Title: Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
AuthorGeoff Herbach 

Pages: 320
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Series: N/A

Gabe is having a tough week. Normally the funny kid at the lunch table, he's on edge from trying to kick his soda addiction and ditch his long-standing nickname, "Chunk." So when news breaks that his beloved marching band camp has been cancelled due to lack of funding, he's furious. What makes him even madder? The school's vending machine money—which had previous been collected by the band—is now sponsoring the new cheer squad.

The war is ON. And Gabe is leading the charge. No one will be safe from the Geekers' odd brand of wrath: not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly not the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends. Like the saying goes, it isn't over until the fat boy sings...
Everyone has favorite books.

Bit of a trite statement? Let's amend it then to say-

Everyone had favorite books that won't win the Nobel Prize for Literature but manage to be just as funny/cute/stirring as ever. This is one of those books. It's not overly deep or insightful but it certainly is a fun and clever read. You' ex got the stereotypical battle of high school- the (band) nerds vs. the popular (cheerleaders) with a few memorable characters thrown in for good measure including a rather blunt grandfather running around in speedos, a cleaning lady who can't clean, and a goth-dancer-doughnut shop worker. Not to mention Gabe- the funny fat boy who is anything but average.

It's refreshing, for once, to have a male narrator in a genre so dominated by heroines. It's even better to see one flawed and imperfect, yet working toward making himself a better (healthier) person. You cheer for Gabe. No matter what stupid or silly or outrageous thing he is doing, you want him to win. Everyone loves an underdog, and everyone definitely loves people who can be this personable.

Considering the style of this book, making Gabe as lovable as possible was a must. The entire thing is testimony during a police interview, pretty much a one sided interview. It takes some getting used to, especially as you don't get any action or body language or narration  (nothing is shown, everything has to be told) but you do get some memorable lines from Gabe like, "There were sheep in the school this morning? Really?"

The book probably could have used another 100 pages considering, even at 320 pages, it's a quick read and some plot points seemed rushed. Despite that, it's wonderfully funny and a great afternoon escape for anyone who has ever felt like he or she doesn't quite fit in. This would be perfect for a vacation novel to keep you smiling even after you close the final page.

This book is a ARC given to me by Sourcebooks Fire! While I love getting free books and am eternally grateful to the author and the publisher, all above opinions are mine and mine alone. 

Title: Undone 
AuthorCat Clarke 
Pages: 384
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Series: N/A

Jem Halliday is in love with her best friend. It doesn't matter that Kai is gay, or that he'll never look at her the way she looks at him. Jem is okay with that. But when Kai is outed online by one of their classmates, he does the unthinkable and commits suicide.

Jem is left to pick up the pieces of her broken life. Before he died, Kai left her twelve letters—one for each month of the year—and those letters are all Jem has left. That, and revenge.

Although Kai's letters beg her not to investigate what happened, Jem can't let it go. She needs to know who did this, and she'll stop at nothing to find the person responsible for Kai's death. One way or another, someone is going down. Someone is going to pay.

Some books are frustrating. Not  saying that's necessarily a good or bad thing, because it can be both. Some books want to make you tear your hair out because you just need to know how it ends and some make you want to do the exact same thing because you just can't wait for it to end. Curiously enough, this book had both aspects.
 Maybe the truth about the frustrating-ness of this book was how often it managed to do things both correctly and incorrectly at the same time.

Take the beginning of the book

It was a good start. And the middle was good too. But the ending? Well, the ending left a lot to be desired, She would have written it differently if she had a say in the matter, 
Every good story deserves a happy ending- it's a basic rule of storytelling, 
The boy next door certainly shouldn't die. 
Everyone knows that stereotype about the boy next door. And to see it turned on its head like that was wonderful. Even other stereotypes like the flamboyantly gay hairdresser can be played of as amusing. All the judgement against the popular kids just because they were popular? Or the comments about their sexual lives that were incredibly judgmental? It got really old, really quickly. 

It's odd, considering the author does a really excellent job later in the novel of making them into three-dimensional characters. You can forgive Jem, or at least I could, for her initial rude comments. But the fact that she's trying to take them down from the inside? It loses its appeal the more you begin to like the 'in-crowd.' They gain your sympathy as you begin to doubt they ever did anything wrong. WHich means you really can't approve of Jem, or her mission. 

Maybe if I had been convinced these people were evil, or maybe if the emotional resonance between Jem and Kai had been built up more in the beginning (his early letters are almost flippant and trite) I would have connected with the book more. It's not a bad read, not after you get through the first half, especially, but it felt as if my loyalties were in the wrong place. 


This book is a ARC given to me by Sourcebooks Fire! While I love getting free books and am eternally grateful to the author and the publisher, all above opinions are mine and mine alone. 

So one of the coolest things about reading Dear Nobody (my review here) was how spectacularly real it felt. That seems really corny and trite to say considering of course it was real, but this level of honesty isn't something you normally find in a bookstore aisle. Just to add to this realism, I get to show you guys some of the actual scans from her diary! More can be found here, but these are a pretty awesome sampling.   

The book is out now! Go and check it out. 

Until my next post... 

Peace, love, and lengthy novels

Title: Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
Edited ByGillian McCain and Legs McNeil

Pages: 336
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: April 1, 2013

They say that high school is supposed to be the best time of your life. But what if that's just not true?

