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Waiting on Wednesday: Homeroom Diaries

Hi guys! Happy Wednesday!

Today it’s time for another edition of Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) and I’m featuring a book that has surprised me a little. I recently saw Homeroom Diaries on another blog and couldn’t believe it when IHomeroom Diaries by James Patterson saw James Patterson’s name attached to it!

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Margaret “Cuckoo” Clarke recently landed in a mental institution following an emotional breakdown, but she’s turning over a new leaf. Now, she gets through the clique-wars of high school by writing and drawing in her diary. And when life gets really tough, she can count on her diverse group of friends, known as “the Freakshow,” for help. Cuckoo always tries to keep smiling . . . until one of her closest friends, pushed to desperation by a Hater prank, decides that enough is enough. James Patterson’s most endearing and quirky teen heroine yet shows us that tears and laughter can live side by side, and that everyone can use a helping hand once in a while.

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I’ve just never heard of James Patterson’s name attached to anything with a bright pink cover about a high school girl who is not a laboratory experiment ( a.k.a. Maximum Ride)! Although I sometimes struggle with the writing style of his books, I’ll probably try to read Homeroom Diaries just to see what its all about!

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Perfect for Summer Lounging: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hello!

It’s getting to be about that time…summertime!

Yes, it’s true! Teachers and students around the country are beginning to rejoice! Whoot!

With that said, let’s talk about a great read for your beach/pool bag. It’s not actually set in the summer, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulbergbut it’s a fun contemporary novel…and what better for the summer than a good contemp?!

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder… are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Right?! It’s a romance…or is it?! Perfect for lounging by the pool or on the beach!

It has been said by reviewers before me, but I’ll say it again; Better Off Friends really is like the YA version of When Harry Met Sally. One of the best things about that movie was the mini interviews with all the different couples that were in between scenes throughout the movie, and Eulberg does something similar in this book. Instead of interviews with random couples however, she gives us dialog between Levi and Macallan as if they’re sitting with us at a table over coffee telling their story. Their back-and-forth teasing banter is just so spot-on!

In fact, so much of what Levi and Macallan deal with over the course of their story is so spot-on realistic. In addition to their own friendship/relationship drama, both Levi and Macallan are also confronted individually with the regular middle/high school woes. They have friend issues, family problems and school troubles just like normal teens do and Eulberg writes them with authenticity, while also keeping in line with the fun, light, and all around adorable plot.

Additionally, in keeping with the honesty of the story, both Levi and Macallan are average, non-perfect people. Most of the miscommunications and misunderstandings that go on between them stem from their flaws and inability to deal with awkward and difficult situations. Just like real life! I’m not a teenager anymore (not by a long shot!! haha) but I still struggle with figuring out how to deal when things are awkward and difficult!

The story’s pacing in quick. Levi and Macallan start off in middle school on the day they first meet and over the course of the book their story takes us all the way into high school. Both narrators give us the details on pivotal moments throughout the course of their friendship and they alternate chapter to chapter, which also helps an already fast paced story feel quicker, which can be good or bad depending on your preference. I happened to like the quickness because it makes it that much more perfect for your poolside summer lounging.

So do they remain just friends or do they take the leap and pursue more? I can’t tell you! You’ll have to pack Better Off Friends in your beach/pool bag! It really is a fun, sweet, and light-hearted contemporary read that will make you smile!

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Publisher: Point (February 25, 2014)

Format: e-galley

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA (possibly older MG too)

Buy the Book:

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Sheer Perfection: Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hola!

Sometimes the perfect book comes along at just the perfect time. That’s what happened for me with Elizabeth Eulberg’s Better off Friends.

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergLevi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder, are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Seriously, this one came along at the best time. I’ve been on a pretty big fantasy kick recently (for like the past year! haha) so I think I was ready for a quality contemporary read to really dig into. And talk about quality! Better off Friends is probably one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a while…right up there with Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Dessen!

