Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Supreme Disappointment of Being Disappointed

So I just read this book. Well, most of this book at least. I gave up around the 2/3 mark and skipped ahead to find out how it ended. It was a book I'd been looking forward to for ages, one I was so excited about, one by an awesome author. It hit so many of my must-haves.

But I didn't finish the book. I didn't like the book. I was disappointed. I thought there must be more; I thought, really? The dialogue felt stilted. The characters flat. The relationships unformed. It wasn't what I had expected and though I really, really wanted to finish, I also had other books waiting for me.

I hate when that happens. When a book I'm excited about, one I've even been looking forward to, disappoints so wholly. When I don't finish something I was hoping would become a favorite.

You know what I mean, right?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All the Books (August 24, 2013)

The much-anticipated You Look Different In Real Life, by Jennifer Castle. You can find my review here; unfortunately, though I liked the book, I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. Hopefully at some point this next month I'll get to where I'm actually reading more than <1 book a week, but right now it just doesn't seem to be happening.
Somewhat surprisingly, neither of these interesting-sounding books are contemporaries. A Matter of Days is a post-apocalyptic, disease-has-killed-everyone story of survival with a crazy simple premise. And Anna Jarzab's Tandem is sci-fi dealing with alternate universes. ALTERNATE UNIVERSES. Sign me up.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

review: you look different in real life

You Look Different in Real Life was definitely one of my most anticipated books this year. I had high hopes, high expectations for this incredibly interesting story of a girl (along with four of her classmates) whose life has been, every five years, the subject of a documentary along the lines of the British Up docu-series. (As a side note, I love this series and highly recommend it; many of the films are on Netflix and well worth watching.)

Justine, who has always been the viewers' favorite, is sixteen and facing the third film (Five at Sixteen), but this time she's dreading the camera's intrusion in her life. She's not who she thought she'd be by now, and although she professes to hate the movies and cameras, she also doesn't want to disappoint. This idea of not being who she wanted to be by sixteen is oner that I wish had been explored more in-depth, instead of given only a few lines of space, because it's a really interesting idea to me. Who we are and who we want to be. And, when the whole thing is captured on film for the world to see, how much harder is it? I wanted more of that, which ended up being my big problem with the book; it's full of so much stuff that the really interesting bits ended up buried with the more dramatic plots were what took center stage.

Despite the fact that Justine is the narrator and main character, there are four other important characters in this book, and each of them has their own stories and journeys that the book follows. Unfortunately, many of these stories seemed superflous and not every character shone the way I think they were probably supposed to. Kiera especially seems to be the fifth wheel here; although the big thrust of the main plot comes from her actions, her character is never clearly defined and her storyline seems both too dramatic and too convenient to really have an impact. A few of the events and storylines felt a bit shoehorned in to me: Kiera's story, Felix's (incredibly obvious) twist, Justine's sudden need to film everything when just pages ago she'd hated the cameras. Like I said, there was a lot here, and much of it didn't seem to work.

Which isn't to say the book as a whole didn't work, or that I didn't like it. Because I did. Despite how convenient many of the plot points felt to me, the characters' commitment to each other, even though they didn't all get along day-to-day and even though there had been some pretty big rifts in their friendships, shone through. From the moment the camera crew is back in their lives there's a sort of under-the-surface solidarity between the five docu-stars, almost an us versus them attitude that went far in establishing these characters' lives and relationships. It's Rory (Justine's ex-best friend, who has been diagnosed with Autism since the last film) in particular that brings this unity to the forefront; she sticks with the other four even when it would be so much easier, for so many reasons, to just not. Her matter-of-fact way of stating things is incredibly refreshing in a story where there's so much that goes unsaid.

This is a solid contemporary YA, though not without its faults. To be perfectly honest I think that my issues with it may stem from the fact that it was just a bit more plot-driven than I wanted or was expecting, which is probably going to work for a lot of readers.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

All The Books (August 17, 2013)

Alright, it's sad, but I haven't finished any books this week.

I absolutely loved Diana Peterfruend's first classic reimagining in a sci-fi setting, and I'm really super excited for this one as well. It's a reimagining of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I haven't read -- but I hadn't read Persuasion either, so that's fine -- and if it's anything like For Darkness Shows the Stars I know it's going to be incredible.

