Wednesday, December 31, 2008
It was refreshing to, once again, read a great book with a male protagonist who writes, and not only that, writes really really well. As in, with the exact style that I would love someday to write in, flowy but not overly descriptive, just about the world and life and how everything fits together. You go into the book a little confused by/about all the characters, and come out wishing you knew them all, especially protagonist Cameron. I thought it would just be a typical "guy" book, expecting, you know, murder, car chases, whatever. Who knew you could write a YA romance with a side of bromance, feauturing a main male character? (Well, other than John Green). Cam is the guy every girl wishes she had, I just don't think he knows it! Quiet, sensitive, writer with the sweetest and deepest thoughts, sounds perfect to me! I thought the entire story was well-paced (not to mention, well-spaced, thank you, double spacing authors, we love you!). The ending was a little all over the place, and I wish there was more resolution with Octavia, but it was very sweet, tying up both the brotherly stories and the romantic ones. Amazing read.
Also of note? This was my 100th book of the year.
(the number is dismally low, but since it's such a pretty, even number, I'll take it)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Running Out of Time
written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The last time I read this book was in the 4th grade upon entering the Gateway program. I loved it then, although I found some of the terminology hard to get through. Reading it when I'm older, it's still as good as ever plotwise, and gave me the additional depth of knowing exactly what I was reading, as well as picking up some things I missed the first time around. Reading the second time around, I also noticed lots and lots of hints that I missed the first time (ex: her teacher constantly asking the class what the current year is). The book, despite the fact that I knew exactly what was going to happen, still read as a really heart-thumping, suspenseful adventure, albeit with some laggy places (still as interesting, just not really adding to the plot). Jessie's story and well-created character is really an inspiration to kids, letting them know they can do wacky things they'd never even dream of doing, like holding a press conference! I think it would have been really nice to see a 5 years later, whether in the form of a sequel or just a quick epilogue, letting us know how they've adjusted to society, what they're still missing, what becomes of everything.
written by Melissa de la Cruz
I guess I should have known not to get my hopes up. Revelations continues just like the last two Blue Bloods novels--lousy characters, lousy writing, abso-freaking-lutely amazing plot. *sigh* Go figure. If only Melissa de la Cruz had combined all the ideas she had into one book, so these silly, unnecessary subplots could vanish, it would be so lovely (I mean, Brazil, really?). I did love the fact that Schuyler finally reciprocated Ollie's love (in a truly romantically awesome Star Wars way, no less!) but other than that, the characters just disappointed. Mimi and Jack Force? Still as annoying as ever. Bliss, one of the only characters I could stand other than Ollie? Evil, apparently. These books would be so amazing if the plot was just resolved already, rather than dragging it out. Otherwise, all these weird twists she keeps putting in...at first, they were really neat, but now? A lot of them just seem like lame rip-offs from other authors. (Shifting into animals? Changing appearances? Come on. Rowling got there way before you did.) I'm going to keep reading them, because I'm a sucker for a good plot, but I really really need to keep my hopes down (particularly when it comes to Schuyler/Ollie, who I now hear have some serious opposition amongst the readers 0.O)
Monday, December 29, 2008
Breathe My Name
written by R. A. Nelson
Mmm, it's been a good long while since I've read a book that's made me think! Breathe My Name was full of everything any good book requires--well developed, 3-D characters (with the exception in my opinion, of Ann Mirette, who seemed highly 2D to me), beautiful writing that doesn't overdo it, and more than anything, a fully engaging (and super twisty) plot. I liked that through the entire book, all the characters kept me guessing. Was I ever sure of Nix's goodness? Clearly, they got together way too early in the book for it to amount to anything, he's got to be abusive, right? Nope. And clearly, the entire book has set us up for Ms. Jelks to be the central evil character, yes? Nope. Some twists were good, great, even. Some, such as the aforementioned one with Carruthers suddenly being the point of all evil--not so much. I felt a little let down, I expected a huge emotional showdown between Ms. Jelks and her daughter, but while we were given some of that, I really felt robbed by Carruthers. I was so sure he was the miraculous stranger, but no! Still, kept me guessing. There were moments near the end where I almost could have thought Frances was the one who made up Fireless or equally twisted, but this I did not see coming. Some of the flashbacks started being choppy as well, and I felt as if the last flashback of Fireless could have carried the weight of the entire book. The story of what happened shouldn't have been revealed through narration to Nix (nor should it have been revealed on the book jacket...) but through that one flashback that told it all. Nevertheless, this one was amazing psychological thriller. A little more resolution could have been inserted at the end, small tweaks here and there, and I still find myself highly doubtful that Nelson went into this book intending to make Carruthers evil, but I'll live.
