Wednesday, March 31, 2010
As some of you may or may not know I'm a college senior majoring in English. This may sound like a delight to us reading fanatics but as I've come to learn in the past four years it's more torture than anything. I decided to become an English major my senior year of high school. I was totally inspired by my AP English teacher and I wanted to be just like her. She made me appreciate books that I otherwise would've hated such as Madame Bovary and Jane Eyre (notice how I say appreciate and not like! haha). And she assigned homework that was fun and engaged with the reading. For example, for one of our assignments she gave us a list of Shakespearean insults and we had to write a letter to someone we didn't like using twenty of them. We read plays out loud and had to write poems in the style we were reading. While all of this sounds easy and juvenile, her class was the hardest I'd taken in high school. She graded papers with a too critical eye and always expected the best from us. But because she helped me see the beauty in words and how much fun reading and learning could be I always wanted to submit the best work I possibly could.
College, however, not so much. I often feel lazy but I know it comes from a lack of motivation. There's only been a few English classes that have stuck out in my mind and that I can say I was engaged in. Other classes just turn me off completely to the material that we're reading. We rarely explore the beauty of the actual words that were written settling instead for some deeper meaning that may or may not be there. Although I understand that a lot of heavier reading does contain that deeper meaning sometimes I would just enjoy talking about things in the books like relationships and imagery and why the books resonated with us personally. Also, I hate that we read a novel, talk about it, then never use it for anything else. I know that there is less time and more work packed into a semester than in a year of high school but just discussing things that don't really interest me in a book that may have interested in me gives me no motivation to read it at all.
There are so many books out there, "classics", that I would have loved to read in college but most classes focus on more obscure, heavier novels. While that may ignite a fire in some readers it blew mine out. Needless to say, studying novels hasn't proven to have been as fun and exciting as I would have hoped. And now I'm getting ready to graduate and I'm left with this void. Knowing that I've slacked off because of disinterest and knowing that there is so much more out there I wanted to explore but couldn't. I guess I'm just going to have to push myself to read and learn everything I wanted to on my own time.
With that sad post being over with...what are some "classics" you recommend? Do you have the same feelings with college/high school? Are there any books you read outside of school that you wished you would have studied in school?
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Now I'll admit, I am totally 100% addicted. I love The Vampire Diaries. Each week I'm left breathlessly waiting for the next episode to come out. But why? I started to read the first book in the series and it didn't draw me in. But I can't get enough of it on TV! Maybe it's because Damon is such the deliciously gorgeous bad boy. He is a good 75% of why I watch the show. But he's so good.
Another reason I think I devour shows like Gossip Girl is because of the drama. As for Gosssip Girl, I read 9 or 10 books of the series...and I actually really didn't like them all that much. The show is MUCH different than the books but what rings true throughout each is the juicy drama that keeps building and building until finally it explodes with gasps of "OMG did that just happen!?" and "Oh no don't do it!" I know it's completely unrealistic...and possibly brain damaging but again, I can't. get. enough. I love it! Maybe I have different standards for what I read and what I'll watch on TV. When acting, and costumes, and steamy kissing scenes are added to the the mix I'll throw away my moral standards for 45 minutes to watch it all unfold. And also, Chuck Bass is sexy. Very sexy.
And now there's a new show coming out on ABC Family based on the Pretty Little Liars novels (I definitely just put the first one on hold at the library). Here's a sneak peak:
So what do you all think? Do you watch any of these shows or others I didn't mention? Why or why not?
And do you love Damon as much as I do?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty chronicles the life of Jessica Darling through her own journal entries. Jessica is sixteen and the most awful thing that could happen, happened to her- her best friend, Hope, moved away. Jessica takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of hating your friends, liking someone you're supposed to hate, lying, cheating, scandals, and the most annoying parents ever-trying to find her place without her best friend.
First off, I bought this book right before I saw Megan talk at my school last Wednesday. Let me just say that she is FABULOUS! She's hilarious, and beautiful, and has an amazing singing voice (yes! Barryoke!). I enjoyed listening to her so much that it's no surprise I devoured the first book in her Jessica Darling series.
