At first, Larson really had to work to pull me into this one. Trudging through the beginning architectural history of the Chicago World's Fair was ted...moreAt first, Larson really had to work to pull me into this one. Trudging through the beginning architectural history of the Chicago World's Fair was tedious and a teeny bit overwhelming. Larson's (and history's) captivating villain, Holmes, charmed me right through the pages--and this was where Larson's writing was strongest. There's something about this psychopathic serial killer that somehow brought life and tension to the story of the white city. Personally, enjoyed the appearance of Ferris and Pittsburgh, as well! Solid piece of creative nonfic.(less)
It took me forever to read this book (because it kept getting interrupted by others I had to read), so I feel a little disconnected from it for that r...moreIt took me forever to read this book (because it kept getting interrupted by others I had to read), so I feel a little disconnected from it for that reason. Our heroine Taylor is tough, a bit prickly, and yet vulnerable. Honestly, what kept me going was the mystery surrounding her intense relationship with her should-be enemy, Jonah Griggs. I found the side-plot/interruptions by Hannah's writing to be a tad annoying and yet compelling. I kept forgetting the second story's characters, and when I was just wanting to read about Taylor, the damn second plot would interrupt. So, despite the fact that I just rattled off things I dislike, I thought the book was interesting with good characters. Definitely would NOT have given the Printz to this book over Hunger Games--TRAVESTY!(less)
I mean, I've read many a book in my day, and while many are good, few are life-changingly good. The Road was so gripping, compelling, horrifying, hope...moreI mean, I've read many a book in my day, and while many are good, few are life-changingly good. The Road was so gripping, compelling, horrifying, hopeful, and life-changingly good. I haven't been so affected by a book in a long time. McCarthy's world in The Road is one that absolutely terrifies me, and I can't help but wonder (over and over) what I'd do and how I'd survive in a postapocalyptic world. The only other McCarthy I've read is Child of God, and that was just disturbing (albeit well-written). So if you've read other McCarthy, don't necessarily be afraid to read this one.(less)
In some ways this book was exactly what I expected it to be, and hardly what I thought at all. In any case, it was worlds better than its movie versio...moreIn some ways this book was exactly what I expected it to be, and hardly what I thought at all. In any case, it was worlds better than its movie version.(less)
Once again, Anderson tackles an issue we all know exists, doesn't get discussed in polite conversation, and likely makes us uncomfortable. Controlled...moreOnce again, Anderson tackles an issue we all know exists, doesn't get discussed in polite conversation, and likely makes us uncomfortable. Controlled entirely by her anorexia and mourning the recent loss of her former best friend, Lia is wracked with self-hate, and as the book unfolds, we watch her slowly attempt to destroy herself. Her relationships with her divorced parents and step-mother are strained, though all pretend to try. The one glimmer of hope in an outlook of bleak relationships in her life is that with her younger step-sister Emma, and it's in this relationship that I saw Lia as human.
I'm not sure if Lia's constant self-hate is intended because we're meant to understand what girls riddled with eating disorders and mental illness feel/deal with/go through, but frankly, it almost felt like too much to me. Anderson interjects Lia's internal self hate by denoting it in phrases like:
These rants are sprinkled throughout the book, but I almost winced every time I read one.
Unlike Speak, I was unable to relate to Wintergirls' main character. I felt overwhelmingly sorry for Lia, but I didn't know how to cope with her self-hate or all of the destruction in her life. This is not to speak poorly of Anderson's writing--it was top-notch. Her imagery, carefully chosen words and language, every word and phrase added to Lia's feelings of hate, desperation, fear, and anxiety. I'd be careful who I recommended this to (middle/high school student-wise), because I don't believe that a fan of Princess Diaries and the like could necessarily handle it.(less)
**spoiler alert** Oh, Lauren Conrad. You know, I shamelessly love the girl, but is she a jaw-dropping writer? Hells no. I would advise Ms. Conrad to s...more**spoiler alert** Oh, Lauren Conrad. You know, I shamelessly love the girl, but is she a jaw-dropping writer? Hells no. I would advise Ms. Conrad to stick with television and fashion.
Jane and Scarlett (our two leads) move to L.A., their first time on their own, and are "discovered" by a reality-TV producer at Les Deux (of The Hills fame). And away we go! Of course, fame isn't all it's cracked up to be for the girls (Really?! You don't say?!), and Scarlett has second thoughts about the filming.
The characters are completely flat and two-dimensional. The plot is incredibly weak: one of the girls is jealous that Jane is getting more attention than her on the show! Surprise! Sabotage and embarrassment are her method of erasing Jane's popularity and fame. Surprise! The writing, while not as horrible as I might have anticipated, relies heavily on cliches and statement of the obvious, and lacks any nuance or finesse. Surprise!