Rating: 4.5/5...can I go with a 4.9 or something, instead?
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Why, hello there, world, look who is still alive! A really nasty college rejection, losing my voice, and then getting a stomach virus have kept me from updating (not to mention READING O:) but I do believe I'm back! This is kind of a filler post, kind of me revisiting my childhood. I went to the library a while ago and picked out a bunch of Beverly Cleary's books that I hadn't read and decided I should do just that. So, here are my thoughts/mini-reviews, and I do hope you enjoy.
I found moments of this book that read much like Frindle, so that was really neat. Maggie was a very relatable character--show me one person who actually liked the cursive-writing units in school! Back then, I'm sure people actually used it, but still. Such a waste of time for a lot of illegible scribblings! It's a very short book, read in its entirety while my mom drove home from the library, and yet, within 70 pages, Cleary managed to create a fully developed, highly memorable character in Maggie. The charm that was lacking highly in Dear Mr. Henshaw and Strider made an awesome reappearance here! Cute!
I was a little put-off about all the 'underwear discussion' at the beginning of this one, although it certainly is the kind of thing a child would obsess over. Still, slightly awkward to read about it when you're a bit older (I knew I should have read these as a kid!). This book really brings out the charm of Ramona and was a highly hilarious read, while at the same time, as all of Cleary's books, being fully relatable (first succesful egg break, everyone?) and teaching valuable life lessons. I thought the ending fully wrapped everything up and was absolutely sweet, and I was glad to see that it went back to the very heart of the story: Ellen and Austine.
I was thrilled to find out that Otis Spofford was kind of a spin-off companion book to Ellen Tebbits (although it took me a while to figure out which I should read first :P). One of the first things I noticed was that it continued Cleary's tradition of sorts of having oddly named characters, adding much of the quirky charm for her books. Overall, I liked the book, not much more to say that I haven't already said re: Ellen Tebbits and the others--well written, incredibly relatable, and this one has the bonus of featuring a male protagonist as well. As for specifics, I loved that Otis (and Ellen) interfered in the class science experiment--too cute! I did find the scene where bug-killing was explicitly described a little blechh to my squeamish stomach (didn't help that I was already nauseated!) and while I'm sure some kids would enjoy this scene, I know others would really rather not read that. I also found some of the imagery surrounding Native Americans highly objectionable. Other than that, cute ending that tied up both Otis and Ellen very well.
Emily's Runaway Imagination
Overall, not nearly as enjoyable as all the other books. While Emily is still a relatable character, this book is dated; such as references to most people not having cars, or the fact that back then, a dollar was a LOT to a kid. I did like how she handled Fong's character--added some much-needed life & diversity to the book, as well as giving Emily a very interesting relationship with another character, while I felt for the most of the book, she was a really 2D character. She's just a gossipy little girl in a gossipy little town, making for a slightly repetitive, boring story. Also, a word of warning to parents, there are references to drunkenness, not sure many parents would like their kids reading about that. Quite a disappointment...
Mitch and Amy
I REALLY liked this one. A lot. A lot a lot. It was a great portrayal of twins, and I'm sure any twins reading would have gotten a kick out of it. Again, classic Ramona-type material/humor. The alternating chapters were great, and surprisingly for once, I found myself relating to the male character, Mitch, more than Amy, who struck me as kind of a stuck up spoiled brat. The problems the twins deal with are common ones, though, particularly the bully problem ("He's the type who's nice to grown ups but not to kids." How many of us know a person like that?) Minor detail, I adored that the kids considered "school" a bad word, I would have definitely done that as a kid. The only thing I disliked was the ending--I felt some more resolution, a more significant scene, was needed between the twins.
