Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: Take a Bow
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Contemporary
Release date: April 1st, 2012
Pages: 280 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.

Starting from the first few paragraphs of the book, I was definitely reminded of the movie Fame, but the more I read, the story turned out to be a little different than what I was expecting.  Needless to say, I enjoyed it a lot.  Take a Bow is about more than wanting to be in the spotlight for each of the students.

The description of the book may seem a little misleading, because although the story is told from different points of view (which I love, love, love) Emme is- without a doubt- the leading lady.  Many things revolve around her, which I appreciate because she's a total sweetheart and my favorite character.  Like its main character, Take a Bow will make you feel elated and inspired by the time you are finally able to set this book down.

Along with as much as I loved the plot, I also felt that the other characters were very well developed.  With Sophie you felt the urge she had to manipulate others until she could get what she wanted, you felt Carter's determination to be who he wanted; not someone that everyone else expected him to be, and then you felt Ethan's passion for music and Emme.  It's clear that the story has a little romance developing, but it's about so much more than that.

By the time I was turning the last few pages, I had so much respect for the people who actually live these lives.  I can't imagine the pressure that performing arts students are put under, but their determination is incredible.  I can honestly say that I am inspired to reach the goals I have after reading this and one of those goals is to read more books by Elizabeth Eulberg!  If you've been thinking of buying this book once it's released, I wouldn't think twice about getting it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

New obsession (and why I haven't been around)

Lately (and by lately, I mean pretty much the entire month of March) I've been slacking on posts.  I wanted to write a little something telling all my lovely followers why I've nearly disappeared.  Quite honestly, I've never been a very good multitasker.  Once I'm focused on something, I give it my full attention.  For the most part, books and blogging had my attention for nearly an entire year.  Now I'm getting really into fitness and I'm finding it difficult to find the time to read when I'm spending a lot of my free time working out or learning about other people's success stories with weight loss.

My entire life I've always been a big girl and I've realized that I definitely need to change that, since it's not just going to change itself.  It takes a huge toll on me emotionally, therefore I'm always looking for inspiration to help keep me going.  So far my body is feeling stronger and though there are no drastic changes, I feel better.

There will be more posts coming soon, including my review for Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, so please hang tight.  :)

Waiting on Wednesday #16

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Reunited
Author: Hilary Weisman Graham
Release Date: June 12th, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

1 Concert
2000 Miles
3 Ex-Best Friends

Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.

Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.

But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.

Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.

Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.

But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

Okay, so I know that a majority of the books I'm excited to read this year are contemporary, but I can't help it!  This book sounds like it has the potential to be hilarious and awesome, so we'll just have to see.  :)  Plus, I've always wanted to go on a roadtrip, so until I actually can, I'll just have to live vicariously through Alice, Summer, and Tiernan.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #15

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books

15 year old Tiger Lily, proud and fierce, wild and misunderstood, doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland, and immediately falls under his spell. Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, big-hearted but hard to reach, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything - her family, her future - to be with the haunted, hunted, courageous boy who loves her. When - as a punishment for her rebellious ways - she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Honestly, what fan of Peter Pan wouldn't want to read this book?  It sounds incredible and I've always had an interest in learning more about Tiger Lily.  Now we're finally able to hear her side of the story!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

Title: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: Push
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Contemporary
Release date: April 1st, 2012
Pages: 332 (ARC)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Source: Publisher

An intense look at the rules of high school attraction—and the price that’s paid for them.

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up.

This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.” And it’s also the story of how we see ourselves, and how other people see us, and the tangled connection of the two.

It's not hard to say that high school can be a beauty contest.  Anyone who's been to high school would know that.  Really, life has turned into a beauty contest itself, but sometimes kids can be more cruel.  Someone is always judging someone else.  When a list appears in the hallways of Mount Washington High, feelings of excitement and dread hang in the air.  Sure, there's a pretty list, but there's an ugly list too.  This story shows what it's like for both sides, how being viewed a certain way can even affect the way you view yourself.

The more you read, the more you realize that the book is about struggle with body image, losing friends, peer pressure, and learning how to accept yourself.  Even the girls voted the prettiest had their own issues to worry about.  I'm glad that Siobhan chose to write about girls of all different types, because no matter what we all look like on the outside, we all really just want to be treated well by others.

I read this book throughout the week, taking small breaks to do other things, which really made me a little confused because the characters seemed to blend together if you don't read the book all at once.  After all, there are 8 girls to keep track of, so it's understandable.  Once I got deeper into the book, I didn't have much of a problem remembering who was who.  Sarah stood out from the beginning for me, because here was this punk chick who doesn't take anyone's shit, yet we learn how fragile she is behind the wall she builds between her and her peers.

The List shows how easily people follow along with the crowd.  Everyone in the school views these people as either pretty or ugly based on one anonymous person's opinion, and as I realized the other day, many people see that if one person says something rude, they all think it's alright for them to repeat these things.  even one of the pretty girls feels so much pressure to be beautiful that she starts showing signs of becoming anorexic and bulimic.  No one seems to have it as easy as everyone else thinks.

So, each chapter is about a different girl and the book is cut into sections from Monday, when the list is revealed, all the way until Saturday, when the Homecoming dance takes place.  I will say that when you find out who made the list, you may be surprised.  I definitely enjoyed the messages that The List held, as I too know what it's like to be the "ugly girl" in high school.

In My Mailbox #27

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

Woah, it feels like I've been gone forever!  Sorry for the unscheduled, unannounced absence, I just felt like I needed to take a little break from blogging, as we all do once in a while.  :)

It's been a month since my last IMM post, so I have 8 books to share this week!

