Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hey Guys!! Don't Worry, I Didn't Completely Disappear on You!

Hey guys! So it's been literally forever since I've been on blogspot, and I'm really really sorry for that. Due to some familial/personal issues, I needed to take a big step back from my blog and the Internet in general. I'm shocked (and so, so pleased) with the amount of you that stuck around, and I will always be grateful for that. I'm really not sure what the future of this blog will be, but I have lots of reviews/news to catch up on, and I plan on coming back, although maybe not as often, in the very soon future. Please be patient with me, and again, thank you so much! I love each and every one of you and look forward to be regularly posting here again!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott
Published: March 16, 2010 by Simon Pulse
(224 pages, hardcover)
Summary: He's looking at me like--well, like he wants to look at me. 
Like he likes what he sees, and he's smiling and his eyes are so blue, even in the faint flow of the porch light they shine, and I nod dumbly, blindly, and then grope for the door handle, telling myself to look away and yet not able to do it. 
"Sara," he says, softly, almost hesitantly, and my heart slam-bangs, beating hard, and this is what it's like to want someone you can't have. To want someone you shouldn't even be looking at.
My thoughts: I really don't know what it is with Elizabeth Scott books; something about them just draws me in, makes me want to live in their worlds forever. The Unwritten Rule was no exception to this, of course. I completely feel in love with the characters, writing, and plot.
At first glance, The Unwritten Rule looks like your typical YA romance: girl falls for boy, boy falls for girl, neither of them realize it, girl's best friend falls for boy, snags boy, and eventually something happens between the girl and boy, causing all sorts of angst and shudder-inducing cliches followed by a moment where you just know they're totally meant for each other. Been told a million times before, right? Well, it may be a worn-out story, but Scott somehow manages to work her magic and make it into a gripping, emotional novel that caught me from the first page and didn't let go until I'd finished it a couple of hours later.
Sara was likeable. I'm not going to lie, she didn't have a ton of personality, and I didn't feel like she was my spirit animal or anything. She was sweet and nice and, quite obviously and helplessly, in love with her best friend's boyfriend. I sympathized with her, not so much for the falling in love part, because, while I can appreciate misplaced affection just as much as the next reader, but because of the having-a-best-friend-who-kind-of-completely-sucks. Brianna, Sara's best friend, isn't a mean girl. Well, not really. Okay, so she's a total jerk, but Sara has been her best friend for forever (meaning since kindergarten) and when you've been friends for that long of a time it's impossible to even consider not being friends anymore. And this is what I loved about the book: it was more than just a boy-meets-girls-and-accidentally-falls-for-the-wrong-one, it was about a complex friendship that I really related to.
I'm going to try hard not to gush at this point. Ryan, to be plain, is amazing. Ryan, who is torn between being with the girl he's falling for and the girl he somehow ended up with; Ryan who was sensitive and sweet and impossible to not like and feel bad for. He was my favorite character, to be honest, because while I could easily relate to Sara, Ryan cared about Sara, and even Brianna so much. One of the things I really loved was the way Scott executed the plot: she didn't make the characters seem like jerks because they weren't falling into the roles Brianna had carved for them. And while I wish Ryan had a bit more of a backbone, he was still a great guy and character.
The writing was predictably realistic and heart-wrenching. I don't know how with so few pages Scott manages to make such three-dimensional, personal characters and plot lines that are simple in theory but complex like in real life, but she does it in The Unwritten Rule flawlessly. It was poignant and I loved how not all of the characters went by untouched by the effects of the novel. It wasn't the happily-ever-after you might expect, or the horrible falling-out you could expect, but it was simple and honest and (kind of sort of spoiler-ish) happy. I loved the book, and while it wasn't my absolute favorite of hers, I'd definitely re-read it and recommend it to any reader in a heartbeat.
Covering the Cover: I like it. Simple and cute.
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.9 stars

