy.

I thought Twenty Boy Summer was so powerful — no light, fluffy beach reading here. That grief just gnaws at your heart throughout the book — just as you see it doing to Anna (and Frankie too obviously). The general grief and pain, Anna’s secret, the what could have beens, etc. just are written in such a way that you can’t help but feel an immense amount of sorrow. I felt the complete and utter devastation of love lost. You can feel Matt’s presence in her heart. Sarah Ockler doesn’t lose him in the novel. He’s not easily forgotten. I felt it to be very realistic portrayal of grieving and coping and trying to put back those pieces. This book was one of those where I could feel my eyes and nose starting to sting because the tears were a comin’ and I was trying to hold them back so much. It annihilated my heart. More quietly and over time than say If I Stay where I was in full out SOBBING mode. But still. Shredded. Minced. Diced. What have you. Sarah Ockler didn’t hold back on my heart. I’ll say I felt hopeful and a little bit of peace at the end but there is no reversal to this type of slaying. Certain books leave their mark like that on me.

Sarah Ockler’s writing was just perfect for me — right from the beginning as she hooked me with such a sweet, playful & innocent romance. My heart. She also nailed the setting for me. I had to look down at my pasty white skin to remind myself I was not actually enjoying their summer fun on the beach. I really connected with Anna right away and I could tell that behind the messy exterior of Frankie there was a really great character that I’d grow to love. You could just tell. She grieved her brother like my sister grieved my mom. A little more attention seeking and rebellious…and attention turned to boys. I also thought some of Frankie’s family interactions were written were just brilliant to be honest; though I was quite disappointed that they seemed SUPER oblivious to what was going on all summer. Grief is just this big ol’ elephant in the room and sometimes it decides to show itself in the strangest of ways, places and times. I could relate to it.  And the way the secret came out – HEARTWRENCHING.

 

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is just one of those books that you easily get sucked into (the pain evoked experiencing a sweet love lost, the jump-off-the-pages variety of characters, the gorgeous setting, etc.) and find yourself come tumbling out of the pages hours later; bruised, tattered & with a heavy sense of something in your heart. Sarah doesn’t totally pulverize your heart as you see the beauty of friendship & family, hope,  and a new found appreciation for every day. It’s a good mix of heavy & uplifting. I do not understand AT ALL why this book was challenged. I expected something way more scandalous and promiscuous based on the title and then on the whole Wesley Scroggins thing. I will say that I’d be more likely to hand this to older teens as there is a little bit of drinking and sexual situations involved.

 

Young Adult Contemporary Novel Twenty Boy Summer

 

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, books from Jennifer Echols, Moonglass & In Honor by Jessi Kirby, books from Sarah Dessen

 

Did any of you read this book? Did you agree with Scroggins assessment of it? Tell me what you thought!

You, TEASE, you!

 

I’m tickled pink to be able to be part of the Venom book trailer teaser tour  leading up to the reveal of the ENTIRE book trailer on USA Today’s Happily Ever After Blog on July 31st! Venom by Fiona Paul is on of those books I’m SUPER excited for this Fall AND it’s a Breathless Read — which I’ve had good luck with those books and especially with those tours!

 

Venom by Fiona Paul Book CoverVenom’s Official Summary:  Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

 

 

 

Without further adieu, here’s a still from the book trailer for Venom by Fiona Paul!

 

 Intriguing! I’m a sucker for historical fiction and haven’t come across much set during this time period! WOOT!

 

Learn More:

Breathless Reads Tumblr
Become a fan of VENOM on Facebook!
Follow Fiona Paul on Twitter!

To See More Of The Trailer Stills Visit The Following:


July 23: Amber in Blunderland
URL: http://amberinblunderland.blogspot.com

July 24: Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
URL: http://laurenscrammedbookshelf.blogspot.com

July 25: HERE!!
URL: http://www.perpetualpageturner.com

July 26: The Compulsive Reader
URL: http://www.thecompulsivereader.com

July 27: The Elliot Review
URL: http://elliottreview.blogspot.com/

July 30: The Book Smugglers
URL: http://thebooksmugglers.com

July 31: USA Today’s Happily Ever After Blog [FULL TRAILER REVEAL]
URL: http://books.usatoday.com/happyeverafter/index

 

Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Bunheads by Sophie FlackBook Title/Author: Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: None as of now. It’s her debut novel!

