Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry



Title: Girl, Stolen
Author: April Henry
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company BFYR
Pub. Date: 9.28.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Pages: 213
Description (from Goodreads):
Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, their car is being stolen—with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin’s dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?


I admit that GIRL, STOLEN didn’t immediately catch my eye. It wasn’t until a few trustworthy sources recommended it to me that I really gave it a second thought… The description was, for lack of a better term, cheesy. Luckily, my friends are wise and convinced me to to set aside my first impression because GIRL, STOLEN’s quick-witted heroine is definitely worth meeting.


My favorite aspect of GIRL, STOLEN was most definitely Cheyenne. My younger sister is visually-impaired, though not to the extent of our main character, and the author’s descriptions rang true. Cheyenne is a strong, smart young woman that’s easy to connect with and even easier to be inspired by. I’m excited to share this novel with my sister, in hopes that she too will find some inspiration in Cheyenne’s perseverance and strength. 


I suppose there was a slight romantic plot line, but I wouldn’t classify this novel as romance. It was hinted at, but wasn’t of any major consequence.


Parts of GIRL, STOLEN may be predictable and there isn’t much time for in depth development of the secondary characters, but this novel is still a 5-star in my book based solely on the clever main character.

Review copy provided by Amazon Vine.
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Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian



Title: Not That Kind of Girl
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: PUSH
Pub. Date: 9.1.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: High School, Relationships, Identity, Self Image
Pages: 336
Description (from GoodReads):

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.

But life is messy, and it’s very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they’re no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you wants to sleep with yourself – but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices – and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.


I’m not really sure why I waited so long to read one of Siobhan Vivian’s novels, but, after NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, I’ll be definitely be reading the rest as soon as possible.


Natalie Sterling is a typical teen with very rigid views of what’s right and wrong. For the most part, her entire high school career has gone according to plan, but his year things start to fall apart. Before she knows what’s happening the line between right and wrong has begun to blur and Natalie finding herself slowly venturing to the other side.


I found Natalie’s voice to be realistic and believable. She’s one of the most judgmental MC I’ve come across… Some may find her to be overbearing and condescending, but that’s exactly the point. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen my peers act just like Natalie. They know what’s right and wrong and they’ll be the first to point out when a classmate or coworker is crossing the line, but they’ll never admit when they themselves are doing the exact same thing. It’s not pretty, but it’s real and I appreciate that Vivian acknowledges that through Natalie’s character.


NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL also tackles the subject of teen sex and sexual behavior. While it was definitely present in the novel, I didn’t think it was over the top, just honest. It wasn’t anything more or less than what readers will see out in the real world, which is exactly what I liked about it. Through various characters, Vivian portrays different different viewpoints on the subject… I found it compelling.


I’ll be passing NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL along to my all sisters and friends… I think we can all learn a lesson or two from Natalie.

Review: Dark Song by Gail Giles

Title: Dark Song
Author: Gail Giles
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Pub. Date: 9.7.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Manipulation, Family, Relationships, Lies, Secrets
Pages: 304
Description (from GoodReads):
Mark said he heard the dark song when he creeped houses. The song the predator’s heart sings when it hears the heart of the prey. I heard it now. Mark said it had always been in me. Lurking. Waiting for me to hear.

Ames is not the person she was a few months ago. Her father lost his job, and her family is crumbling apart. Now, all she has is Marc. Marc, who loves her more than anything. Marc, who owns a gun collection. And he’ll stop at nothing–even using his guns–to get what he wants. Ames feels her parents have betrayed her with their lies and self-absorption, but is she prepared to make the ultimate betrayal against them?

Gail Giles’ DARK SONG is not a horror novel, but it is one of the scariest novels I’ve ever read. It wasn’t ghosts or ghouls that kept my eyes from closing, it was the idea of a girl being so easily manipulated by such a creepy, sinister man.

I had a difficult time with the main character. Ames’ is in turmoil… her parents, who she blindly trusted, have been keeping some huge secrets and she lashes out in response. I understand this to a point, but I felt like she just took it too far. As far as I could tell, her biggest loss was her lifestyle, which would be a shock, but not impossible to adapt to. I expected more from her, not only because she’s a young adult, but because she’s an older sister. She felt deeply betrayed, I get that,  but, in my mind, it doesn’t excuse her reckless, immature behavior, especially when it put her sister at risk.

