Paper Towns

August 23, 2015 at 1:47 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

51hgkNew+XL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Genre: Young Adult/ Teen Fiction

I loved it.  It seems silly to enjoy teen fiction so much, right now, in my thirties.  It feels like I should be chalking it up to a pre-mid life crisis of sorts – but I have an old soul, I already had my mid-life crisis, I think.  If I didn’t, I’m screwed when the real one comes around.  I’m not sure my brain can handle all that drama.

But it’s not a mid-life crisis.  It’s just that despite the fact that people will roll their eyes at John Green because he seems like he’s probably that typical sappy teen coming of age crap that everyone is writing – there’s a reason he’s so popular and everyone else just isn’t.

John Green is an excellent writer.

He doesn’t just write snark – he embodies snark.  He has the snark on lock-down.  And though people think he only writes super confident teens that we all wish we had been, he doesn’t do that either.  The main character of Paper Towns is not confident.  He’s nerdy and very un-self assured.  He’s in love with the self assured one, and you discover that no one is as self assured as they’d like to pretend to be.

I loved how Green pulled in Walt Whitman’s themes from Leaves of Grass.  So much so, that I long to make a pile of Leaves of Grass paperbacks to display next to our piles of Paper Towns at the bookstore.  But I haven’t.  It’s not my job to do that anymore and I’m trying desperately to only do *my* job and not be the over achiever type A that I naturally am and work my ass off outside my pay grade.  I’m not used to be a “regular” employee anymore.  Between my previous management experience and writing a character who owns her own bookstore, my brain wants to run things and instead I’m just running the books.  Which is definitely relaxing, until I have to keep my perfectionism in check – and then it’s stressful.

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar makes a sneak appearance as well.  I’m always down for a good book that recommends other good books.  Margo, though I disagree with half her sentiments, appeals to me.  I understand her.  I’ve been her.  I’m just not her anymore.  Though, often, I feel pieces of her tugging at my personality from time to time.  Ultimately, I chose to be more like Q.  People probably see me more like Q.  Although, at that age, I don’t think people really saw me at all.

So now I’m re-reading Leaves of Grass.  I couldn’t leave it lingering in my brain that way without tackling it again.  I haven’t perused it since high school and it’s long overdue.

Have you read John Green?  Do you find him oddly relatable?

And finally, do you plan to or have you seen the movie?  I have not, yet.

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A Cranberry Cove Summer

July 13, 2015 at 12:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Casey of Cranberry CoveAuthor: Susan KotchUnknown

Genre: Teen Fiction

Publisher: Hibernian Publishing

Length: 207 pages

Ice Cream Parlours, boogie boarding, kayaking, sail boat racing, pizza, high school parties, and hunky life guards… mix some teen angsty romance in and you’ve got a cute beach read that is perfect for summer.  Susan Kotch delivers the perfect one with surfer girl Casey Whitman playing the role of Gidget.

Casey of10473070_810968012059_3950441201297687075_n Cranberry Cove is a fun read and my only regret while reading is that I wasn’t doing it in the sand, baking on the beach.  I love reading on the beach and Casey is a girl after my own heart – a sun-baking reader and go-getter who isn’t afraid to get dirty.
I’m looking forward to future adventures of Casey’s, but I’m hoping she keeps her head on straight and doesn’t turn into a ninny.  I’m also hoping she doesn’t leave her beach life behind in all the excitement of growing up.  Casey reminds me a bit of the Robin Jones Gunn Christy Miller series my older sister had on her shelf growing up, I think girls that like one series would enjoy the other.

Peaceful at Manhattan Beach

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Insurgent and Allegiant

November 4, 2014 at 4:28 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I read Divergent a while back.  It intrigued me enough to know that I wanted to read the rest of the series eventually, but not enough to make too much of a mad rush to get my hands on it.  Although now I have read the rest of the series, despite many people telling me not to bother, and I’m glad I did.

InsurgentSo there’s a little too many fingers curling into shirt scenes… it might be the only way Roth has seen or experienced closeness – in the form of people tugging on t-shirts or twining their fingers around fabric in a near desperate manner.  That’s ok.  As a writer, I have a nasty habit of tucking things places.  She tucked this into that.  He tucked blah blah blah.  My editor gets on me about it all the time.  I’m surprised Roth’s editors didn’t nab her for the finger curling.  But that’s not the point…

The point is, despite the teen coming of age romance that we’ve seen over and over again, I liked one major thing about THIS romance.

