Book Reviews

Being Sloane Jacobs: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren MorrillSloane Emily Jacobs isn’t sure about her supposed comeback to competitive figure skating. If she can’t start landing her jumps and getting triples again her comeback might end up very short-lived. At least the frustrations and pressure of figure skating can give her a chance to get away from her family and pretend she doesn’t know the truth about her father’s indiscretions or the depths of her mother’s oblivion.

Ice hockey is a bright spot in Sloane Devon Jacobs’ otherwise dim life. Her mother is gone, her dad is busy, and Sloane might be a little angrier than she should be. Possibly all the time. With hockey as her one and only ticket to a different life, Sloane is in for a big problem when she is suspended from the team right when scouts might finally start paying attention.

One chance meeting for these unlikely named girls changes everything when they swap places for a summer at skating camp. In their efforts to avoid real life both Sloanes find more than they bargained for and possibly exactly what they needed to know in Being Sloane Jacobs (2014) by Lauren Morrill.

Being Sloane Jacobs alternate between Sloane Emily and Sloane Devon’s first person narrations with handy headings labeled for each character. The headings are especially handy as, without benefit of external details like Sloane Emily’s rich family or Sloane Devon’s hard knock hockey persona, the two heroines have a habit of blending together.

The story is perfectly fun and easy to read so long as you can go along with the premise of these girls swapping lives. Being Sloane Jacobs has a vibe very similar to The Parent Trap with rich Sloane Emily and poor Sloane Devon swapping lives but in a cute, non-irritating way that mostly works. It was difficult to understand why–in a world of need-based aid, state schools, loans and merit scholarships–Sloane Devon would have no other option to get to college but for an athletic hockey scholarship although it is also an area outside of my expertise.

Morrill’s writing is snappy and moves the plot along (although jarring slang that seemed dated in comparison to the modern story did often turn up) and–when the Sloanes converge–creates a seamless plot with clever moments of overlap as the two girls assess each other. The story here is a fun blend of serendipity, athletics and romance that is ideal for readers who want a dose of sports in their books. Being Sloane Jacobs is definitely a lighter read that will leave readers smiling.

Possible Pairings: Tumbling by Caela Carter, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen, Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Drawing the Ocean by Carolyn MacCullough, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, Pivot Point by Kasie West, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Book Reviews

Truth or Dare: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Truth or Dare by Jacqueline GreenWhen Tenley returns to Echo Bay after four years away, she is eager (maybe even a little desperate) to reclaim her place at the top of the social ladder. It’s time for her to reconnect with her best friend Caitlin and throw a legendary party to let everyone else in town that Tenley is back and she is still a perfect Ten.

Caitlin is excited to bring Tenley back into the fold of popular kids in Echo Bay. She also knows that Tenley’s party is the perfect way to relax and stop thinking about the tortured memories from her kidnapping years ago or worrying about how to uphold her reputation as an angel. With so much pressure, it’s only a matter of time before something has to give.

Sydney doesn’t have much use for Tenley or Caitlin. Sure, she remembers that the two of them were known for legendary games of Truth or Dare. Big deal. Sydney has enough going on with her summer job and her photography.

Tenley knows her party will be memorable when she starts a wild game of truth or dare. But what none of the girls realize is that they are about to be recruited for a game of Truth or Dare where the stakes are much, much higher and making the wrong choice could be lethal in Truth or Dare (2013) by Jacqueline Green.

Truth or Dare is a campy read that will appeal to fans of Pretty Little Liars (the television show or the series). Before reading this book it is worth mentioning that Truth or Dare is the first in the series and is as short on closure as you might expect.

Green shifts focus between the three girls Sydney, Caitlin and Tenley. All of the girls have the potential to be interesting heroines but all of them are also mired in deeply problematic storylines.*

With a lot of misdirects and decoys, Truth or Dare will definitely keep readers guessing as they try to piece together who is behind the escalating dares. A picturesque setting and a sprawling cast of characters add to the story’s atmosphere.

