Romance Book Haul

I acquired some books over the past week so it’s time for a book haul post! First is a package that I received from Lucy Parker, author of Act Like It, which is one of my favorite reads this year:

 

Next is a debut contemporary romance from an Aussie author, I kept hearing good things about this love-hate office romance so I couldn’t resist grabbing it even though it’s more expensive that what I’d normally pay for:

 

Last but not the least, a debut fantasy romance that I’ve also heard positive feedback on:

 

I think it’s pretty obvious from these pictures that I like tea and desserts, right? 🙂 I really should cut back on sweets but they’re just so hard to resist. Anyway, I’ve finished reading both The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet so I’m hoping I’ll be able to write reviews for both soon. As always, not making any promises because I’m always behind on reviews!

What about you guys, have you bought or received any books lately? Also, please feel free to share recommendations if you have titles similar to the ones I mentioned here. Would love to find similar reads.

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding

Thank you so much to my friend Maggie of Young Adult Anonymous for giving me a signed copy of Amy Spalding’s debut novel, The Reece Malcolm List. I kept hearing good things about this contemporary YA novel so I was pretty excited to read it.

The Reece Malcolm List Signed

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The Reece Malcolm ListThings I know about Reece Malcolm:

1. She graduated from New York University.
2. She lives in or near Los Angeles.
3. Since her first novel was released, she’s been on the New York Times bestseller list every week.
4. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.
5. She’s my mother.

Devan knows very little about Reece Malcolm, until the day her father dies and she’s shipped off to live with the mother she’s never met. All she has is a list of notebook entries that doesn’t add up to much.

L.A. offers a whole new world to Devan—a performing arts school allows her to pursue her passion for show choir and musicals, a new circle of friends helps to draw her out of her shell, and an intriguing boy opens up possibilities for her first love.

But then the Reece Malcolm list gets a surprising new entry. Now that Devan is so close to having it all, can she handle the possibility of losing everything?

I felt like I read this book at just the right time. I just came back from L.A. when I read this more than a month ago and I was able to appreciate all the references to L.A. in the book. I got excited whenever I recognized any of the places or things mentioned – like having a burger from In N Out, which is something that I always make a point of having whenever I visit L.A. I’m a fan of musicals although I’m not as into the whole thing as Devan is – I mean I would like to be but I obviously don’t have her talent. I just enjoy watching musicals and I try to watch as many as I can. I wish I was more familiar with Merrily We Roll Along because that was the musical featured in the book. I probably would have appreciated Devan’s rehearsals more if I’ve seen Merrily We Roll Along on stage or if I knew the songs. I also love having karaoke sessions (we call it videoke back home in Manila) with my friends though because I like to sing even if I’m all heart and no talent. So I could totally relate to the karaoke scene in the book, I find it interesting that for a seriously talented singer like Devan, a fun karaoke session lets her unwind.

I liked reading about the characters and how Devan slowly got to know them – her theater friends, her love interests, her mom and even her mom’s boyfriend. There were interesting characters and dynamics within the novel. I really, really enjoyed reading this book and I felt like I would have fallen in love with it if it just had a little more emotional depth. I felt like there was enough room to draw upon the characters’ feelings – maybe more grief or anger from Devan over all the bad things that have happened in her life. I guess I was expecting something like that since her father passed away and she suddenly has to move in with a mom she has never met. I think that this novel is a very good debut and I’m definitely curious about Amy Spalding’s next book – it’s just that I wanted more than the overall lighthearted tone presented in The Reece Malcolm List. If you’re a fan of contemporary YA, then you should definitely check this one out. I’m not surprised that I’ve seen so many rave reviews for it because it’s a really fun read.

Other reviews:
Young Adult Anonymous
Good Books and Good Wine
The Allure of Books

New Releases and Older Titles

Image from Tumblr.