Friday, December 19, 2008
reading next: oh...something or other by Beverly Cleary :P
written by Maureen Johnson
I definitely went into this book with low expectations. I had read Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and found nothing particularly spectacular about it. I never really understood why Maureen Johnson was a legend in YA literary circles (well...other than the whole YA for Obama thing :P) So I was very glad to be surprised by this amazing book. The characters were all extraordinarily well-developed, and unlike most YA books nowadays, instead of the focus being on the romance (Scarlett/Eric), it seemed to me like the most central relationship in the book was Scarlett-Spencer. I loved the familial interactions, each sibling's distinct personality. I might have wanted to see some more of Marlene, but I'll live. I went into the book with a lot of wrong ideas. I had thought immediately that Mrs. Amberson was going to die. Grandmotherly influencial older woman--well, they always die in books, don't they? Them and dogs? I had gone in thinking, hmm, is this going to end up with a Scarlett/Eric pairing or SPENCER/Eric pairing? I liked that I was proven wrong on both counts. Everything about this book was great. There were points where some of the narration dragged a little, but that was mainly confined to the first few chapters, and it all evened out a lot through the rest of the book, down to the smallest details like the epic chapter titles. I had thought that Eric and Scarlett's relationship had no hope, since they got together that extremely early in the book. I didn't particularly like Eric's character. He was necessary to temporarily divide Scarlett and Spencer, but he never appealed to me as...well, as a person. He may be the only 2D character in the entire book. The resolution between Donna and Amy (and oh my God, if anyone watches The West Wing, you will understand why I am horrified by this statement I am about to make) was heartwarmingly bittersweet. I am deeply curious about the origins of Mrs. Amberson--who on earth could have had enough character to inspire her? She's pretty much legendary! All in all, spectacular book, plotwise, characterwise, writing-wise. Everything's just spot-on!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
What is the best book you ever bought for yourself?
I would have to say the best book I ever bought for myself was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was my first midnight release party (heck, it was the first time I was out of the house THAT late), my first time driving with my older brother, my first time at a book release, and it was Harry Potter. I was dressed up, there was so much happiness and celebration and almost all my friends were there, and the experience (not to mention the book!) was absolutely amazing.
And, why? What made it the best? What made it so special?
...I just answered that *grins*
Do you give books as gifts?
Oh yes. I...actually, I'm struggling to come up with a time when I didn't give a book as a gift. They're the best possible gifts!
To everyone? Or only to select people?
To everyone. There's a book for every person, every interest, and I couldn't think of a better thing to give!
How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?
There's nothing I like more. :)
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
reading next: Suite Scarlett
The London Eye Mystery
written by Siobhan Dowd
I really enjoyed this book, I was always a fan of children's mystery, so it was nice to go back and read a newer one. Although it is never mentioned, the main character of the story does have Asperger's syndrome, and is still highly relatable, which is a great way of introducing this syndrome and dispelling certain notions kids might create about it. Ted's thoughts are really intriguing too. Though the focus on his thoughts is particularly important in terms of the given mystery, I enjoyed his way of thinking and found it highly interesting to follow, especially with thoughtful statements such as this great question he poses at one point: "If you're a practical joker, what's a theoretical joker?" He is not afraid to ask questions and find the answers if they aren't given. I did find some of the British terminology confusing--some of the terms are easy to figure out, but some even I couldn't understand, and as this book is meant for younger readers, I would presume they wouldn't understand either. On the other hand, it's a great glimpse at the diversity and liveliness of London, which many may find interesting and fun to read about. The only complaints I really have is that the book does contain the word 'transvestite', and I'm not entirely sure that's something kids should be reading, and also, sometimes the story did drag a little, and the ending was slightly anticlimactic.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"I finished one packet of crisps and opened a second. Halfway through the packet, I stopped munching and stared."
