I’ve never read an Elizabeth Eulberg book before, because I could never bring myself to read beyond the first few pages. For some reason, though, I re...moreI’ve never read an Elizabeth Eulberg book before, because I could never bring myself to read beyond the first few pages. For some reason, though, I requested this one from the library ages ago. Then I completely forgot about it until I got an email saying my hold request had been fulfilled. Once I had my mitts on it, I inexplicably decided this would be the best book to read during my weekly bath (meaning I take a bath every week in addition to my regular showers, not that I only bathe once a week).
It was a quick read, and oddly engrossing. It’s a very, very fluffy plot, so maybe that’s why I managed to read it all in one go. But it was just… so… bland. There is really no difference between the characters’ voices, and everything just kind of works out all the time, and this honestly shouldn’t bother me as much as it does. It isn’t like I was reading Hawthorne.
And the constant she likes him, but he doesn’t like her; now he likes her but she doesn’t like him was irksome. Having never actually read any of the author’s work, I sort of figured they would be going through more of a comedy of errors trying to figure out if they should be a couple and not spend so much time pining and being angsty. A less deceptive title would have been Better Off Friends? Then maybe I wouldn’t have bothered reading it at all.
This is the first book in about a month that I've been able to concentrate on long enough to finish it. It's been on my TBR since its release. Talk ab...moreThis is the first book in about a month that I've been able to concentrate on long enough to finish it. It's been on my TBR since its release. Talk about a disappointment.
I liked the parts by Maria Bamford, Michael Cera, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black, Paul Feig, Aasif Mandvi, Marc Maron, John Oliver, and Rainn Wilson. Everyone else's bits can be summed up as "eh."(less)
It’s weird to me that this series isn’t more well-known. It seems like something a lot of people would enjoy: cute, humorous, a creative take on the w...moreIt’s weird to me that this series isn’t more well-known. It seems like something a lot of people would enjoy: cute, humorous, a creative take on the whole time-travel thing, with a bit of romance and a lot of mystery. There are ghosts (including the very funny ghost of a gargoyle demon), some age-old secret societies, and a heroine who, while sometimes painfully naïve, handles the majority of what comes her way with spirit and good humor, if not grace and serenity. And these books are quick reads, a nice palate cleanser between heavier stuff, but still real page-turners.
Sapphire Blue does have its weaknesses—Gwen and Gideon’s romance has the whole instalove thing going on, seeing as they’ve only known each other a week by the end of this book, and sometimes I feel like something was lost in translation when it comes to characterization—but the pacing is good, the mystery is intriguing, and I laughed out loud a few times. Here’s an example of a report from the Annals of the Guardians:
1312h: We see a rat. I am in favor of running it through with my sword, but Leroy feeds it the rest of his sandwich and christens it Audrey....
1524: Audrey comes back. Otherwise, no unusual incidents.
There are these little jokes throughout the whole book (and its predecessor, Ruby Red) that serve to lighten the mood and break up the heavier bits. The best way I can think of to describe Gier’s writing style is that if JK Rowling, Louise Rennison, and Eva Ibbotson’s books had a baby, it might come out looking a little like this. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, which frustrated me because I have to wait until October for the final installment! What madness is this?!
Since my review of Ruby Red I have figured out that (view spoiler)[Gwen and Gideon are most likely sixth cousins (hide spoiler)], which is a little less disgusting than I thought it would be. In case that’s been keeping you up at nights.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book surprised me. I honestly wasn’t expecting very much from it; I figured it would just be a cute time-travel book, not very unlike Caroline B....moreThis book surprised me. I honestly wasn’t expecting very much from it; I figured it would just be a cute time-travel book, not very unlike Caroline B. Cooney’s Time Travelers series (which I was completely addicted to in my youth). And yes, Ruby Red is very cute and fluffy, but it is also fun and fairly fast-paced—I read the entire thing in about four hours.
The weird thing is that not much seems to happen in this book. Yes, Gwen’s mysterious powers are discovered and there is some time traveling and, of course, budding teen romance, but the majority of the book raises questions rather than answering them. But still I kept compulsively turning pages, unable to put this book down. Even when I was in the shower I was thinking, I wonder what’s going to happen next! and How mad would the library be if I read that book while washing my hair?