Elizabeth Fama’s guest post for Marchetta Madness made me think about new releases, older titles and my reading preferences. Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Debut authors are all the rage right now: publishers and marketers are enamored of them; readers build Goodreads lists around them. And while many authors have stunning debuts (I understand LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI is pretty great), there’s a disturbing trend toward “hype” that’s unproductive for the craft. Learning to write is a lifelong process, and you need breathing room to cultivate it, not pressure to produce Part Two in less than a year because your first book sold at auction and you’ve contracted for a series. Seasoned authors like Marchetta (and Megan Whalen Turner, and Tobin Anderson, and Philip Pullman, and…) have blessedly had that breathing room.

When I replied to Elizabeth after receiving her post, I told her that I never really thought much about the popularity of debut authors nowadays. There have been some debut novels that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading – like Saving June by Hannah Harrington and Something Like Normal by Trish Doller – but in general, I don’t think my blog focuses on them. Or on new releases either. Why? Probably because I buy most of the books that I read and I tend to rely on recommendations and reviews to help me decide what to get. So I wait for feedback from authors or fellow bloggers before I purchase a book. There are exceptions to this, of course. There are times when I get lucky enough to read a galley weeks or months before a book’s release date. I also have several authors on my auto-buy list and I grab their books as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Looking back on my reviews, it does seem like I read more older titles than new releases. Honestly, I haven’t really noticed it before. It’s not like I make a point of choosing novels that haven’t been released recently. It’s just that love hearing about other readers’ old favorites, especially when I feel like we share similar tastes in books. I also love pimping my own favorites, which is why I enjoy participating in the Retro Friday meme hosted by Angie. I get to promote older titles that way.

As for hype surrounding books, even though I’m not an author, I do agree with what Elizabeth said about writing being a lifelong learning process. I really hope hype doesn’t contribute to the pressure that authors feel to produce a new book as fast as they can. And I think most of us are wary of hype anyway, which is why we wait for reviews from bloggers we trust before we dive into a hyped-up book (or at least that’s what I do).

What about you, have you noticed the trend for debut authors? Do read a lot of debut novels or would you rather read older titles? And what do you think of the hype surrounding books?

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller

Trish Doller’s debut novel, Something Like Normal, is one of my most anticipated releases this year. I read the excerpt and immediately wanted to read the book, I probably would have if it was already available at that time. I’ve also chatted with Trish on Twitter and I keep liking and reblogging her Tumblr posts. I was really excited when I finally got my hands on a copy of her book and I read it as soon as I could.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

When Travis Stephenson returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are on the brink of divorce, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car, and nightmares of his best friend getting killed keep him completely spooked. But when he runs into Harper Gray, a girl who despises him for trashing her reputation with a middle school lie, life actually starts looking up. As Travis and Harper see more of each other, he starts falling for her and a way through the family meltdown, the post-traumatic stress, and the possibility of an interesting future begins to emerge.

I love reading older YA or new adult novels and I believe Something Like Normal falls under these categories. Sure, Travis is just 19 but I think being a Marine makes him a more mature character. He’s seen and experienced the atrocities of war and is suffering from the loss of his best friend, Charlie. Now I’ve never been a teenage boy so I don’t exactly know how they think. But I do have guy friends and I feel like Travis has a realistic voice for a guy. He’s far from being perfect and he makes stupid mistakes throughout the course of the novel but I believe he’s a decent guy who genuinely wants to get his act together. It’s just that he’s messed up from everything that he’s been through – failing his father’s unreasonable expectations, signing up to be in the military to escape and heading off straight to serve in an unfamiliar country. Also, I know next to nothing about Marines but I found Travis’ experiences intriguing.

