Wednesday, September 28, 2011

REVIEW: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

ARC Cover
Final Cover
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Young Adult/Teen
Genres: Psychological Suspense, Romance

Every night when she goes to sleep, 16-year-old London Lane forgets. In the morning, all she has is a note telling her about a day she can't remember—and about all the days before that. But while her past is a blank, London "remembers" the future, getting glimpses of times to come in the lives of herself and those around her. She knows that her classmate will be accepted into a good college, that her best friend Jamie's love affair will end tragically—but has no idea what she wore, did, or said the day before. With the help of her mom, Jamie, and her detailed crib notes, London has managed to live a relatively normal life, keeping her condition a secret from everyone else, even her doctors. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to dig into the past she keeps forgetting and perhaps even discover why her brain resets every morning at precisely 4:33 a.m. Especially now that she's met Luke, the boy who she can't see anywhere in her future but still turns up in her life, day after day.

Tracy's Thoughts:
The premise of this novel grabbed me immediately, and Cat Patrick's deft writing—somehow managing to juggle the complexities of London's condition without becoming repetitive or confusing me hopelessly—kept me glued to the story. I raced through this one in one sitting, inhaling every bit of it despite the need to suppress a certain level of disbelief. Patrick skillfully hands you clues to the mystery of London's condition, while offering several subplots, including a a spat between London and Jamie and family secrets—which later tie in to the main plot nicely.

I especially enjoyed the relationship between Luke and London (although their paired names make them sound like soap opera characters). Their romance is a bit rocky, but all the stronger for it. There is even an element of mystery to the relationship as readers wonder why Luke seems to single out London straight away. Is it simply normal attraction, or is there something else behind it? Plus, there are the unique challenges brought by London's condition, lending the book a sort of 50 First Dates appeal. Luke is a sweetly adorable guy next door, vulnerable, sensitive, sometimes awkward, and a little weird. London is equally likeable though not without flaw: she can be stubborn and a little slow to forgive, but she's also fiercely loyal, funny, and charmingly offbeat (but not in an overdone, clichéd way). Her entire personality doesn't center around her condition, an accomplishment for which I give Cat Patrick props.

All in all, Patrick does an admirable job of piecing together London's past and her future without tying everything up too tidily. Many readers will hope for a sequel, but Patrick claims she's happy with the book's ending and no sequel is planned. (There is, however, a movie in the early stages of development.) In my opinion, there's just enough for readers to draw their own conclusions. However, I was left wondering a bit more about the practicalities of London's condition, and also a bit bothered by the suddenness of some of the twists at the end (oh, my, were there twists). One thing, which I will not reveal due its spoilerish nature, bothered me in particular.

I would recommend this book to all YA readers who enjoy a combination of romance and mystery/suspense, especially if they like just a touch of the paranormal for flavoring. If this sounds like the book for you, we have a copy up for grabs in our Fall Giveaway Event! Library copies are on order.

Final note: Did you notice the two covers at the beginning? The prettier, more romantic ARC cover (left) was changed to the cover on the right—which I think does a better job of evoking the novel's suspense element—for the final publication. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

REVIEW REDUX: Previously Recommended Titles from our Fall Giveway

Do some of the titles from our Fall Giveaway sound familiar, but you're not sure why? Several have been featured titles in our Recommended Reading Lists! Here's a quick reminder of some of the titles I've recommended previously. All-new fresh reviews of some of the other titles up for grabs will be forthcoming over the next few weeks.
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Comedy
Set in the colorful world of modern India, this novel is a comedy of manners in the tradition of Jane Austen. Simpler in style than Austen’s work—many reviewers have compared it to Alexander McCall Smith's No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series—The Marriage Bureau for Rich People is a light, engaging novel about relationships, family expectations, and Indian marriage traditions. The novel’s central characters are Mr. Ali, a Muslim retiree who decides to open a marriage bureau out of boredom and Aruna, the poor Hindi girl whom he hires as an assistant. There is nothing catastrophic in the plot, but the lack of angst, the vivid descriptions of everyday Indian life, and the amusing travails of marriage seekers combine to make a very pleasant, relaxing read perfect for an afternoon of lazing outside with a glass of lemonade.