Friday, June 24, 2011

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
Publication: May 9, 2006
(243 pages, paperback)
Summary: Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian's, a boys' school that pretends it's coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can't seem to stop thinking about. 
Then there's Francesca's mother, who always thinks she knows what's best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.
My thoughts: Honestly, I was a little skeptical of Saving Francesca. It seems a bit ambitious to combine normal high school stuff and such a serious issue like depression without dragging the story down a lot or making it seem unrealistically light. But Saving Francesca was surprisingly deep and realistic and even somewhat light. It was one of those rare books with a message that doesn't focus too solely on one issue. I really grew to love the characters, of course, especially Francesca. The writing was great--not awe-worthy, but it made me think and it was very fitting. And the plot, while not really fast-paced, was quick enough to keep me interested without rushing too much.
I really loved Francesca. She was witty and intelligently written, without having to dumb down the rest of the characters to seem smart. Her self-discovery was poignant and I couldn't help but feel every one of her emotions. I liked the way Marchetta wrote her mother, too. She was realistic and Francesca's response to her depression was realistic also. It was a delicate, not easily balanced story line, but it worked really well, and I felt like I was struggling to come to term with all of the changes in Francesca's life right along side her.
Okay, so, yes, there was a boy, and yes, he was cute, and yes, I inadvertently fell in love with him a little bit. And there was also Will, Francesca's actual love interest. Maybe I was the only one, but I really loved Thomas, who, was totally inappropriate and immature but also adorably hilarious. But I won't get into all of that; I really liked Will's and Francesca's relationship, too. They were cute in that we-hate-each-other-but-secretly-love-each-other way. But without being too over-the-top. I loved that their relationship had lots of bumps in the road too, seeing as how that made them all the more exciting when they were together.
I think my favorite aspect of the book might have been Francesca and her little brother's relationship. It was sweet and honest. But I also really loved the way Francesca and all of her girlfriends got along. They were some of the most oddly-matched and unlikely groupings of girls, but it worked and I really cared about all of them.
The writing was interesting in a good way. I liked the simplicity of it, which didn't take away from the story line at all, but added an extra personal touch which made me feel closer to Francesca and allowed me to put myself in her place. The story, which was medium-paced, was great and simple and in the end, it kind of felt like I had just peeked into the lives of a few people living ordinary (or not-so) lives. The book had a melancholic feel and I'll definitely be looking for more by Marchetta. It was a meaningful, fun read.
Covering the Cover: I really love this cover. It's cute and gives a good feel to the book even before cracking it open.
Characters: 4.5/5
Plot: 4.5/5
Writing: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4 stars

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Top Ten Favorite TV Shows: Goeff Herbach

Today I have the privilege of welcoming  Geoff Herbach, author of Stupid Fast. He'll be stopping by for the Teen Book Scene's tour (which you can check out here) and sharing some of his favorite television shows. I'll let him take it away now.


Mad Men – Holy crap is this a good show.  It’s about everything.  And it’s really cool to look at, too.  I’ve bought all four seasons and watch episodes over and over (only problem is the show sort of makes me want to smoke cigarettes, which is very bad for you, I’ve heard).

Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Have you ever seen the episode when they try to go to the Grand Canyon but end up almost dying in the back of the U-Haul trailer, because they’ve set furniture on fire?  I love it.

The Office – I actually own the whole British version (just a couple of seasons), which is some of the most painful comedy I’ve ever watched.  I have loved the American version, too, but am worried about the loss of Steve Carrell!

Dukes of Hazzard – When I was a little kid, I refused to stay over night at anybody’s house unless they guaranteed me we’d be watching the Dukes. 

Golden Girls – I watch this on TLC in the middle of the night as much as possible.  Those old ladies have the funniest one-liners (like out of old-time stand-up).  Watch the reaction shots, too, sometime.  Awesome.

Roseanne – Darlene is the best characters ever.   I loved her when I was a kid.  I love her now.  I’d marry her.  Also cool to have shows that are really good comedies that take on serious stuff in life. 

Sunday (Monday) Night Football – Let me just say, I cry when I hear the Monday Night Football theme music.

Cosby Show – This show is so dorky, but characters are really well drawn, and Bill Cosby was one of the funniest people on the planet at one time.

Seinfeld – Too much to say.  My favorite show.  I’ll watch the same episode over and over.

