March 04, 2014

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Title: Side Effects May Vary
Author: Julie Murphy
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. From the cover (I have a mad geek-love crush on font heavy covers) to the strong character development, this book was a fun, powerful read. The premise alone had me drooling and making embarrassing grabby hands for it.



Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get my hands on it in July because my power of puppy eyes works effectively on authors (or so I tell myself), but more likely because Julie is awesome and a dear friend of mine. Knowing Julie, I was excited to read her writing because the girl is funny. She has a quick wit and a keen eye and her personality comes out on the page, which is a good thing, trust me.

But also knowing Julie had me thinking, "What if I don't like Side Effects May Vary?" I'm being 100% honest when I say that I LOVED it based on its own merit. The writing, the characters, the storyline, the emotions. I found myself forgetting that I knew the author and devouring the book in large, hungry chunks. I knew within the first chapter that it was my type of book and was even more excited because the talented author was someone I can fangirl to in person.

Besides the cover being perfect, this book has one of the best pitches: Alice is diagnosed with leukemia. She decides to get the last word in every relationship by getting revenge on those who have pissed her off or done her wrong with the help of her (adorable, beautiful, amazing, oh-my-goodness-I-need-one) friend Harvey. And then she goes into remission.

RIGHT? Sounds fan-freaking-tastic! And the book does not disappoint.

Alice is a character that is not easily defined or trapped into a box. She shows her darker parts (seriously, you do not want to get on the bad side of this girl) and yet at the same time I could never despise her. She's all dark, sharp-tongued exterior and broken, believable girl on the inside. Julie did an amazing job of bringing to life the anger and fear of living with a terminable disease and not just wanting but needing to die with grievances aired and loose ends tied. Alice makes choices and decisions I don't think I would have made but I loved her because I could still see myself in her. The mask of actions and words to hide her fears, insecurities, and anger were all too realistic. Even in moments that I wanted to shake her, I still rooted for her. She isn't always likable but I loved her.

Then there is Harvey. He's the best book boyfriend I have read this year. He's so damn sweet and open and loves Alice so much. He loves her flaws, her brains, her body, her poisoned-tipped tongue. He takes her in--all the good and the bad--and it's impossible for him not to love her. He's the type of guy that is genuinely good and caring and can make your heart race faster. I loved him. And I think his love for Alice made me love him even more. I think everyone has felt, or will feel, that intense love for someone who seems unable to return it in the same way and Julie encapsulated it perfectly with Harvey.

Another character that I absolutely loved was Debora, the twin sister of Harvey's best friend. She seemed to quietly steal the scenes that she was in and I loved how she was a foil to Alice. She was type-A and composed and emotionally mature. As much as I loved Alice and rooted for her, I was also rooting for Debora, which ended up in me having my heart crushed at one pivotal moment. I would love to read a book from her POV.

Speaking of POV, Side Effects May Vary is in dual point-of-view AND in alternating Now and Then scenes. You get to know both Harvey and Alice as they tell their own sides of the story. I loved seeing how their friendship and the characters themselves matured and grew and changed. As Alice isn't an instantly likable character, seeing her from both Harvey's and her eyes was a great way for readers to see that she was a flawed, relatable girl that's going through crazy, scary issues.

This was a great debut novel that tackled big, important issues with characters that were honest and raw in a fast-paced, page-turning plot. Put this one on your must reads because I need someone to crush over Harvey, begrudgingly love Alice, and maybe even write Debora fanfic with me.

January 08, 2014

I Eat Words Says Goodbye to Blogging . . . For Now!

Hey loyal readers,

When Britney tweeted the idea of this blog and asked if anyone wanted to jump in for the ride, I was all about it. Book blogging has been a blast and not only that, but it's brought me a lot closer to Britney--someone I've known since I was 14. We've shared the same passion for reading and writing, and collaborating on this site together was easy and fun. We created SO many great ideas and videos and laughs and met some AMAZING fellow book bloggers--Hilary and Liz and Ginger and Melanie and Jen and Jamie and Carla and Kristi and Lindsi and Kelsey and Capillya and Bethany and so many more. I love our little community, and I never want to leave it.

