I started Wither fairly certain that I'd not like it. Please don't misunderstand — I never start a book thinking I'll dislike it, but choose3.5 stars
I started Wither fairly certain that I'd not like it. Please don't misunderstand — I never start a book thinking I'll dislike it, but choose to read it anyway for some reason; I usually avoid books that sound as if I'd be disappointed by them. In the case of Wither, I'd decided to steer clear of it because of negative reviews and because of some of the content it is said to have. And while there were things I was bothered by and things I wish could've been different, I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
DeStefano paints a bleak portrait of the future in her 2011 debut, Wither. Scientists were able to concoct a cure for cancer and other fatal diseases, flus and colds, and sexually transmitted diseases; consequently giving humans much longer lives. But as good as this prospect may sound, it comes at a terrible price: the offspring of those who partook of the scientists' panacea only live a fraction of the time people do today. With women living only to the age of twenty and men the age of twenty-five, the only way to prevent the extinction of the human race is for young women to dedicate their lives to polygamous marriages and having as many children as possible in the short window of time they have. This is exactly the kind of life sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery wants to avoid in favor of living out her last four years with her brother, Rowan, whom she loves dearly. But when the Gatherers take her she is helpless. Soon she is married to Linden Ashby, along with two other girls, Jenna and Cecily. It isn't long before one of her sister wives, as they are so dubbed, is swelling with Linden's child and Rhine is having to pretend that she herself loves him. But Rhine soon bonds with a young male servant named Gabriel and starts to plot a way to escape this compulsory life, and hopes to take him with her. But there are many dangers in attempting an escape, and it may end in both of their deaths.
Wither is one of the most hyped YA dystopias released in the last few years, and I can see why: it's content is controversial, it contains many things which could (and did for me) repulse its reader, and, of course, since a little series called the Hunger Games came along, the dystopian genre has skyrocketed to the top spot on many reader's favorites list. (I think it's even surpassed the paranormal genre now. What a feat!)
Rhine's helplessness really struck a chord within me. I can't imagine having lost your parents, and then being dragged away from your brother, the only person you have left, to be forced into a marriage with someone you don't even know. Gabriel, although a character that wasn't in the story nearly as much as I'd have liked, was something special. He is the reason I'm most looking forward to the sequal. The writing has a quality that I wouldn't normally expect from a debut author, but I'd heard may good things about DeStefano's writing before starting Wither, and they were all true.
And now for the negative: The science in Wither seems a little off to me. This, along with one other key point I'll mention later, is what keeps me from giving this four stars. Here is my logic: If the government (or scientists) were ever able to produce a cure for potentially fatal diseases like cancer and whatnot, should it backfire and cause a sort of self-destruct effect in the children of the people who use it, as it is said to in DeStefano's world, wouldn't the government then be able to stop it almost immediately? Eradicate the problem, or at least come up with some sort of drug to lengthen the lifespans of those who are affected by it? Think about it: Whatever could stop fatal diseases as harsh as cancer, if such a thing exists, would be very hard to find (obviously, since this is the twenty-first century and we're still using chemo, which is horrible in itself); and I would think that if scientists were ever smart enough to find it, they'd be able to deal with any repercussions that may arrise after the fact; I especially don't see them ever lying down and just saying, Oh, well — I guess we'll just have to live with the fact that none of us will make it to thirty and that the human race could easily become extinct in the next decade. Perhaps it is just me, but the science seemed rather warped and uncalculated. For my other qualm, read the spoiler if you don't mind being spoiled. (view spoiler)[The youngest of the three wives, Cecily, is thirteen at the start of the novel. She is soon impregnated by twenty-one-year-old Linden, who apparently is no less attracted to her than the eighteen-year-old Jenna or sixteen-year-old Rhine. This was sickening to me, and I wish the author would've handled this differently. The author could've easily kept the three wives sixteen or older and still conveyed the severity of the characters' situation in the harsh reality they live in without using a thirteen-year-old child. At least, IMHO. (hide spoiler)] Other than these two points, I really have no complaints; I enjoyed the writing and characterization just fine. And I am certainly invested enough to read Fever in the near future, and, if Fever doesn't disappoint, the trilogy's finale, Untitled.
Notice: Although the back of the audio says it's for readers thirteen and up, I'd recommend this book for fifteen and up. The rather mature subject matter and some of the content seems more appropriate for an older audience IMO.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I love Ellen Degeneres. Seriously, I'm not kidding. I know what you're thinking: you can't truly love someNote: This is a review of the audio edition.
I love Ellen Degeneres. Seriously, I'm not kidding. I know what you're thinking: you can't truly love someone whom you've never met and probably never will. But I truly love her in the way you love someone — or something — that you know with your whole heart is making the world a better place to live. And I am positive of this fact when it comes to this woman. After a hard day, her humor and generosity and overall love for people and life are a balm on the world's aches. This woman makes each day better for countless people just by being herself. Did you know that scientists have proven that laughter can increase your lifespan and even help you feel and look better? This isn't to mention all of the people she's helped through her show. Cars, houses, miscellaneous gifts, money — all given to people who're probably much better off after having received these various gifts.
My library has shelved this book in the biography section, but in case there is any one wondering, let me be clear: This is not an autobio. And although I laughed many, many times while listening to Ellen's words read in her own narration, I have to admit that a good deal of this book is, truly, just a bunch of babble.
At times, Ellen manages to mix philosophy and deep thoughts with spontaneous humor expertly:
There are very few things that wow us anymore. A child will see something as simple as a garage door opening and it's literally all they will talk about for weeks. As an adult, we will see a human person ride a bike, catapult over eighteen cars that are on fire, land on a skateboard, slid down a ramp, and end up in the backseat of a taxi, and be like,"Yeah, that was all right. But did you see the guy who pogo sticked over thirty-eight grandmothers?" I'm not saying we need to live like babies in every way. I mean, sure, it would be great to get carried around in a papoose. Who wouldn't want that? But I am glad I'm potty trained and I'm not always trying to eat my feet like babies do. I just wish we could hold on to that sense of wonder because sometimes we don't notice some of the most incredible things in the world. We walk by beautiful flowers and trees every day without looking at them. We rush through our day without even saying hi to most of the people we see. We take a lot for granted, and I think that's why some people say it's better to live each day as our last. That way we might start appreciating more things around us. Either that or we would immediately quit our jobs to go live in a yurt.
. . . and I love that. But — there were times when it leaned a bit too much on the babble side and I was thankful for having picked up the audio; if I hadn't, this book probably would've ended up unfinished.
In a summary, I enjoyed Seriously . . . I'm kidding. I didn't love it like I do the lady who wrote it, but I enjoyed it nonetheless....more
"The story I am about to share with you takes place in 1931, under the roofs of Paris. Here you will meet a boy named Hugo Cabret, who once, long ago"The story I am about to share with you takes place in 1931, under the roofs of Paris. Here you will meet a boy named Hugo Cabret, who once, long ago, discovered a mysterious drawing that changed his life forever." So begins the introduction of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.
