Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Personal Blog

Hey all! Today I would normally do something like Waiting on Wednesday, but there aren't too many books I am waiting on within the next couple of weeks, so I thought I would share something different. Before I had my book blog, I started a personal blog, but was not too active on it because of this here blog. Recently, however, I have decided that I want a place to share about some other things as well, so I have decided to pick up my personal blog again. NO WORRIES, this blog is certainly not going anywhere, and will still be my main focus!

I just wanted to share this information in case any of you wanted to follow along there and get to know more about me, outside of my love of books. If you're interested, you can find my personal blog HERE. I would love for you to follow along and we could chat about some other things!

Happy Wednesday! :]

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

by Heather Hildenbrand

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
Publisher: Accendo Press
Publication Date: March 2013
Page Count: 272
Format: e-book
Source: Netgalley/Mark My Words Book Publicity

Everyone is exactly like me. There is no one like me.

Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face. Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.

When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw-out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?

Review: When I first read the synopsis of this book and read the information on Goodreads, I knew that this book was going to be right up my alley! A YA dystopian? Yes please! Honestly, no matter how many books I read in however many genres, I always want to go back to dystopia. It is just what I enjoy, and this book was no different for me. I had already read one book by Heather Hildenbrand, but it was a contemporary so naturally it was quite different. However, I did already know that I enjoy her writing, so I was eager to read something else by her. Turns out, she's good at writing in different genres as well. 

I was very intrigued by the concept of this book, and it's certainly not something that I have read before. I think that says a lot with dystopia when a lot of things can start to seem or sound the same. That was not the case here. In this series, there is a separate town full of clones or "imitations." Now, not everyone has a clone, only the wealthy and those who have been deemed important enough to need one. These clones live in their own town until they are needed. Now, why do they have clones? Well, that's simple. They are there for anything their authentic might need. Perhaps they lose a limb, they will just take that part from their clone, easy fix. They are ultimately there to protect and serve their authentic, and they are certainly not treated like real people. 

In the book we meet Ven, who is the imitation of Raven Rogen, a wealthy teen who is a bit full of herself. Ven is required to know everything about Raven, though she has not actually met her. The interesting thing about the book is that we never get to meet Raven ourselves, but we get to know her through Ven as well. It's different, and I liked that as well. All this information comes to help Ven when she gets a letter saying she needs to step into the place of Raven. 

You see, Raven's father has hidden his real daughter for her safety, as there are people after her. Because of this, he wants to put Ven in danger and act as Raven in order to draw the enemy to a different town. It is quite clear that Mr. Rogen does not care for his daughter's clone. Nor does he have any problem threatening to terminate her if she messes everything up. Needless to say, he is not a nice guy.

There is a lot of action and danger in this book, which is always exciting to read in a book like this. However, there was also some romance. We are introduced to Linc, Raven's body guard. He knows that something is different with "Raven" and spends a lot of time questioning Ven about it. The chemistry between the two is undeniable, and I do love the relationship that developed between them. Sure, it was a bit fast, but I do love having the sweet romance, so I am not going to complain! 

I was quite thrilled with this book. I believe that it was a wonderful start to a series, and it certainly had me eager to see what happens next. I do believe that the second book was released in March, so I am going to try to get my hands on it very soon. I would highly recommend this book to other dystopian fans.

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 

Review: Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

Brutal Youth
by Anthony Breznican 

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: June 2014
Page Count: 416
Format: E-Book
Source: Netgalley (thank you!)

Goodreads Synopsis: Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse in Anthony Breznican's Brutal YouthWith a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. On his first day, tensions are clearly on the rise as a picked-upon upperclassmen finally snaps, unleashing a violent attack on both the students who tormented him for so long, and the corrupt, petty faculty that let it happen. But within this desperate place, Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal —so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies.

To even stand a chance at surviving their freshmen year, the trio must join forces as they navigate a bullying culture dominated by administrators like the once popular Ms. Bromine, their embittered guidance counselor, and Father Mercedes, the parish priest who plans to scapegoat the students as he makes off with church finances. A coming-of-age tale reversed, Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.


Review: I have sat down in front of my computer three different times already to try to write this review. Every time I have, I get a few sentences written down, but then decide that it does not sound right at all. This book has had me thinking since I finished it, and honestly I'm still not sure how I feel about. I want to like it. I really, really do as it has some qualities that make for a very good book. However, there are things that really bother me, too. I could not give it a rating more than three stars because of these conflicting feelings, and I am not sure how well I will be able to explain how I feel about the whole thing, but I will try once more to do so. 

As a teacher, this book affected me very much. I see bullying on a daily basis. We all watch the news and hear stories, so we all know that it has become a huge problem. Kids (people in general) bully others for any reason they can come up with; they're bigger, they're from some place different, they have an accent, they're gay. None of it is right and okay, and while I do not feel like this book was saying it was okay, I also sometimes felt like there was too much funny and humor going around the bullying. Perhaps this is just because I'm so sensitive to it because I spend a lot of my work days building children back up after being torn down, but this book was very hard for me to read. Because of that, I can't say that I liked it. I can say that it is well-written, though. 

