Nov 30, 2011

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author:  Stephanie Perkins
Publisher:  Dutton
Publication Date:  September 29th 2011

From Goodreads:  

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion..she believes in costume.  the more expressive the outfit-more sparkly, more fun, more wild- the better.  but even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future.  And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket- a gifted inventor- steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


Lola and the Boy Next Door is a solid 3 for me.  In know way was it better than Anna, but of course that is my opinion.  Things just didn't come together so perfectly for me.  

Lola is unique and I love that about her, but I also think she's immature and melodramatic. First, Lola and Cricket have some past that hurt Lola, so when he moves back it's *gasp* hard for Lola.  When I found out what happened between them both I was like "Seriously".  Such hoopla for nothing, and that it affected her so much made me think she's childish.  It seems like I don't like her but I do like Lola, she just got on my nerves a little.  It's hard reading Lola without comparing it to Anna.  I loved Anna.  I just liked Lola.  Now Cricket did absolutely nothing for me.  He was nice, and caring.  I wanted to get charmed by him just like I was charmed by Etienne, but Cricket doesn't have as much personality.  Cricket was boring. I totally enjoyed Lola's two dads, and best friend.  Great characters that brought something to Lola and the Boy Next door.  I was also very happy to see so much of Anna and Etienne in Lola.  Did I say I love them?!!  

Lola and the Boy Next Door had it's good parts as well as it's okay parts.  It took me 4 days to read it, and I read Anna and the French Kiss in 1 day.  I will read the next companion book because I'm a Stephanie Perkins fan and will always be.  Come on, Etienne was spun in her head and for that I bow down.

Nov 29, 2011

Book Review: Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

Author:  Kimberly Marcus
Publisher:  Random House Books for Young Readers
Date Published:  February 22nd 2011

Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused and confident in what she sees through her camera lens. Confident that she and Kate will be best friends forever.

But everything changes in one blurry night. Suddenly, Kate is avoiding her, and people are looking the other way when she passes in the halls. As the aftershocks from a startling accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself shifts out of focus. What happens when the picture you see no longer makes sense? What do you do when you may lose everything you love most? Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.


I don't know if I've ever mentioned that I am not a fan of verse novels.  I went ahead and gave Exposed a try, and was left disappointed by it.  

Who is Liz? I don't really think I was able to get a grasp of who she was.  I know she loves taking photos, and she's heartbroken about what is going on around her, but I just couldn't get a sense of her.  I mostly blame myself for feeling that I am not getting enough content with verse.  Snippets into someone's life just isn't enough for me.  

Everything happens and ends so quickly.  Exposed is about a very serious matter, and dealt with in a very mature and realistic way..but darn if I could just let go of my hate for verse.  I felt like I read a rough draft of a what could be a freaking awesome YA novel.  

This isn't quite the review I wanted to give.  Obviously, I can't get around the way it was written and I'm finding it very hard to try to put that aside and just give an honest opinion on the written words. 

To sum it up, I thought Exposed was lacking depth.

Nov 20, 2011

The Sweet Gum Tree by Katherine Allred

The Sweet Gum Tree 
Author:  Katherine Allred
Publisher:  Cerridwen Press
Date published:  December 1st 2005

From Goodreads:

Sweet, tea corn bread, and soup beans-everyday fare for eight year old Alix French, the precocious darling of a respected southern family.  But nothing was ordinary about t he day she met ten year old Nick Anderson, a boy from the wrong side of town.  Armed with only a tin of bee balm and steely determination, Alix treats the raw evidence of a recent beating that mars his back, an act that changes both of their lives forever.

Through childhood disasters and teenage woes they cling together as friendship turns to love.  The future looks rosy until the fateful night Frank Anderson, Nick's abusive father, is shot to death in his filty trailer. 

Suddenly, Nick is gone leaving Alix alone, confused and pregnant.  For the next fifteen years she wrestles wit the pain of Nick's Abandonment, a bad marriage, her family and friends.  But finally, she;s starting to get her life back together. Her divorce is almost final, her business is booming, and she's content if not happy- until the day she looks up sees Nick standing across the counter, He's back...and he's not alone.

Once again Alix is plunged into turmoil and pain as Nick tries to win her love, something she resists with all her strength.  Only one thing might break the protective wall she's built around her emotions- the truth about Frank Anderson's death.  But when the truth comes out and those walls crumble, neither Alix nor Nick is prepared for the emotional explosion  that could destroy as well as heal.

I'm not going to do a quick synopsis because there is a awesome one above.  Going to go straight the business of The Sweet Gum Tree.  I first heard about this book through PBS.  A member was raving about how awesome it was, so I made a quick note of the title, and later looked up the title on Goodreads. There was more raving on Goodreads with a 4 point something rating.  I then put it on my Wl and forgot all about until it came in the mail.  The cover leaves a lot to be desired, and I was sure that I was sent this by mistake.  Yeah, I had completely forgot about this book and that I had put it on my WL.  Disturbed by the cover I decided I would put my trepidation aside and immediately start it.  Now I am not completely in love with this novel like some people, but I sure do have a crush on it.  Is it full of melodrama? yeah.  Is it full of sappy southerness(that isn't a word, is it)? yeah?  But is it awesome nerdy great? HELL YEAH!
I loved the characters in The Sweet Gum Tree.  Alix and Nick are perfect together.  They are opposites.  He's from the wrong side of the tracks, and she's apple pie.  Technically they shouldn't work, but the fact that they do is what makes them so appealing.  I was crushing on Nick.  He was all hard, and tough yet vulnerable and a book lover.  Yep, good ole Nick was a sensitive bad boy who loves to read.  Alix at first grated on my nerves, but just at first.  I was starting to get that "This girl is perfect" vibe which I can't stand.  Nobody is perfect, so I can't stand a perfect character.  Not realistic to me.  She became human after a couple of chapters.
The story was soap opera-ish and like I said above, melodramatic.  I was taken for a ride, a love ride.  There's a lot of mistakes, a lot misunderstandings that could have been avoided but what's life without a little drama. :)  Oh, and you well shed a tear or two.

