Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Deception Point

Deception Point
Dan Brown
December 2001
Reading Level: Adult


When a new NASA satellite detects evidence of an astonishingly rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice, the floundering space agency proclaims a much-needed victory...a victory that has profound implications for U.S. space policy and the impending presidential election. With the Oval Office in the balance, the President dispatches White House Intelligence analyst Rachel Sexton to the Arctic to verify the authenticity of the find. Accompanied by a team of experts, including the charismatic academic Michael Tolland, Rachel uncovers the unthinkable - evidence of scientific trickery - a bold deception that threatens to plunge the world into controversy...

This book had me riveted from the very start. This book was a complete page-turner, and I absolutely could not put it down.

After reading The Da Vinci Code, I was convinced that Dan Brown's books were just not for me. However, one of my friends (who is a huge Dan Brown fan) assured me that most fans of his think that The Da Vinci Code is his worst book. That, combined with the fact that reading materials were sparse during my study abroad trip, convinced me to read Deception Point.

I am SO GLAD I did. As I've already said, the book was riveting. I enjoyed every moment of it, and I couldn't wait to find out what was going on. The suspense was insane, and it was all just so incredibly interesting that I couldn't help but fall in love with the story and the characters.

However, the book is not without flaws. The one thing that bothered me is the complete impossibility of it all. I wasn't even halfway through the book when I came across the first instance of utter ridiculousness, and many times throughout the book I said to myself, "That is impossible, she should be dead." Rachel just seems to get out of every horrible life-threatening situation without a scratch, and after awhile it just seemed to get a little bit silly.

Still, if you're a fan of fast-paced thrillers, and are not too picky about little technical details, then I would pick this up. Also, if you hated The Da Vinci Code, you might like this novel better. I would say that it's a great book just to pass the time, and it offers something unique and fun that you don't find in a lot of novels (or at least, not novels that I've read).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Double Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer && The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain

These are books that, to most Americans, need no introduction. These are classics by almost any standard, not only because they are required reading in many schools (although not mine, unfortunately), but also because they offer incredible insight into the lives and minds of the average primary school-aged child growing up during the 19th century. It's true that these books are outdated, and irrelevant to the lives of most kids today, but there is still something so innocent and magical about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn that I couldn't help but be drawn to.

Despite the fact that these books were written more than a hundred years ago, I found them to be very easy to read and really fast-paced. I would also like to comment on the specific edition of the books I was reading: The Barnes and Noble Classics Series Editions. I read these on my NookColor and I just loved the introduction, the glossary of terms, the timelines, and everything else that added to my knowledge of the books and of Mark Twain himself. If you're looking to pick up these books, I would highly recommend the BN edition.

It's really hard to review these books, because so many people have read them. I'm sure a lot of people have very hard feelings towards these books because they were forced upon many people as young students, but I was lucky enough to willingly expose myself to these books, which perhaps enhanced my reading experience. I also have to comment on the fact that many people have an issue with the racism in these books (especially in Huck Finn). I am not racist, and I do not support openly racist books, but in these books I am willing to accept the fact that it was a common occurrence. This does NOT make racism right, but it is something that is very real to the time, and to make Huck Finn entirely unaffected by the racial issues of the time would be an insult to the reality of the time period and the novel. In addition, I believe that these books do not support racism in the slightest; the writing is very satirical, and Twain's purpose was to shed light on the ridiculousness of the common ideas, not to promote them.

But I do not want to discuss racial issues, because I know some people will have problems with this book regardless of what I say, and some of the more opinionated people might want to pick a fight about it. So moving on...

Overall, these books are interesting, fun, and fast-paced. I loved being able to take a look at the thoughts of such unique characters, and I'm glad that I was able to experience it without having to over-analyze the whole story within a classroom.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top Ten Authors I'd Love To Have At My Thanksgiving Feast

TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Go check it out :)

Top Ten Authors I'd Love to Have At My Thanksgiving Feast

1. John Green. This should be a fairly obvious choice, because John Green is hilariously funny and made of awesome. (I also wouldn't mind if his brother Hank tagged along!)

2. Maureen Johnson. Also hilariously funny. And made of awesome.

3. Sarah Dessen. She writes some of the best books I've ever read, and turned me onto reading YA way back when. She definitely deserves a spot at my table.