This week the library was having an insane book sale and I managed to get all three of these for under $2, which is most excellent. They aren't books I felt like I needed to buy (although you can probably tell I'm in a bit of a Elin Hilderbrand phase lately), so I'm fully okay with setting them on my shelf where they'll sit until I have nothing else to read.

The title and cover for the third book in the Shatter Me trilogy was revealed -- yay, Ignite Me looks so gorgeous! To be honest I still haven't read Unravel Me (and am not sure if I will, honestly -- when I reread the first book I was surprised by how dark it was and how much I hadn't noticed on my first read). But I loved Shatter Me so so so so much the first time I read it that I'm thinking I may wait until all three are out and then read some reviews and see if I want to read the entire series. I'm super conflicted about these books, to be honest.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday Ten: Books Set Outside of the USA

This week's theme from The Broke and Bookish is "Ten Books With X Setting," and I'm choosing to showcase ten awesome books set outside of the United States. In cases where the books were originally published in another country (hello, Austrailia, land of incredible writers!), I tried to include the foreign title and cover.

1. What Alice Forgot
Liane Moriarty
This Aussie-published novel about a woman who gets a bump on the head and forgets the last decade of her life isn't setting-heavy, but it is set in Australia and it is absolutely wonderful. It's amazing. One of those rare books that I stayed up all night long reading. (Honestly I think I finally forced myself to go to sleep around four in the morning, then woke up at 7-ish and finished the book.)

2. Jellicoe Road (On The Jellicoe Road)
Melina Marchetta
Another Aussie book (you'll notice a definite trend in this post), Jellicoe Road was published originally as On the Jellicoe Road in Australia and unlike What Alice Forgot, the setting plays a huge role. It's another amazing, incredible, I-love-it-so-much book. There must be something in the water down under.

3. Tiger Lily
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Set in Neverland, Tiger Lily is a truly original, awesome take on the tale of Peter Pan. A love story, it tells us, but not like any you've heard. True, that. 

4. Love and Other Perishable Items (Good Oil)
Laura Buzo
Here's Australian book number three. The tagline on this Australian cover says, "A Novel of First Love and Second Thoughts," and that sums up Love and Other Perishable Items/Good Oil so well. The tale of a teenage girl who falls in love with her older coworker isn't nearly as tawdry as it sounds; instead it's well-written, angsty, and impossible. Though I had some conflicted feelings on this one (in spite of how amazing it is, it also has the one thing I really, really hate in YA novels), in the end I can't leave it off this list.

5. Mothership
Isla Neal & Martin Leicht
Set in space. Space! And, oh, it's everything you ever wanted a space-set YA novel to be.

6. Anna and the French Kiss
Stephanie Perkins
Sigh. Paris, Etienne, Anna. You knew this one was coming up, right? In related news: I need that paperback edition in my life.

7. serafina67 *urgently requires life* (Big Woo: My Not-so-secret Teenage Blog)
Susie Day
A UK-set book! Woo! This, my favorite YA novel of them all, is pure pure pure awesome and so wonderfully non-American. *huggles*

8. How I Live Now
Meg Rosoff
Okay so I think this is the original cover for the UK-set (yep, a second one!) How I Live Now. A weird, uneasy, hilarious novel.

9. Bloomability
Sharon Creech
Switzerland! Boarding school! If this list were ranked according to my love for these books, Bloomability would be way up near the top instead of down here at the bottom.

10. Code Name Verity
Elizabeth Wein
Various parts of Europe. Come on, we all love Code Name Verity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thoughts on the How I Live Now Trailer

Let's talk about this.

Yep, it's a trailer for the movie based on Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. And I have some thoughts, so let's get started.

First of all, calls the movie a "doomsday thriller," which is not exactly (or at all) how I ever thought of the book. I mean, yes, I guess it is, but I don't think of explosions and running for your life when I think of HILN. I think of Daisy and Piper eating poisonous mushrooms and Edmund, and the other cousin, the one who doesn't ever talk. I think of how weirdly surreal the whole story is.