There are some funny bits—I liked the Reports from The Annals of the Guardians in 1949 and 1953 (“The boy told us it would be a good idea to buy shares in Apple, whatever that may be”). Aunt Maddy is delightfully quirky and Gwen’s classmates, however briefly they were seen, were fun (especially Lesley). I honestly think most of what kept me hooked, though, was that I was hoping I’d get answers to my questions sooner rather than later; unfortunately it looks like I’ll have to read the rest of the trilogy before I can even begin getting to the bottom of such mysteries as “what is the deal with that Transylvanian dude?” and “who is Mr. Squirrel, really?”
So yes, loads of questions were asked and none were answered. Another small complaint: some of the language is a bit awkward at points, but I think that may be a side effect of it being a German-language book about an English girl which has been translated by someone other than the author to be published in These United States. So I will let that go. There’s also an author interview in the book in which she talks about the characters and their names are different from in the book (Gwen is Gwyneth in the book, Gwendolyn in the interview—and on GR, interestingly enough; Lesley is Leslie). Is this also somehow a translation thing? I don’t see how that could be. It’s weird.
My biggest gripe, which I didn’t even have until the epilogue, is how confusing these family trees are. I’m attempting to write them out and I’m still completely baffled. I have a theory that (view spoiler)[Gwen is actually Lucy and Paul’s illegitimate daughter (hide spoiler)], and if that is the case and Paul and Gideon (view spoiler)[share a common grandfather (Paul’s great-great and Gideon’s great-great-great) (hide spoiler)]... well, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t that mean that (view spoiler)[Gideon and Gwen are cousins? Or that Gideon is somehow her uncle? How incestuous would their relationship be? (hide spoiler)] Should I be alarmed and/or grossed out? Is (view spoiler)[kissing your maybe-niece-or-cousin (hide spoiler)] a normal thing in Germany and/or England? More than the Transylvanian guy, more than the telekinesis, more than even Mr. Squirrel’s potential secret identity, I need to get to the bottom of this particular mystery, and I’m not sure I can wait for October for the release of Emerald Green, so I really need these things cleared up in Sapphire. Or I need to learn German and read the original before then. Because this is going to drive me crazy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is the second fairy tale retelling I’ve read in two weeks, and much like The Sweetest Spell, Enchanted is more a fairy tale mash-up than it is on...moreThis is the second fairy tale retelling I’ve read in two weeks, and much like The Sweetest Spell, Enchanted is more a fairy tale mash-up than it is one tale retold. The main story used is that of The Frog Prince, but there are homages to so many other tales in there—Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses to name a few. The overall effect is a little bit muddled at parts but on the whole very fun.
Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter and a seventh son. Her eldest brother, Jack Junior, died years ago as the result of an enchantment cast on him by Prince Rumbold’s fairy godmother, and as a result her family holds a grudge against the royal family. Sunday’s mother is a laconic woman who always warns Sunday of the power of words, and since anything Sunday writes tends to come true—and not always in a good way—she sticks to true stories about her family. One day in the Wood she is writing one such story when she meets a frog named Grumble. The two strike up a friendship, and shortly after Sunday realizes she is in love with Grumble he disappears.
When Prince Rumbold’s fairy godmother cast her enchantment on Jack Junior, Jack’s fairy godmother cast one right back: On his eighteenth birthday, Rumbold would become a frog for a year. Instead of fearing the transformation Rumbold embraced the freedom it would give him from his past. As Grumble he has no memory of who he was, but once Sunday’s love transforms him into the prince he was before, Rumbold realizes becoming a man isn’t as easy as getting a kiss.
Together and apart, Sunday and Rumbold fight evil, receive missives from the Pirate Queen, learn trade secrets of the fey, fall in love, have their hearts broken, uncover family secrets, and right wrongs committed long ago.
