Flirty Dancing (The Ladybirds #1) by Jenny McLachlan

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Title & Author: Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan

Publisher/Year: Bloomsbury Children/July 3, 2014

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Format: Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books By Author: Love Bomb (The Ladybirds #2) – Coming March 2015

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.  

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

It took me a few hours to finish Flirty Dancing and I loved it and cannot wait to read the rest in the series. Being a dancer in the past I was instantly drawn to the storyline of this book. The dance groups are usually always my favorite on America’s Got Talent and since the talent competition in Flirty Dancing is compared to Britain’s Got Talent, I had a feeling I was going to really enjoy the book and of course I did! It was a quick, light read and it was refreshing to sit and enjoy the book without having to do much thinking. I was nervous after seeing a friend on Goodreads rate it low and say it was predictable. I wouldn’t say it was predictable at all because I actually didn’t expect the ending.

I loved how clean Flirty Dancing was when it came to the romance, but was a bit shocked how nasty the bullying got at times. To me (I’m 22) the characters seemed very young to be so nasty over a boy or a dance competition, then again kids these days may be like that. I did like that the romance in the book never went beyond a kiss. Any further would have been a bit much for freshmen. I also loved how even though this took place over in the UK, the author didn’t make a ton of references that I had to look up because I had no idea what they meant. It also put a fun, quirky twist on the references made that I did understand.

I liked the main character, Bea, for the most part. I wish she had stuck up for herself before the very end of the book because that would have given me some satisfaction. I also liked how dedicated Bea was to her dancing especially since she wasn’t learning a “modern” style such as hip-hop, tap or jazz that most girls learn when they take lessons, but she was learning how to jive. Reading the parts where Bea and Ollie were learning their routines actually made me want to learn how to jive as well. Ollie was just a total sweetheart and at first I had the wrong impression of him but I liked the way he turned out. As for the other characters Kat and Pearl, neither were on my good side. Kat was supposed to be Bea’s best friend but wasn’t really much of any friend at all throughout the book. Pearl on the other hand was, and excuse my language, a complete bitch. Considering the amount of times she called Bea that, she probably should’ve taken a good long look in the mirror at herself.

Overall I really enjoyed Flirty Dancing and was happy that I didn’t let my Goodreads friend’s review influence whether I read the book or not. That is why every time I write a review on a book that wasn’t exactly my favorite, I always stress that no one should let my review change their mind on a book you want to read. If you really just want to sit back and enjoy a fun, flirty, quick book then Flirty Dancing is perfect for you. I cannot wait until March when the second of The Ladybirds books is published so I can see what happens with another character.

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I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

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Title & Author: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Publisher/Year: Dial/2014

Genres: YA Contemporary, YA Romance

Format: ARC Paperback

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Other Books From Author: The Sky is Everywhere

Rating: 4hearts

What This Book Is About

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

(Summary from Goodreads)

My Thoughts on This Book

Wow is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. It was absolutely amazing and unlike any other YA book I have ever read before. When I first began reading it I will admit it took me some time to get into, which is why I gave it 4 hearts instead of 5. It wasn’t quite what I had been expecting, but once I got into the story I no longer cared. I loved how Noah told his and Jude’s story when they are 13, and then how Jude told their story when they are 16. Each chapter was long, which I loved and when it was finished I couldn’t wait to get back to Jude or Noah’s side of the story. It was almost as if I was reading two different books that had been put together to make one. The alternating between the years and characters really gave this book something special and unique.

I loved the main characters, twins Noah and Jude. I have a brother (2 years younger) and we were incredibly close growing up so I could easily relate to a lot of issues that went on between Noah and Jude as well as their friendship. I’m still not sure if I liked one character more than the other. There were times during Noah’s story where I would get frustrated with Jude, and then there were times during Jude’s story where Noah would frustrate me. I also liked the other characters that played a big part in Jude and Noah’s lives. Noah’s crush Brian had his moments where I didn’t like him, but in the end I think he was a great character. As for Jude’s crush, Oscar, I think almost every female who reads I’ll Give You the Sun will now have a crush on a fictional character. He’s the sensitive guy every girl says they want, he rides a motorcycle, and has an accent, plus the way he truly cares about Jude makes him my number one fictional character I have a crush on now.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed I’ll Give You the Sun. It was original, funny and heartbreaking and I would definitely read it again in a heartbeat. I hadn’t realized that Jandy Nelson also wrote The Sky is Everywhere until I saw the cover of this book. I purchased The Sky is Everywhere back in May and am definitely putting it at the top of my to-read pile now and I’d recommend you add I’ll Give You the Sun to the top of yours.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I know practically everyone says, don’t judge a book by it cover, yet I feel like we all still do it. I will be the first to admit that 9 times out of 10 I pick up a book or click on a book online because I like it’s cover. From there though, the summary is the ultimate deciding factor if I will actually read the book or not. Belzhar was included.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Expected Publication: September 30, 2014