Which is what the trailer is missing. From the trailer, this movie looks wholly modern-day and bright and vivid and colorful while I think of the book in muted colors.

There are certain things I'm hoping they don't erase for the movie (her eating disorder and the fact that Edmund is her cousin for two -- those were both really big, really important parts of the novel), and other things that I'm not convinced will translate. I think one of the biggest things that made the book work so well for me was that it was from Daisy's POV. I mean, this is a book that deals with some really really really dark and strange stuff -- war, incest, anorexia, hallucinating because of eating poisonous mushrooms -- but Daisy's personality and attitude make it... not better exactly, but different. Because we're in her mind, we know that she knows how messed up things are and isn't completely off her rocker (mostly though, mostly). In a movie, I don't know that they'll capture that. There are certain lines in the book, certain things Daisy thinks -- her reaction to the soldier being surprised at her cousins smoking and her fervent big-sister-type love for Piper, for instance -- that were just so perfect. How will that fit in a movie? And, if the movie is going to be a "doomsday thriller," will they even try?

Thoughts/expectations for the movie?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

All The Books (August 10, 2013)

This week I read my second Elin Hilderband book, Barefoot. I liked the book a surprising amount, especially considering I disagreed with almost every decision that almost every character made and didn't much care for the characters (with the notable exception of Vicki, the mother with cancer). Based on this book and The Island I think I can say that Hilderbrand's books, for me, are reliably fun and really well-written; I just hope I like the characters and their choices more in the next book I read from her.
I haven't been on Goodreads much this past week, so I didn't add anything new to my wanting list.

Now that I have a J-O-B, I finally let myself buy some new books. You Look Different In Real Life has been on my list ever since I heard about it and I'm so so so excited to finally get to read it. And Such A Rush has such a great premise, so I'm really hoping I end up liking it. It was 75% off at Hastings, so of course I had to buy it; there really was no choice.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tuesday Ten: Books I Want Answers About/Sequels To

This week's topic from The Broke and the Bookish is "ten books I wish could have had sequels." But the thing about this topic is that I rarely wish for this. So much of the time I feel like the book that was written was the story that deserved to be told, and maybe adding a sequel would have taken away from the experience. (Of course, then you have situations like If I Stay and Where She Went, in which case the sequel blew my freaking socks off.)

But anyway. Though I don't often wish for sequels exactly, I do often wonder what happens to the characters after the book ends. So here are ten books I want answers about. Oh, and obviously spoilers ahead! Be warned all ye who enter here!

1. Love and Other Perishable Items
Laura Buzo
Come on, do Amelia and Chris end up together or not? I need to know!! 

2. The Rivals (The Mockingbirds #2)
Daisy Whitney
File this under "unfinished sequels." I know there was, at one point, supposed to be three Mockingbird books, and so it makes sense that this second one ended with a bit of WIDE OPEN QUESTIONS, but since no third book materialized I'm left wondering what happens after. What happens to Alex, to the Mockingbirds, to Themis Academy. This is why you should never get attached to series white they're in-progress. Reasons like this.

3. Okay For Now
Gary D. Schmidt
I love endings that are a bit open-ended (but not too much), so I really did like this ending -- at least, if I remember it correctly -- but I still want to know what happens. Long-term, what happens with Doug? With Doug and his family? With Doug and Lili? What happens with Lili? 

4. After the Kiss
Terra Elan McVoy
Again, while I liked the ending here I just still want to know what happens to the characters after, especially with Camille and her Chicago Boy.

5. Fashionista (Bradford #2)
Micol Ostow
And another case of series that didn't get the finish they deserved. I loved the Bradford novels, which use blog posts to tell the story (and, I think, texts/emails too, though it's been quite a while since I've read the books) and was surprised and disappointed when after the second book a third didn't follow. I guess I was the only one who read them?

6. After
Amy Efaw
This book disappointed me because I wanted so much more of the trial and what came after. I really wanted a resolution here and didn't get it.

