Friday, August 31, 2012

Where It Began

by Ann Redisch Stampler
Published: Simon Pulse, 2012
pages: 369

When Gabby wakes up next to her boyfriend, Billy Nash's, totaled BMW, she has no knowledge of how she got there, what happened or even her own name.  She is fine to keep everything as it was before the crash, the girlfriend of the most popular guy in school. Gabby has to start finding out the truth but is it really what she wants to hear?  It takes her best friends to show her what's really going on.

I was not immediately enthralled with this book mostly because the Gabby was so blindly ignoring the obvious.  Her character is so infuriating, it's no wonder I wasn't apart of this crowd in high school.  Although, I have to think if I had been apart of this crowd in high school, I may done some of the same things Gabby did.  Despite all this, Ann Redisch Stampler gets into the mind of Gabby extremely well.  I actually believe a teenaged girl is telling me her thoughts.

The humor throughout this book is chuckle worthy.  The SAT words springing up every once in a while and the sarcastic remarks about colleges made me laugh on more than one occasion.  The wit that Ann Redisch Stampler writes with is amusing and wonderful.  I really enjoyed the sarcastic side of Gabby.

Although the book started a little slow, I was quickly sucked into the world of Gabby and her new popular friends.  I found that I couldn't put this book down.  I had to see if Gabby would continue to stay in her own little world, or if she would find out what happened the night of the car crash. 

Stars: 2/5


"A terrific read!  Ann Redisch Stampler puts you in Gabby's head and keeps you there until the griping conclusion.  A writer to watch!"
                - Alex Flinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beastly

                - Jenny Han, bestselling author of the Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: True Confessions

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Here are my book confessions:

1.  A absolutely HATE dog ears.  I don't like most book defaces, like writing in books and using the dust jacket as a bookmark, but I can live with those.  However, if anyone tries to dog ear my books, there will be problems.  I cringe at the sight of it and cry a little inside whenever I see someone smash the corners down.

2. I never read the jacket summary of a book.  I think it gives away too much of the story, so I go in blind.  I like not knowing anything about a story I'm about to read.  It's always interesting what I pick up.

3. I buy books on impulse.  I cannot go past a bookstore without going in and at least thinking about needing to buy a book.  Also, if there is a book section in any store I will find it with my book sensors.

4.  I used to think that graphic novels were just for little kids.  I was completely wrong.  When I took a graphic novel class last year, my mind was blown!  I can't get enough of them now.  Also, I have a new respect for the entire genre of graphic novels.

5.  I've almost convinced myself that I've read more classics than I actually have.  Sometimes I believe that I've read the entire Jane Austen collection when in fact I haven't read many of her works, including Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion.

6. I am very picky about who I lend my books too.  It just can't bare to imagine someone treating my book in any other way than how I've decided it's right to treat books.  When I do lend books, I always preface it with a list of my rules, the main one being I will kill you if you dog ear my book.  I always supply a bookmark with my books and take of the dust jacket when I lend my books out.

7. I have a very hard time speaking to authors.  I get tongue-tied and end up just staring at them hoping they know what to do in this situation or just saying things like:  I love your books and you're an amazing author.  While these are really nice, conversations never come of it.  I think it's because I hold many authors to the level of fame that someone might hold Johnny Depp.  But it's true, to me, they are famous.  They are the people I'm most interested in.

8. I can't not finish a book.  Also, if the book is in the series I have to finish the series as well.  This explains why I haven't read the Game of Thrones yet.  It doesn't matter if I don't like the book, I have to know how it ends.  It bugs me otherwise.  I just have to know.

9. I do not like e-readers.  I don't have anything against those that do, but you will probably never see me using one.  I love the feel and the smell of real book too much to give it up.  Also, I like seeing the progress I've made in a book.

10.  I have four completely full bookshelves in my room and a rather large bookshelf in the basement.  My collection is getting a little out of hand but when I decided to get rid of some, I could only come up with a handful that I was willing to part with.

