Tag: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Review: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Posted March 3, 2015 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Rowena’s review of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger.

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

I read this book right before the movie came out in theaters because, well, that’s just something that I like to do. I finished the book and thought it was pretty good. The difference between the movie and the book was that the movie focused more on the label DUFF than I thought the book did. The book, to me, was more of a contemporary YA romance between Wes Rush and Bianca Piper and that’s fine. I enjoyed their romance.

So this book follows Bianca Piper as she tries to deal with problems at home. Mainly, her Mom being away for a long time and her Dad struggling with trying to stay sober when the love of his life (her Mom) wants a divorce. Bianca isn’t equipped to deal with her Dad’s alcohol issues and what she feels at first as her Mom’s abandonment so to escape her problems, she jumps into a f*ck buddy relationship with the school man-slut, Wesley Rush. The guy that called her, The DUFF.

I call it a f*ck buddy relationship and not a friends with benefits relationship because Bianca HATES Wes. She hates that he’s a man-whore and she hates pretty much everything about him but when she kisses him and then continues to kiss him and then sex him, it allows her to escape everything that waits for her at home. So she does him every chance that she can and in between all of the sex (there’s a lot of sex in this contemporary YA book), they get to know each other and as much as Bianca wants to fight it, she develops feelings for Wesley and that screws her all up because her real crush, the guy that she absolutely loves? Toby Tucker? Yeah, he starts showing interest in her.

For a DUFF, she sure did get a lot of action in this book. Ha.

This book was well written and it was mature (what with all of the casual sex being had throughout the book) but still a lot of fun. Bianca was a great main character with a very likable voice (even when she was getting on my nerves) and I thought that Wes was a total dick but he completely grew on me as the story wore on. It was a quick read and it was a lot of fun too. I liked it but if you watched the movie and want to read the book, don’t expect the same story because you aren’t going to get it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Poppy. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.

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Review: Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Posted December 1, 2014 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

torn away
Rowena’s review of Torn Away by Jennifer Brown.

Jersey Cameron has always loved a good storm. Watching the clouds roll in and the wind pick up. Smelling the electricity in the air. Dancing barefoot in the rain. She lives in the Midwest, after all, where the weather is sure to keep you guessing. Jersey knows what to do when the tornado sirens sound. But she never could have prepared for this.

When her town is devastated by a tornado, Jersey loses everything. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with relatives she hardly knows-family who might as well be strangers. In an unfamiliar place, can Jersey discover that even on the darkest of days, there are some things no tornado can destroy?

In this powerful and poignant novel, acclaimed author Jennifer Brown delivers a story of love, loss, hope, and survival.

This book made my heart hurt.

Jersey Cameron is a young girl who’s life was ripped away from her when a tornado came through her town and wiped pretty much everything out…including her family. When she’s sent to live with a father she never knew, things just keep getting worst and worst. Living with her father, she can see why her mother wasn’t much of a fan of his. He’s a terrible father, a terrible person even and each day that she spends living with him and his family guts Jersey more and more. When she’s thrown out of that house and moves in with her mother’s parents, she goes through even more emotional turmoil as the story goes on.

I can’t imagine living through a tornado and seeing the devastation that Jersey saw at such a young age. Living through what she survived is bad enough (with her house being blown to bits and all) but then to become an orphan at the same time? Yeah, I get that technically she wasn’t an orphan but her father was never in the picture. Her mother kept him out of picture and for good reason. He was no good for Jersey and I was so sorry that she had to live with him to find that out.

I was beyond furious with her step-father for being too much of a coward to keep Jersey. I was so angry that he was so full of his own grief for his wife and daughter that he didn’t hold the one person left on the earth that his wife treasured and protect her from life, the way that she couldn’t.

Now, as much as my heart went out to Jersey there were times when I became frustrated with her character. She was lonely and she was grieving, I understood all of that but what I didn’t understand was the way that she treated her grandparents when she first got to their house. The way she treated her grandmother, in particular. They were all she had left of her mother and she was all they had left of their daughter. They were all grieving and Jersey’s initial reaction to going to live with them left me wanting to give her a good shaking to wake her up.

This book was a sad one. I connected with Jersey and what she went through. She had a lot of the same thoughts that I did when my Mom died. I cried a bit each time she wrote a new memory down to keep her sister with her at all times and when her stupid step sisters got into her stuff, I wanted to beat them faces in. I thought that Jersey came a long way throughout the course of this book and I thought that Brown did a good job of capturing Jersey’s grief on the page but my frustrations dampened my enjoyment (frustrations with Jersey’s character, with the adults in Jersey’s life) but still, I’m glad that I read this one.

