Whenever I hear a news story or watch a movie about people who end up in bad situations after ignoring the advice of locals, my reaction is something...moreWhenever I hear a news story or watch a movie about people who end up in bad situations after ignoring the advice of locals, my reaction is something like this:
I don't think they deserve to DIE, but since a ton of resources are going to be spent on their rescue due to their arrogance, they can deal with a little Running Man.
In the beginning of Lost Girls, a group of Amelia Earhart Cadets ranging in age from 9-14 find themselves blown off course while heading to an island for a camping trip. Their chaperone, a glamorous Scottish woman in her 20s named Layla Campbell, has the boatman drop them off on another island despite his protestations and refusal to step foot on the island. Layla Campbell, nicknamed the Duchess by the adoring girls, dismisses the boatman's warnings and has the girls start setting up their campsite. Get ready to do the Running Man.
The first day is picture perfect and the girls go to sleep thinking they're in paradise. Their idyll ends the first night when they're awoken by a storm that rips apart their campsite. One girl is fatally injured. They have two more days left before the boatman is scheduled to pick them up. The two days pass, but no one comes. Not only that, they see an explosion in the distance. Was the mainland attacked? Are their families in trouble, thus explaining why no one has come for them? Are people looking for them?
I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. The story is told from 14-year-old Bonnie's point of view through her journal entries. This reminded me of Ellie in Tomorrow When the War Began, one of my favorite series. The situation also called to mind another favorite book, Lord of the Flies. Bonnie addresses this similarity, but says girls wouldn't act that way. I love this because I remember thinking the same thing while reading Lord of the Flies. There is one obvious biological difference between boys and girls that is addressed -- oh, the joys of menstruation -- but a lack of testosterone doesn't stop girls from behaving badly either.
I really liked Bonnie. She's the responsible, bossy one who isn't popular with the girls who wear makeup, and she's prone to make judgements about people, but I found her to be relatable. She goes from being glad her mother didn't come so she can spend time with a "cool" adult like the Duchess, to wishing more than anything that her mother was there. She brought along her mother's copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and as the Duchess keeps failing her, Bonnie turns to that book as a survival guide.
I love books like Tomorrow and Lost Girls because I always wonder what I'd do in extreme survival situations (I'd die), and I take notes on all the things I should learn to do just in case. Pro tip #1: Learn to make a fire without matches. (Actually, tip #1 is always: If a local starts yelling and flailing when you say you're going somewhere, DON'T GO THERE.) The author doesn't skimp on details of the smell, the bugs, and the filth, and I hope to God to never encounter a chigger as long as I live.
Lost Girls is set in 1974 during the Vietnam War, but aside from references to the Duchess's petticoat and a lack of references to cell phones, this story could be set in the present. There are a few references to the war and whether it's right or wrong through Bonnie's flashbacks to fights with her soldier father, but substitute Iraq for Vietnam and this is a modern discussion. This book isn't middle grade, but it does skew toward the younger end of the YA spectrum. I would've loved reading this book in 8th grade. Despite being far beyond 8th grade, I still really enjoyed this book.
Well, this short story made me cry more in 15 pages than any other book I've read this year -- except for Patrick Ness's gut punches masquerading as b...moreWell, this short story made me cry more in 15 pages than any other book I've read this year -- except for Patrick Ness's gut punches masquerading as books. This story of the Chinese-American son of a mail order bride who learns of his otherness from cruel neighborhood kids and begins to resent the source of his difference, his mother, was heartbreaking, poignant, and familiar. It reminded me of all the times my brother and I would refuse to eat with chopsticks or speak Korean, how we demanded nasty Lunchables instead of kimbap, the DELICIOUS Korean version of sushi that was packed in our lunches.
When Jack demands that his mother speak only English, she says,
“If I say ‘love,’ I feel here.” She pointed to her lips. “If I say ‘ai,’ I feel here.” She put her hand over her heart.
These two lines sum up why so many immigrants cling to their native tongue despite the protestations of their non-immigrant children.
Thanks to Flannery and Leanne for bringing this story to my attention. It's definitely worth the few minutes it'll take to read. Just be sure to have tissues handy.(less)
For me, at least. I've always considered myself an open-minded person, but then I look at my shelves (YA, Aussie YA, Aussie YA, Classic, Gen...moreNEW GENRE!
For me, at least. I've always considered myself an open-minded person, but then I look at my shelves (YA, Aussie YA, Aussie YA, Classic, Generation Kill) and I realize how limited my book choices have been. I read my first Urban Fantasy series this year (Mercy Thompson, baby!) and now with Friends with Boys, I've entered Graphic Novel territory.
And I liked it!
This is the story of Maggie McKay, a homeschooled girl about to enter the shark tank of high school for the first time. She's dealing with typical teenage problems: a mother who's just run off, aggravating older brothers, and a ghost who follows her around. Anyway, who has time to worry about a ghost when you have to worry about fitting in for the first time. The setup to this story reminded me a bit of Mean Girls, but instead of Regina George and the Plastics, you have Matt and the Pack.
What I really liked about this was that it didn't go for the expected -- and easy -- route with mean girls but instead focused more on Maggie's loneliness and mean boys! The homeschool stigma is there for Maggie, but her older brothers dealt with the brunt of it when they first entered high school. While friendless, Maggie plays the role of observer and watches the dynamic between Matt George and her eldest brother, Daniel, Matt and the mohawked Alistair, and Alistair and Daniel. She finally makes a friend in Alistair's equally hair-challenged sister, Lucy. Lucy is energetic and spunky, a vibrant, lovable character who often puts her foot in her mouth while trying to draw Maggie out of her shell. However, there is nothing vindictive about Lucy. The Mean Boys, on the other hand, are constantly on the prowl. Wait til you get to the part about Maggie, the Mean Boys, and a stolen wooden hand.
I really enjoyed my first foray into graphic novels. It totally felt like cheating. A book with pictures! Lots of pictures! But there's also a plot there. It felt a bit disjointed at times with the different storylines (high school story, sibling story, ghost story, etc), but overall, it was well done.
If you want to try this novel for yourself, you can buy it tomorrow or read the entire novel on Faith Erin Hicks's website for another week. Here's the link. As Rayanne whispered to Angela in the opening credits of the ultimate high school show, "Go now. Go!"
My best friend's mom is a doctor and one of the most patient, compassionate people I've ever met in my life. Whenever I hear about the latest disease,...moreMy best friend's mom is a doctor and one of the most patient, compassionate people I've ever met in my life. Whenever I hear about the latest disease, I immediately call her with my deadly symptoms. Now this same woman, after five minutes of watching Lea Michele in Glee, will ask, "What is that bitch doing now?" Lea Michele's character is just one of those people -- she can make people who have devoted their entire lives to helping others want to commit murder.