But the thing is, three years ago I had a LOT of free time. I'm sure you've all noticed the lack of videos and posts over this last year. The truth is, I just don't have as much time as I used to and maybe, if I'm being honest with myself, I've lost a bit of passion for book blogging along the way. And I know that if I'm thinking of writing a blog post the same way I think of doing laundry or cleaning my room, it's turned into just that--a chore.

I was 21 when we started this adventure together, but in these last 3 years my adult (omg adult?! am I really an adult?!) life has taken more of a priority. As many of you know, I've signed with an amazing literary agent and I began to put writing first. I was also promoted twice within my current job, a job that's given me amazing experience in a market I've grown to enjoy (most of the time). And I can't say anything just yet, but my life is about to get pretty crazy (in a good way) over the next two months.

The thing is, we don't want to say goodbye forever. Our website will still be up and available and we will post when we feel the burning desire to share our bookish opinions with the world. I'm sure we'll still blab about books through our twitter account. But for now, each of us contributors have some really great things coming up within our future, and those are the things that have to come first.

I'm not leaving the interwebs forever, though! You can stay up to date with me through my personal blog or when I blog twice a month over at The Secret Life of Writers. I'm also forever on Twitter!

Thanks, you guys. I love reading your comments. I love freaking out over books with you. It's been SO great. You've all made it the fun adventure that this has been.

Love,

Farrah



Hey there!

I'm already wanting to tear up thinking about writing this letter. I think Farrah did an amazing job of summing up our emotions and decisions of why we're having to put I Eat Words on pause, probably better than I will. She's always been able to put my incoherent emotions into better words than I could.

I Eat Words, and the blogging world, has been such a huge part of my life, though, and I wanted to say thank you and "see you later" in my own way. I've loved being part of the book blogging community and meeting so many great people. I've met some of the best people I know through blogging and I know that those friendships won't end. I've loved attending BEA (twice!) and other bookish conventions. I've loved getting excited about books, authors, twist endings, kissing scenes, and beautiful writing with all of you. I hope to never stop getting excited about books and meeting other bibliophiles, but sadly I don't have the time or energy to put what I should into this site. It deserves more than forced reviews and right now I can't provide much more than that. I think forced writing comes across to readers and I don't ever want I Eat Words to be a chore.

Like Farrah, I'm at a place in my life that I don't have the time or the excitement for book blogging. I'm about to start grad school and am also working in a career that I'm passionate about. And when I'm not doing either of those, I'm trying to write because that was my first passion. It still is my biggest passion.

I'm loving my life and have a great group of friends. When I read, I'm finding myself picking up books that have been on my To Be Read pile for ages instead of books that I should be reviewing. That doesn't mean that I'll stop geeking and nerding out on Twitter (@bookishbritney, let's be friends!) and I have a personal blog where I'll occasionally update, but I Eat Words is going to be put on pause. For now.

I hope to keep you all with me in whatever I pursue next because you are all great, wonderful, intelligent, beautiful people. Farrah and I would have had very different thoughts on book blogging if it wasn't for all of you. I hope to have the occasional lovefest of a book review on here, but until then, this is a See You Later to I Eat Words.

Happy Reading,
Britney



November 06, 2013

Books for Children's Hospital Donations

Hey fellow readers!

As most of you already know, we had to take down our original books for children website down. Both Britney and I were pretty disappointed with everything that happened between our charity and another nonprofit, but that wasn't going to stop us from donating this year under a different name.

I really need this to sink in with you guys, because every dollar donated--whether it was $100 or $1--made a difference. We are able to stretch your donations and buy a TON of hardback infant books for the kiddos at the hospitals as well as multiple YA titles for the teens in the hospital. Add in chapter and middle grade books and you've got some really happy kids! And it's all thanks to you. Seriously, thank you.

