Review: You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith

Hardcover: 256 Pages
Release Date: May 19th, 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Author Info: Website | Twitter
Buy the Book: Amazon | IndieBound
Add It: Goodreads

Emma and her neighbor Peter are both lonely in a way that only bothers them on occasion. They both come from families they don’t quite understand. They both feel like something big is missing from their lives—and they’re both about to search for answers. When Emma makes a discovery that shakes the foundations of her identity, she convinces Peter to join her for a road trip.

Each of them has something to find: For Emma, it is a grave—a grave that may be her only connection to her family. Peter is seeking something harder to define, but perhaps easier to navigate—a freedom, a sense of something more than what he has. Together, they take to the open road, engaging in a universal quest to make sense of who they are and where they come from…and learning a thing or two about love along the way.

I don’t know why I love reading travel books so much. They only make me long to travel more. Wanderlust unsuppressed. Visiting new places and seeing things I can’t quite experience behind a computer screen on Google Earth. Though that is a cheap way to “travel”.

Jennifer Smith has written a road trip book unlike any other I’ve read. The depth and thoughtfulness put into the story is pure. There’s a lot of emotion in this book whether it be sad or happy, angry or comical. Every situation playing off each other to create a flow of events and a truly unique coming of age story.

I can relate to any story involving twins. It’s a twin thing, sure, but anyone can relate to this story. It’s one of self-discovery. Feeling out of place in the life you live at home. Wanting there to be something out there better than your current life. Needing there to be. I can understand this. We all can. Loneliness and feeling like you don’t really fit in is universal. You Are Here takes those universal doubts and questions and does it’s best to answer them in a thought-provoking way. Successfully I might add.

Emma and Peter set out on a road trip together for two different reasons. Emma wants to find out about the twin brother she once had, but died shortly after their birth. Peter wants to visit Gettysburg (He’s crazy about the Civil War.). On the way they discover things about each other that they hadn’t planned. Mundane things like their favorite things, but also deeper things like love, loss and taking what they have for granted.

Emma feels out of place in her house full of scholars and professors, unconnected. Like a puzzle piece from a different puzzle that just doesn’t seem to fit in. Peter, with his Civil War obsession and out-of-touch dad, the town sheriff, and his mother who died years before, always felt more at home with Emma’s parents.

The idea for a road trip book is a simple one. One that’s been done before and will be done again, but it’s what happens on the road that determines the quality of the story. The character interaction, the emotional tension, the progressive dialogue –it all has to work seemlessly. I can’t imagine having to come up with enough things to say during a multiple hour car ride much less write a book about it with such emotional drive.

After reading The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Jennifer Smith quickly jumped up to be one of my favorite contemporary authors. After reading this, she has secured her place once more. You Are Here is now my favorite “road trip” book. You should all read it.

Disclaimer: It WILL make you want to go on an impromptu road trip. I’m ready to go on one now.

Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Hardcover: 441
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Author Info: Website | Twitter
Buy the Book: Amazon
Add It: Goodreads | Shelfari
Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Delirium was fast paced, action packed, and made you question love itself. Lena has grown up knowing the deliria nervosa made her mother jump off that cliff. It changed her. She grew up knowing that her day of treatment would be coming up and she would no longer have to worry about contracting the deliria. She knew the symptoms, the laws, and everything to do with it so she was ready to be cured. That was until she met Alex and makes her question everything.

This book was beautifully written and had a well driven plot. I had been meaning to get around to reading it for almost a year since it came out, then my girlfriend basically told me I had to read it soon because it was one of her all-time favorite YA books. So I did. At first, I was reading it and it was just taking me a while to get in to, then I got the audiobook instead and tore through it!

The story really picked up for me after the first 200 pages, which may seem like a lot but it’s worth it, and carried the rest of the story through with action on every page. And the ending, oh how I didn’t expect the ending AT ALL. It leads well into Pandemonium and I can’t wait to start that soon!

About the Audiobook:

Sarah Drew, who read, did an awesome job. She also read the audio for Before I Fall, Oliver’s debut novel, which I now really want to listen to instead of reading just for her reading. She really brought the characters to life and added her own inflections for each one so they sounded different. I could feel the action scenes through her voice and the same for the calm and loving scenes. Overall, the audiobook was definitely worth the listen!

BEA: A Survival Guide

With Book Expo of America looming closer and closer (FOUR WEEKS, GUYS!), I have been thinking of what I could do to help out anyone in need of assistance where BEA things are concerned. I asked Twitter and received quite a few questions that I’ll answer in my next post. We can call this a “Fireside Chat with Jeremy about BEA.”

BEA. A convention for the strong-willed and daring type. Not for the faint of heart. There’s a reason for the title of this post and if you’ve been to BEA in the past, you’ll know exactly what I’m referring too.