Shortly after the start of the story we learn that twelve-year-old Hugo has recently lost his father to a tragic fire. A horologist working for the city's museum, Hugo's father finds an old automaton in the museum's attic one day. Being a clock maker, his father is innately fasinated by the little man that appears to be able to write out a message if he were only restored to his former glory. Having little time on his hands, Hugo's father decides to leave it be. That is until young Hugo begs his father to fix the machine. But one fateful night when Hugo's father is trapped inside the attic a fire breaks out, thus leading to the death of Hugo's father and much regret on Hugo's part for having been the one to convince his father to fix the automaton in the first place. Determined to continue where his father left off, Hugo begins working on the automaton by night while taking care of the city's clocks by day. But in order to get the pieces he needs to properly restore the automaton, he must steal from the town's toy vendor. This leads to discoveries Hugo never could've imagined, new friendships, and a promising future for our young hero.
Although he has previously illustrated other authors' works, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is Brian Selznick's first full children's novel. It contains over 280 drawings, film stills, and what Selznick is best known for, stunning illustrations such as these:
Huge reminded me of Harry Potter a bit. Not in the wizardry kind of way, of course, but in the fact that they're both young, they've both lost their parents, and they're both very endearing and seem to call forth the reader's sympathy with great aptitude. They're the kind of boy you'd want to adopt and give a better life to; in other words, my favorite sort of character to read about. Hugo's story is an enchanting journey that will have readers of all ages cheering for its characters and wanting more from Selznick.
If you're looking to follow up this book, the movie adaptation, simply titled Hugo, is directed by Martin Scorsese and will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray February 28, 2012....more
When I was younger, my mother and I would watch reruns of Dennis the Menace. Truth be told, the only enjoyment I got out of these sessions was spendinWhen I was younger, my mother and I would watch reruns of Dennis the Menace. Truth be told, the only enjoyment I got out of these sessions was spending time with my mother. You see, Dennis was, to me, exactly what the title proclaims him to be: a menace. Since I was very young I've had a strong aversion to any one who causes trouble for others or keeps getting into scrapes, be they intentional or not. As anyone who's read Anne's first installment can imagine, this made it a bit difficult for me to take to her character. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne is rather rash and even careless in her decision making. But boy has she grown up now! I didn't think Montgomery would make young Anne grow so fast, rather I thought her character would take several installments just to reach age sixteen. Gladly, this isn't the case.
In Anne of Avonlea, Anne starts off at the age of half-past sixteen; and the book ends two years later. I must admit she's won my admiration from here on out. Anne is the sort of girl who makes you think they invented the word "spitfire" as a means to describe her alone, and coupled with her copious amount of enthusiasm and optimism, I dare say it is nearly impossible for one to not fall for her eventually! And in the second part of her story, we see Anne strungle with her new position as schoolma'am at the Avonlea school. To top this off, she must aid Marilla in the caring of two children whom Marilla has chosen to adopt: the naughty but adorable Davy, and the prim and and slightly-dull Dora. Sprinkle on mulitple new acquaintances, several furnerals, two engagements, a wedding . . . and you've got an awfully busy two years for our dear Anne.
This series is clearly something I'd have missed out on had Jo not spoken so highly of it through her lovely reviews, so thank you, Jo. I find myself slowly but surely warming to the characters and their world more with each chapter. And of course, as with all classics, the writing is stunning.
"A September day on Prince Edward Island hills; a crisp wind blowing up over the sand dunes from the sea; a long red road, winding through fields and woods, now looping itself about a corner of thick-set spruces, now threading a plantation of young maples with great feathery sheets of ferns beneath them, now dipping down into a hollow where a brook flashed out of the woods and into them again, now basking in open sunshine between ribbons of goldenrod and smoke-blue asters; air athrill with the pipings of myriads of crickets, those glad little pensioners of the summer hills; a plump brown pony ambling along the road; two girls behind him, full to the lips with the simple, priceless joy of youth and life."
Naturally, this sort of passage always stirs up some envy in my blood; I can't help but wish I could write like that. Although I suppose there is some comfort --- and, for other reasons, sadness --- in knowing that practically no one writes this way anymore.
Although I still can't bring myself to give this a higher rating than the one you'll read momentarily, I assure all who read this that I'm enjoying myself very much while following Anne through her journeys in life. I'll be sure to read Anne of the Island soon. 3.5 stars...more
Despite Wonderstruck's 630 pages, I read it within the span of three hours. Granted, over 460 of those pages are illustrations, but I still believe thDespite Wonderstruck's 630 pages, I read it within the span of three hours. Granted, over 460 of those pages are illustrations, but I still believe this fact attests to Wonderstruck's ability to keep its reader engaged and entertained.
Wonderstruck is two stories in one: it is Ben's story, and it is Rose's story. With the former's being told in words, and the latter's being told in illustrations, this textile tale takes two youngsters, a book, a turtle, a bookstore, a museum, and several supporting characters and blends them perfectly to ultimately make one beautiful, symmetrical story. As the story carefully unfolds, we learn that Ben is deaf in one ear, and Rose is deaf completely. Ben has recently lost his mother, and is now anxious to find out all he can about his father, whom his mother never told him about. After finding a few clues in his mother's bedroom, Ben goes off to New York in search of his father. Meanwhile, Rose, always feeling like she doesn't belong anywhere, is obsessed with a movie starlet. Thanks to a newspaper article, Rose ends up going to see this actress during one of her stage shows in New York. Although their stories are fifty years apart, both characters go on almost the exact same journey and end up in many of the same places, and the reader is left feeling nothing short of amazement when all is revealed and each character finds what they've been so desperate to have: love, and a sense of belonging.
As it is children's literature, Wonderstruck isn't the sort of story I'd normally go for. But the more I read the more I realize that stepping out of your comfort zone is the only way to truly see what you're missing. And in the case of Wonderstruck, it is certainly something to behold. Selznick's illustrations are absolute food for the eyes and I believe they speak for themselves:
Along with a few other illustrated works I've recently read, Wonderstruck has given me an appreciation for art and helped me to see how it can truly make a story come alive. 3.5 stars
I'm so, so glad I decided to give King another try despite my mixed feelings over her Printz Honor, Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Everybody Sees the AntI'm so, so glad I decided to give King another try despite my mixed feelings over her Printz Honor, Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Everybody Sees the Ants is an astonishingly wonderful gift to young-adult literature, one that I feel extremely fortunate to have read.
Since the age of seven, Lucky Linderman has been having dreams in which he visits his grandfather in the prison camp where he's resided since being listed as MIA in the Vietnam War back in 1972. When his grandmother died, she asked Lucky to get her husband back, and the dreams started that very night. Coincidentally, this was also the same day Lucky began being bullied by Nader McMillan. So are these dreams really a way to get his grandfather back and hopefully heal the wound Lucky's father's always had from having never met his own father, or are they just a way to escape the harsh reality that is Lucky's life? Another escape comes in the form of a summer vacation with his mother in Tempe, Arizona. There, Lucky bonds with his Uncle Dave, dodges an unnecessary intervention orchestrated by his pill-popping Aunt Jodi, and meets a beautiful older girl who shows him another side of life. Everybody Sees the Ants is a masterpiece that should not be overlooked by anyone who enjoy its genre.
