October 23, 2012

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Ships launched: 644
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Year published: 2011
Genre: Coming of Age, Teen Fiction

Everyone's sorry. But no one can explain why.Harper Scott's older sister, June, took her own life a week before high school graduation, leaving Harper devastated. So when her divorcing parents decide to split up June's ashes, Harper steals the urn and takes off cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going—California.
Enter Jake Tolan, a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession…and an unknown connection to June. When he insists on joining them, Harper's just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanor and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what Harper needs. Except…Jake's keeping a secret that has the power to turn her life upside down—again.

Saving June was a reflective read. In the book, Harper Scott struggles to overcome her grief over her sister's death by going on a road trip with Jake. Along the way, she meets interesting people and discovers who her sister really was.

  The first few pages of the book are a little slow but soon enough I couldn't stop turning the pages. The story is filled with grief and really shows the emotions of someone that has lost a loved one.  

The dynamic characters really stand out and are not who I expected them to be. Laney, Harper and Jake are all unique and are vital to the story. Jake comes off as mysterious because Harper does not know how he knew June. As she finds out more about him she learns more about her sister. 

Overall the book was an emotional roller-coaster that made me think about my life and the people in it. 

+50- The book has amazing  playlists in the back. The music brings you closer to Jake, Harper and Laney and you get to experience some of their emotions from the book.

- 16- Plot moved slowly at first. 

+10- An extremely touching novel that makes you think. 

October 9, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Ships launched: 738
Pages: 304
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Year published: 2012
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Apocalyptic
Synopsis: In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

When I first read the synopsis for Monument 14 on Goodreads a few months ago, I was intrigued. I've read dozens of stories about characters struggling to survive in the harsh brutality of fictional apocalypses, but a group of kids and teenagers who happen to find shelter and get to wait everything out? How would they handle it? Would all those poor little children stay safe and sound?

So, yes, the premise of this story intrigued me greatly. I was practically squealing when I found it at my library this morning, I was so excited to have found a copy. 

The story starts off quickly. There was no sign of the boring first few intro chapters that are way too common; Monument 14 was literally a page turner. Brutal buckets of hail pour down onto the streets, and many people are killed before the kids and their bus driver make it into a supermarket. Laybourne's writing seemed very fluid and descriptive to me; I could picture everything that was going on. 

Now for the characters. There were fourteen of them, as mentioned in the synopsis and hinted at in the title. 