Imagine going to a zoo and seeing a bunch of lions grazing through the exhibit looking a tad bit hungry. Now enters a single zookeeper with one steak in his hands. He gingerly sets it down then runs for dear life as the lions begin to run and pounce all over each other just to get to that steak and ease their overwhelming hunger. Not every lion will get a piece of the steak, some will continue to not eat. But in reality, a few of the lions were hurt in the chance to get some of it. But it probably wasn’t worth it because now they are bleeding and still hungry.

Horribly long and terrible analogy, I know. But seriously. Tell a bunch of people “FREE BOOKS!!” and they come in hoards to pounce, jab, and dive for a book they have been dying for or even just to fill up their tote bag. It’s a sad reality, but it happens every year. People are bitten, bruised, and stepped on all because of some book.

I ask of you, please don’t be that person. I respect other bloggers and feel like I should do my best to keep in mind that I am representing my own blog as well as the YA community while at BEA and if I’m fighting with someone or diving into Scholastic’s booth, I am a terrible representation. You may be thinking, what’s the big deal with wanting a book? That’s what it’s there for. But you have to also know that other people (editors, authors, agents, publishers, etc.) see your actions even if you don’t think they do and they will be quick to judge the blogging community as a bunch of kids doing whatever to get free books. This was the sad reality of last year’s convention.

We must do better this year. Yeah, some people won’t listen and will still do whatever they can to get a book, even if they won’t even read it. (Hint: you have to pay to ship this stuff home. Think about that when you just grab stuff.) But in all honesty, you represent yourself, your blog, and your community when at an event like this so please be mindful of that. Talk to booth workers, befriend other bloggers, etc. This is a time to meet new people and make connections too, it’s not just about getting books (which most people think it is).

Feel free to leave any questions you may have about it in the comments below and I’ll make more posts up until BEA as long as there are questions to be answered.

Teen Author Carnival Author List Released

One of my all-time favorite events to go to is the Teen Author Carnival in NYC during BEA week. It’s hosted and put together by my friends Mitali Dave, Devyn Burton, and Korianne Wey. Every year, their list seems to get more and more impressive and this year surely didn’t disappoint. With a total of 39 authors, this is one event you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss.

Teen Author Carnival will be Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 from 6:30pm – 9:30pm at the Jefferson Market Library. There are a bunch of fun and exciting panels where a whole string of authors are lined up to talk about everything from romance to angst to ass-kicking main characters. It’s just an all around have to be there event.

And I think I’ve delayed long enough so check out the list of authors attending this year below:

Hannah Moskowitz, Melissa Walker, Leah Clifford, Scott Tracey, Gretchen McNeil, Victoria Schwab, Corrine Jackson, Sarah Tregay, K. M. Walton, Kody Keplinger, Tiffany Schmidt, Gennifer Albin, Aimée Carter, Hilary Weisman Graham, Barry Lyga, Jen Calonita, Jennifer Smith, Alecia Whitaker, Tom Pollock – The City’s Son, Crissa Jean Chappell, Karen Mahoney, Fiona Paul. Lauren Morrill, Katie McGarry, Michelle Zink, Eliot Schrefer, Courtney Allison Moulton, Lenore Appelhans, Michelle Hodkin, Rebecca Serle, Stacy Kramer, Valerie Thomas, Siobhan Vivian, Margaret Stohl, Lauren Oliver, Lucas Klauss, Jackson Pearce, Kieran Scott, and Jeri Smith-Ready.

RIGHT?! What an impressively spectacular list! It makes me so much more excited now that I know who will be there and who I can finally meet!

If you were on the fence about coming to TAC or even BEA, I think after reading this, the answer should be simple. Do not miss this for anything.

For more information and updates, be sure to check out TAC’s Tumblr or Website.

Books of the Month: May

Our Books of the Month features two books that we selected as our favorites: one debut and one non-debut. Throughout the month, we will try to have special features on those books, reviews, giveaways, and more while helping to promote them.

I know it’s a little bit late to be posting this but I wanted to go ahead and write up a post about our two books of the month for May. For our Book of the Month, I chose what may be an obvious one. And for my Debut of the Month, I chose one possibly lesser known but still a great contemporary I think you’ll love.

Our Book of the Month is City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare. This is the fifth book in the Mortal Instruments series and possibly my most anticipated book of the year. I’ve been waiting since April of last year when I tore through City of Fallen Angels just to be tormented by the ending..but now it’s released and finally everyone can read it.
Our Debut of the Month is When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. It’s a lesser known contemporary debut and I honestly hadn’t heard much about it until recently. But it’s an honest and heartbreaking modern recounting of Romeo and Juliet from another’s point of view. I think it’s one you’ll easily love.
And with that, you now know our Books of the Month! We hope you pick up one or both of these books off our recommendation. Feel free to come back and comment on this post if you decided to pick it up and read it and let us know what you thought!

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