I think it’s natural – and important – that I didn’t like Ames, but it worries me that I still lacked any positive regard for her by the end of the novel. Perhaps this was due, in part, to my unwillingness to believe that a girl could be so easily played. The realist within knows that this scenario has happened in real life, but it’s a terrifying thought. Ames is, in part, a victim, but I cannot bring myself to sympathize.

Marc’s character was remarkably well written. His manipulation of Ames is clear to the reader, but Ames is completely oblivious. It was horrifying to watch the story unfold… to see just how close Ames comes to giving into his twisted idea of right and wrong. I wanted to believe she’d break free of his control, but I wasn’t sure she would have the strength. 

It was Marc, and his ability to make my skin crawl, that made DARK SONG memorable. It isn’t something I’d reread – I’m not sure I can actually bring myself to witness the story again – but I don’t regret reading it and I’d be willing to read more by Giles in the future.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

Contest: Win a copy of Where the Truth Lies!

Bloomsbury is offering one finished copy of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES to one lucky winner at The Hiding Spot!

Please be sure that you read through the information and rules below.

Prize:

(1) finished copy of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES

How to Enter:
You MUST comment on my review of WHERE THE TRUTH LIES (Comment is required.) Then you MUST fill out this FORM. If you neglect to comment on the post or fill out the form, you will not be entered to win.


Extra Entries:
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Extra entries will not be awarded for following The Hiding Spot, but it’s always appreciated!


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Contest will close November 10th, 2010. Open to the US addresses only!

Good luck!

Review: Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman

Title: Where the Truth Lies
Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub. Date: 9.28.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Family, Secrets, Lies, Boarding School, Love, Relationships
Pages: 320
Description (from arc):
Between the past and the future… Between pain and forgiveness… Between the ones you know and the ones you love… Is where the truth lies.
On the surface, Emily Meckler leads the perfect life. She has three best friends, two loving parents, and the ideal setup at the Connecticut prep school where her father is headmaster. But below the surface, Emily is suffering from devastating nightmares about either fire or water, and nobody knows why.
When the enigmatic Del Sugar enters her life, Emily is immediately swept away – but her passionate relationship with Del is just the first of many things that aren’t quite what they seem in Emily’s life. And as the lies she’s been told start to unravel, Emily must set out to discover the truth regarding her nightmares; a journey that will lead her to question everything she once thought she knew about love, family, and her own idyllic past. This companion novel to Warman’s critically acclaimed Breathless proves that sometimes the biggest lies you tell are for the ones you love the most.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books that are good, but not great. All that changed with WHERE THE TRUTH LIES. Jessica Warman had me totally and completely engrossed in Emily’s story. I even spent dinner explaining to a patient friend what was happening in Emily’s life – how compelling, yet shady I found the curiously named Del Sugar, my hypotheses about the secrets the various characters were hiding, and my fears regarding how the novel would end. I was, in short, consumed.

Poor Emily… she just can’t get a break. There were very few times when I could confidently say that I knew what was going to happen next… and half of those times I still wasn’t right. The more I read, the less I’m surprised by novels. That is, I feel that I’ve become more adept at noticing small details and interpreting foreshadowing, which means that I usually have a basic idea of how the novel will end. With WHERE THE TRUTH LIES, I honestly thought I knew where the clues were leading, but I hadn’t even started to imagine all the lies and twists that were so intricately knotted around Emily and her past.

It almost seems like it’d be easy to judge Emily… for the reader to shake her head and think sadly, she was warned. But I felt as though I was there with Emily… and I was thinking, right along with her, but…. But they don’t know him. But they don’t know me. They just don’t know. I know. And I understood her choices… her fears. Life is not simple and that fact is abundantly clear as Emily’s story progresses.

Relationships are an important part of this novel. What makes a family? A best friend? A boyfriend? A true love? A mother? Yet none of these ideas are defined. Instead they are given a vague sort of shape, that can shift to fit to even the most unexpected individual… or the person you should have expected all along.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is a companion novel, but it isn’t necessary to have read BREATHLESS before delving into this story. But I can assure you that you will want to have both novels on hand. You won’t want to leave behind Warman’s gorgeous writing… and, regardless, her characters will refuse to let you go.