from Siobhan Dowd's The London Eye Mystery.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You
written by Peter Cameron
It is quite evident that this book lacks a highly structured plot. Things happen, but there's no overarching big idea, other than a teen maneuvering his way through life. Normally, I'd be very disdainful toward this book. However, I found the writing to be highly crisp and realistic, as well as relevant to what teens really think about it. Cameron has created a highly interesting character who I found very easy to identify with. Another asset of this book is the fact that, yes, its narrator is a boy, instead of your typical YA girl narrator. I loved the originality of James' ideas (his little ramble on Mother Teresa made perfect sense to me and is the kind of thing I've been struggling with trying to convey). I liked that it was a very open-ended conclusion. We are given the tools, the characters, glimpses of their personalities, and in the end, it is up to us as readers to do what we are supposed to do and bring our own imaginations into the story to fill in the blanks. Masterfully done!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Looking for Alaska
written by John Green
So I'm proud of myself for finally reading this book after plenty of people told me I definitely needed to. However, I do not think it lived up to the hype at all. There is nothing particularly 'spectacular' about this book, I still believe the 'spectacular' fully resides in An Abundance of Katherines. This isn't to say I disliked it. I think John Green's style has developed since Alaska and for the better. The book had its moments of intense description that made me, not going to lie, skip some paragraphs for their density. I can see the beginnings of Green's clever writing style in the book, particularly the concussion part, and Alaska choosing her own name, but the rest, it's really just another YA book. There is the beginning of a boy best friendship, and those are always really sweet to read about, but the truly good examples of those, again, are in Green's later books. I did enjoy his commentary on 'fake grievers', God knows I get annoyed by those, and I found the Old Man's class sessions/assignments to be absolutely amazing, desperately wishing I had a class like that. But Alaska's death...eh. I've heard people say you can't get through this book without crying, but I'm doing just fine, and believe me, I'm a crier. You could see her death coming from miles away. Nothing surprising about it, nothing particularly tragic about it. Alaska wasn't as amazing, I feel, as Miles made her up to be. It was sad, sure, but nothing powerful about it. (If you want a good YA book that'll really make you think about death differently, try Thirteen Reasons Why. Now that one had me bawling). Still. Alaska had it's moments. Few moments, but awesome ones, and Famous Last Words FTW.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
When twenty-eight year old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she's in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident--in a Mercedes, no less--Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she's about to find out just how much things have changed.
Somehow, Lexi went from a twenty-five year old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband-who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she...well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all.
Suddenly, Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?
Revelations-Melissa De La Cruz
Schuyler Van Alen's blood legacy has just been called into question: is the young vampire in fact, a Blue Blood, or is it the sinister Silver Blood that runs through her veins? As controversy swirls, Schuyler is left stranded in the Force household, trapped under the same roof as her cunning nemesis, Mimi Force, and her forbidden crush, Jack Force.
When an ancient place of power is threatened in Rio de Janiero, however, the Blue Bloods need Schuyler on their side. The stakes are high, the battle is bloody, and through it all Schuyler is torn between duty and passion, love and freedom.
The London Eye Mystery-Siobhan Dowd
Monday 24 May, 11:32 a.m.
Ted and Kat watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye. He turns and waves and the pod rises from the ground.
Monday 24 May, 12:02 p.m.
The pod lands and the doors open. People exit in all shapes and sizes--but where is Salim?
Suite Scarlett-Maureen Johnson
Scarlett Martin has grown up in a most unusual way. Her family owns the Hopewell, a small hotel in the heart of New York City. Her nineteen year old brother, Spencer, is an out of work actor facing a family deadline to get his career in order. Eighteen year old Lola has the delicate looks of a model, the practical nature of a nurse, and a wealthy society boyfriend. Elven year old Marlene is the family terror with a tragic past.
When the Martins turn fifteen, they are each expected to take over the care of a suite in the once elegant, now shabby, Art Deco hotel. For Scarlett's fifteenth birthday, she gets both a room called the Empire State and a permanent guest named Mrs. Amberson. Scarlett doesn't quite know what to make of this C-list starlet, world traveler, and aspring audiobiographer who wants to take over her life. And when she meets Eric, and astonishingly gorgeous actor who has just moved to the city, her summer takes a second unexpected turn.