AllegiantTris acknowledges that Love is a Choice.

“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”

After Twilight and Bella’s helpless infatuation…  After The Mortal Instruments and the “to love is to destroy” mantra…  After Hunger Games and a PTSD induced marriage of comfort… I’m glad Roth had the guts to write about another kind of choice, the kind that doesn’t happen just once, but every day in every moment.

I think that every true relationship has a little bit of all of those things: infatuation, passion, trust and comfort, and thousands of choices.  It’s interesting that in one sub-genre of young adult fiction, all released within a decade of each other, all popular enough to make blockbuster films out of them… we’ve covered such a vast array of relationships in our teen romances.  It’s good for young people to see such a variety of examples.

Even though Roth’s aren’t my favorite books ever, I like that she had the courage to write the ending no one wanted, but the one that would be expected in a world such as the one her characters live in.

I still haven’t seen the Divergent movie, but I’m looking forward to the day I do a little bit more, hoping that they stick to the books and don’t go too Hollywood with it.  I also look forward to seeing what Roth will write next.

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Enchanted Ivy

October 22, 2014 at 3:26 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

EnchantedIvyCover_LoRes312hTitle:Enchanted Ivy

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Length: 310 pages

It was the matte finish that got me.  So many young adult fantasy novels have the glossy cover that screams: I’m complete brain candy and will rot your mind! READ ME!  But not Enchanted Ivy, maybe you can’t tell from the picture, but if your fingers touch the cover, you’ll know.

Ivy here is a play on words.  The main character, Lily Carter, is trying to get into Princeton (her back-up school is another Ivy League option: Harvard).  No biggie, right? She just has to pass a top secret admissions test provided by the Old Boys her grandfather went to college with and she’s in…

Insert Tolkien and Harry Potter style creatures of myth… shape shifters, a gate to a magic world, gargoyle professors, unicorns, dryads, and ivy (and trees and flowers) that obey commands, and you’ve got the fixings for a fantastical adventure that occurs in a day or two and can be read faster than that.

Cassandra Clare meets C.S. Lewis and Sarah Beth Durst brought us a fun filled fantasy with a few romantic moments or two to satisfy our girly hearts.

When I read these books, I’m mentally cataloging them… will I recommend this to kids at the store? Will I recommend this to my niece?  Will I recommend this to my daughter?  For Enchanted Ivy, yes on all fronts, as long as their school work is done.  The book is both exciting and innocent enough for tweens and teens, I enjoyed it, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time or killed brain cells in doing so.  The author, after all, is a Princeton gal herself.

As for a few cheesy soulmate lines, I both loathe them and am a sucker for them.  I met my husband when I was 14, all the first meetings and teenage hormones is sheer nostalgia for me.  Although Durst does a great job at keeping these on the very far back burner.

 

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Unholy Hell

September 20, 2014 at 2:32 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Angelbound-Front-Cover-640x1024Title:Angelbound

Author: Christina Bauer

Genre: Paranormal/ Action Romance

Format: Kindle Ebook

Unholy Moley! (as Myla Lewis likes to say) That was cool.

Life in Purgatory, post Armageddon (the demon, not the event), fighting other demons in an arena gladiator style has 18 year old Myla Lewis pretty busy.  She’s part demon, among other things, and can do some serious damage with her tail.  But as with any fantasy adventure, things are about to get more complicated…

This was a pretty fun (older) teen romantic adventure.  You’ve got all your key elements: a pretty stellar and unique world, a kick-ass heroine, and a hot prince.  Fans of the TV Show Supernatural, The Mortal Instruments series (books and movie), as well as Buffy and Lost Girl, will get a kick out of this fast paced read.  It helps that the first in the series is a free kindle download, but it’s definitely worth the extra bucks to find out what happens next.

Although I definitely get the teen fantasy vibe from it, I’d only recommend it for 17-19 year old teenagers, not younger ones.  Maybe I’m old fashioned, but there’s a few too many f-bombs and sexual angst for me to hand it over to my younger nieces and nephews, even if I was reading John Grisham at 12 that doesn’t mean I’m going to push that language and sexual energy into their lives with purpose.  If a 14 to 16 year old picked it up on their own, I wouldn’t stop them though.

