Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday #23

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release (or releases) that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My picks this week:

The Language of Impossible Dreams
By: Sarah Ockler
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: August 7, 2012


Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life… and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last.

Why I’m Waiting: Sarah Ockler does contemporary teenage angst really well (Twenty Boy Summer was awesome and heartbreaking), and I can’t wait to read more from her. I’m also really interested to find out what Hudson big dreams are. So intriguing!

Seraphina (no cover yet)
By: Rachel Hartman
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Add it on Goodreads!


Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered – in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.

Why I’m Waiting: I really love the high fantasy genre, but for some reason I don’t read it nearly often enough, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Also: human/dragon shapeshifters? Royal murder? Court investigations? Deadly secrets? I have a feeling this is one that will totally suck me into the world and I can’t wait.

That’s it for me, what books are you waiting on this week?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In My Mailbox #21

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that gives bloggers the opportunity to showcase the books they’ve received that week. You can learn more about it here.

So I missed last week’s IMM because I was out of town with no internet and didn’t have time to get the post ready before I left. Which means that this week it’s a gonna be a doozy!


All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin (thanks so much to Wendy from A Cupcake and a Latte!)

One of the first things I always do to hardcover books is take off the jacket to see what they look like when they’re naked, so imagine my delight when this book (which is about a society where chocolate and coffee are illegal) ends up looking like a chocolate bar! SO COOL! (And slightly problematic for me because now I just want to lick it.)

For review (from Around the World ARC Tours):

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (read my review!)
Fateful by Claudia Gray
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten (read my thoughts)

I was so excited to get Shatter Me that I completely forgot to take a picture of it (*facepalm*), but the version I had was just the white ARC, so it’s not like you missed out on seeing any of the shiny goodness. And The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers unfortunately was not for me, and I ended up only reading about 60 pages. I won’t be reviewing it on here, but I’ve linked to my review on Goodreads, so you can see my thoughts if you’re interested.


The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

So one day I was talking to the wonderful Sarah from The Book Life on Twitter about our recent favorite contemporary novels, and when I mentioned that Statistical Probability was currently one of my most-anticipated books, she very generously offered to let me borrow her ARC! And then she threw in an extra copy of The Name of the Star just for funsies. !! This is why I love the book blogging community; everyone is so amazing! Thank you so much, Sarah!

And I read Statistical Probability in one afternoon and LOVED it. My review will be up shortly. :)

From NetGalley: (I’m too lazy right now to include pictures for all of these, so I’m linking them to Goodreads instead. :D)

Someone Else’s Life by Katie Dale
Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
Fracture by Megan Miranda
Fractured Light by Rachel McClellan
The Next Door Boys by Jolene B Perry
The Lifeguard by Deborah Blumenthal
Precious Bones by Mika Ashley-Hollinger
The Wednesdays by Julie Bourbeau

That’s it for my mailbox! What goodies did you get?

Review: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

By: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Dystopian/Paranormal
Pages: 342
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice. Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel – with a paranormal twist – that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

Imagine never being able to touch anyone. Never being able to hug, or hold hands, or even casually brush against someone. That basic need of human contact completely and constantly denied. Then imagine being locked up in total isolation for over eight months because of it. This is when we meet Juliette. Poor, broken Juliette, who has suffered so much in life and yet still manages to cling to a thread of hope, manages to retain her sanity. And then Adam steps into her cell and her entire life changes.

Tahereh Mafi’s writing is stunning: lyrical and flowing and just so incredibly gorgeous. It reminded me a bit of Cath Crowley’s writing – it has that same beautiful poetic quality to it that makes me want to tattoo the words all over my body. (Seriously though, I might do it.) She manages to convey Juliette’s thought process and mental state SO WELL, it’s amazing. You really feel like you’re inside her head, with all of her confusion and desperation and the thoughts she doesn’t even allow herself to think. And it is a thing of beauty to watch the writing subtly change as Juliette grows throughout the novel and gains more confidence. I could happily curl up inside this book and live there for ages.

And the boy! Oh, the boy. Adam and Juliette absolutely burn up the pages together. The tension between them throughout the whole novel is amaaaaazing, leaving the reader holding their breath in anticipation. You may wonder how a romance is supposed to work when Juliette can’t touch anybody, but it does, don't you worry about that. There are several moments (one steamy shower scene in particular) that will make you fall over from swooning so hard and leave you fanning yourself on the floor. I CANNOT wait to see more of these two in the next book. Bring it on, Tahereh, I’ve got my squirt bottle ready to cool myself off when necessary. :P

And while Adam is hot as hell, he’s also sweet and loving and has a huge heart. He is kind of perfect, and I kind of love him for it. Between my compassion for Juliette, my love for Adam, my adoration of a couple of secondary characters whose names I won’t mention, my repulsed fascination with Warner (so evil and yet so intriguing!), and my awestruck worship of Tahereh’s writing, Shatter Me has basically left me a swoony, grinning, gushy mess.

