Friday, June 28, 2013

The Anatomy Series by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Boyfriend
Anatomy of a Single Girl
Daris Snadowsky
259 pages/ 227 pages
Released: January 9, 2007 and January 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte
Source: the author

You can read the Goodreads summaries here.

When Daria contacted me to read her novels, I'll admit, I hadn't really heard anything about them although the cover of the second book, Anatomy of a Single Girl, looked vaguely familiar; probably from seeing it around the blogosphere in January when the book was released.  However, once I read the descriptions of the books, I knew I was on board.  They're both young adult, bordering on new adult, a genre I've been trying to find more to read in.

Anatomy of a Boyfriend takes us into the life of Dominique (Dom) who is in her senior year of high school, prepping for college, and finding herself in a relationship for the first time ever.  This book had me laughing out loud at the first chapter, so I knew right away it was going to be a hit for me.  Talk about a coming of age novel, Dom has zero experience with boys until she starts dating Wes, but she has her best friend Amy on her side to enlighten her about all things sexual.

That's right, sex.  Both books were full of it, which is fine by me!  Particularly the first book, as Dom was exploring everything for the first time, seemed pretty realistic to me.  She really perfects everything in the second book, though, and that was fun to read about, too.  Look, let's not kid ourselves, everyone has sex, even high schoolers.  No one should be shocked by Dom's behavior, but if you're anti-sex, maybe you should avoid these novels.

I don't want to spoil anything for you, but if you read the title of the second book, you can pretty much figure out what happens to Dom.  Anatomy of a Single Girl was a completely different coming of age story for Dom (and let's face it, I think no matter how old you are, everyone is always still coming of age).  She's still experimenting with boys and their, uh, parts, but she's also learning more about herself.   The whole book is just adorbs.

Both books were extremely fun to read!  They're lightweight and quick, making them perfect for some beach reading this summer.  I highly recommend these for YA/NA fans who aren't afraid of a little sex in their reading.  As for me, I would hesitate to reading anything else Daria Snadowsky might write in the future.

PS:  Thanks so much to Daria for sending me these to review!  But I would like to point out that even though these were sent to me to review, the review is honest and the opinions are my own.  There was no compensation.  Kthnxbye.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Trick of the Light

 A Trick of the Light
Lois Metzger
208 pages
Released: June 18, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: the publisher

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Mike's life is changing rapidly.  His parents are fighting, the girl he likes at school will barely acknowledge him, and he's not as excited about baseball as he used to be.  Then there's a voice in his head, one that wants to help Mike be better at everything.  The voice encourages him to eat less and exercise more... in a very dramatic way.  The voice only wants what's best for Mike, but will Mike listen to it? 

A Trick of the Light gets major props from me because of the point of view it's told from.  It's not exactly third person and it's not exactly first person - instead we read about Mike through the voice in his head, the voice that's trying to keep him anorexic.  It encourages him to eat less and exercise more, to the point where Mike is barely alive.  This was totally unique to me, I'd never read a book from this point of view before and I absolutely loved it.  It completely added to Mike's story and took it to the next level.

I've read a few YA books about easting disorders but, unsurprisingly, they were all about girls.  A Trick of the Light is so special because it takes on a male character with an eating disorder.  Let's not fool ourself, it's definitely something that happens in real life, but has been overlooked for who know's what reason.  I can only hope that it's a topic that will continue to be broached by YA authors.

Mike's story was realistic to be cause it covered all aspects of his life.  Even though his voice and eating disorder were at the forefront of the novel and affected everything he did, we also learned about his parents' unhappy marriage, his mother's mental health and failing business, and of course, the girl Mike wants but can't get and a new friend he makes who is excited to teach him the ways of eating "right."

Four stars!  A Trick of the Light is a short read, but a fantastic one.  It's important to realize that it's not only girls who face these kinds of trials in life and Mike's story was both realistic and enthralling.  I highly recommend this one to contemporary fans.  Read it!

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's about to get real...

If you follow a decent number of blogs, you know what's about to happen... Google Reader is shutting down July 1st.  After this weekend, it's done.  Oh noes!  All those book blogs I follow!  How will I get through that thousand post backlog I have on my Google Reader?

Oh shiz...

