Tag Archives: Forever Young Adult

The Princesses of Iowa – M. Molly Backes

The Princesses of Iowa – M. Molly BackesTitle: The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes
Publishing Info: May 8, 2012 by Candlewick
Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 16, 2013

    What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.
Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be? In this arresting and witty debut, a girl who was once high-school royalty must face a truth that money and status can't fix, and choose between living the privileged life of a princess, or owning up to her mistakes and giving up everything she once held dear.

bookreview1I admit that I was a bit hesitant going into this book due to so many middle-of-the-road and disappointed reviews from fellow readers and bloggers. While I can understand where those reviews probably came from, I was actually really surprised at how much I liked THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA.

This book is no cake walk. Although I was able to read it fairly quickly, it’s a book that deals with a LOT of issues: teen drinking, drunk driving, homosexuality, abusive relationships, and every other thing that teenagers face in their daily lives as well. It’s chock-full of sensitive subjects, but I was actually pulled into the story by all of these things rather than put off by them.

It’s not easy to watch Paige figure out where to pick up her life after a rough spring and summer. She was one of the popular girls, destined to be homecoming queen ever since the 8th grade. Usually I have a hard time reading stories from the point of view of the “popular girl” because I was never one of them, nor did I want their lifestyle, but Paige was different for me. She went through a horrific situation that FINALLY awakens her to the fact that maybe being popular isn’t quite as important as the movies make it seem to be – BUT that was my problem (as it always is) with the whole “popular” story line. I JUST NEVER GET IT. I never really understood the whole Homecoming Queen/high heels/Mean Girls appeal to anyone… I guess it’s never really been my style, but I find it really hard to take books seriously when the “popular” aspect goes overboard there.

Anyway, like I was saying, despite all that stuff, I did enjoy it because I liked watching Paige figure out what REALLY matters. One of my favorite things (and probably why I liked the book so much) was her Creative Writing class and the new substitute teacher, Mr. Tremont. Now, I have no idea how to write, but I’m constantly battling against myself on how to start because I really do want to write SOMETHING someday. Just the whole inspiration and writing scenes that weave in and out of this book made me want to pick up a pen and just WRITE. Mr. Tremont actually reminded me of one of my Geography professors in college (go figure – not even close to English), so I had a real picture of how his character should be (at least in my mind).

That was another reason I think I ended up liking the book – Although I think authors go a little overboard on the “popular” stereotypes, there’s a reason they’re stereotypes: They’re true. I saw a lot of girls from my high school in Paige, Nikki, and Lacey. I wouldn’t go as far as matching outfits (Please. Only Mean Girls do that, am I right?) but the partying, parents who actually provided the kids with alcohol (like in the book how Paige’s mother practically encourages her to drink to stay popular), the annoying but popular jock boyfriend – ALL of these existed at my high school. Although I never understood these kids and didn’t hang around with them, it all really did happen, scandals and all. I’m sure if I put some of the things that DID happen in my high school, it wouldn’t even sound believable so yes, I get it. I was completely baffled by the fact that these girls got in a car accident caused by drunk driving and they were still popular. RIGHT?! But then I thought back when I was 17 or 18 when a girl at my high school hit a guy on a motorcycle because she was high and he ended up dying and somehow (I don’t really know how) as far as the general public knew, she was punished to the point that I knew about it and she went back to school and her group of friends and her social status like nothing ever happened. It’s just as baffling in real life as it is in a book, I guess.

I do think though, that for the sake of sounding believable, there were a few too many issues all crammed in the book at one time. I felt like the book could have been a bit more focused on one issue or another and it still would have had a very moving and poignant message. There was a bit much all crammed together and although I still enjoyed the book, it was kind of “Shock and Awe” that really grabbed me, I think.

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Paige: Paige is a difficult character to talk about. I hate the “popular” thing (see? I even have to put it in quotes) and I just don’t like reading about that focus. She was extremely shallow at times and there was literally one point in the book where I threatened to punch her in the face because I was SO MAD at her. I guess it’s hard to let go of your old life, but she just went back and forth and back and forth… With Paige as the MC, I can totally see why people ended up not liking the book. I’m glad I came out on the other side appreciating the story.
Jake: Jake was a laughable boyfriend. God, what a weird story line with him involved. Is he cheating on Paige with Lacey? Is he crazy? Is he violent? So many weird questions, some of which I felt didn’t quite get resolved. He’s definitely one of those characters created so you’re destined to root for the Other Guy. Speaking of which…
Ethan: I loved Ethan. He was like one of those guys that I would just totally be friends with. I know he was portrayed as somewhat “weird” in the book and what’s funny is that in high school, I guess I would have seen it as a little weird and as an adult THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I ACT. God, I hate high school sometimes.
Lacey: God, what the hell was up with Lacey? I don’t know if you’re supposed to like her in the end, but I just really, truly hated her. She was a Mean Girl for sure!
Nikki: Nikki was kind of a throwaway character for me. She really was a character with little substance. She went from shallow to series and kept swinging back and forth. I hardly knew what to think of her.