This is the kind of book that I stay up until 4 in the morning to finish; the kind of book that I can’t stop thinking about every second that I’m not reading it; the kind of book that I wish I could read for the first time over and over again. It is a mind blowing debut novel, and definitely one of my favorite books of 2011. You need to RUN, don’t walk, and go preorder this book RIGHT NOW. And then feel free to join me in pining away like mad for the sequel.

*Thank you so much to Cindy at Around the World ARC tours for letting me a part of this tour!

Friday, October 21, 2011

From A to Z got a makeover!

As you may have noticed (I hope you noticed!), From A to Z has a new look!

I’ve been wanting to redesign the blog for a while but it just seemed like such a daunting task and I am very incapable of graphic design/html/all those things that seemed necessary, so I kept putting it off. But I finally gritted my teeth and girded my loins and just did it, so here it is! I’ll probably continue to make small changes over the next few days until I’m totally happy with it, but I like it so far. It still doesn’t quite feel like my blog though; every time I log on I keep expecting to see the old purple and green. Haha.

What do you think? If you have any suggestions for improvements, please feel free to tell me. My feelings won’t be hurt, I promise. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday #22

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release (or releases) that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My picks this week:

The Gathering Storm (Katerina Alexandrovna #1)
By: Robin Bridges
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 10, 2012


St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines – and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources… including two young men – George Alexandrovich, the tsar;s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose – and to whom will she give her heart?

Why I’m waiting: I have a bit of a thing for Russian settings, since I used to live there, and it’s been ages since I read a YA book with a Russian slant, so I’m really excited for this one. Plus, tell me there’s 19th century aristocracy in ANY setting and I’m so there. Love me a good historical novel. AND there’s a paranormal twist! So much awesome happening all at once!

Lies Beneath (Lies Beneath #1)
By: Anne Greenwood Brown
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 12, 2012


Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough – especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily – just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

I love the idea of mermaids as killers luring their prey into the deep, so this premise looks fascinating to me. And I’m excited about the male narrator. How often do we get to read about mermen?? Can't wait for this one! Too bad June is so far away… SIGH.

What books are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Frost by Marianna Baer

By: Marianna Baer
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Psychological Thriller/Suspense/Paranormal/?
Pages: 400
Source: ARC from Around the World ARC Tours

Leena Thomas’s senior year at boarding school begins with a shock: Frost house, her cozy dorm of close friends, has been assigned an unexpected roommate: confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar. But while Leena’s anxiety about a threat to her sanctuary proves valid, it becomes less and less clear whether the threat lies with her new roommate, within Leena’s mind, or within the very nature of Frost House itself. Mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and Celeste’s brother, and the reawakening of childhood fears, all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. Frost is the story of a haunting. As to whether the demons are supernatural or psychological… well, which answer would let you sleep at night?

Frost is one scary book. It’s the kind of scary that takes you back to younger days when you were sure there were monsters in your closet and under your bed, when every gust of wind and creak in your house was some nefarious being out to get you. When half the fear came from actual nervousness and the other half came from you psyching yourself out so much that you just sat in bed, terrified to move, with your back against the wall and the covers up to your chin.

That kind of fear is the beauty of Frost. Everything begins normally enough, with seemingly logical explanations for the little things that seem strange and out of place, and it feels like there’s no reason to think any differently. As the story progresses, however, it becomes clear that things aren’t necessarily what they seem, and that characters we thought we understood may or may not be completely reliable. The depth and characterization of these people, and of Frost House itself, is fantastic, with some of them walking the line between sane and possibly mentally unstable, between haunted and not haunted. Trying to figure out which is which and what is actually going on will leave you completely clueless and constantly second-guessing yourself.

Marianna Baer does an incredible job of setting the tone for Frost and making it so deliciously dark and creepy. I had to sleep with the light on because I was so freaked out. Dark hallways suddenly took on a whole new menace. Baer’s plot progression and storytelling is great, and everything felt very believable. The weirdness factor just unfolded so naturally; it was extremely unsettling.

Frost is an excellent Halloween-time read, and definitely one to add to the list of exceptionally well-done, crap-your-pants ghost stories. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for chills up your spine.