Jessica is smart, witty, and observant. She leaves leaves nothing to the imagination of readers! I love, love, love her voice. She is such a perfect picture of a sixteen year old girl, I actually felt like it was me back in high school. There is a lot of stuff that parents might consider "Rated R" but I think McCafferty ingeniously wrote about it from the real perspective of a teenager encountering these things for the first time and her subsequent reactions. And it works. It's so funny, so embarrassing, and so cringe-worthingly delicious.
I recommend this to everyone who was ever once, is, or will be a sixteen year old girl. And even for the boys! It gives an accurate portrayal of high school while being funny, contemporary, and just plain fun to read! I ADORED this novel! I'm going to pick up Second Helpings ASAP! If you haven't read this book, what are you waiting for?
Sunday, March 28, 2010
1) Write down your first name (or whatever name you usually go by) 2) Do any or all of the following (i.e. do 2a and/or 2b and/or 2c): 2a) For each letter, pick an author whose last name starts with that letter. 2b) For each letter, pick an author whose first name starts with that letter. 2c) For each letter, pick a book that starts with that letter. 3) Books can be cross-overs from other challenges, but each book can only be used once in this challenge. Authors may be repeated though. 4) The challenge lasts one month per letter of your name
However long it takes is dependent on how many letters you have in your name! I have 8 letters in my name...but I'm going to try and complete this challenge by August 25, 2010 (my birthday!)
This is a great challenge to help me finish my library books on time/get some books I was asked to review read/read some books that have been collecting dust on my shelf-retreating further and further back on my TBR pile!
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Candor by Pam Bachorz
After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy
This contest is hosted by Reading My Way Through Life
Friday, March 26, 2010
Here's some pondering points I have:
1. It's OKAY to like romance. It's okay to fall for the gorgeous guy who makes you melt with his smile. It's okay that the female character's self-esteem is invariably raised after meeting him. It's the human experience, it's what we do! And, in most of the novels I read (that I enjoy) the female becomes friends with the gorgeous guy before there's any romance. Which, is the "right" thing to do-and is OKAY.
2. Sometimes I think that people (especially some girls nowadays who think they are feminists) believe that any kind of weakness is BAD BAD BAD. But hey guess what? We are human. We have weaknesses. We fall in love (girls AND guys). And falling in love should not be considered a weakness. I know we as women are tired of being considered the weaker sex-but the way to gain exposure as strong, self-sufficient women isn't to completely ignore the fact that hey, we have emotions. We should embrace them (not abuse them).
Did I cry during The Notebook? Absolutely. Still do. Does that make me a push-over? Or weak? Absolutely not. And be sure to know if a guy ever hit me, verbally abused me, stalked me, or made me feel any type of way inferior to him he would be done, out the door. See you, man, that's not for me.
3. I don't buy the Sarah Dessen Syndrome. I'm not knocking whoever coined the phrase-if that's how you feel, that's how you feel. However, I think she deserves a little defense coming her way. I LOVE Sarah Dessen. She pulled me into reading. Do all of her books revolve around some type of romance? Yes. Do all of her female characters have some type of issue? Yes. Do all of her female characters need a guy to resolve her issues? No. Of course the female character will fall for someone (it wouldn't be a romance if she didn't...duh) and of course the character is going to have worked through her issue(s) in some way (it's called resolution).
In Lock and Key, the female character actually realizes that her male counterpoint needs more help than she does. And where does she get the help for herself? Most importantly through her family. And in Dreamland, her boyfriend absolutely isn't the one solving her problems-he's creating them! And she totally ditches him in order to be rehabilitated. I think Sarah Dessen is brilliant. I like reading real romances where each character is flawed. But it wouldn't be a novel if they stayed stagnantly flawed through til the end. Each of her characters goes through a journey and makes a discovery. Which includes romance, but also includes learning more about themselves.
And that is again, OKAY.
I do agree that there is some sort of weird paranormal romance cliche floating around in so many new books for teens. That's what they enjoy reading...why? Well, I'm not sure, that's a topic for another post. However, I don't think this brand of awful YA romance is cause to hate on all YA romance. I think sometimes we confuse the ideas of bad romance influencing teenagers and romance influencing teenagers. Don't let the stories about sparkly vampires watching you sleep make you pass on the novels about real teenagers falling in love.
