Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 49

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver captivated readers with Delirium, the first book in a thrilling dystopian trilogy in which Lena Haloway dared to fall in love with Alex and escape the cure, the government-mandated procedure that renders a person immune to the disease of love. Lena and Alex staked their lives on leaving their oppressive society, but only Lena broke free.

Pandemonium continues Lena’s gripping story. After escaping from Portland, Maine, Lena makes it to the Wilds and becomes part of an Invalid community, where she transforms herself into a warrior for the resistance. A future without Alex is unimaginable, but Lena pushes forward and fights, both for him and for a world in which love is no longer considered a disease. Swept up in a volatile mix of revolutionaries and counterinsurgents, Lena struggles to survive—and wonders if she may be falling in love again.

Full of danger, forbidden romance, and exquisite writing, Lauren Oliver’s sequel to Delirium races forward at a breathtaking pace and is sure to appeal to fans who crave the high-stakes action of The Hunger Games and the bittersweet love story of Romeo & Juliet. (from GoodReads)

I am so excited to read Pandemonium! The first novel, Delirium, was pretty much amazing and I can't wait to see what happens next! Look for Pandemonium on shelves March 6, 2012 (so far away!).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book vs. Movie: Something Borrowed

When I first saw the trailer for Something Borrowed, I knew I had to watch it. I loved the idea of the plot and I loved most of the actors in it: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson and John Krasinski. Let me just say that the movie was AWESOME! It was awesome by itself and in terms of how it was translated from the book. I shall explain.

I thought that the movie did such a good job taking the important parts of the novel and translating them to the screen. Obviously things had to be cut, and with only a few minor changes, the plot was left intact. The biggest change came from combining two characters in the book, Ethan and Hillary, into one. This actually made a lot of sense and probably made the script easier to write.

As for the movie by itself, it was adorable. And it was so funny. John Krasinski stole the show basically. He had all the best lines and was just a great actor. He played Ethan, which was a combo of book Hillary and Ethan. It really worked out that way and I liked how they did that.

Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson were the characters in the book. I think they were perfectly cast and did a great job. And the actor who plays Dex wasn't hard on the eyes. At all. ;)

So I totally recommend Something Borrowed regardless if you have or haven't read the book. It was such a good movie and I can't wait to see it again!

Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules. (from GoodReads)


I absolutely adored the first novel in this (hopefully) series, Heist Society. Uncommon Criminals reaffirmed my love of these books, while also adding to the story.

I loved Uncommon Criminals for the same reasons that I highly recommend Heist Society to other readers. I love the plotline, about a young girl who is an art thief. If you've ever seen Ocean's Eleven, it's the same thing, but with younger characters. There's jet-setting to faraway places and a smart and clever heroine. I want to be Kat sometimes, she is that cool.

Formerly, Kat would steal art with her family for profit. But now Kat is in the habit of stealing art that has been stolen from its original owners and returning it. That's pretty nice of her, I think. She gets a request to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald, which is cursed. There are several twists throughout the story, which I enjoyed, because it kept me on my toes. Not is all as it seems with the emerald, but Kat and her crew are smart enough to figure it out.

My only, teensy problem I had with Uncommon Criminals was that it was too short. Of course I wnat more story, but from an objective standpoint, I thought that some parts were a little rushed. It got better by the end, but I was internally yelling at Ally Carter to give us more information. It kinda shows how much I love these books :)

Rating: 9.5 out of 10.
FTC: bought!

2011/Disney-Hyperion/298 pages.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Rachel White is the consummate good girl. A hard-working attorney at a large Manhattan law firm and a diligent maid of honor to her charmed best friend Darcy, Rachel has always played by all the rules. Since grade school, she has watched Darcy shine, quietly accepting the sidekick role in their lopsided friendship. But that suddenly changes the night of her thirtieth birthday when Rachel finally confesses her feelings to Darcy's fiance, and is both horrified and thrilled to discover that he feels the same way. As the wedding date draws near, events spiral out of control, and Rachel knows he must make a choice between her heart and her conscience. In so doing, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren't always neat, and sometimes you have to risk everything to be true to yourself. (from back cover)

Is it okay that I loved this book?! I know that Something Borrowed is like the epitome of chick lit, but I couldn't help but enjoy it. I even read it in a day (so I think that says something).

I first heard of Something Borrowed when I saw the movie trailer and I immediately wanted to see the movie since it has all my favorite actors in it and the plot looked really good. But then when my friend bought the book I asked if I could borrow it (hehe) before I watched the movie. I'm so glad I did because the book is awesome!