*Thanks so much to Cindy from Around the World ARC Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cover Reveal: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

So today Kendare Blake posted the cover for Girl of Nightmares, the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood. And isn’t it GORGEOUS? I’m in love. I adore the shock of the red, and I really really like how it complements the original cover. Eeeeeeek, now I’m even more excited to read this one!

What do you all think? Love it? Hate it? Just okay?

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

By: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Paranormal
Pages: 316
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead – keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

Anna Dressed in Blood was so much more than I was expecting, and I absolutely loved it. Creepy and thrilling, haunting and tragic, gothic and romantic, it is everything you could possibly want in a ghost story and everything you would never even think to ask for.

Cas has been hunting ghosts almost his whole life, ever since his father was murdered when he was just a kid. But there’s something different this time. Cas knows it from the moment he hears Anna’s name, and as he arrives in Thunder Bay and first meets Anna, he realizes this job is unlike anything he’s experienced before.

Cas is an incredibly relatable narrator, despite the fact that he hunts ghosts for a living. And he’s a boy! I love me a good male protagonist, it’s so refreshing to read. And Cas is suuuuch a boy. He’s a little overconfident and full of himself, but he’s also been through so much in his life and has a vulnerable side as well. It’s very endearing and the male perspective didn’t feel forced at all, which can occasionally happen with a female author. Not the case here.

I loved the development of the relationship between Cas and Anna. She’s absolutely terrifying and deadly, and yet we get the occasional glimpse of something else yearning to break through and be seen. This contrast between the scary, bloody Anna and softer side of the mortal girl she once was is riveting, and there are some really wonderful moments between Anna and Cas.

Anna is the first in a series, and I’m so eager to read more about Cas and his friends and their ghostly adventures. And at the same time, this is a completely satisfying stand-alone story. With so many novels these days ending on heartwrenching and jaw-dropping cliffhangers, it’s kind of awesome to have the first book in a series end on a conclusive note. Of course, having said that, I can’t wait for the next one. :)

Anna Dressed in Blood is a deliciously spooky and bloody ghost story, definitely one you don’t want to miss. It’s chilling and spine-tingling, managing to tug at your heartstrings and also completely freak you out at the same time. You might want to leave the lights on for this one.

*Thanks so much to Cindy from Around the World ARC Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Waiting On" Wednesday #21

“Waiting on” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release (or releases) that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My picks this week:

The Alchemy of Forever (Incarnation #1)
By: Avery Williams
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 3, 2012


Seraphina’s first love made her immortal… her second might get her killed.

After spending six hundred years on earth, Seraphina Ames has seen it all. Eternal life provides her with the world’s riches, but at a very high price: innocent lives. Centuries ago, her boyfriend, Cyrus, discovered a method of alchemy that allows them to swap bodies with other humans, jumping from one vessel to the next, taking the human’s life in the process. No longer able to bear the guilt of what she’s done, Sera escapes from Cyrus and vows to never kill again.

Then sixteen-year-old Kailey Morgan gets into a horrific car accident right in front of her, and Sera accidentally takes over her body. For the first time, Sera finds herself enjoying the life of the person she’s inhabiting – and falls for the human boy who lives next door. But Cyrus will stop at nothing until she’s his again, and every moment she stays, she’s putting herself and the people she’s grown to care for in great danger. Will Sera have to give up the one thing that’s eluded her for centuries: true love?

Why I’m Waiting: This one sounds SO GOOD. Immortal body-swapping humans? I love that they’re actually humans and not some supernatural creatures or aliens or something. And I’m really intrigued to see how Sera deals with the guilt of what she’s done. Looks awesome!

Getting Over Garrett Delaney
By: Abby McDonald
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: January 24, 2012


Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly one-sided. The object of her obsession – ahem, affection – is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie’s feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep blue eyes).

For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett’s constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to ‘80s indie rock – all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder – until he calls to say he’s fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she’s finally had enough. It’s time for a total Garrett detox!

Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized self-help guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.

Why I’m Waiting: Who doesn’t love a good unrequited-crush-on-the-best-friend story? This looks so angsty and heartwarming and lovely. And I love the cover; it's the perfect expression of teenage frustration and longing. I can’t wait.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

By: Michelle Hodkin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Psychological Thriller/Paranormal/Mystery ? (I don’t really know, guys, it’s NUTS.)
Pages: 452
Source: ARC from Once Upon a Twilight Book Tours

Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.

It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.

There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.

She’s wrong.