7. So Many Boys (The Naughty List #2)
Suzanne Young
Really this post should just be called "series I loved that got cut short," because once again we have a fantastic contemporary series that didn't get its final book. I loved Tessa and all her boy/friendship drama and really wanted to see how things played out, especially with the betrayal of her best friend near the end of (I think) this book. BOOK THREE, PLEASE!!

Alright, I know I've only got seven books here but it's surprisingly hard to come up with ten books I want sequels to because, like I said, I generally feel like the story that's told is the one that deserves to be told, and I'm such a fan of stand-alone novels.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Balancing Acts & A Call for Great Chick-Lit

I seem to be on a never-ending quest to find awesome, solidly cute and entertaining adult novels. Chick-lit*, for lack of a better term. I want the book equivalent of a really good romantic comedy; 13 Going on 30 or The Proposal in book form. Honestly, I want the feel of a romantic comedy, but the book doesn't even have to be a romance.

So I found Balancing Acts at a used bookstore. Four college friends meet back up at a 10-year quasi-reunion and reconnect over a six-week yoga class. Cue dream-chasing, unexpected romances, and Big Life Moments. I had such hopes for this one!

Sadly, those hopes were not met. Though the premise of the book was catchy enough, the characters and relationships fell flat for me, with the notable exception of single-mom Naomi, who was the bright light of the book. These four women are remarkably similar to one another - all of the same socio-economic class, working in related fields, most of them with creative dreams they'd put off only to rediscover them throughout the course of the book. Their romances are predictably... predictable, and the friendship that grows between the four of them never felt organic enough to really draw me in.

The odd thing here, in light of everything I've said, is that I actually enjoyed the book. It was entertaining enough, and I was invested enough in these characters stories that I kept with it. I wanted more from the ending, especially Naomi's storyline, but this book was reliably okay. 

But it wasn't the rom-com, chick-lit gem I keep searching for, and I have to ask, for those of you who read more adult than YA: can you recommend some great chick-lit to me?

*Okay, yeah, I know that "chick-lit" is supposed to be not so much a term anymore. But I honestly don't know how else to best describe the type of book I'm looking for. If you know what it's called, let me know!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

All The Books (August 3, 2013)

I know it's been ages since I've done my "All the Books" meme, but here it is again (and hopefully I can keep it up this time!) -- what I'm reading, what I've read, and what I've got in my TBR pile.

(Books I've read this past week)
A post about this book is coming on Monday. I got it at a used bookstore and had high hopes that it didn't quite meet. I'm thinking that readers who love yoga (or have any interest in it whatsoever) might get more from the book than I did.

(Books added to my wishlist this week)

I've been making monthly "wanting" lists, and somewhat amazingly these are the (only) three books from August that really jumped out at at me. The Golden Day sounds pretty and creepy, but I'm hoping not too creepy. Just Like Fate is a twisty, contemporary-with-a-dose-of-sci-fi book that I'm really hoping stands up to how great I really want it to be. And then there's Kelly Fiore's debut novel, Taste Test, which I am just incredibly excited about. Chefs-who-fall-in-love has sounded like a great premise to me ever since I watched an episode of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills years ago. (Because yes, that was a real show that I really watched.) So I'm excited about this one.

(New books I've acquired this week)
I was crazy excited to win a signed, personalized copy of this from Zoe's Book Reviews. It's so right up my alley, so I'm really hoping I love it (but, of course, attempting to go in without any prejudgements. A huge thank you to both Zoe and Daisy Whitney for the book!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Top 10: Favorite Beginnings/Endings of Books

This week's Top Ten topic from The Broke and the Bookish is "top ten favorite beginnings or endings of books," meaning awesome scenes, lines, or just whatever. And yes, I know this meme is supposed to go up on Tuesday, but, uh, HELLO FRIDAY!


Across the Universe, by Beth Revis
The first chapter of Across the Universe is one of the best, most stunning first chapters I've come across. It is perfection. The bad side of that, though, is that you end up holding the whole rest of the book/series to that same impossible standard and it never quite reaches such epic heights. (That said, the whole series is really good. It's just that the first scene, with Amy in the cryo chamber, is flat-out gripping.)

