Nerds. Jocks. Cheerleaders. Epic battle. Sounds like your typical high school story, right? Enter the killer robots!*
I knew there was a high propinqui...moreNerds. Jocks. Cheerleaders. Epic battle. Sounds like your typical high school story, right? Enter the killer robots!*
I knew there was a high propinquity** that I would like this because I loved Faith Erin Hicks' Friends with Boys (my review / Noelle's review) and Prudence Shen's /report podcast is a must listen in my book club.*** After flying through the first 50 or so pages on the official website, I ended up breaking my months-long NetGalley ban to request it. And it was totally worth it.
Charlie is the popular captain of the basketball team. Nate is the much less popular president of the robotics team. They're neighbors and best friends though they are on opposite sides of the social spectrum. Nate is usually worked up about something while Charlie is laid back. The latest outrage in Nate's life: the school has decided to let the student council determine which extracurricular club gets money. The science club was going to get it so they could enter the national robotics competition, but then the cheerleaders said they needed new uniforms. Enter Holly, head cheerleader and Charlie's ex-girlfriend. Nate's solution is simple: run for student body president and make sure the science club gets the money. Yeah, that idea doesn't fly with the other members of the club either. As Ben disbelievingly tells Nate, "You're literally trying to win a popularity contest!" Holly counteracts Nate's move by entering Charlie into the race. Even though Charlie is an unwitting challenger, it's game on for Nate. Friendships, loyalties, and robots are tested.
To begin with, this book has my favorite depiction of cheerleaders ever. I mean, look at Holly's entrance in the book:
She enters the story like freaking Beyonce! And she has the attitude to back it up. These aren't your stereotypical cheerleaders. Nate calls them the "Pom Pom Gestapo" for a reason. They are fierce, ruthless, smart, and organized. Holly is a formidable opponent, but she is by no means a villain in the story, which I loved.
Charlie, oh Charlie. Do you remember Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles? Jake was one of the first boys my heart Teen Beated for, and he will always hold a special place there. Well, Charlie reminded me of him. When the basketball team finds out Charlie's dad is out of town and decide to invite half the school over to his place, Nate finds Charlie hiding under his bed reading a book. Nate tells him, "You really are the worst cool kid ever." Also, since this is a graphic novel, we don't just have to imagine Charlie shirtless. Ahem, shoulders.
Before you think this is just about the popular kids, remember that Prudence Shen wrote this book. In her /report bio, it says:
"She has written, much to her chagrin, hundreds of thousands of pages of bad-to-slightly-less-bad fanfic in everything from anime to Smallville to shows that lasted three episodes to children's books."
The nerd voice is well represented. And it's not just nerd boys. Joanna is a key member of the robotics team. I love that one added touch to the KILLER ROBOT is a little, stenciled bow.
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong combines a fun story with clever illustrations, or maybe it's a clever story with fun illustrations. The result is a book that will appeal to even those who don't consider themselves graphic novel fans. I think this was even better than Friends with Boys, and I can't wait to see what Faith Erin Hicks and Prudence Shen come up with next.
-- *Okay, so they're not technically killer robots in the Michael Bay sense. But really, do you want to live in a world where Michael Bay makes sense? **Quinto/Pine Challenge: To use one of the words that made Chris Pine's head hurt. ***Confession: I've only listened to the episode about Korean dramas. But it was hilarious.
What do you do when you're sad? Me? Les Miserables (Original London Cast), Disc 1, Track 5: I Dreamed a Dream Upset about a boy? Wicked, Track 8: I'm N...moreWhat do you do when you're sad? Me? Les Miserables (Original London Cast), Disc 1, Track 5: I Dreamed a Dream Upset about a boy? Wicked, Track 8: I'm Not That Girl Outraged over something? Ragtime, Disc 2, Track 15: Make Them Hear You Getting ready to parrrrty? Rent (Original Broadway Cast), Disc 1, Track 14: Out Tonight
Why yes, that is a Korean edition of the Les Miserables Original London Cast. I needed emotional support on my first trip to Korea after being castigated for not speaking Korean well so I demanded my mother buy it for me.
If the soundtrack to your life is found on soundtracks to shows, this book is your kindred spirit.
Here are some things to know about Devan Mitchell: 1. She loves to sing and perform. 2. Her father just died. 2a. But it's mitigated by the fact that:
"Kids in musicals without parents always ended up okay -- Annie got Daddy Warbucks, Cosette got Jean Valjean, Christine got stalked by the Phantom though she did get to make out with Raoul."
3. Her stepmother can't stand her. 4. She found out about her birth mother through a book dedication. 5. She's never met her birth mother. 6. She's never kissed a boy.
"Also, ugh, really? Dad is dead and my long-lost mother would have totally preferred to stay long-lost, and I'm feeling sorry for myself about boys?"
Two of those things will change when she moves to Los Angeles to meet and live with her mother, award winning author Reece Malcolm.
The Reece Malcolm List is like an alternate world version of Gilmore Girls, exploring what would have happened if Lorelai had given up baby Rory and Rory focused on musicals instead of Harvard. Like the show, the book is a mix of humor and heart with snappy dialogue and a cast of memorable characters.
I liked Reece immediately. She's moody and socially awkward, and the only reason I don't mock the way Devan talks (like, like, like) is because Reece does it first. Okay, that also makes her kind of a bitch, but she's my kind of bitch. At 32, she's a successful writer but I love that she doesn't have her shit together. She's not only someone I would hang out it, but probably someone I already do hang out with. Devan never really fit in at her old schools but transferring to a performing arts high school finally gives her a place where she belongs. I mentioned the way she talks (like, like, like), but her voice is so authentically 16. I love that she's a bit timid and unconfident in real life but the minute she's on stage and in character, she unleashes everything inside. For a girl who's constantly apologizing, the one thing she doesn't apologize for is her talent. Reece Lissa tells her,
"When you sing you're this force of nature, all fearless and bad-ass. Then you switch off, and it's weird. It's like you really are in a musical, where you can only express yourself through song or whatever."