What I will say was really interesting was the sort of "insider" information Conrad is able to share with her readers because she's been there. It really opened my eyes to just how much of reality television (and The Hills in particular) is fake, forced, embellished, written, re-shot, and over-dramatized (for example, they spend hours setting up lights and mikes everywhere they go, they often have to repeat things they've said, or re-film entrances and exits to buildings for better angles). Maybe this isn't as curious to others as it is to me, but more than anything, the show for these girls is a job, even a chore. And the writers and producers carve out more drama than a normal person could ever conjure up on their own. I actually walked away from the book feeling bad for Lauren (to some extent), because her reality just plain old isn't real. At all.
Anyway, read this if you're curious, and hand it to fans of the show who are older teens--say 15 and up? However, don't go out of your way to read it by any means.
Oh, and just in case you're worried--there's a second installment on the way. And there was no doubt in my mind that there would be, based on the fact that the book has absolutely NO ending. And I mean that in the worst way possible. (less)
I think I'm too old to still appreciate a book like this. Belly (yes, as in the button) is set to spend the summer of her sixteenth birthday where she...moreI think I'm too old to still appreciate a book like this. Belly (yes, as in the button) is set to spend the summer of her sixteenth birthday where she always spends every summer: with her mom, brother, her mom's best friend and her two boys. Can you fill in the plot line already? It's a 276-page recipe for Obvious Love Triangle.
First of all, Belly's name is obnoxious. Her immaturity is obnoxious. I should have guessed at the title The Summer I Turned Pretty that there would be a lot of vanity ("Boys find me pretty?!" [bats eyelashes, feigns surprise:]) and development (Belly's "sudden" C-cup boobies and slender body). Life is miraculously different/better for her now that she's gorgeous (God save The Awkwards & Uglies). The writing style makes me desperate for some John Green sophistication, and please please get this author a better editor! Han often unnecessarily over-explains everything, which weakens otherwise decent writing.
What kept me reading? Well, the fact that it's a quick read is appealing, but honestly I was so confused half the time, I was hoping I could sort the whole thing out by the end (Wait, why is Belly pouting again?). Plus, I had read reviews that endorsed it.
Okay. Recommend this book to the fifteen/sixteen-year-old female who wanders into the library and wants some mindless girl drama book to read at the beach. Might also be good for female reluctant readers.(less)
Kelley B recommended this one to me, and I'm so glad that I took the time to read it. Though I'm not a teacher, Miller inspired the librarian within m...moreKelley B recommended this one to me, and I'm so glad that I took the time to read it. Though I'm not a teacher, Miller inspired the librarian within me, and made me long for a teacher as passionate as she is. I'd be interested to hear what a practicing teacher makes of this book--she makes a lot of claims and points out (and calls out) teachers who teach reading and yet don't read themselves. Definitely an interesting, worthwhile read, even if only for the sake of the questions it raises about reading education in this country.(less)
Maybe I'm just really excited about this because I was happy to be reading something other than just straight fiction, but I honestly enjoyed these sh...moreMaybe I'm just really excited about this because I was happy to be reading something other than just straight fiction, but I honestly enjoyed these short stories. It also helps that these stories were written by some of the best authors for young adults: An Na, MT Anderson, and KL Going. I thought the stories were varied, diverse, and relevant. Added bonus: the book reads quickly, probably helped by the short story format. Cool thing to note: they're hoping to publish a second edition of the book with an additional work of short fiction submitted and written by a teen! Awesome--I like that. I'll probably check the book out again once it's republished just to scope out what they pick.(less)
**spoiler alert** I'd always wanted to read this book, but after hearing either, "Ugh! I hated it!" or "Oh! I loved it!" and nothing inbetween, I deci...more**spoiler alert** I'd always wanted to read this book, but after hearing either, "Ugh! I hated it!" or "Oh! I loved it!" and nothing inbetween, I decided to sit down and do it.
In the novel detailing her journey to spiritual, mental, and physical restoration after a gruesome divorce and distressed life, Elizabeth Gilbert goes on a hunt for herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Now for starters, I think Gilbert is a bit of a hard pill to swallow. She's a tad self-involved (then again, it's hard not to be when writing one's memoirs), self-important, and just, intense. Sometimes she's funny, sometimes witty, and sometimes I just want to roll my eyes at her.