All in all, it’s fun zipping around killing things as a chosen one for a few hours.  Fun story, can’t wait to read the rest of Bauer’s work on a rainy weekend.

 

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Wrapping up Clare, Clary, and Clockworks

June 18, 2014 at 1:26 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

City of Heavenly FireTitles: City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Fantasy/ Teen

*SPOILERS*

So I was finally able to wrap up two series, The Mortal Instruments and the prequel series Infernal Devices.  It was kind of refreshing to finish something and know that I know as much of the story that is available to know at the moment.

City of Heavenly Fire was exactly what I expected.  Great closing to it all, not a lot of surprises.  The only thing that did surprise me were the number of new characters that were introduced, seemingly to kick start another set of books.  But Clary and Jace are finally basking in their glorious together-ness, the readers got a wedding (Clary’s mother and Luke of course), and the teen couple finally sealed the deal which was expected, gratifying for the masses, but also disappointing for me – the girl who waited.

clockwork princessClockwork Princess was not nearly as satisfying.  It went as expected (the ending sort of spoiled by having already read City of Heavenly Fire), but also disappointed me in the sense that sometimes a girl should actually have to do a little more choosing.  No one gets everything they ever wanted that thoroughly, and Tessa being allowed to love both boys so completely thrusts you outside of the book’s reality and back into your own by the sheer fact that no one should be allowed such a fairy tale.  Even in happily ever afters, a girl has to pick a prince.  You didn’t see Clary marrying Jace and running into the ever after with Simon or vice versa.  It was sweet and wonderful, but too sweet and too wonderful, and therefore fell flat to me.

I’m glad I read them the way I did though, I am.  Even if things were a little anti-climactic, I understand stories and the fact that the characters simply have to live their lives and sometimes those lives are anti-climactic.  I’m just also a little relieved that both series have ended.

I still adore Cassandra Clare, I still look forward to reading more of her writing in the future.  But for now, I think I may have burned myself out.  Or maybe Clare burned herself out.  I’m not sure and it’s probably not fair for me to decide right now.

 

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City of Glass

June 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

It seems even though this is my second time reading this book (my second time through the series as I prep to read the final volume!), I didn’t write proper reviews for each one.

I addressed the series, made references to Cassandra Clare’s work in many of my reviews, but City of Glass never got a review all it’s own.

So here it goes:

city-of-glass2Title: City of Glass

Author: Cassandra Clare

Genre: Young Adult/ Teen/ Fantasy

Length: 541 pages

The book cover finally features a boy *with* his shirt on. However, the cover still annoys me. I suppose I’ll never get over how embarrassing they are. I’ve never preferred having actual people on the front covers of the books I read, unless of course they’re in some sort of Victorian garb. For some reason a person on the cover never truly embodies the mood of a story the way I want it to. I prefer buildings, scenery, landscapes, or the hint of a person.

For instance…

City of Glass 1That’s a cover I don’t mind flashing the masses, a train full of people, other moms at a public park, or I don’t know – MY KID.

Who am I kidding? In the U.S. the cover up top is the only one that is going to move copies of the book.  I’m an odd duck.  I know that.

Regardless of all that – I still adore these books. Brain candy, teen flick, romance nonsense and all. I just love them.

I love the book references, the intelligent quotes, the very teen appropriate quips.  I love that Jace (Jonathan) Wayland/Morgenstern/Herondale/whoever reminds me so very much of my own Jonathan at that age.  Clare has cocky teenage boy dialog down to an art.  Jace’s cockiness rings true and familiar, the knowledge that he is attractive and desired, edged with angst anyway.

I remember those conversations.  I remember the beautiful, desired boy flirting with me – the short, somewhat tomboyish and frumpy nerd who was always a little out of place.  Granted, I never got Luke & Leia -ed like Clary and Jace did.  But I think what makes these books so marvelous is despite the fantasy, despite the action and apocalyptic level of drama, despite the paranormal parts that drip into every aspect of the story – there’s something familiar for everyone in these stories.  Especially City of Glass, and the ever burning question so many romances have: If it’s not forbidden will he/she still want me?

This time around I re-read the first book, City of Bones, after seeing the movie. The library didn’t have the second book, City of Ashes, on hand so I just skipped it and went onto City of Glass. By doing this, I was brought to a whole new level of appreciation for the series, Cassandra Clare, and each book individually.