Grade: 3 out of 5

This book is available from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Posted November 1, 2011 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Review: Twilight by Stephenie MeyerReviewer: Rowena
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #1
Also in this series: Eclipse, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, Breaking Dawn, Twilight, Twilight

Publication Date: February 26th 2009
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 464
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars

When 17 year old Isabella Swan moves to Forks, Washington to live with her father she expects that her new life will be as dull as the town.
But in spite of her awkward manner and low expectations, she finds that her new classmates are drawn to this pale, dark-haired new girl in town. But not, it seems, the Cullen family. These five adopted brothers and sisters obviously prefer their own company and will make no exception for Bella.
Bella is convinced that Edward Cullen in particular hates her, but she feels a strange attraction to him, although his hostility makes her feel almost physically ill. He seems determined to push her away - until, that is, he saves her life from an out of control car.
Bella will soon discover that there is a very good reason for Edward's coldness. He, and his family, are vampires - and he knows how dangerous it is for others to get too close.



Oh, Twilight.

I remember the first time I read this book. My friend Izzy had read and loved this book. She gushed and gushed over this book until I finally agreed to read it and after I read it, I was glad that she was my best friend because she introduced me to Edward Cullen. We were those old ladies that were drooling over a forever teenager. We liked Edward before he was cool.

That first time, I inhaled this book. I read it so fast that I had to read all of my favorite parts again because I was annoyed with myself for reading through this book so fast.

It’s been a few years since I’ve picked up this book and I wanted to see if it would hold up to my love for it so I read it again and while reading it again bring back a lot of welcome memories, the story itself and Edward didn’t hold up this time around. This time around, Edward was so much more creepy in a way he wasn’t before. Let’s be real, he stalked Bella. He watched her while she slept. He was protective in a way that wasn’t exactly healthy. In short, the dude was on the creepy side.

I have to wonder if the books didn’t as popular and the movies didn’t burst onto the scene, would I still love this book as much as I did?

I’m not sure.

While I’m on my rant about this book and what made Edward a little creepy monkey, let’s talk about Bella. Edward has been alive or undead I should say, for hundreds of years and in all that time- he’s never felt anything as strong as what he feels for Bella?

Seriously? What is so great about Bella that she would warrant such adoration from one of the hottest guys on the planet?

Can she karate chop you into next week? Can she sing like the angels above were shining golden sprinkle dust upon your head? Is she an amazing athlete that you can’t take your eyes off? No to all of that. She’s just your regular bumbling idiot of a teenage girl who mumbles and who has a case of the woe is me syndrome.

I will say that Stephenie Meyer has a way with weaving a story that makes you really sit up and take notice. While she’s waxing on strong about how in love both Edward and Bella are, you can’t help but fall in line and love with everything she writes. It’s only after you put the book down and really think about what you just read that you’re wondering what the hell is wrong with you that you would lust after a creepy stalker guy with bad taste in women. In the way of plots and everything, this story is pretty simple. Not a lot is going on in this story but that doesn’t stop you from eating up every word. That’s gotta count for something.

I don’t think I could do a re-read of New Moon and I know for damn sure that I won’t ever pick up Eclipse to re-read because reading it the first time nearly gave me a concussion from the book bouncing off the wall I threw it at and almost nailing me in the head.

I will say that while I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I did the first time I read it (even the second time), I can still see why it’s so popular among the twi-hards (Moms and daughters). The romance between Edward and Bella is what most women dream of. Someone to love them so intensely and so fiercely the way that Edward loved Bella. Everything that they went through in this book, everything that they felt was all laid out and it was easy to fall in love with but true love isn’t like that. Edward is a fictional character who is too perfect even when he’s being a bonehead.

The story revolves heavily around Edward and Bella and it was through this reading that I realized how two-dimensional everyone else is. You hear a lot about them and you get their story but their characters aren’t as well developed as Edward and Bella. I found myself wanting to know more about Bella’s Mom’s life in Arizona. I wanted more from the other Cullens, especially Carlisle (even though I hate the way he looks in the movies).

Overall, this story was good and it’s easy to see why the series is so loved around the world but for me, this time around, the book wasn’t perfect and still, I enjoyed it.

..and that’s your scoop!

4 out of 5

Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com


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Review: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr.

Posted October 13, 2011 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Main Character: Jill and Mandy
Love Interest: Ravi and Dylan?
Series: None
Author: Website|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends–everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted–to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy–or as difficult–as it seems.

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about the many roads that can lead us home.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked this book up but whatever it was, I was glad that I read this. It’s a story about two girls trying to find some middle ground in their lives. One is grieving over the loss of her father and the other is trying to deal with not knowing what her future holds for her. They’re both scared young girls just trying to figure out how to keep going when their lives take a drastic change.

This story head hops between the two main characters, Jill and Mandy.