Amazon| Goodreads | Sophie Flack’s website

 While most of her peers are navigating their way through living on their own in college, 19 year old Hannah Ward has lived on her own in Manhattan for years to live her dream to make it into the ultra competitive Manhattan Ballet Company. Her peers go to classes and parties; Hannah enjoys hours of workouts, rehearsals, & performances which is all part of the strenuous life of a professional dancer just waiting to be noticed for a soloist position. It’s all part of her plan — every single blister, every diet, every sore muscle means she’s coming closer to making it and stepping out from the crowd of other dancers vying for the same parts. Her dedication to her dream never wavers until she meets Jacob — a musician and college student who introduces her to the possibilities of a life unbound from stringent schedules and very little free time outside the ballet and makes her start to question what’s important to her in her life or if she’s okay with giving up  “normal life” for a life trying to make it to the spotlight.

Bunheads was a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gives a darker (not Black Swan dark!), somewhat  grittier picture to the world of professional ballet — a world that,  from the audience, is nothing short of graceful, beautiful  & elegant. Sophie Flack succeeds in portraying the captivating beauty of the ballet while balancing it with the ugly and cutthroat reality that happen at that level of success. Eating disorders, backstabbing, excessive exercise & exhaustion is the norm. Sophie Flack writes this world all in a way that pulls you in to this unfamiliar lifestyle — at least for me — as the extent of my dance career was three years of tap class.You can tell that the author was in fact a professional ballet dancer as she lends her knowledge of the world of ballet that really seems quite realistic in her descriptions — from the technical aspect to the magical feeling and rush a dancer gets in being on stage and performing these movements so gracefully and in sync. I really felt like I was getting the inside scoop on life behind the curtain. Like an E! True Hollywood Story.

I was nervous at first, as I am with any fiction that delves into a “specialty”, that it will be too technical or that it will lose me because the author can’t make the lifestyle accessible to the average reader who hasn’t lived a life like that. Thankfully Bunheads was not overwrought with too much technical detail that it went over my head and never did I feel too distant from Hannah’s lifestyle that I didn’t connect with her. In fact, I really connected with Hannah in a way that I haven’t with another character. Her struggle to find balance in her life, figure out who she is and who she wants to be, her sacrifice for her dreams — they resonated with me and felt extremely real. I loved Jacob’s role in this but I loved that he didn’t instantly come into her life and help “save her”. It was HER figuring out what she wanted. SHE struggled to try to balance her dreams with wanting to be a normal girl with a normal life.  He just helped perpetuate that. It was a very sweet romance — one that I really enjoyed to watch develop — even when I wanted to body slam Hannah for ditching him. But it was SO realistic. No girl with dreams so high would immediately leave it all for a boy.

Bunheads by Sophie Flack truly was one of my favorite reads this year! It wasn’t a fast-paced nor an overly dramatic portrayal like you might see in a tv show or movie but the world of ballet portrayed in Bunheads was even more captivating, in my opinion, because it seemed REAL as opposed to a drama-rama, hair pulling, scandalous story . It was gritty and a tinge shocking (like from how the “hide” their breasts to how they make their shoes fit to their crazy schedules) but it was also subtle, beautiful and magical and you can feel why it is someone’s dream. You’ll root for Hannah and Jacob but even more you’ll root for Hannah as she struggles to figure out what she wants — a plight we all can sympathize with.  Bravo, Sophie Flack, bravo. I can’t get this book out of my mind.

 

PS. Also loved this book because it seemed to be a bit of an “older” YA!

 

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

 

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe,

 

Eve by Anna Carey

Book Title/Author: Eve by Anna Carey
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen 2011
Genre: YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic
Series: Yes. Eve is book #1. The second book Once: An Eve Novel is out July 3rd 2012.
Other Books From Author: Sloane Sisters series

Amazon | Goodreads | Anna Carey’s Website

Disclosure: The publisher sent it to me in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way  swayed or affected my opinions on the book. My honesty & credibility as a reader is more important to me than that.