I had no idea what to expect when I started reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The summary on the back cover is appropriately vague and mysterious, and it lends itself well to the feel of novel, which is also very mysterious, and at times had me wondering if I was even reading it correctly or if I had missed something.

Telling you anything about the plot would just spoil the fun, so I’ll just say that Mara has been through a very traumatic event which she can’t really remember, and now she often doesn’t know what is real and what is just in her head. AND THE READER FEELS THE SAME WAY. Which is so awesome. I haven’t read many psychological thrillers (I’m a huge scaredy-cat, so I usually try to stay away from things that might keep me up at night), but this one is soooooo well done. I feel like usually the reader can at least tell when the character is dreaming or hallucinating and when it’s real life, but with Mara Dyer, I had no idea. I found myself flipping back a few pages to see if I’d missed something, and at one point I had to put the book down and walk away because I needed a break from the suspenseful awesomeness. And then of course I turned around after two seconds and started reading again.

The gradual unfolding of the story and small revelations happen very naturally, giving you just enough information to leave you chomping at the bit for more. Michelle Hodkin is an incredibly talented writer, both with her suspenseful storytelling and her character interactions. The dialogue in Mara Dyer is snappy and witty and realistic, and I laughed out loud more than a few times. Mara and Noah’s scenes in particular are fantastic, full of humor and sarcasm and crackling with sexual tension. But even though Noah and Mara are clearly the highlight, all of Hodkin’s characters – from Mara’s brothers to her nemesis at school – are well-written and diverse, whether you love them or hate them. I’m so eager to get to know them all better in future books.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a stunning debut novel, one that I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a suspenseful, sexy, slightly darker read. And be prepared to immediately start coveting the sequel, because holy hell, talk about a cliffhanger ending!! I promise you, you will leave this book with your jaw on the floor and “OMG WTF” running over and over again through your mind.

*Thanks so much to Once Upon a Twilight for letting me be a part of this ARC tour. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

In My Mailbox #20

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that gives bloggers the opportunity to showcase the books they’ve received that week. You can learn more about it here.

From the Library:
 Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

For review:
 Frost by Marianna Baer (from Around the World ARC Tours)

What’s in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

By: Kody Keplinger
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: September 5, 2011
Genre/Age: YA Contemporary
Pages: 273
Source: ARC from Around the World Tours

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it’s a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part, Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy’s car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend’s attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: she and the other players’ girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won’t get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don’t count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

Shut Out is a modern retelling of the Greek play Lysistrata, which is the story of a group of women who decide to withhold sex from their husbands as an incentive to end a war. I’d never heard of Lysistrata before reading Shut Out, and it’s such an interesting idea to me. Sex is undeniably a very powerful and influential tool in our society and I was intrigued to see what Keplinger would do with the storyline in a modern high school context.

I thought Lissa was a little annoying when we first meet her at the start of the novel. She’s understandably frustrated with Randy, but she feels like an overbearing parent in the way she communicates with him, and she’s generally very na├»ve about him throughout the course of the story.

Things really get interesting when the boys start fighting back against the sex strike, and that’s when I found myself really enjoying it. I love Cash, the leader of the boys, and his interactions with Lissa are great. Despite leading the guys against her, he is a total sweetheart, and I found myself torn between wanting Lissa to stick to her guns and lead the girls to victory, and wishing she would just give in to her awesome chemistry with Cash.

I also really loved the strong female friendships that Lissa developed with the other girls participating in the strike, particularly Chloe and Ellen. So many YA novels are focused so intensely on the romance aspect, so I’m always happy to find good friendship networks along with the swoony guy and fun romance.

The main issue that I had with Shut Out was the way it handled the girls’ discussions and revelations about sex, which is unfortunate since that was such a huge focus of the novel. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to talk about these things, and I think the overall message was good, but there’s an art to doing it subtly and tastefully, and I felt like I was just being hit over the head with it. The girls’ conversations (and Lissa’s inner monologues) were incredibly forced and ended up feeling preachy and obvious instead of natural. It was enough to make me roll my eyes while reading.

Though somewhat disappointed, I did enjoy the novel overall, and I’m interested to try another of Keplinger’s stories, especially since I’ve heard good things about The DUFF. I’d recommend Shut Out if you’re looking for a light, contemporary romantic read and you don’t mind a slightly heavy-handed message along with it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

In My Mailbox #19

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren that gives bloggers the opportunity to showcase the books they’ve received that week. You can learn more about it here.

For review:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (thanks to Once Upon a Twilight ARC tours!)
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (thanks to Around the World ARC tours!)


The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood swag

From NetGalley:

Tempest by Julie Cross

What’s in your mailbox this week?
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