11. EXTRA:  Last semester I interned for a publishing house.  They had free book stacks.  I ended up taking way too many home with me. *cough100cough*  I've decided I can no longer work somewhere with free book stacks.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alice I Have Been

by Melanie Benjamin
Published: Random House, 2010
Pages: 345

This is an "Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge" Book!

As Alice Liddell reflects on her childhood, it is apparent that she was a very curious little girl.  She's the daughter of Dean Christ Church in Oxford, surprisingly sensible, incredibly charming and the inspiration of the little girl in Alice in Wonderland. 

There were many characters that absolutely unsettled me.  Mr. Ruskin and unfortunately, Mr. Dodgson were just a couple of the characters that I ultimately did not like.  I wanted to like Mr. Dodgson but there was just a feeling I got when reading about him that I couldn't reconcile.

I must say that the relationship between Alice and her mother drives me insane.  I have never read about a relationship so poor, so unhealthy.  I causes me great pain and anger to read their interactions and her mother's final insults.

Alice, however, was most definitely a great character and I really enjoyed hearing her story.  I've always been curious as to the person who inspired the bright-eyed Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Although, this is a fictional story, I love the fact that someone took the time to create this world that centered around the life of Alice Liddell.  She is such an adventurous girl, not afraid to speak her mind or do what she wanted.  Only pausing to consider her class standing and the proper ways of a young woman, every once in a while.  Even when tragedy strikes Alice stays strong, empowering.

Melanie Benjamin does a spectacular job writing the history of Alice Liddell.  This fictional account of a real woman, provides so much insight to what could have been the relationship between Lewis Carol and Alice.  There were times when I sincerely believed Alice was really telling me about the trials and tribulations of her life.  Her writing is enchanting and utterly convincing, she captured me as Mr. Dodgson had captured the young Alice with his stories.

Stars: 4/5


"Melanie Benjamin blends the known with the unknown in a seamless tale of love, loss and myth. It's storytelling at its finest."
           —Sarah Addison Allen

 "Benjamin draws on one of the most enduring relationships in children's literature... spinning out the heartbreaking story of Alice from Alice in Wonderland...Focusing on three eras in Alice's life, Benjamin offers a finely wrought portrait of Alice that seamlessly blends facts with fiction. This is book club gold."
           —Publishers Weekly starred review, "Pick of the Week"

"Melanie Benjamin works valiantly to conjure up the real girl behind the Wonderland myth, and finds glints of genuine magic."
          —Entertainment Weekly

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting Over Garrett Delaney

by Abby McDonald
Published: Candlewick, 2012
Pages: 336

Sadie realizes that her best friend, Garrett, will never return her unrequited love, she sets out determined to detox herself from him.  The problem is she wants to be his friend so it's trickier than she imagined.  Lucky for her, Garrett runs off to writing camp and she rekindles a friendship with childhood best friend, Kayla.  Getting over Garrett Delaney will be tough, but with some moral support Sadie realizes she just might be able to find out who she truly is.

Abby McDonald has written a genuinely fun book.  Her comical over the top character Sadie, has me laughing and smiling at her absurd rules and friends. One of my favorite characters is LuAnnHer impeccable style and perky attitude has her on my list of fictional characters I would like to be friends with.  There is so much sass in this book it's hard to keep up with it.  The entire Totally Wired crew is full of surprises and entertainment that could last ages.

 Leave it to Sadie to have you liking her and hating her, but ultimately understanding her emotions.  Most people say things they don't mean when they are being picked apart, even if it's by friends that are just trying to help.  That defensive nature is so strong, especially for Sadie.  She has to figure out who she is and learn to trust herself.  Abby McDonald successfully conveys this particular emotion in her characters.  I felt very sympathetic towards Sadie, but at the same time I knew she was going to regret some of her choice words.  That's just the way friendships go though, highs and lows.