No wonder Reece is a best-selling author because that's the perfect analogy. Or whatever.
Of course, I have to mention the boys. There's the guylinered one and the Indian-Chinese one, which HELLO, but the one who held my attention was Brad, Reece's boyfriend. He's the most together person in the book and such a warm character. However, there are no perfect characters in this, and the realistically drawn characters are one of the strengths of the book.
You don't have to love musicals to enjoy this book, but if you are a theater geek, HANDS IN, A-CA-BITCHES! This book is your song.
I received an ARC of this from the author but waited so long to read it that I bought and reviewed the finished copy instead. Because that's how I do.
One of my Top 5 Foreign Language Films (subgenre: drama) is Mostly Martha from Germany. Martha is a sought after, highly regarded chef with exacting...moreOne of my Top 5 Foreign Language Films (subgenre: drama) is Mostly Martha from Germany. Martha is a sought after, highly regarded chef with exacting standards. (I would call her the female Soup Nazi but Germans + Nazi reference... Let's not go there.) In the beginning of the movie, she talks about how the simplest dishes, like salmon in a light basil sauce, are the hardest because there's nothing to disguise or distract from the flavor. It's all about proper seasoning and precise cooking. These basic dishes are how to judge the quality of a chef. Likewise with books, I think the simple, slice of life stories are the hardest. Without big issues or fantastical situations or death, the story comes down to the characters.
Life in Outer Space is about Sam Kinnison and his group of friends as they navigate a year of high school. Sam is a movie obsessed, World of Warcraft playing geek with dreams of being a screenwriter. He's like Dawson Leery minus the giant head and ugly crying. His best friend, Mike, is a black belt in karate. Mike is also a disco dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy, know what I'm saying? When Mike first came out to the group, which also includes Adrian and Allison, they did what any self-respecting nerd would do -- they googled. Based on search results, they ended up watching Xanadu, Lesbian Vampire Killers, and Dirty Dancing. Sam narrates,
"We watched Dirty Dancing. Mike fell asleep, but I had to admit I kind of liked it, which made me question my own sexuality, raising a whole heap of other questions I chose not to examine."
Their routine of avoiding jock/terrorist Justin Zigoni and his crew by hiding out in the IT office is compromised when Camilla Carter comes to town. Camilla is Australian by birth but has spent most of her life bouncing around the world with her famous music critic father. Camilla ends up in the IT office her first day because her laptop won't connect to the school's WiFi. Sam, the IT assistant, can't avoid her, especially when she notices his WoW screensaver and writes down her WoW name.
I want to hug this book. If you've read any of my reviews, you know I talk in movie. Sam, with his Top 5 lists, is a kindred spirit. He's also smart, funny, and totally clueless. He reminds me of two of my favorite YA boys: Ed from Graffiti Moon and Sam from Hold Me Closer Necromancer. Camilla is who Zooey Deschanel and Olivia Munn pretend to be. Hell, she's who I want to be! I mean, anyone who can use Sweeney Todd and Dirty Dancing to taunt is my hero. Adrian steals every scene he's in.
This book is about the little victories in life. Nothing earth shattering, just the times when you say yes instead of no. Do you reply back? Do you risk the dining hall? Do you give in to John Cusack??
Melissa Keil writes with a deftness that shows why she won the Ampersand Project. She gets the right mix of heart and humor and uses little details, like the fact that Sam downloads a movie using torrents, to add to the authenticity of the story. Like I said before, I think these types of stories are the hardest to write. However, when done well, they just make you happy that you read them. Life in Outer Space is done well. I can't guarantee that you'll be blown away, but I can say that you'll be glad you said yes instead of no to this.
Favorite quote: "I will shelve this insanity and store away the memory of her in the hope that one day it'll be distant enough to be useful for a screenplay."
Are you tired? Rundown? Listless? Do you poop out in the middle of a book -- even one you're really enjoying?
Try CINDER. It will bust you out of your...moreAre you tired? Rundown? Listless? Do you poop out in the middle of a book -- even one you're really enjoying?
Try CINDER. It will bust you out of your reading slump.
And Prince Kai is so tasty too!
I don't know whether I hit the rookie reviewing wall, but I haven't written a review since... November 15?! Don't get me wrong, I've been reading (and taking notes while I read) but that's it. With Cinder, I didn't take any notes or make any highlights. I just read... and read... and enjoyed the hell out of this book.
Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in a futuristic New Beijing. She has to work to support her stepmother and two stepsisters. Her stepmother, resentful at being forced to take her in, refuses to buy Cinder a new mechanical foot so she's stuck with the little one from when she was 11 years old. Already, I love this take on Cinderella. Cinder may be the ward of her stepmother, but she's also a feisty, badass mechanic, a la Mercy Thompson. She meets the heir to the throne, Prince Kaito, when he comes to her booth to get his android fixed. Kai's father, the Emperor, is dying of letumosis, an incurable disease that has already taken the life of his mother and many people around the world. As if the letumosis plague wasn't enough, there is the constant threat from Queen Levana, the powerful Lunar queen who has mind altering abilities.
Basically, this book has a little bit of everything -- action, political intrigue, romance, science fiction, and fantasy. Since it's a retelling of a well known story, the plot is fairly predictable. This isn't Sherlock (one of the many shows I watched in its entirety during my book slump -- what up, Cumberbitches!), where the plot is driven by its mystery. Rather it's the creativeness and freshness of Marissa Meyer's writing that kept me interested in the story. The Cinderella story is the roadmap, but Meyer blazed a completely different and unique trail to take us up to the stroke of midnight. I had so much fun reading this book and her wink wink nudge nudge references to Rapunzel and future characters in this series.