Now imagine reading 491 pages of Lea Michele's diary.
The first 150 pages, as you may have seen from my SOS masquerading as status updates, were excruciating.
And the thing is, I ended up liking Bindy. I loved her sense of humor. In her Reflections on Glandular Fever (street name: mono) on page 222, she writes:
As for glandular fever, I don't believe in it. I don't think it exists. It's one of those "teenage" ailments that students invent to get themselves extra study time. I have no respect for it.
What I didn't like was the minutiae of her life carefully transcribed on the 200 pages prior. Sure, a lot of what Bindy wrote came into play later, but this isn't a Megan Whalen Turner book here, where every word and choice has meaning. I thought a lot of the first half could be cut. I didn't really start enjoying the novel until page 225, when the gang from The Year of Secret Assignments was mentioned, and then the story went full speed from there. I'll still read The Ghosts of Ashbury High... eventually... but I'm a bit hesitant after Bindy.
Final verdict: 3 stars -- 2 stars for the first half and 4 stars for the second half.
Full disclosure: I've only watched two episodes of Glee, both times against my will. In fairness to Lea Michele, I thought everyone was annoying.
This book starts with 16-year-old Chloe Camden willingly and cheerfully dressed in a burrito costume so, naturally, this book started with me rolling...moreThis book starts with 16-year-old Chloe Camden willingly and cheerfully dressed in a burrito costume so, naturally, this book started with me rolling my eyes at Chloe Camden. I'm not the only one as Chloe's best friends are freezing her out for reasons unknown to her. She figures this will blow over and returns to more pressing concerns, namely her Brad Pitt-loving grandmother dealing with the onset of Parkinson's and her Junior Independent Study Project (JISP) being rejected by the new school counselor. Chloe, though, Pollyannas through and says things like,
"Fun is everywhere. You just have to find it. Or make it."
What is her deal, right? Is this really a book about the effects of uppers on high school students?
When the counselor hands her a new JISP focused on the school's failing radio station, Chloe uses her experience as a burrito for Dos Hermanas Mexican restaurant to come up with a plan to possibly save the radio station.
Insufferable, optimistic cow!
Now Clementine, the nose ringed girl with an attitude who runs the radio station, is someone I can get behind. She loves the station and dreams of someday owning one. For the sake of the station, and the fact that she is outvoted 5 to 1, she agrees to a call in show hosted by Chloe called -- wait for it -- Chloe, Queen of the Universe.
Chloe isn't oblivious to her ridiculous over-the-topness though. It's just who she is -- someone who wears her heart on her sleeve and her mouth. She loves to talk and she loves people regardless if they love her back, which she's just now realizing may be the case with more people than she thought. Somewhere along the way though, I realized that my cold, black heart was actually (willingly and cheerfully, no less!) Team Chloe. She called to mind another redhead and his farewell speech on The Tonight Show:
I encounter people when I walk on the street now, who just give me sort of a sad look; I have had more good fortune than anybody I know. And if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-Eleven parking lot, we will find a way to make it fun, we really will, I will have no problems. I don't want to do it in a 7-Eleven parking lot, but whatever.
Finally, I have something to say to our fans... Here's what all of you have done: you made a sad situation joyous and inspirational. So to all the people watching, I can never, ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life, and all I ask is one thing, and I'm asking this particularly of young people that watch:
Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, it's just true!
I rag on rappers who put on a hard, tough persona even though they're really from the suburbs (of Canada!), but by that token, I couldn't fault Chloe for being who she so effervescently was. Her personality, which annoyed me at first, was a reflection of the charmed life she's lived. I decided to put on my skates and go along with her for the ride.
This book touches on subjects like bullying, Parkinson's, addiction, and poverty, and it may be said that it glides blithely right over them. I agree to a certain extent and would refer you to books like Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler if you want something with more depth. However, what this book does well is show a positive approach to those situations -- even if it means gliding over them. I'd recommend this book to the younger end of the YA spectrum (junior high school), but I think older fans will like it as well. Before you know it, you'll be on Team Chloe too!
I know, like, 50 Koreans and 3 of them are named Grace Park. Seriously. So when I read the summary of this book, I got super excited. An Asian-America...moreI know, like, 50 Koreans and 3 of them are named Grace Park. Seriously. So when I read the summary of this book, I got super excited. An Asian-American lead! In a book that has nothing to do with Kim Jong-Il, the Korean War, or karate! Well, you know what they say about people who assume.
No, no, there's no mention of the Dear Leader, the war, or ninjas -- but there's no mention of any Asians either. Grace Park could easily be Grace Smith and the author wouldn't have to change anything in the story. This was a disappointment to say the least because there was no other draw to this story for me. The plot about three female roommates who decide to boycott men after some horrendous dates isn't particularly unique or noteworthy. The three perfect men they meet, bartenders ofcourse, aren't special either.
Still, I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy so not all was lost. I got over my disappointment and settled in for some light reading. There's a scene early on where the guys, who are sick of only attracting drunken barflies at work, decide to head to the library to meet "nice girls." I think there was a Saved by the Bell episode with the same premise, but hey, I liked Zack Morris back in the day. That's where the guys meet Grace, who is helping her librarian friend reshelve books. One of the guys is dared to ask Grace where the Playboys are. Poor Screech. Thus begins a series of coincidental encounters where Grace and her friends meet Zack, Slater, and co.
After about the 5th encounter, I noticed that I wasn't even halfway through my Kindle book. I checked online and saw that it was FOUR HUNDRED AND TWENTY-TWO pages. Now, unless one of the characters is a dragon or a unicorn, there is NO reason for a romance to be 400+ pages. It reminded me of an episode of Sports Night where Jeremy has to cut his first highlights package for a game. He asks Casey to look over his work and Casey tells him -- after watching 8.5 minutes of clips that should've been 30 seconds -- "Make it shorter."
Jeremy: "I don't know what to do." Casey: "Make it shorter." Jeremy: "I've tried everything!" Casey: "You should try making it shorter." Jeremy: "I can't imagine what I'd cut."
This is the conversation Victoria Michaels should've had with her editor. Apparently, this book started out on a fan fiction website? I'm not biased against self-published books, hello Angelfall!, but this could've benefitted from tighter editing. Had this book been 200 pages less, I probably would've given it 4 stars. It's cute and cotton candy fluffy, but 422 pages of "I love you!" made me want someone to die. Violently.
I don't know if it's because I was a Speech & Debate/JSA nerd, or that I grew up wanting to be Clair Huxtable, or maybe I just watched too many ol...moreI don't know if it's because I was a Speech & Debate/JSA nerd, or that I grew up wanting to be Clair Huxtable, or maybe I just watched too many old movies when I was younger, but to me, chemistry is about everything that is unsaid when you're bantering back and forth. It's the passion and intelligence behind good conversation.
