When two girls change places, nothing can go wrong: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

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Being Sloane Jacobs

By: Lauren Morrill

To be released in January 7th by Random House Children’s

Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Young Adult Sports and Games

Rating: 4 and a half Stars

Acquired: through Netgalley

Sloane Emily Jacobs is no stranger to the spotlight. She lives the life of a politician’s daughter in Washington D.C.; as well as a top figure skater in her age division. But, after a fall during a competition three years before, she hasn’t been on the ice much. Until she catches Daddy in the act. Whether to keep her hushed or not, she gets sent to an intense summer figure skating camp in Canada to prepare herself for nationals, and to be the top again.

Sloane Devon Jacobs has a habit of being too aggressive on the ice hockey field. Barely scrapping by, Sloane Devon’s only chance at going to college is by getting an ice hockey scholarship. But, when her aggression on the ice gets out of hand, her coach bans her for the next year, her senior year, of high school unless she goes to an ice hockey camp in Canada.

These two  girls may share the same name, but they come from two different backgrounds. Both on and off the ice. When the bump into each other, and discover they share the same name, that’s when it hits Sloane Emily Jacobs. It’s time for a switch. The girls’ adjustments to their new lifestyles won’t be easy. They each have something to prove, but can they pull it all off?

Lauren Morrill’s novel is one of those finds you can’t put down. Told in alternating voices, it’s easy to believe you are in Canada, too, living a double life. The girls were great. Sloane Emily wasn’t a prim and proper ice princess, she had spunk, attitude, and likability to her. I loved when it was her chapter; she was tough, while staying true to herself. Sloane Devon wasn’t an easy character to crack. She was much rougher around the edges than Sloane Emily, and a little bit harder to like. When I finally warmed up to her a little bit less than halfway, I quickly looked forward to her chapters, too.

Neither characters played the “poor girl” or “rich girl” card, proving their different classes didn’t mean anything. Instead it was about believing in themselves; on and off the rink. They had more to prove to themselves than anyone, and it was nice to see them succeed despite of themselves.

I am not a sports fan by any means. I don’t know the rules to ice hockey and need to hold onto bars if I go ice skating. Yet, I loved this book. It was more about believing in yourself, finding strength in the unknown, and taking personal risks than just about the two sports. The sports were prevalent, but used more as a soul searching device rather than a how-to device. I would recommend this book to all the sports loving readers and non-sports loving readers alike. There is something for everyone in it. Love, learning to be your own person, friendship, and sports. It’s all a winning combination in my book.

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Love is Neverending for the Believers: Endless by Amanda Gray Book Review

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Endless

By: Amanda Gray

Released September, 2013 from Month9Books, LLC

Length: 384 Pages

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal with a mix of Historical Fiction (Romanov Era)

Rating: Four Stars

Jenny Kramer was accustomed to seeing visions from just a simple touch, but when the visions start to involve Maria Romanov and becomes intertwined with her real life, Jenny has to find out what the connection between Maria and her is. And, why a boy from her visions seems very much alive next door to her. She’s can’t seem to stop herself from being drawn from him, either. Is it love? Is it Real?

For a majority of her life, it is just been Jenny Kramer and her architect dad since her mother died when she was young. Although she is close with her dad, the details surrounding her mom are vague. Jenny can’t remember anything about her. All she knew was her mother would disappear for periods of time without saying why.  Jenny never pushed her dad for details, but when a figure from her dreams not only sneaks into the paintings Jenny made for an exhibit, but appears in the abandoned manor next door, Jenny starts to question who her mother really was. Why did she have a ring that resembles that of a secret organization in her town that helps people out of time. And, what is out of time? There are so many questions Jenny needs to find the answers for. The first, why the man resembles a boy, Nikolai from the Romanov Era? And, why he calls her Maria, the girl she is in her dream? Is she related to a Romanov?

 There were so many layers to this novel that I can’t do them justice. So much intrigue. I loved the historical aspect. It brought anew twist to the paranormal/fantasy aspect in the novel. I enjoyed that the chosen period wasn’t that of the Tudors, or the like, but of the Russian Romanovs that have such a sad history. It made the book seem less cliche; Romanovs aren’t usually on the top of peoples radar. Gray was able to weave together the tragic end of the Romanovs, focusing on Maria Romanov, into a timeless love story. Jenny/Maria was a strong character. The love story between her and the mysterious Nikolai was great. It wasn’t a love that was forced down the reader’s throat because it is supposed to be true love. It was natural; believable in the intensity for once. The way Nikolai finds Jenny/Maria was awe-inducing. I didn’t cry over their love, but of all the true love YA books out there, this has to be one of the most original; and sweet, heart-warming, and not creepy in a It is Young Adult, but didn’t always feel like that which was refreshing. You didn’t think about how old the characters were. There was no High School moment. They were never in classrooms that would remind you you were reading a YA book. It all felt contemporary; and, the age irrelevant.  I am never a huge fan of reading soulmate books, but this one was one I would read again. It all felt more authentic than others.

The dialogue in this novel wasn’t the writers’ strong point, but it was enjoyable enough that I didn’t want to skip many pages. I loved the plot the best; the way it unfolded it a gradual pace that allowed me to hang on to my seat for a little while. I was definitely surprised, or shocked, at certain plot twists that I enjoyed. All the plot twists, or layers, were great. I really found this novel to be unique and original. Since Amanda Grace is a duo, I thought maybe I would read parts that belonged to one author and not the other, like some collaborations read. Not here. The novel was completely fluid, with no real style changes. The book may seem to be a little long at a little under 400 pages, but reading it feels like it is much shorter. I just kept turning the page as each twist appeared, an aw love moment would happen, and a funny line would appear. I loved this novel.