Did I mention this book is set in Asia with a hot Asian prince? Seriously, it's so nice to be able to reference a hot Asian male character other than freakin' Shang from Mulan. So help me God, movie studios, if you cast Jackson Rathbone as Kai, I will throw shit! I pictured a young Takeshi Kaneshiro as Kai. For the androids, I pictured Rosie from The Jetsons.
If you haven't read this already, you should join the thousands of happy, peppy readers and get a copy of Cinder tomorrow. Hi, Fred! Hi, Ethel!
Joel and Cat, classmates and enemies, are paired together for a tandem writing project. They have to write a story one alternating paragraph at a time. But the first rule of tandem story writing is that you do not talk about tandem story writing. They can't discuss the plot or characters. Any problems? Take it to the page! (Sidenote: No wonder Australian YA is awesome -- their English teachers kick ass. Mr. Ashton reminded me a bit of Mr. Botherit and his Joy of the Envelope.)
The 'enemies who are forced to work together' is one of my favorite tropes. Done well, it leads to great chemistry and banter, and the reader falls in love along with the characters. You already know how I feel about Rebecca Sparrow. (In case you don't, I ADORE her.) There's just something about her writing that I connected to immediately and I loved Nick McGowan from the first page. Imagine my surprise when I didn't connect to Joel and Cat right away. I don't get it. Did I stumble into bad lighting? I put the book down after about 40 pages. A few days later, I decided to pick it up again, and this time, I couldn't put it down until I was done. I didn't stop laughing until a good 30 minutes after I had finished the book. I think the beginning felt a bit disjointed as the characters, the authors, and I got used to the tandem style. Once we were all on the same page (hardy har har), it was so much fun. It's obvious that Rebecca Sparrow and Nick Earls had fun writing this. I can't even mention a scene without cackling like Julia Roberts and wanting to spoiler the hell out of it for you so we can laugh about it together, but I won't!
There's a distinctly Australian feel to the book. I had to google references to Megan Gale, Andrew G, and Mary Kostakidis. I cracked up after looking up 'Ken Done scarf', which is how Cat describes Joel's hippy dippy mother's appearance, because that's exactly how I pictured her. I was surprised that Australia has Sizzlers. Of all the restaurants America could export! There are still a few around LA -- to keep people like my grandma happy. I loved that Sizzler was also a turning point in the book. Seriously, so much fun!
If Sizzler doesn't tempt you to read this book, maybe Cat's dad will. Remember that episode of Friends where Ross goes tanning? "I'm an 8!" Cat's dad takes that as a personal challenge.
When Joel and Cat are first paired up, Joel throws down the gauntlet and challenges Cat with two words: Amaze me. Nick Earls and Rebecca Sparrow did. They each bring such a charming, unique voice to the story. I'm no Nate Silver, but I predict you will laugh your ass off while reading this book.
When Flannery first recommended this book to me with the promise of Boston and baseball, my exact reaction was, "........" The opening paragraph of he...moreWhen Flannery first recommended this book to me with the promise of Boston and baseball, my exact reaction was, "........" The opening paragraph of her review cracks me up because what I remember most about Boston is: rats. Lots and lots of rats. Since "everywhere" is too general, let me tell you 3 specific places where I saw a rat.
1. Subway (as in Eat Fresh®) 2. California Pizza Kitchen, Prudential Center 3. My dorm room
My friends refused to walk on my left because whenever I saw a rat charging out of the bushes, I'd push them out into the street. Excuse me for trying to save your life! Did no one see the episode of Little House on the Prairie where everyone in Walnut Grove nearly died of typhus?! That wasn't just a TV show, that was a PSA.
Second only to rats in Boston are Red Sox fans. The SAWX. I grew up watching sports (not baseball, as if) but nothing in my life prepared me for Red Sox Nation. I lived 5 minutes away from Fenway Park and got a very rude awakening the first (and only) time I tried to take the T after a game. My PTSD still prevents me from talking about it.
Imagine my surprise when not only did I end up finishing this book, I loved it. It reminded me that aside from the rats and the Sox, Boston was also where I first fell in love, strolled through a park at night while someone played the saxophone, and had a chocolate chip cannoli from Mike's Pastry. (Don't knock it til you've tried it! My love for Mike's has outlasted that first love.) Every so often, I need to be reminded that hope exists. I need it to wrap me in a bear hug and refuse to let go until I surrender because anything less won't work with me. Some Disney magic also helps.
My Most Excellent Year refers to the year Alejandra Perez and a 6-year-old named Hucky entered the lives of T.C. Keller and Augie Hwong. T.C. and Augie declared they were brothers in 1st grade and never looked back. T.C. had just lost his mother and he bonded with the quiet kid who was the one person who didn't look at him like he'd just lost his mother. Of course, Augie didn't stay quiet. Have you ever met a quiet Ethel Merman fan? While Augie shared his love of musicals during their weekly sleepovers, T.C. shared his love of baseball. When Alejandra (that's Alé with an é) transferred to their school freshman year and politely rejected T.C.'s offer to consider a relationship with her, while talking to Augie about musical theater, both boys were goners. Their story is told through journal entries, emails, IMs, and texts.
First, I loved that two of the main characters are minorities. This was such an issue for me growing up, and it's still an issue for me now, but it's so important to see last names like Hwong and Perez and not deal with stereotypical characterizations. Augie is the son of a Chinese immigrant mother and American-born Chinese father. His mother terrorizes the Boston theater community with her reviews for the Globe. Here's a sample of her review of Carousel:
"Nice songs to beat your wife to. Attend at your own risk."
She instilled her love of theater in Augie, but made sure to warn him about Carousel when he was 8. Alé is the daughter of diplomats and her father was the ambassador to Mexico until he accepted a position at Harvard. She's used to hobnobbing (and accidentally insulting) diplomats, actors, and (I'm assuming) Bono. Her closest friend before moving to Brookline was a Secret Service agent.