More than anything, Mary Rose wants to fit in. To be loved. And she'll do whatever it takes to make that happen. Even if it costs her her life.

Told through the raw and unflinching diary entries of a real teen, Mary Rose struggles with addiction, bullying, and a deadly secret. Her compelling story will inspire readers—and remind them that they are not alone.
Most of the time, the book jackets I read are bland at best and misleading at worst. You learn things about the plot that don't actually matter at all. Or only feature in the plot for about two pages or whatever. I've taken to reading the Library of Congress summary on the copyright page just so I can somehow figure out what the heck is actually going on. This one however.... Raw doesn't even begin to cover it.

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this novel. It's not some polished plot or even straight shot of a plot. Mary Rose jumps from one topic to the next, leaving almost all of them unsolved in her wake. It's haw life works and the book defiantly has a very real feel. You see directly into the mind of Mary Rose. That being said, though, I really couldn't relate to her very well. You obviously aren't trying to win any sympathy from anyone in your private journals, so I never really sympathized with most of the things she was doing. With every bad decision, I was shaking my head, not sympathizing with her.

Speaking of bad decisions.... This really needs a warning label on it for younger readers. Think sex, drugs, and rock and roll except not so much of the third and a heck of a lot of the first two. Very realistic and not toned down at all. It that isn't something you want to be central to a story... you have been warned.

This book won't ever rank as one of my favorites, but I can't deny that it has a draw to it. To get in the head of an actual person, not just a character that has been given life by an author is something else. For people who are fans of both a gritty, raw story and want to see the inner workings of a person who might struggle with similar problems, check this book out. If, like me, you'd rather see tight plotting ajnd characterization... You might want to look somewhere else
The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer 
Release Date: May 12, 2014

Gone Girl meets Six Feet Under in bestselling author Sarah Strohmeyer's romantic YA mystery about a girl who must unravel a web of lies in her small town before it's too late.

Descended from a long line of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. So after senior-class president Erin Donohue—perfect saint to the community—turns up dead, Lily believes it's her job to find the culprit. But Lily has feelings for Erin's ex-boyfriend, Matt, which makes both of them suspects and makes Lily's investigation . . . complicated. As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, between genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Release Date: June 17, 2014

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

#Scandal by Sarah Ockler
Release Date: June 17, 2014

Lucy's learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart's all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don't feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole's date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she'd rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she's been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it's everything Lucy has ever dreamed of... and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole's lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they'll have to 'fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy's own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students' party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy's been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. 

Lucy's been battling undead masses online long enough to know there's only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend's trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There's just one snag--Cole. Turns out Lucy's not the only one who's been harboring unrequited love...

: Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein 
AuthorStephanie Hemphill

Pages: 320
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Release Date: October 1, 2013

Series: N/A

An all-consuming love affair.

A family torn apart by scandal.

A young author on the brink of greatness.

Hideous Love is the fascinating story of Gothic novelist Mary Shelley, who as a teen girl fled her restrictive home only to find herself in the shadow of a brilliant but moody boyfriend, famed poet Percy Shelley. It is the story of the mastermind behind one of the most iconic figures in all of literature: a monster constructed out of dead bodies and brought to life by the tragic Dr. Frankenstein.

Mary wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen, but inspiration for the monster came from her life-the atmospheric European settings she visited, the dramas swirling around her, and the stimulating philosophical discussions with the greatest minds of the period, like her close friend, Lord Byron.

This luminous verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill reveals how Mary Shelley became one of the most celebrated authors in history.
 I do promise that the blog is not just becoming an excuse for me to read verse novels. Thursday will bring a perfectly regular prose review. But until then.....

Hideous Love is the story of one girl: Mary Shelley. You probably know her as the author of Frankenstein and rightly so, but she had a lot of other works as well, including some that were lost in her journeys. The novel acts as a pretender for some of the writings she could have lost in her early years. Through it, we learn about everything from her jealous relationship, to her depression after the death of her children, to the budding, blossoming beauty that was her mind. Through it all, Mary maintains this tie to the reader, reminding us of just how intoxicating it is to fall in love for the first time, and just how dangerous.

The period-building in this novel is incredible. Whether we're running into famous poets or the mistresses of famous poets (why there were all of these mistresses in this era is beyond me)(seriously. Its like everyone in the book had a couple of mistresses and then hooked up with their sisters). The only problem with that is I think the book would have been a lot more fulfilling if I actually had more background in the area. Maybe read some stuff by these poets or known more about their biographies, etc (though we can chalk that up that up to either a failure by me or by my English teacher). It's not completely necessary, but maybe at least reading the Wikipedia article would have been nice for some backup.

As is always the problem with verse novels, some of the depth suffered, There were so many issues and dilemmas Mary brought up that never seemed to be fully addressed. Sometimes it was debt or another women or whatever. I probably would have enjoyed this novel a lot better if it hadn't been poetry (the poetry wasn't overly good or bad.. It just seemed to be there.)

Overall, it was a good novel that gives you a jumping off point for more study into this time period. Mary is one of those characters who seems to haunt you, both in her story and in her talents. It seems unfinished in some ways, history often is, which can either endlessly infuriating or wonderfully intriguing. Maybe giving you both means this book won't soon leave your head. 4/5

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