Ece Red: YA Book Blog

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Book Review: Boy21

Boy21 by Matthew Quick

Synopsis:

"Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in broken-down Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, his dad works nights and Finley is left alone to take care of his disabled grandfather. He’s always dreamed of somehow getting out, but until he can, putting on that number 21 jersey makes everything seem okay. 

Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. The life of this teen basketball phenom has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he won’t pick up a basketball, and yet answers only to the name Boy21—taken from his former jersey number.


As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need. Matthew Quick, the acclaimed author of Sorta Like a Rock Star, brings readers a moving novel about hope, recovery, and redemption.”

Review:

I absolutely loved Matthew Quick’s Sorta Like a Rock Star, so I knew I had to give Boy21 a shot despite the fact that I’m not a big basketball person. It took a few chapters, but as soon as the character Boy21, or Russ, which is his real name, was introduced I was hooked.

Boy21/Russ is such an insanely unique character—it’s impossible to not love him from the very start. Finley, the narrator, is also another one of those characters whose voice and story will stick with you even once the book is over. It has been been a week since I’ve finished Boy21 and Finley and Russ and everything about the book is still lingering in my mind like a pleasant aftertaste.

Much like Sorta Like a Rock Star, Boy21 is able to capture a lot of emotion and life between its pages. There were times I kind of wanted to cry because there were just so much emotion in the words and relatableness in the thoughts. 

There were several lives throughout the book that stood put to me, but there was one in particular that really struck a note with me and that one was: “You can lose yourself in repetition—quiet your thoughts; I learned the value of this at a very young age.” It’s just so brilliant, at least to me anyways.

Boy21 isn’t a terribly long book with only around 250 pages, so admittedly I was sad to see it end and had to resist picking it back up and re-reading it.

Overall:

I really enjoyed Boy 21, so I’m going to have to recommend it to all YA contemporary fans, even if you aren’t a basketball or sports person. Give Boy21 a chance and chances are that you’ll most likely find yourself drawn into the world and lives of Finley, Russ, and all the other characters.

Rating: 5/5

Source: Finished Copy for Review

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Book Review: Wanderlove

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Synopsis:

It all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? 

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. 

Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. 

But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Review:

I think the book Wanderlove has inflicted me with a case of wanderlove or at least the urge to travel abroad. I kind of want to hop on the next flight to Central America, ditch my travel group, and join a group of random backpackers. So, what’s ‘wanderlove’? You ask. Well, you have to read the book to find out exactly what it is.

Wanderlove focused on the idea of traveling to escape your past self, to leave it behind and move on. I loved this concept. It made for such a good book, the kind of book that’s quotable. There were several times throughout the book that I wished I had a physical copy so I could make my favorite pages with sticky notes.

Bria’s emotions and thoughts seemed to flow off the pages as if it was ripped straight from someone’s real life experiences. She was strong, yet vulnerable at times. Bria was so real, in a way. The kind of character you wish were real so that you could befriend them. Same thing goes for Rowan. I wish he was real. I wouldn’t mind my own Rowan. Rowan was the typical dark past, secretive guy and the not so typical good hearted, caring guy. Almost whenever Rowan and Bria were together, there was a laugh out loud comment to be found.

The setting of Wanderlove was amazing. First off, there really aren’t many young adult books set in Central America. And secondly, it played into the story perfectly. The backpackers, the islands, everything. Another thing that played into the story was the art. Bria’s art. It was such a part of her and her growth as a character. I also liked how there were actual illustrations drawn by the author throughout the book to represent Bria’s artwork and journal.

Wanderlove was the type of book that I found easy to put down, but I never had a problem picking it back up. I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t exactly gripping to the point where it never leaves your hands. There was really only one part of the storyline that had me a little on edge and that was the part where Bria splits from her travel group. I know if I was in a foreign country that I knew next to nothing about, I wouldn’t exactly be in a hurry to go join up with a bunch of backpacking strangers. But maybe that’s just me, maybe Bria really is courageous and strong, the type of person who can handle anything. This speculation was kind of confirmed by the ending of the book.

Overall:

I really enjoyed Wanderlove. It was a fun and cute book about a young adult coming of age in a way. Bria was a strong, well developed, relatable main character that I’m sure everyone will love. Watching Bria grow as a character and also her relationship with Rowan was the shining part of the book. If you are a fan of contemporary, this is definitely a book to check out!

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Netgalley

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Book Review: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth

Synopsis:

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief she’ll never have to tell them that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. 

But that relief soon turns to heartbreak, as Cam is forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and not making waves, and Cam becomes an expert at this—especially at avoiding any questions about her sexuality. 