Second, I loved the fathers in this. T.C.'s dad, Ted, named after Ted Williams naturally, and Augie's dad, Craig, are such presences in their sons' lives. T.C. uses a vocabulary word in one of his journal entries and a few pages later, Ted ends up using the same word in an email to T.C.'s counselor. You can just see T.C. using it around the house with Ted, making up ridiculous sentences along the way.
Third, Augie Hwong is who I tried to get my little brother to be. Yes, the one who is now a big bad cop. I just think children, particularly boys, need a well-rounded education, especially of the musical variety. Also, I knew even back then that he was destined for a career involving weaponry so I wanted to get to him before the mouthbreathers did. Since I controlled the radio in the car (ah, the perks of being the oldest), I played a steady stream of Rent, Les Miserables, and Ragtime. (Wicked came later.) I was so proud when I heard him humming "Would you light my candle?" I was even prouder when Rent the movie came out and he went to watch it on his own.
This book had the same energy of Sorta Like a Rock Star and it was what I hoped Will Grayson Will Grayson would be. The format of journal entries and emails and texts made it an easy, fun read. You don't need to know all (or any) of the baseball and theater references to get this book. Just read a short synopsis of All About Eve so you understand one of my favorite Augie moments. I know it's not perfect, but it had so much heart that like Mary Poppins, My Most Excellent Year is practically perfect in every way.
What can I say about this book but faith rewarded? How do I begin to talk about a series that turned me onto a new genre?
Marchetta took me on a journe...moreWhat can I say about this book but faith rewarded? How do I begin to talk about a series that turned me onto a new genre?
Marchetta took me on a journey through an unfamiliar genre and story landscape, through curses and the Citavita. Looking back on Finnikin, I couldn't even finish my review because I was so unused to fantasy. I was exhausted by the little I did manage to write. By the time I read Froi, I was better prepared and any exhaustion I felt was due to the emotional ride from the book.
With Quintana, I could talk about how Lucian and Perri should star in their own buddy cop show, or how being in Quintana's head seemed like the most natural place to be. I loved so many of the characters, but for me, this series comes down to two people -- Isaboe and Froi. The things that bond them are at the heart of the series. They are the faces of children of war.
In Isaboe, we see what war does to a once beloved, sheltered child. Her experiences in Sarnak and Sorel shape the fierce queen she’s become. She’s unflinching. However, sometimes that results in a harshness that had me wincing. It's how she survived on her own, but it may not be the best way to ensure her people's survival.
For Froi, it was Sir Topher who prevented him from going down an irreversible path, but that and a belief in a girl with magic, shaped the man he became. His journey of redemption -- never once forgetting what could have been -- is about overcoming all the experiences that can break you and turn you into someone you're not. I loved seeing the person Froi came to be when given love and when he gave his love in return. It was so wholehearted and pure. It was devastating to think what war did to the boy with that much heart.
One character I didn't feel much affection for was Lady Zarah. To quote the great Dionne Warwick, I got your number, hussy!
Quintana of Charyn tested the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and family, and what it meant to be Lumateran, Charynite, Queen, husband, wife, lover, and friend. It's about having faith first, like a boy with cats once did, so it can be rewarded later. I loved being in this world and I hope Marchetta revisits it again, as I know I will.
This is the second book of The Readventurer Challenge and... it didn't work for me. I'm not giving White Cat an official goodreads rating because the narration didn't hold my attention enough for me to completely follow the story. This is now my 7th or 8th audiobook, and I love listening to them, but Jesse Eisenberg and I just didn't mesh well together. And I'm not a virgin and I can drive! TMI?
The premise of mafia controlled curse workers sounded like The Godfather meets Misfits, which is definitely up my alley. It had my attention in the beginning, when the main character wakes up teetering on the roof after a dream where a cat literally takes his tongue. He also has a non-stereotypical Asian roommate, which is an automatic 10 points. I liked the explanation of his cons and betting schemes, which had an Ocean's 11 vibe.
However, it wasn't long before my attention was wandering, and not because I didn't like the story. My main issue with Jesse Eisenberg is that he has a quiet, kind of whiny voice. It was fine in my car when I could really blast the speakers, but around my house, I was mentally yelling at him to put some bass in his voice. SAY IT WITH YOUR CHEST! I followed along for about half the story until Cassel's brothers entered the picture and I couldn't remember who was who or who Maura was married to. I also thought the main character's name was "Castle" and totally judged him for it.
Once I started imagining Armie Hammer reading me the book instead (and missing a few chapters in the process), I know I should've stopped and switched to reading the book for myself. However, the CHALLONGE was for the audiobook specifically and I wanted to see if I could stick to it. By the time the audiobook ended, I was completely lost and wondering if I had missed a file. I'll probably end up giving this another shot in paper form because the beginning was really promising.
Since I did manage to get through the entire audiobook (that's TWO out of three She Made Me Do It books) I decided to make a gif.
Basically, it's on like Donkey Kong. So yup, by later Sunday, I was done with one of the books of the CHALLENGE. Flannery picked a Nora Roberts book for me because whenever she would talk about Nora Roberts as one of her favorite romance authors, my reaction, never having read one of her books, would be, "Her?"
However, with The MacGregor Grooms, Flann promised a wily, matchmaking grandpa and a JFK Jr. There's exactly ONE thing I have in common with Taylor Swift and it's our fascination with the Kennedys -- although mine is more toward those who've actually graduated from high school. Needless to say, I was hooked on this book from the beginning.
Daniel, the grizzled patriarch of the MacGregor clan, is adorrrrrable. I read this after the VP debate so I pictured him as a lovable Joe Biden type. He's devoted to his family and determined to set up his single grandsons. There's D.C. the artist, Duncan the Steve Wynn of riverboats, and Ian the lawyer. The book is divided into 3 parts, with a diary entry by Daniel introducing each part and grandson. The short story format was a great introduction to Roberts' writing style and the characters in this series.