Golden, by Jessi Kirby
Specifically the prologue. Now, I am not normally a prologues kind of person and more often than not I snooze through them, but the prologue to Golden is, if you'll excuse the awful wordplay... absolute gold. So perfect and dreamy and pretty, a great set-up for the mystery that follows.

Twenty Boy Summer, by Sarah Ockler
The opening scene and chapter for this book is so heartbreakingly perfect for the story that follows. The characters -- even (or especially) the one who is quickly killed off -- are so fully formed that it makes what happens near the start of the book even more painful.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
This book sets you down right in the middle of Scarlett O'Hara's enviable life as a southern belle and it's such a great set-up (I feel like I'm using the word "perfect" too much in this post) for the rest of the story and the downward spiral of Scarlett's life.

Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson
This is a love story, but not like any you've heard.
This almost-first line sets the tone for Tiger Lily and daaaaang if that's not one of the best lines ever ever ever. Adore.


We'll Always Have Summer, by Jenny Han
Whenever I see people complaining about "love triangles" in YA I always think but, but, the Summer trilogy. Because these three books did it right (as did, you know, the next book/series on this list). We'll Always Have Summer, the last in the trilogy, ended exactly as it should have, with pitch-perfect writing to boot.

Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
This ending was heart-wrenchingly sad, but it was also, to me, the only way the series could end. And, yes, as far as the romance aspect, spot-on for these characters (and, erm, also what I wanted to happen). I'm in complete awe of Suzanne Collins for how she did this book, this huge ending to such a huge series.

Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanan
This book ends with just the right amount of hopefulness and the turning over of a new leaf. It fits the book and the characters so well.

Alright, this was all I could come up with. Eight books. There are other endings I love as well (the end to Mothership, for instance), but it's hard to really come up with a solid ten so I'll leave it at a solid eight instead.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

55 Reading Questions (31-40)

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?
If I truly hate a book, I probably won't post a review of it, but in general I actually don't have a problem with writing negative or critical reviews. I stick to judging the book (not the author as a person), and make sure that I can provide reasons for my opinion, but I think that critical/negative reviews are important for readers trying to decide if a certain book is right for them.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you chose?
I think French. I feel like that would just be a really pretty language to read in.

33. Most intimidating book you’ve ever read?
Probably The Hobbit in eighth grade. It was huge and dense and boring and I was just like, seriously?

34. Most intimidating book you’re too nervous to begin?
Hmm. I don't know.

35. Favorite Poet?
I don't have a favorite. I like Emily Dickenson and e.e. cummings a lot, so maybe one/both of them.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?

37. How often have you returned books to the library unread?
Very rarely.

38. Favorite fictional character? 
Agent 99. Unless we're talking from books only, in which case I don't know. It's too hard to choose. Maybe Peeta Mellark? Maybe Melanie Wilkes? 

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Seigfreid. But again, if we're talking books only then I don't have an answer for this. Because in general I don't like villains.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation?
I bring my Bible any time I travel, but as for "fun reading," I'd bring whatever I'm looking forward to reading. I took a trip recently and brought Sarah Dessen's latest, The Moon and More (although that was definitely not a vacation). I'm also likely to bring used books that I don't have to worry too much about whether they get messed up.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

55 Reading Questions (21-30)

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?
Knowing that it's a book someone I know will connect with, or just really liking a book myself if a friend is a reader. I gave my dad Code Name Verity (which he still hasn't finished) because he's an aviator and I knew he'd love the adventure of it. 

22. Favorite genre?
Contemporary YA.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did)?
I wish I read more science fiction. I love sci-fi movies and shows, but it's sometimes hard to find novels I connect with as much. Thankfully, in the post-Across the Universe publishing world, this is changing. (Thank you, Beth Revis!)

24. Favourite biography?
I read a biography of Amelia Earhart when I was younger that I absolutely loved, but I don't remember the name of it. I also really really loved Don't Kill the Birthday Girl, but that's really a memoir.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?
The only true "self-help" book I can think of that I've read is Don't Panic, a book about dealing with anxiety attacks, by R. Reid Wilson, and I didn't even read the whole thing. I just tended to skip around and find the parts that I thought would help me.