If every story I read and its characters were as original and appealing as Everybody Sees the Ants and its characters are, I dare I say I'd get nothing done save for reading. Although all of the characters are unique and serve their purpose to make the story what it is — an amazing, inspiring example of human life and its struggles — one character in particular stood out. I've not fallen nor cared for a character as much as Lucky in a long, long time. With each sentence, word, action — he stole my heart and made me root for him more and more with the turn of each page. He is a young, bullied kid who's not even had his first kiss yet. He's a boy with an impossible mission to save his grandfather. He's a little insecure, a proud mama's boy, and an awesome cook. He's an incredible character and all I wanted was to give him a big hug and smooch on the noggin, if such a thing were possible. I dare you not to fall for Lucky Linderman.
Upon finishing this little gem, I felt an overwhelming since of gratification and elation. It's hard to find a book that makes you feel like turning back to the first page and starting all over again, but I felt just that when I reached the end of Everybody Sees the Ants. I didn't feel ready to leave these characters, their story and lives. Although I wasn't completely sold after reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz, I could tell that King was capable of greatness and she proved my instinct right when she wrote this story. This just shows that you shouldn't judge an author by the first book of theirs you read.
This is a book I'll cherish and reread many times in future, always enjoying it more each time. Highly, highly recommended. 4.5 stars...more
Is it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if I loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?
Vera's conflicting feeIs it okay to hate a dead kid? Even if I loved him once? Even if he was my best friend? Is it okay to hate him for being dead?
Vera's conflicting feelings toward Charlie after his death mirror mine over her story. I don't think I've ever been this conflicted over a book in all my years of reading.
Vera Dietz has secrets: she has a crush on a boy five years her senior; she's drinking vodka coolers under the radar; and, perhaps her biggest secret of all, she knows a whole helluva lot more about her best friend's death than she's letting anyone in on. But she has her reasons: after you lose the boy you could've/should've been more than friends with, what else are you left with but to move on with someone else? And everyone knows alcohol is the perfect desensitizer when the pain is just too much. And besides, if she told anyone — her father, her classmates, the authorities — what might happen then?
Much like its main character, Please Ignore Vera Dietz was, for me, all of the following: baffling, annoying, infuriating, wondrous, a true eye-opener. On the one side I think, if a book can make me feel so many conflicting emotions, shouldn't it be worth five stars? You know, just because, unlike so many books, it made me feel? And on the other, shouldn't I have felt more for the characters and their heartache and tough situation before the near-end mark? Somehow I think this would be easier if I didn't have to rate this, because, no matter what I put in those line of stars, they won't truly represent my feelings towards this particular work. I feel like this book is worth five stars and about two and a half all at once.
I suppose the only way to give some semblance of order to this review is to break my thoughts down in a positive/negative fashion:
Vera, Vera, Vera. What to say about this girl? Unlike any character (female or otherwise) I've ever read about, Vera Dietz made me, at some points, mad as hell; and at others, sad to the same degree. (view spoiler)[I couldn't figure out why she didn't just call the police and keep the pet store from burning in the first place. Would that have been so hard? (hide spoiler)] She is strange and quirky, and not exactly in a good way: she eats napkins just because Charlie did; she drinks and starts going out with a twenty-three-year-old guy, all while thinking of how much she doesn't want to end up like her father and mother, a recovered alcoholic and ex-stripper turned child-abandoner, respectively. I know people do stupid things when they're hurt, especially when they've recently lost someone they loved. They may even be entitled to do these things, but that doesn't make them interesting to read about or make a character endearing or worthy of my sympathy. Or at least it doesn't for me, anyway. It wasn't until certain things happened and certain things were revealed that I started to feel something for her character, started to connect with her in any way. This happened much later in the story and, by then, it was (almost) too little too late.
When I did finally start to get it, finally began to see what so many people are raving about, it really hit hard. One minute I was reading along, thinking how this book just isn't for me but I'll finish it anyway, and the next I'm grabbing tissues to blot my tears before they left crinkle stains on my library's copy. (view spoiler)[This, of course, happened when Vera relates the time Charlie threw dog shit on her in the forest. I couldn't believe that they were such close friends, to the point where they had fallen in love with each other, and yet he'd do something so humilating and disgusting to her. I felt for Vera in that moment. (hide spoiler)]
The best part of this story is Vera's reconnecting with her father and rebuilding a real relationship with him. If you've read any of my past reviews, you know I appreciate good parent/child relationships more than any romance. Romances are nice, but they aren't everything. People say that romantic relationships can die but friends last forever, and I disagree. I'm more of a blood-runs-thicker-than-water kind of gal. Friendships are wonderful, don't get me wrong. But let's face it: the right (wrong) thing happens, and that's it, no more BFF. I believe that familial relationships are the most important, the kind you can count on the most. And this is why they are, essentially, my favorite sort of relationship to read about. Vera and her father have many things to work out, including Vera's apparent use of alcohol to cope with the loss of Charlie and her father having never truly gotten over her mother when she left them. Their scenes together were some of my favorite.
King's writing is edgy, sparse and peppered with wry humor. It made the pages flip fast and kept me invested in the story, even when the characters couldn't.
As you can see, I'm very conflicted on this particular novel. I went into it thinking it would be an easy five stars, and ended up being disappointed on multiple accounts. Perhaps some day I'll return to this story, revisit its characters and maybe see them in the same light others have. Until then, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a story that touched me at times, and frustrated me at others. But I feel better for having read it and I have no regrets. 3.5 stars["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
"Some people think that a place can save them," I say. "Like if they could just be somewhere else, their lives would be totally different. They could"Some people think that a place can save them," I say. "Like if they could just be somewhere else, their lives would be totally different. They could finally be the people they always wanted to be. But to me, a place is just a place. If you really want things to change, you can make them change no matter where you are."
Hannah Harrington's debut, Saving June, begins with Harper Scott stacking casseroles and meringue pies into her refrigerator. Her older sister, June, has just died from a self-inflicted drug overdose. And as with all deaths, people think that food offerings will make it better. But Harper knows that nothing can take away the pain of losing someone you hold so dear, especially someone whose life ended way too soon and for reasons unknown. Harper believes that nothing can make June's death any less painful — until she finds a postcard that reads California, I'm coming home in June's handwriting. She's left with nothing to think but that California is the place where June truly longed to be. And so, after reluctantly teaming up with Jake Tolan, a boy who not only was close to June but who insists on coming along for the trip with Harper and her BFF Laney, Harper packs up her things along with the urn containing June's remains and heads for California.
Harper's grief is truly gut-wrenching. She's in so much pain from this unforeseeable loss, but she's strong-willed and highly motivated nonetheless. Each time she gets close to cracking from the unbearable sadness that threatens to overwhelm her, she reigns it in and instead chooses to focus on the journey ahead. And what a journey it is! An antiwar protest in Chicago that leads to a girl-on-girl liplock, a rock concert for a band called Robot Suicide Squad, and a black van named Joplin are just some of the crazy/fun aspects of their road trip. Even though the reason behind the trip is sad, Harrington does a wonderful job of making the trip fun and exciting for both the characters and readers alike.
With his trademark black pants, his messy yet oh-so-sexy hair, and his inherent love for all things musical, Jake Tolan makes for an interesting and authentic character who is the perfect yang to Harper's yin. Although only eighteen, Jake's life hasn't been easy, and in snippets we find out just how rough it's been. But Jake isn't about to let his bad upbringing define him.