American Widow by Alissa Torres, illus. by Sungyoon Choi
Genre: Memoir (Graphic Format)

American Widow is a beautiful graphic memoir that illustrates the author’s private grief in the wake of a national tragedy. On September 11, 2001, Eddie Torres left for his second day of work at Cantor Fitzgerald and never returned. His wife Alissa was 7 months pregnant. What follows is a raw and lyrical look at her resulting anger, confusion, and depression as well as the weary tenacity that allowed her to carry on—all perfectly highlighted by images that perhaps express more than words ever could. For me, one of the most poignant moments is when Alissa, surrounded in the maternity store by happy couples, shops for a black funeral dress. Thankfully, this novel avoids the pitfalls of over sentiment or self-pity by balancing its focus between Alissa’s life with Eddie, a young Colombian immigrant who “dreamed the American Dream,” and the aftermath of grief, helpless anger, media frenzy, and bureaucratic red tape.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Genre: Magical Realism, Women's Fiction, Southern Fiction

Little Giant is a tall tale with a bit of a dark side. Truly Plaice was born big—so big that half the men in Aberdeen were placing bets on how much the Plaice’s new son (everyone was sure she would be a boy) would weigh. Due to an unusual medical condition, Truly is continuously growing and becomes an object of curiosity and, often, disgust—especially in comparison to her delicately beautiful sister Serena Jane. In addition to a truly unique character, the novel also offers up bits of charming, rural folklore: an heirloom quilt, a rundown family farm, and a family’s healing tradition are all important threads throughout the book. Thanks to an intriguing plot that examines the questions of destiny, life, and death and a narrative style reminiscent of Alice Hoffman, first-time author Tiffany Baker stands out as an author to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if her debut becomes the next darling of reading groups and book clubs.

I truly enjoyed each of these books. If you haven't read them yet (or loved them and want a copy of your own), enter our Fall Giveaway Event and let us know which ARCs interest you!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall giveaway event!

You've heard of spring cleaning, right? Well, Lucinda and I took a look around our respective offices and overflowing home bookshelves and decided a fall cleaning was definitely in order. The good news for you? We've got dozens of ARCs, both old and new, that we have to give up (unless we want to be buried beneath our TBRs, which are beginning to resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Or, at least mine is!). Anyway, here are the prepub books that we can't wait to pass over to your hot little hands! We think there's a little something for everyone. Rules of entry are at the end of the post. Contest ends on Friday, October 14, 2011.

Primary Audience: Adults

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (October 2011)

A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres (October 2011)

Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan (October 2011)

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles by Fabi Geda (August 2011)

Original Sin by Beth McMullen (July 2011)
Sally Sin #1

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy (June 2011)

Prophecy by S.J. Parris (May 2011)
Giordano Bruno Mystery #2

Heresy by S.J. Parris (2010)
Giordano Bruno Mystery #1

One Day by David Nicholls (2010)

Simple Skin Beauty Dr. Ellen Marmur (2010)

Think of a Number by John Verdon (2010)

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees (2010)

The Promised World by Lisa Tucker (2010)

Etta by Gerald Kolpan (2009)

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker (2009)

South of Broad by Pat Conroy (2009)

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama (2009)

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (2009)

American Widow by Alissa Torres (2008)

The House at Midnight by Lucie Whitehouse (2008)

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore (2008)

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (2008)

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (2008)

So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz (2008)

The White Mary by Kira Salak (2008)

Primary Audience: Teens

Promise the Night by Michaela McColl (November 2011)

The Phantom Limb by William Sleator (October 2011)

Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A.J. Hartley (October 2011)

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (September 2011)

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (September 2011)
Birthright #1

Falling for Hamlet by Michelle Ray (July 2011)

Forgotten by Cat Patrick (June 2011)

Chime by Franny Billingsley (March 2011)

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa (February 2011)
Iron Fey #3

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (February 2011)

A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (2010)
The Agency #1

The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee (2010)
The Agency #2

White Cat by Holly Black (2010)
The Curse Workers # 1

The Duff by Kody Keplinger (2010)

Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman (2010)

The Karma Club by Jessica Brody (2010)

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff (2010)

Primary Audience: Middle Grade

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (February 2011)
Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson #1

Radiance by Alyson Noël (2010)
Riley Bloom #1

Big Nate Strikes Again by Lincoln Peirce (2010)
Big Nate #2

Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner (2010)
Keepers Trilogy #1

Keeper by Kathi Appelt (2010)

Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle (2010)
Flower Power #1

We the Children by Andrew Clements (2010)
Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School #1


1. To enter, leave a comment on this post stating which ARCs you would like to win. Choose up to 10! We cannot guarantee the number of titles you will receive (results will vary according to number of entries) or that you will receive the titles you've selected, but we'll do our best to make you happy! Priority will be determined by a random drawing on October 14th.

2. Please include your e-mail address with your comment so we can notify you if you win something! Hint: To prevent trawlers from picking up your address you may format your address as follows: reference[AT] bcplib [DOT] com.

3. You can earn bonus entries! To earn an extra entry in the random drawing, click Follow and/or subscribe to Book News and Reviews by e-mail or RSS. You can also earn an extra entry for each comment you make on any other Book News and Reviews posts (only 1 comment per post counts). Add a plus one to your comment below for each bonus entry you've earned. For example,if you've signed up for a BN&R e-mail subscription and commented on 4 posts other than this one, put "+5" at the end of your comment below. You will be entered in the drawing a total of 6 times.

4. Here's the catch. All ARCs must be picked up at a Bullitt County Public Library location. Winners will be notified via e-mail.

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