This book started off just right with the perfect about of literature talk and desperate love for a certain Garrett Delaney.  They discussed of the classics I've been meaning to read myself.  However, it seems that the lesson in this book is not only for the character.  By the end of it, I was wondering just why I had to read some of the classics that feel a more like a daunting task than an exciting adventure.  Abby McDonald made me think about my life and whether or not I'm being truthful with myself.  It's surprising who/what can affect you without your realizing it.  As Aiko, barista of Totally Wired, said, "Just because people say something's great, it doesn't mean you have to agree, not if you don't actually enjoy it" (162.)  I can now guarantee that most of the books I read will be because I want to, not because I think I should be reading them.  After all, I'm still in school so there will be some I actually have to read. 
Well done, Abby McDonald, well done.  I look forward to reading more of her books in the future. 

Stars: 4/5


"Charming and poignant - perfect for anyone who's ever had to mend a broken heart."
              - the Fug Girls, authors of Spoiled

"In this entertaining anti-romance, McDonald turns the tragedy of unrequited love on its head as she traces her heroine's determined and often comical efforts to find herself and become more independent."
                 —Publishers Weekly

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

by Agatha Christie
Published: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1926
Pages: 276

It's an "Eclectic Reader 2012 Challenge" book!

When Roger Ackroyd is murdered, all angles point to his stepson as the murderer.  It's up to master detective Hercule Poirot and doctor James Sheppard to discover the identity of  the killer and whether or not the rumors are true.

Agatha Christie is among the greatest mystery writers ever known and for good reason.  Her mystery is so well thought out and executed; it makes for a great read.  I found myself constantly trying to beat Hercule to figure out the identity of the murderer.  I am sad to report that I hopped from person to person and ultimately came to the wrong conclusion. I will not become a detective any time soon.

Hercule Poirot is possibly my favorite character in this book and luckily he is a reoccurring character in several Christie's mysteries.  This quirky detective has the audacity to shut down his nosy neighbor, the gossip queen of the village.  He is easily one of the most entertaining character, with his unexplained oddities and his gardening.  I look forward to reading about this character in future Christie books.

We read the story form Dr. James Sheppard's point of view, which is very interesting in a murder mystery.  It's a clever way to write a mystery novel because the reader only gets a certain view of the circumstances and in this case it's from Dr. Sheppard's view.  I didn't notice or realize that until Hercule Poirot began to explain himself to Dr. Sheppard.  It's really very interesting.  

Agatha Christie writes great light reading with plenty of humor and eccentricities.  I shall definitely be reading more Agatha Christie in the near future!

Stars: 3/5


 “A classic—the book has worthily earned its fame.”
                - Irish Independent

“One of the landmarks of detective literature.”
              - H. R. F. Keating, Crime & Mystery: The 100 Best Books

“Agatha Christie had a mind like a mousetrap and taught me, in novels like The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the pleasure of literary surprise.”
              - William Dietrich, New York Times bestselling author 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Romances in the Real World.

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week it's about which romances I think would make it in the real world.  This is a very interesting topic and I've actually been thinking about this quite a bit recently.  I wonder quite often if some of the couples I read about and love would actually make it in the real world.  So here we go:

1. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)  There is just something about their relationship that I love.  Elizabeth is, in many ways, Darcy's equal.  They fit perfectly. 

2. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)  I love them together and spent half the series waiting and wishing that they would end up together.  They were best friends and that lead to one of the strongest relationships I have read.  The progression of their relationship just gets to me sometimes.  From Ron making fun of Hermione in Sorcerer's Stone to Ron trying to impress her with a book on how to get girls in Deathly Hallows, it is so much fun to read again and again.  

3. Westley and Princess Buttercup (The Princess Bride by William Golding)  Westley is probably the most perfect character I've ever wanted to be real.  His willingness to do anything for Princess Buttercup and the fact that he was brought back from "almost dead" for the sake of true love, screams perfect pair!

4. Tristan and Yvaine (Stardust by Neil Gaiman)  Their relationship started out rocky for obvious reasons.  When Tristan realizes that his true love is in fact right in front of him, the real magic starts to happen.  They are compatible it's ridiculous. 

5.  Hazel Grace and Augustus (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)  I don't care that there is this sense of nothing bad ever happens to people in perfect relationships.  These two have an amazing relationship, tide and true.