Oh wait, there's a solution... Bloglovin!  When it became apparent this past spring that Google wasn't going to say, "Hey, just kidding!  You can keep Reader," I signd up for Bloglovin' because I'd seen it mentioned on several of the book blogs I follow.  After signing up I essentially forgot about it until recently, because, you know, the day of reckoning is almost here.  Uh, I mean, Google Reader will be dead by Monday.

But here's what I learned... I like Bloglovin' better than Google Reader!  I honestly do!  Here's why: in Google Reader, blog posts show up like basic text and to leave a comment or enter Rafflecopter giveaways, I would have to open the blog post in a new window.  But, in Bloglovin, I can view my feed in a separate window where in a Bloglovin toolbar graces the top of the window and the actual blog post is underneath.  Now I can see the whole blog page, not just the text, and I don't need to open new windows to enter Rafflecopters.  Yay!  Now I can look at all your pretty blog pages and not just read a block of black and white text.  Here's what it looks like with my most recent review pulled up:

Ouuu, ahhh!

Look, you can see how many posts you have left to read, can go through them one by one, and you can even post a page to Facebook, Twitter, or Pintrest.  Hello!  That's so convenient!

So, in lieu of Google Reader, I really think Bloglovin is the way to go.  Remember, you only have until Monday to get situated, so I suggest signing up and transferring your blog list before it's too late.  And while you're at it, be sure to add my blog to your Bloglovin list so you never miss another review or giveaway here at Panda Reads!

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PS:  I think I'm falling in love with Bloglovin, but... Google, I still don't forgive you for shutting down such a popular feature.  What's up with that?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Viral Nation

Viral Nation
Shaunta Grimes
315 pages
Releases: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Source: the publisher

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Sixteen years after a virus swept the nation killing most of the population, Clover, her brother, and her father still survive by taking daily injections that keep the virus from taking hold of their bodies.  Clover, who is autistic, is sixteen now and ready to continue her education.  But when she's told she cannot attend with her dog, Mango, she is instead sent to the Company where she's on the fast track to become a Time Mariner - a person who travels two year into the future on missions to gather news.  But one of Clover's missions throws her for a loop when she learns that her brother is in trouble, and now the most important thing is saving his life before it's taken away.

Clover's story struck me as unique right away, since she is autistic.  She was immediately an endearing and realistic character, and her helper dog Mango was fantastic as well.  I felt for her right away when she was denied entry into the Academy but I also admired her ability to throw herself into her new "job" and enjoy it.  Clover is probably one of the best characters in recent YA.  She alone is a reason to read Viral Nation.

Of course, what's going to keep you reading is the plot.  It's been a long time since I've read a YA novel with a plot that was so well crafted and with so many intricate layers.  That's a true testament to Shaunta Grimes' writing skills.  I loved the time traveling aspect of the novel, it really lent itself to an interesting plot and really made me think.

On the other hand, even though I loved Clover and I thought the plot was so well crafted, I did find that Viral Nation didn't hold my attention.  My mind was wandering, particularly around the halfway to three-quarters part.  Still, by the end of the novel I found myself excited to see how the story will continue in the next book in the series.

Three stars.  While Viral Nation was a well thought out novel, it failed to hold my complete attention.  However, if you're a hardcore dystopian fan I really recommend this one.  Viral Nation is the start of what appears to be a fantastic series.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Moon and More

The Moon and More
Sarah Dessen
435 pages
Released: June 4, 2103
Publisher: Viking Juvinille
Source: purchased

© Panda Reads

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I love Sarah Dessen's writing.  I could gush about it for hours (I'll spare you) so needless so say, I was out buying this book the day after it came out.  Above is a pic of how great that day was - my signed copy and a SBUX Frappucino.  Good day, good day.  Now bear with me as I try to organize my thoughts about this one because finished reading it a week ago while I was on vacation and have since finished two other novels.  This is why I need to write reviews right away.

Emaline has lived in Colby all her life and this is her last summer there before college.  Her plans include working at her family's beach resort and hanging out with her longtime boyfriend, Luke.  But when a handsome young man moves into one of the beach houses to film a documentary, and when Emaline's biological father shows up in town with her half-brother, Emaline's life is turned upside down as she starts questioning everything she's ever known up to this point.