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. To Cam’s surprise, she and Coley become best friends—while Cam secretly dreams of something more. Just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, her secret is exposed. Ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self—even if she’s not quite sure who that is.

Book Review:

I knew there was something special about The Miseducation of Cameron Post the second I read the very first sentence. From the very beginning, The Miseducation of Cameron Post was not afraid to tell the truth, however shortcoming or unpleasant the truth may be. 

There were a lot of topics and events in The Miseducation of Cameron Post that I’m sure would put a lot of homophobes and overly religious people into a frenzy, but frankly, that’s part of what makes this book so great. It didn’t care about offending people and it didn’t skim over controversial topics, homosexuality, illegal activities, teen sex, etc etc. The Miseducation of Cameron Post was a story with a purpose and it wasn’t going to let anything stop that story from being told.

Cameron Post has a voice that is completely one of a kind and is hard to forget. Her voice and story are the kind that will stick with you long after you flip the last page. There were paragraphs that took up entire pages, yet I found myself, almost mesmerized, following every single word. I loved the way the book read, like it was written straight from the heart.

There was really only one thing I didn’t like about this book: it’s really long. It’s roughly 480 pages, which is on the long side for a contemporary. It took me a lot of time to get through the book. Was the time worth it in the end? Definitely, but there were a few points throughout the book where I wondered why it needed to be so long. After finishing the book, I reflected upon that very questions and came up with an answer of my own. And my answer is: to really get to experience and understand the miseducation of the girl named Cameron Post, you must have the whole story, not just bits and pieces, you must step into the shoes of Cameron Post and walk around, and that’s exactly what The Miseducation of Cameron Post allows you to do.

Overall:

A must read for any fan of LGBT young adult novels. While it is a long read that will require some effort and patience, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. The story of Cameron Post is one of the amazing and unforgettable kind.

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: ARC

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Through the Ears of Marie Landry

Hey everyone, let’s give a warm welcome to Marie Landry, author of Blue Sky Days!

Thank you so much for having me here today, Ecey! I’m so excited to have the chance to talk about two of the things I love best—music and writing.

I’m almost as passionate about music as I am about writing. As an adult, I have very eclectic tastes in music and will listen to just about anything, but as a little girl, I was almost strictly a boy band lover. It all started in the late 80s with New Kids on the Block. Right now, you’re probably either scoffing or nodding your head. They were huge when I was little, and I loved them. I had all their tapes, videos, a ton of memorabilia, and of course my walls were plastered with their posters.

As I got older, I continued to love the boy bands—Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, N Sync, 98 Degrees, O-Town, you name it. Luckily, my tastes expanded, and I started listening to a wider variety of music. I have a friend who’s obsessed with indie music, especially Canadian indie music, and she got me into it and helped broaden my music horizons further.

I also loved movies that had a lot of music, especially Disney movies. The old Disney movies were practically musicals, and I miss that. Classics like Robin Hood, Pocahontas, and pretty much all the princess movies had tons of songs that I memorized immediately and would sing all the time. I also loved Labyrinth—David Bowie is an amazing singer who will always be known to me as the Goblin King.

For years, my favorite band has been U2. They’ve been the soundtrack of my life through the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are times I’m not sure I would have survived with my sanity intact if it wasn’t for their music. Because of that, I even thanked them in the acknowledgements of Blue Sky Days. I know that may sound strange, but there have been times when they’ve been there for me when almost nobody else was.

They’ve inspired me in countless ways, and I drew inspiration from them while writing Blue Sky Days. They’re definitely not known for love songs, at least not in the traditional sense, but their music seemed so fitting for many of the situations in the book—songs like “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” when Emma feels lost and unsure; “All I Want is You” when Emma and Nicholas fall in love; “Miracle Drug” when Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer and literally needs a miracle drug to save his life.

U2 is the band I listen to most, but I do have a wide range of CDs and music on my computer. I go on kicks where I’ll pull out old CDs and listen to them over and over. A few weeks ago, it was Savage Garden. Right now, and for the past few days, it’s been Our Lady Peace. I also love The Corrs, The Killers, Muse, Robbie Williams, Coldplay, Bon Jovi, Pilot Speed, Arcade Fire, Angels and Airwaves, David Bowie, Maroon 5, and I do love some good ol’ booty-shakin’ music like Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Lopez, Kesha, and LMFAO, just to name a few.

Oh, and confession time: I still listen to New Kids on the Block. It took me almost 18 years, but I finally saw them in concert when they got back together and did their reunion tour, and it was one of the best nights of my life. Talk about a blast from the past. And the best part: we were in the 2nd row, almost close enough to touch.

If you want to check out the playlist for Blue Sky Days, you can find it in two places—my author blog, and Squidoo. Be sure to keep an eye on my blog in the coming months, because I’ll be holding a soundtrack contest with prizes!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Marie!