With Mrs. Amberson calling the shots, Spencer's career to save, Lola's love life to navigate around, and Marlene's prying eyes everwhere, things won't be easy. Before the summer is over, Scarlett will have to survive a whirlwind of thievery, Broadway glamour, romantic missteps, and theatrical deception.
The show, as they say, must always go on.
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You-Peter Cameron
In Re: James Sveck-eighteen year old New Yorker, charming, precocious, confused, doesn't quite fit in (doesn't really want to),
If: his future (i.e., college) seems completely meaningless, not to mention terrifying...
Then: he'll start anew (move to the Midwest?).
In re: James Sveck-misunderstood by a capricious mother, a self-absorbed father, a mordant older sister,
Et alia: his Teutonic therapist, his D-list celebrity grandmother, his unnervingly atractive art gallery colleague...
If: What one wants is enigmatic...
Then: Life can be hell.
But: as the summer gets hotter, James comes to recognize the wrenching truth of his emotions.
Looking for Alaska-John Green
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Francois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything but borin gworld of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and uttely fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launching him into the Great Perhaps, and stealks his heart.
After. Nothing is ever the same.
reading next: Looking for Alaska
written by Ellen Hopkins
8 or 9 years ago, I read this book called Haunted Sister by Lael Littke. It had me scared for days. A few hours ago, I finished the same book. Different title, different author, slight variations, but the same exact plot, even the same shiny silver cover. Two girls. Twins. One has a life of perfection, and the other one is evil. But you know what? One twin is alive. One twin is dead. Died in a childhood accident. But the living twin doesn't know this. The living twin only knows that she and her twin are both still alive, still two halves of one. I'm not going to lie. Identical was extremely powerfully written. But I read it before. I knew, before even beginning the book, just by reading about the two twins on the inside flap, I knew the entire story. Throughout the book, the signs were clear. Their dad did it to Kaeleigh, but not Rae. But they're identical. And somehow, Rae still knows everything their dad had done to Kaeleigh--are we led to believe she sits and watches? And then their mother says "you look exactly like her", saying it to only one twin. But they're identical. The writing was genius. The style, the identical mirrored words were genius. But the plot left a lot to be desired, since I've read it once before. The only good addition was Ian.
(And didn't anyone else expect to hear GLADOS start singing "Still Alive" at the end? No? That was just me?)
Rating: 5/5 for writing.
As for plot, I would really like to give it a 0/5, but instead, I think I'll just leave it fair and won't rate it. I just feel a little cheated.
I don't know whether to think this was stolen or just...an uncannily similar idea. But THAT similar? I can't see how two distinctly different authors would have an idea that original.
(Unless of course, Ellen Hopkins and Lael Littke are the same person. Or twins. DUM DUM DUMMMMMMM...)
Saturday, December 13, 2008
reading next: Looking for Alaska probably
Twice Upon a Marigold
Written by Jean Ferris
Mm, is it just me, or were several plot points completely dropped? I mean, I am half asleep, but did Edric's story just...disappear? Very strange. I was disappointed by the lack of resolution and the easy-ending. Disappearing Olympia? That wasn't a very good way to deal with her. I did highly like the role played by Angie, though. The characters were great this time around--Sleeping Beauty's half sister and Stan Lucasa (I just KNEW his name was an anagram, I can't believe I didn't figure that one out!), totally original, never saw them coming. While true, I did find the story a little shaky plotwise (well, at least until after the rebellion. Should have just ended with Olympia turning into Angie, no 'vanishings', etc), I still thought the writing was as classic Jean Ferris as ever. She's a genius, the way she writes her fairy tales in such a contemporarily ancient way, capable of blending two time periods seamlessly.
one last note: Please tell me I'm not the only one who thought Marigold was surely expecting a child (grumpiness, references to Wendell taking her first child?) I mean, I know these things are usually highly predictable, and I thought this was a perfect subtle (but not too subtle) way to introduce the idea! *wants a miniMarigold*
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Twice Upon a Marigold-Jean Ferris
The London Eye Mystery-Siobhan Dowd
Looking for Alaska-John Green
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You-Peter Cameron
Suite Scarlett-Maureen Johnson
I didn't find all of the books I was looking for, but that's okay. Now I just need to keep away from them until after exams ;) Still, those are some of the books you'll be hearing about from me in the coming weeks!