The book--divided into thirds, one devoted to each location--begins in Italy. I think I loved Italy the best because she was indulgent and swept up in the beauty of Europe and still kind of awkward and healing. I related to her most in this section, when she was human and wide-eyed, loving language and culture, and a bit broken. I lost Gilbert a bit in India because I'm pretty outside of her religious fervor and I found the tedious detailing of meditation and mantra a bit heavy. Things picked up for me again in Indonesia when she comes out of the religious and returns to the human--she makes friends, looks a bit wide-eyed again, and has some good sex.
All in all, I liked this book. I think some are unfairly hard on Gilbert. I don't think she expected to bare all and have everyone fall in love with her. Could any of us if we tried our hand at the ugly truth about ourselves? I found her honesty to be refreshing and her spirituality inspiring, even if it took a bit of slogging through her personality and her journey.(less)
**spoiler alert** I read this book for Daniel, my southern gentleman, who absolutely adores Pat Conroy.
What I think Daniel likes about him so much--an...more**spoiler alert** I read this book for Daniel, my southern gentleman, who absolutely adores Pat Conroy.
What I think Daniel likes about him so much--and what no one can dispute about Conroy--is that he writes with a sense of place like no author I've read. Charleston lives and breathes in South of Broad, as much a character as any other in the book.
In a nutshell, this book follows "The Toad," a boy whose life can be summed up by the following: his mother was a nun, his brother committs suicide, and he takes the fall for a brick of cocaine though it's not his. The book flops between a teenage Toad and an adult Toad in the late 1980s. Things get interesting when Toad meets the beautiful twins Sheba and Trevor, Betty, Niles, and Starla (all orphans new to his Catholic school), and Ike--his black football team co-captain. South of Broad follows this band of best friends through the perils of an integrated high school and a terrifically complicated adult life.
I enjoyed the first, say, two-thirds of this novel. But then Conroy's plot starts to spiral out of control with nearly unbelievable, epic drama. There's the twins terrifying rapist murdering father who hunts them down and leaves crying smiley faces painted in his wake. There's the AIDS that nearly destroys Trevor and leads the friends on a hunt in San Francisco for his decaying body. An affair (multiple). The Toad's literally crazy wife who unloads some pretty tough stuff on him. And over-the-top symbolism: Hurricane Hugo rips through at the end of the book and baptizes Charleston anew.
I really enjoyed the coming-of-age aspect of this novel. Conroy handles The Toad carefully, and all of the feelings of these teenagers feel real. I enjoyed reading about a group of teens from the 1960s. And let's not forget that Conroy handles language delicately and elegantly. Though the book felt a tad needlessly 512 pages long, it certainly wasn't 512 pages of Stephenie Meyer--the man can write.
All in all, I don't know that this book deserved the bad rap it's received from the media thus far. What Conroy does, he does well. Just brace yourself for lots of melodrama before you read this book, and you'll enjoy the ride.(less)
I hated the epilogue, and for this I removed one of the stars from the four I would have rated it prior. I want to say more, but I'll wait until after...moreI hated the epilogue, and for this I removed one of the stars from the four I would have rated it prior. I want to say more, but I'll wait until after the B.A.R.F. meeting.(less)
Claire recommended this one to me--I hadn't read a trashy romance in a long time. And the regency ones are the best! As far as romance novels go, this...moreClaire recommended this one to me--I hadn't read a trashy romance in a long time. And the regency ones are the best! As far as romance novels go, this one is a 4-star. Fun, easy beach read.(less)
**spoiler alert** I was lucky enough to score an ARC, and I devoured it all in one sitting. It was truly phenomenal.
Though I'm no artist, it's impossi...more**spoiler alert** I was lucky enough to score an ARC, and I devoured it all in one sitting. It was truly phenomenal.
Though I'm no artist, it's impossible to ignore the beauty of Small's illustrations. Many scenes reminded me of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, in which he would carefully zoom in on a location, a look, an eye. One particular image of a Small's younger self wriggling and squirming in a hospital waiting room chair looked exactly like the real thing. I could almost feel his boredom and itch to move and play.
There are, in fact, little actual words--Small uses them carefully. But this doesn't mean that the story doesn't move, that the reader isn't moved. The horrors of Small's childhood aren't told in the "woe is me" fashion, but rather honestly, almost matter-of-factly. I think it's clear that Small needed to write this novel as a truth, rather than a victimization piece. It's as if he's saying, "This is it. This is what my childhood was to me."
All of the issues are dealt with delicately, from his father's x-ray experimentation on a very young David, to his mother's closeted homosexuality. Frankly, it made me feel for him all the more.
Just fantastic. Really struck me. I'd recommend it to older teens. Say 16+. Only the mature ones, though.(less)