4. Libba Bray. Her writing is incredible, so I think it'd be awesome to meet her and see what she's like in person.

5. Margaret Mitchell. The author of Gone With the Wind can definitely sit at my table, especially because I think she'd add some drama to the mix.

6. Megan McCafferty. She writes funny books. She's probably funny in real life!

7. Meg Cabot. Also writes hilarious books. Equally funny blog, which I haven't read in a long, long time.

8. Suzanne Collins. How could I forget the incredibly amazing author of The Hunger Games??

9. Sarah Zarr. I feel like she could teach me something about life, just by being in her presence.

10. Elizabeth Scott. Her books are a healthy combination of everything: angst, romance, friendship, humor. A perfect blend.

I think my table would be an awesome blend of YA authors- with one dead broody person to add to the mix, haha.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top Ten Books I Had VERY Strong Emotions About

TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Go check it out :) 
Top Ten Books I Had VERY Strong Emotions About

Note: I would add The Hunger Games to this list, but I'm sure just about everybody has strong emotions about it. I thought I'd focus on some others that are not quite as obvious.

1. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. Hands down, this is the one book that I will always remember as a book that I loved so much, I hated it. The ending, just thinking about it even now, makes me want to go find the nearest copy and either 1) go read it or 2)  throw it across the room. 

2. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Oh, the tears. I'm sure a lot of readers felt the same way about this book. There was always something to be crying about, and I vividly remember the day I read it: I was sitting in my bed surrounded by tissues and empty A&W cans, and I would go out to the living room every once in awhile with tears in my eyes, just to take a break from the SADNESS! And then, when it was over, I took it out and said, "Mom, you have to read this book."

3. Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot. Meg Cabot has been one of my favorite authors for a long time (although I have to admit, I have not read any of her recent books), but I especially love her adult books. The humor in them is so much different than that found in her teen books, and I find them especially hilarious. This book was one that I could not put down because I was laughing so hard.

4. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. Such a sad, sad book. Not much to say about it, except that it was known to my family as "that crying book" for the longest time.

5. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I'm fairly certain that this is required reading for a lot of kids in middle/high school, but I'm not sure if everyone reacted quite like I did. I was sad, for sure, but I was also incredibly... touched. I don't know how to explain it, but I read this book right before taking a week-long vacation, and instead of enjoying my vacation I seemed to think about this book nonstop. It kept me awake at night, honestly, and I'm not really sure why. Maybe it was just because it is so incredibly real.

6. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. Another sad one. Not much to say about it, really. Just that it was sad and thought-provoking.

7. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. I think I mentioned this in a previous TTT post, and I'm more than happy to mention it again. This book had me in tears, which was a pleasant surprise, because I wasn't expecting such emotion to come from it. I really wish someone else would read this book so I can talk about it.

8. Sold by Patricia McCormick. The idea of children being sold into prostitution is such a heartbreaking one, and Patricia McCormick did the subject justice by writing this depressing, thought-provoking novel.

9. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. I had such strong feelings about this book because it was sad, funny, and it also confused me a little. It's hard to say too much without spoiling some o
f the main ideas, but when a book is this thought-provoking and deals with so many issues, it's natural that it should carry so much emotion behind it.

10. Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks. I'm not the hugest fan of Nicholas Sparks (I can only handle his books in small doses; maybe, one book per year?) but this is one of the first books I read of his, and I remember locking myself in the bathroom and bawling like a baby throughout the ending. That was, until I realized that most of his books end in a similar way... now, I don't care one way or another.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Summer Sisters

Summer Sisters
Judy Blume
Age Level: Adult

No writer captures the seasons of our lives better than Judy Blume.  Now, from the New York Times bestselling author of Wifey and Smart Women, comes an extraordinary novel of reminiscence and awakening--an unforgettable story of two women, two families, and the friendships that shape a lifetime.

When Victoria Leonard answers the phone in her Manhattan office, Caitlin's voice catches her by surprise.  Vix hasn't talked to her oldest friend in months.  Caitlin's news takes her breath away--and Vix is transported back in time, back to the moment she and Caitlin Somers first met, back to the casual betrayals and whispered confessions of their long, complicated friendship, back to the magical island where two friends became summer sisters.