The worst thing was the horrible hazing. As freshman, the students at this private Catholic school have to go through all of the "traditions" from the seniors. They make them miserable, and a lot of it was truly hard to read. What gets me is that these seniors were once the freshman, they were once the miserable ones, and despite feeling horrible and living through that hell, they do it to someone else. Now, I know that this is life and that it's something that actually happens, but I am not sure that it is something that I want to read about. 

The worst thing to me is that I was left feeling like there was very little hope for most of the characters. They seemed to feel that way, at least. It is supposed to be a coming of age story, but instead the young characters seem to feel and believe that life is only going to get worse as they get older. I'm a bit shocked that this is the case when this is a young adult book, and I am not sure that I would want my middle school students reading this sort of thing. 

While I know that the book was honest and some of it was quite true, it was still very upsetting for me personally. I work very hard every day to keep my students from feeling these things, so it makes the whole thing rough. Despite all of this, I do think that a lot of people will enjoy this book and will not take it as personally as I did. The writing was very good, and I feel that Breznican did write about something that is often neglected. While I can only give it three stars, I do believe that a lot of people would rate it higher based on how the book makes them feel. I think it's worth picking up to see for yourself.

Rating: 3.0 / 5.0

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cover Concepts: July 27 - August 2

Happy Monday! Welcome to the feature Cover Concepts on my blog. Every Monday I am going to create a post with all of the young adult book covers that are releasing within the week. I will then tell you all what I think about the covers; If I love them, or if I think that they could be better. At the end of the post, I will give you all a chance to vote on your favorite cover of the week. As I pick a lot of my reads based on their covers, this seemed like the perfect feature for me to begin on the blog. Feel free to leave comments with your opinions of the covers as well, and we can discuss them! :] 

1. The Young World by Chris Weitz - July 29
Thoughts: I am a big fan of this cover, and this book is on a list of books I am highly anticipating this year. To me, this cover screams dystopian, and it's always good when the cover gives you some insight in what you're about to read. I like the font of the title, and how they have toned down the font of the author's name. I also really like the silhouettes on the building, the flag that they're holding that has obviously been through a lot, and the colors in the sky. This cover is an A+ in my book.

2. The Bridge from Me to You by Lisa Schroeder - July 29
Thoughts: Here is another book cover that gives pretty good insight to what the book is going to be about. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be a cute, perhaps summer inspired, contemporary love story. I do like that it's just the girl on the cover, instead of a couple. The pose is certainly different than most too, which is nice. Overall, it's pretty nice. I'm not in love with the title font, just because I'm not a big fan of yellow, though.

3. Kalona's Fall by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast - July 29
Thoughts: Eh, I'm not sure I should really talk about this one as I'm pretty biased about the covers in this series (and not in a positive way). This series has some of the worst covers I've seen, at least in my opinion. I don't like the mostly black backgrounds with the same design going through it (though this time it's in color). At least it's not a face on the cover, but those wings are equally bad. This isn't doing anything for me.

4. Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead - July 29
Thoughts: I haven't read any of this series, but I do have the first book and I have looked back at all of the other covers. This cover concept is quickly becoming one of my least favorites. I do not enjoy the big faces that take up most of the room, and how they just face into the background like they have no bodies. I just feel like there are so many more interesting things that could be done at this point. Maybe I'm just a little hard to please. Who knows?

5. Put Your Diamonds Up by Ni-Ni Simone & Amir Abrams - July 29
Thoughts: What the heck is this? I have not heard of this at all, and I guess I'm not too surprised. The cover + the title = no chance that I would pick up this book. This title really annoys me for some reason, actually. I hate the font for "high," and yeah, this is just really bad.

6. Some Boys by Patty Blount - August 1
Thoughts: I'm a little unsure how I feel about this. It doesn't really tell me much about the book, especially since it's called Some Boys, yet a girl takes up the majority of the space on the title and there is no sign of a boy anywhere on the title. I'm okay with this tagline, as it's better than the one on Goodreads that says "one boy can make her whole." It's nice when the female character doesn't always need a guy. I don't know, this one is fine. I guess.

Poll: There we have it, those are the majority of the young adult books releasing this week. Which cover is your favorite of the week? Make sure to vote below!

Which Cover is Your Favorite This Week? free polls 


About KILLING RUBY ROSE: In sunny southern California, Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died six months ago, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope with her father’s death, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Mahnolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal), but after months of therapy and more than a few months of pathetic parenting by her mom, District Attorney Jane Rose, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

But when Ruby ends up killing a murderer in defense of another, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up changing Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

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About Jessie Humphries: Jessie Humphries was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She received a BA from San Diego State University, where she cultivated her love of the beach, then lived in France, where she cultivated her weakness for shoes, and finally earned a law degree from UNLV, where she cultivated her interest in justice. After practicing law for several years she began writing, and, appropriately, her debut novel Killing Ruby Rose is a thriller about vigilante justice set in sunny southern California with a shoe-obsessed protagonist. Jessie currently writes and practices law in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband and children.

Social media links:
Twitter: @JessieHwrites
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