I’d heard this one compared to a high school version of When Harry Met Sally and for real, Better off Friends is definitely an homage to that classic film. Macallan and Levi are kind of thrown together by their school principal, but quickly form a relationship based on need and a very silly British television show. Macallan is struggling to make a new life after her mother’s death, while new-guy Levi is simply looking to fit in, so both think of their friendship as kind of a new start. I can completely relate to Macallan and Levi’s friendship because it’s always been easier for me to be friends with guys than with girls. There is a freedom that comes from a friendship with a guy that one can’t get with another girl, but as Levi and Macallan soon discover that freedom usually comes with it’s own share of drama.

Eulberg writes the swoony, drama laden friendship between Macallan and Levi with expert skill. Each chapter alternates between Levi’s narration and Macallan’s. As I’ve mentioned in the past, sometimes switching between narrators can annoy me, but Levi and Macallan’s voices are so clear and distinct that I never have to check back to see who is telling the story. In between each chapter Eulberg has inserted commentary from both narrators, just like in When Harry Met Sally, and the banter between the two is sheer perfection! These were probably my favorite parts of the story, they just added both fun and perspective to Macallan and Levi’s story.

But this isn’t just Levi and Macallan’s story. Throughout the book, we get glimpses of how friendships change as we get older, especially in that transition from middle school to high school. Also, we see the way in which Levi’s mother serves as a stand-in mom for Macallan who is navigating her teenage years without her own mother. Each of these secondary relationships are realistically painful and joyful and just so well portrayed.

You really need to consider adding Better off Friends to your TBR list. I promise you wont’ be sorry, especially if you are looking for a strong contemporary read! It is most definitely a YA title, but I believe that older middle school readers, as well as adults, will appreciate it just as much as I did.

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Publisher: Point (February 25, 2014)

Format: ARC (e-galley)

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Better Off Friends

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Break-Up Artist

Hi everyone!

For today’s Waiting on Wednesday I wanted to showcase The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel.

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 

After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegeldreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity. No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

Doesn’t this sound like an really interesting contemporary read? I’m so intrigued by the idea of being paid to break people up…I mean I wouldn’t want the job, but it does sound like it could pay pretty well! haha Also, that is a pretty cool cover…its so different from what we normally see in YA today that it will really stand out on the shelf!

The Break-Up Artist is scheduled for release on April 29.

What do you think? Are you excited about this one too?

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Waiting on Wednesday: Alienated

Well hello again!

Just have to remind everyone that Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Sometimes I see a book and the cover turns me off but then I stop and read the summary and I’m interested. Well, that’s exactly what happened with Alienated by Melissa Landers. Alienated by Melissa Landers

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them. Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking. But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

Oh my gosh. This cover. There is WAY TOO MUCH going on. Too many colors!  But, I’m totally into the summary! Alientated sounds like it has potential to be a cute sci-fi romance. Since this book isn’t scheduled to release until February 4, 2014 we have some time to wait.  I have hopes that the awful cover isn’t a sign of bad things to come…I want this one to be good! :)

What do you think? What titles are you waiting on this week?

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Waiting on Wednesday: How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend

Well, welcome back!

Before we get started, don’t forget that Waiting on Wednesday is weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine to promote upcoming releases that we’re excited about!

How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend by Allyson Valentine Schrier is the book that I’m waiting on this week. Doesn’t it sound like a fun read?!

Sophomore Nora Fulbright is the most talented and popular new cheerleader on the Riverbend High cheer squad. Never mind that she used to be queen of the nerds—a chess prodigy who answered every How Not to Find a Boyfriend by Allyson Valentine Schrierquestion first, aced every test and repelled friends at every turn—because this year, Nora is determined to fully transition from social pupa to full-blown butterfly, even if it means dumbing down her entire schedule. But when funny, sweet and very cute Adam moves to town and steals Nora’s heart with his untra-smarts and illegally cute dimple, Nora has a problem. How can she prove to him that she’s not a complete airhead? Nora devises a seemingly simple plan to barter her way into Adam’s classes that involves her classmates, friends—and her older brother Phil’s award-winning AP history paper. But soon, Nora can barely keep track of her trades, and struggles to stay in control of her image. In the end, the only thing that can save Nora is a chess tournament—that she has to compete in wearing her cheerleading uniform. Can she prove to everyone that she can be both a butterfly and a nerd?