Caitlin dazzled Vix from the start, sweeping her into the heart of the unruly Somers family, into a world of privilege, adventure, and sexual daring.  Vix's bond with her summer family forever reshapes her ties to her own, opening doors to opportunities she had never imagined--until the summer she falls passionately in love.  Then, in one shattering moment on a moonswept Vineyard beach, everything changes, exposing a dark undercurrent in her extraordinary friendship with Caitlin that will haunt them through the years.

As their story carries us from Santa Fe to Martha's Vineyard, from New York to Venice, we come to know the men and women who shape their lives.  And as we follow the two women on the paths they each choose, we wait for the inevitable reckoning to be made in the fine spaces between friendship and betrayal, between love and freedom.

Summer Sisters is a riveting exploration of the choices that define our lives, of friendship and love, of the families we are born into and those we struggle to create.  For every woman who has ever had a friend too dangerous to forgive and too essential to forget, Summer Sisters will glue you to every page, reading and remembering.

I sort of picked this book up on a whim; I was in a thrift store, and I have no reading material with me, and so I decided to give this a shot.

Overall, I would say it was a decent book. It was written well enough, and the story had me interested and I could sympathize with Vix and her deep feelings of friendship for Caitlin. However, I just don't think that it was a story that was really worth reading about.

The book is set over quite a lengthy period of time, from when Vix is a young girl to when she is a grown adult. It basically follows her life, and most especially her friendship with Caitlin. The reason I'm not really a fan of this book is because I feel like it is something that every girl has experienced in her life; the gaining of a great friend, and then the gradual loss as they grow older and grow apart. I suppose that is why this book is easy for women to relate to, but at the end I found myself with a "So what?!" feeling.

That's not to say that it isn't an interesting story; Caitlin is the type of person who captivates you, and Vix is easy to relate to because she's just your everyday girl, so the story is entertaining. However, I don't feel like I've gotten anything from the story. It's a good beach read, for sure, but nothing like what I was hoping for.


Monday, October 17, 2011

The Berlin Boxing Club

The Berlin Boxing Club
Robert Sharenow
April 2011
Age Level: YA

Fourteen-year-old Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew. But to the bullies at his school in Naziera Berlin, it doesn't matter that Karl has never set foot in a synagogue or that his family doesn't practice religion. Demoralized by relentless attacks on a heritage he doesn't accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth to everyone around him.

So when Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family. Karl longs to ask his new mentor for help, but with Max's fame growing, he is forced to associate with Hitler and other Nazi elites, leaving Karl to wonder where his hero's sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his dream of boxing greatness with his obligation to keep his family out of harm's way? 
The Berlin Boxing Club is a book that I was a little skeptical about reading. I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to enjoy a book about boxing, but I know that I always enjoy a book set during World War II. Because of this, I decided to give it a shot.

I am so incredibly glad that I gave this book a chance. If I hadn't, I would have missed out on a fascinating novel. Karl is a wonderfully complex character, who wants to stand out as a champion. At the same time, he wants to blend in, in order to be accepted by society in an unforgiving world. Watching Karl grow from the young boy he is at the beginning of the novel, to the man he becomes, is an incredible journey.

I also really enjoyed the illustrations. They provided something like comedic relief when placed next to the dark content of the novel, and it also gave readers an in-depth view of what Karl was drawing and thinking as his life went on.

The only problem I had with this book is the ending, and the reason that is the case is because it ended up somewhere entirely different than I was expecting. In the beginning, you get the sense of where you think the book will go. While I'm glad the book is not predictable in that sense, I still wish there could have been some closure when it comes to Karl's encounters with the people in his life. Although I suppose, considering that Karl not only becomes stronger physically, but mentally as well, the message of the book is that it's better to take the high road out and avoid confrontation. However, I suppose the action-lover in me was hoping for a huge showdown, which didn't happen as I expected.

Overall: even if you are skeptical, pick this book up and give it a chance. It surprised me, so it might surprise others as well. It's a great book about adolescence and growing up, and it's also set in a time where growing up might not be quite as simple as it is today.

PS. As a side note, I lent this book to a friend and he read it in two days or so. That just goes to show that it's good for girls and guys :)

Friday, October 14, 2011

13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes
Maureen Johnson
Original Publication Date: August 2005

When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.
I read this book for the first time when I was in high school, and I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to. However, when I got the chance to read it again, I decided to give it a go. After all, everyone loves Maureen Johnson, and she's hilarious on Twitter, so I knew there was obviously something wrong with me for not enjoying it.