A special shout out to New Leaf Literary, who donated tons of amazing titles to this cause. Thank you! You guys are magical.

In true I Eat Words fashion, here's our documentations as to where your money went, what books were bought, and where these books went. 

It's always such a humbling experience to do this, and we hope you've enjoyed seeing where your donations go these last three years. 

PHOENIX CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

65 infant books
40 YA/MG books 



Before getting yelled at by the manager of the 99 cent store for taking pictures.


We continued to take them anyway, hahah.




Spongebob, Care Bears, Disney Princess, Lion King Oswald, Cars, and MORE :)


I loved these fairy tale princess books!


I forgot to take pictures of my YA/MG BUT that canon bag + those white bags are all YA or MG!


Where your donations went :)



LOOK AT THAT BIG OLE RECEIPT OF BOOKS!



SCOTTISH RITE HOSPITAL - DALLAS

Over 150 children, MG and YA books!



Children's Shelter for West Texas Victims

20 infant titles
15 + YA and MG books 
Numerous ARCs

Special thanks to Kelsey Dickson, who was our financial coordinator this year. Her money went to buying books for the children's shelter in West Texas as a charity for the victims of the explosion earlier this year.


September 18, 2013

Fault Line by Christa Desir

Title: Fault Line
Author: C. Desir
Publisher: SimonPulse
Release Date: October 1st, 2013
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
This review does contain some spoilers.

I'm trying to find the right words to express my thoughts on this book because it left me dumbfounded. It's a powerful, emotional novel about huge, realistic and important issues. The actions and reactions leave you with a dry throat and your heart aching because they are never far off from what happens way too often in our own world.

Going in, you have to know one thing: this is a rape book. It's a realistic and terrifying and unique depiction of rape and high school and our society's knee-jerk victim-blaming reaction. The other thing you need to know: this is told from the rape victim's boyfriend's POV. Ben, the main character, is well-liked and popular and in love with Ani, the new girl in town. It's a fast-paced romance that hits on several highlights of their relationship because this is a short book (only 240 pages or so). You get to see that Ben and Ani care for each other and are happily in love with all the cute romances of first teen love. I'm not usually a fan of insta-love but it works in Fault Line because it sets the stage for what eventually happens.

One night Ani goes to a party with one of her girl friends and gets drunk, possibly drugged. She doesn't remember much of anything of the night and ends up in the hospital. Here is where I found it infuriating and interesting (infuriatingly interesting?) to have the story from Ben instead of Ani's POV. The reader learns about what happened while Ben's learning about it. You read through his shock and confusion and love and anger and insecurities. I found myself growing angry with him at times but then reeling myself in, seeing and understanding his helplessness in a situation that no one (except the rapists) had control of.

I won't spoil why exactly Ani is in the hospital but just know that it did leave me feeling queasy. It's a punch in the gut surprise.

Where I think Fault Line excelled was in the aftermath of the rape. Ani's reactions were heartbreaking. She is left feeling alone, guarded, and eventually tries to take control of her own body in a way that isn't healthy for her and is painful for Ben. There are no happy endings here, which might put me in the minority for appreciating. It was realistic and left you feeling just as lost and angry as the moment you find out about the details of what Ani endured. Survivors of rape deserve their own happy ending, but the short time period that envelops Fault Line would have made Ani's unrealistic and what she survived not as much of a powerful impact to readers.

This is a dark, gritty contemporary that is important and should be shared. It's not for every reader but I think the conversations it will spur are necessary. I would be interested to see how teens react to this book and if their thoughts on rape (what constitutes as rape and what doesn't) and who is to blame will change or solidify.

TL;DR: Fault Line is a fast-paced gritty contemporary that takes on the topic of rape in a realistic and unique way. It left my stomach turning and my heart breaking for Ani and Ben.


