Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title: Wanderlove

Author: Kirsten Hubbard

Publisher: Delacorte

My Copy: review copy via Netgalley


It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America--the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry into this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.


That pretty much sums up my thoughts.

Wanderlove is one of my all-time favorite books. I was so excited to read it because, as some of you may know, I traveled to Guatemala last year and will be going again (9 days!!) so Central America has a special place in my heart. It was so cool reading about Bria's adventures in places that I've already visited and I also added quite a few places to my “must-go” list, based on Bria's adventures.

My personal connection aside, Wanderlove is truly a spectacular novel. Kirsten Hubbard has a way of drawing the reader in and taking them on a wild ride. Even if you've never left the United States, I guarantee that you will be able to clearly picture the beaches of Belize or the markets of Guatemala.

Bria may be my new favorite protagonist. I saw so much of myself in her that it was really quite scary. She is the girl that everyone considers being and few are. I loved her spunk. I also loved her drawings throughout the novel. By the time you are finished, you will feel like she is your best friend. The other characters, particularly Rowan, are just as wonderful. In fact, can I just have Rowan as a Christmas present? He is far from your bad-boy-turned-good and I loved it. The relationship between the two of them is so perfect – it's not rushed or unrealistic – and I just wanted to jump up and down in a few parts.

I really cannot say enough good things about this novel. I love, love, love, love, LOVE it. Seriously. Go buy yourself a copy RIGHT NOW. But, be warned, a severe case of wanderlust may ensue!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cross my Heart by Katie Klein

Title: Cross My Heart

Author: Kate Klein

Publisher: self-published

My Copy: bought for Kindle


True love can blossom in unexpected places. This is Jaden pretending not to notice. . . .

Jaden McEntyre and Parker Whalen are a wrong fit from the start. Jaden is driven and focused, Harvard Med School within reach. Parker has a past—a reputation—and the rumors about his mysterious habits abound. So there’s no reason why, when they're assigned to work together on a project in English, they should discover they have anything in common, or even like each other, and they definitely shouldn't be falling in love.

As they bond over Edith Wharton’s tragic novella, Ethan Frome, the “bad boy” vibe Parker plays begins to dissipate. Soon, Jaden finds herself shedding her own “good girl” image: sneaking around to be with him, confiding in him, and ultimately falling hard for this leather-wearing, motorcycle-driving loner who plays into the rebel stereotype.

Still, Jaden can't shake the feeling that there's more to Parker than he's letting on. He's hiding something from her, and discovering the truth means reconciling the Parker she's grown to love with the person he really is. Because it's possible that his life inside the classroom—everything Jaden knows—is one, massive lie.

CROSS MY HEART, told from Jaden's point of view, is a 76k-word/300-page contemporary romance for young adults. Bonus features include the official playlist and an interview with the author.

My Thoughts: Cross My Heart started out splendidly. I found myself wrapped into the plot, loving the characters, and then, bam, crazy twist that make the entire novel make no sense.

Cross My Heart is a little cliché in places, with the smart girl so focused on getting into Harvard and worrying about her self-worth if she doesn't get in and then falling for the bad boy. However, I felt like the relationship between Jaden and Parker was unique. It wasn't forced or random but rather it grew and developed like a real relationship should. In fact, it might have been one of the better good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy romances I've read. There's a handful of sweet, intense romance moments that I really loved.

Another thing that I loved was the emphasis on family. There is a great scene between Jaden and her brother that I absolutely adored.

Unfortunately, in the final fourth of the book, we find out Parker's “lie” and it's quite disappointing. It's certainly a unique twist but just because it's unique and unpredictable does not mean it works in the story. In fact, it completely unvalidated the entire novel for the most part. After that, I found it relaly hard to get back into the story and it just left me disappointed.

Overall, Cross my Heart is worth the read if you're just looking for something to pass the time or a good romance.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Promo Tshirt and Panama Trip Update!

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my upcoming trip to Panama and the promo opportunities that I was offering authors to raise money for the trip.

I plan on getting the shirt printed within the next two weeks, so I wanted to give a quick update.

CINDER by Marissa Meyer is going to be featured on the front of the shirt. There's various titles that are going to be on the back and, as of right now, I have room for about 3 more titles. So, if you're interested, email me by March 10th. All of the details about the shirt can be found in this post but basically, for $15, your book title goes on the back of a shirt which I will design and wear around to promote the books. The money will go towards my trip to Panama where I will be helping to improve the English and literacy skills of children involved in the child labor force.

I just want to say thank you so much to all of the authors who have already signed up to be a part of the project!

To learn more about the trip, please check out this webpage. I'm selling some of my books to raise money as well, so if you're interested in seeing the list, email me, Tweet me, or leave a comment with your email.

I am so excited for this trip! I'm holding a spaghetti dinner this Saturday (if you live in Western PA and may be interested in coming, let me know and I'll give you details!) to raise money for the trip and then next week I'm having a bakesale. I also put in a bunch of applications but so far no one has called me back. :( I'm crossing my fingers for better luck this week!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Title: Harmonic Feedback

Author: Tara Kelly

Publisher: Henry Holt

My Copy: borrowed


Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on “a touch of Asperger’s.”

Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.

It’s obvious that Drea can’t hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she’s found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

My Thoughts: Sometimes there's a book that you know you're going to love before you even start it. For me, Harmonic Feedback was one of those books. I'd seen nothing but good things about, my favorite author Stephanie Kuehnert had recommended it, and music played a big role. Unfortunately, when I'm super-excited for a book before I read it, I often put off getting a copy because I'm afraid it won't live up to my expectations, which is why I'm reviewing this long after the release date has passed.

And I must say that I wish I hadn't waited so long to read this one. From the very first page, I was hooked. I even read in my favorite class because I couldn't put the book down.

Harmonic Feedback is so authentic in how it tells the story and portrays the characters. The entire novel is an emotional, wild ride. There are twists that I never saw coming. Drea is such a fascinating character. I love the fact that while she has a diagnosis, this is not an issue book. She is fighting her label and being inside her head was so wonderful. Justin and Naomi are such great supporting characters, though I still haven't decided whether or not I liked Naomi.

Harmonic Feedback is one of those books that stick with you long after you finish reading it. I loved it so much – I've gone back to reread my favorite parts multiple times. It reminds me of a slightly “lighter” version of Ballads of Suburbia (aka my Favorite Book Ever). I definitely recommend getting a copy ASAP!