Plus, I was about to embark on my own overseas adventure. Granted, I knew exactly where I was going and what I was doing, but it seemed to be the perfect book to read while traveling.

I must say, I did enjoy the book more the second time. I think part of the appeal of this book is simply the magical idea of having the chance to go to Europe on an unplanned, unknown adventure. As I was reading this book in the airport, all I wanted to do was to purchase a ticket for some random destination and see if I could make it.

This book is simply magical, while at the same time being entirely realistic. Because Ginny just didn't hop on a plane and go on a glorified adventure through Europe. She had problems throughout the book.

This book is more than just a trip through Europe, though. It's about growing up, and I can understand and relate to it much better now than I did when I was just a couple years younger. Throughout the book Ginny became a different person, and her entire view of things changed. I loved joining Ginny on a physical and spiritual journey, and I think a lot of girls could relate to her.

After reading this for the second time, I can honestly say that I am extremely excited to read The Last Little Blue Envelope. I want to see the end of Ginny's journey. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Class of 2k11 Giveaway

As a library lover and supporter, I am really happy to post about this giveaway.

The Class of 2k11 will be giving away 30 books. One pack of all 17 books from the Class of 2k11 will go to a school or library of the winner's choice. And another pack of 13 books will go to the winner.

I find it super awesome that there is a chance to win books for your library, and so I think everyone should head on over HERE and enter to win some books. It's really easy- all you have to do is comment.


Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again For the First Time

TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It's a lot of fun so stop by if you get the chance :)
Top Ten Books I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I feel like this is one of the books that everybody wants to re-read, but it's impossible to truly experience the magic when you know how everything ends up. I wish I could go back to being in suspense, always wondering what would happen next.

2. Twilight
by Stephenie Meyer. When I first read this, I was young and my opinions on good books were a lot different. I would like to go back and read this as a college student (as opposed to a middle schooler) and get a new perspective.

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Once again, I was young when I read this the first time, and I didn't really realize what a real piece of literature I had my hands on.

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Same thing. Young. Oblivious to literature.

5. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I cried so much reading this book. It was a constant tear-jerker, from beginning to end. I'd love to go back and do that all again.

6. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. Another tear-jerker that I'd like to experience for the first time.

7. Dreamland by Sarah Dessen. One of my favorites; I was so shocked the first time I read it, I'd love to feel that again.

8. Undone by Brooke Taylor. I was very excited to read this book because the hype at the time was unbelievable... it was everyone's new favorite. I was disappointed, but I'm not sure if that's because I was just busy and unable to enjoy it, or because my expectations were too high. I'd like to go back and try this again.

9. Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling. I'm sure everyone wants to relive their first magical moments with this boy wizard.

10. The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I love this book, and I want to relive it over and over and over again!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye
Sarah Dessen
May 2011
Age Level: YA

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combing Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.
As a long-time fan of Sarah Dessen's, I am always more than willing to buy her latest masterpiece. However, lately I've been finding myself more disappointed than not.

Going back in time, I can still remember being a young teenager reading Sarah Dessen for the first time. I devoured her books like crazy, reading and re-reading and going completely nuts for her work. Then, when her next book came out (at this time, it was Just Listen), I fell completely in love. I felt like there was always something new or different to be found with each novel.

Next came Lock and Key. And when I read this, I was sadly disappointed. While all of Sarah Dessen's previous books were memorable, with interesting and wonderful characters and unique and realistic plot lines, Lock and Key had none of that. It was cute, sure, but not anything I'd want to read again and again.

Following Lock and Key was Along for the Ride. After speed-reading this one, I felt like Sarah Dessen came back. Lock and Key was just a bump in the road, so to speak.

However, after reading What Happened to Goodbye, I'm not so sure what to think. While reading it, I thought that it was a very nice and refreshing book. Very cute and sweet; AKA, very Sarah Dessen. I enjoyed reading about MacLean's life, simply because she lives a life so different from my own. I also found myself hoping that everything would work out in her impossible situation.

While I enjoyed the book, I still had one problem: it was entirely too predictable. It's all girl meets boy, girl falls in love, girl has a problem, boy gets sad, girl finds herself, boy and girl get together, girl overcomes impossible situation, whatever. In previous books, I've always marveled at how Sarah Dessen could write about real situations that girls go through, and how the girls cope with their problems and find their own way. But this book just didn't seem real to me. It seemed like just any old love story. While it was sweet and fun to read in the moment, there is nothing about it that draws me back for seconds or thirds.

