Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ghost Girl


I had a hard time getting into Ghost Girl by Tanya Hurley. I wanted to like this book, I really did. Everything from the concept of the story to the book cover intrigued me, but alas, I could not be persuaded to read more than 50 pages. Lately I've been in a non-reading mood (weird, I know) and I've had a lot of intolerance and impatience for books. All I want is a really good book that will keep me focused, but I haven't been able to find one yet. Ghost Girl seemed like it would be interesting, but within the first 50 pages I got sick of the main character talking about how invisible she was and how she wanted to re-invent herself so that she could become popular and attract the cutest boy in school, blah blah blah. Sorry. I don't buy it. And I'm tired of all YA books being about this, or at least close to this topic. I love the idea of this book, and I'm sure that I quit reading it right before the good parts started, but it shouldn't take 50 pages to get good. Isn't the beginning of the book supposed to be written and rewritten multiple times so that readers won't fall into this trap?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lewis Carroll: more than just an author

So recently I've been swamped with papers and homework and the overall idea of school during the months of November and half of December have been a blur. One of my papers, though I'm pretty proud of and was luckily able to use it for two different classes this semester. That paper was on Lewis Carroll and how he was an extraordinary wordsmith. Since Carroll is such a well-known author, I thought that I'd educate the masses and give you a little taste of what I've been doing during school. Oh, and this is the paper that I had all finished and then it mysteriously was deleted off of my computer and I had to rewrite the entire thing at 3 in the morning. Yeah. I wasn't too happy about that. However, I hope you enjoy the paper, and I understand if you stop reading it halfway through (it is 6 pages).

Lewis Carroll’s Literature: How it Changed the English Language
Lewis Carroll was many things in his life: mathematician, photographer, and author, but most of all, he was a great wordsmith. He had a great affinity for language and used onomatopoeia to create words that meant exactly how they sounded. Carroll loved inventing new words and phrases so much that his name Lewis Carroll is nothing but a penname that was invented by the mind of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the real-life Carroll. Dodgson changed to the pseudonym Lewis Carroll as a play on his own name: “Lewis was the Anglicized form of Ludovicus, which was the Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll an Irish surname similar to the Latin name Carolus, from which the name Charles comes” (Wiki). This swapping of titles was not only fun for Carroll, but it provided him the opportunity to see what life would and could be like with new names, ideas, and most importantly, words.

However much Carroll loved nonsense words, he loved nonsense stories even more. His muse, 5 year old Alice Liddell, was the catalyst and inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, and begged him to write down his Wonderland words and tales so that one day she might be able to read them. Because of her prodding, we have Carroll’s masterpieces of fiction that have contributed to not only the literary world, but that of the linguistic world as well.

Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are considered not only two great children’s novels, but two of the greatest pieces of literature to come out of the Victorian Era. Carroll invented an entirely new genre of fiction, that of “literary nonsense”, which can be described as a type of language or conversation that plays with structure and logic, and what can be considered sense and nonsense. This idea of nonsense riddles and word games can be seen all throughout Alice in Wonderland. An obvious representation of this literary nonsense is when Alice recites the poem “’Tis the voice of the sluggard” to some of the creatures she encounters on her journey through Wonderland. Instead of saying the proper poem, she recites the first things that come to her head:

’Tis the voice of the Lobster; I heard him declare
‘You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.’
As a duck with his eyelids, so he with his nose
Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark.
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark:
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.
I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish at its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a book,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon:
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by— (86-87)

Though this poem seems to have a semblance of sense, it is complete nonsense and lacking any form of logic— Alice just let her mind flow and used whatever words or story that came to her mind to take the place of the actual place of the poem “’Tis the voice of the sluggard”. Carroll was not only the king of telling an entertaining and winding story, but he had the ability to add flair and pizzazz to whatever he wrote about with uncanny words and illogical sentence structures. Part of the beauty of Carroll’s writing is that he was able to create an entirely new literary genre by simply creating warped sentence structures and illogical thought processes.

Perhaps Carroll’s most famous use of the idea of “literary nonsense” and invention of words and phrases that have contributed largely to the English language is the poem of the Jabberwocky within the Alice sequel, Through the Looking Glass. Because Carroll invented and coined so many unique and odd words within the poem, I wanted to take a look at it and then give a modern day translation in hopes that we can better understand what Carroll tried to say when he penned his infamous lyric.

JABBERWOCKY (124)
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

And now for the modern day translation of his poem translated with help from Wikipedia:

JABERWOCKY (a fabulous monster)
It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and the slimy corkscrewed nosed badger-lizards
Spun round and round and made holes in the surrounding grass:
The mop-like birds were miserable and moving all about
And the green pigs had lost their way and were sneezing, bellowing and whistling all at once.

“Watch out for the Jabberwock, my son!
He has jaws that bite, and claws that can catch you!
Watch out for the desperate bird that perpetually lives in passion, and avoid
The furious and fuming creature that moves fast and has snapping jaws on an extendable neck!”

The son took his deadly sword in hand:
He had sought the fearsome foe for a long time—
But rested by the Tumtum tree,
And thought for a while.

And, as if in a huffish manner he stood,
The Jabberwock, with fiery eyes,
Came puffing through the thick, dank forest,
And bleated as it advanced!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The deadly sword went snicker-snack!
The boy left the monster dead, and with his head
He went galloping triumphantly back home.

“And did you kill the Jabberwock?
Come here so I can hug you, my beaming boy!
O fabulous, joyous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and the slimy corkscrewed nosed badger-lizards
Spun round and round and made holes in the surrounding grass:
The mop-like birds were miserable and moving all about
And the green pigs had lost their way and were sneezing, bellowing and whistling all at once.

As I translated the poem of Carroll’s odd words, I could not help but realize how much easier it was to use the words that Carroll had invented. The Victorian Era was the prime time for Carroll to introduce his new words to the public because this was the era of a lazy, more common vernacular. Victorians used slang and took shortcuts in their language to make things simpler for themselves. Carroll did just that and wove multiple words with differing meanings to create a seamless new word that properly described the verb or adjective that his character made, which in sense helped attribute to his literary nonsense and illogical thinking. He created rich and hearty words that expressed the sentiments and feelings his characters had. Words like “whiffling” and “burbled” have a certain onomatopoeia-like quality that express the definition and connotation when spoken. Carroll used the Victorian’s simpler vernacular to his advantage, and created new words to pepper his fantastical tales.

Carroll had a way with words that led to the creation of many descriptive and thrilling nouns, adjectives, and verbs. He used his love for the English language to invent new words that could be used to better his own literature. Words like “chortle” and “vorpal” not only help tell the account of the cult poem “Jabberwocky”, but are used in our common language today. His invention of many nonsense words and ideas helped pave the way for a new literary genre to come forth full of illogical syntax, thoughts, and expressive new words.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mackey Hedges

The one and only Mackey Hedges

Last night, and today, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Mackey Hedges, author of The Last Buckaroo. Many of you know that I am in a class at BYU called Literature of the American West, which is how I ended up meeting Hedges. My professor, being a professor, has influence and connections to the world of celebrities, and so through the powers of his connections was able to get Hedges to come out for a day or two.

In honor of his arrival, my classmates and I were able to meet Hedges at our professor's house for dinner and an evening of chatting. Though I have met several authors prior to meeting Hedges, this was definitely one author meeting that I'm not likely to forget anytime soon. Although Hedges may not be a big author in the popular literature circle, or even the New York Times Bestsellers circle, he is widely known and read among the cowboys and buckaroos. There seemed to be no end to his stories and anecdotes, that the hours flew by as he spun his tales for us. Like I said, I've met many authors, but this meeting was so personal and intimate, that it was by far the best author experience I've had.

