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!