I'm sure if you enjoy Sarah Dessen's previous books, you will not be completely disappointed. However, if you're hoping for some of her earlier magic, you might have to wait for the next one, or revisit some of the classics.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Pam Bachorz
January 2011

Ruby dreams of escaping the Congregation. Escape from slaver Darwin West and his cruel Overseers. Escape from the backbreaking work of gathering Water. Escape from living as if it is still 1812, the year they were all enslaved.
When Ruby meets Ford--an irresistible, kind, forbidden new Overseer--she longs to run away with him to the modern world, where she could live a normal teenage live. Escape with Ford would be so simple.
But if Ruby leaves, her community is condemned to certain death. She, alone, possess the secret ingredient that makes the Water so special--her blood--and it's the one thing that the Congregation cannot live without.
Drought is the haunting story of one community's thirst for life, and the dangerous struggle of the only girl who can grant it.
Drought is a book that is extremely difficult to review. My feelings are so incredibly mixed about this book; one part of me wants to give it a raving review, but the other part of me has reservations about that sort of review.

Starting off, I felt like the book had a lot of religious subtext. This is not something that bothers me, although I think it's necessary to mention because I know some people may not enjoy this book for that simple reason. Once the plot moved forward a bit I didn't think it was too bad, but starting off it can be a bit overwhelming.

Other than the religious content, I thought this was a very enjoyable book. The plot had me intrigued and kept me in suspense, and I genuinely started caring about what happened to the main character. However, I felt like the other characters weren't as developed as they could be. I found myself wanting to know more about Ford, especially, and yet by the end I was unsatisfied. I also felt like it was a bit of an unrealistic setting and situation. I realize that the point of this type of novel is to broaden a reader's mind and send them to a far-off reality, but this book didn't have me quite sold.

Overall, a good read. However, I must warn you that you may not be satisfied with the content, especially when compared to some of the other great dystopian novels out on the market today.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff Contest + Entry

Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement, is holding a contest to win her second novel, The Space Between. Unfortunately, I have yet to read The Replacement, but I am still very interested in participating in this contest just because it gives me a chance to talk about a very cool experience I had.
Details about the contest can be found here, but hurry up... the deadline is midnight Eastern time on October 2nd.

One of the requirements of this contest is to talk about a trinket or souvenir that is important to me, and I shall do that now.

For the past two months I have been studying abroad in Fiji. Living in a developing country has proven to be quite an interesting and challenging task, because everyday people here live much different than people back in America. For example, the people live in "bures," which are basically thatched huts, and those that don't live in bures live in poorly constructed houses with no air conditioning units, no kitchen, no hot water, etc. The communities are quite different as well. A traditional Fijian village will be made up of a combination of different families, and the focal point of village life is at the community building where traditional ceremonies are held (such as the sevusevu ceremony, which is used to welcome visitors to the village), or the church on Sundays.

As a study abroad student, I had the opportunity to stay in one of these villages for a weekend, and my time there was invaluable. It made me learn to appreciate the luxuries that I have as an American, and also gain a greater respect for people living in developing countries. I know I will bring this new-found respect back to America with me, and it will make me a much better person in the long-run.

I told you that story to explain my memento: a two piece blouse and shirt combination that was given to me by my village sister. I was given the opportunity to sit in during their church service on Sunday, and my sister wanted to make sure that I was traditionally dressed for the service. She let me keep the outfit, even though I'm sure the family could use all the fabric and clothes they can get, and I will always keep it as a reminder of my learning experience in a Fijian village.

Note: this picture is just a general overview of what church clothes might look like. Mine is more of a floral print, and the top it not quite as long.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why I've Been Gone

Hello Everyone!

I haven't been updating in awhile, and here is the reason why: I am in FIJI!

I have been lucky enough to travel here for a semester to study, so I have been here since July. Needless to say, it's been hard to get any reading done, although I have done a little! I also don't have internet access at the place I'm staying, and since I like to do my blogging at home it doesn't really work out too well for me.

I'll try to update this occasionally throughout the semester, and hopefully post my reviews for some books, like Drought, What Happened to Goodbye, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

And hopefully I'll get a lot more reading done, now that I've transitioned into this whole new life!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Traveling Book Box!