Julie James's Practice Makes Perfect has a lot of passion, a lot of intelligence, and a helluva lot of chemistry. It's a contemporary romance that feels like a throwback to great old movies like His Girl Friday and Woman of the Year.
Payton Kendall and JD Jameson are senior litigation associates at a top law firm. They are equally matched, equally paid leads who are fighting for a promotion to partner that only one of them can get but both equally deserve. They've hated each other for 8 years -- 8 long years where they've had to keep tabs on the other for, um, you know, one-upmanship purposes. Yeah, one-upmanship purposes only. When they are brought together to work on a $20 million case, their forced camaraderie in front of the client has them acknowledging the other's competence for the first time. And you know what? Competence is sexy as hell too. Their snappy retorts back and forth for the past 8 years barely masked the tension between these two fierce competitors, but could it be sexual tension? *Dun dun!*
I liked Julie James's debut novel, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, but I liked this one even more. The bantering between the leads and their love-hate relationship reminded of the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn dynamic. The sex was also very PG-13, but that's okay because it's about the buildup before. I'll definitely be reading more of James's books.
This book also reminded me of one of my favorite songs, Mind Sex by dead prez:
See I ain't got to get in your blouse It's your eye contact, that be getting me aroused When you show me your mind, it make me wanna show you mines Reflecting my light, when it shines, just takin our time Before the night's through, we could get physical too I ain't tryin to say I don't wanna fuck, cause I do But for me boo, makin love is just as much mental I like to know what I'm gettin into
We could have mind sex, we ain't got to take our clothes off yet We can burn the incense, and just chat Relax, I got the good vibrations Before we make love let's have a good conversation.
Imagine Brad x Angelina fan fiction. Now take out all the kids and throw in a lot of snark and chemistry. Oh, and take out all the kinky sex while you...moreImagine Brad x Angelina fan fiction. Now take out all the kids and throw in a lot of snark and chemistry. Oh, and take out all the kinky sex while you're at it. You know you were thinking it! What you're left with is Just the Sexiest Man Alive.
Jason William Bradley Andrews is the 3x Sexiest Man Alive and reigning Hollywood heartthrob. He also happens to be from Missouri with a self-taught passion for architecture. Are you rolling your eyes yet? I was, especially after some early Pride and Prejudice references.
"Obviously not busy with anything important enough to tempt me."
"But your approval is harder to earn and therefore worth more than the others."
Seriously, as much as I love Darcy, I can't with all the Pride and Prejudice anymore. (Unless it involves Tom Mackee and Tara Finke. Then it's a thousand times yes!)
However, my opinion changed after the description of Taylor Donovan. Initially, all we know about Taylor is that she's an ambitious, smart, successful lawyer from Chicago. It's only when she overhears women gossiping about her in the bathroom that we learn that she looks like Angelina Jolie. I stopped rolling my eyes because I realized Julie James is in on the joke and writing with a wink wink nudge nudge. Jason even has a dream featuring Brad and thinks, "Brad Pitt. Jason almost laughed out loud at the thought. He wished he was Jason Andrews."
So, plot: Taylor is temporarily relocated to LA by her firm for a $30 million sexual harassment trial. The firm assigns her to help Jason prepare for an upcoming role as a lawyer. Jason blows off their initial meeting for a trip to Vegas and then strolls in to watch her in court. He's captivated, she's pissed, sparks fly. Jason wants to learn more about her; Taylor, with the assistance of Us Weekly and every secretary in her office, knows too much about him. Despite Jason laying on all his Sexiest Man Alive charm, Taylor can more than hold her own. She even catches the eye of the thinly veiled (and hilarious) Orlando Bloom character whose name I can't remember because I just called him Legolas in my head. Lots of hijinks and sarcastic banter between Taylor and Jason ensue.
This book was a LOT of fun. I loved how witty and sarcastic Taylor and Jason were. I liked Jason's obvious and thus dorky attempts to get Taylor's attention. What didn't work for me was that after Taylor was photographed with Jason once, there's NO WAY her identity would be a secret for long, especially after a night out at Hyde. I know, I know, this is a romance not a biography, but Taylor's Mystery Woman status was one of the big plot points, and there's just no way TMZ wouldn't have had her entire CV and high school picture on their website within 24 hours. Also, a night out at Hyde where they were surrounded by other customers but NO ONE whipped out his/her cell for a pic? Some random family friend took a pic of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds at her family Thanksgiving dinner and posted it on Instagram -- not even Twitter -- and still the major blogs sniffed it out in a matter of hours.
Ultimately though, my complaint is minor and won't take away from your enjoyment of the novel at all. This is a fun read with great dialogue. And a DJ AM reference! (RIP) Just an FYI (because I like to be thorough in my reviews): There aren't any Victoria Dahl-esque sex scenes. It's actually fairly chaste.
I just got my paperback copy of Angelfall today, so I thought I'd revisit this book and write a proper review -- one that doesn't involve a Korean gra...moreI just got my paperback copy of Angelfall today, so I thought I'd revisit this book and write a proper review -- one that doesn't involve a Korean grandma, a cell phone, and a 911 operator.**
I've made some successful forays into fantasy recently (Finnikin of the Rock, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Seraphina), but as a genre, two elements repel me: tedious world-building and nonsensical names. The latter reason is why, despite some glowing reviews, I can't even consider a Rachel Vincent novel. Angelfall, a self-published dystopian fantasy about a 17-year-old girl named Penryn, looked like a potential disaster. However, it was only a $0.99 potential disaster, so I decided to risk it and buy it for my Kindle.
I'm so glad I did.
Angelfall throws you into San Francisco 6 weeks after angels descended and attacked. All we know is that the angel Gabriel was gunned down, unleashing an angel apocalypse all over the world. Penryn, named after an exit off Interstate 80 by her mentally unstable mom, is trying to survive in this new world order, with angels up top and humans trying to fill whatever space they can underneath, no matter the cost to themselves. It's human nature in its basest form -- survival of the fittest, kill or be killed. Penryn can fend for herself. Her paranoid schizophrenic mother made sure of this, enrolling her daughter in self-defense classes from an early age. However, Penryn isn't just fending for herself. She's caring for her handicapped younger sister, Paige. Except Paige gets taken by an angel while Penryn is defending another angel from certain death. Now Penryn must trust this injured angel, Raffe, to take her to the guarded angel aerie to find her sister.
And that's just the beginning.
Going back to my two fantasy dealbreakers, there is no tedious world-building -- some would say that there isn't enough world-building, or world-explaining, but that works for me. I'd prefer to know less, at least initially. Secondly, Penryn's name fits her completely. This isn't a cool name; this is a name chosen because it was there. Like her child.