Even if cowboy lit isn't your "cup of tea", Hedges' writings are definitely entertaining and full of sarcastic humor that appeals to most. His book The Last Buckaroo isn't something I would ever willingly pick up on my own, but give it a try--it definitely gives a good look into the life of a cowboy.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Belated Posts Now Explained

So I may not have posted a couple of things until recently- as in 5 minutes ago. That means that the post that I've been meaning to post since the end of summer, roughly 2 1/2 months ago, was just updated and is now ready for viewing! Just a word of warning: I have many posts in the works, but end up posting other things because I want to get those posts out in cyberspace, and so other posts that I've been working on so diligently are put on the back-burner. But never fear, just a word from the author that if whenever you check out said blog (this blog obviously), just browse around a little bit to see if maybe I've posted a late post, and you'll get the chance to read it! And then that belated little post won't feel like it's been left alone and will end up getting it's proper amount of viewers. Anyway, this is basically a post of apologies to say Sorry! to those who get confused and find a random post that pops up on their news feed of blogs they're following. Just saying. Sorry. Now you know my reasons (again, isn't it obvious? Remember how I go to school for 20 hours a week, and work for 22? Yeah, I live in a black hole of obligations). *Sigh* Alas.

Front and Center

Front and Center by Catherine Murdock, the final installment in the Dairy Queen series (or so the author says, though I'm convinced she may right another one). This one isn't my favorite in the series, but definitely an enjoyable read.

In this installment, D.J. has the daunting task ahead of her of apply for colleges, which petrifies her. Not only does she NOT want to be seen as a "big deal" in sports, but she sure as heck doesn't want to advertise her talent to college scouts and coaches. This book focuses on D.J.'s battle to break free from her awkwardly shy shell as well as how she learns to live after a breakup (and possibly gain a new boyfriend on the side).

This wasn't my favorite book of the series, but I did enjoy reading it, and watching D.J. grow up and learn how to get rid of her fear of greatness. For what it is, this was definitely a good wrap-up to the series, though I would love for Murdock to write another book, just to keep the fun going!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Forbidden Sea

One of the coolest things about working at the Provo library is that we have a couple librarians that are authors and illustrators. One of those lovely ladies that I know happens to be Sheila Nielson, the author of The Forbidden Sea. Sheila got a couple Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of her book that she passed around, and I was one of the lucky ones that got a chance to read it back in October.

The basic plot is this from Amazon.com that can be found at this link here:
"When Adrianne comes face-to-face with the mermaid of Windwaithe Island, of whom she has heard terrible stories all her life, she is convinced the mermaid means to take her younger sister. Adrianne, fierce-willed and courageous, is determined to protect her sister from the mermaid, and her family from starvation. However, the mermaid continues to haunt Adrianne in her dreams and with her song. Yet, when the islanders find out about Adrianne's encounters with the mermaid she is scorned, for this small and superstitious community believes the mermaid will bring devastation to the island if Adrianne does not give herself to the sea. A powerful and lyrical story of one girl who must choose between having everything and having those she loves."

I agree with this great synopsis of Sheila's novel, but I didn't really like the storyline. I can see how this story would appeal to a younger audience, but I couldn't relate to Adrianne at all. I admired her spunk and tenacity, and the fact that she's the oldest daughter, but I hated her family. I thought the mom had no backbone at all and needed a good punch in the gut, her sister was a brat and needed to be slapped, and the choice that she makes at the end was disappointing, and not the choice I would have made.

For her first book, I think Shelia did a great job, but I just wish that there was a different ending and a different way of how she approached the mermaid- it felt like the mermaid wasn't in it for how long she should have been, especially if this book is being marketed as a "mermaid book". This wasn't the best thing I've read, but definitely not the worst either. Maybe if I were younger, and didn't have past parent issues, I would have liked this book more. Maybe you'll enjoy it?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Movie Etiquette, or the Lack Therof

So I know my blog is supposed to be about books and the literary world, but I just couldn't resist writing this post. I'm sorry that this doesn't fit into the literary world at all, but I feel we all need a little refresher on the principle of movie etiquette, especially those of us who live in Provo, or the greater Utah County. So to review the movie etiquette rules:

1. Get a babysitter- DO NOT bring your child to a movie (especially newborns) if your child has the potential to cry, talk loudly, or has the need to get out of the theater to do a number of items, such as peeing, talking, etc. If you can spring for you and your significant other to go to the movies, and get popcorn, and get drinks, you can afford to get a babysitter. If you can't, then obviously you can't afford to go to the movies. OR, for those of us who live in the greater Utah County area and are Mormon: have it be a service project for the Young Women, try swapping "service" babysitting with another couple in the ward, or call the in-laws. I'm sure you have some family that could watch your child for a couple hours. No? Then don't go to the movies. Don't think that your newborn is going to sleep through the loud noise. Stop kidding yourself.
2. If you do want to bring your child to a movie, DON'T take your child to a movie after, say, 8 pm, seeing as they won't be able to stay awake. I don't care who you are- go to a matinee- they're cheaper, and you're less likely to run into ornery adults who are upset at you for disregarding movie etiquette rule #1.
3. If you have a loud and annoying laugh (if it's loud, it's annoying), reign it in- laugh a little quieter so the people around and in front and behind you don't suspect that you're mentally handicapped, which I thought of a girl last night with her ridiculously loud and obnoxious laugh. Also, don't laugh LOUDLY at parts of the movie that aren't funny.
4. DO NOT TALK ON YOUR CELL PHONE DURING THE MOVIE. It's really not that hard-you're there to watch a movie, not to talk to your friend/lover/child, etc. If you NEED to talk on your phone while you're at the movies, for the love of all that is holy, go talk outside of the theater.
5. DO NOT pull out your cellphone during the movie to answer text messages- again, you're there to watch a movie. I don't care how hard you try to cover that blinding white screen, it WILL be seen by other movie-goers and we'll get really pissed off at you. Your life is not that important. I'm sure it won't kill you to answer the message once you're done with the movie. Deal with it.
6. Contain your body movements. I swear that if my chair gets kicked one more time, I'm going to kill the person behind me, and not even God will object because he's been there.
7. If you have to get out of the theater during the movie, get out as quickly and quietly as possible. Don't make a big deal of it. You shouldn't plan on leaving your seat until the movie is over anyway, but if you do, make it fast. And painless for the rest of us.

If you're still not sure whether or not something is "questionable" and whether it deserves to be put on the movie etiquette list, remember this: Your life is not important to me, I don't care, be responsible for your own actions and that of your posterity, and me, myself, and I are the only things that I do care about. Don't disturb that happy balance. Take responsibility for your own actions. You just paid the ridiculous fee to see the movie, now shut up and watch it. Oh, and if you're wondering if others feel the same way as I do, THEY DO! Just to give you a little taste of what happened to me last night while I was at the movies, rules #1, 2, 3, 4, and 7 were all broken. Yeah. I don't even know what the movie was about. I'm still confused.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Falling Angels

So by now you should have read my blog post spotlighting Tracy Chevalier, and why she's amazing. Obviously, this is going to be a positive review. So I'm jumping right into things.

This book is set during the end of the Victorian era, at the cusp of the new century, and opens up with the death of Queen Victoria. Kitty Coleman is a Victorian housewife who has nothing to fill her days, and obviously feels like her life lacks purpose. As Kitty, her husband, and their daughter Maude attend a memorial service at their local graveyard for the Queen, the Coleman's run into their graveyard next door neighbors, the Waterhouse's. Their daughter Lavinia is Maude's age, who through the story's development, becomes Maude's best friend. Though this book is told through the viewpoints of (roughly) 10 or so character's points of view, the main focus of the book is of the growing up of both girls. We see them caught up in the melodrama of being a girl on the throes of becoming a young woman in Victorian society, deal with loss and sorrow in a hypocritical age, reliving Suffragette marches, riding the waves of scandal, and understanding what it means to be a friend. The book is full of double standards, hypocrisy, melodrama, real drama and nostalgia, and should be read immediately. The genius of writing the story from several character's viewpoints only shows how capable Chevalier is at mastering the art of storytelling.