September 17, 2013

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Dollar


Title: Where the Stars Still Shine
Author: Trish Dollar
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: September 24th 2013
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
From Goodreads: Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.

My review: You all know that I love contemporary YA with all my heart, so I was so thrilled when I got approved to read this one early by Netgalley. Without a doubt, I adored it. Dollar creates characters that worm their way into your heart and makes you want to keep flipping pages. I enjoyed getting to know Callie and all of the troubles she'd experienced as well as everything she experienced with her new life with her dad.

One of the best things I loved about this book was that Dollar avoids the cliche love interest troupes and throws you for a curve. I thought I had a good feeling of where she was going with the characters based on other YA books I read, but it totally went in another direction! It was very, very refreshing, to say the least.

I also loved the huge role that family played in this one. It made this contemporary seem very well-rounded and realistic. 

This is a brilliantly crafted YA contemporary, and I highly recommend picking it up!


September 12, 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales Review


Title: This Song Will Save Your Life
Author: Leila Sales
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE has been one of my most anticipated books of 2013. I fell in love with Leila Sales writing when I read and reviewed PAST PERFECT and had a feeling I was going to enjoy THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE just as much. I mean, the title alone rocks!

Here’s a brief synopsis: Elise Dembowski never knew how to fit in. She’s the kid you made fun of in grade school and the girl everyone thought was weird because she could not dress/socialize/make friends like everyone else. After a failed suicide attempt, Elise secludes herself in high school and sits with other girls who are widely defined as loners and losers in the mean high school world. But when Elise stumbles upon an underground warehouse party scene and meets two friends who immediately accept her as well as a cute, mysterious DJ—Char—Elise begins to not only discover her growing love for DJing and music, but also herself.

I really enjoyed this contemporary read. Elise isn’t your “average” YA teenage girl. She isn’t average, she isn’t popular, but a full-blown “loser” (ugh, I hate using that word. I guess I should say she’s different in a way that makes her weird and unlikeable to the brutal world of high school kids). She has trouble fitting in and making friends and everything she thinks and feels is raw and real. When Elise discovers this underground club dedicated to good music, it’s not like she has this sudden revelation about herself or that she splits into that cliche, two personalities. She’s still ELISE, only with a passion and drive for music. That’s what I really enjoyed about her character.

All these characters were put together really well, actually. I wanted to be BFFs with Vicky and I felt that connection she had toward Char and his interest in music. Her parents were actually PARENTS and a major part of her life and decisions throughout this book, which I always think is important in YA contemporaries.

I don’t know what else to say without really giving it away, but this book surprised me by avoiding clich├ęs that could have easily been applied and exploring the real hardships of high school kids and what it means to not exactly fit in.

I honestly think everyone will relate to this in at least some way. THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE will come out September 17th, 2013! Be sure and check it out if you enjoy YA contemporary with a different spin on high school.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review


September 10, 2013

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles


Title: Wild Cards
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 24th 2013
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
From Goodreads: After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek’s counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else’s family drama. 

Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain--people you care about leave without a backward glance. A football scholarship would finally give her the chance to leave. So she pours everything into winning a state championship, until her boyfriend and star quarterback betrays them all by joining their rival team. Ashtyn needs a new game plan, but it requires trusting Derek—someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and win it all?

My Review: I was so excited when I read that this was a YA Friday Night Lights, but it my opinion it felt . . . not really like that. The football plot was lacking, which is really what makes FNL so great. The writing was a bit mediocre, and at some points the dialogue was cringe-worthy cheesy. 

I did enjoy all the drama that the characters experienced, though. That did keep me hooked. I wanted to find out what was going to happen between Ashtyn and Derek and their families. I like Elkeles is really great at creating drama and tension between characters. There are also some pret-ty steamy scenes, because of course this is an Elkeles book! 

Overall, if you're a huge fan of FNL and football and are expecting that to be executed in this book . . . maybe lower your expectations. But if you're looking for a cute, light, read that has a tad bit of a football theme, then check this one out.