Angels were another potential stumbling block because I consider myself devoutly agnostic. I don't mind religion if it's intrinsic to the story and the characters, like in Sorta Like a Rock Star. I just don't like being preached to.
Oh, is this unrelated? SO ARE MY REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS TO THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA.
Imagine my delight in finding out Raffe, the angel, was agnostic! And that wasn't even the turning point for me because I was already invested in the story. I loved the dynamic between our two feisty leads, Penryn and Raffe. I really loved what happened when Penryn pulled out her Ally McBeal "I am a trained kickboxer" card and punched a man twice her size, fully expecting all the people around her to swoop in and stop the fight before any harm came to her. Not in this new reality. This is the kind of detail I love. It shows how societal norms have changed, that a man fighting a woman who challenges him isn't the end all because they've seen the end all.
This is a novel that I thoroughly enjoyed -- so much so that after finishing it on Christmas, I gifted it to 5 friends that night. (And still only spent $5!) This is a quality story with quality characters written by a very qualified author. I highly recommend it.
**My original review posted on Dec. 25, 2011. Saved per Shirley Marr's request.
Review to come. Too much wine tonight. And Bailey's. And, okay, a little Johnnie Walker Blue earlier. What can I say, Christmas started with Grandma accidentally dialing 911 and yelling in Korean before hanging up. It's been a long day.
Georgette Heyer is the first author I've read who makes Jane Austen seem emo. Don't get me wrong, I adore Austen and consider WWJD to stand for "What...moreGeorgette Heyer is the first author I've read who makes Jane Austen seem emo. Don't get me wrong, I adore Austen and consider WWJD to stand for "What Would Jane Do?", but I really enjoyed this charming and angst-free Regency tale of Venetia and her Wicked Baron, the rake Damerel. Oh Damerel... Imagine Sense and Sensibility's Willoughby and Jane Eyre's Rochester without their respective issues -- or wives. Damerel is charming, mischievous, and funny. The same could also be said of Venetia, who is nearing spinsterhood at, gasp!, five-and-twenty.
Heyer touches on social issues, whereas Austen really delves into them, but don't confuse lightness of touch for lack of deftness. How can else an author get away with mentioning orgies while staying true to the time period? And not just mentioning them, but having her characters joke about them! There is so much humor and laughter throughout the novel, and not because the characters are ridiculous or silly.
You're laughing along with them, not at them. Okay, maybe you're laughing at too serious Aubrey, who nonetheless ended up being one of my favorite characters.
I keep getting sucked into those Criminal Minds marathons on ION and A&E and it's totally messing with my psyche and my friendships -- psyche beca...moreI keep getting sucked into those Criminal Minds marathons on ION and A&E and it's totally messing with my psyche and my friendships -- psyche because I'm dreaming about a gunman outside my childhood home; friendships because I think my friends are sick of me calling at 1am after encountering a potential "unsub." I tried to counterbalance that by reading some romance, but Kristan Higgins' femalecharacters made me want the story to turn into Criminal Minds.
I mentioned this to my awesome book club, and one of the girls recommended Bet Me and Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie. I chose Bet Me because I'm trying to get away from hitmen, and the premise sounded cute. Min Dobbs goes on a date with Cal Morrissey after overhearing her ex-BF, the one who dumped her that night, bet Cal that he wouldn't be able to take her out. It hurts because she also hears the guys talking about her rumpled, dowdy suit, but Min would rather Cal win the bet than her asshole ex. Plus she knows the situation and figures she can use drop dead gorgeous Cal right back and get him to take her to her younger sister's wedding. Hijinks and chemistry ensue.
This is Cal, by the way.
Min, on the other hand, is harder to describe because she's probably a size 10:
but she sees herself as this:
I *think* Jennifer Crusie was trying to portray an average-sized American woman, who is definitely above a size 8, but if you're going to do that, actually DO IT. Don't just have a woman who's kinda-sorta-not really big, who can kinda-maybe-almost squeeze into a size 8, and then throw donuts in her face at every opportunity. It's kinda really insulting. Someone who eats more ---> Gets bigger. Okay. But that doesn't mean that a bigger girl (Size 10... That heifer!) ---> Gets an orgasm from food. And from freakin' chicken marsala at that! And unless she's Paula Deen, butter isn't a turn on either.
I get what Crusie was trying to do, but just throwing Krispy Kreme at the main character doesn't accomplish that. There's actually one scene where Cal kisses Min and she says, "No, wait." Cal then looks down to the donuts, says, "Right," and picks up another piece of donut to give her. Because a DONUT is what a big girl would be thinking about first if a hot guy kissed her.
Still, even with ALL that, I had fun with this book. Sure, I was laughing at it (I spent the first half of the book thinking Cal was gay), but I laughed with it too. And the chemistry -- the chemistry is there. The banter between two characters who love/hate/love each other is there. And ultimately, the message of accepting and loving your body is there -- just hidden under self-loathing and donut boxes.
I can count on one hand the number of fantasy books I've enjoyed, but after reading Kat Kennedy's glowing review of Seraphina, I was intrigued by the...moreI can count on one hand the number of fantasy books I've enjoyed, but after reading Kat Kennedy's glowing review of Seraphina, I was intrigued by the promise of smart heroines, dragons, and jazz hands. Really, who can turn down jazz hands?
With that in mind, I eagerly started this book. Then I got to mentions of saarantrai, houppelande, and quigutl.
Remember, amateur fantasy reader here. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm scared off by double letters and words that start with Q.
Another thing that's kept me away from fantasy: the world building. I get that it's a necessary evil part of the genre, but... a pain in the ass to read -- especially since I am not a skimmer and I re-read things I don't understand. Quigutl? Yeah, I had to go back for that, only to find out that it wouldn't be explained til 50 pages later.
The story is a lot to take in at first because you're hit with the worlds of Goredd (human) and Tanamoot (dragon), and the half-human/half-dragon world of Seraphina. Seraphina's world is as fascinating as it is confusing because it exists in her mind, created by memories left by her deceased mother. It's populated by odd characters that Seraphina names Fruit Bat, Pelican Man, etc.
I gave myself 100 pages to decide whether to keep reading this book or not. I'm so glad I stuck with it.
Rachel Hartman takes what could easily be cliche characters and plot and makes them compelling and intelligent. She doesn't dumb it down for her readers or make it easy for her characters. Princess Glisselda, the fiancee of Prince Lucian, is also one of the most likable characters in the book. Prince Lucian is an actual knight in shining armor, but Seraphina is more often than not coming to his rescue. That brings us to Seraphina, a brilliant musician who struggles with the legacy her mother left her. I'd be pissed about metallic silver scales too.