Truth or Dare is a great escapist read. If, however, you think too hard about any aspects of the plot the entire premise falls apart under the scrutiny.

*SLIGHT SPOILERS: I was really uncomfortable with Caitlin’s nickname being “angel.” Aside from being vaguely ludicrous I intensely disliked the idea that it made her untouchable and “pure”–the whole device left a bad taste in my mouth. Nicknames in general were strange. I don’t know if it’s just me but I never had a nickname as a teen and all of the ones in this book were ridiculous. (Perfect Ten? Angel? Blue? Guinness–because I refuse to believe someone actually named their only son GUINNESS.)

Speaking of Guinness: How old is he? I know this was an edgy book and the girls were older teens. But, really. Guinness is even called a grown man and he is chasing after not one but two teenaged girls. Forget a love triangle. That’s just gross.

Then of course we have Tenley and her cosmetic surgery. I disliked how unbalanced the whole issue was (I know it wasn’t the focus of the story but I would have appreciated a little more nuance) and also, given the fact that I doubt Tenley was 18 I’m not even sure that plot thread would have been possible in the real world.

Possible Pairings: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian, Clarity by Kim Harrington, Swoon by Nina Malkin, Fury by Elizabeth Miles, This is W. A. R. by Lisa Roecker and Laura Roecker, Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard, Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Zeigesar

*This book was acquired for review from Paper Lantern Lit*

Chit Chat

A Truth and a Dare for the Truth or Dare Blog Tour

Greetings, dear readers!

I am one of the July 23 stop for the Truth or Dare Blog Tour that Paper Lantern Lit has put together to celebrate Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green.

As part of the blog tour all of the participating bloggers have to complete one truth and one dare. (I have heard rumors of one blogger needing to write a love letter so I think I came off pretty easy!) We even have a creepy conscientious anonymous twitter account to make sure we stay on track (and give other–more annoying challenging dares on Twitter).

My DARE is to: rename Truth or Dare as if it were a Pretty Little Liars book.*

But I am tricky! So I am renaming it as if it were the first book which means I can use more than one word.

Obviously the original title is best but I’d re-title this book as . . .

*drumroll*

. . . Dirty Little Secrets

You’ll have to take my word for it if you haven’t read the book yet, but trust me, there are a lot of dirty secrets and ugly reveals in this book!

My TRUTH is: What is your biggest book sin dirty little book secret?

Here it is: Sometimes I read books backwards.

In some cases that means I skim to the end and read the last page or so. I can’t tell you how many times I have done that only to completely ruin a book for myself. It’s an illness, to be sure. Generally when I jump to the last page it’s because I’m so invested in a book that I MUST know what happens right away.

In other cases, when I am not enjoying a book, I will jump ahead to the last chapter and read that. If the chapter makes sense, I’m done. Onto the next book. If it doesn’t I’ll read the penultimate chapter and so on until everything does make sense and I have a clear picture of the plot and of how things wrap up in the story.

Here is the tour schedule so now that you’re done here be sure to check out the other stops!

July 18th: Fiction Freak
July 19th: The Reading Lark
July 20th: Queen Ella Bee Reads
July 21st: —
July 22nd: The Starry-Eyed Revue
July 23rd: The Compulsive Reader + Miss Print
July 24th: Chick Loves Lit + Tiger Lily Rachel
July 25th: Boekie’s Book Reviews + Read My Breath Away
July 26th: Anna Reads

You can also head over to Paper Lantern Lit’s blog to enter to win a signed copy of Truth or Dare if you’re into that sort of thing.

Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green

*This is funny because I keep typing Pretty Little Liars when I want to type Paper Lantern Lit!

Chit Chat

In which I become a Preferred Blogger (by Paper Lantern Lit anyway)

A cool thing happened and I am finally able to sit down and share it with you, dear readers.

