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Carpe Diem

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3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,049 Ratings  ·  321 Reviews
"I've got my entire life planned out for the next ten years-including my Ph.D. and Pulitzer Prize," claims sixteen-year-old overachiever Vassar Spore, the daughter of overachiever parents, who named her after an elite women's college. Vassar expects her sophomore summer to include both AP and AAP (Advanced Advanced Placement) classes. Surprise! Enter a world-traveling rela ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Random House Audio Publishing Group (first published August 21st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Vassar Spore is sixteen, an only child of driven and over-achieving parents, and determined to be valedictorian of the Seattle Academy for Academic Excellence, go to Vassar College (her namesake), get a PhD, win the Pulitzer, and more. In fact, at the encouragement of her parents, she's got her entire life planned out and she loves it that way.

Then, a month after her sixteenth birthday, her birthday present from eccentric Grandma Gerd arrives: a plane ticket to Malaysia. Grandma wants Vassar to
...more
Angie
Nov 11, 2011 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-uns, ya
I ran across CARPE DIEM around four years ago in the Feiwel & Friends catalog. They had the excellent good sense to reprint the wonderful President's Daughter series by Ellen Emerson White, and I wondered what other YA titles they had on the docket at the time. My eye was drawn to this cover right off the bat, and I still think it's just perfect for the book. I love the slightly faded parchment look of it. With the silhouette and the hair and the style it could be anything really. In this ca ...more
Emily
May 29, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so funny. Every page seems to have at least one thing to laugh about. But unlike most ridiculous teenage humors it really has a good theme. Vassar, the girl who is named after a prestigious college is trying to acheive a 5.3 or some ridiculously high GPA. Then in steps her grandma who makes her go on a trip with her in SE Asia for the entire summer. Suddenly the 5.3 isn't as attainable and she is forced to write a novel to earn AP-AP English credit. Her trip makes her realize that h ...more
Beth
Oct 31, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young girls or women seeking an innocent adventure story
Recommended to Beth by: Autumn Cornwell
This is a young adult novel, but I picked it up because I'm friends with the author. It was an adventure story that I couldn't put down-- this is definitely a book that would have been a favorite of mine if it had been around when I was growing up.

Autumn herself has traveled all over Southeast Asia, so the details of the herione's adventures are incredible vivid and captivating. In fact, though the story itself is fiction, I know much of the story is based on actual events that Autumn encounter
...more
Summer
Sep 03, 2009 Summer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Ya, wow. What a blank brained book.

Don't get me wrong here. Carpe Diem is a great philosophical statement. But I think it has been more artfully stated in media such as the Dead Poet's Society with Robin Williams. If you haven't seen that movie by the way, do. It's also more impactful in those stories.

Vassar has practically been engeniered to succeed. She's named after a prep school for Pete's sake! Any gap in her plans and she will not win the Nobel Peice Prize. That really equals death i
...more
Cemara Dinda (Me and the Bookshelf Life)
Vassar Spore. 16 years old. 5.3 GPA. Named after a very prestigious women's college by her parents. She's got everything planned for her life, and I do mean everything. She vows to spend her summer improving her academics by attending a bunch of classes. But just when she's about to embark her classes, she receives a birthday package from her grandma in Southeast Asia. What's in the package? A plane ticket to Singapore and a birthday note from her Grandma Gerd. Grandma Gerd offers an "all-expens ...more
Cassy
Mar 16, 2013 Cassy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning is two stars, and the end is four stars. The average is three stars for the whole book.

I thought I would like this book a lot better. Heck, I thought I would be able to relate to Vassar Spore, the overachiever who gets an attitude change. I'm an overachiever; I am often super stressed about my 'success'. But Vassar isn't like that. That pretentious girl has it all together, because of her planning of course. So we end up with someone super annoying. That could have been on purpose,
...more
Candy Melissa Kwong
CARPE DIEM, my first known Latin.

This story has truly inspired me a lot. Life is all about to LIM, aka Live In the Moment.
I love that how Vassar's been able to learn that, and turns from an annoying girl to a brave
and adorable girl. I absolutely enjoy the character development and change of Vassar.