But who has time to dwell on scales when Lucian and Glisselda's uncle has been killed and all clues (namely, the lack of a head along with the body) point to a dragon as the culprit. This murder just before the anniversary of the peace treaty between humans and dragons could tip the balance towards war. There's discontent on all sides -- humans who aren't happy living with dragons, dragons who feel they've given up too much to humans, knights who fought during the wars and were banished following the peace treaty. Assassinations are plotted and identities are revealed as the nation of Goredd plans to welcome the leader of dragonkind.
And this is just the beginning (I hope!) of a series. I don't mean to keep using the word "intelligent" but Rachel Hartman writes characters that actually use their brains. Deductive reasoning! It happens! Seraphina reminded me a lot of The Thief in that as good as it was, I know the sequel is going to be even better. Nevertheless, this book stands very capably on its own. It is as much political thriller as it is fantasy, which I love. I also loved the discussions of parentage and the legacies, both beneficial and detrimental, that parents leave their kids. I can't believe this was a debut novel! It was so assured and entertaining. I definitely look forward to reading more of Rachel Hartman's work.
Growing up, my mom tried to do the Asian mom thing and ban TV during the weekdays. So of course, I binge watched trashy daytime TV during holidays whi...moreGrowing up, my mom tried to do the Asian mom thing and ban TV during the weekdays. So of course, I binge watched trashy daytime TV during holidays while she was at work. The TV was basically on from the time she left to an hour before she got home -- you know, so the TV would be cool to the touch if she was inclined to check. From 12-3pm, I watched All My Children (RIP), One Life to Live, and General Hospital. General Hospital was the only one I ended up watching regularly.
I loved the wealthy and ruthless Quartermaines:
the hot but evil Cassadines:
and the lovable, All American Spencers.
Remember, this was the era before Wikipedia so the only backstory I knew was that Luke and Laura Spencer's wedding was the most watched daytime event in history and Elizabeth Taylor even made a special appearance. Imagine my shock when I found out that the Luke and Laura story began when Luke RAPED Laura. You know, because he loved her and wanted her SO much. Apparently in Port Charles, first comes love, then comes rape, then comes the baby in a baby carriage.
Vigdis Gunnarsdatter is beautiful and headstrong. Her doting father welcomes two men into their house. The younger man, Ljot, is tall, dark, and handsome. He quickly falls for lively, intelligent Vigdis and asks for her hand in marriage. Vigdis is also smitten but, feeling unready, she asks him to wait for her answer. Soon after, Vigdis's childhood friend Kaare, another dashing Viking specimen, comes by and shows up Ljot. His pride injured, Ljot reacts brashly and suddenly assumes the worst about Vigdis and Kaare and her noncommittal answer to his proposal. Still, he wants to marry her and asks her again for her hand. She responds,
"You cannot have loved me so much either; no sooner did you hear evil spoken of me than you believed it and spread it abroad."
So then, because he loves Vigdis as much as Luke loved Laura, he rapes her. After he's done, he assumes Vigdis will want to run off with him and become some Scandinavian Ljot and Laura. Vigdis throws a rock in his face. Finally, a proper reaction.
However, in addition to the physical and emotional pain of the rape, Ljot leaves Vigdis with one more thing -- she's pregnant with his child. This is really where the story begins, and it is a great story. I picked this book up after scouring my local bookstore for authors whose name start with "U" for the A-Z Author Challenge, and I nearly gave up after the first page (I mean, really, FOUR footnotes on the FIRST page?!?). Fortunately, I stuck with it and was pleasantly surprised by this very readable story. Sigrid Undset manages to write an epic that deals with vengeance, consequence, family, and love in a scant 200 pages. And this book, published in 1909 and set in the 11th century, deals with the issue of rape in a way that leaves modern writers in the dust. Undset follows the lives of both the victim and the perpetrator after the rape, but Vigdis refuses to live victimized. She is up there with Evanjalin in terms of female characters who kick ass. Ljot is also not your stock villain, and he regrets what he did, but Undset and Vigdis refuse to romanticize or condone him. He also lives with the consequences of his actions and has the most beautifully twisted line towards the end of the book.
Books like this are why I do random reading challenges. They're not what I would normally pick up, but they end up being worthwhile and rewarding. I highly recommend this short saga. It's no wonder that Sigrid Undset ended up winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1928. Gunnar's Daughter is a stunning debut novel.(less)
If you have any interest in reading this book, DO NOT READ THE GOODREADS SUMMARY. Read Tatiana's review instead. It's not that the summary is so spoil...moreIf you have any interest in reading this book, DO NOT READ THE GOODREADS SUMMARY. Read Tatiana's review instead. It's not that the summary is so spoiler-heavy, but it tells you more than you need to know. Some people may prefer that -- I suspect these are the same people who go on guided tours and stick to detailed itineraries when they explore new places. Not that there's anything wrong with that.* But I think you tend to miss the forest for the trees when you're too focused on finding the next turn, and what a forest Megan Whalen Turner creates. Okay, it's not a forest so much as a Sea of Olives, but you get the idea.
One of the reasons I loved this book was why I love books like Mockingjay and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: the politics of war. I love seeing how decisions made up high affect the battle on the ground and vice versa. I also love seeing how an ice cold queen, or a Tom Riddle comes to be the way they are. (Not that the Queen of Attolia and Lord Voldemort are anything alike.) My complaint about The Thief was the lack of action, particularly in the beginning. Whalen Turner more than makes up for that with this book. From the first page, things -- major things -- are happening. You don't even see an olive tree reference til, like, the SEVENTH page. And after that, the next reference doesn't come up for another hundred pages or so. Seriously though, how often do you see two powerful female heads of state battling it out? I wish HBO would buy the rights to this multi-layered, fascinating, incest-free story.
I'm not really into romance, aside from the Jennifer Echols variety, but I thought I'd give this a try because every other book in LAPL's e-library is a romance and I love Christmas -- like, feel it in my fingers and feel it in my toes love.
Now I wasn't expecting much because hello -- cover, title -- but I figured I'd be in for some good smut or at least some hot leading men. Let's start with the description of the two leading men.
"While JJ's fashionable sunglasses hung from his neck on a neon yellow cord, Duncan had left his dark shades in place. A black sports band creased his damp hair from ear to ear."
But surely guys of such fashionable sunglasses have hot sex, right? Who knows because the all the sex in the first 80% of the book happens off the page! Why do you think people are reading this, author whose name I couldn't be bothered to look up?? For your descriptions of "the purely female lobes of her ears"? And why didn't you clarify what makes earlobes female? Should I be worried a man may find my earlobes too male for his taste?!
So after the majority of the book being spent with our sexay lead character Duncan having more chemistry with his 80-year-old landlady than the female protagonist, he finally gets to have the sex -- not with the 80-year-old landlady unfortunately. Not only is he having the sex, he's having shower sex! Now, if you've actually had shower sex, you know that unless it's with a Viking god, it is the least sexiest thing ever. When hot water isn't blinding you, you have to make sure you don't slip on all the sexy soap. Seriously, all I was thinking as the author described his burning ache, her wet skin, and the berry-scented bubbles that foamed around her feet, ooooh, was, This bitch is gonna fall and hit her head!
