A nice, light read with a likeable heroine and a romantic hero.
Anna's father thinks spending her senior year studying at the School of America in Par...moreA nice, light read with a likeable heroine and a romantic hero.
Anna's father thinks spending her senior year studying at the School of America in Paris would be a fantastic experience, shipping her overseas against her wishes. I found this setup to be a bit thin - what parent would actually force his child to change schools during her senior year for no truly good reason? Anyway, at first, Anna is nervous about leaving the school's relatively safe environment to explore the exciting city of Paris, but her new friends step up to introduce her to the joys of Parisienne living. The handsome and charming Etienne St. Clair - half French, half American, raised in London - becomes Anna's closest friend and ally, and before she knows it, her feelings become love. However, St. Clair already has a girlfriend.
Anna was a likeable character, and with his English accent, St. Clair (as everyone calls him) is just the right amount of appealing. The author did a great job invoking the sights and foods of Paris. The pace of the book move along quickly, and the romance between Anna and St. Clair was genuine and sweet.
The few missteps - a cardboard, stereotype mean girl villain, a predictable subplot, and the fact that half way through the story, Anna begins calling St. Clair by his first name, Etienne, which seemed silly by that point. But overall, I really enjoyed this book.(less)
Fantastic. I really enjoyed this book. I began reading it at 9:00 at night and stayed up until 2:00 to finish it.
Travis "Solo" Stephenson is an amazi...moreFantastic. I really enjoyed this book. I began reading it at 9:00 at night and stayed up until 2:00 to finish it.
Travis "Solo" Stephenson is an amazing character. At 19, he's already seen more of the world's troubles than most people do in a lifetime. He's home for a four-week leave from his gig as a Marine deployed to Afghanistan. His best friend has died, and Travis struggles with survivor's guilt and a bad case of PTSD. His ex-girlfriend, who dumped him for his brother while Travis was overseas, keeps showing up in his bed. His father remains a first class asshole, and his mother is clearly unhappy in her marriage. And the girl whose reputation Travis ruined back in middle school punches him in the face.
Writer Doller does an amazing job getting inside the head of a unique Young Adult character. Travis is far from perfect and keeps making mistakes, but he works to build a better relationship with his mother and to earn forgiveness from Harper. I really enjoyed watching Travis stand up to a father who never deserved his respect.
All in all, a great book that I know I'll reread again and again.(less)
Really liked this book (actual rating would be 4.5 stars). The protagonist, Annabel, has a fantastically real voice. Her reaction to a horrible incide...moreReally liked this book (actual rating would be 4.5 stars). The protagonist, Annabel, has a fantastically real voice. Her reaction to a horrible incident that happened to her is frustrating (as in, just tell someone already!) yet completely understandable. When Annabel was younger, her mother fell into an episode of severe depression and I can understand why Annabel tends to bottle up anything unsavory or problematic about her life, so unwilling she is to create waves or stress. Still, sometimes I wanted to shake her to break her out of this paralyzing sense of responsibility.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the portrayal of how Annabel's family dealt with her sister Whitney's eating disorder. It came across as very realistic.
The only reason I didn't give this book a full 5 stars was that I wanted the relationship between Owen and Annabel to be better fleshed out. I feel like we were only given one aspect - that Owen loved music and Annabel found herself able to be honest when relating to Owen through this passion - of their relationship. Rather, I wish we could have seen how Owen was able to teach Annabel that it was okay to have negative emotions and that anger wasn't something to be completely ignored but rather managed.
Also, given how important the character of Sophie was in Annabel's history and her current situation, I felt that we didn't get to see enough of that relationship. Supposedly, Sophie and Annabel were best friends. Yet every interaction we were shown via flashback indicated that Sophie was nothing but a negative presence in Annabel's life. While I get that Annabel lacked the self-esteem to leave such a toxic relationship, I just didn't get why losing Sophie as friend was such a bad thing. Sophie came across as a one-note character - the quintessential mean girl - and I kind of wanted a piano to fall on her head by the end of the book.