And that is my argument. Thoughts?
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tangled surprised me. When I thought the novel would be sweet and romantic, it was heartbreaking and real. When I thought things would turn out okay for one character, things took an intense turn for the worst. And when I thought no one would end up having the identity discovery they should-they all helped each other out in ways none of them realized for the better. I thought this novel was going to be predictable, but it was not. Sometimes it was hard getting to know these characters because they were so real and not the picture perfect image of teens. I wanted Dakota not to be a jerk. I wanted to love him. But sometimes I couldn't. Sometimes I wanted to yell at these characters "what are you doing? No, no no!" but that made the novel more enjoyable, especially waiting and reading about their journey to come to terms with something they all struggled with throughout the novel.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a sweet, romantic read with a real-life unsugar-coated twist. You'll be up all night wondering what's going to happen...who, what where, and especially why?
Contest ends March 31st **open to US only**
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Alexa from Hooked on YA Books! Congrats! I'll be sending you an email shortly!
Thanks to all who entered! Keep checking back for more of my Spring Cleaning contests (I'll be posting another later today!)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer was heartbreaking. I had read Life as We Knew It and enjoyed it, but Pfeffer's third novel takes the post-meteor world to a completely different level. I couldn't put this down, it was unpredictable and exciting.
The novel starts out much the same as it left off in Life as We Knew It. We meet Miranda, Matt, Jon, and their mom again fighting to have food on the table every day, raiding houses for simple things like shampoo and toilet paper, and hoping the electricity will come on if only for a few hours. But when Miranda's dad shows up with six more people Miranda's family soon learns hard lessons like hunger, grief, and even love. Miranda and her family along with fighting for survival must believe in hope and what it means for each of them. For Miranda, it was the hardest to find.
I was introduced to a few new characters since I didn't read The Dead and the Gone but I don't think it left me at a disadvantage at all. I instantly feel in love with Alex and Julie and I think readers will too. Alex is a strong older brother who discovers throughout the book that their may not be a set of principles in this new world to "be good". Miranda and Alex together were real. I felt that if I were ever to live in that world, that's the kind of desire and I would have. All the relationships in this novel were scarily real. It's almost as if Pfeffer knew how to place the world she created within our world so well that I'm afraid one day I might actually have to live in it.
The scariest thing about this novel was how real it is. Who's to say a meteor won't move the moon a little closer? One of the parts of this novel that struck me the most (besides the end, which, is amazing and heartbreaking at the same time) was when Miranda found a mound of bodies when she ran away. In that mound there were people she knew. Just piled there. Pfeffer didn't even need to paint that picture vividly for me to get a sense of the tragedy. And when I read that I felt something awful, more than words could describe.
This novel was face-paced, exciting, and I kept reading to know what was going to happen next. Reading this novel you really see the character development and feel something deep for all of them. Pfeffer did a fabulous job putting real people in a world that could be real and creating love and hope out of grief and hopelessness. I definitely reccommend it to everyone!
I received this copy via Net Galley.
Monday, March 22, 2010
So I'm back from Spring Break, which was very refreshing. Unfortunately, although I expected to get a lot of reading done, I got surprisingly little accomplished. The week flew by! And on a much sadder note, this was my last spring break...and I didn't even do anything spring break-like. No sandy beaches or sparkling water. Not even did I hop into an artificial ocean (aka a pool). I didn't so much as take a peak at my bathing suit. How does this happen? No clue. I suppose I was running a lot of errands and reading a lot of other peoples' blogs, hehe. Oh, the exciting life and times of me. Anyway, here's what I'm up to!
Last Week I read and reviewed Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.
Here's what I'm reading now:
Tangled by Carolyn Mackler
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
I Plan on Reading:
...if I get through those three I plan to start Brighid's Quest by P.C. Cast (NetGalley)
and Savvy by Ingrid Law
Also, there's still one day left to enter my contest to win Dirty Little Secrets, what are you waiting for?!
What are you guys reading/planning on reading?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
So this week you can enter to win a copy of Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu!
All you have to do is fill out this form!