Even though I jumped in having skipped the second book – I wasn’t lost. Although the second book is pivotal to an epic saga of the Nephilim, I didn’t feel out of sorts by not having read it. Clare does such an excellent job of having each book stand on it’s own even though it’s merely a puzzle piece in a giant story. I love that.

I know it’s the thousandth time I’ve said this, and I shall say it a thousand times more – Well done, Cassandra Clare, Well done.

Do I feel bad about re-reading young adult titles over and over again and the age of thirty? No, not anymore.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”- C.S. Lewis

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The Mortal Instruments to Film

May 16, 2014 at 2:47 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

JaceI finally watched City of Bones, the movie.  I’ve been debating writing a review for it since I first watched it and have since watched it two more times.

I’m trying to figure it out – why it seems to just fall flat.

(For the record, despite my use of the marketing, I am still opposed to book and movie covers/posters featuring shirtless men.  It seems so unnecessary and ridiculous.  I see it and all I can think is ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt’ in the most absurd voice that makes the song even more ironic than intended.)

Lily Collins did a great job.  I have a crush on Jamie Campbell Bower, have since I heard him sing – then watching him in Camelot just set it in stone.  He’s amazing, not just pretty.  I’ve been giggling at Robert Sheehan since Misfits.  Lena Heady is my hero.  When have I not loved Jonathan Rhys Meyers? – I’m 30, so pretty much never.  (The movie August Rush makes me swoon to no end.) So it’s not the cast.

The action sequences are brilliant.  Even my Kung Fu self loves them.  My I- Read-The-Book self loves them.  They are grand and epic enough.  The weapons are fantastic.

The graphics are great, the demons exciting and true to descriptions.

But something just didn’t quite work.

Then, I realized what it was:

The ending was all a muck.  We gloss over Simon becoming a rat, we skip through Valentine’s castle.  Jace is awake the whole time.  The writers just gave up halfway through and quit trying to stay true to the book.  They tried to wrap up 485 pages into a short teen flick of generic proportions when it should have been the introduction to something as grand as Harry Potter.

jace and swordIt fell flat.  It brings forth the reminder: “Don’t judge a book by its movie.”

The movie isn’t bad per se, it just makes me sad.  It could have been epic and instead it was a ‘pretty good date movie.’

Of course, Jamie Campbell Bower is still ever so pretty and makes it all worth it anyway.  He also manages to radiate that he read the book and knows who Jace is supposed to be.  Of course, I have no way of knowing if he read the books or not, but it makes me feel better thinking someone on set did.  And if he didn’t, his performance is even more impressive.

The movie is a B+

I wanted it to be so much more.

Jace with Book

 

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How I Waste My Time

November 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I am supposed to be reading The Old Curiosity Shop for HPB Humble’s December Book Club meeting.  I love and adore Dickens so I’m actually very excited about this.  Plus, the weather is perfect for it.  But every time I sit down I find something else has made it into my hands and reading time.  Yesterday I breezed through Unrecounted by W.G. Sebald and Jan Peter Tripp before starting and completing Sarah N. Harvey’s The Lit Report.  Both were short, breezy books, but neither were on my immediate TBR pile.

Unrecounted is a coffee table book shrunk down to the size of a trade paper back, in my opinion.  Housed in poetry, yet I find myself more captivated by the art.  The book is a series of Tripp’s art and Sebald’s verse married together very simply in a manner you might see at an art gallery rather than in a poetry book.  I enjoyed it immensely, but I would have preferred to walk through a perfectly lit hall with the images taking up half the wall, the verse on a plaque nearby, rather than flip through the pages of a book.  Although it would be far less accessible that way, the emotional impact would be far greater.

The Lit Report is a fabulous young adult piece for older teens.  In the style of So Many Books, So Little Time, the story follows a year in the life of Julia questioning the beliefs of those around her and defining her own world view while reading and walking her best friend through a secret teen pregnancy.  Christians are not shown in the greatest light.  In fact I doubt that the ‘Christians’ presented in this book actually are Christians as they tend to be people more focused on beating religion into others or attempting to save themselves from the wrath of God by burying themselves into activities of a highly questionable church, instead of simply believing in the Truth and love of Jesus Christ.  The book is also pretty consistent with how most modern teens live and has its fair share of swearing , misbehavior, and (obviously) sexual activity (after all, one girl is pregnant).  But the novel rings true as a supposed memoir of a girl’s life… while reading it you feel as though this could be someone’s experience somewhere – this could happen.