I read this one as a palate cleanser between dystopian novels. I picked it up the night before my final thinking it would be easy for me to put down when it was time to go to sleep and I was very, very wrong; I ended up staying awake into the wee hours reading it. (You’d think after 20+ years of late-night reading I’d know better, but noooo.) It’s a quick, cute read, with lots of great lines, well-written characters, and a sweet love story. Some parts were confusing (the golden egg over the head scene, anyone?) but I powered through with the belief it would all make sense at the end—and it did! After reading I found out this is the first in a series, but Enchanted is also a wonderful standalone. I definitely recommend it for anyone who likes retellings of fairy tales and is looking for a light, fun read.(less)
Another retelling of P&P, set in an affluent American high school. I wasn't expecting too much substance but I did think it would be cuter and a l...moreAnother retelling of P&P, set in an affluent American high school. I wasn't expecting too much substance but I did think it would be cuter and a little more engaging than it was. And I'm not really clear on why (view spoiler)[no one took the pictures Webster had taken to an authority as evidence for how he was exploiting minors for monetary gain (hide spoiler)]. What he was doing was gross and all kinds of illegal, celebrity's children or not. I think the way Elise & Co. blew it off annoyed me more than anything else in the book.(less)
Harley is absolutely convinced she wants to date and marry Trent, her Mr. Right, and as luck would have it he has recently broken up with his girlfrie...moreHarley is absolutely convinced she wants to date and marry Trent, her Mr. Right, and as luck would have it he has recently broken up with his girlfriend, Stephanie. Then Jason comes into her life, rear-ending her car and becoming her fake boyfriend in order to make Trent jealous, and things get complicated. To make matters worse, Harley’s massage therapist mother is getting suspiciously close to one of her students. Everyone at church is talking, and Harley’s mom and Reverend Dad aren’t doing anything to quell the rumors.
This is a cute book; the author described it as being a “chicklit, romantic comedy,” and that is apt. There’s no real dark side to the plot and the conflicts are all resolved by the end, making this a feel-good, happy-ending type story. Some elements, like the dialogue between Jason and Harley, were reminiscent to me of Meg Cabot or Sarah Dessen. Harley has a very strong sense of morality (sometimes to her detriment) and there were some parts where she came off a little preachy, but overall I liked her voice. And even though I accidentally read a spoiler about Travis before reading TTAF and was able to guess Ricky’s secret fairly early on, I did like how those twists played out, as well as Harley’s reaction to them. I felt like a proud mama when Harley responded to Travis’s secret like she did. And I really liked Stephanie’s “here’s fifty cents, buy yourself a backbone” line.
But as much as I liked some aspects, others bugged me too much for a full three rating. For example, Harley’s BFF Shelly had pretty much no redeeming qualities that I could see. She’s grieving and I understand that, but the way she treated Harley? Maybe Harley can forgive it, but I don’t think a crying jag in the car excuses the things she did. People go through hard times and sometimes friendship is about supporting someone even when they are being horrible, and I imagine that’s where Harley and Shelly were, but since there weren’t many examples of Shelly being a good friend and not a boy-crazy man collector I just couldn’t like her.
I’m not 100% sure how I want to rate this book. It’s not a full three stars but I don’t think it’s really a 2.5, either, because I did enjoy it more than I enjoy most of my 2.5s. Maybe a 2.75? Am I making it too complicated? Probably. I do like a little more edge to my YA, so I never really got that moment where I felt like this book and I were MFEO, but it’s a good, light read for anyone looking for mid-range YA with a positive message.(less)
Yesterday was a snow day, with actual accumulation, which in this area is akin to a Bigfoot sighting, in that it’s very rare and outsiders vi...more3.5 stars
Yesterday was a snow day, with actual accumulation, which in this area is akin to a Bigfoot sighting, in that it’s very rare and outsiders view you with scorn when you tell them what you saw: “We got six inches!” “Oh, really? Six whole inches? Wooow.” I didn’t have to work and I decided to carpe the diem for reading. This was the second book I read yesterday, and definitely the funniest.
Samantha Bee is irreverent, sarcastic, and Canadian, with a surprisingly high tolerance for pharmaceutical drugs. She has been employed at a frame store, an illegal casino, a penis clinic, as an anime character in a touring children’s show, and as the customer service rep who had to watch all the “home videos” accidentally returned to the video rental place. Penises are frequently exposed to her and once a cat tried to have sex with her head. She is a woman after my own heart.
Pretty much every chapter in this book had me laughing obnoxiously, but I think my favorite was “May December Never Come,” because what she describes has actually happened to me and oh my god it was horrible:
“There’s really nothing creepier than going somewhere with one of your parents and having people think you are together, as a couple. Of lovers. Who do it. With each other. The only way to describe how this makes me feel is to say it makes my vagina nauseous, if that’s even physically possible.”