So I went to Goodwill the other day and picked up this one book that I'd read in the...oh, 3rd or 4th grade, I guess. It was around the time when I'd finished the entirety of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series and I had nothing to read oh sigh! So I naturally found another 'scary' series. I remember being scared to death of this book when I first read it. It's called Teacher Creature and it is part of Betsy Haynes' Bone Chillers series. I reread it, just for old time's sakes. I really have no idea what I found interesting or scary about it, but it was fun trying to guess ;) The plot is ludicrous, there's a hurricane and everyone but three kids are evacuated. The three kids see a 'swamp monster' and run around town trying to hide from it. Eventually, everything returns to normal, everyone comes back, and they go back to school, where it turns out that not everything returned to normal, their teacher never came back, and their new teacher is a mutated swamp-monstery child-eating frog. Fun stuff. xD
Do you ever go back and reread books you'd loved as a child? (I'm definitely guilty of this. I know I've read some of the BabySitter's Club books just for the heck of it :D) How do you usually react?
reading next: we'll see...
Booking Through Thursdays!
1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?
(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)
No way! If only I could get rid of that pesky 'sleep' thing and spend it reading instead...*sigh*
Along this vein, though. Is it just me who gets annoyed when people say they have NO time to read? I mean, how can one have no time to read? I understand that most of my friends are in senior year and yes, they are busy busy people, but no time at all? I know I always make sure to put some time aside before going to sleep, between classes, when I get to class early, etc. to read. It's not a lack of time, it's a lack of effort to make the time. Rawr to that, I say.
2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?
The same books I always read (that would be escapism, people!) I'd finally get through this massive pile of books that's been sitting by my bed since early this summer, because I really do often make the mistake of going to book sales/book stores/Amazon.com when I am fully aware that I have very little time (and money, I'm finding out >.<) to read!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
serafina67 *urgently requires life*
written by Susie Day
I was...well, disappointed may put it mildly, by this book. I figured, hey, a book about blogging, how perfect for me! How wrong I was. This girl, taking on the identity of serafina67, blogs about her life. Her blog entries are filled with nothing but vain remarks, rudeness, and really bad spelling. She is a horrendous gossiper, and is mean to pretty much anyone she encounters. I guess it's true what they say--don't judge a book by its cover. It's true. I chose this book because it had a pretty eyecatching cover. Big mistake. I feel like a lot of potential was wasted. This could have been a pretty interesting book and an interesting blog, if the blog writer hadn't been an absolute spazz (of the bad kind). Upon finishing the book, I honestly felt as if I had just read a book entitled "Why You Should Not Give Your Personal Information Out Online" by Susie Day. The only thing that kept me reading the book was daisy13. The reveal at the end was pretty epic, and I guess I'd thought of every possibility (ranging from psychostalker to Crazy Pete) for "her" true identity.
"You type like a crackhead"
^Sums up the entirety of the book.
Do you tend to judge books by their covers? I know this isn't the first time I've done, and I know it won't be the last. What types of covers do you prefer, if any? Have you ever been misled by a cover?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
reading next: possibly Harry, A History
I really can't believe I'd never heard of these "Tuesday Thingers" before!
Most of us book bloggers like to write book reviews- if we don't love to write book reviews- but here's today's question. When it comes to LT (and your blog), do you review every book you read? Do you just review Early Reviewers or ARCs? Do you review only if you like a book, or only if you feel like you have to? How soon after reading do you post your review? Do you post them other places- other social networking sites, Amazon, etc.?