26. Favourite cookbook?
My mom has a 1950's Betty Crocker cookbook that I absolutely LOVE. 

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
Golden, by Jessi Kirby. The prologue to that book (and I'm not usually a fan of prologues) was so, so amazing, as was the unfolding of the mystery in the book itself. A really inspiring "make your life your own" sort of book.

28. Favorite reading snack?
Iced tea. Which I know is not a food, but really, I love it.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
Oh, I don't know. I'm not big into hype. I've definitely read books where I finished and was like, "really? this is what everyone's crowing about?" but it wasn't the hype itself that ruined the book for me; I just didn't enjoy the book and couldn't see what was so great about it.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?
I don't pay attention to critics really. And since most of what I read is YA it's not getting a whole ton of coverage (as far as reviews) in newspapers, etc. But usually when I read a review of any sort I can at least see where they're coming from, even if I don't agree.

Monday, July 29, 2013

55 Reading Questions (11-20)

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Fairly often, if you consider my comfort zone to be realistic YA. But not too often if you consider my comfort zone to be fiction as a broad subject; I aim to read more nonfiction. I always aim to read more nonfiction I just have a difficult time finding a lot of nonfic I'm really passionate about.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Ha. See above.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I don't ride the bus often (or ever?), but yeah, I can definitely read in a moving vehicle.

14. Favorite place to read?
I like to read in a sunny spot, like a cat. A cat who has learned to read. And if it's cold out, then by the heater.

15. What is your policy on book lending?
Do it! I tend to force my books on my family -- right now both my sister and my dad have books I've shoved at them, promising they'll like them. I don't tend to lend books to people I don't know well, because I am pretty protective of my books and like to know they'll come back to me unharmed. Of course, this doesn't explain why I keep letting my dad, who likes to give books away after finishing them, borrow my books.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
As a general rule, NO! That is awful. But (but but but) if a book is old and worn out already, then I will.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?
I have, but I don't generally. I don't know. I go back and forth on this issue.

18. Not even with text books?
Okay, I definitely wrote in text books. And I write in my Bible (more like underlining/highlighting, not actual notes in margins though). But novels? Less often.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?
Well, I enjoy english seeing as it's the only one I know.

20. What makes you love a book?
I fall hard for great characters and character/relationship dynamics. Every book I love has either a strong character or a strong relationship at the center of it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

55 Reading Questions (1-10)

To help myself get back int blogging I'm going to be answering 55 reading questions, from this tumblr over here, starting with the first ten today.

1. Favorite childhood book? 
I have quite a few, but I think if I absolutely positively had to choose one favorite childhood book I'd have to go with Sharon Creech's Bloomability. Although Lynne Rae Perkin's All Alone in the Universe and Katherine Patterson's Bridge to Terabithia are right up there, too. I have such big feelings about these books.

2. What are you reading right now? Nothing. I just finished Balancing Acts, by Zoe Fishman last night though.

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None.

4. Bad book habit?Oh, I don't know. My worst one is that I sometimes finish books I'm not really feeling, but I've gotten a lot better at that in the past year or so.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?Nothing.

6. Do you have an e-reader?I have an iPad, but I really don't read ebooks. I had a Kindle but I gave it to my sister because she loves reading on the Kindle and I much much much MUCH prefer paper books.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?One at a time. Anyone who reads more than one book at a time is FULL OF CRAZY.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?Only in that I'm more aware of what's out there and what I really want to read. It has both broadened my reading horizons and refined what I choose to read.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far)?You, Maybe, by Rachel Vail. One of those books that I really wasn't feeling but I just *had* to find out how it ended.

10. Favorite book you’ve read this year?Well, that's nearly impossible. I've had a handful of five-star reads this year and it's so difficult to choose between Jessi Kirby's Golden, Geoff Herbach's I'm With Stupid, and Sarah Dessen's The Moon and More. They were all brilliant and wonderful in their own ways. ("You're both better but different in different but better ways.") So I have to pass on this one, although I'm sure the Dessen novel will be the one I end up rereading most, because I do love Dessen.