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Try it

It was a good read for me but I also did have some issues with it. I can totally understand why people were all over the board with ratings but I still enjoyed it.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE PRINCESSES OF IOWA

     Torched      Confessions of an Angry Girl

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity – Elizabeth WeinTitle: Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein
Publishing Info: May 15, 2012 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Library
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 16, 2013
Related Posts: Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2)

  Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.
    When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
    As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

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The mysteries and surprises are some of the best part of this book so I PROMISE not to include any spoilers. Like most of my books, I went in blind, with only the knowledge that this took place during WWII and it made the book so much better!

Usually, historical fiction is not my thing. I was never a big history buff and I frequently get bogged down in names, dates, and events. Embarrassingly so, I don’t know a lot about history because I was never interested and that usually hinders me from liking books that take place in a historical setting, but CODE NAME VERITY is anything but boring. It did have a bit of a slow start, but quickly picked up as you get pulled into the narrator’s current situation (her identity is revealed not too far into the book, but as I didn’t see it coming, I’m certainly not going to tell you!) and how her story of Maddie the pilot all fits into the big picture.

CODE NAME VERITY is not an easy read in more than one way. First: it’s WWII we’re talking about here. There are some gruesome details as far as torture and deaths go and my God, it’s like you get to know these characters. Their stories are absolutely heartbreaking. Second: The content is so heavy that I literally could not breeze through it – Of course, it wasn’t my goal to breeze through, but this is a book you really need to take your time with. Sit down, relax, and close yourself off to the world as you get lost in this plot. The further you are in it, the sadder it is, but it makes for such a more emotionally-invested experience. Third: ALL THE CAPSLOCK. These are first hand accounts of what these girls witnessed during the war and their personal diaries and journals. Every single emotion is exposed on the pages of this book and I really felt like these were real people. It was really hard to read the awful things that these girls went through and my heart and soul went into reading this book.

As with any good spy book, there are TWISTS, and oh the glory of them! Quite a few things that I didn’t see coming (don’t try to search for them – It’s better if you’re surprised) and it just made the whole book that much more interesting. I didn’t know until after it happened exactly how much sense it made. It’s one of my favorite things for a twist to be revealed and then think back on every incidence in which I missed its presence. It’s quite an astonishing thing!

I don’t know what more I can say except that I think everyone should read this amazing story. I don’t know if teachers have incorporated this in their English classes, but I think they should. It’s far better than anything I ever read in school and with historical and literary aspects combined into one amazing book, I think anyone from teenagers to adults should be reading this. I’m so glad Forever YA picked this as their January read or else I might not have picked it up!

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Maddie: It took me a while to warm up to Maddie, mostly because I was trying to figure her out. She was a great character – Stubborn. Fierce. Shy, yet confident in her abilities as a pilot. Not afraid to stand up for herself and finding her place in a man’s world. She definitely grew on me as the book progressed and although it took me a while to really place her in the story, she definitely had a huge impact on me as a reader!
Queenie: What a character Queenie was! Gosh. I can just picture her there in Word War II, all her beauty and ferocity making her an extremely lethal weapon. I absolutely loved her character, thousands of times over. She was definitely one that stood out for me and her story was incredible as well.

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BUY IT!

This book was soooo good. It was heartbreaking, heartwarming, and everything in between. History fiend or not, it’s an important one to read.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE CODE NAME VERITY

   BURIAL RITES       Grave Mercy

Forever Young Adult book club – Chicago Suburbs branch

Calling all YA fiction lovers who live in the Chicagoland area!!!

You may or may not have seen the many tweets and Facebook posts within the past month trying to promote the brand-new branch of the Forever Young Adult book club. They actually have many, many branches throughout the US (and I think even some in Canada and maybe even Australia??), so if you’re not in the Chicago area, check out the link above to see if there’s one in your area!

Sorry, back on topic here… The VERY FIRST meeting of the Chicago Suburb branch of the FYA book club is meeting this month on Saturday, February 23rd. I’m trying to get a bunch of people to attend because of course, we always love happy new faces! It’s going to be our first meeting so I’d love to get as many people out there as I can!

If you can’t make it this month, I really hope you consider future months!!! Please just let me know your name and email address and I can keep you in the loop for future meetings!

For all you lovely people who don’t live in the Chicago area who are still reading (thank you), if you could help spread the word on Facebook/Twitter, I would be forever grateful!!! There are only so many people I’m able to contact and I’m sure there are some wonderful folks out there who don’t even know this exists yet. Oh, you guys are amazing 🙂

Here are the upcoming books:
FEB – The Princesses of Iowa
MAR – The Raven Boys
APR – Sweethearts
MAY – Sabriel
JUN – Every Day

And of course, the links where you can find FYA Chicago Burbs:
Goodreads Group: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/94184-forever-ya-book-club—chicago-suburbs
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/#!/events/255377037927448/

Please email me with any questions or if you’re interested in joining! — bookaddictsguide(at)gmail(dot)com