So, I signed up for something called the Traveling Book Box, which was hosted by Erika at Moonlight Book Reviews (information here!) and one day the box arrived and I was completely surprised! But it was the most pleasant surprise I've ever received in the mail, and so I made a vlog about it.

Note: I do not have a fancy camera, and so I used my little digital camera to shoot the video. Therefore, it is blurry and you can hear the camera trying to focus as I'm talking. But I hope it's not too bad!

I hope everyone else had as much fun with the Traveling Book Box as I did!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Double Review: Beloved & The Bluest Eye

Beloved (1987)
Toni Morrison

No summaries are going to be posted: please click the book links for info on each particular book!

I decided to review both of these novels together because there is a lot to be said about Toni Morrison's writing in general, and because they both deal with some very similar themes and ideas.

I'm sure Beloved is the novel that most readers are familiar with; it is a contemporary classic. It was my favorite between the two, but The Bluest Eye still brought something new to the table: a different take on the effects of slavery and racism on black families in the United States. Taking place during the Great Depression, the slaves have all been freed for many years: but there are still racial issues, just as there still are issues today. The Bluest Eye was a great novel because it explored the racial issue in a different time period than it is normally looked at, and it did so through the use of a variety of perspectives. By telling the story from different character's positions, the reader is able to get a real idea of how things were, and the circumstances that led each character to where they are in the story. I found myself sympathetic to each and every character (with only one exception) and I loved the truth behind the story.

Beloved tackles the theme of racial issues that Morrison is famous for, and is set right after the Civil War. I loved this book because it deals with a very sensitive issue: slavery and motherhood. Is it better to keep a child in this world knowing that he/she will end up a slave, or is it better for the child to die so they don't have to live that way? That is a decision that is impossible for me to imagine: I am not a slave and I am not a mother, and so the whole concept is completely foreign, which is possibly why it appeals to me. Sethe, the main character who was faced with the choice to accept slavery for her child or not, ultimately chose to kill her baby. This book focuses on this choice, and whether you agree with it or not the story is fascinating.

Both books contain such great writing, with the changes in POV that I mentioned earlier, great imagery, and the exploration of important issues that would otherwise remain under the radar. I completely understand why Morrison is one of the greatest authors of our time, and I feel that everyone should read Beloved (and Morrison's other novels, which are perhaps not as perfect but still interesting) at least once in their life.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life On Hold

Life On Hold
Karen McQuestion
April 2011
Age Level: YA

Fifteen-year-old Rae Maddox’s mom, Gina, is a big fan of fresh starts. Gina thinks of them as an adventure, but for Rae, each move is just one more friend lost, one more chance to feel like an outsider. But when they arrive in Wisconsin, Gina promises to stay put until Rae graduates. Cautiously optimistic, she wades into the social whirl at Whitman High School, making a few friends and even earning a chance at love. But when the vice principal pairs her with fellow newbie Allison Daly, Rae’s tentative happiness is jeopardized. It seems Allison was orphaned after her parents died in a suspicious house fire, leaving their daughter to bounce between relatives’ homes. When a sleepover at Rae’s house goes terribly wrong, Rae sees a troubling side of Allison—and learns a few secrets about her own mother in the process. Suddenly Rae is at risk of losing everything and everyone she cares about—unless she steps up and takes charge of her life once and for all.
After reading Favorite by McQuestion, I was somewhat less excited to read Life On Hold. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

Life On Hold is a book that will appeal to many young readers. It's a book about a girl who wants nothing more than to be just a normal teenager. She wants to make friends and have a boyfriend and not move around just because her mother had a whim. In that way, Rae is a sympathetic character. I rooted for her throughout the whole book, waiting for her to find her voice to tell her mother how she felt.

Life On Hold was a really quick and fun read. The romance was cute, and the side story of Allison's life was fascinating- she was someone that I really wanted to know. I would say that Karen McQuestion definitely has a talent for writing a good story that keeps a reader entertained. However, the one downside is that this book isn't horribly memorable. There are bits and pieces that stick in my mind, but overall it was a good book to lose myself in for awhile, and then set it down and move on. I know some people might enjoy a book like that, but personally I'm looking for something a little bit deeper.