I have quite some time to wait as How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend isn’t scheduled for release until June 13.  Summer?! Summer?! I have to wait all that time for a book I’m pretty sure I’m going to enjoy?! Well, I guess it does sound like a good beach/poolside read!

Are there any books you’re waiting for this week?

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Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart

Haaaaay!

Holy junk! With this review I am finally up to date with my reviews! It is an amazing feeling! Whoot!

Today’s review is of the fourth and last book in E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series, Real Live Boyfriends.

Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.

Real Live Boyfriends by E. LockhartNot only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,
And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.
Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)

Roo has lost most of her friends. She’s lost her true love, more than once. She’s lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she’s never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews on this series, you’ll know that Ruby is one of my favorite characters.  Throughout this whole series Ruby is struggling with change and acceptance and how to take care of herself while also taking care of her friends.  And in Real Live Boyfriends you see Ruby finally get it. It seems like things finally click into place. Not that Ruby is perfect, she’s still far from it, but she now knows how to work with what she has. She is just so relateable and I know that I second guessed everything like Roo does in high school!

I normally like Ruby’s parents a lot. They’re also incredibly imperfect and hilarious making them easily to love. But in this book Ruby’s mother drove me crazy! It seemed like she was acting like a whiny baby who couldn’t handle it when things weren’t easy for her.

This series is just one of the best in contemporary YA (definitely YA!).  They are realistic without taking themselves too seriously and just an all around fun series to read. If you’re interested, just know that Real Live Boyfriends is the fourth and last book in this series, so start with number one The Boyfriend List, you won’t be sorry!

Author: E. Lockhart

Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers (Dec. 28, 2010)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 225 pages

Series: Final book in The Ruby Oliver quartet

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, plural. If my life weren’t complicated, I wouldn’t be Ruby Oliver (Ruby Oliver Quartet)

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Book Trailer of the Week: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father

Book Trailer of the WeekHello!

It’s Friday! On Fridays I like to give a shot out to a book trailer that has caught my attention.  I love book 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brodytrailers and hope that other educators can utilize my blog to help them find good ones to use with their students.

Today’s book trailer is for the book 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody.

Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.
Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteen birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.

Doesn’t it sound like a fun summertime read?  A little Clueless meets fairy tale?  I love it and can’t wait to read this one which just released on July 3.

Now, the book trailer is a little over two minutes, which would be way to long for me to use in my school, since I only get about a minute of air time on the morning announcements, but it’s still a really cute and well done trailer. Check it out for yourself!

What do you think?!  Does the trailer do it’s job?  Do you want to read it now?

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I Really Wanted to Like It: Beastly by Alex Flinn

Well hi there!

Let’s talk Beastly by Alex Flinn.

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with Beastly by Alex Flinnfangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell. Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.

So, Beastly is a modern-day retelling of the classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast, set in New York City. Beauty and the Beast had always been one of my favorite fairy tales ever. I felt a that Beauty (at least the Disney version of her) was a kindred spirit since she always had her nose in a book. She’s bookish and I’ve always loved that about her. I’ve always loved this story so you’d think I would have loved a modern retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales. Well, you’d think so, but you’d be wrong. I was pretty disappointed in Beastly. Flinn’s version of the story just didn’t connect with me.

I’m not usually a fan of male main characters, so maybe that has something to do with my disappointment. I just couldn’t like Kyle Kingsbury. Yeah I know he transforms from his snooty, wealthy, narcissistic self into someone kinder and more gentle, but I still just didn’t like him. I also felt that Linda (our story’s Beauty), although bookish and nerdy (yay!), was pretty boring and one-sided. Now, this could have also been the fact that I listened to this on audiobook and wasn’t impressed with the narrator’s female voices. Oh well.