In conclusion, this is my opinion on my first foray into romance: (less)
Enter Darcy Franz Pele Walker. He's just a regular guy with a regular life -- two parents, some friends, a crush. I think the book was titled Slice: Juicy Moments from My Impossible Life because such normalcy is kind of impossible to find in YA these days. (Seriously, there needs to be a No parents were harmed in the making of this book disclaimer.) I forgot how charming a simple slice of life story can be. I loved Darcy and his smartass comments. I loved his parents and his relationship with them. I want there to be a sequel where Darcy meets Dan Cereill and the greatest bromance since Turk met JD ensues.(less)
Megan Whalen Turner, you sly minx. I spent the first HALF of the book wanting to beat myself with a horsewhip after each and every detailed descriptio...moreMegan Whalen Turner, you sly minx. I spent the first HALF of the book wanting to beat myself with a horsewhip after each and every detailed description of the horses and stale bread and rocky path that our motley yet intrepid crew of five set out on. Led by the King of Sounis' magus, or advisor, our protagonist thief Gen is dragged from his prison cell to undertake a mission at the behest of the King. Gen just has to steal a stone that may not even exist and has never been stolen before -- that or die in prison. He's joined on this quest by two of the magus's apprentices, who he christens Useless the Elder and Useless the Younger, and a soldier named Pol. The seemingly endless trek from Sounis to the Super Secret Special Stone Spot is painful for both Gen and the reader. By the 20th olive tree mention, you've either fallen asleep along with Gen or strongly considered abandoning the book. But then the second half starts and things start happening! They've reached A place and at this point, you don't even care if it's THE place. And then the action picks up some more and 2/3 into the book, you realize that all those meaningless details in the first half of the book are actually breadcrumbs that set the stage for the story -- that's really going to take place in Book Two. A slow clap for Ms. Whalen Turner because she has me. I am invested in the story, in Gen, in the queens, in the heirs, and in her world. But damn, was it an arduous fucking trip to get here.(less)
and ask, "What color is this?", the answer is easy.
But if the person pointed to a rainbow and asked, "What color is this?", the answer is no longer simple because a rainbow is every color. Likewise, a Marchetta book can't be narrowed down to one thing or one emotion. It's every emotion.
In Froi of the Exiles, as in Finnikin of the Rock, Marchetta shows the devastating effects of war, both internal and external, on people and on nations. But, despite the topic, her books aren't about devastation. They're about hope. They're about people. Marchetta finds the humanity in people deemed unworthy by other members of society, me included. The Froi I first met in Finnikin? Had it been up to me, he would be rotting somewhere in Sorel. Instead Marchetta refused to give up on Froi or on me and trusted that we'd learn and grow. Now he's the titular character and deservedly so because Froi's journey into Charyn is as complex and surprising as Froi himself.
As she did in The Piper's Son, Marchetta introduces a new cast of characters to surround the supporting-turned-lead actor. And like in Piper, I found myself wondering, How does she DO that?? With Froi, Marchetta got me MORE invested in the story, gave me MORE characters to love, and found MORE ways to break my heart. And while introducing us to Quintana, Gargarin, Lirah, and the people of Charyn, she doesn't forget about Finnikin, Trevanion, Beatriss and the people of Lumatere. Then, because that's not enough, there's the storyline involving Lucian of Lumatere and Phaedra of Charyn. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it's not more than you can handle. If anything, you want MORE.
I'm being purposefully vague in my review because there's no way I can lay out this story better than Marchetta. If you've never read any of her books, there's a reason why people pay double the price of a US book to have her books shipped from Australia. Or, like me, they buy both the Australian and US editions. And ebook. And audiobook. I put my money where my mouth is when I tell you she is worth every penny. (Speaking of audiobooks, I've been listening to the audio version of Finnikin and Charyn is pronounced Sha-RIN, not CHAIR-in, which is what I'd been saying.)
One thing about Marchetta that I think is often overlooked because she brings so much to the table is how funny she is. I laughed as much as I cried while reading Froi. Froi is a smartass to begin with, and combined with the grumpy old men and coddled manchildren of Charyn, there were scenes that had me laughing out loud.
Catie is great at choosing the perfect song for a book. I'm better with movies. With Froi -- damaged, destructive, hopeful, wonderful Froi -- I kept being reminded of something Ethan Hawke as Troy said in Reality Bites:
You can't navigate me. I may do mean things, and I may hurt you, and I may run away without your permission, and you may hate me forever, and I know that scares the living shit outta you 'cause you know I'm the only real thing you got.
And Melina Marchetta: I love her. She breaks my heart again and again, but I love her.(less)
Look at the Asian guy with Miley Cyrus in this picture:
As one of only a handful of Asian-Americans in my private high school, I've been the Asian guy...moreLook at the Asian guy with Miley Cyrus in this picture:
As one of only a handful of Asian-Americans in my private high school, I've been the Asian guy in this picture. It was okay because Don't worry, Mags. You are cool. We're not making fun of you. No, you're just mocking everyone who looks like me, but being "cool" means going with the flow and taking the harmless teasing. Only it's not so harmless. And it's not so cool. It's fucked up.
I got Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson based on a few reviews and the fact that it was bargain priced on Amazon. It was a passably entertaining book -- not the greatest, not the worst -- until I got to the chapter titled Dream Analysis (page 163). The protagonist, Leigh, wins 2nd place in a state writing contest and gets a trip to the awards ceremony in San Francisco. She finds out the 3rd place winner is someone named Li Huang for a poem called Cherry Blossoms. This seems innocuous enough until Li actually speaks.
Why that person standing outside with sign? Why they don't get real sign? I only do for lots of money!
Okaaaaaay, so he's a Chinese national not Chinese-American. Got it. But there must be SOMETHING more to his character, right? I mean, he won 3rd place in a college level state writing contest. Then, Alicia Thompson has our oblivious-bordering-on-mentally-challenged Li commandeer the microphone at the awards dinner to read his poem even though no other 3rd place winner does. But first, Li tells everyone to "Close your eye, close your eye!"
Here is Cherry Blossoms:
Cherry blossom fall from the sky Wrapped up in the most see-through butterfly. Cherry blossom catch on the wind. Cherry blossom want to be our friend.
And that's it. This poem and his disappointment at only winning a book and not money is all we see of Li. The only thing missing was Li shouting, "Miss Golightly!"