Harper and Jake's slow-building romance is perfectly written; like a seven-tier wedding cake, it is carefully handled and delicately crafted. Their natural chemistry and casual banter make for some of the best scenes in the book:
"Wow," I say. "You are truly obsessed." "Yeah, I kinda am," he agrees, grinning. "Without music, life would be a mistake." "Did you coin that one yourself?" "Nietzsche did, actually. But it's a common mix-up."
They share secrets, dreams, cigarettes, and the pain of losing June. The sexual tension between them is palpable in some scenes, but it doesn't overshadow the main focal point of the story. In fact, I'd say the romance takes a backseat (no pun intended) to the adventurous and cathartic road trip Harper, Jake, and Laney take.
Music vibrates through every page of Saving June. It is its own life force as you read through these pages, and I found myself using YouTube to keep up with Jake's playlist.
Ultimately, Saving June is about learning to find peace after facing a tragedy, and the maelstrom of conflicting emotions that bombard one's mind after the death of a beloved. And it sends a wonderful message: that you can find love, joy, and happiness — even after devastation.
I look forward to reading more works from Harrington in future....more
My Life Next Door is the kind of story that you expect to be light and fluffy . . . but then it surprises you. I thought this book would be very clicMy Life Next Door is the kind of story that you expect to be light and fluffy . . . but then it surprises you. I thought this book would be very cliché: little rich girl falls for the boy next door; gets a whole new perspective on life through the eyes of a financially-strained, but very happy — unlike her own — family; and learns something big about herself over the course of one short summer. In a lot of ways, that is what this book is about. But, in truth, it is about so much more.
Samantha Reed's character is, I think, one of the best — probably in the top ten, actually — YA heroines I've ever come across since I began reading YA fiction back in 2008. She stands up for herself and the people she cares about when it counts most, she thinks independently from her main influence in life — in this case, her mother — in a way that is smart and not just teenage rebellion. She is smart about sex choices, doesn't just jump into bed with the first boyfriend she gets — or even the third without some smart-shopping for Trojans (loved that scene!) — and is a generally well-rounded, intelligent young woman. I found being in Sam's head a very pleasant, refreshing, and, often times, spontaneously hilarious experience when compared to many of the female narrators of her genre. If Fitzpatrick's future heroines turn out to be even a tenth as good as Sam was, I'm in for a real treat. And Jase . . . he is the kind of boy you'd want your daughter to marry. Truly. He's down to earth, loves his family, loves his animals (he's something of a zoo-keeper), and treats his girlfriend like gold. What's not to love? I think YA paranormal authors should take notes from Huntley Fitzpatrick on how to write a good male protagonist. And Tim . . . I can't believe a debut author made me fall for a drug addict. Seriously. If the author decided to write a companion novel about Tim (maybe like Marchetta did with Thomas after Saving Francesca) and, hopefully, Alice, I'd be forever grateful to the Powers That Be.
The bulk of this novel is about Samantha getting to know — and fall for — both Jase and his family. But towards the end, as the publisher-provided synopsis says, there is a big obstacle that is dropped on Sam's and the Garrett's heads, an obstacle that is not overcome easily. I wish there could have been a bit more resolution at the end with it (view spoiler)[Last we hear of Mr. Garrett is that he's out of ICU, and Sam's mom is still checking to see how he's doing; I would have liked for there to have been a coming-home-from-the-hospital scene, or at least a mention of a full recovery (hide spoiler)], but as a whole I think the climax was handled well. And, on a side note, can I just say how utterly sexy some of this book is? I wasn't expecting that, either, but I love surprises.
Truly, I don't feel that my words can properly describe how much I loved this book, or how much I got out of it, or how much I wish more people would discover it and feel for it what I did. Does that mean this book was perfect? No, because no book is. But honestly, it was perfect for me. I'm extraordinarily pleased with it — so much so that I plan to reread it this summer — and will certainly be back for more from Fitzpatrick in future.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I literally feel more disappointment with myself for not liking this than I do with this book for letting me down. I never begin reading a book thinkiI literally feel more disappointment with myself for not liking this than I do with this book for letting me down. I never begin reading a book thinking that I'll dislike it; I read for enjoyment, not self-torture. And since this is realistic fiction, a genre which has quickly risen to top position on my favorites list, and since it is written by an Australian author, and since the opinions of some of the people I'm closest to here on this website are so high and positive, I believed that Beatle Meets Destiny would be a shoo-in for me. An instant five star book. I hate being wrong, but I especially hated it this time.
Although it would be fair to say that high expectations played a role in my ultimate disappointment, I know I still would've been just as disappointed had my expectations been low going in. I can't believe I'm saying this about an Aussie book, but I did not like this. It started out great, but then it started to wane for me, and it went down hill fast.
One of my biggest problems with cheaters is how utterly selfish they are. They want the best of both worlds: they want to have the nice, perfect girlfriend/boyfriend to show off to family and friends; but they also want another person on the side with whom they can indulge in all of their lusty whims. Somehow they seem to find it more exciting to be with someone who is forbidden. But if they left the person they're already with, the forbidden-fruit factor would be gone. This populous world would go back to being a free market, and the fun would be over. And they never stop to think about the people who spend their whole lives alone, not even while they have multiple lovers. I could never be that way, but my biological father was, among many other wretched things, a cheater. That being said, there are still situations in which I can understand cheating and be fine with it. Very few, but some nonetheless. For this reason and others, I believed that in the case of Beatle Meets Destiny, it would be one of the few I could stand. Unfortunately, not so much. For me, Beatle and Destiny's "relationship" is blackened by the fact that he's with someone else and refuses to let that someone go before beginning another relationship. I can understand that he doesn't want to hurt Cilla by breaking up with her, but like all cheaters, doesn't he realize that finding out he's with another girl will hurt more than anything?
Now, I don't want people who read this to think that my prejudice against cheaters is the sole reason why this book didn't work for me, because it's not. In all truth, had there been no cheating of any sort, I'd still have given this two stars. Because a) I didn't see any chemistry between Beatle and Destiny. For me, it was like they only started going out because of the coincidence of their names and the fact that Destiny has big lips; b) I wasn't able to connect or empathize with any of the characters; and c) The characters were, IMO, boring and didn't possess enough personality for me to invest any interest in their story and outcome. So in the end, this was really just OK for me.
If you've read this review and you're still interested in this book (which you should be! opinions are subjective), maybe you'd like to read some positive opinions here, here, and here. And I truly hope you enjoy this more than I did....more
Before beginning, I just want to apologize to anyone who reads this review. It won't really help you decide whether to read this book or not. DespiteBefore beginning, I just want to apologize to anyone who reads this review. It won't really help you decide whether to read this book or not. Despite the fact that I've taken a fair amount of time to collect my thoughts and calm down, my head is still laden with what I've read and I'm unable to express my feelings in the way I'd normally have it. This review is somewhat vague and most of it probably won't mean anything unless you've read this book. So for that, I apologize.
Going in, I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book. Certainly not what I received. Leverage is a simultaneously devastating and uplifting mix of raw realism and gut-wrenching truth. This is a story about fear, abuse, and tragedy. But it is also a story about hope in the midst of the blackest situations, finding camaraderie in unlikely places, and winning back your life even after facing evil. The characters in this story are, at times, weak, scared, and torn. But ultimately they're strong, courageous, and, in the end, healed.
