Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
From Goodreads:
Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine’s Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

Why am I waiting on this book? Well, have you read the summary?! It sounds awesome! I'm eagerly anticipating the release of Dear Killer!

What are you waiting on this week? Leave links to your WoW posts below so I can check them out!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mini-Rambles: Contemporaries (Rachel)

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
From Goodreads:
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. 

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

Boy Meets Boy is short, just under 200 pages, and it's a relatively light read. It's a fun and sweet romance between two boys, and it has all the simple beauty I've come to expect from a David Levithan book. I read this book in just a few sittings because the story just flies by. Boy Meets Boy is especially interesting when compared to Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan's most recent book. (You can read my Two Boys Kissing ramble here.) The two books explore the differences between a gay couple in 2003 and several gay couples in 2013. I read Boy Meets Boy right before I read Two Boys Kissing, and I really liked getting to experience both stories back-to-back.

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
From Goodreads:
As children, Jennifer Harris and Cameron Quick were both social outcasts. They were also one another's only friend. So when Cameron disappears without warning, Jennifer thinks she's lost the only person who will ever understand her. Now in high school, Jennifer has been transformed. Known as Jenna, she's popular, happy, and dating, everything "Jennifer" couldn't be---but she still can't shake the memory of her long-lost friend. 

When Cameron suddenly reappears, they are both confronted with memories of their shared past and the drastically different paths their lives have taken.

From the National Book Award nominated author of Story of a Girl, Sweetheartsis a story about the power of memory, the bond of friendship, and the quiet resilience of our childhood hearts.

I adore this book. It's a short and sweet (sweet! get it? sweethearts?! ...never mind) book about a powerful friendship. I love the way this story is told through a mixture of flashbacks of the main character's childhood as she reflects on her time spent with her old best friend, and scenes that take place during the present, when she's in high school and her childhood best friend comes into her life again. My heart ached for the characters in Sweethearts, and I was touched by their story. I guess I would say that this is a quiet and simple book. It's not the most amazing or unique or thought-provoking book, but it has a subtle beauty to it that made me fall in love with it. I highly recommend Sweethearts, and anything by Sara Zarr, for that matter.

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
From Goodreads:
For as long as she can remember, Wren Gray’s goal has been to please her parents. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization: Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn’t even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, is painfully aware of his heart’s desire. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie—at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren and Charlie’s souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

Sexy, romantic, and oh-so-true to life, this is an unforgettable look at first love from one of young adult fiction’s greatest writers.

I didn't like this book at all. I had really high expectations for it, which I based on the author (I loved Lauren Myracle's Shine), the intriguing summary, and the GORGEOUS cover. This book seemed like something I would love. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I found this book almost painful to read at times. It featured poorly written insta-love and frustrating characters whose actions rarely seemed logical or realistic. This book was not for me, and I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone. It hurts to say such negative things about The Infinite Moment of Us, because I honestly expected to love it, but this book really disappointed me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rachel Rambles About The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
From Goodreads:
Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano -- on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside the exclusive world of privileged San Francisco families, top junior music competitions, and intense mentorships. The Lucy Variations is a story of one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. It's about finding joy again, even when things don't go according to plan. Because life isn't a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.

Ahhh, Sara Zarr. What a wonderful author. I adore her writing style, and I enjoyed losing myself in another one of her stories with The Lucy Variations. Her writing is so easy to get caught up in, and it's impossible (for me, at least) to not fall in love with her characters and stories.

Lucy is a complicated character. In some moments, I loved her and found myself able to relate to her really well, but in other moments, I was extremely frustrated by her and had trouble understanding her actions. I may not have always liked her, but I was able to appreciate how human and realistic of a character she is. It's natural to both agree and disagree with people, depending on the situation, so my feelings about Lucy felt very natural. Overall, I appreciated Lucy's character and enjoyed reading about her.

The majority of this book focuses on Lucy and her family. Lucy is a talented piano player who used to play piano professionally and in competitions. Her grandfather and mother put a lot of pressure on her to succeed, and she eventually decided to stop playing piano, which makes her feel as if she is disappointing her family. Her father is the character who doesn't quite belong in the family. He does not play piano, nor has he ever played piano, and he is not the one putting pressure on Lucy. He's also not the one calling any of the shots in the family, which makes him likable but somewhat bland and unimportant to the story as a whole. Gus, Lucy's little brother, is following in Lucy's footsteps as a ten-year-old, extremely talented piano player performing in competitions. The family dynamic in this book is fascinating and complicated and slightly dysfunctional, which results in a great family story.

The other important relationship in The Lucy Variations is between Lucy and her brother's new piano teacher, Will. He is quite a bit older than Lucy, and their relationship is...interesting. I won't say anything more, for fear of spoilers, but I found their relationship to be messy and blurry and brilliantly written. I was impressed with Sara Zarr's ability to portray this complicated relationship in such a positive and straightforward way. There was the potential for Lucy and Will's relationship to become uncomfortable, had the story been told in any other way, but Sara Zarr was able to handle the topic with elegance.

To me, The Lucy Variations is about a family, with some other things thrown in for good measure. I love reading stories that focus on families because I feel like there aren't enough out there, so The Lucy Variations was perfect for me. This book also explores the importance of music and creativity and separating your passion from your work. It made me want to play piano and lose myself in the music, despite the fact that my piano-playing abilities are extremely limited. Lucy's passion for music and piano bled through the pages and into my heart, and I was touched by the simple beauty of this book.