It’s 2032 and 98% of the population has been wiped out thanks to a deadly virus and complications from the vaccine created to stop it. Eve is one of the survivors living in the New America and lives in a secluded all-female boarding school with other orphans where they are groomed to be teachers and artists and the like. Eve’s all set to graduate and start her training to be an artist until she learns the very shocking reality of what these schools are really about and what happens to graduates when they leave. Armed with this knowledge, she decides to escape – even if that means facing a world of unknown after the aftermath of the virus. A world she’s been taught to fear full of men, rabid dogs & gangs that will bring harm to her. 

I absolutely devoured this book. It was undeniably a white knuckles, bated breath kind of page-turner for me. I was so enraptured into this landscape that Anna Carey paints in Eve. I could see every rusted bridge,  every house that had been overcome with the wild & scenes of every day life that had just been abandoned and left there — just waiting for their owners to come back. It was grim, unsettling & downright chilling. Eve’s escape into this world, contrasted with her memories from her childhood & time at her school, highlights this even more. I read this book so quickly as I wanted to learn more about this world through Eve’s struggle to escape and find safety & answers to what she had learned her real fate was.  Every twist and turn and jolt of action had me reeling until the very end. An ending at which left me screaming, “WAHHHH!” and so very happy I had Eve’s sequel – Once – in my possession.

The romance of this book is one that I loved but I didn’t necessarily believe fully which I’ll explain below. The good part of it, for me, was how pure and innocent it felt. How it can just knock you off your feet and delude your senses. I really loved Caleb and I just got the warm and fuzzies watching her experience these feelings of love/lust for Caleb. I also thought, beyond the Caleb/Eve relationship, that I just adored Eve’s relationship with the young boys. Oh, my heart. Parts of this book, in relation to love, were just SO SO beautiful.

“I had once read, in one of those pre-plague books in the library, that love was bearing witness. That it was the act of watching someone’s life, of simply being there to say: you’re life is worth seeing.”

But, friends, I have to honest with you. I had some issues with aspects of this book despite how quickly I devoured it & how I truly did enjoy it. It’s one of those books that felt like a whirlwind summer fling. It was this passionate, dizzying and thrilling ride but when I sat down to think about it and digest…I realized I saw some major problems that I couldn’t ignore — no matter how much I had been blinded by my thrill ride with the story. It wasn’t as perfect as I initially thought it to be when I was all lovedrunk.

Eve herself confused me. I got the sense, from the short glimpse of her life at school, that she was so naive and brainwashed. So I had my eyebrows raised when she so easily got the cajones (seriously, like 30 pages in) to even get out of bed and snoop around..let alone actually rebel and try to escape. I felt like there was nothing about her that we had learned that made me BELIEVE that she’d do that.  Everything we had been shown about her seemed contrary to her character…but at the same time this big REVEAL was so so soon in the book that she didn’t even feel developed to me yet. We just knew what we were told — top student, naive, idealistic, etc.  Granted, I suppose if I saw what she did and realized my fate, that I’d run like hell too. But I just even thought she was too brainwashed and naive that she’d think there was some explanation for it and not leave like a bat out of hell.

The OTHER part of her that confused me was that, after a lifetime of being indoctrinated with this fear of men, she pretty easily trusted Caleb. I mean, yeah, she was wary but I don’t feel like she was wary enough as someone who was so fearful of men and hadn’t seen a man in so long. At the same time, I thought that maybe her being repressed from the male species for so long made her even MORE susceptible to that curious attraction that just makes you fall head over heels & giddy. I think of those times in my life and so I can KIND of see it. It still made it hard for me to fully believe because I just felt like everything we knew of her just unraveled. I didn’t believe that someone that had been so brainwashed would just get over it that quickly. And also, you are running for your life because of what you’ve found out and you are in danger yet all you can think about is a boy?? More than anything else.

I just feel like, because the revelation happened so soon, I never got to really see WHO Eve was. I just saw a girl who were were told was one way and all we see is something totally different VERY quickly..and I never felt much growth or character development that made up for that.

Also, without getting to spoilery, there were some confusing parts about the setup of this world and why things are the way they are. How did the virus come to be? What did the antidote do? Why do these girls get this intense schooling if their fate is what it is? I have a lot of why’s about the logistics of all of it that I’m hoping will be answered.