This is quite a sad state of a list.  Unfortunately, it seems that I read too many books with unrealistic relationships.  I can tell you a number of relationships that would not work at all in the real world.  For example, Bella and Edward.  I don't think it's necessary to explain why other than she was found curled up in a ball on the forest floor because he broke up with her.  
Also, I would love Peeta and Katniss under any other circumstance than the one they are forced into.  Peeta's love is so evident that at times it hurts.  I just wish Katniss would have actually made a choice. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin
Published: Dutton, 1978
Pages: 182

When 16 heirs gather at the will reading of local business tycoon, Sam Westing, they don't know what they are getting themselves into.  The heirs get pulled into an elaborate game in which only one can win the 200 million dollar inheritance prize.  Turtle Wexler, resident shin kicker and the youngest of the heirs, is determined to win this game.  However, when they are all split into pairs it becomes evident that they must work together to find the answer to the question poised in Sam Westing's will.

I first picked up a copy of this book in middle school intrigued by the cover and the idea that it might be similar to the board game Clue.  This book has quickly become one of my all time favorite books, having read it several times over the course of these last 8 years.  

Ellen Raskin excellently weaves clues to this engaging mystery throughout this novel, taking the narrative in so many different direction, the reader can't even guess what will happen next.  Different view points and clue revealed at the perfect moments, makes this book suspenseful and also entirely entertaining.  The characters are not lacking in humor at all, especially the dearly beloved Sam Westing, who created this ridiculous game in the first place.  I laugh every time I read this book, even though I know what's coming next.  With so many hidden backgrounds, this cast of characters truly begin to find out who they are.

My favorite character Turtle Wexler, just happens to be one of the smartest girls her age.  At 13, she already knows how to play the stock market and win.  She's also very fond of her braid, heaven forbid someone tugs on it.  That's where the shin kicking comes in.   Aside from her general 13-year-old ways, she is clever and insightful.  She knows that there is something more going on with the Westing game and she's prepared to figure it out. 

There is a reason Ellen Raskin won the Newbery Medal for this book.  

Stars: 5/5


 A supersharp mystery. . . . Confoundingly clever, and very funny.
               -Booklist, starred review

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Name of the Star

by Maureen Johnson
Published: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2011
Pages: 370

This is an Eclectic Reader Challenge book!

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect coming into this novel.  I hadn’t read anything about it, but I did know that it was getting recommended left and right.   I love Maureen Johnson’s other books so left at the chance to read a copy of this book.  She has not failed me.  This book is highly entertaining and I was pleasantly surprised that the setting was England.  (I love many things that have to do with the UK.)  Even though, I’ve never been to London, I felt as though I knew my way around after reading this book. 

Rory came all the way from Louisiana to attend school in London.  However, when the murders start to occur, it becomes clear that Rory is not going to have a normal English education.  Even worse, a strange man repeatedly runs into her but no one else seems to remember him.  Her friends start to wonder if she crazy and she starts wonders if she is in danger. 

The characters are absolutely engaging.  Rory and Jazza, her roommate, compliment each other and when Boo gets thrown into the roommate mix, the dynamics changes just enough to keep the characters growing.  Rory’s oddities match her frustration and the way her friends see her.  Her adventurous spirit gets her into all sorts of trouble without even realizing it.  Rory's sharp wit and crazy family stories make her a hilarious character.  Rory is surrounded by a cast of fantastic quirky characters that make this book unforgettable.  

I am glad to report that there is a solid Doctor Who reference and enough witty banter to hold anyone over until the next Maureen Johnson book is published.  Maureen Johnson once again expertly crafts this story with humor, teen angst and romance.  Nothing seems out of balance.  I can even hear the British accents!

This book is the first installment in the supernatural thriller series Shades of London.  Look forward to the next book due out sometime in 2013!

Stars: 4/5


"A gorgeously written, chilling, atmospheric thriller. The streets of London have never been so sinister or so romantic."
                    - Cassandra Clare, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Johnson uses a deft hand, applying the right amount of romance and teen snarkiness to relieve the story's building tension. Departing from her previous works, she turns paranormal on its head, mocking vampires and werewolves while creating ghosts that are both realistic and creepy. A real page-turner." 
                 - School Library Journal