Not only is the story original and beautiful, but the writing itself is passionate and full of intrigue and romance that can only be found in one of Chevalier's books. I definitely recommend this book and advise you to read it tonight, cuddled up in piles of blankets. Chevalier's books have always left me wanting more, and this one was nothing different; after you finish this book, I'm sure you'll want to go and pick up a couple more of her books. My advice: give into the urge!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tracy Chevalier

This post is hereby entitled "Why I love Tracy Chevalier". I should call it with the better title ( I suppose) of "Why I Don't Love Tracy Chevalier", which would be a shorter post and would allow me to get back to my pile of homework, but this defeats the purpose of why I'm even writing the post to begin with. So, here launches my post of why Tracy Chevalier is a FABULOUS author, and why you should like her too.

Tracy Chevalier

Website: www.tchevalier.com
Books Written: Girl with a Pearl Earring, Falling Angels, The Virgin Blue, The Lady and the Unicorn, Burning Bright, Remarkable Creatures (comes out in the US in January 2010)
Notable Awards: Barnes and Noble "Discover Great Authors" Award; plus she's always on the New York Times Bestseller list whenever one of her new books comes out
Books Adapted into Films: Girl with a Pearl Earring starring Scarlett Johansen and Colin Firth, which was nominated for Academy Awards
Her Niche: Historical fiction. She does a great job of throwing you into the time period that she's writing about. I love how real her characters seem to be, and how vivid and earthy her descriptions are. Nothing is lost through Chevalier's tellings.
Why I like her (a lot) and why you should too: You know that you've found a good book when you find yourself flipping pages without even realizing it. You know you've found a good author when you find yourself flipping pages without even knowing it in every book that you've read by said author. Chevalier is such an author. Half the time I'm reading her works, I don't even realize I'm flying through the pages. Her books are just THAT good.
Which of her books I've read: Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, Remarkable Creatures, The Lady and the Unicorn
On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being "This book was sent from the gods for us mere mortals to read" and 1 being "This book wouldn't even make good toilet paper") here's how they rate:
Girl with a Pearl Earring: 5
The Virgin Blue: 5
Falling Angels: 5
Remarkable Creatures: 3
The Lady and the Unicorn: 4
Need I say more? The scores speak for themselves. Her writing has never let me down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton- This was my first Michael Crichton novel, and I must say that I got sucked in pretty quickly. I had to read this for my Victorian lit class- and I know you're thinking, "Chelsey, how could this be for your Victorian lit class when it is CLEARLY written by a well-known contemporary author of pure fiction?" And my answer for you my friends is this: Crichton wrote this historical fiction novel about the Great Train Robbery of 1855 in England. So yes, it does seem odd that I read a Crichton novel for my Vic. lit class, but it also makes sense, no?

I won't go too much into the plot because there are so many subplots and main plot threads that go on that it's hard to explain it in one simple paragraph. But I will say that this is about one of the biggest and greatest robberies of all time- no one thought that it could be done (and as you get farther into the novel you can't believe that it's possible also). Crichton does an excellent job of immersing readers into the Victorian world and mindset- every other chapter is a further description into how the Victorian society is run and what each fact of history means to the story.

I gotta tell you- I was against reading a Crichton novel that was supposedly Victorian when all I've ever thought of Crichton has been contemporary, but he really pulls it off. Definitely read this if you're looking for a glimpse into the past, wanting a good mystery or an adventure novel, or are just looking to be surprised ( in a good way) in the overall subject matter and content. I highly recommend this book. Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Harry Potter

Can I just tell you how much I love Harry Potter? I do. Because the 6th movie came out this summer I decided to reread all 0f the books- I'm sad to say that I've only read the 6th and 7th books once, so rereading them was a blast. Though, for obvious reasons (school...and then more school) I haven't been able to update my blog. I've been ridiculously busy, but I have just now finished reading the last chapter of the last book. And I WOULD have cried (I was a little misty) had I not have read the last couple of chapters while I was at work. Ah, Harry Potter. How I love thee.

Summer Reading Reality Check 2009

So I know that summer has been over for roughly 2 1/2 months now, but school and work has pretty much consumed my ENTIRE life, so I'm not cranking out posts as much as I would like to. Anyhoo, here's a list of everything I read this summer:

Practical Magic- Alice Hoffman
Paper Towns- John Green
The Sisters Grimm: The Everafter War- Michael Buckley
The Jane Austen Book Club- Karen Fowler
The Last Olympian- Rick Riordan
Dragon Slippers- Jessica Day George
Lean Mean Thirteen- Janet Evanovich
Prince of Persia- Jordan Mechner
Coraline- Neil Gaiman
Savvy- Ingrid Law
Fearless Fourteen- Janet Evanovich
Wonderland- Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew
The Tale of Desperaux- Kate Dicamillo
Smiles to Go- Jerry Spinelli
Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat- Lynne Jones
Book of a Thousand Days- Shannon Hale
A Kiss in Time- Alex Flinn
The Luxe- Anna Godbersen
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince- J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling
The Revolution of Sabine- Beth Levine Ain

Of course, not as much as I would have liked to have read this summer, but I think I took a pretty good stab at things. Until next summer (or maybe Christmas break)!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Revolution of Sabine

The Revolution of Sabine by Beth Ain was stunning. Not only is the cover beautiful, but the writing is beautiful and engaging as well. Though this book is shorter and smaller, the content within packs a powerful punch.

Sabine Durand is the daughter of one of the upper aristocratic families in Paris (though her mother tries just a little too hard to be "cool"). Sabine is 16 and so fittingly, only ever thinks of wearing pretty dresses and attending parties, hoping that her mother will eventually stop making a fool of herself. When her mother throws a party for the upper class of Paris welcoming Benjamin Franklin to their shining city, Sabine begins to realize that there may be more to life than pretty ball gowns, being born into money, and marrying the man her parents have set for her.

After radical thoughts begin to stir in Sabine's mind, she winds up following Michael, her long lost childhood friend, to a salon where she meets Franklin. With their heated discussion of politics, Sabine learns to think for herself and contemplates getting out of her predetermined status quo. But what will her parents say when they find out that she has rekindled her "dangerous" relationship with the rakish Michael? And what will happen to Sabine's fiance, once he's realized that Sabine does not intend to be a doting wife? (Well, if you read the book, you'll find out!)

A fun historical fiction read that left me wanting more. This is definitely a little gem of a book.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Authors live among us? Who knew?

So I just met Carol Lynch Williams! She came into the library and asked for help with her daughter's holds, and as I was checking items out to her, I realized that she is THE Carol Lynch Williams. I told her that I haven't read any of her books (yet), but that I can't wait for The Chosen One to come out. The only thing I forgot to tell her was that I HAVE read one of her books: My Angelica, which was very funny and entertaining. She told me that I had just made her day by recognizing her, and that she was going to write about me in her journal. The only problem is is that she's probably going to spell my name with an "a" and not a "y". Sad. But, who knew that I would make someone's journal entry today? AND, who knew that there were authors all around us? *Sheila, I already knew about you!*

Catching Fire

So I actually read Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins a couple weeks ago, but have been so busy lately that I haven't had time to blog about it, or anything that I've been reading lately. And yes, I got to read it before it even hit the bookstores. I was super pumped to read this book because if you didn't know it's the sequel to The Hunger Games (which you should go out and buy ASAP!), and who wouldn't be excited to read the sequel to a book that freaking blows your mind? I'm sad to say though that Catching Fire was disappointing for me- there I've said it. I can't believe that I said it, but it sucked compared to Hunger Games. I know you can't really compare the two, but this was definitely a letdown. And here's why:

1. Katniss is being her stupid self and trying to "decide" whether she likes Gale as just a friend or considers him MORE than a friend- though she SPECIFICALLY said in Hunger Games that she's NEVER thought of Gale as more than a friend and that she considers him like a BROTHER (see page 10 if you don't believe me). And I quote:
"There's never been anything romantic between Gale and me...You can tell by the way the girls whisper about him when he walks by in school that they want him. It makes me jealous but not for the reason people would think. Good hunting partners are hard to find."
*Take that Lyndi!*

2. Katniss is trying to decide whether she actually likes Peeta or not- more so than what she pretends at for the public. Seriously- make up your mind! If she doesn't take him soon, I will!