How I Acquired This Book: ARC Tour

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If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

(Summary from Goodreads)

The first few times I scrolled past Belzhar on both Goodreads and Edelweiss, I never once clicked on the title to find out more about this book. At first glance the title made it seem like it would be a strange book and the cover itself didn’t grab my attention. Thank goodness I finally clicked on  it (after seeing it pop up several times) because Belzhar was absolutely, without a doubt amazing. It took me a few hours to read this book from cover to cover. It was so much better than I ever could have expected. I’ve called other books I have read and reviewed original before, which they were, but I feel that Belzhar was original on a completely different level. First, it dealt lightly with some difficult topics that a lot of teens in our society go through everyday/year. Second, the added “magic” I guess you could call it just took the story so much further.

I enjoyed that although the book was focused around one main character, Jam, the reader got to know the other four students in the Special Topics in English class as well. We were able to learn all of their stories and knew them as well as we did Jam. Out of all the characters in the book, there were only two I did not like. One was a very minor character, while the other was pretty important but my dislike was not present until some of the final chapters. The rest of the characters I fell in love with. I loved seeing them open up to the other students and deal with their pasts with the help of their journals. When beginning this book, I have no idea the power of these journals that each student had.

It’s hard to go into too much detail without giving anything away. There are a few surprising moments throughout the book and it will have you unable to put the book down. I really, really love Belzhar and cannot wait to buy my own copy when it is published later this month. I am also really hoping that the author writes a sequel to follow up with the students during their winter break and spring semester. In a way the ending was left open where a sequel could definitely be possible, but at the moment I do feel like this was written as a standalone novel. I cannot wait to see what other young adult books Meg Wolitzer writes in the future.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Ask the Passengers is one of those books that has sat on my TBR list for a very long time. I finally got around to reading it yesterday and it was so good I finished it last night. A couple months back it was the book of the month for the YA book club I’m a member of, but I didn’t attend that month so I didn’t read the book. This month on Goodreads I joined a Copycat challenge. I was paired with another reader and had to choose at least 1 book on their read list. I decided it was a good time to finally read Ask the Passengers and I can’t believe I waited so long.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

How I Acquired This Book: Library Rental

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Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions–like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even know she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives–and her own–for the better.

(Summary from Goodreads)

I loved Astrid’s story. It was so original and different from all the mushy boy-girl relationships we always read about in books. Ask the Passengers shows what it could really be like for a teen coming to terms with their sexuality and coming out about it. On some level I was able to relate to this personally. My best friend who I have known since preschool came out our senior year of high school. Some people were accepting, some it didn’t even surprise, and some people were so against it they turned to bullying. He was called the names we always hear in society today and was even targeted in a fight all because he didn’t like girls. I felt for Astrid while she was coming to terms with her sexuality and being afraid that her parents and other people in town wouldn’t accept her.

I loved Astrid, the female lead character of the story. She was really the only character I really loved, the rest annoyed me. Her mother was, excuse my language, a complete bitch and I was constantly hoping Astrid would stick up for herself. Her sister Ellis has her moments as well. The one who really bothered me was Astrid’s “best friend”. You can assume from the quotes around best friend that she didn’t act like a best friend most of the time. There were a few other characters who were just okay, like her father, her girlfriend Dee and her friend Justin.

I loved the concept that Astrid had of sending her love to the planes flying overhead and how the passengers on the place tied in with the story as well, although it was a bit unrealistic. I was also shocked that none of the students targeting Astrid ever used God or the Bible as a reason why they believed being gay was wrong. It was refreshing though because I feel like a lot of books that deal with this topic generally have students who are trying to preach in school which I can imagine could be overwhelming for people of different faiths. I liked that A.S. King kept religion out of Ask the Passengers. Overall I enjoyed the book. I’m happy I finally read it and now wish I didn’t wait as long as I did. My next book in the Copycat Challenge is Anna and the French Kiss, another book that has been on my TBR list for a long time.