When my little sister was born, my dad and I were sitting outside the baby chamber, where they keep all the newborns, chuckling over how much she resembled a Mexican sumo wrestler. A couple walked by and smiled at us, and the following exchange took place:
WOMAN: New baby? MY DAD: Yeah. MAN: (pointing her finger at each of us in turn) Which one is yours? MY DAD: (not nearly alarmed enough) Oh no, this is my daughter. ME: Hurk.
It’s been seven years and I am still afflicted with nausea of the stomach and the vagina every time I think about it.
I’m adding Samantha to my list of future lady-author friends. Sam, when can we meet for bacon? I work at a pet store. I can hook you up with some kittens.(less)
When I first requested this book from the library, I didn’t realize it was by the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which...moreWhen I first requested this book from the library, I didn’t realize it was by the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, which I just couldn’t get into and which ended up on my DNF shelf, in spite of my passionate love for its title and cover. Fortunately I was already in possession of This Is What Happy Looks Like by the time I had that particular epiphany or I might have cancelled the request and then I would have missed out on all of the cuteness that is to be found in this book.
Basically, it all starts with an email being sent to the wrong addressee, one in which Graham asks Ellie to walk his pet pig, Wilbur. This sparks a series of Charlotte’s Web references that delighted me, and they keep up their correspondence for a while, seemingly without divulging much personal information in the way of locations and last names. Except Ellie slips up and tells Graham the name of her town, leading him to bring an entire movie cast and crew to film practically on top of the street where she lives, and triggering a complicated romantic situation.
There is some banter and a glimpse of each MC’s more sensitive side, with a good deal of insight into their behavior. It isn’t a bad book by any means; it was adorable and I liked it, though the plot is a well-worn one. However, I read it less than a week ago and I’ve already sort of forgotten all the little details. I’m not sure if that’s particularly telling or just an instance of my brain being like a sieve, but there you have it.(less)
I was doing check-in and I came across this book. It had no description on the back cover, just T.C.’s proposition to Alé and her response. The flap c...moreI was doing check-in and I came across this book. It had no description on the back cover, just T.C.’s proposition to Alé and her response. The flap copy was a chatroom-style conversation between T.C., Alé, and Augie about what “flap copy” means. There was absolutely no information about what the book was about. I’d be going in blind.
Reader, I read it.
Told entirely through journal entries, emails, newspaper clippings, IMs (that’s Instant Messages for you young whippersnappers; Google it), and transcripts of phone calls and meetings, My Most Excellent Year opens with three eleventh graders who have to write an essay for class on, well, their most excellent year. For all three of them, this means ninth grade. That was the year Augie realized he was gay and in love for the first time, Alé moved to Boston and discovered she would rather perform than be a diplomat, and T.C. tried to free Buck Weaver and get the girl. It was the year Hucky Harper, a six-year-old deaf orphan, came into their lives and taught them ASL and the importance of believing in magic. It’s also about baseball, Mary Poppins, and showtunes.
This is honestly one of the funniest, feel-goodiest books I’ve read in a while. Augie, T.C., Alé, and their friends and family were all hilarious and genuine, quirky without being too overdone. (For example, Augie’s mom, a theatre reviewer for the Globe, writes of Carousel: “Nice songs to beat your wife to. Attend at your own risk.”) Alé, a diplomat’s daughter and an activist, once told the Korean ambassador that she “had little use for Korea but at least the south knew how to say ‘May I?’ before they shot you.” Until moving to Boston, her best friend was her bodyguard and it’s endearing to watch how she tries to fit in with “normal” kids. T.C. Keller has been best friends with Augie Hwong since his mom’s death when they were six, and now the Kellers and the Hwongs are basically one giant family, with the dads swapping romantic and parenting advice via email and the kids calling T.C.’s dad Pop and Augie’s parents Mom and Dad. The way the Keller/Hwong family—and Alé—befriend Hucky and make him a part of their family made my heart grow three sizes. And the MCs’ various personal discoveries are handled so well and realistically, with coming out and first loves being funny and poignant without the treacle. I wanted to hug them all and then take them to a Sox game.
Also—and this is important—T.C. has a very thick Bostonian accent and I love those. (I spent the entire season of American Horror Story: Asylum drooling over Evan Peters’ accent. I can’t explain it.) I’m with Alé; he had me at “I sway-ah.”
If you are looking for a book to hug, My Most Excellent Year is it. I’ll be buying my own copy to cuddle forever ASAP.(less)