I've heard of the things that happen in this book on the news, I'm sure a lot of people have. But it is one thing to hear of something on the news and an entirely different thing to read about it; especially when it is being related by an author who doesn't go easy on the reader, doesn't sugarcoat reality. It astonishes me how something can be so revolting and yet also make me want to stand up and change. Change myself, change others, change something in this world to make it a better place for people to live in; and, most of all, to help prevent these atrocities from happening. I wouldn't expect a debut author to be able to invoke such conflicting emotions in me, but the fact that Cohen was able to do just that only testifies that he was born to write. This book made me feel a red-hot rage. I found myself wishing that someone, anyone, would step outside of their own fear and self-preservation, their own painful past, their own mental anguish, and see someone else's before it was too late. And then somewhere around the halfway mark I began crying so hard that I could no longer see the pages. My library's copy now has little crinkled water marks from where my tears dropped on the pages. I felt like my gut had been punched by the fist on the cover. It knocked the air out of me.
I don't know. I don't know what else to say, what else can be said about a book like this. The only thing that I'm sure of at the moment is that this story needed to be told. These characters, somewhere in the world, at some point in time, their story is real. Despite the fact that this story tore me apart, or perhaps because it did, from now on, I'll read anything Cohen puts on paper....more
Three stories. Three girls. One thing in common: each lady has not been kissed. And their first taste of that special time when lips touch won't comeThree stories. Three girls. One thing in common: each lady has not been kissed. And their first taste of that special time when lips touch won't come without a price . . .
The wife and husband team of Laini Taylor and Jim Di Bartolo sure do make for a sumptuous collection of stories. I'd be hard-pressed to choose which is more beautiful: Taylor's writing or Di Bartolo's illustrations.
Let me give you samples of each:
"With a deep, visceral ache, she wished her true form might prove to be a sleek and shining one, like a stiletto blade slicing free of an ungainly sheath. Like a bird of prey losing its hatchling fluff to hunt in cold, magnificent skies. That she might become something glitering, something startling, something dangerous."
"Kissing can ruin lives. Lips touch, sometimes teeth clash. New hunger is born with a throb and caution falls away."
"And Esmé remembered in a rush - the wolfsong, the haunting, lyrical spirals of it in the dawn quiet and the feeling of euphoria that had attended it. Even in recollection the howling uplifted her like the crescendo at the end of a symphony and made her heartbeat quicken."
(I would eat their fruit . . .)
(These are even more gorgeous in person . . .)
(Makes you want to have red hair . . .)
Now, if those stunning snippets aren't enough to make you want to read this, there's something wrong with you I don't see how anything I can say will convince you to read this.
Very close to four stars . . . 3.5. Definitely recommended....more
It isn't often that I begin writing a review with trepidation and insecurities, thinking that my thoughts and feelings can't possibly do the book justIt isn't often that I begin writing a review with trepidation and insecurities, thinking that my thoughts and feelings can't possibly do the book justice. This isn't because I have a great esteem for myself; no, it is because, while a lot of what I read I enjoy, I'm not fooling myself into thinking that the majority of it is what most would consider quality literature. It is with those kinds of books that I figure that whatever I type should suffice. But there are those times, like when I reviewed Emma and Jellicoe Road not so long ago, that I get nervous. This is another of those times.
I've always had a fascination with books and things set in this era. And I won't lie — that had a large influence in me loving this book. This is the kind of book that I can slip into like a warm fleece on a cold winter's night and feel cozy and comforted in. But I think most would agree that there is something special about this diamond in the rough.
The Raging Quiet is a true hidden gem. It snared my attention from the first chapter and surpassed any level of expectations I could've had going in. The characters are so rich and real and believable in their pain and love and loss and joy that I know I shall never forget them. I wept for Marnie, I was grateful for the priest's charity and kindness to two lost souls, and the boy without the blessing of sound stole my heart.
The subject of religion is handled perfectly IMO; it doesn't preach to non-believers, nor does it offend believers. Marnie is religious, but she has her struggles with God because of the terrible things she goes through in such a short time. The priest that helps Marnie and Raven isn't portrayed as a saint, but merely a spiritually faithful man with faults. And there isn't any explicit content, but the author doesn't refrain from dealing with tough subjects, either.
Sadly, this book doesn't seem to be receiving much recognition around these parts. But it is twelve years old and, although to me it is simple yet beautiful and fits the story perfectly, the cover is no longer in vogue; it is not flashy and bedazzled enough to catch the eye of most readers in today's market. It is my hope that I can bring this book at least a small portion of the attention it deserves....more
"I want to speak with many things and I won't leave this planet without knowing what I came to find, without resolving this matter, and people are not eno"I want to speak with many things and I won't leave this planet without knowing what I came to find, without resolving this matter, and people are not enough I have to go much farther and I have to get much closer." — a portion of "Bestiary", from Extravagaria
I truly believe that if every person viewed the world and its life the way Neruda did it would be a much better place.
I never would've dreamed that words could be so beautiful when used to describe what I thought were the most mundane of things: socks, onions, salt, etc. The tame, the wild, the sensual, the beauty of life, the rush of life, the air that gives us life — it is all covered in this collection. No stone is left unturned and reading this has truly opened my eyes to help me see how beautiful those stones are.
This is a collection of Neruda's later poems, written when he was in his fifties. The translator, Stephen Mitchell, says of his selections in the foreword, "These are the poems of a happy man, deeply fulfilled in his sexuality, at home in the world, in love with life and its infinite particular forms, overflowing with the joy of language." After reading them I can attest to that statement wholeheartedly. These poems are vibrant, magnificent, and entirely beautiful.
If I had to pick favorites, I would perhaps say "Ode to the Artichoke" or "Ode to the Seagull," as they were both particularly special for me. But in all truth, I think the one below was my most favorite. By the bye, I have searched for other translations and Mitchell's seems to be the best.
"Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still.
This one time upon the earth, let's not speak any language, let's stop for one second, and not move our arms so much.
It would be a delicious moment, without hurry, without locomotives, all of us would be together in a sudden uneasiness.
The fishermen in the cold sea would do no harm to the whales and the peasant gathering salt would look at his torn hands.
Those who prepare green wars, wars of gas, wars of fire, victories without survivors, would put on clean clothing and would walk alongside their brothers in the shade, without doing a thing.
What I want shouldn't be confused with final inactivity: life alone is what matters, I want nothing to do with death.
If we weren't unanimous about keeping our lives so much in motion, if we could do nothing for once, perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness, this never understanding ourselves and threatening ourselves with death, perhaps the earth is teaching us when everything seems to be dead and then everything is alive.
Now I will count to twelve and you keep quiet and I'll go." — "Keeping Quiet", from Extragavaria
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding when I finished reading that....more
Note: This review is only for Ilona Andrews' short story, Magic Mourns.
Length: 90 pages Actual rating: 3.5 stars
If you liked Andrea and Raphael in MagiNote: This review is only for Ilona Andrews' short story, Magic Mourns.
Length: 90 pages Actual rating: 3.5 stars
If you liked Andrea and Raphael in Magic Burns and Magic Strikes, this short story is a must read for you. That is, if you can ignore the repulsive cover.