As a whole, I liked the characters and stories. I liked D.C.'s storyline the most, and I would've probably reacted to his father, the former president, the same way Layna did. I was a bit bored by Duncan's storyline and skimmed it until Daniel came for a visit, but it was short enough to keep my attention. Ian, aka the original Harvard Hottie, built a library in his house. Need I say more? What I really liked was the family dynamic. I loved how close-knit they were and how they indulged Grandpa's meddling, even as he blamed poor ol' Grandma for it. I loved that the boys always answered calls from Grandpa with a grin, even when they knew they were the targets of his machinations.
Verdict: Old people can be so sweet!
Daniel is such a memorable, lovable character. I'm reading The MacGregor Brides next for more of his antics. Great rec, Flann! Now that I've read one of your books, I have one thing to say to you and Catie:
DRAMATIS PERSONAE ...................................... Anne Shirley
It's not often that a book lives up to its public-shaming-if-you-haven't-read hyp...moreDRAMATIS PERSONAE ...................................... Anne Shirley
It's not often that a book lives up to its public-shaming-if-you-haven't-read hype. This book lives up to its 104 YEAR HYPE. I almost divorced my childhood for not reading this then. So many of the words that describe Anne are ones that too many girls are running away from today -- imaginative, impertinent, outspoken, smart, driven. If you have a problem with them, you can take it up with the slate being cracked over your head. She's a scrappy little hustler who convinces Marilla Cuthbert to keep her at Green Gables, changing both of their lives.
I absolutely loved this now and would've adored it back in the day. Like Judy Abbott, another feisty orphan, Anne has so much gumption. Gumption seems like such an old-fashioned word... Is it an out-of-date characteristic? Why don't modern characters have more gumption?! Be the badass you wish to see in the world, girls!
One of the reasons Anne grows up to be badass and not just an ass is Marilla. Marilla was old school 100 years ago. Her strict parenting style would probably be crucified along with Liz Lemon's on Urban Baby, but Marilla Cuthbert does. not. care. I admit, my appreciation for Marilla, like my own mother, came in hindsight. While reading, I sympathized with Anne and her non-puffed sleeves. However, Marilla was as fair as she was tough, and her devotion to Anne was unwavering.
This brings me to another favorite character with unwavering affection for Anne -- Matthew Cuthbert. Matthew, who knew nothing of fashion or puffed sleeves but knew how important they were to Anne, was soft where Marilla was rigid. His kind and gentle manner brought tears to my eyes.
Now about Gilbert Blythe. Ah, Gilbert. If only you were my boy next door. A love interest isn't someone who completes you or who you have to change yourself for -- it's someone who challenges you and makes you better and, here's the important part, VICE VERSA. Gilbert is Anne's pace car. Whenever she finds herself slacking in her studies, she mentally checks herself against Gilbert to push herself to work harder. I like that though Gilbert isn't in every scene or even a majority of the scenes, he sneaks in through Anne's subconscious.
"But, oh, Matthew, I'm so sleepy. I can't go to school. I just know I couldn't keep my eyes open and I'd be so stupid. But I hate to stay home for Gil--some of the others will get head of the class..."
Gilbert's scenes made me grin so much, and not just because I was picturing Henry Cavill.
I was worried when I started this book because it seemed, well, old timey and nothing makes my attention drift faster.* I ended up picking up the audio version from the library and put it on while I was stuck in traffic. This worked out really well because I could zone out through some slower parts early on and by the time I was home, I couldn't flip through the pages fast enough. I can't wait to follow Anne to Avonlea and beyond. I'm in complete agreement with Miss Barry when she says,
"That Anne-girl improves all the time. I get tired of other girls -- there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them. Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts. I don't know that she is as amusing as she was when she was a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them."
If you haven't ventured to Prince Edward Island yet, just open this book. Anne will do the rest.
One of these days, the Rafa in a book will refer to a capri pant wearing, wedgie picking Spaniard and not an angel.
On second thought, I'm cool with...moreOne of these days, the Rafa in a book will refer to a capri pant wearing, wedgie picking Spaniard and not an angel.
On second thought, I'm cool with the gorgeous, heavenly version.
Shadows was a solid introduction to the Rephaim series and to debut author Paula Weston. It had an engaging cast of characters, including a loyal friend named MAGGIE :), and plenty of action and mystery to keep you on your toes until the end of the book. Did I mention the angel pashing? If I didn't, it's only because I'm not sure I'm using the term correctly. To put it in inelegant American terms, there's hot and heavy tongue action! The short chapters, headed with progressively funnier titles, keep the story moving briskly.
So... why only 3 stars? Even though 3 stars means a solid GOOD, I feel like it's become the rating equivalent of kissing your cousin. Of course, some people (ANGIE!) would be alllllll about that. So here's the thing. Gaby finds out early on that angels, hellions (HELLIONS), you name it, are after her. This is when the fight-or-flight instinct usually kicks in for people. Gaby chooses Door #3: stay and do nothing. Now "stay and do nothing" wasn't just left out of fight-or-flight because it doesn't fit the rhyme scheme. It's DUMB. For me, it's so dumb that I don't feel sorry for you when the shit hits the fan and whips back all over your face. Is it any surprise they're snatching your people up??
I couldn't help but compare Shadows to another angel book, Angelfall, and Gaby to Penryn. Because What Would Penryn Do? Penryn would kick ass.
While I liked the first half of the story, I was also really ambivalent towards it because Gaby's decisions, while understandable, still annoyed me. However, and this is a testament to Paula Weston's writing, Gaby wasn't unlikable, which kept me reading. And I'm glad because the story really picks up. I couldn't put down the last 1/4 of the book and can't wait to read Book 2. Shadows has a great mix of plot and action. I think this is going to be an exciting series, and one that will definitely find its audience.