3. The story's great and I can see how it would be captivating, but it doesn't move as well as The Hunger Games- it took me roughly 2/3 or the book or so to get into the story, and even then the pages didn't pull me in. The storyline was great and I can see how others thought it was good, but I just couldn't get sucked in. And it didn't help that Katniss kept whining about whether she loved Gale or whether she loved Peeta, blah blah blah. Stop being indecisive!

Those were my main grievances with the novel- you can definitely tell that this book was more of a setup for the third, which may have been why it bombed. It was definitely an intermediary book that had to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time and make connections between the first and third books. Hopefully when I read it again I can get over Katniss' angst and whining and get wrapped up in the story. I hope? Please?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

North of Beautiful

So I read 142 pages of this book, and I still couldn't get into it. It may have been the whiny main character, or the un-engaging writing style, but I'm only sorry that I didn't stop reading it earlier. North of Beautiful is about Terra, a high school junior who just wants to get out of her small town and get to college as fast as she can. The main reason for this is because of her large purple port-wine birthmark on one side of her face; the other being that her dad is a total jerk to her and her mom. Terra is nothing short of paranoid about her birthmark, and freaks out if she doesn't have her layers of makeup on to reduce her "stain". Basically this tells the story of Terra and how she copes with being ugly (her words, not mine- though other than her birth mark she's virtually perfect) enough to step outside of her house every morning. The premise of the story had promise but was seriously poorly executed. I found myself struggling to go on after a couple pages, which astounds me that I read 142. Maybe I'm just a saint?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Luxe

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen: it's good- trust me. Just read it. Though the plot is somewhat predictable and none of the characters seem to be all that likeable, I LOVE this book. I can't wait to read the second one because it's just that good. Godbersen did a FANTASTIC job writing this story and for her first try, she was highly successful.

The Luxe has been called the Gossip Girl series of it's time: it deals with New York Manhattan socialites during the 1899 turn of the century, equipped with all the drama and husband-grabbing as any novel faced with competitive high-society "friends". The book opens with the death of Elizabeth Holland, the brightest society girl of the bunch, and proceeds to go back in time to tell of how Elizabeth came to be dead. We quickly find out that Elizabeth is the perfect product of her society (except for the trysts that she has with the stableboy), that her best friend Penelope Hayes may have had her hand in Elizabeth's death, and that Henry Schoonmaker, Elizabeth's betrothed, may have been having an affair with Elizabeth's sister Diana. Obviously this book is not lacking in plot. This is definitely a fun "romp" through Manhattan's society that I'm sure is still thriving and just as interesting now as it was over 100 years ago.

Though the story took me a couple pages to get into due to the overload of names and people, I quickly found myself being sucked into the story. The funny thing about the book is that even though the different storylines are engaging and you want to keep reading through all forms of distraction, all the characters are unlikable. What I mean is that they ARE likable, but there's still a level of disgust and apathy that you end up feeling for each character- it's weird really and hard to explain. To get what I'm talking about you just have to read it. Although I feel somewhat apathetic towards the characters, The Luxe is one of the better books that I've read recently, and find myself thinking about often. I have the sequel, Rumors checked out, and I can't wait to finish what I'm reading and read it. I hope it's as good as the first.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Book Buying Obsession for July

From used book stores:
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging- Louise Rennison
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire- J.K. Rowling

From the bookstore:
Briar Rose- Jane Yolen
Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous Sexual Puns- Pauline Kiernan
Book of a Thousand Days- Shannon Hale
Slugs- David Greenberg
Nurse Matilda- Christianna Brand
Ever- Gail Carson Levine
Cyrano- Geraldine McCaughrean
British Artists: Thomas Gainsborough
Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch

From DI:
Shabanu- Suzanne Fisher Staples
The Time Travelers Volume 1- Caroline B. Cooney
Sorcery and Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot- Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
My Angelica- Carol Lynch Williams
A String in the Harp- Nancy Bond
Their Eyes Were Watching God- Zora Neale Hurston
13 Little Blue Envelopes- Maureen Johnson
The French Chef Cookbook- Julia Child
Homeless Birds- Gloria Whelan
A Tale of Two Cities- Charles Dickens (the cover was just so pretty that I had to buy it)
Or Give me Death- Ann Rinaldi
The Royal Diaries- Isabel: Jewel of Castilla- Carolyn Meyer (I think I already own this, but I bought it just to be on the safe side)
A Treasury of Royal Scandals- Michael Farquhar
Songs on Bronze: The Greek Myths Made Real- Nigel Spivey
Looking for Mary- Beverly Donofrio
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult- Joseph Bedier
Olive's Ocean- Kevin Henkes
Wolf by the Ears- Ann Rinaldi
Mine Eyes Have Seen- Ann Rinaldi
Medieval and Tudor Drama- edited by John Gassner
Beast- Donna Jo Napoli
The Handmaid's Tale- Margaret Atwood

From library book sales:
Mara Daughter of the Nile- Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Timeless Love- Judith O'Brien

It seriously worries me that each month this list keeps getting bigger. Maybe it will wean off by the time school gets going?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Buying Obsession for June

From used book stores:
Twisted- Laurie Halse Anderson
A Song for Summer- Eva Ibbotson
The Study of Language- George Yule
Linguistics at Work- Dallin D. Oaks

From D.I.
A Far Side Collection: Last Chapter and Worse- Gary Larson
These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine- Nancy E. Turner
Firebirds Rising: an anthology of original science fiction and fantasy- edited by Sharyn November
Eyewitness Travel Guides: Italy
The Princess Tales: Cinderellis and the Glass Hill- Gail Carson Levine
Out of the Dust- Karen Hesse
Dubliners- James Joyce
Kit's Wilderness- David Almond
The Chocolate War- Robert Cormier
Selected Poems- Czeslaw Milosz
Nickel and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America- Barbara Ehrenreich
Five Quarters of the Orange- Joanne Harris

From various book stores:
The Giant Jam Sandwhich- John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway
When We Were VeryYoung- A.A. Milne
Travels with a Medieval Queen: the Journey of a Sicilian Princess- Mary Taylor Smith
Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters who Ruled Europe- Nancy Goldstone

If I keep buying books at this rate, I truly will have the library from Beauty and the Beast, which is of course what I want.

A Kiss in Time

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn was one of the best books I've read this year- I may have read other things that were good or okay, but this book was amazing. You know the book is good when you find that you've turned so many pages that you haven't even realized it because you're so caught up in the story. This is the second book I've read by Flinn (the first being Beastly), and I have to say that she does three great things with her writing: she executes the male voice to a "t", she creates a realistic modern day fairytale story, and her writing is so modern and such a great example of the teen voice that it doesn't seem like you're reading but that you're talking to someone.