I review every book I read, be it an ARC, a new release, or an old book. I'll feel more compelled to review a book if I have strong feelings toward it, positive or negative, but I'll eventually write a review for every book. I find reviews to be harder to write for books that I am ambivalent towards, because I struggle for content if the book felt flat to me. Immediately after finishing a book, I'll open all my review sites (Amazon, BookCrossing, LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Facebook with the Visual Bookshelf and Bookshare apps) up in tabs and go over my notes for that particular book and form a semi-coherent review (...Twilight and Harry Potter reviews are pretty far from coherent, and I realize I probably should have waited until my thoughts cooled down before reviewing those). I like to review immediately after finishing a book, just because I know my thoughts will be fresher than, although they might not be, like I mentioned before, fully coherent. This is why I really got into the habit of taking notes while reading, mentioning specific reasons I like/dislike specific parts of a given book, which has helped me a lot.
reading next: serafina67 *urgently requires life*
I had the blue cover, by the way
written by John Green
A big part of me really wants to give this book a one star rating. I did not think it ended in the best of ways, and I will still forever think that An Abundance of Katherines was the better book. However, I'm begrudgingly going to have to give this a five star rating, because WOW. The writing, as always, was splendid. Maybe all teens don't talk like that. Maybe some of the witticism were a bit too witty. But, boy did it all make for an enjoyable read. The characters all come to life and we all wish we knew a Margo Roth Spiegelman. Maybe some of us already do. The quirkiness of them all was something we could all relate to (me, particularly to the constant usage of 'Omnictionary' :D) The plot was the only place the book lacked 'oomph'. While I thoroughly loved the idea of it all being, well, one big treasure hunt, there were areas where it seemed to falter. Some of the road trip was gut-busting hilarious, while other parts were just...dull. I did read through this book in one sitting and was thoroughly engrossed by it, but as much as I love driving, didn't anyone else think there was a bit too much time spent in cars? And then the ending. They find her. She's not dead (cue huge sigh of relief). But she's not going back with them. So...what's the difference between that and her being dead? They're still not coming back home with a Margo Ruth Spiegelman. She's been found and she doesn't want to be, and the whole treasure hunt, the whole story kind of seems to lack a point.
Rating: 5/5...just barely.
And I leave you for now with a quote.
"The last time I was this scared, I actually had to face a Dark Lord in order to make the world safe for wizards."
[yeah, so that may or may not have had an influence on my rating ;)]
by Beverly Cleary
Strider was, in many ways, a more enjoyable read than its predecessor. Dear Mr. Henshaw was interesting, but Strider comes in at a more pivotal time in Leigh's life. He's just entering high school and has more complex problems (to a degree) to deal with. It was very interesting seeing how his life had changed since Dear Mr. Henshaw, particularly his relationship with his dad, which was no longer as strained. (I also was saddened, but not in a bad way, by the reference to Leigh's former favorite book, "Ways to Amuse a Dog") I did feel like there was too much description, particularly since this story is being told by a 14 year old boy. He does want to be a writer, but still, nobody actually writes like that, and it ruins some of the relatability. There were also big passages where nothing eventful happened and I found myself wanting to skip over them, because they really were just filler points. I strongly felt that the book should have ended with the scene with Leigh and his dad, as to me, that is the essence of both books and nothing that came afterwards was too notable. Let me correct myself there. There was one notable thing, which I'm sure Gordon Korman would be highly proud of: neither Bandit nor Strider died! Can you believe it? I'm having trouble processing it-a dog book in which the dog doesn't die. Thank you, thank you, thank you Beverly Cleary!
Monday, December 8, 2008
This is probably just me, but does anyone else get really annoyed when they see book summaries in book reviews? To me, reviews are written solely to convey opinions, and you're assuming the person reading the review has already read the book being discussed. Summaries just get obnoxiously repetitive, and I keep asking myself, 'hey, didn't I *just* read this?'