Jill lost her father in a car accident almost a year ago and she hasn’t gotten over it. She was extremely close with her Dad and she feels his loss each and every day. Her friends don’t understand and her boyfriend wants to but Jill is so independent that she keeps everyone at bay. Even her mother. Knowing what Jill is going through, I thought I would be able to connect with her more and feel her pain but there were times when it was hard to watch her go at it with everyone. She can’t seem to connect with anyone until a guy from school shows up at her work and starts helping her thaw out. She thinks her Mom is taking some crazy pills because she’s adopting a girl’s baby and Jill thinks it’s too soon to be jumping into something like this after her Dad died but Jill’s Mom is adamant about going through with this, much to Jill’s chagrin.

Then there’s Mandy. Mandy ran away from home because she lived with her emotional abusive mother and her Mom’s boyfriend who wasn’t a nice guy. Mandy’s eighteen and pregnant. She decides to give up her baby for adoption instead of having an abortion and she finds the perfect mother in Robin MacSweeney. With a vague plan in mind, Mandy takes off from Omaha and moves to Denver, Colorado to have her baby. She’s running away from the life that hasn’t made her happy and she’s trying to find her way in life and I really enjoyed getting to know Mandy. She was raised so different from Jill and yet she was better behaved than Jill was throughout the entire book. It was easy to connect with Mandy because she feels so overwhelmed throughout the entire book and lots of bad things happened to her but she didn’t let any of that stuff turn her into a raging bitch, which I appreciated.

I couldn’t say the same for Jill. Jill grew up, not wanting for anything and yet she was so bitter about every thing. Her bitterness toward a girl who did her no harm and the hurtful things she would say to those that are showing her kindness made me want to smack the crap out of her. When she would say things like, “You don’t get to talk about him,” it was hard to sympathize with her. As much as I didn’t really want her to be with Dylan, I had to give it to him for being so patient with Jill. She didn’t make it easy for anyone to be with her and yet Dylan was the constant presence in her life outside of her Mom. The way she treated Mandy in the beginning made me want to kick her in the stomach but Mandy handled it so much better than I ever could.

And that’s what made me like Mandy all the more. You could just feel how lost she was and how much she needed someone in her corner and to see Robin trying to be that person made me happy. The whole story comes together so nicely and from the beginning to the end, the words just flowed so well together and I couldn’t stop reading. I really enjoyed this book and am curious about reading more of Zarr’s work. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of contemporary YA fiction because you’ll get a few hours of entertainment out of this book, I promise.

..and that’s your scoop!

Buy the book: B&N|Amazon|Book Depository
Book cover and blurb credit: http://barnesandnoble.com

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Guest Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Posted June 23, 2011 by Ames in Reviews | 3 Comments

Ames’ review of Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Before Liz Lemmon, before “Weekend Update,” before “Sarah Palin,” Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on
Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon-from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.
(Includes Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions on Breast-feeding, Princesses, Photoshop, the Electoral Process, and Italian Rum Cake!)

I have been a fan of Saturday Night Live since the 90s.  But my favorite seasons were with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph in the cast.  So it’s a no brainer for me to read Bossypants.

If you’re familiar at all with Tina Fey, you will be pleased to know that her humor transfers to the page.  Bossypants was a quick, funny read with some oddly touching moments.  She pens a love letter to Amy Poehler, her partner in wit.  She describes a scenario where Amy was telling a joke that someone else at SNL took exception too (it was raunchy and definitely not ladylike) and when someone told Amy that they didn’t like it, she promptly told them “I don’t give a f*** if you like it.”  Ballsy woman!  And this also highlights a theme throughout Bossypants.  Female comedians are treated differently (and not in a better way) than their male counterparts.  If a man was telling the same joke Amy was, you KNOW that the other male SNL staffer would not have made an issue of it.  But this theme isn’t bashed over the reader’s head while enjoying Bossypants.  In Tina’s sly writing, it’s just something that’s interwoven among her various stories.  But one has to laugh when male comedians were worried about more female comedians joining their improv troop because there wouldn’t be enough parts to go around.  In improv?  Ridiculous!

One touching (but still funny) chapter that I’m still thinking about is the chapter about her father.  He’s a rock-solid guy and you can tell he definitely had a lasting effect on his daughter.  She also, in a backhanded way, claims he’s partially responsible for raising an adult virgin.  LOL

And she also discusses the whole Sarah Palin thing.  I liked seeing what was going on behind the scenes there.

I’m not going to grade Bossypants because it’s comedy, either you like it or you don’t but it’s all in your own taste.  I really enjoyed Bossypants because I like Tina Fey’s sense of humor.  If you enjoy it too, there’s a good chance you just might enjoy reading this book as much as I did.

And I will leave you with a Tina Fey pearl of wisdom that I also follow:

12) The Most Important Rule of Beauty
If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important Rule of Beauty. “Who cares?”

This book is available from Little, Brown & Co. You can buy it here.

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