This novel is told through two different character's narration: Jack, the typical teenager who was sent (against his will) on a tour around Europe with his best friend Travis, and Talia, the (spoiled) Sleeping Beauty-esque princess who ends up pricking her finger on a spindle, sending her entire kingdom into a deep sleep for about 200+ years. Jack and Travis end up stumbling upon Talia's kingdom, and her, when they break away from their boring tour guide to look for a beach, which has the potential to have nude girls. Jack doesn't know why he suddenly has the urge to kiss the beautiful sleeping princess, but once he does he regrets it: Talia is annoying, ungrateful, and used to being pampered. But once Talia comes to and realizes that nothing awaits her in a kingdom that no one realizes exists, she decides to hitch herself to Jack, in the hopes that she can convince him that he is meant for her and is her true love.

I absolutely LOVE this book- it's funny, clever, and was a great spin-off of Sleeping Beauty. I definitely recommend this book- in fact, I'm planning on buying it soon.

Book of a Thousand Days

So I finally finished reading Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, and I must say that I liked it- not as much as Princess Academy, but definitely more than Goose Girl. I took me a while to get into the story simply because it didn't grasp me at the very beginning, but I trekked on because of all of the rave reviews I had heard about the book. I dare say that I'm glad I didn't put it down, and after the third attempt to read it, I finally finished it.

This book tells the story of Dashti, a mucker girl (somewhat like a farmer), who ends up becoming a lady's maid to the Lady Saren, one of the princesses in the land. Within minutes of Dashti saying she will serve her lady, Lady Saren's father locks both of them within a tower due to Saren's disobedience. As each day dawns, Dashti narrates their lives in locked up solitude, and she quickly learns why they are both locked in the tower; two of Lady Saren's suitors show up outside the tower with intentions to break both girls free. Saren fears both men-especially the one that could harm her and her kingdom, yet refuses to leave the tower out of fear. Though this story is supposed to be a record of the seven years that the girls are in the tower, it's when they both break free that the real story and adventure begins.

Again, this isn't the best thing that I've read by Hale, but it definitely wasn't the worst. I think Shannon Hale's books are hits and misses- you have to find the right one for you. I think the reason why I like Princess Academy so much is because it was the first Shannon Hale book that I read. It's different and it's a different take on the fairytale genre. A lot of people think I'm crazy because I don't like Goose Girl yet think I'm crazy that I like Princess Academy, but again, Goose Girl was the first Shannon Hale book that they read- ergo, they like it. If you're looking for a Shannon Hale book to read, I recommend Princess Academy or Book of a Thousand Days. They didn't fail me, so hopefully they won't for you either!

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell was one of the best books I've read in a long time. I never really thought to pick this book up, simply because I'm somewhat out of my children's lit phase and am currently in a YA lit phase (and am now moving onto adult lit- I'm growing up, sad!), but I was told it was good, and so thought, "What the hey?" Definitely one of the better decisions I've made in a while.

So this tells the story of Emmy, a very good and somewhat boring girl who likes to sit by the class' pet rat because he isn't good at all. One thing is out of the ordinary though: Emmy can talk to the rat. What seems like just another story about a good little girls turns into a crazy adventure into the rat's (aka Ratty's) life. I really can't tell too much of the plot because it will give away basically the whole plot, but I can tell you that Emmy has an evil nanny Miss Barmy who is horrible and tries at every turn to keep Emmy aloof from potential friends, and remaining as a good girl. But why? This is the question that lingers as you continue reading, and is crucial to the plot. I loved this fun little romp through the eyes of Emmy and her rat. I loved this so much that I'm planning on reading the sequel, Emmy and the home for Troubled Girls. This is definitely worth buying and reading- I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Smiles to Go

Smiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli was an okay read. It was recommended to me by a friend who has gave it rave reviews, but I found it to be just okay. Definitely not my favorite book by Spinelli, but entertaining to say the least. This tells the story of Will Tuppence and revolves around the death of the proton. Will was told when he was little about how protons never die-which changed Will's life when he was a kid. It's when the first reports of proton death make the news that Will's life changes forever. From then on, Will decides to take more risks and document his life from the day the proton died. The story is full of heart, friendship, and unique personality. This is definitely an interesting take on the coming of age story; the sub-plot of Will's little sister being the biggest pain in his backside and their run-ins was funny to read, and being the older sibbling, I definitely related. Once again, not the best Spinelli novel I've read, but his definitions of character, voice and humor ring true, and is what Spinelli does best.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wonderland

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew was a fun read, and an interesting twist on the original Alice in Wonderland tale. It isn't necessarily a "book" so much as it's a comic book, or a "graphic novel" as the book publishing snobs now call them- whatever. It looks like a comic book, ergo it IS a comic book. There isn't too much to say about this book other than the illustrations are BEAUTIFUL and full of depth and dynamic, and the storyline is interesting.

Wonderland tells the tale of Maryann, the maidservant to Mr. Rabbit/the white rabbit (this is the maidservant that Mr. Rabbit mistakes Alice for in the movie). The book pretty much takes you on a fun romp through Wonderland, exploring the interesting (and odd) nooks and crannies of the place. While there you meet the Queen of Heart's other sisters (the Queens of Spades, Clubs and Diamonds) as well as the newly transformed drugged Caterpillar, and find a rebel group of animals who follow the Alice Monster and her teachings. Odd though this book may be, it's a nice break away from reality and what may be the norm in reading. Though the book is beautiful to flip through, there isn't really a storyline to the book. I'm not sure if I would ever read it again because there wasn't any foundation to the tale, but I know I'll end up flipping through it just for the illustrations.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Savvy

Savvy by Ingrid Law was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was so excited to read this book because of its premise and amazing cover, but was letdown once I began to learn about what makes a "savvy" for each person in Mississippi Beaumont's (Mibs) family. A savvy is a magical power of sorts- Mibs' grandpa can move mountains and land, her brother can create hurricanes, and one of her great-aunts went back in time 20 minutes every time she sneezed. On her mother's side of the family, every time a kid in their family turns 13, their savvy presents itself, which is where the beginning of this book opens up: Mibs is a day away from her 13th birthday and she can't wait to find out what her savvy is. But then her dad gets in a car accident the day before her birthday, and suddenly all Mibs can hope for is a savvy that can save her poppa. It's when Mibs believes that her savvy can help her dad wake up from his coma that she decides to steal a bible salesman's bus to try and wake her dad up from his coma with the help from her savvy.

WARNING: I'm about to tell you Mibs' savvy in the next paragraph- brace yourselves.

I wanted to like this book. I really did. And I even spent more time trying to get through the author's overreached prose than I normally do with any other given book. But this book was somewhat of a flop to me. I think one of the problems that I had with the premise of the story was how Mibs' savvy presents itself. After having an awesome setup of literal earthshaking savvys that had something to do with the physical world around them (ground moving, creating hurricanes, moving back in time when sneezes commence, etc.), hers felt not only like a letdown, but like she was given a lesser savvy because she was a girl (Law actually leans towards this reasoning in the book). I don't want to read about a main character who's power is to hear people's inner thoughts through their body art- mainly because (and I know this is going to sound prejudiced and biased, and totally horrible of me) the people who get tattoos are not people that I want to be associated with. No offense to anyone who has a tattoo, but I really don't want to hear the thoughts of people who have them. To me, it just seems as if their thoughts are dirtier (again, I'm sorry to anyone who may be reading this who happens to have a tattoo). Having a main character that associates with those kinds of people (and Law seems to make it a good thing) bothers me. I don't want it to bother me, but I can't help it. It was at this point (once Mibs' savvy presented itself) that I decided to skim the rest.

I felt Law was trying too hard- the main idea of the story was great until it got to the turning point where Mibs' father gets hurt. I love her idea of savvys and powers, but I could tell that this was her first book; Law had no idea where to take the story after coming up with the great story idea. Also, it felt as if she was trying too hard to make her prose "cute" or "whimsical" and original. That drove me crazy. If she would just take out the random "prosy-poetical" one-liners, the story would flow better and keep me from my mental grinding and mumbled curses.