Rating: I initially planned on giving this 3 stars, which is what I gave Divergent, but I actually plan on reading the sequel to this one, so I'm bumping it up to 3.5 stars.
This is one of the most enjoyable romances I've read. It was funny, it was modern,...moreThis is our inaugural Rory Curtain Review at Young Adult Anonymous.
This is one of the most enjoyable romances I've read. It was funny, it was modern, and MOTHER OF GOD, it was HAWT. Navy SEAL Vince Haven is so hot, I ended up pumping my bestie, who was in the Navy until he was kicked out for being gay (fuckery), over dinner for info on just how swoon-worthy he should be. I am nothing if not thorough!
Me: Are Navy SEALs that hot? Him: Oh yeah. Me: Okay, how hot? Are they hotter than regular Navy guys? Him: Hell yes. They look like elite athletes. Me: There's a scene in the book where Vince picks up a sledgehammer with one hand and just tosses it aside. Real or not real? Him: Real. Me: Can you tell a Navy SEAL from regular Navy guys? Him: Mags, I don't think you're understanding the ELITE ATHLETE part. For example, in the Navy, we did an exercise where we had to carry 40 pound weights in each hand and then stand on our tiptoes. Navy SEALs have to do that AND jump over a bench. Me:drops fork Server:drops mouth Me: So... where do these SEALs hang out?
I had to ask. For the purposes of this review!
Sadie Hollowell is 3 things a woman from Lovett, Texas shouldn't be: 33 years old, single, and flat haired. She left Lovett at 18 and created a nice life for herself selling real estate in Phoenix. A younger cousin's wedding pulls her back to Texas.
Vince Haven is a 36 year old ex-SEAL who left the service after an incident in Afghanistan blew out 60% of his hearing in one ear. Since then, he's invested in businesses while traveling and taking care of his sister and nephew.
Sadie sees Vince stranded on the side of the road into Lovett and ends up reluctantly offering to help -- but not before demanding to see his license and calling his info into her assistant. You know, in case he ends up being a "homicidal maniac, or worse. A Democrat." Even my true blue heart giggled at this because Rachel Gibson sets the light tone early. There's a ton of banter between Sadie and Vince and Sadie and the colorful townspeople. Sadie and Vince find themselves thrown together, yada yada yada, and Vince ends up saying "Hooyah!" during sexytimes. I, along with Sadie, died laughing. There are more sexytimes, more laughs, and some emotional scenes.
One thing that really stood out about this book was how young and modern it felt. There's a Rachel Zoe reference! I usually loathe all reality shows, but I was literally* addicted to the first season of The Rachel Zoe Project. There's also a character named Becca Ramsey, who I choose to believe was a nod to the Baby-Sitters Club character.**
I also liked that Rescue Me was significantly shorter than my usual romance books. It was a fun, quick read.
When I first started teaching, I thought I was down with the students... until they asked me if I’d seen High School Musical.
Me: “No, what’s it called?” Kid: “… High School Musical.” Me, looking at the student like she’s special: “Your high school musical is called ‘High School Musical’?” Kid, looking at me like I’m special: “Are you serious right now?”
One week later, after I’d bought and watched BOTH High School Musicals (because there are TWO of them!), I was leading the kids in “We’re all in this together...”
I think it’s pretty easy to find common ground with kids. Their High School Musical is my Newsies. However, one thing that differentiates 80s babies from this generation is that we never grew up with the constant fear of terrorism. Sure, we had Stranger Danger and Chester the Molester (and fear of rhymes apparently), and there were acts like the Oklahoma City bombing, but we didn’t live with a palpable threat. A fear of flying often carried the descriptor "irrational".
Clara has just finished taking her Year 12 exams in Melbourne and decides to accompany her mom to Washington, DC over summer break. Rather than feeling excited, Clara is anxious and scared. She’s scared of being attacked –- by muggers, by terrorists. She prefers to stay in the apartment watching Gilmore Girls and The West Wing (me on a normal day), but when she does venture out, she makes sure her cell is pre-dialed to 911 in one hand and her keys are sticking out of her fist in the other (me on a normal night). When not watching TV, she’s checking up on her friends back home on Facebook. After her mother suggests she volunteer and do something productive with her time, Clara signs up to volunteer at a soup kitchen and Reading Beyond Bars, an organization that sends books to prisoners. While working, she meets a guy, aka a REAL incentive to get out of the house. Over talks about life and politics, she finds herself leaving her comfort zone both physically and ideologically. This is a coming of age story set on the eve of Obama's inauguration.
Clara in Washington was such a fresh and unique read. For starters, it tackles a topic that I think is too often avoided: politics. Each chapter starts with a quote from a president or a political figure. It's crazy to me that incest (INCEST!) is fair game in YA, while politics seems taboo. I feel like I was more politically aware in high school, with Speech & Debate, JSA, etc, than I am now. Clara has political opinions. Of Obama versus McCain, she says,
"Obama is inspiring and McCain is just blah."
Before you think this is a purely pro-Obama book, the group of anarchists that Clara befriends through volunteering are vociferously anti-Obama. It's interesting that some of the complaints the anarchists have of Obama are issues that are being raised in the current election cycle.
Regardless of your opinion of Obama, his election had an impact beyond the United States. It's fascinating to view the election through the eyes of an Australian, and Penny Tangey describes the celebratory atmosphere the day he won the presidency. Likewise, I loved looking at our nation's capital from the viewpoint of a foreigner. I mean, if you think about it, what is it with our need to take pictures in front of phallic monuments?