The Lit Report is something I wouldn’t mind re-reading with the kiddo when she is older and we can discuss the thoughts and opinions of the girls, their actions, and the actions of their parents.  It has valid and necessary topics to discuss: the cruel dogmatic ways of some people who call themselves ‘Christians’ and how they influence the public’s view on what being a Christian means, sexual activity as a teenager, and of course how literature can be a part of your daily life.  It is important to see what someone who ‘walks the walk’ looks like in comparison to somewhat who has hardened their heart and spouts biblical references at people out of context.  It is important to know where you stand as a sexual being and what your expectations and standards are, and finally, how your decisions affect those around you.  The novel really makes you stop to think what the author’s own life experiences with so-called Christians have been.

As for The Old Curiosity Shop, I am a few chapters in and it waits patiently for me on my night stand.  Maybe tonight will be the night… or, maybe I’ll find myself wasting more time.

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And She Went There – A City of Bones Review

July 8, 2012 at 2:46 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

*Spoilers!*

Title: City of Bones

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: McElderry Books (http://imprints.simonandschuster.biz/margaret-k-mcelderry-books)

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Length: 485 pages

Oh my… geeze Louise.  What the heck! I totally saw the insinuation of the plot developing, and I completely anticipate that this particular plot development will prove to be false… But Clare totally STAR WARSed us!  Except with Luke and Leah there was relief that came with the knowledge of their familial ties (after the ewww moment), because at least then we felt ok about hoping that whiny Luke didn’t get the girl and that Leah and Han Solo were meant for each other.  Clary and Jace! Really? Did Cassandra Clare have to go there?  Yes, yes, I fear she did.  Although I’m not buying the story line, it worked hook, line, and sinker and I’m itching to find out what happens next.

Of course, now, perfectly livid and irritated at my fascination for this series, I’m both addicted and torn.

What am I torn about? And why am I still addicted?

1. I was not a Twilight fan.  Meyer captured her target audience, and it was a fun little fairy tale – so in that aspect I can respect it.  But Bella is useless and I pretty much hate her character, Edward is ridiculous and I pretty much hate his character, and their whole relationship, I think, is absurd and sends the wrong message.  Cassandra Clare’s work definitely goes in the same genre, so in that sense I don’t want to like these books.  Still, Clare is just so much better with her character development, her story telling, and her writing.  Granted, I could do without all the teenage melodrama romance, but the adventure and the world she has created is wonderfully fascinating. (Read my Twilight review here: https://anakalianwhims.wordpress.com/tag/flaubert/)

2. These books are complete fluff.  In general, I am particular about my fluff.  I am very judgy, and frankly, a bit of a book snob.  Apparently, though, I’m in the mood for some complete and utter fluff, and a girl needs a healthy dose of dessert in her life in order to truly enjoy the non-dessert.    Clare makes up for the feeling of reading a crap ton of mind numbing cotton candy equivalent books with a healthy dose of literature references, so instead of cotton candy, I feel as though I’m reading a lemon meringue pie (with extra cool whip).

3. I absolutely protest having half naked boys on the front cover.  It’s a huge turn off when it comes to my book buying tendencies.  I was duped by Infernal Devices and the gentleman in the top hat.  Happily duped.

4. Then, which to read next? City of Ashes? (Book 2 of Mortal Instruments) or Clockwork Prince? (Book 2 of Infernal Devices).  Infernal Devices is the better series so far in my book, mostly because its Victorian and steampunk and all that delicious goodness, but I’m in a little more distress over the Mortal Instruments story line in this moment.  Does Clare pull a few more twists and rectify this ridiculous love story into the something morally acceptable I feel she is alluding to – or am I going to writhe my way through an incestuous romance?  And if this situation is resolved as I suspect (and hope) it will be, how does she do it?

Side note: Contrary to recent and probably most frequent posts, this is not a blog dedicated to childrens or young adult titles.  I read them a lot, therefore review them a lot, mostly because I have a child and partly because I enjoy reading what has been published since I was a child myself.  In the coming month(s), my readers/ followers can (fingers crossed) expect to find reviews and commentary for Book 3 of Les Miserables, Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Ferris, Merchant Kings by Brown, a surprise title sent to me to review by an author, and the latest discoveries in my Astrology research project.

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