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Reading, of Late

I don't know what I'm doing lately, as far as blogging goes. Blogger? Tumblr? Nothing? Who knows!? But I do miss blogging, and would love to start up regularly again, although I haven't been reading much lately. (My reading stats for 2013 would make most bloggers weep and gnash their teeth.) Still, here's a little update on what I've been reading these past few months. I did a massive reread of the entire A Series of Unfortunate Events series over on my tumblr, and since then my reading life has been quite, quite sad for the most part. However, I have made it through a couple of books, with varying success.

The first book I read was this old(ish) Rachel Vail novel, published way back in 2006. I found it cheap at a used & new bookstore and since it's been on my list for ages I finally had to purchase it. I read this one a little out of order because, quite honestly, I wasn't a fan of the book but wanted desperately to find out how it ended. (And it did not end how I expected.) Not great.

The latest Sarah Dessen novel on the other hand? If I were a poet I'm sure I could write entire sonnets about this one. I read it on a long drive home from a weekend trip and it was everything I wanted in a book, and then some. Definitely one of Dessen's best.

Right now I'm reading an adult novel about a group of old acquaintances who reconnect over yoga. I've been searching for some awesome chick-lit (for lack of a better term) stories, so I bought this and another book at a thrift store. So far this isn't exactly all I wanted it to be; it's entertaining, but I don't love the characters, but we'll see.

So, what have you been reading in my absence? Anything great and wonderful?

Monday, May 13, 2013

i'm at tumblr!!

I've officially moved over to blogging on tumblr, which is making  it way too easy for me to post like a zillion things a day. (I love it so far.) And I'm not nearly so critical of making every post COUNT when it's tumblr.

I'm going to leave this site up for archives, but if you'd like to follow/read my new book tumblr, it's here at kittyhawkbooks.tumblr.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


My blogging lately has not been up to snuff, for various reasons. Mostly it just seems so daunting. I went for months where I wasn't blogging simply because I didn't have the time and energy, and now I find myself at a loss for what to post about. I still love writing reviews and making lists, but I no longer have the inclination to write posts as often as I used to, at least not with the quality that I always wanted from my posts. It takes a lot of time and a lot of thought and while I constantly want to post book-related thoughts, pictures, lists, and reviews, it often seems like what I want to post isn't worth an actual blog post.

Also, I've been fielding tons of spam comments, which has me terribly annoyed with Blogger altogether, as does the fact that I always have a hard time including pictures in my posts.

Also I've been browsing tumblr quite a bit... (can you tell where this is headed?)...

and while I don't want to give up book blogging (I've grown quite attached to it), the idea of shorter posts, of being able to post just a picture or a quote without feeling like I'm just wasting a blog post, really appeals to me. I don't love that tumblr doesn't have a built-in comment system, but I am seriously considering switching over to a shiny new book blog on tumblr.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

review: if he had been with me

Laura Nowlin
Sourcebooks Fire
A few things to start off with, the first being that I really don't know how to review this book. It sits in extremes for me; there was a lot I loved, but there was also a fair amount that didn't sit well with me and at least one scene that I skipped over entirely. Secondly though, author Laura Nowlin is an incredible writer and I'll definitely be looking for whatever she publishes next.

If He Had Been With Me is a story stretched out over four years, of Autumn and Finny, who used to be best friends but aren't anymore. Though they were inseparable all through middle school, it's now high school and pretty-but-weird Autumn has formed a close knit group with other misfits while Finny (Finn, to everyone but Autumn) is athletic, preppy, and popular. Despite the closeness of their families and the fact that they spend every major holiday seated around the same kitchen table, Autumn and Finny don't seem to have much in common anymore. Finny's dating a popular girl while Autumn has a long-term boyfriend, king of the misfits. Of course, it's obvious to the reader, if not to Autumn herself (the book is from her POV) that she belongs with, and is in love with, her boy-next-door, Finny. And though it's inevitable that Autumn eventually comes to this conclusion on her own, she spends an inordinately long amount of the book with Jamie, being in love with him. Or at least trying to convince herself that she's in love with him. The two have plans to get married, buy a house, have kids, and though Jamie's all in, it's obvious that Autumn is only in because she regards her feelings for Finny as a fantasy that can never come true; in real life, good-enough is all you get, she reasons.