While the topic of this book is something I gravitate towards, the tone is different from my usual reads. A lot of the story takes place in Clara's head. She's working through fears, guilt from her fears, doubts about herself and her future. Clara's voice reminded me a lot of Bindy Mackenzie -- they're both straightforward with a dry sense of humor -- but Clara isn't as sure of herself as Bindy. She's always wanted to study law, but she doesn't know if that's what she wants anymore. Whereas I had issues with Bindy, I really liked Clara. She's struggling with a lot in between random TV marathons and Facebook stalking, but her voice is so authentic.
This book made me think of Good Oil and The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, but while I gave both of those books 3 stars, I'm giving Clara in Washington 4.5. The tone, the characters, the setting, the story just worked for me. I loved seeing Clara's development, which was gradual and full of mistakes. I loved lines like this:
"I don't have anything revolutionary but perhaps if I wear all black people will think I'm well-read."
I think this is a timely, thoughtful, bold book. I would've absolutely loved reading this in high school. Having said that, this book is not for everybody. If the word "unpatriotic" is in your daily vocabulary, you will not like this book. If the words "unpatriotic" and "birther" are in your daily vocabulary, you will definitely not like this book. Seriously though, there are a lot of quiet moments where Clara is just thinking. I'm usually the first to roll my eyes when a book is described as being quiet, ie BORING, but this story wasn't boring for me. Clara in Washington is a fresh take on a girl discovering her place in the world during the time of school results, election results, and Facebook.
Hot vampires? Check. That's pretty much all I require.
This was fluffy and fun. I kind of wish it was funnier because the chapter titles made it seem li...moreHot vampires? Check. That's pretty much all I require.
This was fluffy and fun. I kind of wish it was funnier because the chapter titles made it seem like it was headed down the Hold Me Closer Necromancer fun pun path. The writing wasn't as sharp as Lish McBride's, but the story moved quickly and every time there was a lull, another hot guy entered the picture. What's not to like?
I don't know what's wrong with my brain because even though Ethan is described as being hotter than David Beckham, my mind kept picturing this Ethan from Dance Academy.
It's always harder for me to talk about books I love, but basically, I was so utterly charmed by this book that I haven't been able to finish a book s...moreIt's always harder for me to talk about books I love, but basically, I was so utterly charmed by this book that I haven't been able to finish a book since. Yes, people, it's that serious.
Nick McGowan was the perfect all-around guy, good looking, popular, and the top of his class. Then something happened over the summer and he dropped his classes and started acting out. Rumors are swirling about what happened, but no one knows the cause. He's a boarder at his school and after his last stunt pulling the fire alarms, he's on the verge of getting kicked out. In steps Rachel Hill's family.
Rachel Hill is a driven overachiever. She has set hours for study, work, and school. She works as a clown at a children's party place, and she even takes her clowning seriously. She has a clown archrival. She lives with her adorable parents who, to her chagrin, can't help but offer to take in Nick McGowan.
I loved all the characters. Nick reminded me of Heath Ledger's character in 10 Things I Hate About You.
Like with Patrick Verona, everyone has some crazy theory about what happened to Nick over the summer. And Rachel? I loved her goody goody ass from the moment she went to the cool record store in the city to buy some Ramones albums after finding out they're Nick's favorite band. When the sales guy asks if she's a Ramones fan, she replies, "Fuck yeah." Cut to the next chapter after she listens to her very first Ramones albums: "I hate the Ramones." I cracked up and remembered the time a really hot French boy told me about his favorite band, Louise Attaque. I went to FNAC feeling all proud and badass, ready to buy some hot French boy music. Now I don't know what I expected hot French boy music to sound like, but French hillbilly fiddle fuckery was not it. My favorite character, though, was Rachel's wacky, loyal best friend, Zoe Budd. When Zoe finds out Nick is moving in, her response is, "This is great. You get to have sex with him!"
I loved how high school this book felt. Rachel is just so busy with all her work and can't believe her parents would risk derailing her academic career by asking her to the dishes. The nerve. Rachel is anal retentive and a perfectionist but she doesn't fall into the unlikable category because she is so endearingly dorky. I mean, she has Kirk Cameron and Huey Lewis posters on her wall! The way Nick and Rachel's friendship developed felt natural as well. It's the inside jokes and little moments that come from sharing a space and constantly bumping into one other whether you want to or not.
When I first got this book, I set it aside after finding out it was set in 1989. Another 80s YA? But it totally works here. The story itself doesn't feel dated at all and the 80s references (acid washed jeans! cassettes!) are amusing rather than annoying. It's funny that I worried pre-read about whether this book would be a ripoff of Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys. This book is so much better that there's really no comparison.
Just read this book. It's actually available in the States! Rebecca Sparrow writes with such charm and humor that she may temporarily ruin all other books for you, but you'll be cracking up before you know it. You may also find yourself singing, You're just too good to be true...
Rebecca Sparrow is my ambassador of quan. After finishing her books, I just want to yell, "I love everybody!"
The Girl Most Likely is actually Rebecca...moreRebecca Sparrow is my ambassador of quan. After finishing her books, I just want to yell, "I love everybody!"
The Girl Most Likely is actually Rebecca Sparrow's first book, and not the sequel to The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay as I previously thought. Normally, I'm a stickler for reading books in the order they were published, but I'm glad I read Nick McGowan first. I loved seeing the teenage Rachel, the ambitious, hopeful, poised for success Rachel, before meeting the 27-year-old, down on her luck version. This version, after finding herself broke and broken up with, is returning from whence she came -- her parents' house.
New Adult, quarter life crisis, whatever you want to call it, this book covers that transitional period of time. After being so solid in her personal and professional life, the girl who achieved her most likely to succeed status is now faltering. After vegging out in front of the TV with Fruit Loops, Rachel decides to go back to the basics: simple, achievable goals, like learning a particular piano piece. It's while doing this that the cutest, creepiest meet-cute occurs. The former piano playing part of me squealed at this meet-cute. However, the Criminal Minds watching part of me immediately thought, "CRIMINAL MINDS SITUATION." Fortunately, there was no unsub.