The Moon and More is a definite coming of age novel.  Emaline is about to head off to college, and everything she's ever known is about to change.  Not just moving away from home, but suddenly her relationship with Luke doesn't seem as perfect as it once was.  Theo is handsome and, coming from New York, somewhat exotic to Emaline.  He seems devoted to her, as well.  Enter the love triangle.

A note about the love triangle in The Moon and More: I couldn't fall for it.  Usually in a love triangle there's one guy I'm rooting for, one guy who I think has the most chemistry with the girl, one guy I think should win.  But I didn't feel much chemistry between Emaline and Luke or Emaline and Theo.  Thus, the romance wasn't the most interesting part of the novel for me.  The most interesting part of the novel to me was, hands down, the documentary subject.  It might sound silly, being interesting in the Colby resident who created a bunch of art in the nineties and now wants to hide from it, but I think there was a lesson in there, too.

Of course, love was not the only change Emaline was facing and heavier topics were handled in The Moon and More, as well.  Emaline's biological father never had a major part in her life.  When he decides to help her out with college and then has to take it back, he visits Colby and Emaline must deal with her father in person.  On the other side, Emaline's mother's husband, who Emaline calls Dad, is more of a father to Emaline than her biological father could be.  It's a tough topic to cover, but Sarah Dessen does it wonderfully.  The whole situation seemed extremely realistic.  Family was an important topic in the novel and it's was really what it was all about.

Four stars!  While The Moon and More wasn't my most favorite Sarah Dessen novel, it still had that special je ne sais quois that only Sarah Dessen can accomplish.  I love her writing style and The Moon and More made me giggle more than once.  It's definitely worth a read, especially if you're a huge fan of contemporaries and/or Dessen's other works.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Excuse my absence...

You'll have to excuse my absence, I was a little preoccupied this past week...

photo copyright 2013 Panda Reads

But, rest assured, I have a few reviews coming up for you soon, including The Moon and More and The Testing.  Stay tuned!

Friday, June 7, 2013

45 Pounds (More or Less)

45 Pounds (More or Less)
K.A. Barson
272 pages
Releases: July 11, 2013
Publisher: Viking
Source: Goodreads win!

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

Ann has been overweight for as long as she can remember and even though she's tried many a fad-diet, not much has worked.  But when her aunt gets engaged and asks her to be in the wedding party, Ann knows it's time to lose that forty-five pounds once and for all.

Ann's big idea to lose weight this time around is a weight loss program from an infomercial that includes supplements and frozen meals.  But like all things advertised on TV, it turns out to be too good to be true.  Hello, when the "cheese" on your "lasagna" won't melt in the microwave, that's a bad sign.

More than the typical teenage weight loss saga, however, 45 Pounds is a story about relationships.  Ann's relationship with her mother isn't perfect, especially since her mother is a size six and complains eating will make her fat.  Meanwhile, her mother offers to try and help Ann by buying her outfits sizes too small so she has a goal to work towards.  And even though Weight Watcher's won't let her mother join because she isn't actually overweight, she tries to get Ann to do that with her as well.  As you can imagine, these things aren't great for Ann's self-esteem.  I can't imagine what it would be like to have a mother who could make you feel bad about yourself.  I'm sure Ann's mother didn't mean it like that, but that's obviously how it came off.  And how their relationship was affecting Ann's little sister was even more heartbreaking.  A six year old with a burgeoning eating disorder, so sad!

Ann also does a little bit of coming-of-age in 45 Pounds.  She finds a new job, new friends, new experiences, and dare I say, a new romance?  There are a few good life lessons in there, as well.

But, as you might be able to tell from the cover of the book, 45 Pounds isn't all serious and heart wrenching; not at all.  In fact, 45 Pounds had me literally laughing out loud at points.  Ann might have a weight problem, but she certainly has a sense of humor about it, even as she's imaging the sales girl at her favorite store calling 911 because "We have a girl here trapped in a dress!"

Four stars!  In some ways 45 Pounds was another YA novel about weight loss where the main character whines about her weight, but I found 45 Pounds to be extrememly enjoyable because it made me laugh and most, if not all, of the characters were realistic and endearing.  This is one that should probably be read by every high school girl ever, so if you know one, buy them this book when it releases July 11th.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Lauren Miller
419 pages
Released: May 14, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: acquired ARC

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

My local used book store has a rack of books free with purchase.   That's where I found an ARC of this baby last week, which I had read something about on someone or another's blog earlier that day.  I recognized the cover, read the back, and searched the store to finds something, anything (it's not difficult,) so I could get this book.