And Hanks, oh my gosh, how much I like Hanks. A super funny, handsome, Chinese Malaysian Cowboy, how cool is that :) I love how he teases Vassar all the time but saves her every time just like a hero!
...more
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
May 24, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I secretly have a thing for books about travel—probably because I’ve never been outside the country and thus have to live vicariously. And this book brings it. Seriously. Vassar and her grandma are backpacking through Southeast Asia—a journey not for the faint of heart. And the author doesn’t sugarcoat anything (at least, I don’t think she does—after all, I have no experience in the matter). Through Vassar you get to see the awesome and beautiful things about the countries she visits, as well as ...more
Judy
A fun and unexpected read that I ended up enjoying. Vassar, the main character, was book smart and had her whole life planned out at sixteen. She has a personality that is irritating because of her constant need to plan and prepare for every possibility, combined with the need to over-achieve, I just wanted to reach in and shake her.

I felt like everyone in this story are caricatures of real people. None of the people felt real, not Hanks the Malaysian cowboy or Grandma Gerd the hippie artist or
...more
Holly
Apr 07, 2009 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Vassar Spore may be the most hopeless overachiever you've ever met. On her TO BE list: Valedictorian? Check. Ivy League school graduate? Check. Wife to Hot Surgeon by 25? Pulitzer Prize winner? Check, check. With a life coach for a mother and an efficiency expert for a dad, you could say she was doomed from birth, but Vassar doesn't know any different. That is until a package containing plane tickets from her little known free-spirited Grandma Gerd arrives on her doorstep. Instead of a summer fu ...more
Claire
Dec 24, 2008 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 12 and up
We meet innocently smug 16 year old Vassar Spore firmly entrenched in her routines that will ensure her acceptance to Vassar (hence the name- who could deny her with that moniker hangin' 'round her neck?) a PhD and Pulitzer...her life is planned, planned, planned by her well meaning parents, mom, a life coach and dad the efficiency expert.
Obviously they are set up for a fall, enter Grandma Gerd an unencumbered free spirit who has been living in Asia. Seeing the rut that Vassar is in she maneuve
...more
Mama
Aug 25, 2013 Mama rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh Vassar, your bra is quite the magical artifact. Literally, that's the only words I can think to start out this review. The book had be one of the funniest and wittiest things I have read in awhile from a young adult book. It literally had me laughing all the time. Vassar, the stuffy girl needing a 5.3 GPA, on a summer trip across Asia with her foil of a "grandma", who is in the form of a tan crazy artist named Gertrude. I found the entire story brilliant, full of opium dens and food poising, ...more
Sandy Emerson
It was okay, but some of it was predictable. So much so that I thought the main character was an idiot for all that she was a genius, especially regarding her parents' secret. The main character and one of the secondary characters were total opposites of each other to the extent where I just didn't think it was believable. And, there were times when I was bored.

That said though, I did like this book. I liked the character development in how the main character changed from being quite arrogant to
...more
Reyna
Dec 15, 2015 Reyna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, if I'm being honest, I just saw this book and thought the cover looked cool, so I read it. Not the best way to find books, I know, but you do have to admit it's a pretty cool cover.

Now, how about the actual book. What did I think of that, you ask?

(Well you could probably already tell because I rated it three stars but that's not the point)

The basic plot is Vassar is a great student, great child, does great on all aspects of life. One day, she gets tickets in the mail from her grandma that's
...more
Sarah
Jul 02, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dare I say that this might be one of my favorite books of all time? Yes I dare.

Vassar Spore is your run-of-the-mill overachiever until her crazy grandma whisks her away to South East Asia in whirlwind of backpacking madness. Much wit, mayhem, and romance ensues. Now, this book could have easily devolved into a cliche YA chicklit with an ultra-whiny narrator. BUT IT DOESN'T. EVER. Instead, Autumn Cornwall spins her tale so cleverly that we end up rooting for the most hilariously lovable and, at t
...more
Sarah
Mar 11, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inhalt : Die 16-jährige Vassar weiß genau, was sie will: erst den besten Schulabschluss, dann auf eine Eliteuniversität. Warum soll sie also ausgerechnet jetzt, kurz vor den Prüfungen, ihre verrückte Großmutter in Südostasien besuchen? Widerwillig packt Vassar zehn (!) Koffer und reist in den Dschungel. Dort muss sie bald einsehen, dass aufblasbare Toilettensitze keine Familiengeheimnisse lösen - und auch nicht helfen, wenn man sich unsterblich verliebt.

Meinung: Zuerst war ich etwas kritisch, de
...more
claridge
Feb 25, 2014 claridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aside from the really pretty cover, Carpe Diem boasts a really enticing story of journey through the forests of Southeast Asia. The story starts a little slow and ugh, rather really formal and bland, but it does paint the character of Vassar really well. I love how as the reader go on to through the story, the pace picks up and everything slowly bursts into colors, like a true Southeast Asian sunset.