The only point of this character/caricature is that Alicia Thompson thought it would be funny. And it's INFURIATING because it's so unnecessary and pointless! My only theory is that Alicia Thompson thought Li Huang would be a Mr. Collins-type character but I've read Jane Austen. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors, and Alicia Thompson is no Jane Austen.
A generous 2 stars for a book that had a promising start but ultimately fell short with its predictable plot, drawn out ending, and ridiculous characters.(less)
You know what, reviewing a fantasy is as big a pain in the ass as reading one, so here's my review of Finnikin of the Rock: Read it. It's Marchetta. I...moreYou know what, reviewing a fantasy is as big a pain in the ass as reading one, so here's my review of Finnikin of the Rock: Read it. It's Marchetta. It's great. Long, but great.
One thing I want to say though is: Evanjalin kicks ass. Usually in Marchetta books, I'm drooling over the male lead (Jonah Griggs! Tom Mackee!). But as great a character as Finnikin is, Evanjalin is better. Like, I may need to start a "girl crush" shelf for her awesomeness. She's strong, she's smart, and she will have your ass thrown in a prison camp because she has a plan that she believes in. Ya Ya!
Now that that's off my chest, here's the review I started before I tapped out:
I usually stay away from fantasy because as a genre, I find it inherently tedious. Unlike dystopia where you take an existing world and just FUBAR the shit out of it, in fantasy you have to build the world from the bottom up, describing every river, tree, rock, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in the area. THEN you get to fuck it up. As a reader, it's exhausting -- and that's when it's done well! Apparently, it's exhausting for the author as well as Melina Marchetta said in an interview,
"I remember the prologue of Finnikin nearly broke me whereas the Prologues of Jellicoe and The Piper’s Son stayed the same from the moment I first wrote them, give and take a word or two."
So yeah, I had some concerns going into Finnikin, even with Melina! Marchetta! at the helm.
Right away, however, the book caught my interest by delving into action described as the five unspeakable days. A kingdom is destroyed and divided, half the people trapped inside its walls at the mercy of an impostor king, and half the people exiled outside at the mercy of an indifferent world. The story begins ten years later with Finnikin, 19-years-old and living in exile with Sir Topher, the assassinated king's First Man. They've been traveling around Lumatere's neighboring countries for 10 years but a dream calls Finnikin to Sendecane and the temple of the goddess of light, Lagrami. In his dream, he heard the name Balthazar, the King's son and heir, and sole survivor of the massacre of the royal family during the five unspeakable days. Instead of Balthazar, though, a girl named Evanjalin is waiting for him at the temple.
Had I seen this book in a bookstore (when they still existed, I mean), I would have immediately dismissed it based on the cover alone. The flames, the...moreHad I seen this book in a bookstore (when they still existed, I mean), I would have immediately dismissed it based on the cover alone. The flames, the red lips, Lips Touch... come on. However, after seeing Tatiana and Meredith's reviews, I decided to give it a try. Plus I had just finished Jellicoe Road and knew that whatever I read next wouldn't compare, so I might as well try something different. Lips Touch, to put it simply, was lovely. This book of grown up fairy tales, each beautifully illustrated, was an unexpected treat. I highly recommend it, especially after reading something as rich and emotionally complex as a Melina Marchetta.(less)
Fourteen, smart, and totally adorkable. He’s also dealing with:
1. His parents’ divorce 2. ...on account of his father being gay. 3. Hav...moreMeet Dan Cereill.
Fourteen, smart, and totally adorkable. He’s also dealing with:
1. His parents’ divorce 2. ...on account of his father being gay. 3. Having to move and start a new school 4. ...because dad lost their savings. 5. Trying to shed his loser image and impress the girl next door 6. ...as he ends up answering to ‘dickhead’ in front of her on the first day of school.
Needless to say, things aren’t going well. After moving into his deceased aunt's house, the person he talks to the most is Howard, the judgmental poodle who came with the house.
Still, he has a list of six things, six seemingly impossible things, that he revisits and uses as a reference point to get through each day. For example, in order to cheer up his mom (#3 on the list), he confronts the school bully, Jayzo, about crank calling his house/mom's business.
Yeah, it doesn't work for Dan either.
Even as I cringed for him, I just wanted to give Dan a hug. I was cheering for him the whole way through and hoping that he'd end up taking the girl to the dance at the end.
This was so witty and heartwarming. I would be surprised that this is a debut novel except that the author is Australian. I appreciated how she tackled social issues such as homophobia without being heavy-handed or having her character rant on and on. Dan is also prone to typical 14-year-old petulance, but I loved his character's development. There was such a sweetness to how he liked Estelle.
This book may take some effort to get (Don't even get me started on Paypal vs Paypal Australia), but it's definitely worth it. Dear Dan, Love you big time!
I can't remember what grade I was in when I first started highlighting, but I remember my teacher looking down at my now entirely fluorescent yellow p...moreI can't remember what grade I was in when I first started highlighting, but I remember my teacher looking down at my now entirely fluorescent yellow page and saying, "You're only supposed to highlight what's important." I replied, "But this is all important." That's how I felt reading The Lover's Dictionary. I wanted to highlight everything. I only meant to read the first few pages, just to see what it was about, but I didn't end up closing the book until I was done. Each entry provides a picture into the life of our couple. You start off with one picture...
...but by the end of the book, you have this:
But not as cheesy.
One of my favorite entries:
It's always something we have to negotiate — the fact that my parents are happy, and yours have never been. I have something to live up to, and if I fail, I still have a family to welcome me home. You have a storyline to rewrite, and a lack of faith that it can ever be done.
Miss Peregrine was the December selection for my book club, and I know people LOVE it and there are over 100 people waiting for my library copy, but I...moreMiss Peregrine was the December selection for my book club, and I know people LOVE it and there are over 100 people waiting for my library copy, but I can't with this book. I always feel a bit traitorous when I hate a book my friends loved, but in this case...
Most writers start with a character or an idea. When Melina Marchetta was asked why she chose to write about Tom Mackee and not, say, Jimmy Hailer after Saving Francesca, her response was that Tom spoke to her. I think if Ransom Riggs were asked why he chose to write about these children, his answer would be:
My expectations going into this book were admittedly pretty high. Aside from the hype, the cover and title were really intriguing. Add to that creepy vintage photographs and I figured I'd be in for a good read or at least a good scare similar to The Others -- and I scare pretty easily. Seriously, sneeze loudly behind me and I'll duck and cover.
My actual reaction to this book was utter boredom. The writing and the pictures turned out to be a giant letdown.
Here's a picture of a woman and a bird! And? It's vintage!
Here's a picture of a man holding a child! So?? Vintage again!