That's not to say that I didn't like this book. I really did enjoy it, and if you're even slightly interested in Karen McQuestion's books, I'd recommend them because they are unique and quick, and sometimes that's just perfect.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Alex Flinn
February 2011
Age Level: MG/YA

I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with a curse. And a frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Everglades.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.

There is one word that could very accurately describe my feelings for this book: cute. That is the one wonderful thing about the retellings that Alex Flinn is so wonderful at. She takes a story that everyone knows (or, in this case, maybe one or two that are lesser known) and makes them modern and interesting and maybe adds a twist or two here and there.

This book did just that, and I found myself falling in love with the main character: I LOVED the fact that it was a teenage guy who had a passion for shoes. It made him someone different that I've never seen before, and I really like meeting new people in the books I read. The romance was fairly typical, and so there's nothing much to say on that front, but the story is one that I couldn't tear myself from until the very last page.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Finally I've gotten around to picking winners for the A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend Giveaway! And they are...

Orry B.

I've sent out emails to notify you, please respond back with your address so I can send you your books!


quickie :)

Hello, all!

Finals went smashingly well, I must say... and now that it's summer I'm hoping I'll have more time to read, despite my full-time job.

This post is just a short update, and also a quick announcement: the new Sarah Dessen book is out today! I preordered it and will probably have started reading by the time this post goes up. I'm sure all YA lovers are aware of Sarah Dessen's brilliance, but I figured I must urge all of my readers to go pick up a copy of one of her books immediately if they have yet to give her a shot. She is truly a brilliant writer; the first YA writer I ever read, and her books will always hold a special place in my heart (and on my bookshelf).
So... go read them :) And if you've read them already, go read them again!


PS. Reviews to come soon... I've got a lot to catch up on!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One Word


That is all :) I'll be back up next week!

Friday, April 22, 2011

How I Live Now

How I Live Now
by Meg Rosoff
Age Level: YA/Adult

“Every war has turning points and every person too.”

Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.

As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.

A riveting and astonishing story.
Wow. You know those books where you start reading it expecting one thing, and then you finish it an it's completely different than what you thought? This is totally one of those books.

Absolutely incredible. I have nothing but good things to say about this book. The story? Riveting. The characters? Well-developed and very real. The writing style? There was clearly a lot of thought put into this unique writing, and while the unsuspecting reader may think it's sloppy and confusing, there is a reason for every choice the author made while writing this book. If you're not expecting it, the writing can take a little bit of getting used to, but it truly is the most artistic form of writing I've seen in awhile.

While some might find issues in this book, I personally thought that the romance, while not as "acceptable" as it should be, was very true and very well thought out. I also found the imagery in this book to be spectacular and incredibly cinematic.

I'd HIGHLY recommend this book to all young adults and adults looking for a well-written imaginative read.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everyday Psychokillers

Everyday Psychokillers
by Lucy Corin
February 2004
Age Level: Adult

In Everyday Psychokillers spectacular violence is the idiom of everyday life, a lurid extravaganza in which all those around the narrator seem vicarious participants. And at its center are the interchangeable young girls, thrilling to know themselves the object of so much desire and terror.

The narrative interweaves history, myth, rumor, and news with the experiences of a young girl living in the flatness of South Florida. Like Grace Paley's narrators, she is pensive and eager, hungry for experience but restrained. Into the sphere of her regard come a Ted Bundy reject, the God Osiris, a Caribbean slave turned pirate, a circus performer living in a box, broken horses, a Seminole chief in a swamp, and a murderous babysitter. What these preposterously commonplace figures all know is that murder is identity: "Of course what matters really is the psychokiller, what he's done, what he threatens to do. Of course to be the lucky one you have to be abducted in the first place. Without him, you wouldn't exist."

Everyday Psychokillers reaches to the edge of the psychoanalytical and jolts the reader back to daily life. The reader becomes the killer, the watcher, the person on the verge, hiding behind an everyday face.
For required reading, this book was actually extremely entertaining, and not at all what I was expecting. The title "Everyday Psychokillers" is a perfect title, but it also made me think the book was going to be much more creepy than it actually was. The basic idea is this: everyone has the potential of being a psychokiller.

That sounds pretty presumptuous, but after reading the book I have been oddly enlightened. Corin did an excellent job combining myths and little anecdotal stories to create a book that explores the idea of the everyday person as a psychokiller. The stories included were all interesting and thought provoking, and the imagery was incredible.