Magic Mourns takes place about six weeks after the events in Magic Strikes and two weeks before the beginning of Magic Bleeds. In Magic Mourns, Andrea, a knight of the Order, must team up with Raphael, a werehyena with romantic feelings towards her, to eradicate the demonic dog that is chasing Raphael and causing problems with the bouda pack . . . all while trying to ignore her own amorous feelings for the seductive shapeshifter.
I like the way Andrea and Raphael come together in this. They're still working on their relationship, they're taking it easy, but Andrea starts treating Raphael with respect and she begins to realize that Raphael is more than just a werehyena (or bouda, whichever you perfer) and the sexual urges that come with being one. She realizes that Raphael is a man, a man with real feelings and that he truly cares for her. There's also lots of action, mythology, and violence that I've come to expect with Andrews' stories. Magic Mourns is a fast-paced, entertaining short story in a series that I've quickly come to love.
The ending of this short story is very interesting because a rather surprising tidbit is revealed about Curran. (view spoiler)[The magic that Curran has is even older and stronger than Kate's? Well, well, well . . . (hide spoiler)] I'm interested to see how it'll play into the upcoming installments.
There's still more to Andrea's story, and the rest will be told in a Kate Daniels spin off, which you can find here.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
While the covers never cease being hideous, each installment in the Kate Daniels series hasn't ceased to entertain me thus far. The fourth installmentWhile the covers never cease being hideous, each installment in the Kate Daniels series hasn't ceased to entertain me thus far. The fourth installment, Magic Bleeds, features a crocodile shapeshifter, a splendid impersonation of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and a battle to end all battles. It is one hell of a ride.
I think one of the best things about this series is that it is appealing to both genders. It has lots of action, which of course men like, but I think I speak for all women when I say that we like action, too. It keeps things interesting and wards off dullness. There's also just the right amount of romance. Not so much that would make guys squeamish, but still enough to keep the ladies satisfied. And, while I think the first book was slightly lacking in this area, the humor is now on par with my taste as well. Kate seems to have better quips with each installment and never looses her nerve, even with Curran. And the banter and antics between Kate and Curran are sure to entertain most readers.
I have theories on some of the reasons why Kate and Curran are attracted to each other. I think Kate likes Curran because he's one of the few people who could take her in a fight. Imagine if every guy you met you were superior to in fighting skills and he couldn't even win against you in a late-night arm wrestle. I'm sure there are plenty of women who enjoy being the stronger of the two in their relationship, but I don't believe that's the kind of relationship Kate wants. That is just one of the many reasons why Kate and Crest never would have worked out. I think Curran makes Kate feel like a woman for the first time in a long time. And although he'd probably never admit it, I believe Curran's attracted to Kate because she doesn't take any of his shit. Unlike everyone else in his life, she doesn't bow to him, literally or figuratively. I think, secretly, the Beast Lord wants someone to treat him like a normal man, like he's just another person, even if only in private. At times, Curran and Kate collide like fire and kerosene - but they truly fit together like two matching jigsaw pieces.
And do I smell a potential spin-off series in the oven? Granted, the buzzer won't go off for at least a couple of years, but when it does it'll surely be some good eatin'! Here's my reasoning: In Magic Strikes we find out through a conversation that Kate was nine when Curran was fifteen and made Lord of all Beasts. This, of course, tells us that Curran is six years older than Kate. Well, we know that Julie and Derek are thirteen and nineteen, respectively, as of now. Do you see where I'm going with this? Once Julie gets older, her and Derek could have their own series! Her abilities coupled with the adolescent attraction she currently has for Derek could really make for an interesting future series. . . .
I'll be honest: people with weak stomachs may not be able to stomach some of the talk of entrails and the bloody descriptions in this series. With lots of action comes lots of violence and gore. Normally that sort of thing would bother me, but I've gotten so used to it with this series that I don't even notice anymore. Plus it just seems to fit with this world.
I'm actually feeling a little sad now because I know that once I finish the next installment, Magic Slays, that'll be it until February of 2013 when the next book is released. I've quickly become addicted to this series and I'm reluctant to leave it.
P.S. But, luckily, Andrews won't leave us hanging until then! For the full info, go here.
Well . . . damn. This didn't turn out as I'd planned. While reading this I kept thinking to myself, Just go with three stars,Actual rating: 3.5 stars
Well . . . damn. This didn't turn out as I'd planned. While reading this I kept thinking to myself, Just go with three stars, almost everyone else you know has. The series will get better as it goes, just as everyone says, then you can rave and give them four. Although there were plenty things that bothered me about this, there were still more things that I liked. In fact, I would say that this surpassed my expectations.
But let us get the bad stuff out of the way first: I think my biggest problem was the beginning. All of a sudden you're thrust into this world where vampires are more reptilian/alien-esque Spider-Men than the (supposedly) gorgeous immortal gods we're currently used to (which is rather nice, actually), and there's talk of dhaes and I'm like, what the hell are those? I think there should've been some type of guide in the beginning or a prologue where Kate does an introduction of the world you're about to enter. Like a preparation chapter or something.
Even though I was a little leery of her at first, I quickly grew to like Kate. She has one of those personalities that you have to get used to, but once you do she isn't bad. She has spunk and I like how simple she tries to keep her life even in the midst of the chaotic world she lives in. And I think we've only touched the surface when it comes to the magic she can wield.
I kept thinking that when Kate met the Beast Lord a.k.a. Curran, he would have a long mane of golden hair — you know, because he's a lion shapechanger — well, if it had turned out that way, that would've undoubtedly been the end for me. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Curran is described as having blonde hair that is too short to grab. Yahtzee.
The romance in this is very light, which is nice when compared to the sex fest I read not long ago. Still, I enjoy a little romance in my reading, so I'm interested to see if anything arises between Kate and Curran one of the men in her life in the next installment. In Magic Bites Kate has a love interest for a short time but things didn't really seem right between them IMO. But there does seem to be some sexual tension (or is that just plain ol' tension?) between Kate and Curran. We shall see what becomes of that.
Although this has nothing to do with the book itself, it begs to be mentioned: I hate the cover. It looks like an amateur design effort and the girl looks like an unsuccessful* hooker brandishing a sword. Plus her nose looks as big as the cat's and she's wearing too much makeup to be the always-fuctionally-dressed Kate Daniels. Just an observation.
I do see a lot of potential in this series and if the ratings are anything to go by, this series gets better. So I'm quite anxious to begin the reading the sequel, Magic Burns.
*Unsuccessful because there is no man in his right mind who would go near a hooker with a sword. I'm sure you get my meaning.
Rebecca is a classic tale that weaves mystery, secrets, and romance into an intricate and stunning twine. It tells the story of a young girl who is swRebecca is a classic tale that weaves mystery, secrets, and romance into an intricate and stunning twine. It tells the story of a young girl who is swept off her feet by a much older man with money and possessions aplenty — and even more heartache in his recent past. Since his wife's tragic death eight months ago, Maxim de Winter has been doing everything he can to forget the horrific part of his past that has left him feeling bereft of happiness and aloof from others. But even with this kind of emotional baggage, the young heroine of the story — who's name is never revealed — still agrees to marry Mr. de Winter because she has already fallen in love with him. When our heroine moves into Manderley, the estate where Maxim lived not so long ago with his now deceased wife, Rebecca, she soon learns the story behind her new husband's late wife's death. She learns that Rebecca died by an accidental drowning while in a boat that capsized. As you can image, all of this is very disconcerting to such a young and naïve girl. And when she arrives at Manderley things are so very different from the life she had before: there's all the hustle and bustle of living in a mansion, and then there's Mrs. Danvers who doesn't like her simply because she's not Rebecca. Du Maurier's Rebecca deals with a lot of themes and raises a lot of questions, one of the most intriguing being, What happens when the woman that is haunting your husband begins haunting you, too?