My final thought: Eve kept me turning the pages with it’s chilling premise, vivid world building & action-packed journey. I couldn’t put it down and it broke my heart in all the right places. While I really enjoyed my whirlwind inhalation of this book, there are some character development issues with Eve, the main character, that I just couldn’t ignore, and some really hole-y world building in terms of WHY the world is the way it is.  It was a good, enjoyable dystopian read that I think those who are loving  the fast paced, romance inclusive variety of YA dystopian will like — if they can look past some of the development issues.I liked it but I can’t say I thought it to be a 5 star, perfect read as many others did! I’d probably recommend some other dystopian books before this one!

 

Review On A Post-It

 

You May Also Like: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, Delirium by Lauren Oliver

What did YOU think about this book?? Let’s talk about it! If you haven’t read it, is it on your TBR?

Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia

Angel StarTitle/Author: Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia
Publisher/Year: Lands Atlantic Publishing 2010
Why I Read This Book: Either Christina or Katelyn at PAYA. I can’t recall.
How I Got This Book: I bought it at PAYA

When I was younger I loved the idea of a guardian angel– some graceful, beautiful creature that invisibly flies around me and leads me away from danger–which is something I definitely needed as a self proclaimed klutzy child. Or I’d think of some motherly figure like Monica on Touched By An Angel. Thanks to Jennifer Murgia my made-up picture of a fairy-like angel has been absolutely shred to pieces and replaced by a movie star quality, grade A hunk! I am certainly not complaining.

Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia revolves around Teagan, a high school girl who gets picked on by the resident “Mean Girls” group at school and isn’t too popular, but she’s got her best friend and her mother on her side. The normalcy of her life is shattered when Garreth, the new mysterious eye candy of the school, shows up and directs his attention towards her. Immediately smitten with him, as if she’s known him all along,  she starts spending time with him and finds out that he bears the mark of an angel–an eight point star. Her perfect fairytale romance is maimed  as she learns that “where there is light, dark follows” and she finds herself in the midst of a battle between that light and darkness that will alter her life and those around her.

As I mentioned in my Sleepless review, I’m new to the paranormal romance genre. I’ve always thought of it as vampires and werewolves and have been pleased to know that it contains much more than that. I know that there ARE paranormal romance books out there that contain angels (Hush, Hush) but I haven’t read them so this is fresh to me!

Having been able to study some angelology in my undergraduate studies, it is always interesting to see the different portrayals of angels in books and movies! I think in some cases books/movies throw angels or other unique creatures into a storyline to spice things up but what you really have is a used up old storyline that could easily be replaced by some other fantastical type of creature and be just the same. Murgia did not fall into this trap. She created her storyline with depth and a rich exploration into the study of angels filled with interesting symbolism and meaning. This was one thought-provoking novel!

I really liked Teagan and found that she was real and strong but not perfect. She wasn’t too stupid to function and she wasn’t needy but she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders but had the capability to make mistakes and to fall blindly sometimes–as I’m sure all of us woman have done at some point in our lives! I found the plot to be paced pretty well–just as soon as I felt a lull in my reading–I found myself sitting straight up with my finger itching to keep turning those pages.

Now on to the imperfections that I would be remiss if I did not mention. I don’t know if this is typical of alot of YA paranormal romance as I’m not  well-read (or just the ones I’m reading) but what is with people falling head over heels the first time they see someone? Fantasy or not, it irks me.  Where is the natural development of the relationship–the discovery, the curiosity, the little tiffs, etc. I understand they had a “connection” but I’d like a little anticipation surrounding the forming of a relationship. Although, I’m sure other people love this element of the book but it isn’t for me. Another minor problem for me was that sometimes things seemed to wrap up too easily for me. It wasn’t a huge problem but I did wish that some of the action lasted a little longer with more of a struggle.

Overall, I found it a fun and suspenseful read that had me contemplating the good and the bad that is inherit in all of us and our propensity to sometimes get caught in that blurred place where the two meet–that place where the allure of each is a force field pulling at our being and our sense of self. I will most definitely be reading the next book in the series when it comes out in 2011.

Rating- 4 stars– Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia is  must read for paranormal romance/fantasy lovers. I think that if you aren’t really into the paranormal romance genre you might still find this enjoyable if you are looking for a book with a good plot that will keep you on the edge of the seat.

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