I'm not sure who I would recommend this book to, but I know that if there are definitely some interesting ideas and concepts brought up in the book. If you're feeling inclined enough to read it, I'd say go for it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books

Top Ten Tuesday
TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. It's a lot of fun so stop by if you get the chance :)
Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books
This week is TTT Rewind week, so when I looked back at the choices I couldn't resist the chance to share my favorite books ever!

1. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen.
This was the very first Sarah Dessen book I ever read, and it is also the first young adult book I've ever read, and so it really sat with me for a long time. After reading it I promptly read all of her books, and then re-read them, until I discovered that hers were not the only good young adult novels out there. However, I still think they are some of the best.

2. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr.
While I enjoyed Story of a Girl, and later Once Was Lost, Sweethearts is the only one of Zarr's books that really... I don't know, inspired me. I couldn't put it down, and I loved the story and the characters and everything about it. Immediately after finishing I knew it'd be a favorite of mine for a long time, and it was one of the few books I bought in hardcover even after reading it.

3. Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
I was a bit skeptical to read this book, but when I did I totally understood why I'd heard such good things about it. I can't even begin to explain how much I love it... it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cringe... It was an instant favorite, and I'm really sad that Summers' second book didn't do the same things for me. I haven't read her third book yet, but I'm hoping it's good like Cracked Up To Be.

4. Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott.
Bloom was sweet, I guess, but when I read Perfect You I was completely blown away. It was a regular teen romance but with comedy and some "awe" moments, and this book has total underline potential. In fact, all of my copies of Elizabeth Scott's books have notes in the margins. This book is definitely one of my faves.

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
Yep, that has to go on this list. The Hunger Games is so exciting, so interesting, so believable... And to add to it, the social commentary is incredible to think about, especially for someone like me who is just beginning to make those kind of connections in my reading.

6. Looking for Alaska by John Green.
Wow, I was so blown away by this book when I first read it. It was not at all what I was expecting, and it was hilarious and sad and insightful and just overall awesomeness. I recommended it to all of my friends, as well as the book club at my high school. I just think it should be read by everybody.

7. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.
I felt it appropriate to list Sloppy Firsts, since it's the first of the series, but in reality the sequel, Second Helpings, is my favorite from that series. However, just speaking about the series as a whole, I have yet to read a series that has made me laugh so hard. So many memorable scenes, Laugh-Out-Loud moments, and the most interesting characters I've ever read about. This series is a must-read for teenage girls who are just coming of age and trying to discover who they truly are.

8. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.
After reading My Sister's Keeper (and bawling my eyes out... I have no idea how many tissues I went through that day, and how many times my mom asked me what's wrong) I knew I had to read more from Jodi Picoult. At the time Nineteen Minutes was her newest, and I loved it even more than My Sister's Keeper. It just seemed so horrible and real, like it could happen to anybody.

9. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.
This series has got a lot of awesome stuff going on. It's historical, which is really exciting. It has a hot guy (oh, Kartik!) which is also exciting. But it's wonderful because it's sooo well-written, so suspenseful, and Gemma is just such a badass woman without even knowing it, it's just so awesome to read about her and her adventures with her friends.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
I often forget about this book, probably because I read it for school, but just remembering it now I realized I had to add it to my favorites. A WWII novel, it's written in a really interesting way, and it is also such a realistic portrayal of what a young girl might go through during the war. It's definitely a must-read for those interested in the subject, or if you're just looking for a tear-jerker.


Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading?! (5)

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I'd highly recommend joining this meme and taking a peek at the others who are participating as well!

I Read 2 books:
1. Beloved by Toni Morrison
2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
I actually read Beloved my freshman year of high school, but I really did not understand it at all. It's really nice to revisit it with a fresh perspective, and I've got to say I really enjoyed both Toni Morrison novels. She truly is one of the great American contemporary writers.

This Past Week On the Blog:
1. Review: Favorite by Karen McQuestion

Upcoming On the Blog:
1. Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: I'll be tackling my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Books!
2. Review: Everyday Psychokillers by Lucy Corin
3. Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

To Read:
1. Life On Hold by Karen McQuestion
This is FINALLY going to the top of my list. And I'm also going to start it tonight :)
2. Drought by Pam Bachorz

Also, here's something notable: no more required reading for this semester! Woot woot!

Can't wait for summer!