I can see how the premise of the book made it a contender for the Newbery, but I don't think it should have won an honor position at all. Law's lack of control of the language throughout the novel was obvious that it was her first novel and that she didn't have experience under her belt. I am, however, extremely glad this book didn't win the Newbery; I think that Savvy should have gone through a couple more revisions before it was sold to the general public. Hopefully Law will grow out of her overreaching, "cutesy", lofty prose by the time she writes her next novel. Either that, or her editors should do a better job of editing her paragraph structure.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Coraline

I read the graphic novel. I saw the movie in 3-D. I finally read the book. Man, it took a long time to get me to read this book. I really enjoyed the story, but the third time around was a little bit of an overkill. Don't get me wrong- I liked the book and the story's premise, but just reading the book after I had seen the movie and read the graphic novel not too long ago was a little much and really repetitive. But nonetheless, it's still a good read.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is about one very bored girl who has just recently moved with her parents into a house in the English countryside. The house is so big that it's separated into four different parts with a crazy old man named Mr. Bobo living upstairs with his circus of mice, and the two eccentric ex-actresses Mrs. Spink and Mrs. Forcible living in the basement part of the house with their pack of Highland terriers. In her effort to curb her boredom and fight the dreary weather, Coraline visits both apartments to talk with the boarders, but finds only older people who don't listen to anything Coraline has to say, who constantly pronounce her name incorrectly- they say CAroline and not COraline.

Through Coraline's endless wanderings she ends up finding a little door in her house that opens to a wall of bricks, yet when she unlocks it a second time in the middle of the night, finds that it leads to another world. Of course she explores the world and sees that it's an alternate reality that was set up by her Other Mother, a woman who looks exactly like her mom but has black buttons for eyes, and seems to want to constantly please Coraline so that she will stay there with her other parents forever. Other than the fact that her other parents are extremely creepy, the other world seems nice enough: her toys all come to life and play with her, the cat that followed her through the doorway can speak to her, and her food and clothes options are exciting and limitless. Yet Coraline knows there's something not right about the other world, and trying to get back to her real world and parents is a little challenging when your Other mother wants to sew buttons on your eyes so that you can stay with her forever.

The story is truly engaging and creative; we've all been in Coraline's situation, trying to find things to do to take away the boredom. Gaiman has a certain mastery over his character descriptions and his attention to detail that makes the story that much more clever and enjoyable to read. I definitely recommend this book to anyone, just don't read it three times within a couple of months!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Book Buying Obsession for May

Once again, a slightly embarrassing list of books that I've bought this month.

From the bookstore:
Dragon Spear- Jessica Day George
The Wednesday Wars- Gary D. Schmidt
Iodine- Haven Kimmel (it was $1 at Borders- I couldn't resist)
Goddess of Yesterday- Caroline B. Cooney
Princess Ben- Catherine Murdock
The Last Olympian- Rick Riorday
Fablehaven 4: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary- Brandon Mull

From the library book sale:
Orlando Bloom has ruined everything: A FoxTrot collection- Bill Ament (comics)
The Ruby in the Smoke: A Sally Lockhart Mystery- Philip Pullman
About the B'nai Bagles- E.L. Konigsburg
Search of the Moon King's Daughter- Linda Holeman
Skullduggery Pleasant- Derek Landy

I just have to say that half of the books on my list wouldn't be possible without the $50 gift card I got to Barnes and Noble from my awesome Aunt Sue! Thank you again!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lovey Dovey Books

So I always get requests from friends and family to make a personalized list of books for them that they would like. Though I enjoy doing that, I hesitate sometimes to make that type of call for them simply because what if my suggestion backfires? I can't handle that pressure! (Just kidding) Anyway, of course most of my friends are still reeling after finishing the Twilight series and need some happy romance in their lives, no strings attached. I'll try and post summaries about all the books I list, but to satisfy their (and your) needs right now, here's a list of romantic books to fulfill all of your romantic needs:

For Juvenile/Teen Readers:
Boston Jane series
East
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
The Percy Jackson series (it's there but it may take until the later books to show)
Dragon Slippers series
The Sisters Grimm series (again, it'll take a couple books to show)
Alanna series
Fairest
Ella Enchanted
Once Upon a Time series

For Teen Readers:

Twilight series (obviously)
Blood and Chocolate
Dairy Queen series
Notes from the Midnight Driver (subtle, but it's there)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series
Graceling (I'm not a huge fan of this book, but you might be)
The Hunger Games
Beastly
Keturah and Lord Death (who doesn't want to date Death?)
The Year My Life Went Down the Loo series (hilarious!)
Eyeliner of the Gods series
All of the Avon True Romance series (the teen versions of "romance novels"- there's nothing bad, I swear!)
The Raging Quiet
Georgia Nichols series (they're British and HILARIOUS!)
The Princess Diaries series
Waiting for Odysseus- Clemence McLaren
Troy- Adele Geras
Sirena
A Great and Terrible Beauty series

For Adult Readers:

Austenland
Practical Magic
Hannah Swensen mystery series (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, etc.)
Stephanie Plum mystery series (One for the Money, etc.)
Jayhawk- Dorothy Keddington (it's a Mormon book and it may be out of print, but it's good!)
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation series
Girl with a Pearl Earring
Emilie's Voice
The Women of Genesis series- Orson Scott Card
The Virgin Blue
The Other Boleyn Girl
Memoirs of a Geisha
Jemima J

Don't feel limited by the age groups that I've grouped them in. Feel free to read any book from any age group, though of course if you have a child that's in middle school, you're not really going to want them to read the adult group books. However, if you're a teen feel free to read whatever- I know that I read most of the "adult" books when I was in high school.
Also, a lot of these books aren't specifically "romance" books, but have substantial enough romance in them that they can qualify as romances. Enjoy!

Dragon Slippers

So I just finished reading Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. Wow! What a great read! I've been meaning to read it for a while now, but never seemed to take the chance to sit down and read it. (I'm sure that attending the Provo Children's Book Festival helped me finally kick the bucket and start it because I met Jessica Day George and remembered how great of a writer and storyteller she is). I was slightly skeptical of the story just because there are so many kids of books out there that have to deal with dragons (and I've read a lot of them) and just reading the inside flap kind of turned me off. Yet I pushed through my prejudices and discovered a little jewel of a book.

Creel is an orphan that lives with her aunt and uncle in a poor farming town. To cut the costs of all the children her family has to take care of, her aunt decides to give Creel to the local dragon in hopes that she can then have the wealthy lord's son rescue and then marry Creel. Plans don't go exactly as her aunt had mapped out for Creel, and the next thing you know Creel has made a friend in the local dragon and has decided to make her way in life by becoming an apprentice in The King's Seat (the country's capital). Unlike other dragon stories, George has created dragons that have hoards of unique objects, and not of gold- some dragons hoard stained glass windows, tapestries, shoes, and even dogs. Before Creel leaves the dragon she's just encountered, she ends up with a pair of odd blue sippers from his personal hoard. Through a series of events Creel learns just how magical these slippers are and what she can do to use their power to save their country.

This was a really fast read, and an enjoyable one to boot. I've loved all of George's books so far, and Dragon Slippers didn't disappoint. To tell you the truth, as Mormon children's authors go, I like her a lot better than Shannon Hale; I'd take Dragon Slippers (and most definitely Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow) over The Goose Girl any day. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, and the "trequel"as well. (Alright, so I made up a word. What I really mean is that I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel to the second book, or the third in the series thus far).

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Boston Jane Series




The Boston Jane Trilogy:
An Adventure
Wilderness Days
The Claim



I love these books. I can't tell you how much I love them, but I do. A lot. And the funny thing about them is that I never planned on reading them until a fellow staff member (thanks Sheila!) recommended them to me. This has to be one of my all-time favorite series simply because it's filled with romance and history and a main character that's full of sass and adventure.