*contest ends March 23rd* Open to US only*
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
"Sometimes I think we all feel guilty for being happy, and as soon as we catch ourselves acting like everything's okay, someone remembers it's not".
This is exactly what Anna feels-guilty. Guilty for lying to her best friend and guilty for mourning someone who she's not sure she's even "allowed" to mourn. This is a novel about discovery. Discovery of love then immediate loss, of friendship, how people can change and how you can still love them, of finding love again, and letting go. This novel was real-my heart literally ached through parts of this book. I felt what Anna was feeling 100%. To me, this novel was reminiscent of Sarah Dessen and I think that is a huge compliment. It was absolutely beautifully written and I feel in love with the characters and their plights.
"I really don't even know you, and yet, in my life, you are forever entangled; to my history, inextricably bound".
After Anna goes to Zanzibar with Frankie and her family (the same vacation spot where Matt would have been had he not died) everything changes. She discovers that life can go on and that it can go on without erasing memories of the past. She also discovers that she can't save everyone, that people need to go through things their own way and sometimes just being there is the best thing. And she discovers herself. This is the most important discovery for Anna and the one that made me cry at the end. That no matter what she will always look in the mirror and see the same face.
"Nothing ever goes away-it just changes into something else. Something beautiful".
I loved, loved, loved this book. I didn't want it to end. I might even have to read it again soon. It's so raw and truthful, I can't believe how sucked into this story I was. I recommend it to everyone, seriously, it's the best thing I've read in a long time.
Rating: 5.0 (but I would give it an even higher rating!)
Women's Month Celebration Question:
Q: As a woman, do you feel you've accomplished anything for fellow women?
A: Actually, yes. I am a color guard instructor and currently I teach 14 girls. Each of them are different and I am constantly trying to empower them. Whether it's loaning them a book, giving them advice, or grieving with them-they know someone is there who cares about them. And although it's a small number of lives to enrich, I am content with that for now.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Q: Who is the most influential woman in your life?
A: That's easy-my mom. We rarely get along, she does many things that I don't agree with, and sometimes she kind of drives me nuts but I love her so strongly. Whenever I ask her a question, be it a simple "what temperature do I set the oven to for baked chicken?" or "what am I going to do with the rest of my life?", she always has an answer. She's always trying her hardest to make my life easier and I am so grateful for that. She's always there and always will be and she is my rock.
Q: What woman author/book by a woman author has changed your life?
A: Hands down Sarah Dessen. Still to this day she is the only author of whom I've read ALL of her books. Her novels got me started reading and they are the foundation for my love of reading to this day. Her novels leave me both sad and happy but I always close them feeling satisfied and like I've learned another true, deep-rooted secret about human interactions and companionship. She's amazing!
Q: If you could go back in time and meet one woman, who would it be and why?
A: I think I'd go back and meet any of the women involved with the suffrage movement. Those women worked so incredibly hard, saw no results, and continued to work even harder towards something so huge for their entire lives. They are the reason I can even appreciate our president because I had a say. And because I have a say in anything I do I am grateful for the women who didn't and put their foot down and said "we need to have a say".
If you use these questions, while you don't have to give me any credit at all, I'd really like it if you posted the link to your blog in a comment so I can read your answers!
List of books I'm going to read to celebrate women this month (just books by women authors/about women):
1. Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
2. Savvy by Ingrid Law
3. Tangled by Carolyn Mackler
4. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarak Ockler (I'm actually almost finished this-it's SO good)
5. Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson
And hopefully a few more!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
The Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker- Princess Annie is the younger sister to Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. When Gwennie pricks her finger and the whole castle falls asleep, only Annie is awake, and only Annie blessed (or cursed?) with being impervious to magic can venture out beyond the rose-covered hedge for help. She must find Gwen's true love to kiss her awake.
But who is her true love? The irritating Digby? The happy-go-lucky Prince Andreas, who is holding a contest to find his bride? The conniving Clarence, whose sinister motives couldn't possibly spell true love? Joined by one of her father's guards, Liam, who happened to be out of the castle when the sleeping spell struck, Annie travels through a fairy tale land populated with characters both familiar and new as she tries to fix her sister and her family . . . and perhaps even find a true love of her own.
Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson-
It seems only right to Tana that the goddess judged her kind, lovely stepsister worthy of such riches. And when she encounters the goddess, she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and toads as a reward.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood- Blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem, however. Diribani’s newfound wealth brings her a prince—and an attempt on her life. Tana is chased out of the village because the province's governor fears snakes, yet thousands are dying of a plague spread by rats. As the sisters' fates hang in the balance, each struggles to understand her gift. Will it bring her wisdom, good fortune, love . . . or death?
Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.
Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.
What did you get in your mailbox?!
IMM is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I really got into this novel. It was action-packed and full of the kind of romance that I love. Lucy is suck a kick butt character, I loved everything about her. She was sassy, opinionated, and unique. She had a temper yet carried around a pink rhinestone stake. I wish she were my best friend! Alas, she is not, rather Solange's. Solange was an equally distinct character but completely opposite. She's solitary but still as strong. She liked to wear cargo pants instead of skirts. These two characters and their friendship were what made this novel so special.
Something else that was great was how different this vampire lore was from other contemporary novels out there (again, no sparkly vampires). Actually, it is as close to what you and I know vampires to be: can't go out in sunlight, stake through the heart, etc...but with the addition of different clans of vampires each having their own history and method of "being a vampire". The lore was intriguing yet still familiar enough to appreciate.
Lastly, ah, I love love. Nicholas and Lucy made my heart flutter (perhaps I am a sap). They were snappy and rough with each other yet tender. Their banter, I think, made their developing relationship so interesting and fun. Kieran and Solange's romance developed much later but there was instant attraction. Their relationship developed, I think, more out of the hatred between vampires and Helios-Ra (vampire hunters) more than anything, which also makes their romance special, too.
I would reccommend this to anyone who wants to depart from the usual lusty and flaky vampire tales. This one has beautiful, subtle romance, a lot of history, and a lot of action.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?
The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?
I wish I enjoyed this more than I did. I read some really great reviews about it and was extremely excited to get my hands on it, I even pushed it up on my TBR list. But this didn't do it for me. Tessa seemed like an impossibly perfect character, she was too perky and too optimistic all the time. It drove me nuts. Christian was a little too stalkerish-I probably would've called the cops on him! And although I thought it was a great idea that SOS tried to dispel cheerleader and other stereotypes, I actually think they might have enforced some (like being perky, jocks vs. cheerleaders, all guys being cheaters).
However, there were a few things I did like! I enjoyed the real view this novel took on teenage sexuality-that they do indeed have sex-but it wasn't overkill. I also really enjoyed the feminist cheater butt kicking! I loved how all of the females were empowered. And although Tessa always having a bright look on everything drove me a little crazy, she was cute and the nice things she said were probably things we should all be saying/thinking.
Overall, this was a super quick and fun book. Did I mention original? SOS was fantastic! I recommend this to middle-older teenage girls.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief was one of those books I thought I would never read. It's too much like Harry Potter, there's too many books in the series how would I ever find time? But on a whim (and for $6) I picked this up in Wal-Mart and I'm really glad that I did! It's funny and original and action packed! I loved that Medusa had a statue garden emporium, and honestly, I didn't even see that coming. Grover is now one of my favorite characters ever. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about mythology in a fun, fast way. I picked up the next book in the series and I'm sure I'll be reading the rest! I'm also using this book for my Middle Grade Reading Challenge. If you haven't read this, I highly suggest picking it up now! 4.5
The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong
This was another on a whim pickup at Wal-Mart...(how I do love that store). I've heard great things about it and I'm really excited to start reading it (after, of course, the bazillion other books I have to read first)
The Naughty List by Suzanne Young
A secret society of girls catching cheaters. Now that sounds like fun, right? I'm reading this now and it's so fun and light. It makes me want to go out there and kick some cheater butt!
Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
This one is about 4 teens who go on a road trip and on the end of that road trip all plan to commit suicide...but will they find something worth living for on their way? Wow. This is going to be one of those hard to get through novels but I'm hoping it's worth it!
So that's what I got/what I'm reading. What are you all reading this week?