-The List by Siobhan Vivian

-Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
(both ARCs from Scholastic)


-Rock On by Denise Vega
(from Alison @ Left Brained By Day; Write Brained- All The Time)

-Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin
-Tighter by Adele Griffin
-The Julian Game by Adele Griffin
(all signed from Adele-- thank you for being such a sweetheart!)

-Fever by Lauren DeStefano
(from Carrie @ Where I Get Wordy)

A big thank you to Scholastic, Adele Griffin, and these awesomesauce bloggers who provided me with the books you see above!
I <3 you all!

What have you received in your mailbox lately? 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

Title: Pretty Crooked
Author: Elisa Ludwig
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Contemporary
Release date: March 13th, 2012
Pages: 358 (ARC)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher

Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?

Willa's living the good life when her mother moves her to Paradise Valley, Arizona and promises her that this move is the last.  Over the years she's lived in everything from a trailer to the backseat of their car, but this was all going to change when they suddenly come into enough money to buy a beautiful home with a pool.  When Willa falls in with the popular crowd, will things begin to get ugly?

Like most teenagers, it's easy to get pressured into something you normally wouldn't do.  I think in the back of her mind Willa knew she shouldn't go shopping with her new rich friends every weekend, especially since the money her mother has is limited.  Whenever she spent an absurd amount of money on one item of designer clothing, it made me cringe.  Other than poor judgement, I really liked Willa; loved her, even.  She had a good heart, which matters most, and her personality reminds me a bit of my own.

Some of the things Elisa wrote made me laugh out loud, such as her slight usage of catch phrases- even ones that I still constantly use- like "psych!" and "for realz?"  This book was just so totally me.  The story even depicted a realistic mother daughter relationship and unconditional love, which I admire because I'd been there.  Like Willa I've screwed up many times but my mom's always there for me.  (Okay, maybe I wasn't in as deep as Willa, but you know what I mean).

How do you get to the point where the lines between right and wrong blur?  After seeing a handful of people get hurt by online bullies, Willa decides to take matters into her own hands.  While her intentions were honorable, the outcome wasn't exactly what anyone would expect from a fifteen year old girl that holds a 3.8 GPA.

In the end, Pretty Crooked was creative and entertaining, sucking me in until I finished the last page, easily becoming one of my new favorites.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Title: Illuminate
Author: Aimee Agresti
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Category:  Paranormal
Release date: March 6th, 2012
Pages: 531 (ebook)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Netgalley

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

In all honesty, this book took me a while to get into, considering that most of the story was focused establishing characters and the surrounding.  We don't see much action until the near end, but that's not to say that Illuminate isn't interesting.  I was fascinated by the hotel alone, as it reminded me of one of my favorite hotels. I enjoyed the characters, especially Haven and Lance, and there was definitely something that made my skin crawl about Aurelia and the Outfit from day one.

When it comes to books, my preferred length is about 400 pages or less, so I was a little hesitant to begin this.  As it turns out, my instincts were correct and I found my eyes glazing over at points of the story.  Don't get me wrong, learning about these characters lives were entertaining but the book is unnecessarily drawn out and I don't think there's any reason it should have been as long as it is.  That being said, the good actually outweighs the bad.

Aimee takes her time to describe the surroundings and that made the story thoroughly enjoyable.  I loved the references to the 1920's, especially the tunnels that Haven discovers in her closet one night with the help of a mysterious advice-giving book.  Each of the students invited for this internship turns out to be more than the most intelligent, hardworking students at school.  I didn't quite understand that this book was about angels until about half way through, and although I'm not familiar with stories of this subject, I loved it.

The author creates an interesting and intimidating world about the battle between good and evil.  Some may consider this a paranormal romance, but to me, there was a lot more than the romance that sprouts at the very end.  This book is about friendship, trust, and being true to yourself more than anything.  Though lengthy and slower-paced, this story was more than it seems and you may just have to dive in and see for yourself.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Review: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter

Title: The Humming Room
Author: Ellen Potter
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Age Group: Middle Grade
Category:  Fantasy
Release date: February 28th, 2012
Pages: 192 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Won

Hiding is Roo Fanshaw's special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment's notice. When her parents are murdered, it's her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.

As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn't believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth.

Despite the best efforts of her uncle's assistants, Roo discovers the house's hidden room--a garden with a tragic secret.

First, I'll admit that I never read The Secret Garden when I was younger.  I knew the plot and while The Humming Room is strikingly similar, I can tell that it has its slight differences.  Roo is a curious girl who would rather hide in small spaces than be alone in a large empty room.  She is, after all, very small for her age, to the point where she looks about 4 years younger.  She's normally very quiet, only talking when she has to, and she prefers listening to everything that most people wouldn't pay much attention to.  You may not believe it, but hiding from the rest of the world can have a slight upside.

I quite liked Roo's quirkiness and adventurous nature.  She seemed fearless of most things, even when I felt a little uneasy at the time she first hears the humming behind the walls.  Overall, the story was very heavy from the murder of her parents to being brought to live in a building on an island that was once used to isolate children with tuberculosis.  While living there she uncovers some secrets she would have never imagined.

That being said, the story isn't all that depressing and eerie.  The ending came a little too soon for me, but seeing that Roo accomplished the goal she set, it left you on a happy note.  The author's writing is beautiful and I felt that it complimented this type of story incredibly well.  Everything blossomed in this story and it's one I recommend to anyone who loves a little darkness and adventure.