The storyline for all three books is that Jane (who is actually from Philadelphia and not Boston) leaves her father and Philadelphia in the hopes of marrying a man that she has had a crush on since he apprenticed with her father, a doctor. He leaves her to become a doctor in Washington (state), and Jane, being the "dutiful" girl that she is, believes that she should follow him to become his wife. What ensues is a fun adventure for Jane of a ridiculously long ship ride to the other side of the country (we're talking going around the base of Southern America!), crazy climate, and a fiance that is nowhere to be seen. I don't want to tell you anything about the other two books because what I write will give away the plot that is set up from the first book, Boston Jane: An Adventure. These books are amazing and too much fun. I definitely stayed up late into the night reading all of them.

Just a note of caution: if you find yourself having a hard time getting through the first book, DO NOT DESPAIR! The first book took me a while to get into, but once you get to the part where Jane is on the ship traveling to Washington, things pick up. Also, the first book was my least favorite- they become better with each new book. Another side note: the second and third books are out of print, so try buying them from a second seller on amazon.com or through a used bookstore.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Provo Library Children's Book Festival

So yesterday I attended the Provo City Library's Children's Literature Festival which was a ton of fun. The library has had this event for two years now (I believe), and each year has been a smashing success. I had a blast meeting lots of new authors, yet I still didn't have enough time to go to the selected readings and forums that some of the authors were giving, which was disheartening. Hopefully there's next year, right? Anyway, I got these authors to sign my books (among my friends' relatives' and co-workers'):
Shannon Hale
Brandon Mull
Brandon Sanderson
Mette Ivie Harrison
Jessica Day George
I had met Shannon and both Brandon's from last year's event, but Jessica and Mette were new. I had thought of meeting them both last year but thought I should have actually read both of their books prior to getting them signed. I still didn't have time to read Mette's book, but I have the ambition to read it! I swear! Hopefully next year I can meet James Dashner and let him know that I actually have read his books and enjoyed them. All in all, it was a successful event with tons of crazy and hyper children running about with loud ear-piercing cries (which we all know equals a hit).
It was cute though-- Darcie and I met these two kids, a brother and sister ages 13 and 16ish, who were excited to meet Brandon Mull. The boy was so excited to meet him, and was asking aloud whether Brian Jacques was going to be here, and even Tolkien. We sadly had to tell him that we were pretty sure Jacques lives in Scotland and that Tolkien was signing books for fans on the other side. We let him know that this event was for local authors; his sister was slightly embarrassed, but we reassured them both. They were both adorable, and hopefully we run into them both next year.
Oh, this is totally random, but while I was in line waiting to meet Jessica Day George, there was a woman behind me that looked really familiar. I was trying to remember where I remember seeing her and after I second of contemplation realized that she was the one to host Rick Riordan here last February ('08). (Her name is Mrs. Moody from Dixon Middle School). I told her that I was so thankful that she was able to get him out here and that his presence in the greater Wasatch area seriously made my life. She then told me the story of how she got him to come out here: she randomly sent him an email asking if he would be at all available to visit her school/area to do a book signing and presentation for her school because her kids love him and would love the chance to meet him. He wrote back saying he would be available at such and such a time and gave her the price of what it would cost to host him. She responded and said there would be no way she could afford him but he said that yes she could. He asked her what she could afford to spend to have him out for 3 days, she let him know, and he said that he would love to come- he said he was excited to come-he had never been to Utah before.
I was floored when I heard her story- it was seriously a fluke that I ended up seeing a flier that told of his coming to the Barnes and Noble in Orem. I was volunteering for one day at Dixon Middle School for my American Heritage class and while I was waiting for an assignment I was examining my surroundings in a classroom and saw the flier for his book signing. I seriously started jumping with joy (on the inside). I couldn't believe my luck. If I had not signed up for volunteering that day I would never have met him. It was fate, I swear. It was awesome. And I love Mrs. Moody from Dixon Middle. She has some great ideas for her students- she was getting a ton of hardback books signed by authors there at the event because if her kids meet their reading goals by the end of the year she would try and get a signed copy of one of their favorite books, or give them a book of their choosing. That's dedication right there.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech

Website: www.sharoncreech.com
Books Written: Absolutely Normal Chaos, Bloomability, The Castle Corona, Chasing Redbird, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, Hate that Cat, Heartbeat, Love that Dog, Pleasing the Ghost, Replay, Ruby Holler, Walk Two Moons, The Wanderer
Notable Awards:
For Absolutely Normal Chaos: 100 Best Books for Reading and Sharing in 1995 (New York Public Library), YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults in 2001
For Bloomability: Parenting Magazine Reading Magic Award in 1998, Chicago Public Library Best Books in 1998
For Chasing Redbird: ALA Best Books in 1997, Finalist for the Parent's Choice Award Silver Honor in 1997
For Love that Dog: Christopher Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award
For Ruby Holler: Carnegie Medal in 2002
For Walk Two Moons: Newbery Medal, Children's Book Award in 1995, UK Reading Association Award in 1995
For The Wanderer: Newbery Honor Award in 2001, ALA Notable Book in 2001, Christopher Award in 2001, Parent's Choice Award in 2000, Child Magazine Best Book of the Year 2000
Her Niche: A lot (if not all) of her stories deal with the coming of age of her main characters. Usually there is a big adventure for the main character that propels them into knowledge, or to say it differently, into a more enlightened and wise-end state.
Why I like her (a lot) and why I think you should too: I just love her books. They're refreshing and highly enjoyable to read. I know that whenever I read one of her books I'll be settling down for the afternoon- the sunlight will stream through my window, I'll be perfectly comfortable in my chair, and I'll think to myself, "If only my childhood was like this...". It's interesting, but every time I read something by her I'm always reminded on my childhood and early adolescent years because her books produce a form of nostalgia that is hard to beat with any other author.
Which of her books I've read: Bloomability, Chasing Redbird, Heartbeat, The Wanderer. On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being "This book was sent from the gods for us mere mortals to read" and 1 being "This book wouldn't even make good toilet paper") here's how they rate:
Bloomability: 5
Chasing Redbird: 5
Heartbeat: 4
The Wanderer: 4

The Jane Austen Book Club

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Fowler was somewhat of a delight to read. I've always seen this book in the library yet had never thought to pick it up because it's for adults and didn't seem too interesting at all. However, after I watched the movie and LOVED it, I thought I'd give it a try.

The book club is made up of 6 members (5 women and 1 man) who all come together and form the club as a pick-me-up for Sylvia, a member, whose husband has just left her for another women. The other members think that the club will be a good distraction for her and help her move on with life. The basic structure of the club is to read all of Austen's six novels (Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma), one a month, with each book club member hosting the book discussion at their own house. As you read on you realize that each character has an Austen novel that pretty much describes their life and that with each novel they present you find out more about them and how each member is connected to others in the group.

I thought this book was okay and was really only interested in one of the story lines (Prudie's). I loved the movie and found that watching the movie prior to reading the book really helped me visualize the characters and the story line because I could see the real-life representations in my mind. I thought the book was okay, but definitely prefer the movie to the book when it comes to this one. I loved that the author is from Davis, CA. and set the novel in the San Fransisco Bay Area. Other than that, I found the group's discussion hard to follow because the language was tough to work through as well as their lofty thoughts. I had to really concentrate to get through their gatherings and found myself skipping ahead somewhat. It's sad, but by the time I got to the last 100 pages or so I just skimmed and only really read the parts that stuck with the movie. I'm horrible, I know, but sue me. It was hard and my brain hurt sometimes!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green was interesting to say the least. I enjoyed the original format of the story, the witty characters, and the humor that was laced throughout the framework of the book. The main premise of this book is that in one way or another, the entire story revolves around the character Margo Roth Spiegelman. So to get things started, the story is told from the point of view of Quentin Jacobsen, a senior in high school who has been in love with Margo since they were kids, who just so happens to live next door to him. After recounting stories of how odd Margo is, she shows up in the middle of the night outside Quentin's window asking him to join her in a night of revenge filled escapades. What follows is an interesting evening where we get another perspective of Margo that even Quentin didn't know existed.