Catching Up With Some Mini Reviews

Handling the Undead

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I really really loved Lindqvist's debut novel Let The Right One In.  I was super excited to find Handling the Undead in my mailbox, and immediately started it.  Sorry to say I was disappointed with Handling the Undead.  A book about the dead coming back sounds interesting, but it was actually very dull.  The beginning was solid, and I thought I was going to enjoy it, but then it just got weighed down by details, and nothing much was happening.  It was much more about what that meant for the family of the dead that just came back.  

My goodreads rating: 2 stars

I gave it 1 star for the great beginning pages, and 1 star for the mere fact that I actually gagged while reading about the decomposed bodies.


Prince of Thieves

Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan

If you've seen The Town, well this is the book it's based on.  I love the movie, naturally I wanted to read it to compare the differences.  Prince of Thieves was a great read, but I preferred the movie. There is some differences, most of them came at the end.  I liked the end of the movie better...way better.  The character Jem is seriously a bomb waiting to go off.  We get that sense in the movie, but boy is he even creepier in the book.  Flat out psychopath, seriously.  I also don't understand the appeal of the female lead, Claire.  She seemed weak in the movie, but even more so in the book.   I really enjoyed it.  There is action, and the characters are so detailed.  Charlestown is also very much a main character in Prince of Thieves.  It all worked out into a fleshed out solid read. 

My Goodreads rating:  4 Stars


Nov 15, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten is

Top Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf for the Longest but I've Never Read


1.  A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

2.  We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

3.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

4.  I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

5.  The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

6.  The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

7.  The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

8.  Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

9.  Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsey

10.  Saffron Skies by Lesley Lokko

Any of these you recommend that I move right up to the top of my to read list?  

Nov 13, 2011

Book Review: From This Moment On by Shania Twain

From This Moment On
Author:  Shania Twain
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster
Date Published:  May 3rd 2011

From Goodreads:  

When she was eight, Shania Twain was singing in smoky Canadian bars, doing her part to help with her family's severely strained finances. By the time she was ten, the girl born as Eileen Regina Edwards was writing songs and performing in after-hour shifts while most other children her age were dreaming of sugar plum fairies. From these gritty beginnings, the renamed Twain became a living music legend, winning five Grammy Awards and selling 75 million albums. At times heartbreaking, this memoir describes Shania's rocky road from her hardscrabble youth to her present fame. From This Moment On covers events including the tragic car crash, the traumatic breakup of her first marriage, and her first experiences in Nashville.


I’m a huge fan of Shania Twain and her music.  Over the summer I watched a reality show on the O channel chronicling her life and inspirational story, and I had a new found respect for her as a person not just a singer.  

From This Moment On is Shania’s story in her own words, and though sometimes she randomly goes off course she is honest in telling us her childhood and heartbreak over her husband’s infidelity and best friends betrayal.  If you don’t know her husband had an affair with her best friend, and I believe they are still together now.  She is now happily married to her best friend’s ex-husband.  It’s slightly Jerry Springer, but this is how the cards laid out for her and she rolled with the punches. 

I was amazed at how much she has been through.  She had a rough childhood, and then took responsibility for her sister and brothers after her parents were killed in a car accident.  She also talks about her singing career, and the process her and Mutt had in making her hugely commercial hit album Come On Over.
From This Moment On is a really great honest memoir.  If you are a fan of Shania Twain or just a fan of somebody making it through all odds, you will enjoy this book.  

Nov 6, 2011

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Children
Author:  Ransom Riggs
Publisher:  Quirk Publishing
Date Publishing:  June 7th 2011

From Goodreads:

A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Before I started Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children I went thru the book looking at all the photos which pumped me even more.  I couldn’t wait to get started so I can link the photos to the story.  I’m surprised how much the pictures turned Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children from a great read to an awesome one.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for  Peculiar Children is a peculiar story.  I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to come together and make sense in the beginning and half way thru I sort of just let go of trying to figure it out and just rode the wave.  I loved the peculiar children.  I wanted to learn everything about them, and wished I had known them even more by the end of the novel.  I wanted their back stories, I wanted know how they came to be at the orphanage.  I wished the story was longer. 

Main character Jacob is on this adventure that his grandfather sent him on.  In the beginning it doesn’t so much feel like an adventure though.  Seriously, Jacob is traumatized after finding his grandfather dead in the woods in back of his house, and sees a scary monster like thing in the woods.  After hearing for years his grandfather’s stories of the orphanage he lived in with all the peculiar children he needed to find out if his father was telling the truth after all.

Ransom Riggs is brilliant in his storytelling.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a great book, I recommend you read it.