What I love about Rebecca Sparrow's books is that she writes about the moments that make life funny, happy, mortifying, crushing, and ultimately, worthwhile and unique. Rachel's life is laugh out loud ridiculous at times, and can't leave the bed disappointing at others. Thanks to Zoe Budd, the ridiculous far outweighs the disappointment. Nick McGowan fans will crack up at who Zoe grew up to be because OF COURSE. She even pulls out her classic "You're going to have sex with him!" line. I love her. I love Rachel. And I love this book! See? I just can't help myself. It's the quan!
Rating: 4/5 stars.
Extra! Extra! I first came across this book on the Anna Scott Jots post on Brisbane. Did you know Brisbane is also called (brace yourself) BrisVegas?? When you're done laughing, check out Anna's other recs. Of Girl Most Likely, Anna says: "...a great, very funny depiction of a woman having a mid-20s crisis and not knowing what the blooming heck to do about it. With sexy neighbour thrown in for good measure. What's not to love?"
As you may have noticed, I've been mainlining Susan Elizabeth Phillips like some crazed smut fiend all summer. Ironically, I started them to fill the...moreAs you may have noticed, I've been mainlining Susan Elizabeth Phillips like some crazed smut fiend all summer. Ironically, I started them to fill the time before the next Shannon Stacey book came out. I LOVED the first 3 Kowalski books (Kevin Kowalski, you had me at hello). When I found out Mitch's book was coming out, I preordered it and and even took a nap (a nap!) yesterday so I'd be nice and rested when the book apparated on my Kindle around midnight.
Like the other Kowalski boys, Mitch Kowalski is tall, dark, and FOINE. He's a demolition expert, aka manly man who blows shit up for a living. He travels all over the country for his work and hasn't been back to his tiny hometown in 3 years. Paige Sullivan moved into town 2 years ago, bought the diner, and turned it into a staple in the community. She's been celibate during that time so she could focus on her business and not turn into her man-obsessed mother. Mitch meets Paige, sparks fly, and he's determined to end her celibacy for the brief time he's in town.
So. A few things.
One. Something called a fried bologna sandwich plays a role. Just when I think something that disgusting can't exist in real life, they add mayo to it. MAYO! Mayonnaise is so gross that I'll say "NO MAYO" to things just in case. Spaghetti bolognese please, NO MAYO. I'm not saying it's evil or anything, but I truly believe if mayonnaise didn't exist neither would weapons of mass destruction. So yeah, making me vomit is definitely one of my Oh-No-Nos when reading a romance.
Two. Paige goes from brunette in Chapter 1 (and I'm assuming 2-3) to blonde in Chapter 4. ¿Que? Oh-No-No.
Four. This one felt a little too instalovey without the push-pull, swoontastic tension of the original three books. Also, when a guy or a girl repeatedly says he/she doesn't want a relationship with the dating history to back it up, I expect them to not want a relationship. Like, I don't think George Clooney is unmarried because he just hasn't met The One who can make the perfect sandwich, you know? I needed a little more to be convinced by Mitch and Paige.
However, I still liked this and I think Stacey did a great job at setting the scene for the next two books. I wondered if mainlining SEP altered my taste a little. Did it feel flat because it was or because nothing wacky happened? I read Stacey's novella Slow Summer Kisses before my SEPathon and really, really liked it. I'll test my theory next month when All He Ever Desired comes out, which I'll definitely preorder.(less)
I felt about UnWholly the way I felt about this season of True Blood.
I kid (and shamelessly take advantage of any opportunity to use an Alexander Skar...moreI felt about UnWholly the way I felt about this season of True Blood.
I kid (and shamelessly take advantage of any opportunity to use an Alexander Skarsgard gif). But for the majority of the season, I was banging my head against the wall and yelling, "Stop trying to make Arlene happen!" And I'm pretty sure ifrit is Arabic for "waste of fucking time." But then just when I'm ready to wipe my hands of the show, it finally wraps up the extraneous storylines and gives me what I really care about -- Eric, Pam, Sookie. By the end of the season finale, I was completely reinvested in the story and anticipating next season.
Likewise with UnWholly...
Shusterman introduces three new characters who take up a good chunk of the novel with their background and development. While the characters weren't uninteresting, they felt like Unwind redux. Starkey is a less likable version of Roland, Miracolina is Lev 2.0 (or as I liked to call her, Tithe-1000), and Cam... Cam is a whole 'nother beast. Literally. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "I came here for Lev. Bueller? Bueller?" The first half of the book felt like retread and what I did see of Connor, Risa, and Lev either annoyed me or wasn't enough. At one point, even Shusterman's writing started to grate on me. After he specifically mentioned Aquafina and Nike, I wrote in my notes, "WTF is this product placement? The most advanced technology exists and they still drink Aquafina's bottled sewer runoff?!" I actually like Shusterman's writing style but at this point in the story, I was so uninvested and detached that only nitpicking kept me engaged.
And then all the tedious groundwork came together and Connor, Risa, and Lev started acting like Connor, Risa, and Lev again. It's not that there was a lack of action earlier in the story, but this time, I actually cared and the tension increased tenfold. By the end of the book, I was sucked back into the story and eagerly awaiting Book 3.
Aside from the new characters, another aspect that may make-or-break UnWholly for you is the new development regarding the Unwind Accord. We learn more about how and why it came to be, which was a plot hole in Unwind. However, by filling that plot hole, it shifts the focus away from the abortion debate, which sets up a great storyline for Book 3 but also does a bit of a disservice to the issues raised in Book 1. For me, UnWholly lacked some of the heart and guts of the original, but still raised interesting questions and made me think. Shusterman also writes taut, tension-filled action scenes like few can. I'll definitely read the next book, but go in with modified expectations.