So, I have to start off with a confession: I have never read Jane Eyre. I know, know #englishmajorfail #librarianfail, but I'm not unfamiliar with the...moreSo, I have to start off with a confession: I have never read Jane Eyre. I know, know #englishmajorfail #librarianfail, but I'm not unfamiliar with the story of Jane Eyre. I've...seen the movie?! Ok, I know, you're rolling your eyes! Does it help that it was the newest Masterpiece Theater version of Jane Erye? No? Well fine. But keep in mind that, although I haven't read Jane Eyre, I do know the story and I LOVED the version I saw.
With that confession out of the way I have to admit, this book did not work for me. At all. Lindner stuck close to the storyline, however I felt this modern translation failed for the following reasons:
Jane. Our heroine did not translate well into the modern world. Whereas in the original story Jane is this stead fast, level headed heroine, our Jane, who also had these same traits was just so...flat. I found her boring and uninteresting, I wanted to admire her and her strong will to survive anything but mostly, she bored me. It wasn't until she left Thornfield Park and she moves in with the St. John family, around page 286 that I really got interested.
No chemistry. I did not buy Jane's feelings for Nico, nor his for her. The whole romance felt flat. That makes it difficult when this is supposed to be such a romantic story. Also the whole younger girl with the older guy, felt a little pervy, whereas the original felt realistic and appropriate for the time period.
Nico. I felt he was a poor substitute for Edward Rochester who was a surly, mysterious, tormented individual. Nico Rathburn, on the other hand, came off as hot headed, controlling, and devious. I also did not buy into his feelings or interest in Jane.
Long. Now, I don't have anything against long novels. But there were huge chunks of text that I felt were just Jane droning on. There was a lot of telling going on and not enough showing or doing. By the last 50 pages or so I just wanted it to be over.
I used this adjective several times in this review and I feel it pretty much sums up how I felt about the book: flat. I think this attempt to modernize the story failed. Read the original, hell rent the Masterpiece Theater version, but I'd skip this one. (less)
I really don't know how to write a review that will do this book justice. All I know is that I laughed, I cried, then I laughed some more. And this re...moreI really don't know how to write a review that will do this book justice. All I know is that I laughed, I cried, then I laughed some more. And this review will be my feeble attempt to convey the genius of Sherman Alexie's writing. While this is my first Alexie book, it most certainly will not be my last.
Junior is a Spokane Indian living on a reservation who takes a huge risk by transferring to the white high school twenty-two miles away from the "rez." This takes a lot of courage for a boy, who is already known around the rez as a "retard" and a "faggot". Most of that has to do with the brain damage that he endured as a child, the subsequent seizures that would often plague him, and his general awkwardness. So already he's an outcast. When he transfers to the new school he isolates himself even further because his tribe views him as a traitor. Add to that alcoholic parents and a best friend turned frienemy and Junior is about the loneliest soul you could imagine. But he keeps trucking on.
Through it all, the good and the bad, Junior never loses his sense of humor. I find that heartening and hopeful. When faced with poverty, death, prejudice, and bullying Junior still manages to find humor in such tragic circumstances. Junior even verbalizes this saying:
". . . I realized that, sure, Indians were drunk and sad and displaced and crazy and mean, but dang, we knew how to laugh. When it comes to death, we know that laughter and tears are pretty much the same thing." As a white person, I cannot say whether or not The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian accurately portrays the Native American experience however, Debbie Reese, a Nambe Pueblo Indian woman and assistant professor in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose blog discusses "Critical perspectives of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society-at-large", praises the book stating:
"There's a lot in the book that I really like because I connect with the character, the setting, the experiences... It is real and brutally honest."
If Debbie finds it a valid representation of the Native American experience, I'm certainly going to believe her considering her heritage and her educational background. I encourage you to check out Debbie's blog if you're at all interested in the representation of Native Americans in YA (or Children's) lit. Her blog is a wonderful place to get recommendations for accurate portrayals of Native Americans.
A lot of the tragedy that befalls Junior is, in some way, related to one of the harsh realities of life on the rez: alcoholism. As I understand, this is a huge problem among Native Americans. It was interesting the way Junior described having an alcoholic father and how that compared to his white classmates' fathers:
"I mean, yeah, my dad would sometimes go on a drinking binge and be gone for a week, but those white dads can completely disappear without ever leaving the living room. They can just BLEND into their chairs. They become their chairs. . . There are white parents, especially fathers, who never come to school. They don't come for their kids' games, concerts, plays, or carnivals." " I realize my parents are pretty good. . . they make sacrifices for me. They worry about me. They talk to me. And best of all, they listen to me."
So while his parent's aren't perfect and as much as Junior may envy some of the advantages of his white classmates, he still understands, appreciates, and values his family and his community.
It's really difficult for me to articulate how amazing this book is. On one hand it's heartbreakingly sad, on the other it is humorous and uplifting. It just goes to show that we're not all just one thing. Junior, isn't just an Indian, this isn't just another YA book. This is something special. (less)
I was interested in The DUFF for two reasons 1) the positive reviews I'd seen so far 2) The DUFF is Keplinger's debut title and thus qualifies for the...moreI was interested in The DUFF for two reasons 1) the positive reviews I'd seen so far 2) The DUFF is Keplinger's debut title and thus qualifies for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge. I'm really glad I gave this one a go! The DUFF falls into one of my favorite genres, realistic YA fiction and Keplinger should know a little something about the genre seeing how she still IS a teen!
To understand the book you have to understand the theory behind being the DUFF. The DUFF is that one girl in a group of friends who, in comparison to her friends, is the "ugly" one. As Wesley, The DUFF's unlikely hero, explains that the DUFF isn't necessarily hideous, she just happens to be the least attractive among her friends.
When I first read about the premise I was kind of taken aback. How, I wondered, would the author redeem a man-whoring guy calling girls DUFFs? How would the author manage not to offend all of us DUFFs?! Easy, pretty much everyone thinks they're a DUFF. When Bianca explains the theory behind the DUFF to her gorgeous BFF, Casey, she refutes Bianca's status as the DUFF insisting that she is the DUFF. Citing her height as her major flaw and insisting that guys are not interested in her because of her Amazonian stature.
Keplinger realistically navigates the inner workings of female friendships and insecurities. I think a lot of girls (and women) can relate to Bianca. How many of us belong to a group of friends where we feel like the "ugly" one? Chances are, one or more of your friends are feeling the exact same thing.
Another reason I liked Bianca is because of her snarkyness. If this book were an episode of Sex and the City Bianca would definitely be Miranda. The smart ass, cynic who doesn't take shit from anyone. Perhaps, I enjoyed this book so much because I see a lot of myself reflected in Bianca. Now, if I can just find my own Wesley....
Speaking of the devil, Wesley was a really decent guy. Sure he started off on the wrong foot, calling her a DUFF and all, that certainly was a shitty move. But throughout the novel he proved to be much more than the self absorbed man-whore Bianca had pigeonholed him as. I think he genuinely had no idea that calling Bianca "Duffy" was so hurtful to her. Boys. Sigh. As the reader though we notice, at least I did, Wesley's lack of man-whoring when he's with Bianca. Sure we see him flirting with another girl. But I think Wesley fell for Bianca earlier than she could have imagined. Even from the first kamikaze kiss, he's like... "Wow." I really enjoyed Wesley and Bianca's bantering. It made me laugh and I really enjoyed their interactions.
I didn't always like Bianca. She's going through a tough time,what with her parents divorce and her Dad's falling off the wagon, but there are several instances when she knows she's being a shitty friend. She even says thing a long the lines of "Wow, I'm being a bitch" and "I'm a shitty friend." But she doesn't really even attempt to do anything about it.
So, on one hand I like that she recognizes that she's failing at her friend duties. On the other hand, I was somewhat annoyed that she didn't make more of an effort to be a better friend. But I totally understand where she's coming from. Sometimes you have so much shit going on in your own life that you recognized you're neglecting another aspect of your life but you don't have the time or energy to deal with it.
Lastly, I enjoyed the amount of cussing, snarkyness, and sex in this novel. I hope Keplinger is prepared for her book to be challenged. I can see that in this book's future. None of it bothered me, I found it realistic but not over the top, however I'm sure there are going to be some parents complaining. And for those of you who don't read YA because of the lack of sexy bits, this book might be for you! There's enough sex without crossing the line into too much detail.
Overall, The DUFF was smart, funny, sexy and realistic. I would put Keplinger in the ranks of Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott and I'm looking forward to more books from this author!
Disclosure: I received this ARC from the publisher. I did not receive any compensation for this review. (less)
I picked this up from the library on a recommendation from my friend Ariel after one of her high school students gave it to her. She thought I would l...moreI picked this up from the library on a recommendation from my friend Ariel after one of her high school students gave it to her. She thought I would love it and she knows me well! I really enjoyed this book.
It's a great summer beach read, however it's not just a summer beach read. It deals with deeper issues than catching rays and kissing boys. It's about friends and family. It's about growing up and thinking about someone other than yourself. That would probably be my only complaint about the book. I felt that Belly was pretty self-absorbed and pretty bratty. Other characters mention it, she even mentions she's a pouter, but that doesn't really excuse her behavior in some cases. I think, near the end, she had some sobering moments that really opened her eyes to how self-centered she'd been. I'm hoping that in the sequel we'll see some maturity and character growth from Belly.
Belly. I have to comment on the name. Any girl with the nickname Belly (short for Isabella?!) would have to be pretty. No way would a normal girl be cool with being called "Belly". I certainly wouldn't have, of course I was always a little overweight and that name would just remind me of those few extra pound around the middle. I just thought it was kind of a horrible nickname. Or is that just me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Overall, I enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the banter between Belly and Jeremiah; the pining and longing for Conrad and his bad boy, broody self. However, I'm not sure I liked who she ended up with. Looking forward to reading the sequel, It's Not Summer Without You, to see how the relationships between Belly and these two boys evolve and change.(less)
Rules of Attraction is the second book in Simone Elkeles' trilogy about the Fuentes brothers. I read the first book, Perfect Chemistry, in February an...moreRules of Attraction is the second book in Simone Elkeles' trilogy about the Fuentes brothers. I read the first book, Perfect Chemistry, in February and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I'd seen a lot of great reviews about it but for some reason I didn't think I'd like it. I was so wrong! So, I had high hopes for Rules of Attraction, but alas, I was disappointed in Carlos' story. I finished this a few days ago and have been trying to pin-point just what exactly I found wrong with the book; it boils down to the fact that I didn't connect with Carlos. There was something about his voice/point of view that lacked the spark I felt when reading Alex's book.
I like the alternating chapters with Carlos and Kiara's points of view. I really liked Kiara, she's a little out there, not your typical teenager always concerned about what others think of her, despite her stuttering problem. She really seemed to know who she was and wasn't looking to Carlos to "complete" her, even though in the end he did. She seems pretty secure in who she is, and I found that refreshing. I also enjoyed her family especially her father and little brother.
Carlos, oh Carlos. Why didn't you do it for me? Your brother Alex was AMAZING. You, on the other hand, were kinda "meh". I'm not sure how to explain what I thought was lacking. However, when I was reading there were several passages where I literally rolled my yes. What Carlos was expressing was, I assume, supposed to come off as profound and insightful but, to me, it came off as forced and insincere. For example the following excerpt, just doesn't ring true; to me, it felt inauthentic :
"I expect everyone in my life to leave me at some point. Since Destiny, I haven't allowed myself to get emotionally involved with anyone. If I let myself care about someone, they'll leave me, push me away, or die. That's the way it's been, and will always be."
I guess with Alex's book I really felt for him: he had the burden of being "the man of the house", he was trying to protect his brothers from falling prey to gangs, his struggles, both internal and external, felt flushed out and fully realized. I really felt Carlos's story lacked this intensity and development of character. It's not that I disliked the book overall, I was left slightly unsatisfied and felt that the spark from Perfect Chemistry was missing. Looking through the reviews/ratings on Goodreads, I seem to be in the minority. I wanted to like this one as much as Perfect Chemistry but Carlos just didn't do it for me.(less)
The first thing that should be mentioned about this book is that it is NOT a paranormal teen book. We're not talking were-wolves here. I think with th...moreThe first thing that should be mentioned about this book is that it is NOT a paranormal teen book. We're not talking were-wolves here. I think with the cover (which I love!) and the flood of paranormal teen books out that that should be made clear!
KJ who has, in her father's words, "blossomed" over the summer but, unlike many other teen novels where the ugly duckling turns into a beauty, she doesn't miraculously become popular. Love it. I think it's a good lesson for teens (and the rest of us) that being skinnier, taller, shorter, prettier, etc., etc., is NOT going to solve all of our problems. KJ, as it turns out, is still as much of an outsider as she ever was.
I loved the whole pro-wolf/anit-wolf sentiments in the book. At first KJ sees the issue in black and white but when she learns more about the issues on both sides I think she comes to see that, in the end, not everything is black and white, there are a lot of shades of gray. That doesn't just apply to the wolves but to the people in her life as well. I think it's interseting to note that this issue isn't fabricated, it's based on real issues facing wolves, environmentalists, naturalists, ranchers, etc. You can read about "the story behind the story" on the author's website.
This book is ultimately about KJ's relationship with people: her father, Virgil, and the town as a whole. I also loved how there's no tidy HEA for KJ and Virgil like I've seen in many of the other teen books I've read lately (ie. Perfect Chemistry & Rules of Attraction). I think it was Nath who's mentioned several times that she doesn't buy the HEA type ending in YA books. I tend to agree but this one has a very realistic ending for KJ and Virgil. Although I expect some people will have wanted. . . more. But I think it was perfect for this book!
In a nutshell, I LOVED this book. I thought it was smart, extremely well written, and completely refreshing. This is Kristen Chandler's debut title and I will be looking forward to more from this author.(less)
Wow. I was completely blown away by If I Stay. This slim, wisp of a novel packs quite an emotional punch. Forman effortlessly balances humor, love, an...moreWow. I was completely blown away by If I Stay. This slim, wisp of a novel packs quite an emotional punch. Forman effortlessly balances humor, love, and loss in this unique twist on the traditional "teen death book". There are currently a lot of YA books out dealing with death; the loss of a parent, sibling, boyfriend, girlfriend or friend however, Forman has a unique twist on the topic.
In a dramatic twist of fate, the main character, Mia, has been in a car accident with her parents and younger brother. She is the lone survivor, barley holding on to a life she's not sure she can face without her family. With her physical body comatose, Mia is on the cusp of the afterlife. She's in a state of limbo with an impending life or death decision.
Through alternating flashbacks of her life and her present state, we learn about her relationships with those closest to her: her parents, brother, boyfriend, and best friend. We learn about her budding career as a cellist with a bright future at Julliard. We want her to choose to stay, to fight, to live. Our hearts break for her monumental loss and sympathize with her fear of a future without her family.
If I Stay is quite possibly one of the most touching stories about family, love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit that I've ever read. My review is sparse and, I feel, inadequately conveys the emotional response that the book elicited from me. So I'll simply say that I would highly recommend this book! (less)
With The Sky is Everywhere, debut author Jandy Nelson has penned an honest, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, and, at times, surprisingly humoro...moreWith The Sky is Everywhere, debut author Jandy Nelson has penned an honest, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting, and, at times, surprisingly humorous, novel about the complex nature of grief.
Lennie, having lost her sister, has to navigate, often stumbling and falling flat on her face, through this new reality; this world without her be-loved sister. This paradigm shift has an effect on all her relationships: with Toby, her sister's boyfriend, Sarah, Lennie's best friend, Gram, and her Uncle. She has to redefine who she is without Baily and in the context of each of these relationships. Then there's the new guy, Joe. The guy who never knew Bailey. The guy, whose infectious smile can, for brief periods of time, make her forget her all encompassing grief.
Halfway through this book, I thought "there is NO way someone couldn't like this book."
So, I hopped on Goodreads to see the kind of ratings the book was getting. I was delighted to see it was mostly four and five stars. Then I saw a two star. I had to see what this person didn't like about this book. This book that so accurately and honestly portrays the sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, and confusion that accompanies losing a loved one.
Much to my chagrin this particular review compared it to.....Twi-fucking-light. Why, oh why does everyone seem to compare every YA book where a girl has a choice between two guys to Twilight?! I was actually pretty taken a back. Aside from the two possible love interests, this book has nothing in common with the popular vamp novel. And as much as I was entertained by Twilight it is a far cry from being as well written and deeply emotional as The Sky is Everywhere.
The reviewer also mentions how selfish Lennie is and yes while I agree, to an extent, I also think Lennie deserves a break. Grief sucks. It makes you do irrational things. Things like kissing your dead sister's boyfriend to drown both your sorrows even when you know it's wrong. Things like shutting out those closest to you when you really need them most. Grief isn't rational. It can make you a little selfish, a little bitter, a little angry.
In the story, Lennie, her Grandmother, and her Uncle are all grieving the loss of Bailey. It isn't until near the end of the novel that Lennie realizes she's been pushing her family away, not considering the fact that their attempts engage with her were not only to comfort her but that they too were seeking comfort for their own loss. She realizes how thoughtless she's been. She has that "a ha!" moment where she realizes just how hard it is for everyone else. So yea, it took her awhile to come up for air and realize, "damn, everyone else has been drowning here too". But she does, and I think she deserves credit for that.
Something else I loved about the book were the poems Lennie wrote. The poems were at the beginning of every chapter and give readers additional glimpses into Lennie and Bailey's relationship and is another avenue for Lennie to express her grief. They really add to the story.
I really wish I could do a better job of expressing how wonderful this novel is. As long as you don't mind a more serious read, I have no doubt you'll enjoy The Sky is Everywhere!(less)
I picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson because I saw that it was named Best Audiobook by several different s...moreAs posted on my blog, Book Fare Delights.
I picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson because I saw that it was named Best Audiobook by several different sources. I'd been wanting to read it so I figured the audio would be a good bet since it was getting such high marks!
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is told in alternating chapters by two characters named, you guessed it, Will Grayson. Neither Will Grayson is aware of the other until a fated meeting outside a porn shop. United by one tour de force named Tiny Cooper. While the title would suggest the book is about none other than, Will Grayson, the book is, ultimately Tiny's tale. Tiny was definitely my favorite character. He's larger (and gayer) than life. With all the characters and all the events that take place throughout the book it boils down to a tale of friendship.
Nick Podel narrates Will Grayson #1 (WG1), the straight, broody and moody best friend to Tiny Cooper. I liked Nick's narration and voice. The first chapter is told from his POV and I was really getting into the audio book when it switches over to Will Grayson #2 (WG2), narrated by MacLeod Andrews. WG2 is the in-the closet gay teen whose botched trip to meet his online "boyfriend" leads to the chance encounter with WG1.
I really did not care for WG2'schapters at all, especially the first ones. WG2 is depressed and on medication for his depression. Now, I've never been clinically depressed, I don't mean to demean or belittle his condition. However, his whining, crying, pissing and moaning, and excessive cussing really grated on my nerves. After the second chapter I was seriously considering giving up on the audio book. I disliked WG2 that much. Then WG2's chapter would end and we'd go back to WG1 and I'd be sucked back into the story. If the whole book was from WG2's POV I would not have finished the book. He does get less whiney as the book goes on, but I never really warmed up to him.
There was a lot of cussing in this audio book. I think the excessive cussing was more noticeable because I was listening to the audio book. Had I been reading the book, I don't think I would have taken note of the language as much. However, there was a lot of bad language.
WG2's obnoxious "woe is me" diatribes really did not do this audio book any favors. However, overall, the story was excellent. I love a story that has a little bit of everything: friendship, romance, humor, and showtunes!(less)
When I first read all the rave reviews of Echols' Going Too Far, I was psyched to read it. I love a good YA contemporary romance and am always looking...moreWhen I first read all the rave reviews of Echols' Going Too Far, I was psyched to read it. I love a good YA contemporary romance and am always looking for new authors. Although I liked Going Too Far, I didn't love it, and I certainly didn't think it lived up to all the hype. However, I did enjoy it and was hoping I 'd LOVE Forget You. Alas, I liked this one much less than Going Too Far.
Why? Simple, Zoey. The main character. I, frankly, could not stand her. On one hand I really felt sorry for her. She has this horrible father. I mean BAD. Then her mother tries to kill herself and is admitted to the loony bin. And her horrible father threatens her, demanding she tell no one about the incident, including her two best friends. He then makes Zoey feel like she can't say or do certain things for fear people will also think she's crazy, like her mother.
She's having a helluva tough time. Right after her mom's incident her Dad and his new girlfriend head out to Hawaii to get married leaving the seventeen year-old Zoey alone. Sigh. Talk about bad parenting. So, I feel for her. I really do. However, the night her mother attempts suicide. Zoey does something drastic and out of character (which is understandable considering the ordeal she's been through) by losing her virginity to Brandon, her man-whore, player of a friend. Maybe not the best decision ever but ya know we all make mistakes, we do stupid things when we're hurting or in pain. That's not what bothered me.
What bothered me was for the entire rest of the novel she referred to Brandon as her boyfriend and somehow equated this one time incident as a relationship. I'm sorry honey but a one time hook-up does not a boyfriend make.
I can somewhat understand her motivation behind this. She's in this uncontrollable situation and keeping up appearances has always been part of who Zoey is. Brandon is the football captain and having him as her boyfriend would, in her mind, help keep the appearance of a normal life.
I can't express how obnoxious and annoying I found it every time Zoey said something to the effect of Brandon being her boyfriend. I felt so bad for Doug, because you know he felt just as frustrated with this ridiculous notion. I loved the scene where he suggested she get a card that she could whip out every-time she was going to use the " Brandon Boyfriend Excuse"(BBE), as I've been referring to it in my mind.
Doug. He was the books saving grace for me. I loved him. The bad boy rep but really he's a nice guy. I really wanted to smack Zoey upside the head every freaking time she used the BBE with Doug. Bitch, he's not your boyfriend, grow a brain! Gah!
Despite my complete annoyance with Zoey I have to say that Echols can really write one helluva love scene. She manages to make it hot and sexy and completely believable between two teens. I also loved that she doesn't shy away from generally tabooed topics such a masturbation. The incident is brief but I cheered when I read it. I remember my first time reading about *gasp* masturbation when I read Judy Blume's Deenie and I like to see authors tackling such subjects!
Overall, I was just so annoyed with Zoey's insistence that Brandon was her boyfriend that I could NOT find enough empathy to move beyond it. And not even Doug could get me past it. But never fear readers, I seem to be in the minority in my thinking. If you can get past Zoey's bonehead assumptions you'll probably enjoy it. However, I couldn't and it really impeded my enjoyment of the novel. (less)