Autumn is not a very happy person. (I could get into more detail about this but it would ruin certain aspects of the book and its plot, I think.)

This is an incredible sort of book. The writing is amazing, the characters are so, so well done, and the whole thing has a very hazy, beautiful but inevitably tragic feel to it. The book's strange attitude toward sex (it wasn't entirely casual, but it wasn't really not-casual either, so I'm having a hard time landing on an accurate word for how this book handled the issue) bothered me, and I found myself skipping certain scenes, one in particular. This is not a book about sex, but it did play a role in the story. In addition to this, Autumn's insistence that she's in love with both Finny and her boyfriend Jamie bothered me. It reminded me of all the reasons I hated the movie Doctor Zhivago. For much of the book Autumn remains oblivious to her own feelings toward Finny, and this got old, especially the longer she stayed in her lukewarm relationship with Jamie. Autumn is a needy character, but for some reason it took quite a while before I realized just how needy.

Though part of the ending is obvious from the beginning (almost from the title, really), but another part of the ending came as a shock. For those who've read the book, yes, it was definitely foreshadowed, but I found it hard to believe that such a sweetly beautiful book would actually take that route. I root for happy endings, and this one shook me. Though it's possible to view the ending in a hopeful way it's hard for me to move beyond Autumn's actions and reasoning. So like I said, this was a difficult book for me. It's a well-written and beautiful story with love as the huge, overarching theme. But there were aspects of the book that bothered me -- it wasn't enough to make me abandon the book, but definitely enough to affect my feelings toward it -- and the ending felt both obvious and incredibly, incredibly depressing. (And in at least one respect, unrealistic.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday Ten: Mean Girls Rewind

Alright, this week is a Broke & Bookish top ten REWIND week, and I've missed a lot of weeks but am going to go with top ten Mean Girls from fiction.

1. Scarlett O'Hara
Gone With the Wind
Margaret Mitchell
There's no way for me to make a list of literature's mean girls without having Scarlett right at the top of it. As much as I love Scarlett (and I do, I really do), she's kind of awful to other girls. It's somewhat forgivable because her life is a total complete mess, but really when you get right down to it Scarlett's a very young, immature, selfish girl who's used to getting her own way and not sure how to deal with disappointment. Of course, the course of the book changes her but it's quite a long time (and many super-sad deaths) before she realizes how awful she's been to those who love her.

2. Lina Broud
The Luxe series
Anna Godberson
Ugh. I can't even pretend to like Lina. She's just awful.

3. Hilly Holbrook
The Help
Kathryn Stockett
For obvious reasons.

4. Anna Morrison
Some Girls Are
Courtney Summers
I know that the main character, Regina, also fits squarely into the "mean girl" category, but there's one big difference between her and Anna: Regina knows she's been a mean girl. She hates it about herself. Anna, on the other hand, enjoys it, and that's the scariest, meanest part of all.

5. Shay
Uglies series
Scott Westerfeld
I don't know about this one. I don't entirely (or at all, really) remember how the relationship between Tally and Shay ended up ending... were they friends or enemies in the end? I do know that I never really liked Shay and there always seemed to be a not-nice edge to her all through this series.

6. Samantha Kingston
Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
If this were a list of "reformed mean girls," Sam would make the very top of the list. She went from being a character I loathed to one I loved and admired, which is no easy feat to pull off.

7. Nicola
Wicked Jealous
Robin Palmer
Nicola is the stepmother in this modern retelling of Snow White. So, you know, she's not the most loving of characters (to say the least).

8. Mandarin
Like Mandarin
Kirsten Hubbard
Alright I know that Mandarin is supposed to be this amazing wild child girl, but really she's selfish. And she reminds me of so many fast-and-furious friendships that only ended in shipwreck (much like Grace and Mandarin's friendship here). So she might not be mean exactly, but she's definitely bad news.

9. Bianca Piper
Kody Keplinger
Oy. If I get started on this one I'll never shut up.

Aaaand I'm leaving #10 empty because I had a hard enough time coming up with nine mean girls. The truth is, many books/characters that would fall into this category I don't end up finishing. But agree with my choices? Disagree? Thoughts?