If you’re interested in more about Marie’s book, Blue Sky Days, check out the blog tour here and my review here.

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Book Review: Blue Sky Days

Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry

Synopsis:

A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn’t have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn’t know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn’t helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it’s time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she’s stepped back in time. 

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he’s unlike anyone she’s ever met before, the kind of man she didn’t even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don’t always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you’re meant to be.

Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it’s time for her to help Nicholas the way he’s helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.”

Review:

I was kind of taken by surprise by this quiet yet powerful debut. There was just something about Blue Sky Days—it wasn’t fast-paced or action filled—but it had the real life, close to the heart charm that makes it hard to put down.

Part of the appeal of Blue Sky Days was the writing. All throughout the book, Emma’s thoughts and feelings felt real, like something straight out of someone’s heart. Emma’s voice and also her character development were some of my favorite parts of the book. Watching Emma change from quiet, hard worker to a more carefree and happy person was enjoyable and slightly inspirational.

I loved Emma’s relationship with her mother—or better yet, lack of relationship. If you’ve read the book, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right about now, but let me explain. As a person who knows what it’s like to have a mother that’s constantly disappointed and extremely frustrating, I can appreciate the relationship between Emma and her mother and the fact that it plays a big part in the story.

I also loved how the ending messed with my mind. I was so certain in my mind that the book was going to end one way and then it went it ended the completely opposite way.

There was only really one thing that bothered me about Blue Sky Days and that was how quickly Emma made new friends. It just seemed a little too fast to be realistic. But that one little detail didn’t take away much from my overall pleasure of reading the book.

Overall:

Blue Sky Days is a great book worth checking out if you’re a fan of contemporary coming of age stories or if you’re looking for a YA book involving cancer. The book touched on a lot of real life issues and feelings, such as the overbearing mother and the need to find yourself. Blue Sky Days might not necessarily appeal to younger teens, but instead will more likely appeal to older teens and younger adults.

Rating: 4/5 

Source: ebook from author

[Blue Sky Days on Amazon] [Blue Sky Days on Smashwords]

*Note: As part of the book tour, each person who buys a copy of Blue Sky Days between January 17th and February 14th and emails Marie Landry proof of purchase at irishstar_83(at)hotmail(dot)com will be entered in a giveaway to win a book of their choice up to $12 CAN from the Book Depository.

 


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Book Review: Chance to Dance for You

Chance to Dance for You by Gail Sobat

Synopsis:

Sometimes keeping a secret is harder than telling the truth.Ian lives in a suburb where everything’s the same. The houses are the same, the cars are the same, and their aspirations are the same. But Ian is different. Openly gay in his bigoted high school, Ian doesn?t exactly fit in. But he’s not worried - he’s been training in dance for a long time and soon he?ll be able to leave town and train to become a professional. Then he falls in love with Jess, the high school quarterback?”

Review:

As soon as I read the synopsis for Chance to Dance for You, I knew I had to read it. It sounded like something I would enjoy reading and I was right. I was hooked after reading just the first chapter.

The basic idea of Chance to Dance for You isn’t anything super unique, but that’s part of the appeal. Not every book has to be completely original to be a good book. Chance to Dance for You is told from the first person point of view of the openly gay, twelfth grader, Ian. All Ian wants to do with his life is become a professional dancer, something he has been training to do since he was young. Everything is going according to plan until the good-looking, high school quarter back, Jess comes into the picture. Jess has feelings for Ian, but is afraid to come out of the closet in fear of his highly homophobic father and possibly ruining his social status.

Chance to Dance for You offered some great insights into very common problems, such as racism and homophobia. Jess was the somewhat cliché, but very realistic closet case. The guy whose father wouldn’t be able to deal with having a gay son. It’s sad that situations like this do happen in real life, but it’s good that they get recognized in books.

The book also offered a lot of great messages you can take away after reading it. A big one was standing up for what you believe in and not letting other people’s ideals dictate your life. The closed-minded setting played a big part in relaying that message. Ian was that guy that always tried to stand up for what’s right, but also knew that sometimes nothing can be done about certain things. There were also a lot of quotable moments, such as this one, which is my favorite paragraph in the book.

I don’t really know a whole lot about dancing or ballet, but the dancing was a great addition to the book. It gave Ian a goal or a dream to work towards, something everyone should have in life. The whole having a dream thing definitely played a big part in the book towards the end.

Overall:

While at first glance, Chance to Dance for You might not be the most original story ever, it’s still a really good read. If you like young adult LGBT fiction, this book is definitely worth checking out. It had a lot of great messages and insights on every day problems.

Rating: 4/5

Source: Teen Book Scene

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