M*A*S*H – If you can watch enough of this show to know the characters, it is probably the best written, most sort of literary comedy of all times.  Hawkeye is my second favorite TV character ever (behind Darlene from Roseanne).
Thanks for stopping by, Geoff! Remember to check out my review of Stupid Fast later this month. Happy reading, y'all.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Season of Eden's Jennifer Laurens Guest Post

Today I have the privilege of welcoming  Jennifer Laurens, author of A Season of Eden. She'll be stopping by for the Teen Book Scene's tour (which you can check out here) and sharing some of her favorite novels. I'll let her get to sharing her choices now.
Jennifer Laurens's Favorite Books:
Endless Love by Scott Spencer
Honest Illusions by Nora Roberts
Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller
Fighting Ruben Wolfe by Markus Zusak
Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak
Markus Zusak is one of my favorite authors; great choices. Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer! Make sure to check out my review of A Season of Eden up later this month and check out the book for yourself. Happy reading, y'all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
Publication: April 19, 2011 by Razorbill
(269 pages, paperback)
Summary: Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss? 
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive.... 
Not your typical beach read.
My thoughts: I was expecting a typical beach read with this one. The cover, while interesting, also kind of made me think it was going to be a light read. But I was proven completely wrong. Invincible Summer is serious, meaningful, and one of my favorite reads of this year. Chase, the main character, is not only easy-to-relate too, but deep, and a great male POV character. As the summers go by, I got more and more hooked, and slowly came to love and hate all the same things that he did. I understood his sentiments and was wowed by the writing. The simplicity coupled with the summery setting made this a perfect summer read, and a great read for any time of the year.
The book goes over four of Chase's summers, spent in a town with his family, who falls apart and comes together and changes in unexpected ways. Chase's family was strange and not-so-average, but in a way they were normal, so they were all easy to relate too. My favorite character was Noah, Chase's older brother, because he was a mystery. I loved the way the brothers talked to each other, and their complicated relationship. I also loved Chase, because he was sensitive, but not in that typical oh-I'm-so-deep-and-so-lonely boring way that a lot of male characters in YA are. He was real, and almost too real at times.
Since throughout the book there are Camus quotes and a lot of wondering what the purpose of life is, and other serious, typical deep-reading content, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who only likes fast-paced novels or books that are only surface deep. There was some lightness and I enjoyed the humor (mostly sarcasm from Noah, which made me love him even more) a lot too, which made the book not some tedious, over-the-top serious story.
The writing was great. Deep, but not cheesy or forced. I could go on for a while about how much I loved the writing and how many quotes I just had to write down, but I won't bore you. Just read it and find out just how great it is. A lot of reviews seem to be either love-or-hate type, and I definitely fall into the latter category, because not only did I fall in love with the writing, but the characters, setting, and even the story. It made me think and made me cry and laugh. Everything I could ask for from a YA novel, it had. I was satisfied with the ending, even. Which is to say, it was amazing, since I'm hardly ever pleased with the endings of novels that aren't part of a series.
What I liked most of all was the diversity. The story isn't about any one thing in particular, except I suppose summer, and it covered all the bases of a teenage angst story while standing out from all the rest. There was seriousness and lightness and I'm getting repetitive but there's not much more to say than that it was one of the best realistic YA novels I've ever read, and had me hooked from start to end. While it was slower paced, it took me on a complete emotional roller coaster and I loved every second of it (even while I was busy hating it for making me care so much). It was amazing, poignant, and simple.
Covering the Cover: I'm not a huge fan, but only because it makes the story look way lighter than it actually is. But I kind of like it for its intriguing, if a little, erm, intimidating.
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 10/5 (If I'm allowed to do that.)
Overall Rating: 5 stars

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Updating You Guys

So I know I've been really absent from the blog recently, and I thought it might be time to give you guys an update. Sorry for not posting for a while, I really have been meaning to. Testing has been really time-consuming and with the school year getting close to the end, I haven't had time for much of anything, so blogging hasn't really been a priority. Thanks to you guys who have still stuck around after these past few months of minimum reviews and such; I really have been meaning to get them up, I just haven't really had the time.
Since school is just about done with, I can get back to blogging, reading, posting more reviews, and catching up on my goal hopefully. Thank you guys again for being such amazing followers, I promise I'll be back soon.

Happy reading, y'all!

Viewers since October 2010

Blogoversary Countdown

Get your own free Blogoversary button!