Trish Doller’s debut is something that I wholeheartedly recommend to everyone, even those who don’t usually read contemporary YA because I feel like it has crossover appeal for many readers. It’s refreshing in the sense that it doesn’t focus on a high school setting, isn’t just about the romance and is the first novel that I’ve read with a teen main character in the military. Something Like Normal is very easy to fall into. It’s the kind of novel that you read within one day because you can’t get enough of Travis and his complicated relationships – his issues with his dad and his brother, how he tries to be a better son to his overly supportive mother, how he interacts with his Marine buddies and how he gets to know the girl he’s always had a crush on. While I don’t think the romance is the main focus of the novel, there was plenty of swoon that kept me more than satisfied. I like that Travis and Harper have a history that dates back to middle school. Harper is just the person Travis needs in his life – she’s smart, fun to be with and knows exactly how to handle him. Here’s a spoiler-free snippet from early on:

“Do you need help?” a female voice from behind asks.

I’m about to throw an offended no over my shoulder when Harper comes up alongside me, all green eyes and tousled hair. I could probably look at her forever and not get tired of that face. “If I say yes will you think less of me?”

She shrugs, but I can see a smile at the corner of her mouth. “I already do think less of you.”

Doesn’t that make you curious? Like I said, I love Trish’s Tumblr so I thought it would be fitting to include some of the images that she’s posted in this review. These images actually remind of Travis and Harper. 🙂

Something Like Normal will be released June 19, 2012 and I know this review is ridiculously early but I couldn’t help but spread the word about this novel. I have a feeling a lot of readers will fall in love with Travis’ story. Can’t wait to see what Trish writes next.

Other reviews:
A Good Addiction

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

I read Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood as part of the The Aussie YA Book Challenge hosted by Nic of Irresistible Reads and Nomes of Inkcrush. It’s also one of the books that I asked my friend who came from Australia to get for me.

Here’s the summary from Fiona Wood’s website:

Fourteen-year-old nerd-boy Dan Cereill is not quite coping with a reversal of family fortune, a mother with a failing wedding-cake business, a just-out gay dad, and an impossible crush on Estelle, the girl next door.

His entire life is a mess, but for now he’s narrowed it down to just six impossible things

Six Impossible Things is a loose Cinderella retelling, written from a guy’s perspective. I don’t think I read enough male POV books and I enjoy reading retellings. As if that isn’t enough to convince me to read this, Aussie book bloggers have been raving about this book in their reviews. Dan feels like his life has fallen apart when his parents split because his gay dad suddenly decides to come out of the closet and admit that the family business is also bankrupt. Dan even wants to say “Guys, please, one life-changing shock at a time.” out loud because of all the changes in his life. The only positive thing is he now lives next door to the unattainable one, Estelle. He even transfers to her school. Dan is determined to change his image at his new school, he doesn’t want to be known as geeky and smart anymore and he wants to hang out with the cool crowd. Things don’t go exactly as he planned.

This is such a quirky and fun novel to read, the writing is beautiful and the characters are so distinct. Dan is utterly charming in an offbeat and nerdy way. He’s smart, sensitive and tries to be as honest and good as he can be. Yay for good guys! It was interesting being inside Dan’s head because like I said, I don’t get to read enough books with male protagonists narrating the story. He’s also an introspective type so he’s more quiet than outgoing. I loved that the book showed his weaknesses like fainting whenever he sees or imagines something gross like raw eggs. Instead of being unfavorable, those vulnerabilities actually added to his charm. Even though things don’t work out the way he wanted them to, he did gain a couple of friends along the way and they’re all unique and original, even Howard the dog. The book isn’t all about the romance even if Dan has a major crush on Estelle although the development of their friendship is a major highlight for me. I love that the attics of their houses are connected and they’re the only ones who know about it. This delightful book is about growing up and changing as you learn how to cope and adapt with the problems that life throws your way. I’ve heard that this book already has a US publisher but there’s no set date on when it’s going to be published. If you can order a book from Australia or have someone buy it for you then I highly recommend that you get this one. It’s a great contemporary YA debut and I can’t wait to read more of Fiona Wood’s work. I just have to worry about how I’ll get it when the time comes.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Inkcrushinterview with Fiona Wood
Persnickety Snark
Irresistible Reads
Hey! Teenager of the Year
The Tales Compendium