For me, Rebecca was truly a delight. It is expertly crafted and beautifully written, and, while reading, I had one of those strange feelings you get when you think you're enjoying something too much, that you must be sinning because you simply can't remember the last time you enjoyed yourself so much.
What I'm about to say isn't going to juxtapose well with my earlier comment about this being a "delight," but I shall say it anyway: This book has just a little bit of a depressing atmosphere to it. This is mostly because the main character is often fixated on how she'll never live up to the standards which Rebecca set before her, but it didn't bother me in the least. No, no — in fact, it only made me want to wrap the heroine in a blanket and give a her cup of hot cocoa. Some may deem her weak for not simply standing up and being everything that she can be, but I saw her as worthy of so much and strong even in her cowardice. She starts out working for a nuisance of a woman, then all of a sudden she is married to a man much older than she and with a past for which she is unsure of all the details. I really loved the heroine in this; there were several times where my heart twisted for her character and for the situation she was in.
Do NOT read this spoiler if you've not read this book. It is the type of spoiler that will drastically take away from your enjoyment should you choose to ever read this. (view spoiler)[There is an exchange between our heroine and the resentful Mrs. Danvers about 2/3 of the way through the novel. During this discussion Mrs. Danvers informs our lead that while alive Rebecca had many male companions with whom she was physically intimate. Now, my first thought after reading that was, How, then, could Maxim mourn her to the degree that he does? How could he be so torn about her death if she cheated on him numerous times during their marriage? Well, it was because all was not what it seemed. When Maxim confesses to having killed Rebecca, I LITERALLY fell out of my seat. Granted, I let myself do so. But it was so shocking I just let myself go like a slinky. It was insane. The whole time I'm thinking that Maxim will never give up Rebecca even though she is dead, that Maxim and his new wife don't have any real chance of ever being happy because, apparently, Rebecca was just too wonderful! for anyone to compare to her. Ha! Ha! HAHAHA!! You can see that it has decreased my sanity a little. I just couldn't believe it! That revelation meant that every paling of the face on Maxim's part, every look of worry or dread was only because he had killed her, not because he was sick over her death. Gah! I shall never get over the brilliancy of this Epic Twist for as long as I live. Truly. (hide spoiler)]
The fact of the lead character's name never being revealed is just one of the peculiar things about this story. It is said early on that her name is often spelt incorrectly, making the reader think that it is perhaps a very unique name. My guess as to why this is is that, because the name Rebecca — and the person — is still so very dominant in the lives of the characters and in our heroine's mind, the author chose to leave out her name to add to the sense of inferiority the heroine feels towards Manderley's former mistress. Just a guess.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "I don't want you to bear this alone," I said. "I want to share it with you. I've grown up, Maxim, in twenty-four hours. I'll never be a child again."
Upon closing this review I want to be very clear about something: My enthusiasm and enjoyment of this novel doesn't necessarily mean that you, the reader of this review, will feel the same about this book. Rebecca is very dramatic and people that don't like classics may not find as much enjoyment in it as I have. I'll freely admit that I have a penchant for things/books like this, so I'm guessing that had a lot to do with my loving this so very much. But if you're interested in this in the least, if you think this may be something you'd like, please, give it a try.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
. . . So. I was browsing in the New Fiction shelves at my library the other day — you know, just like every bookaholic does — and I came across debut. . . So. I was browsing in the New Fiction shelves at my library the other day — you know, just like every bookaholic does — and I came across debut author Darynda Jones' First Grave on the Right. I flipped through it, thought it sounded interesting but decided to put it back for the moment, since my bag was already giving me a shoulder cramp. Just as I was putting it back on the shelf, I noticed the blurb on the cover: "The best debut novel I've read in years! Hilarious and heartfelt, sexy and surprising. An absolute must-read!" — J.R. Ward And my first thought was, J.R. Ward? Sold! So, twenty-pound, shoulder-cramping book bag in hand, I headed to the library's check out — and what a great decision that turned out to be.
Our main character, Charley, has been gifted (or cursed, depending on how the onlooker chooses to see it) with the ability to see the dead since birth. But that isn't all she does: Charley is the grim reaper. She helps the dead pass on to the other side. At a very young age Charley began helping her father, a currently retired police detective, solve murder cases. Today, she continues this line of work as a private investigator, working with Uncle Bob. It's a lot easier to solve a crime when you know who the murderer is or where the body is stashed. To top this off, Charley's had to deal with an evil stepmother because her biological mother died giving birth to her. As you can image, Charley's life hasn't been an easy one. But she seems to take it all in stride.
Charley is quite the character. She's very sassy and snarky, but underneath that she has a lot of heart. You can't help but like her and wish you had friend with her spirit and attitude. And what to say about the mysterious and alluring Reyes? I won't spoil the nature of what Reyes truly is, but it is a little bit of a shocker. The book's synopsis kind of makes it sound like Reyes is an incubus . . . but I won't say what he is. Just know that it is fairly original when compared to all of the vampires and werewolves, and that this reader looks forward to delving into his character more in the sequel.
One of the best things about this book is that there is a nice helping of HUMOR. There hasn't been nearly enough humor in my reading regimen lately, but First Grave on the Right has brought back the humor for me and I'm enjoying the stomach pain.
Just check out some of these quotes:
"I awoke at the butt crack of dawn with the call of nature urging me out of bed."
"I went down like a drunken cowgirl trying to line dance to Metallica."
"I once signed up for an anger management class, but the instructor pissed me off."
And there's plenty more where those came from.
This book was just fabulous. And you know what is even more fabulous? The fact that I only have to wait until August 16th to read its sequel, Second Grave on the Left.
People looking for a feel-good, funny, sexy summer read should really enjoy First Grave on the Right.
P.S. I am envious of the cover model's feet. Or foot, as the case may be....more
A note to anyone who chooses to read the following: I am critiquing this book solely based on the first 80 pages or so as I simply didn't have the wilA note to anyone who chooses to read the following: I am critiquing this book solely based on the first 80 pages or so as I simply didn't have the will to continue any further.
There are some spoilers, but only for the first 80 pages.
Have you ever been sitting with a group of friends and one of them tells a joke and immediately everyone but you starts laughing? And then you sit there looking like the stupefied idiot who's just not getting it? That's how I felt while reading The DUFF. So many of my GR friends have liked this, and I've read many reviews proclaiming how awesome it is . . . but I just didn't get it. The DUFF has been blurbed by Elizabeth Scott and Simone Elkeles, both of whom are authors that I trust the opinions of. Or rather, did trust. While I'd like to say that The DUFF starts off good but wanes, it doesn't. The DUFF starts off with Bianca sitting in a club, watching her friends dance while she drinks pop at the bar. Not long after, Wesley Rush comes up and starts telling her how he's interested in her friends, and how she's going to help him make them be the next notches on his belt. (That isn't a direct phrase from the book, just to be clear.) And, to add to the insanity, he also so graciously informs her that she is the DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. And so, naturally, Bianca is disgusted with him for this fact and because he's basically her school's male slut. But what happens next is what really had my head hitting the wall: She decides to use him as a distraction (where have I heard this plot line before? Hmm . . . could it be a dime store romance novel? Why yes, that's it!) and kisses him on the spot. The guy's a brazen asshole who's trying to use you to get into your friends pants—all while telling you that you're a statistically ugly fat chick—and so you decide to make out with him? WTF? No wonder he has no respect for you!
