Waiting on Wednesday–The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

Why am I so often drawn to books featuring grieving characters? I know I’m not purposely seeking them out, but I have read and loved so many! Regardless, The Square Root of Summer really grabbed my interest because there’s also a time travel element. And I’m extra excited because as I was looking for more audiobooks to listen to via Audible, I discovered that Roaring Brook Press had an audiobook made for Harriet Reuter Hapgood’s debut!

The Square Root of SummerTitle & Author: The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Summary (From Goodreads):

This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

Book Trailer Thursday (177)–Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Book Trailer Thursday

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken has quite a few qualities I really enjoy in novels: mystery, musicians, time travel, and more. Based on the book trailer and synopsis, I think Passenger–which releases on January 5th, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion–will be a great way to kick off the 2016 reading year. I wish I would have found a copy in my ALAN box last month, but I’m happy to know that an audiobook will be available on January 5th as well as the finished hardcover.

PassengerSummary (From Goodreads):

passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever.

Waiting on Wednesday–Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

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Jordan Sonnenblick is one of my favorite authors.  His books appeal to guys, they’re honest, they’re usually funny, and they’re always fun to read.  I still have one or two to read, but I have yet to be disappointed (and I don’t expect to be).  It’s exciting that this upcoming release involves time travel because all of his other books I’ve read are very much contemporary realistic fiction.

Are You ExperiencedTitle & Author: Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick

Release Date: September 3rd, 2013

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Summary (From Goodreads):

Rich is fifteen and plays guitar. When his girlfriend asks him to perform at protest rally, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, the police show up, and so does Rich’s dad. He’s in big trouble. Again. To make matters worse, this happens near the anniversary of his uncle’s death from a drug overdose years ago. Rich’s dad always gets depressed this time of year, but whenever Rich asks questions about his late uncle, his dad shuts down.

Frustrated by his dad’s silence, Rich sneaks into his office and breaks into a locked cabinet that holds his dad’s prized possession: an electric guitar signed by Jimi Hendrix. Before he knows it, Rich is transported to the side of a road in Upstate New York with a beautiful girl bending over him. It will take him a while to realize it’s 1969, he’s at Woodstock, and the girl’s band of friends includes his fifteen-year-old dad and his uncle, who’s still alive. What Rich learns, who he meets, and what he does could change his life forever.

Review: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Title: Time Between Us

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone

Publisher: Hyperion

Release Date: October 9th, 2012

Interest: 2012 Debut Author / Time Travel

Source: ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Summary (From Goodreads): Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, Time Between Us is a stunning, spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new voice in YA fiction.

Sigh.  Time Between Us is a wonderful debut!  It’s romantic, fast-paced, and time travel done right.

In all honesty, it’s been a few months since I’ve read Tamara Ireland Stone’s debut, and I didn’t write my review right after I finished it like I should have.  For that reason, I’m making a list of everything I loved about it.

  • Time travel has been a popular plot element in YA lately, but most of the ones I’ve read have been lacking.  The time travel has been interesting, but there’s usually something missing.  That’s not the case in Time Between Us.  I loved the pacing and the format.
  • I hope this is chosen as a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers because I know I’ll be able to hook my reluctant readers with Time Between Us.  The boys, maybe not, but the girls will definitely love it.  They’ll be intrigued by the mysterious beginning set in 2011 and the transition to 1995 in the next chapter.  I read this chapter and couldn’t help but wonder how it was going to tie in later.  I was so excited when I made the connection!
  • Anna is immediately drawn to Bennett because he appears mysteriously when she’s running and then shows up at school, but denies being at the track.  This is intriguing and kept my attention.  What I really appreciate about this set up is that there isn’t insta-love.  Sure, Anna wants to know more about Bennett, but their attraction and romance builds.  Their romance is sweeping and sweet.  It isn’t over the top and unbelievable.
  • This quote is a good example of how the relationship starts & how Anna feels about Bennett’s time traveling abilities in regards to their relationship: “I’ve spent the whole night thinking about how it will end, but right now, there’s only one thing I want to think about: there will be a middle.”  Isn’t that how many of us feel about relationships?  We don’t know where it will go, but we know there’s a middle to enjoy.
  • Anna is dynamic and a character readers can look up to.  She’s forced into tough situations that require her to be independent and make decisions she normally wouldn’t make.  There’s one decision I was afraid she was going to ignore, but I ended up being impressed with the action she took.  It’s one that some girls might not make in fear of what could be missed, but she does what’s right for her as an individual.