Grade: A+

Cover Comments:
An absolutely perfect fit! Gorgeous.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

Review: Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin

Title: Low Red Moon
Author: Ivy Devlin
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pub. Date: 9.14.2010
Genre: Paranormal YA
Keywords: Grief, Murder, Love, Family, Loss, Werewolves
Pages: 256
Description (from arc):
Her parents are dead. She can’t remember what happened. And now she’s in love with the most dangerous creature in the forest.

The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver – deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can’t, and there’s nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together.

Then Avery meets the new boy in school – Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she’s ever experienced. Ben is a werewolf, but Avery trusts him – at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash an inhuman silver. And she learns that she’s not the only one who can’t remember the night her parents died.

Oddly, LOW RED MOON was both more and less than I had expected.

I started the novel thinking that the paranormal aspects would be the focus, but quickly found that this was not the case. From early on in the novel the reader knows that Ben is a werewolf. To be honest, the reader actually knows as soon as they read the description. I assumed, since this fact is clearly pointed out, it would be a much bigger focus. Instead, this element is almost unnecessary. This novel could have had the same ending without anything paranormal occurring. I would have appreciated more backstory and lore regarding this aspect of the novel.

I was much more impressed by the rest of LOW RED MOON. In my opinion, Avery’s grief ended up being the main focus. Sometimes I felt like it was almost too much of a focus… I sometimes find it frustrating when reading novels with strong themes of loss and grief. I understand why Avery would spend so much time grieving – her parents were just brutally murdered – but I felt that it made much of the novel repetitive, especially when she was trying to recall what happened that night. She never really moved past having seen “a flash of silver” that was “inhuman.” I felt like that element could have been further developed…

I found the romance to be surprisingly intense. Most of the novel seemed to move at a slow pace, but not when it came to Ben and Avery. Those passages are what kept my interest when it occassionally flagged. I wish the relationship and why they felt so strongly for one another would have been explained in more detail. I felt like I was missing some key information.

Overall, LOW RED MOON was a good mystery with a passionate romance and a dash of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Not the best, but it could’ve been. I’d definitely read more from Ivy Devlin, but, in her next novel, I hope to see greater exploration of the paranormal elements!

Grade: B-

For a chance to win your own copy of LOW RED MOON, go here.

Review Copy provided by publisher.

Character Interview: Noah from The Absolute Value of -1

Today I’m joined by Noah from Steve Brezenoff’s THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1. I found Noah to be one of the most interesting and, in ways, elusive of the three main characters in the novel. I think readers will get a good sense of Noah’s attitude in his answers below… actually, I’m a bit surprised he didn’t just decide to blow off the last few questions. I’m impressed.

__________________________

The Interview

Describe yourself in 5 words or less.

Um, high? Horny? Handsome? How many is that?


Name 3 of your favorite things and, for good measure, 3 of your least favorite too.
Number one is getting a good buzz on. I also like playing Madden and listening to Biohazard in the basement, especially if dear old Dad is out and I can pump it up. Least favorites? How about watching Lily fall all over herself to get Simon’s attention for half a second.


School doesn’t seem to be your scene… If you could be anywhere or go anywhere, where would you be?
Back in the OC, definitely—Orange County, CA. I’d like to be on Laguna Beach right now, actually, with a nice buzz, laying out and watching the girls.


You, Simon, and Lily are in a bit of a predicament. You’ve got a thing for Lily, but she only has eyes for Simon, while Simon’s head is somewhere else entirely. Why do you suppose Lily’s so blinded by Simon… what draws her to him?
Who the hell knows what goes her mind. Same as Mom, I guess. Same as most of the girls in school: they love the guys who treat them like garbage or ignore them completely. Hey, maybe I’m wrong, but if I am, how else can you explain it?


From the outside looking in, Simon doesn’t seem like the greatest friend… why do you stick around?
I don’t have a lot of options, first of all. The guy was my only friend when I moved out to Long Island. But hey, he’s also my number-one customer. Besides, I’ve got feelers out, looking into new social situations, you know?

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I was extremely impressed by this novel! Be sure to check out my review of THE ABSOLUTE VALUE OF -1 here.

To win -1 bookmarks and other fun swag, leave a comment
on this post or the review linked above!