Abby Barnes has a life plan: graduate high school, go to school for journalism, and be a famous journalist by age 22.  Her life plan changes, though, when she signs up for a Drama class as an extracurricular, is discovered, and becomes an actress in L.A.  But her life is changed again suddenly when an "earthquake" strikes and parallel universes collide.  In one world Abby is an actress in Hollywood, but in the other she's a student at Yale.  While most people are unaffected, Abby retains her memories from both parallel universes, leaving her confused and with a year plus a day gap in her memories.

My first impressions, aside from the cover which I love, were a little mixed.  The first chapter was a little bit of an info dump, but it was an interesting info dump.  I was drawn in right away by Abby's quick rise to fame - a dream several high school girls have, but Abby wanted something more.  The second chapter threw me for a loop right away.  Abby wakes up at Yale, clear on the other side of the country, with no memory of how she got there.  The chapters alternate between Abby's two worlds, each unique but with parallels (hello, that's the name of the book!) but there is a year plus a day gap between Abby's parallel worlds, which means when she's at Yale, she can't remember anything that happened for the past year.

This leads to all kinds of delightful plot twists revolving around who Abby is dating and the state of her relationship with her best friends.  I don't want to give it away, but I think Abby really learns a lot about herself as she discovers throughout the novel what happened over the past year.  In that way, Parallel isn't just a novel about alternative universes, but also a book about the journey of self-discovery.

Parallel left me with one big question: Is this possible?  Is there another me out there somewhere doing something similar, but slightly different?  Am I married to a different person like Abby was dating a different person?  Is my career different?  What if my other life is better and I don't even know it?  Regardless of the answers to these questions, they're kind of fun to think about.

Here's a fun fact about me:  I never took physics in high school, let alone college.  Never once have I ever thought to myself, "I wish I'd taken physics," though at times I have found myself relishing the fact that I was able to skip it my senior year of high school by taking Environmental instead, which was a huge joke of a class that I aced by simply breathing (this is barely an exaggeration.)

My opinion about physics all changed, however, within the first seventy or so pages of Parallel.  WAIT, don't stop reading!  Don't decide to skip Parallel simply because it involves a little physics.  The physics in Parallel (after a tiny bit of research) is fictionazlied, though based on fact, and extremely easy to follow.  Still, my interests are piqued.  Is there such a thing as Physics for Dummies?  Because I want a copy of that if there is.  Next stop: string theory.

But I digress... FIVE STARS!  Parallel is utterly enthralling and addictive.  I can't remember the last time I read a book that caused me to be so enthralled, I was reading the car while running errands; don't worry, Husband was driving.  I stayed up until three a.m. finishing this baby, and that hasn't happened since at least Fall 2012.  Can you tell I liked it?  I loved it.  You must add this book to your TBR right now.  There's a handy Amazon link below, actually, which you might find useful.  As for me, I'll be looking out for more by Lauren Miller.

3/12 complete!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

In My Mailbox (71)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren.
I haven't done an IMM since February!  Whoa.  Rather than try and sort through the disarray that is my book collection, I just gathered some of the most recent books I've acquired over the past two weeks.  Here they are (links go to Goodreads):

Merit Press sent Piece of My Heart

Crash by Nicole Williams
School Spirits (ARC) by Rachel Hawkins 

BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant (My used book store has ARCs free w/ purchase!  Now I just have to read BZRK.)
Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Generation Dead and Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I told you I wanted to read it again!)
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Variant by Robison Wells

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Oops, I already owned this. But with a due date I'll be forced to read it!)

As you can see, my book acquiring habit is still going strong.  Now... what should I read first?  

April/May Recap

Ok, time to get back into the swing of things here at Panda Reads.  I'm slowly getting back into reviewing and I need to get back into IMM and monthly recaps.  So without further ado, here's everything I read in April and May.  Links go to my reviews, enjoy!

Sever by Lauren DeStefano
The After Girls by Leah Konen

Fall of Night by Rachel Caine
Black City by Elizabeth Richards
Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards
A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont
The Keep by Veronica Wolff

Books read YTD: 23
Pages read YTD: 7295