Skip ahead a little ways and you'll find Bianca and her friends discussing Wesley's character and kissing capabilities (you know, since Bianca is an expert in that department now): her friends think that he'd be great in bed, but Bianca thinks that any one that sleeps with him is liable to get an STD shortly thereafter. Good observation, Bianca—except—it is only around 30 or so pages later that Bianca sleeps with him herself! WTF? And am I the only one who thinks that the first time Wesley and Bianca are together is maybe even a bit wrongly handled? When Bianca was beginning to think to herself that maybe she doesn't want to have full-blown intercourse with him, and then immediately following that thought she thinks that they are now, in fact, having sex? Again, WTF? I'm not saying that it was rape—since there was no outowards discouragement from her—but, doesn't that seem ridiculous for Bianca to allow him to continue, what with her having those doubts in her head at that very moment? Does she honestly have that little of self-control? self-worth?
And as for Wesley, let me just say this: I love arrogance in a guy (I ♥ Barrons, BTW), but only a certain brand. Wesley's brand of arrogance is obnoxious and deplorable; it's not charming or redeemable in any way to me.
I don't know—perhaps trying to read something like this after having just finished a respectable, well-written novel like Emma was a bad idea, but there you have it.
(And, because I don't like to count DNFs towards my challenge, I'll just say Attempted reading on 6/28/11.)...more
Although using this trite doesn't mean that the fact is any less true, it is still at the risk of sounding cliché when I say that Jane Austen's classiAlthough using this trite doesn't mean that the fact is any less true, it is still at the risk of sounding cliché when I say that Jane Austen's classic, Emma, is like a breath of fresh air when juxtaposed to the miasmal novels in the publishing market today; especially for someone who has been on a YA binge of late. You see, the reason why I went for Emma as my first Austen read is because my mother has seen the latest movie adaptation, and she claims it to be her very favorite. Mind you, she hasn't read any thing of Austen's—but she loves the movie so very much that she kept pestering me to watch it (I suppose I'll have to pester her to read the book now, won't I?). To which I continually said that, no, no, I will not watch the movie until I've read the book; I positively hate to watch the movie adaptation before reading the book; it virtually cancels out any chance of me ever finding enough interest in reading the actual book to its completion. So, after picking up Emma at least ten times in the past year, reading the first few chapters, only to sit it back down again, I finally—the other day—decided I wanted to read something of quality and something that is truly written well. Well, that is definitely Emma.
Emma, herself, is, for me, just as stunning as she is flawed; I started out thinking her a walking vexation, but somewhere in the 400+ pages I began to warm to her like you would with any inevitably lovable—albeit, at times, antagonising—character. Emma's devotion to her father is also very admirable. And by the end, Emma seemed so much more humble and less meddling that I couldn't help but be very pleased with her character. My thoughts on Mr. Knightley are not as easily expressed; in the beginning I found him merely interesting, but somewhere in the middle he began to hold my interest as much as a mother would hold her infant (if that isn't too much of an odd metaphor); by the end he managed to surpass virtually all of the other male characters of which I've been exposed to. Granted, Mr. Knightley isn't in Emma nearly enough for my satisfaction—but when he is, the aforesaid is all too true. I can't quite place my finger on what it is, exactly, about him that made such an impression on me—other than that I've always had a strong fascination with a true gentleman, being as that sort of thing is practically extinct in this day and age; also, I've grown very jaded with the often monotonous male characters of today. And I do believe that my reaction to Mr. Knightley has left me at a wonder as to just want my reaction will be upon meeting the famous Mr. Darcy. I'll doubtlessly swoon just as countless other lasses have since P&P debuted in 1813.
I really think that my hesitation in reading this—as well as Austen's other works—has nothing to do with the writing, or the story, or the pacing; because, and I know this will sound strange, but, I've always loved a book that is just about people going about their daily lives and doing things—little trivial things, even—and simply living; people say that Emma doesn't have much story and is really just people planning balls and Emma interfering in peoples' lives—but I loved all of that! I'll take everyday living over complex plots any day. No, I think the reason for my waiting so long is that I psyched myself out of reading something like this; I kept thinking that it would be too long or too boring or too archaic or too something or another, but in reality this is the very type of thing that I love to read about. Regency, Victorian, etc. . . . I love to read about all of the historical periods, and I'm so very glad that I stopped procrastinating.
So, I enjoyed this a great deal and I've set a goal for myself to read all of Austen's works by this time next year (although I kindly ask you not you hold me to it ;)). I plan to continue with her other slightly lesser known titles, and finish with what appears to me to be the most well known and highly esteemed, Pride and Prejudice. In a summary, I plan to save the best—or what is often said to be the best—for last.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other."
Although I have many favorite quotes from this (the rest can be read below), that particular quote stood out the most because it is so very true. Expect to see it in my future reviews.
I highly recommend Emma to everyone; both lovers and reluctant readers of classics....more
Kimberly Marcus' debut, Exposed, focuses on Liz Grayson, a girl with a real talent for photography and an even more real and lActual rating: 2.5 stars
Kimberly Marcus' debut, Exposed, focuses on Liz Grayson, a girl with a real talent for photography and an even more real and long-standing friendship with Kate Morgan. Liz and Kate are the type of friends who spend copious amounts of time together - and any one can tell from the right angle that they are as close as sisters. Until the one night that changes everything. Until a spat leads to Liz's biggest regret, Kate's life altering tragedy, and someone else equally close to Liz - possibly - committing the unthinkable.
Exposed is told in verse, and, although Marcus does a fine job of breathing life into the characters - whereas some authors fail with verse - it was still missing that certain something that makes a novel POP and stand out, makes the reader remember it after they've turned the final page. Why do I bother with verse novels, then? Well, not only are they a quick read, but, if handled properly, they can pack a huge punch even with their small amount of writing. I'm not trying to say that Exposed doesn't hit hard; the subject matter, (view spoiler)[rape (hide spoiler)], will most likely hit hard for many readers. But for me personally, it was just one of those books that you can take or leave and you don't really get much from. I think that the writing should've been edgier. The subject is plenty edgy, but the writing seemed a little too mild for the subject and I wish it would've been more full-bodied and in-your-face to match the novel's weighty topic. It's akin to asking for a cup of coffee, black, and getting a latte. Too much cream softens the otherwise harsh flavor the consumer was craving.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "I'm floating up flying high swirling around soaring out of my mind with glee. Until it hits me, midair, that the person I most want to tell has flown away."
And with all of this said, I still think that Marcus did a good job for a verse debut, and I hope that she'll endeavor to write something in regular format someday - something with a similarly edgy theme and more substance that this particular reader is looking for.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more