I read Tamara Ireland Stone’s debut in a day.  It’s romantic, exciting, mysterious, hard to put down, and at times heart breaking.  It’s a must read that I’m most definitely buying to share with my students.  I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.

Review: So Close to You by Rachel Carter

Title: So Close to You

Author: Rachel Carter

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: July 10th, 2012

Interest: Time Travel

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): Lydia Bentley has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who’ve disappeared over the years. Stories about people like her own great-grandfather.

When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she’s ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she’s in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.

Alongside a darkly mysterious boy she is wary to trust, Lydia begins to unravel the secrets surrounding the Project. But the truths behind these secrets force her to question all her choices–and if Lydia chooses wrong, she might not save her family but destroy them . . . and herself.

The premise for So Close to You held so much promise and really piqued my interest, it ultimately disappointed me.  I love the recent time travel trend happening in YA because it acts as a stepping stone to more solid science fiction, at least some of the “lighter” time travel novels like Hourglass and Tempest do.  The blurb on the ARC of Rachel Carter’s novel claimed it has a “compelling romance like The Time Traveler’s Wife” and “imaginative suspense like Before I Fall.”  Those are pretty big comparisons, so I had high hopes going into reading this.

I was interested when I first started reading So Close to You and really thought I was going to like it.  The first 60-80 pages flew by and held my interest.  Not long after that I was wondering where the story was going and what was going to happen.  I kept wondering when the romance was going to come into play.  Was Lydia going to fall in love with Wes, the guy who follows her back in time?  Was she going to fall for Lucas, the guy living in a different time?  There wasn’t any real romance to speak of until 200 pages in, and even then it wasn’t remotely believable.  Lydia had maybe a few scenes with this guy and all of a sudden she was “falling for him.”  Even then, the relationship (if we can really call it that) didn’t mean anything to me as a reader since it was so instant.  The book is barely over 300 pages long, so waiting 200 pages for a dull romance was really disappointing.

The other bummer about Rachel Carter’s book is how nothing really happened for the entire book.  Lydia is living in a different time trying to help her grandfather by keeping her great grandfather from making a bad choice.  But she doesn’t really do anything until the last 80 pages or so.  The rest of the book is her getting to know her distant relatives in a different time period and thinking about how she needs to save her family.  And then there was Wes constantly reminding her not to change anything in the past because of the butterfly effect.  Over and over again Lydia is reminded of this, and over and over again she ignores the warning.

I didn’t find anything about So Close to You as “imaginative.”  I found it really boring and predictable.  None of the characters meant anything to me; I couldn’t find a way to relate to or connect with any of them.  I finished it because I wanted to know if my opinions were wrong.  There’s a cliffhanger ending setting us up for the next book, and I’ll admit it’s interesting.  I might read the second book because I’m optimistic and hoping this entire book was like a prologue to the actual story.

Other Reviews:

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Reading Lark

Katie’s Book Blog

Flash Reviews (12)

Thank you for the Flash Reviews idea, GreenBeanTeenQueen!

Title: Timeless

Author: Alexandra Monir

Source: Finished copy received from the publicist

Summary (From Goodreads): When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor’s world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she’s never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century’s worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life – a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.
 
Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves – a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.

Flash Review: My interest went back and forth when I was reading Timeless.  I was intrigued for the first half because it was mysterious with all of the time travel and romance, but after a while the book really slowed down for me.  Michele meets and falls for the man from her dreams, but it’s tough to make it work considering he’s from another time period.  I enjoyed their scenes together, but eventually it felt like the story stalled and wasn’t moving forward.  I needed more from their relationship and from the mystery behind the time travel.  I set the book down for a bit and eventually came back to it after debating whether I was going to finish it.  Once I picked Timeless up again, I started to change my mind about quitting because the story changed pace and the romance and mystery became more intriguing.  I started getting more answers as more questions developed.  In the end, I’m really happy I finished reading Timeless because the story fleshed out.  If you enjoy reading historical fiction, time travel stories, romance, etc. then I think you should give Alexandra Monir’s novel a try.

Title: Revived

Author: Cat Patrick

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

As a little girl, Daisy Appleby was killed in a school bus crash. Moments after the accident, she was brought back to life.

A secret government agency has developed a drug called Revive that can bring people back from the dead, and Daisy Appleby, a test subject, has been Revived five times in fifteen years. Daisy takes extraordinary risks, knowing that she can beat death, but each new death also means a new name, a new city, and a new life. When she meets Matt McKean, Daisy begins to question the moral implications of Revive, and as she discovers the agency’s true goals, she realizes she’s at the center of something much larger—and more sinister—than she ever imagined.

Flash Review: Revived is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller that I couldn’t put down.  I’m normally not into science fiction, but the medical technology developed to bring people back from the dead is really engrossing and kept me reading until the very last page.  I love a book that keeps me guessing and making predictions which Revived did over and over again.  I felt like I was on the same page as Daisy because just as she was questioning something or coming to a realization, I was as well.  I can easily see Cat Patrick’s newest novel becoming a big hit in my classroom and with teens in general for the plot alone.  I can’t imagine being brought back to life and then needing to move, create a new identity, and trying to keep all of that a secret.  It forces Daisy to keep close relationships at bay which is difficult for any teenager.  Readers might also be drawn to Revived because some are labeling it dystopian, but I think it’s more futuristic science fiction.  Either way it’s labeled it can ladder between dystopian and sci-fi titles easily.

Title: Bittersweet

Author: Sarah Ockler

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads): Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life… and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last…

Flash Review: Bittersweet is now my favorite of Sarah Ockler’s three novels.  It’s the perfect blend of romance, coming of age, and all around fantastic contemporary fiction.  Hudson is trying to balance helping her single mom run a diner, taking care of her little brother, becoming a figure skater once again, and deciding between two attractive hockey players.  Make sure to add on keeping a friendship alive, baking cupcakes to support the diner, and training a bunch of hockey players and you have some difficult situations taking place.  Hudson is a likeable character that teens will relate to for a variety of reasons, especially if they want to do it all without having to give anything up.  Even though Hudson makes some errors in judgment, I couldn’t help but root for her and hope she eventually made the right or best choice.  She’s the kind of girl who doesn’t want to let anyone down, especially her loved ones, so you have to admire her for that.  And of course I can’t write about Bittersweet without mentioning the cupcakes.  I wish I had a recipe for every one because I want to make them ALL!

 

Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

Julie Cross Tempest

352 pp.  St. Martin’s Griffin

Release Date: January 17, 2012

Interest: 2012 Debut Author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

The theories behind time travel are often discussed and debated; they’re also the basis for novels and movies.  I was excited to receive a copy of Tempest, especially when I realized that it’s told from a guy’s point of view.  My attention was grabbed from the very beginning and found it to be an enjoyable book.  Even though I liked Julie Cross’s debut novel, I think I’ll be able to express my thoughts best if I break this review down into what worked and what didn’t work for me.

WHAT WORKED:

  • I love that the time travel and action started right at the beginning of the book.  Some novels need to take their time with introducing action and setting, but Tempest was an instant hit with it’s beginning.  Reluctant readers will be hooked right away, which is often what they need to stick with a book.
  • Jackson’s character–he’s well-developed and has a true-to-life guy’s voice.  Some female authors are better at writing from a guy’s point of view, and Julie Cross is one of them.  Jackson thinks and says things that I can easily imagine a teenage guy thinking and saying.
  • Jackson’s age–It’s not that common for Y.A. novels to have protagonists in college.  Granted, not that much time is spent in Jackson’s current time period with him experiencing college, but the reader knows and understands him as a nineteen-year-old guy.  I’d like to see more Y.A. novels breaking away from the 12-18 age group, especially as Y.A. becomes more popular across age groups.
  • Jackson’s character growth–This goes along with Jackson’s voice being believable.  Thinking back to college, Jackson’s actions and feelings about Holly early on in the novel don’t surprise me.  He’s really into learning more about time travel and figuring this out with his friend Adam.  Jackson’s problem is that he really cares about Holly, but his actions say differently.  He often breaks plans with her and really doesn’t seem that invested in the relationship.  Part of Jackson’s growth as a character is how he begins to understand the problems with how he treated Holly.  Part of this focus will be what didn’t work for me, but as a whole I appreciated this area of Jackson’s growth.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

  • I know this has nothing to do with the author, but I need to mention it. I’m not a fan of the cover.  Julie Cross has written a cool novel about time travel using an authentic male voice.  So why is the title in a pink font?!  And although I understand that Jackson wants to save Holly, I really don’t think that the girl on the cover should be center.  This book could/should be marketed as an excellent book with guy appeal.  I’m sure many of my boys will pick this up once I tell them about it, but I’m sure many of them wouldn’t expect it to be a “guy book” based on the cover.  We need to be realistic, many teens pick up books based on the covers.  Even I do it.  It’s a cool cover, but even being more on the gender-neutral side of things, it still has more girl appeal than guy appeal.
  • I wanted more time travel and mystery.  After Jackson jumps to a new time period when Holly is shot, he soon discovers that his dad might know more and be more than he’s letting on.  Jackson starts wondering if his dad works for the CIA.  The scenes when Jackson is trying to uncover some answers were taut with mystery and suspense and kept me turning the pages.  And then they’d stop.  So much of Jackson’s focus is his love for Holly, yet I didn’t believe his love for her was real at the beginning of the book.  Slowly this love Jackson has for her feels more authentic, but too much time was devoted to scenes between the two of them.  He starts to get to know Holly at different time periods which didn’t seem that important to the plot development.  The history and science behind Jackson’s life is much more interesting and should be a stronger focus in Tempest.
  • The ending–The ending of Tempest is full of action which is great, but after pages and pages of Jackson getting to know younger Holly, the ending felt rushed.  There’s a cliffhanger leading us into the second book which I plan on reading, but some of the new elements introduced at the end could have been fleshed out a little more.  I already know that I’ll need to read the ending of Tempest again before reading the second book because so much was introduced in the last couple chapters.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Myra McEntire Hourglass

390pp.  Egmont  2011  ISBN: 978-1-60684-144-0

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Source: Purchased

Summary (From Goodreads):

One hour to rewrite the past . . .

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.

This is a book that I was excited to read because of the fresh plot idea and the romance referenced in the summary.  After debating between a few books I decided on Hourglass and jumped right in.  I was hooked immediately.  Once Emerson first confronted a not-from-this-time phantom, questions and predictions started racing through my mind.  Is she really seeing them?  Why are they there?  How will these play into the story?  My interest took off from there.

Emerson is living with her older brother, Thomas, and his wife, Dru.  I love these characters.  They are everything you’d want an older brother and his wife to be in this situation, and any time, really.  They’re supportive, understanding, caring, etc.  I love their career choice as well.  They’re trying to renovate all the old buildings in their town to revive the town.  This ends up playing an important part in the story.  Also, Thomas is who introduces Emerson to Michael.  Michael is part of the Hourglass and says he can help Emerson deal with seeing the phantoms.

Michael is the mysterious, sometimes brooding, protective heart-throb often found in paranormal YA.  Emerson has an unusual and powerful connection/attraction to Michael, but Michael won’t do anything about it because he can’t “mix business with pleasure.”  This introduces our heart-throb tension.  I will point out that Emerson isn’t the typical “damsel in distress.”  She has a brown belt in karate and knows how to defend herself.  These elements between Michael and Emerson, while a different twist on the usual paranormal storyline, caused some problems for me.  I love Emerson’s character and how strong she is.  But after a while I grew tired of how often she assured us that she’s tough.  We’re so often hearing about how bad it is to write female characters who are weak and need their male counterpart, but in this case I grew tired of constantly being reminded of how tough Emerson is.  There’s not much middle ground here.  I wanted to see Emerson show more emotion and even some vulnerability.  I know this is a conflict she admits to as a character, but it still irked me.  Reading Michael in this story really made me think about paranormal heart-throbs in general.  Michael is in college, so he’s written as being a bit more mature than the average high school guy.  But I still didn’t buy into him being a college student.  I know not all guys are immature and want to party and all of that.  But Michael, and his friend Kaleb, are simply too adult.  The way they’re written, I pictured them as guys in their late 20s.  I had no problem reading Emerson as a teenage girl, however.  Why is this happening so much in this genre of YA?

The story itself is fun and different.  Many people are interested in the idea of time travel, so this book will go over well with my students.  There are some holes in the story, but maybe they’ll work themselves out in book two.  I just wish that we would have gotten to the actual time travel part of the story sooner.  Is anyone else getting tired of all of these 400+ page novels?  I appreciate attention to detail and world-building, but I’m still searching for reasons why Hourglass needed to be almost 400 pages long.

I know this isn’t a raving, I give this five stars review, but I did enjoy it.  I just didn’t love it.  I’d love to know what others who have read this think.  I’m also looking forward to what my students this school year will think.

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