I highly recommend this book. Just read it. You will want more. There is a slight cliff hanger, but I couldn’t find out if it is part of a series. Makes me love it even more that it was so good I want a second one. I’m not even a real fan of series. It was that enjoyable for me. I want to find out more!

Falling Hard for Falling Hard: Falling Hard (Roller Girls #1) by Megan Sparks book review

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Falling Hard (Roller Girls #1)

By Megan Sparks

Released July, 2013 by Capstone Young Readers

Length: 255 Pages

Genre: YA fiction

Rating: Four Stars

Acquired: via netgalley

 

Annie has a choice to make: become a  fearless roller girl, or join become a British All-American cheerleader with the head cheerleader already marking you on her list.

After growing up in London, Annie relocates to the Midwest to live with her American father after her parents separated; leaving her life behind and starting high school as both a freshman and a foreigner. Wanting to please her dad, she tries out for the cheer-leading team, even though the captain, Miss Popular Kelsey, has it out for her.  But there is another sport that catches her eye, roller derby. After watching one game, with her new best friend, Annie is hooked. But, what about cheer-leading? And, the hot soccer player Tyler, perfect All-American boy. Can Annie juggle everything?

I read this book in a day. I couldn’t put it down. I laughed, a lot. It isn’t a book that is going to be a classic, or make it on any prestigious lists; I think that’s why I enjoyed it. It is such a light-hearted gem not to be missed. I liked Annie a lot, but it was her best friend I enjoyed maybe a little bit more. She just had such a great sense of humor. Called cheer-leading, cheer-weeding. She was one of those characters that was someone I would like to have in my corner. I could pass on oogling over Tyler, but there was also Jesse, who works at the roller rink and could have potential with Annie if she gets over the All-American Soccer boy crush. I don’t think dating an athlete is all that in regards to having a social life, but Annie thinks so. It was kind of annoying. But, really one of the only flaws in the book.

The writing was nothing fancy; which worked. The story wasn’t convoluted; it was very suitable for the age group the book is geared towards. Although I am no longer in that intended age group, I liked how I didn’t have to think while reading it. The flow was good. The dialogue was decent. It all meshed well. There is definitely a positive message in this book. Annie is a good role model; she is strong, speaks up for herself, a good friend, and makes good decisions (on what, you’ll have to guess. Is it roller derby or cheer-weeding?)  I am looking forward to reading the second book. It was just too fun to not want to continue the series. I am a little biased though, because I do like the roller derby. I loved the movie adaptation of Whip It starring Ellen Page (I haven’t read the book yet) that is very similar to this novel. Both girls are discovering themselves and how they fit in where they are living. Many girls in high school can relate to this book. The roller derby choice isn’t brought in for the violence factor. It is tied in a great, encouraging way.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for some light reading material. It is a great, one to two sitting read. You aren’t dedicating too much of your time. It isn’t a heavy commitment. And funny. Endearing. Leaves you with a smile. Give this little gem a try. You won’t regret it.

All you really need is… Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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Just One Day (Just One Day #1)

By Gayle Forman

Published January, 2013 by Dutton Juvenile

Genre: Young Adult, contemporary romance

368 Pages

Four stars

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

 Allyson Healey has just one day left before she heads back home to the US from her “trip of a lifetime” the ultimate European cultural experience her parents gave her as a graduation gift. But, it isn’t the trip that gave her a real cultural experience; not the endless tours and information thrown at her left and right that she absorbs and feels cultured. Instead, it all starts with a pamphlet in front of The Globe theater advertising Shakespeare’s comedy “The Twelfth Night” by a group called Guerrilla Will. It is then Allyson decides to break free from her tour group and get the cultural experience she so desired and expected.

All it took was one boy to show Ally how to really travel and see the world. After his stellar performance as Sebastian, and meeting him on a train on their way back to London, and him giving her the nickname Lulu does she become a different person–the adventurous, daring, free spirit that she wanted to be. He convinces her to go to Paris, the one city that the tour missed because of a strike; the one city she was dying to go to. All the cities she visited, like Rome, failed to live up to her expectations. But, Paris, Paris will be different. Willem, tall, dark (well blond), and handsome Dutch man takes her to Paris, the real Paris. Not going all touristy. Just authentically enjoying a city that lives up to her expectations.

So many wonderful things happen in this book. Ally’s struggles, both as Lulu and as herself, are authentic, something any teen and really adult can relate to, and imperfect just like we all are. She struggles with loving a boy she just met, going to college heartbroken, and friendless. It is the path that she decides to take towards the end that becomes inspiring. She goes back to Europe to find her lost love, continuously telling her love story. She meets new friends, see sights she never thought to see, and becomes Ally 2.0. And, I loved Ally 2.0. She is more free, less confined, and strong. So strong. Gayle Forman has a way of creating characters, female characters especially, as three dimensional, and someone you root for and care about. I rooted for Allyson, wanted to cry with her, and just smiled at her wit she didn’t even know she had. Not a lot of YA authors can craft an inspiring story that revolves around love. I have read countless love-centered novels that don’t really work. With this book, it isn’t about the ending, it is about the journey Allyson takes to finding herself and seeing how love, true love she feels, fit in. It takes her a year, not a week, to really feel all that love is. There is no rushing, no unrealistic expressions and actions. Everything just feels right.

It took me a long time to pick up this book to read. It was never on my top, no matter how much of a fan I was of If I Stay. I chose not to read Where She Went, but now I want to. I can’t wait for Just One Year now because the ending and teaser was so great. It is a good feeling when a book leaves you satisfied; complete in a way, like you’ve grown with the character. I would highly recommend this book. I read it in two sittings. Which is decent considering my mind wanders off too much. I just needed more. October can’t come fast enough.

“Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.”

Happy reading!

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