Once Quentin and Margo both go home after their joyous evening of fun, Quentin can't help but think if Margo will talk to him at school tomorrow, share their inside secrets, or even acknowledge his presence (she is a popular girl after all). Once Quentin gets to school he realizes that Margo isn't there- no biggie, he'll just wait to talk to her later at home. Hopefully she has another night of madness planned. However, four days pass and no one has seen any signs of Margo. The cops are called but her parents aren't worried seeing as this is her 6th or so attempt to run away. They think she'll come home when she wants to, but Quentin isn't so sure- especially when he finds a clue that references the night that they both spent together, which seems to be left specifically for him. What follows next is Quentin's attempt to find Margo, along with his best friends, through the chain of clues that she's left him, hoping that he can bring her back to him when she's seemed to fall off the face of the earth.

I really enjoyed reading the first half of this book, and parts of the second half as well. There were a lot of hilarious parts where I found I had to reign back my laughter because my roommate was asleep in the next bed. The middle of the story, the part where Quentin is trying to connect the clues and find Margo was a little slow, and parts of the story where he's looking for a specific clue could have been edited- it took too long to find Margo through her clues. I know the story is supposed to be somewhat realistic, but Quentin is seriously obsessed with finding her- it would have been nice if Green would have sped up the process to either make it seem like Quentin isn't obsessing over Margo, who seems really odd and wacky, or have him give up at some point.

The ending was not what I expected at all, and looking back, wished that Green could have come up with another ending. Once you find out what happens, it's kind of a letdown. Other than that, the story is enjoyable, and worth reading.

Practical Magic

Practical Magic has entered the realm of books on my favorites list. I just finished reading it a week ago and loved it even more than I would have if I had read it at another time during the year because it's a good summer read. The subject of magic and love and the descriptions of the East Coast surround you and transport you to the Owens' front yard.

To try to sum it up, this book is about the Owens women who have been branded by their little town as witches (which is not entirely untrue)- Gillian and Sally Owens were forced to live with their two Aunts when their parents were killed in a fire that destroyed their home. Though the girls are sisters, they could not be more unlike each other (in all things except for their beauty). Sally is dependable, rational, and cautious while Gillian is hell on wheels, a flirt and lazy. Through each girls' experience we learn about the Owens women and why it seems that trouble is always just around the corner for them. The girls quickly learn that in the Aunts' home, as long as they are kept alone to do their work, they can do whatever they want, which launches Sally into the role of a homemaker and Gillian into her role of spoiled brat (who leaves a wake of exes in her path).

The ideas of magic and love are tossed around throughout the novel, and as the book goes on we read how each sister approaches love: Gillian is stuck in an abusive relationship that she can only get out of with the help of her sister, and once Sally's husband dies, leaving her alone with two daughters (who just so happen to be mini-replicas of herself and Gillian), she bans any form of love that comes her way. If anything, this novel teaches us about love and magic, and what happens when we refuse to recognize either. I loved this book, and I loved it so much that I'm definitely considering reading it every year at about this time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Buying Obsession for April

So here are the books I bought for April, though there aren't as many as last month!

Ella Enchanted- by Gail Carson Levine (for my friend Darcie's graduation)
Ruby Holler- by Sharon Creech
Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand- by Gail Carson Levine

I definitely kept a hold on my book spending this month though I keep getting donations from the library, so in a way it compensates for not actually buying books. We'll see what May brings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Firm

The Firm was my first introduction to John Grisham, and let me tell you- his writing is powerful and his storyline and characters are vivid and capturing. I loved this book, and at times, found myself on the "edge of my seat" with the action. The Firm tells the story of Mitchell Y. McDeere a 20-something fresh out of Harvard Law School who is recruited by the law firm Berdini, Lambert, and Locke out of Memphis to work for their firm. If you've seen the movie, it's pretty much the same only I feel like there's more action (in the literal sense and the metaphorical) in the book. I don't want to give too much information away it you've never seen the movie, but I will say that as Mitch is working 90+ hour weeks, he finds out some secrets about the firm that have the potential to ruin the rest of his life. With the power of knowledge that these secrets give him Mitch is forced to choose to do what is right (in the law's eyes) or maintain the status quo.

If you're looking for a thrilling read, definitely choose this book. However, it was intended for an adult audience and so there are some "adult topics" that may be a little questionable. Other than that The Firm is excellent and a book that sealed Grisham as a bestselling author.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Summer Reading List

So now that school is over and I've turned in all of my assignments and taken my last final, I finally have time to officially make my summer reading list (even though I started it in the beginning of March) and actually read it. So without further ado, here it is (though I may make changes to it in the future):

John Grisham: The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker
Deborah Caletti
Sarah Dessen
Joan Bauer
Lauren Willig
: The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine
Joann Fluke: Strawberry Shortcake Murder
Janet Evanovich: Lean Mean 13, Fearless Fourteen, Finger-Lickin' Fifteen
Inkheart
Inkspell
Inkdeath
The Extraordinary Adventure of Alfred Kropp
Chains
The Luxe
The Book Thief
Paper Towns
The Graveyard Book
Generation Dead
Book of a Thousand Days
Story of a Girl
Princess Ben
Impossible
The Host
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
Tender Morsels
Pretty Morsels
My Stroke of Insight
Criss-Cross
Savvy
The 13th Reality
What I Saw and How I Lied
Me, the Missing and the Dead
Memoirs of an Amnesiac
Ghosts of Kerfol
Lucy Giant
The Unrivaled Spangles
Sammy Keys series
Burn Notice: The Fix
Sold

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wintergirls

I just finished reading Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson over the weekend, and I gotta tell you- it's intense. It is definitely not a light read; man is this book hard to swallow (haha-pun not intended).

Wintergirls tells the story of two best friends, Lia and Cassie, who make it a competition to see who can be the skinniest. However, prior to the book's beginning, the girls have a falling yet (though neither can stop the competition), and Cassie ends up calling Lia 33 time prior to dying alone in a motel room. Lia doesn't get any of the phone calls/messages until after Cassie's death, and by listening to them, Lia begins seeing Cassie's ghost.

As the story continues, we read how Lia struggles with her weight (roughly 105 when the book starts and quickly dropping) and how she continues to force herself to lose weight even after 2 trips to rehab. Lia cares about no one (especially her relationship with her mom) except her stepsister, who she "tries" to set an example for. While trying to deal with everyday life, Lia constantly faces her own inner demons that only more weight loss and cutting can "resolve". As her inner thoughts believe, cutting and not eating are the only times she can feel something, and are the only things in her life that she can control.

I love Laurie Halse Anderson and the books that she writes, but this one was almost a little much for me, mainly because I'm trying to lose weight as well, and reading about how not eating and counting calories can make you lose a lot of weight definitely made me feel like eating extra amounts of food to keep both of us sustained. This book was a great look into the psyche of an anorexic/cutting girl, and made me appreciate my own sanity when it comes to food, weight, control, and feeling (anything). Though I'm not sure I would ever read this book again, it was a good read a definitely gave me a perspective on a life that I know I never will become.

Anderson said that the reason why she wrote this book was because she wanted to write something that could be a response to all the letters and emails she gets from teens across the nation about anorexia, bulimia, and cutting. In the acknowledgements she thanks all the doctors and psychiatrists that she worked with in helping her create Lia and making her believable as a girl with health and mental problems. Well done, Anderson, but prepare for intensity- it took me a while to finish just because Lia's problem is so heartbreaking and frustrating because she has the power to change herself; she just chooses not to.