I am officially a part of Paper Lantern Lit’s Preferred Blogger Program.*

I even have the button to prove it**

Paper Lantern Lit Preferred

For those of you who have no idea what that means, Paper Lantern Lit basically is a company that finds new authors, creates story ideas, and mixes it all together to make new books. Lauren Oliver is one of the co-founders and if you check out the PLL bookshop page you’ll probably find a few books there that you had no idea were connected to PLL.

(You should also consider checking out the Paper Lantern Lit blog  because they have cool things like a “Historical Hotties” tournament that is going on right now. You can go and make sure to vote for Will Herondale. Or other characters I guess. If you have to.)

What does this mean for me? Basically I get a shiny button and will receive materials for review from PLL on occasion.*** And I get to call myself a preferred blogger. Because, really, why not?

In terms of the blog nothing is going to change. As I said, Paper Lantern Lit is behind quite a few books–many of which were already on my reading radar.

Then, because I like lists here are some PLL books I’ve already read

  1. The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
  2. Fury by Elizabeth Miles

(I also have Venom by Fiona Paul on deck at home from BEA 2012)

And, of course, here are some PLL books I haven’t read and am excited to investigate:

  1. Notes From a Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
  2. Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green
  3. Popular Clone by M. E. Castle
  4. Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (This one isn’t out yet but I am OBSESSED with the premise–it’s one of my all-time favorite tropes. Morrill’s first book Meant to Be is already out if you’re excited about the author and want to reader something by her right away. I still need to get to it but it looks really cute.)

Anyway, I’m really excited and happy I finally had time to share my piece of fun blogger news!

*In the spirit of full disclosure you can also read the “application” post from the PLL blog asking for bloggers to apply too. (I just like linking to stuff, it’s who I am.)

**You might have noticed that PLL is an abbreviation favored by both Paper Lantern Lit and Pretty Little Liars. So sometimes when I see my shiny new button I just want to pretend I’m going to spend all of my time blogging about A or whatever.

***I always indicate if review copies are received from authors, publishers or BEA (as opposed to my standard library/Amazon Vine sources) so now there will also be reviews citing Paper Lantern Lit as the provider.

Book Reviews

Fury: A Review

Fury by Elizabeth MilesWinters in Ascension, Maine are supposed to be peaceful–surrounded by pristine snow banks and pretty Maine landscapes.

This winter break is different as soon as news spreads about Sasha Bowlder trying to kill herself.

No one else seems to notice, but Emily Winters and Chase Singer can feel it in the air.

Too bad Em was so busy obsessing over her best friend Gabby’s boyfriend and that whole week they’d have together when Gabby was away. Too bad Chase was too busy making sure the perfect, preppy mask he wears around his friends stayed in place.

If either of them had been paying attention, they might have noticed the three strange girls sooner. They might have wondered about the timing of their arrival. If Em or Chase had been paying attention, maybe they would have seen the signs before it was too late for anything but apologies.

Too bad they didn’t because someone needs to pay and, sometimes, sorry isn’t anywhere near enough in Fury (2011) by Elizabeth Miles.

Fury is Miles’ first novel. It is also the first book in a trilogy.

Fury is an interesting blend of suspense, fantasy, and almost a bit of a morality play in that much of the story is necessarily spent looking at what right and wrong. Miles also tackles the grey areas between the moral right and wrong in a clever and realistic way.

Although a bit slow to start as Miles introduces a wide cast of characters, the story picks up after the first quarter as the tension and suspense build. The story alternates between chapters following Em and Chase on their misadventures during winter break (and the latter consequences).

In a book about right and wrong and doling out justice, Miles takes a risk with not one but two characters who are not always sympathetic. Chase is a bit of a jerk and maybe even worse. Em is painfully misguided about a lot of things to the point of being clueless.

Being so flawed it does take a while to connect with the characters enough to care about their stories and the consequences of their actions. However, as the story gains momentum it really is easy to become invested in the characters and the strange events plaguing the town of Ascension.

Miles’ writing is haunting and eerie, making Fury an ideal book for fans of horror and suspense.

Possible Pairings: White Cat by Holly Black, Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green, Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins, Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff