I was excited to read this earlier book by the author of The Book Thief, which I loved. It was good, but not as good as his later book. I found partsI was excited to read this earlier book by the author of The Book Thief, which I loved. It was good, but not as good as his later book. I found parts of it a little cheesy for my taste, mostly becuase it's about a young man who's learning to live outside himself and do things for other people. So the subject matter lends itself to cheesy well. But I thought the narrator's voice was very well written, and I loved the twist at the end. You could definitely see some similarities in the language and imagery of both of Zusak's books....more
So far, I really like this book. Stories of girls with eating disorders always captivate and repel me at the same time. I think that just being a girlSo far, I really like this book. Stories of girls with eating disorders always captivate and repel me at the same time. I think that just being a girl in modern society means that at least some of the reasoning of characters like Lia makes sense or sounds familiar.
But most of all, I like this book because of Anderson's writing. Like this: "Spiders hatch and crawl out of my belly button, hairy little tar beads with ballerina feet. They swarm, spinning a silk veil, one hundred thousand spider thoughts woven together until they wrap me up in a cozy shroud."...more
So I've kind of been avoiding reading this book for a while because I just thought it'd be one of those books that's so talked up that it could neverSo I've kind of been avoiding reading this book for a while because I just thought it'd be one of those books that's so talked up that it could never live up to your expectations. But I have to say that I ended up really enjoying this book. It took me a while to warm up to Charlie's narrative voice, but by the end I was really into his character and his story and wanted him to succeed as much as the other characters do. I can totally see why this has such a strong following. I feel like if you read it at the right time in your teenage years it could really speak to your experience....more
So, I think maybe I'm not that big a fan of straight-up realistic YA fiction. I was really reading it to take a break after reading two very intense,So, I think maybe I'm not that big a fan of straight-up realistic YA fiction. I was really reading it to take a break after reading two very intense, grown-up kind of books, and I thought something easier to read but still fun would be a nice break. And someone who's opinion of YA literature I seriously trust (wink wink Sarah!) recommends several books by Dessen, so I thought I'd give this new one a try.
This book took me a little while to get into. In the beginning, I didn't really like Auden and wasn't very interested in all her dilemmas. But by the end of the book, I was seriously commending Dessen. In this post-Twilight world, I think it's very important to have authors that continue to write fiction for girls that include great lessons and messages. Auden learns how to incorporate different aspects of being a girl (including an academic-smarty-pants side but also the girly-I-can't-get-enough-of-pink-and-ruffles side) into her identity while still remaining true to herself, learning that she doesn't have to be all one way or another, that she can be a composite and complex individual. Dessen also included the usual budding romance, but did so in a healthy way where both partners were able to maintain their independent personalities and personhoods.
In the end, it wasn't one of my favorite stories ever, but I was duly impressed by Dessen's healthy and respectful messages and would recommend the book based on that....more
So, once again I find myself in danger of gushing. I liked this book almost as much as I liked Before I Fall! (They aren't in any way related apart frSo, once again I find myself in danger of gushing. I liked this book almost as much as I liked Before I Fall! (They aren't in any way related apart from the fact that they're realistic/contemporary YA novels that I read back to back and which, among other things, highlight a really sweet, refreshing love story.)
The romance has kind of a big place in this story, so I can definitely see how some readers would find it as a little fluffy or cheesy, especially if you're tired of YA romances. But I really want to argue for a more serious consideration of this book.
For one thing, I love the fact that Lennie's best friend Sarah is an unabashed, girl-power feminist and a reader of authors like Sartre. For another, I love that the author doesn't shy away from talking about sexual desire in a frank and down-to-earth way, in a way that teenagers could totally relate to, rather than in a highly idealized, he-owns-my-soul, romantic kind of way. I mean, the swooneyness is there ("Bat. Bat. Bat." anyone?), but so is the reality of the situation.
And finally, more than all of that, I love that this book is about Lennie exploring and coming to terms with who she is in a world where she is suddenly without her protective shell: her older sister Bailey. Without Bailey to be the wild and crazy one, Lennie has to actually take action, and accept the consequences of those actions. She has to grow up, however painfully, however joyfully. ...more
Well, I read almost all of this one. I was maybe 10 pages away from the end and got caught up in "Fire". :) Overall, I liked this book. I definitely wWell, I read almost all of this one. I was maybe 10 pages away from the end and got caught up in "Fire". :) Overall, I liked this book. I definitely wish I could have read it before I went to college. I think it's good that Zulkey wanted kids to know that there's an option out there for people who might not feel ready yet for the whole college thing. It gets a solid 3 in my book. It wasn't too exciting or intreaguing, but the intentions and message were spot on....more
**spoiler alert** I would give this book 3.5 stars if that was an option, but, as I must give whole stars, it gets a solid 3.
I love the premise of thi**spoiler alert** I would give this book 3.5 stars if that was an option, but, as I must give whole stars, it gets a solid 3.
I love the premise of this book. The idea of twins that are completely mirror image so that even one twin's internal organs are on the wrong side of her body and all backwards and inside out? Totally genius. I also liked the idea of a ghost hanging around a flat and communicating by moving around that little plastic ring that comes on gallons of milks. And the creepiness of wanting to be alive despite the costs, even if it means stealing your own daughter's body, or wanting your love to be alive again even if it means sacrificing the life of your new flame? Also very cool.
My problem was that this book seemed to be ALL promise. When the twists finally came...they just kind of fell flat for me. For one thing, I found it totally implausible that Valentina would come up with this whole dramatic plan that included killing and then ressurecting herself in order to be rid of her twin. I really didn't think that their relationship was nearly caustic enough to warrant that extreme decision. I wish it HAD been that violent and dark. It just was that the story was set up to be all gothic and dark, but the emotion wasn't there. The GOTH wasn't there.
It was so realistic that all fantastical elements of the book felt non-fantastical. ...more
Well, this is a good story to read while you're sick or maybe on a long plane ride, but not really a good book overall. I really could see every plotWell, this is a good story to read while you're sick or maybe on a long plane ride, but not really a good book overall. I really could see every plot twist and surprise coming. (And I'm not one of those people who tries to see these things. I like a good surprise ending.) That is, I could see them all coming except for the very last twist, which was, in my opinion, extremely forced. And, unfortunately, I wasn't really that fond of the narrator/main character, nor was I that convinced by her love interest and side-story. I just kind of felt like the narrator and the story were really hammering on a choice few themes, like they really wanted to make sure the reader got it, and it was all just too obvious.
In the end, all I could think throughout the book was that Goodman was trying too hard to recapture the atmosphere, mystery, and shock of Lake of Dead Languages, which was a book I really enjoyed. It felt like all the pieces were there in this one, but they were smashed together rather fitting seamlessly.
It was a shame too because I really wanted to like this book. I love stories that weave fairy tales in with real life, but this one just didn't do it for me. ...more
So, I know I'm jumping on the Chris Cleave bandwagon (and a little late at that), but this book was really really good. I loved Little Bee's (the charSo, I know I'm jumping on the Chris Cleave bandwagon (and a little late at that), but this book was really really good. I loved Little Bee's (the character) narrative voice and her interest in and usage of language. Also, such a sad story with such a sad ending. I think I'm going to have to check out what else Chris Cleave has written (again with the bandwagon)....more
While I'm getting a bit tired of this plot line - the shy girl who's best friends with and a bit obsessed with the sexy, outgoing, a little crazy, andWhile I'm getting a bit tired of this plot line - the shy girl who's best friends with and a bit obsessed with the sexy, outgoing, a little crazy, and therefore much more interesting girl - and all it's unavoidable predictability, it's nostalgia for a romanticized girlhood that seems to exist more in the collective cultural imagination than in reality (or maybe I just really missed out on something growing up). Anyway, while I'm getting a bit tired of this plot, I loved Lorrie Moore's version of it. It was much less fraught with high flying melodrama. Or, let's say her version was filled with a more realistic and quieter kind of drama.
Or maybe I just really loved her writing and so was willing to overlook everything else. Here's an example:
"When I was a child, I tried hard for a time to split my voice. I wanted to make chords, to splinter my throat into harmonies … With concentration and a muscular push of air, I felt, I might be able to people myself, unleash the crowd in my voice box, give birth, set free all the moods and nuances, all the lovely and mystical inhabitants of my mind’s speech. … from my back of my larynx I’d send part of my voice out toward the horizon and part of it straight up toward the sky. There must have been pain in me. I waned to howl and fly and break apart."...more
UPDATE: I'm downgrading this rating from 4 to 3 stars after seeing the movie and thinking more about the plot and characters of One Day. While readingUPDATE: I'm downgrading this rating from 4 to 3 stars after seeing the movie and thinking more about the plot and characters of One Day. While reading the book, I was instantly pulled into Emma's story and her post-college struggle to become a responsible adult and find meaningful work. Originally, I liked Dexter OK, but as the story goes on and he begins his dizzying downward spiral Dexter becomes more and more....noxious. I found myself reading the book for Emma.
The perversity of One Day is that it’s structured as the story of two people in a When Harry Met Sally-like friends-who-could-be-more relationship, yet it ultimately turns out to be something much less: the story of a boy and his saintly support network. As the longsuffering female half of the couple, Anne Hathaway is the exact opposite of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl stereotype: She has her own goals (largely to become a world-changing poet) and setbacks (world-changing poets aren’t common) and she’s more serious, mature, and emotionally burdened than her opposite number, spoiled playboy Jim Sturgess. And yet she seems to exist largely as Sturgess’ adjunct rather than an equal character, even as they both get roughly the same screen time. ... the ultimate end of the story reveals that it’s all about Sturgess’ suffering, which just isn’t that compelling a topic. Given its lack of center and balance, the film might more appropriately be called One Dude.
So, while I would definitely recommend the book for Emma's wit and character, I think that overall it was a little disappointing, in the end.
****************** Just a heads up, this book is really really sad. But also really really good. For anyone just out of college and facing the realities of adulthood, you will identify with much in this book....more
Surprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read with a narrative voice that immediately immersed me in the story and characters that alwSurprisingly, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick read with a narrative voice that immediately immersed me in the story and characters that always felt genuine and relatable (though I will admit a few times when the book put its toe accross the cheeseville line).
And since Tumblr has been down forever and I cannot post them there, here is one quote that stuck with me while reading the book:
"She never managed to find herself in these books no matter how she tried, exhuming traits from between the pages and donning them for an hour, a day, a week. We think, in some ways, we have all done this our whole lives, searching for the book that will give us the keys to ourselves, let us into a wholly formed personality as though it were a furnished room to let." (p.246)
I loved this book's dry English humor (or is that humour) and lovable main characters. You root for Major Pettigrew the whole time as he fights againsI loved this book's dry English humor (or is that humour) and lovable main characters. You root for Major Pettigrew the whole time as he fights against his nosy and judging neighbors and his own deeply ingrained good manors as he tries to stand up for his right to love whomever he wishes to.
The only issue I had was that the ending was suddenly and surprisingly...dramatic, kind of out of character with the tone of the rest of the book. But it was just a small hiccup, and I really enjoyed reading this one....more
This book turned out better than I thought it would when I first started reading it. Don't get me wrong, the writing was fine. Really good, actually.This book turned out better than I thought it would when I first started reading it. Don't get me wrong, the writing was fine. Really good, actually. But I'm just so tired of that very specific type of female character, the one that's been named the "manic pixie dream girl." You know the one:
stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), often with a touch of hairdye and inexplicably obsessed with our stuffed-shirt hero, on whom she will focus her kuh-razy antics until he learns to live and love. ... By the end of the story, she's either living out the rest of her kooky life with her newly happy loverman, or dead.
That is totally the character of Alaska in this book. And let me tell you, authors of Teen fiction, it's been done to death! And it kind of offends me as a woman....more
Meh. This book was fine, but it wasn't good. My main problem is that there seemed to be a lot of anger at and objectifying of women on the part of theMeh. This book was fine, but it wasn't good. My main problem is that there seemed to be a lot of anger at and objectifying of women on the part of the main character, Judd Foxman. There was a lot of talking about women (both young and old) as body parts (though to be fair, this happened a lot with the descriptions of men too) and as vehicles for Judd's fantasies. I get it that his wife cheated on him, but still I didn't like this part of the narrative. Maybe I just wasn't supposed to like Judd as a character, but since he's narrating the book I just ended up not liking the book very much.
The writing was fine and I was involved enough in the plot and the nuances of this family's relationships to finish the book, but it seemed to be lacking something. The revelation that Judd was (sort of) responsible for his brother getting bitten by a pitbull and losing his baseball scholarship was a really anticlimactic plot twist. It seemed like the author wanted to build some tension into the book by revealing this story in bits and pieces, but I was left wondering: who cares? ...more