  1. Dean - teen -  As the main character of this novel, you get to see inside Dean's head for the entire book. He seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn't perfect. He made bad decisions sometimes, and other times he stepped up to the plate and took care of everyone. I loved that he loved to read and write, and his attempts at cooking were admirable.
  2. Astrid - teen - Even though you see Astrid through Dean's eyes (let's just say he looks favorably upon her), she wasn't one of my favorite characters. I felt sorry for her, of course, but she seemed kind of weak to me. Agh! I know! She's living in an apocalypse, I'm sitting here in my comfortable home writing a book review. Who am I to judge? I just think that, compared to Josie, she didn't go through as much, and she didn't hold up as well. [mini spoiler, highlight with cursor to view:] I still don't understand why she was hiding from everyone else for such a long time. I don't get what triggered that, other than the Type O attack. Dean and Chloe went through that as well, and they came out okay. Let's just say Astrid is not my favorite character.
  3. Brayden - teen - He was a jerk. He never really stopped being a jerk, in my opinion. [another spoiler:] You could argue that he was caring and loving towards Josie, but I think he only paid attention to her because he knew Niko liked her, and Brayden didn't like Niko. Again, not one of my favorite characters.
  4. Jake - teen - At first, I had high hopes for Jake. I wanted him to be a strong, fearless leader that would keep the kids together, but he wasn't. Don't get me wrong, he had his good points, but he made some big mistakes. It didn't seem like he cared a lot of the time, either.
  5. Niko - teen - I love how socially awkward he was, and I love how much of a natural leader he was. Yes, he was flawed. Everyone's flawed. I can't stand perfect characters. 
  6. Josie - teen - She was a sixteen year old mother. Not literally, of course, but she took care of a lot of kids. She had such a natural maternal instinct, and when no one else knew what to do next she helped keep everything going. I love all of the homey touches she put on everything; those little things she did for everyone made her one of my favorite characters. 
  7. Alex - pre-teen - (sidenote: he's Dean's brother) I thought Alex was cute. He was smart and geeky and innovative and a genius, and wow, did he have good ideas. 
  8. Sashalia - pre-teen - I identified with her need to be treated as an adult (I've always looked horribly young), but I think she took things a bit too far. Of course, with everything that happens to her, I pity her tremendously. Even so, I'm not a big fan of hers. She annoyed me a bit.
  9. Ulysses - kid - This tiny little Hispanic child wormed his way into my heart. He was so lonely and scared and quiet at the beginning of the story, but when he opened up... I can just imagine his little brown eyes shining with excitement as he's gibbering on and on in Spanish. :)
  10. Batiste - kid -  I understand how he could be annoying, but I like Batiste. He seems really innocent and naive; I feel like I need to protect him. Plus, he's an eight year old that can cook. 
  11. Henry - kid - Henry was Charlotte's twin: they were both so sweet and shy and adorable and loving that I want to give them the biggest hugs imaginable and never let the poor babies go.
  12. Charlotte - kid - See Henry. ^
    They are literally exactly alike.
  13. Chloe - kid - Cute. Sweet. Adorable. I'm glad she has all of those big teenagers to take care of her and everyone else.
  14. Max - kid - Last, but definitely not least, is our dear friend Max. His bluntness and worldliness is astounding. As Dean was thinking, Max has certainly lived an interesting life.
Overall, Monument 14 was very entertaining. I really enjoyed reading it, and it was fascinating. There were some plot points that I just didn't get or like very much, and some of the characters weren't my favorite, but I did like this book. I would recommend it if you want an exciting, fast-paced read, but prepare yourself. [Questionable Scenes (spoiler-y material):] It's pretty gruesome, there's a bit of nudity, and there is an, um, attempted rape (for lack of a better word) involving a young-ish girl. 

+35 - Adorable children :')
+48 - Homey Touches - I loved how creative everyone was to make the supermarket feel cozy and comfortable!

October 2, 2012

Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

Title: Mothership (Book One of the Ever-Expanding Universe)
Author: Martin Leicht and Isla Neal
Ships launched: 945
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Year published: 2012
Genre: Science fiction, fantasy, romance
Synopsis: Teen pregnancy is never easy—especially not when extraterrestrials are involved. The first in a new trilogy.Elvie Nara was doing just fine in the year 2074. She had a great best friend, a dad she adored, and bright future working on the Ares Project on Mars. But then she had to get involved with sweet, gorgeous, dumb-as-a-brick Cole—and now she’s pregnant.Getting shipped off to the Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers was not how Elvie imagined spending her junior year, but she can go with the flow. That is, until a team of hot commandos hijacks the ship—and one of them turns out to be Cole. She hasn’t seen him since she told him she’s pregnant, and now he’s bursting into her new home to tell her that her teachers are aliens and want to use her unborn baby to repopulate their species? Nice try, buddy. You could have just called. So fine, finding a way off this ship is priority number one, but first Elvie has to figure out how Cole ended up as a commando, work together with her arch-nemesis, and figure out if she even wants to be a mother—assuming they get back to Earth in one piece.
    Normally, I wouldn't even read a teen pregnancy book but this one caught my eye. Elvie's life seems normal until she gets pregnant and is shipped of to a school in space. As she races against time to save herself from evil alien teachers, Elvie discovers more about herself.
     Mothership is easily the weirdest book I have ever read. Where do people come up with this stuff? The idea is completely unique and hilarious.The characters are well described and Elvie is very likeable. Cole seems like a great alien guy and albeit unconventional, his and Elvie's relationship is cute. The book is filled with humor that made me laugh yet, it can also be serious about a few issues. 

     Overall, the book is a quirky, fast read packed with action and a little romance. It does deal with sensitive topics (teen pregnancy) but comes of as a fluffy read. Filled with many twists and turns, the ending will surprise many readers.

  + 30- great original plot.
   +7- likeable characters
   +8- Weirdness. The good kind.