This is pretty much a point for point retelling of the classic tale without much new to add to it other than the setting. I will say, that I did enjoy the chat room scenes. Kyle joins an online support group for those who have been magically transformed and meets some other famous fairy tale characters, like the Bear in Snow White and Rose Red (another of my faves!), the Frog from the Frog Prince and the Little Mermaid. These scenes are super cute, fun and too far and few between. Other than those bright scenes the rest of this story was slow going and I had to force myself to finish it.

So, overall I was disappointed in this story. I had high hopes because I love fairy tales retold and I’ve so many people recommend Alex Flinn’s books to me. I really, really wanted to enjoy it, it just fell flat with me. Maybe I started with the wrong Alex Flinn book? Suggestions anyone? Now, just because I wasn’t a huge fan, it doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy Beastly, in fact I know many who do. If you’re into fairy tale retellings go ahead and give this one a try, it might end up being something you like!

Author: Alex Flinn

Publisher: Brilliance Audio (June 22, 2010)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 6 hrs and 41 mins

Narrator(s): Chris Patton

Series: First in The Kendra Chronicles

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Beastly

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One Hot Romance: Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Hello! Glad to see you back!

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

Such a Rush by Jennifer EcholsBut Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business — until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers — and the consequences could be deadly.

First, I need to thank the author, Jennifer Echols, for my ARC copy of Such a Rush! When I received it I was so surprised and happy to discover that it is personalized! I love it so much, thank you!

Now, I must admit that I was a little hesitant to read Such a Rush because of the flying and airplane themes. I was worried that I’d come across pages and pages of piloting description that I’d have no interest in, and this was my introduction to Jennifer Echols so I had no idea what her writing style was like. I was pleased to find that this book didn’t bog me down with technical description at all. The flying details were there, but they were woven into the story so gently that they fit in perfectly. The funny thing is that I read most of this book on the airplane to Boston (book about flying while flying!) and became so engrossed that I stayed up late for the first three nights of my vacation to finish Leah’s story.

So, let’s talk Leah. I really loved Leah despite the fact that I didn’t immediately connect with her on a deep level. Leah is not the type of main female character I automatically relate to. She is gorgeous, tough and confident. I usually relate more with the bookish, average, smart girl who uncovers her hidden strength type, so Leah was a little difficult at first. The more I got into the story though, the more I realized that with Leah what you see on the outside isn’t always a reflection of whats going on inside. Her tough confident character is at times a wall she puts up so that she can’t be hurt by others. Leah doesn’t want people to know she is feels deeply and is as vulnerable as she is; she is complex. One thing about her that I don’t get though, is why does she so often just let people misinterpret her? Why doesn’t she stand up for herself when she knows people are judging her unfairly? Maybe she realizes it ultimately doesn’t matter. I don’t know. But I do like Leah.

Oh yeah! Leah also has crazy curly hair, and I laughed at Echols’ description of how Leah finally realized that she needed to embrace her curly hair because I had a moment just like that when I was in high school!

The romance in this book is hot. Yeah, that’s right. I said hot. There is some major pent-up passion just waiting to be released and although I loved the Hall brothers, I’m still not sure if I forgive some of their words or actions at specific parts in the story. I guess that’s okay though because it seems to me as I’m writing this review, that maybe that’s the point. Echols is writing contemporary fiction, not fairy tales, so her characters are ultimately incredibly flawed, but just like real people. Her characters are flawed because people are flawed.

I wouldn’t recommend Such a Rush to readers younger than high school because of some of the content. There is quite a bit of discussion about sex and even a sex scene or two (although Echols does leave us to imagine most of them).

The back of my book says that Such a Rush is “engrossing and intense” and I would completely agree. This is a really enjoyable summerish read for anyone searching for a quality contemporary romance. I’m definitely going to be on the look out for Echols’ other novels!

Author: Jennifer Echols

Publisher: MTV Books (July 10, 2012)

Format: ARC, Paperback

Length: 336 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book: Such a Rush (pre-order)