What are your thoughts?
reading next: Strider
Cracked up to Be
written by Courtney Summers
I really loved this book. While the very beginning left me slightly queasy (the language/content really needs to be toned down), I highly enjoyed the rest. The other reviewers were right. This is one book where the ending really reverberates and it's not one you're likely to forget. I loved the big moments. There were times when I thought I knew, without a doubt, what was going to happen, but then pleasantly found out that I was completely wrong. The revelation that Jessie was her best friend was a shocking one, but it explained a lot and really made sense in a weird way. Jake was another surprise, albeit an awesome one. The ending, like I said earlier, was stunning and perfect, although I do wish there was more time given to the "after". I have one problem though, with books such as this one and Speak. The protagonists of both books were, at some point, popular. Despite their falls from popularity, it is still quite hard to relate to these characters, since even now, they are popular in popularity. The majority of people dealing with issues such as these are quiet recluses, not the kids in the spotlight. It's just something that really bugs me. Still. Astoundingly good story, and I won't let that small detail ruin it for me.
reading next: Cracked up to Be
On occasion, such as this one, there will be children's books featured on this blog. Blame my children's literature class, it has me reading kid books again :)
The Calder Game
written by Blue Balliett, illustrated by Brett Helquist
I'd read Chasing Vermeer and The Wright 3 prior to reading this book. Chasing Vermeer always struck me as boring, while I rather enjoyed The Wright 3. Now, onto the third book, The Calder Game, I found it interesting, but it definitely had its moments of spottyness. Maybe it's because the children were separated. In Chasing Vermeer, the only characters involved in the story were Petra and Calder. In The Calder Game, it's all Petra and Tommy, until the last few chapters. In The Wright 3, the one I liked most, all three characters were together and interacted a lot with each other. I did like seeing some new (and some old) characters, though. Learning about Walter Pillay, for instance, was interesting. Banksy was another amazingly interesting character, and, while not much was told about him, I was intrigued to learn that he is a real person. Plotwise, I found the book to lack movement until the stories of Art Wish and Banksy were given. Before that, it was really hard to plow through the same old thing for several chapters, overwhelemed sometimes with irrelevant factual knowledge that seemed highly out of place in this work of fiction. I felt like a lot of things could have been left out, and the vital Wish-Banksy stories could have come in and moved the plot forward much earlier. The characters had their unrealistic moments, but Balliett writes those very often; it's become the norm for her, I suppose.
I found a note inside this book (it was a library book). I love finding things inside books. I've found plenty of library receipts, post-it notes, a bookmark or two. This one read:
take laptop to school."
on one side and:
"and put the trash on the curb (crossed out "on Sund") for Monday
Intriguing names, no?
Have you ever found anything interesting inside a book you were reading?
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I went to Barnes & Noble today. It really warmed my heart to see Thirteen Reasons Why and Just Listen sitting right next to each other on an endcap marked "Teen Favorites" <3
want to read: i kind of want to be reading the last PD book...
reading next: probably Harry, a History
I'm jumping on the bandwagon here. Everyone else had one, so I figured I should too. I'll still be posting my book reviews elsewhere, but I thought it'd be nice to have all my reviews in one place, as well as other random book discussions that nobody ever seems to understand ;)
I'm still working on The Calder Game, so I figure I'll start this blog off with a post on Beedle the Bard, which I did finish yesterday!
The Tales of Beedle the Bard
written and illustrated by J.K. Rowling
Obviously nothing near as spectacular as the HP books, I found the fairy tales very interesting, and Albus Dumbledore's commentary even more so. The vague references to book burning/banning make me wonder if Jo was intentionally (...really, there's very little doubt in my mind that she wasn't) mocking the likes of Laura Mallory. If so, good for her ;) I loved Jo's illustrations and I really would like to know why she didn't illustrate the HP books. Did anyone else catch the sign of the deathly hallows on the fountain? I also liked the footnotes, particularly the one explaining more about Nearly Headless Nick. My favorite of the stories was 'The Fountain of Fair Fortune'. I really disliked only one story, 'The Warlock's Hairy Heart', finding it gruesome and I thought it could have had a happier, saner ending. Nevertheless, I really can't wait to read this book to my kids as bedtime stories!
Rating: 4.5 stars