I have also received some ARCs in the past couple of days so I will be reading and posting reviews on them shortly. I will try to alternate between ARCs and already published books only because I am not an ARC only reviewer and I want to review books that are readily available to anyone. I am impatient and hate waiting for a new book to come out, and I don’t want every single one of my posts to make you have to wait to read the book as well.

Waiting on Wednesday 07/02/14

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It has been a few months since I’ve done a Waiting on Wednesday post, but yesterday on Goodreads I found a book that is being published in October and I cannot wait for it to hit the shelves.

They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire

Publication Date: October 14, 2014

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Pretty Little Liars meets Final Destination in this YA psychological thriller that will have readers’ hearts racing right till the very end!

Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.

All because of the list.

Kenzie Summerall can’t imagine how she’s been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.

This is the power of the list. If you’re on it, your life changes.

If you’re on it this year? Your life ends.

(Summary from Goodreads)

A new, original YA thriller? Sign me right up and on October 14, I guarantee you, you will find my nose in this book. I have been saying in my more recent posts that I have been waiting and looking for a YA thriller/mystery and it seems as though I have finally found what I have been looking for. Unfortunately I will be waiting to read They All Fall Down for quite a few months because it will not hit the shelves until October 14. Until then, I will be keeping my eye out for this book if it happens to pop up on NetGalley or First Reads on Goodreads.

What books are you looking forward to reading?

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Wow. I cannot tell you how many times I picked this up at the bookstore or looked at it on Amazon, everytime going “eh, maybe next time” or “this doesn’t seem like my type of book”, well I am kicking myself now for waiting forever to buy it and read it. Even though I have about 30 books I just got over the past few weeks, as soon as I bought Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I had to read it right away.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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Jacob, a sixteen year old, travels to a mysterious island off the coast of Whales after a horrible family tragedy. Hoping while he is there, he can find some of the answers to questions he’s had his whole life, but he ends up finding out a lot more than he ever expected to. While on the island he finds the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Jacob explores the bedrooms of the children and the basement which harbors some strange, unexplainable items. Jacob comes to realize that maybe the children were more than just peculiar, perhaps they were dangerous and there is a very good reason that they were kept quarantined on an island. Even though Jacob knows it’s pretty impossible, the children may still be alive and on the island with him.

I loved this book and am currently waiting for the second book, Hollow City, to be delievered because the book leaves you hanging. I began reading this book expecting a completely different storyline due to the summary on the back of the book. I think it gives the wrong impression and the reader expects something different than what they end up reading. (I don’t feel like I should write my summary on the book, so I took the summary used on Amazon and put it into my own words.) The actual book though is amazing. It is unlike any other book I have ever read and the vintage photographs really help the visuals you have and some are a bit creepy looking. I don’t think this book was really scary or under the “horror” category, maybe a thriller at the most, but never was I getting the chills or creeped out. The chapters were lengthy and while I liked that they went on for so many pages, I also have this weird thing where I can’t leave off in the middle of a chapter so I always felt the need to finish the chapter, not that I could easily put this book down anyways, but I guess I’m lucky I wasn’t ever reading it at a time when I had to stop to do something else. Okay now back to the actual characters and storyline. I loved (most of) the characters and my heart broke for some of them. Some just made me so furious that I wanted to throw the book at my wall, others I wish I was on the island with them experiencing some of the events they were involved in. There isn’t too much I feel I can say on my feelings and the thoughts I have of the characters without giving too much away. This story though was so original, wonderfully written, and had parts that we so shocking and unexpected that they made me go, “oh my god, wait what!?”. I am hoping this will turn out to be a trilogy or a small series (4-5 books), because the first one showed how much potential it has to be more than just a book and it’s sequel, and I would be so disappointed if the second doesn’t live up to the first book and it ends there. If you are into thrilling, supernatural books, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a great book for you. It has a bit of historical events tied in to it as well, and I would say it’s an appropriate book for any age (granted they can reading a close to 400 paged novel).  Oh and I almost forgot, it is or was a New York Times Bestseller.