Overall, though, I loved this story. Can't wait to read more by Dessen.(less)
For such a complex story told through multiple points of view, this book was amazingly readable. It took me a full month to read it, the storytelling...moreFor such a complex story told through multiple points of view, this book was amazingly readable. It took me a full month to read it, the storytelling was so dense. The pace moved quickly, every chapter propelling the story forward without skipping details or characterization. Every person in the cast of characters felt fully formed and necessary.
This book is a fantastic example of fantasy world building. I can't wait to read the next title in the series, and now I'll be hunting down the DVD of the HBO series to watch. (less)
A very exciting story about Bear Gyllis's trek up the intimidating Mt. Everest to become the youngest Briton ever to reach its summit. The fast paced...moreA very exciting story about Bear Gyllis's trek up the intimidating Mt. Everest to become the youngest Briton ever to reach its summit. The fast paced narrative kept me turning pages like crazy, and even though I knew that he ultimately reached the summit (it's in the title!), I still felt compelled to keep reading because the journey was so exciting. I'm amazed by people with the will and fortitude to endure what seems to be three months of pure torture to achieve this goal. Sometimes Grylls's religious references became intrusive for me, but they didn't overwhelm the story but showed that Grylls's faith is clearly important to him. A great way for us armchair adventurers to climb to the top of the world. (less)
A truly enlightening read. While I knew that the treatment of women in Afghanistan was horrendous and oftentimes inhumane, this inside look at a 'real...moreA truly enlightening read. While I knew that the treatment of women in Afghanistan was horrendous and oftentimes inhumane, this inside look at a 'real family' was an eye-opener. What is most distressing, I think, is that the patriarch of the family is a somewhat progressive man by Afghani standards, promoting literacy and education and free thinking as well as desiring Afghanistan to become a more progressive country. The bookseller of the title - Sultan Kahn - appears from the outside to be the type of citizen that would do Afghanistan proud, someone who would be instrumental in bringing his country back from the dismal state it is currently in.
However, behind closed doors, Kahn treats his family members as mere slaves. While his complete oppression falls mostly on the heads of his wives, sisters, daughters and mother, even his sons are not immune to his autocratic rule. For a man who claims to value education, not a one of his own children is permitted to attend school. When a poor carpenter with a large family to feed is caught stealing postcards from Kahn's shop, Kahn never manages to find a drop of compassion for the man and insists that he be put in prison for his crime, even though it meant that the carpenter's family would most likely starve. I'm not a Muslim but that certainly doesn't sound very charitable to me. Do Muslims have anything close to the Christian maxim "What Would Jesus Do?" I hardly think Mohammad would advocate causing a man's family to starve to death.
If Sultan Kahn is one of the more progressive, forward thinking males in his country, I can barely imagine how a more conservative man would treat his family members. I shudder at the thought and thank my lucky stars that I live in the USA, even with all of our own problems.
What's very sad is that my impression of life in Afghanistan is now so bleak - I don't see any hope at all for these people. Short of the women of the country finding their own power and revolting against the men who keep beating them down, both figuratively and literally, I'm not sure how anything will ever change.(less)
A fantastic book. Alison Arngrim is an amazingly brave woman, and hilarious to boot. This memoir of her growing up years and time spent as Nellie Oles...moreA fantastic book. Alison Arngrim is an amazingly brave woman, and hilarious to boot. This memoir of her growing up years and time spent as Nellie Oleson on The Little House on the Prairie TV series is immensely readable.
Arngrim has a great sense of humor. She tells it like it was, never afraid to be brutally honest about her highly disfunctional family, especially when it comes to the horrible abuse she suffered at the hands of her older brother. While what she had to endure as a child is something truly abhorrent, Arngrim never comes across as a victim looking for pity - she dealt with her experiences in the most positive way possible and turned them into ways of helping others who might be suffering. I admire her greatly.
Too, her stories about the goings-on on The Little House set, including the real personalities of the various actors, were fascinating, especially for a LH fan like me. Clearly Arngrim is nothing like her on screen personae, Nellie, and it's a testament to her great acting abilities that Nellie was such a horrible character and yet I'd love to go out for drinks with Arngrim any time.
Fun book - I highly recommend it to any fan of the Little House series.(less)