Those pictures actually had some loose association to the story though. Usually the author would describe a character with some peculiar ability and then there would be a picture depicting that. It got to be overkill because I actually don't need someone to show me a picture of a man on a couch with a gun after I just read about a man on a couch with a gun. My imagination can handle that. But then there are times when the author is obviously desperate to use a picture even if it makes no sense at all. Description: Fiona is a girl who can control plants and make them grow to whatever height or shape of her choosing. Picture: A girl dressed in rags holding a chicken. Explanation: Isn't it cool how we dressed her up for this picture?? Me: Kill me. Another picture that reeked of the general desperation of this novel was a letter "handwritten on fine, unlined paper in looping script so ornate it was almost calligraphy." If you used to read The Baby-Sitters Club books, picture Kristy's writing. That's what this "so ornate almost calligraphy" writing looked like.
So why would the author use all these unnecessary pictures? Oh wait, lookie here, Ransom Riggs has a book coming out early next year called Talking Pictures, which is just a book of pictures he found! Ransom Riggs should make a hat with all the money he's raking in.
See, I can pull a Ransom Riggs too! Find picture ---> write sentence.
So anyway, plot. I'm making the plot secondary in my review since that was obviously the case in the book. Blah blah blah, then the last quarter of the book enough happens to require a sequel. To be fair though, it's hard to write when your hands are busy doing this: (less)
I am an emotional wreck. Much like when I first read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants a few years ago, I was not prepared for all the emotions th...moreI am an emotional wreck. Much like when I first read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants a few years ago, I was not prepared for all the emotions this book brought up. You strike again, Ann Brashares! Everything in this book probably affected me more than the previous ones because I'm the same age Tibby, Carmen, Lena, and Bridget are now. And at this point in our lives, the friends we have are those we've chosen to have for the rest of our lives, so the loss of any one of them (for whatever reason) is devastating. It means you've lost a part of your future as well as your present and your past. I didn't even know this book was being planned until the day it was published so I remained spoiler-free, which is good because had I known, I may have chosen to skip this book. I'm still recovering from Sweet Valley Confidential and the carnage Francine Pascal did to my memories of Sweet Valley High. I was afraid Brashares was pulling a Pascal after the first few chapters of Sisterhood Everlasting, but she came through. Tibby, Carmen, Lena, and Bridget are in different places (literally and figuratively) and ten years have passed since Forever In Blue but unlike the characters in Sweet Valley Confidential, they're still recognizable. I still felt an emotional connection to the characters even though I hadn't read the books in years and didn't particularly feel the need to read a 5th book. At times it felt like an extended epilogue, but it was still a pleasant reunion -- one I hadn't planned but still came away feeling positive about -- with characters I once loved. (less)
Sooooooo cute. This book is so cute! We start off with Jennifer and Beth, BFFs and co-workers at an Iowa newspaper. (Or maybe it was Nebraska. Whateve...moreSooooooo cute. This book is so cute! We start off with Jennifer and Beth, BFFs and co-workers at an Iowa newspaper. (Or maybe it was Nebraska. Whatever, same difference.) Told via their email exchanges, their chapters are smart and funny with great dialogue and chemistry. Think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, or you and your best friend. Then the chapters alternate to Lincoln, the guy in charge of IT security at the paper. The story is told from Lincoln's perspective, and whereas we only get to see Jennifer and Beth through their emails, we learn about Lincoln and his background. And that's where we, and the story, run into a slight problem -- because Lincoln for all intents and purposes is kind of a loser. Let's look at the evidence:
1. He lives at home with his mother. 2. He hasn't had a relationship since he broke up with the love of his life. 2A. It was his high school girlfriend. 2B. They broke up 9 years ago. 2C. NINE YEARS AGO!! 2D. After he followed her out to college in California. 2E. He's been adrift ever since. 3. He spends his Saturday nights playing Dungeons and Dragons.
In the first few chapters, Jennifer and Beth's snap crackle pop were what kept me reading because Lincoln was just so sad and dull and pathetic. And then came Lincoln's physical description.
He's basically Joe Manganiello. YES. That plus the fact that he became less woe-is-me made the story pick up and then zoom into AWESOME territory.
Plot: Jennifer and Beth write typical BFF emails to one another detailing the minutiae of their lives. They use their work emails despite knowing that Big Brother or IT Guy can read them. IT Guy Lincoln does read them because they keep popping up on his security filters. As he reads them, he finds himself falling for Beth. He doesn't know what she looks like, but he loves her personality. (That's the dream, isn't it?) Beth, however, has a long-term, live-in boyfriend who is a musician and therefore absentee. Remember that Lincoln isn't Prince Charming either (see evidence above). Yet.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised and charmed by this book. I loved the female dynamic. I've had some, if not most, of the exchanges that Jennifer and Beth have with each other. And as I read, I began to appreciate Lincoln more and more. First and foremost, I love that he's not a Darcy. He's shy and awkward and nice -- a totally normal guy (except for the whole Joe Manganiello thing). As a reader, you're not swooning over him in the beginning because there's nothing to swoon over! You grow to like him as he grows. I would've probably stayed up all night to finish this except my Benadryl kicked it. A fun, enjoyable read, I highly recommend it. (less)
Had it not been for the A-Z Challenge, I would've abandoned this book early on because the first 1/3 was awful -- painfully awful. Queen of Babble is...moreHad it not been for the A-Z Challenge, I would've abandoned this book early on because the first 1/3 was awful -- painfully awful. Queen of Babble is an appropriate title because everything is repeated at least 3 times. Did Meg Cabot have a page threshold that she had to hit? Lizzie Nichols is meant to be adorably zany, but she just comes off annoying. She also sounds 15 years old instead 21/22. The book picks up in Part Two thanks mainly to a plot assist from Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret. Like Emma Corrigan in Can You Keep a Secret, Lizzie ends up spilling all her secrets to a stranger on the train who, knock me over with a feather!, ends up being the owner of the chateau she's come to stay in. Not only is he rich, he's tall, dark, and handsome. And taken. But fear not, friends, because his girlfriend is a bitch. Hijinks and TEARS OVER DIET COKE (Seriously. Like, more than once. Over Diet Coke.) ensue. Lizzie and the perfect Luke de Villiers realize they're made for each other. *SWOON* Oh wait, it's only been two freakin' days since they met.
I love mindlessly entertaining books, and this one had some cute moments. But unless you need to read a book that starts with "Q", your time is better served reading Sophie Kinsella books (I highly recommend Can You Keep a Secret) than the pale imitation of them that Queen of Babble is.(less)
A really interesting exploration of guilt and atonement that was undercut by some hokey X-Files shit -- though I'm sure X-Files fans will appreciate t...moreA really interesting exploration of guilt and atonement that was undercut by some hokey X-Files shit -- though I'm sure X-Files fans will appreciate the Fox and Mulder mentions. Sidenote: Do you really call yourselves X-Philes?! By the way, X-Philes, who is Samantha and what happened to her?(less)