It's also really fun. There are a lot of moments where I've suffered second-hand embarrassment b
...more
Claire
Aug 17, 2011 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I have EVER read. It is so easy to escape reality when picking up this book. The words create what should be created in your own mind. Let this book take you on a journey, for it will. At first glance I thought maybe it was going to be an okay book. You know the one you start then decide you will never finish it for the text was way to bland. But no, I was so very sadly mistaken. So stop debating weather or not you are going to read it just take my word for it and r ...more
Michelle Lim
Jun 15, 2015 Michelle Lim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On her grandmother’s deliberate blackmailed journey throughout the ruins of Southeast Asia’s round-trip from Malaysia to Cambodia all the way to Laos, the main character Vassar with her skeptical and thorough personality, she’s left to “Seize the Moment” - without a plan. Autumn Cornwell cleverly names the main character with one that describes the expectancy of her academic achievements: getting into Vassar College as a valedictorian from Seattle Academy for Academic Excellence with a 5.3 GPA. ...more
Susan
May 28, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended to me by a former student, Rachel. I really enjoyed the novel. It is an interesting trend that the heroine does not have to be completely likable which makes them more real. I also liked the theme that you can learn from living in the moment (LIMming). So many times in life our expectations are what get us in to trouble. It is often better to let things unfold around us.
Thanks, Rachel!
Savanna
Jul 11, 2008 Savanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most purely fun book I've read since middle school. It's a young-adult book, sure, but it is also the definition of pleasure reading. It reminded me of all the happy, adventurous, uncomplicated pleasures the world contains. And it made me even more excited to travel in Asia!
Allison
Very cute coming of age story that would be great for younger teens. As a whole, the story progressed like I expected. There were a few cheesy parts. I listened to the audiobook, so Hanks accent was annoying at moments but the lady that narrated the book did a great job.
Sheppard Memorial Library
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of a control-freak sophomore who ends up backpacking around south-east Asia with her bohemian grandmother. Her obsessive personality and that of her parents was really over-done, but for some reason it worked here. Vassar can't help but be changed and enchanted by the culture of this new continent. She gets into some pretty scary and dangerous situations, but through them, she learns to LIM (live in the moment). I can't imagine trying to make my way thr ...more
Krishina
Overall; funny, unpredictable and fun to follow.

This book is really good if you need a good laugh as it provides constant humor. Vassar (overachiever, 5.3 GPA, got her entire life planned out.) Was super uptight in a mellow atmosphere. Cliche, but not in a bad way. She was definitely the funniest to read about, since the book is written in her perspective.

Capre Diem was extremely well thought out, but it didn't seem realistic enough that it could actual happen. Although it could be categorized a
...more
Madeleine
Dec 29, 2013 Madeleine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really enjoyed this book. It was light and funny and set in a place that I know very little about. It was the perfect antidote to a particularly icy Maine winter.

I liked the character of Vassar, who is every thing I love to hate but I couldn't help but feel sorry for. Hanks was kind of a jerk but in a lovable sort of way.

Grandma Gerd drove me a little nuts but then again that's the point. She's crazy...and has a tinge of selfish arrogance to her that was just right. Obvious enough
...more
Carolyn
A fun YA with plenty of South Asian information and an unusual family that has a few problems that are quirky and funny. The author has such a way with teenager thoughts and I found quite believable. Lots of chance to laugh out loud and other chances to feel sad for various family members. The "cowboy" Hanks adds just the right amount of "love interest" and although Grandma and her secret are easy and transparent as the story progresses. That adds to the color of the plot anyway. A light enjoyab ...more
Myfullname
Apr 20, 2014 Myfullname rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE this book! It is a sort of realistic fiction adventure, probably the first I have read in this type of genre and it was awesome. The descriptions of the setting in Southeast Asia felt really genuine and really immerses the reader in the culture and sites of the area, which was one of my favorite elements of the book. The situations that the characters got into along this adventure were also pretty frickin' hilarious; I was finding myself chuckling through the whole book and even full fled ...more
Elizabeth
Feb 12, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I laughed throughout this book - very funny!
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“Shut up, cowboy."
Yes, ma'am."
And give me a kiss."
Yes, ma'am.”
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“He say: May you and Hanks have long life together with many little Hanks!"
I gasped.
I'll drink to that," said Hanks with a grin and quickly downed his lao-lao.”
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