Right off the bat, Something Borrowed hooks you in, and the narrator (Rachel) starts telling you about her and Darcy's relationship. You realize that Darcy kind off walks all over Rachel and Rachel lets her because she is insecure. This is the basis of Rachel's justification for having an affair with Darcy's fiance. And you start to agree with this analysis because Darcy can be a piece of work sometimes. Even though I don't condone cheating, I am open to the possibility that things are not black and white so I liked that Emily Giffin addressed this. The reader can tell that Rachel and Dex are not bad people, just people not making the right decisions.

The ending is half resolved and half cliffhanger and I know there's a sequel called Something Blue from Darcy's point-of-view. I really want to know what happens next but I don't know if I can stand reading a book all about Darcy (yes, she really is that obnoxious). However, I know that I will be seeing the movie as soon as it is released on DVD. I would definitely recommend Something Borrowed if you're looking for good chick lit!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from a friend.

2004/St. Martin's Griffin/322 pages.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jane by April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane relunctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied-relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing revelation from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing myster, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers. (from book jacket)

Jane was awesome! And what was even more awesome is that it reminded me how much I love the original Jane Eyre, which I definitely need to reread soon.

I thought that April Lindner did a fantastic job translating elements of Jane Eyre into their modern counterparts. Jane is still the same character, but instead living in the 21st century. Everything worked so well, and I loved reading the book and remembering little things, like how Rochester/Nico and Jane first met, that I had forgotten.

I thought that the romance between Jane and Nico was definitely believable, even though it would be nice if their sections were longer. Also, I had forgotten how long Jane Eyre actually is, because April Lindner cuts out a lot of Jane's childhood, which would have been interesting to see.

This review is super short, but all I really need to say is that I loved Jane and thought it did Jane Eyre justice. Though, I still whole-heartedly recommend the original and I hope you give both a chance!

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: from library.

2010/Poppy/369 pages.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nothing by Janne Teller

Nothing is the Lord of the Flies for the 21st century

Pierre Anthon left school the day he found out that it was not worth doing anything as nothing mattered anyhow. The rest of us stayed behind. And even though the teachers carefully cleared up after Pierre Anthon in the class room as well as in our heads, a bit of Pierre Anthon remained within us. Perhaps this is why things later happened the way they did ...

Thus begins the story of Pierre Anthon, a thirteen year old boy, who leaves school to sit in a plum tree and train for becoming part of nothing. "Everything begins just in order to end. The moment you were born you began to die, and that goes for everything else as well." Pierre Anthon shouts and continues: "The whole thing is just one immense play which is about pretending and about being best at exactly that."

Scared at the prospects that Pierre Anthon throws at them together with the ripening plums, his seventh grade class mates set out on a desperate quest for the meaning of life. This involves a closed saw mill, green sandals, a yellow bicycle, a pair of boxing gloves, the Danish flag, the hamster Oscarlittle, a Jesus statue stolen from the church, little Ingrid’s crutches, six blue ponytails, a prayer rug, the coffin with Elise’s little brother, the head of the dog Cindarella, fame and a meaning found and lost and ... (from GoodReads)

This book was extremely disturbing! I wanted to read Nothing because everyone has been hailing it as a new classic and I wanted to see what it would be like. I enjoyed the novel for the most part, though I think some of the meaning was lost through the translation.

The summary gives the reader a pretty good idea what the kids give up for the "pile of meaning." Since they are trying to prove to Pierre that life does have meaning, they decide to donate things that are meaningful to them. However, you don't get to pick what you donate, someone else does. And as each classmate tries to up the ante, the items become more gruesome. I mean, I don't know if this was a slippery slope situation or if these kids were sick, but I was so surprised that no one stood up and said "Let's not dig up a dead baby." And, honestly, that wasn't even the worst of it. I actually thought Nothing was more a commentary on peer pressure than nihilism. You could tell some of the kids were uncomfortable with some of the donations but didn't want to incur the wrath of some of the more aggressive classmates.

As for the writing, it was really easy reading. Students in middle school could definitely read this, though they might not want to based on the subject matter. However, I didn't really understand the author's purpose in Nothing. After reading it, I still don't know if she was advocating that life had meaning or not. That might just be me not paying attention enough but I think a factor was the translation. I was just confused because I don't really know what the point of the story was.

I think I would have liked Nothing a little better if I knew what the author's intent was. I didn't care if I agreed with it or not, but I just feel left in the dark. If you've read this, what are your thoughts?

Rating: 6 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/Atheneum/227 pages.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time—the twelfth century; the place—feudal England; and the subject—the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape. Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters—into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.

The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.

At once a sensuous and endearing love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age, The Pillars of the Earth is without a doubt Ken Follett's masterpiece. (from GoodReads)

So, that summary really lays it on thick, right? It makes it sound as though The Pillars of the Earth is the greatest novel ever written, and unfortunately, it is nowhere near that.

I decided to read The Pillars of the Earth after a friend had gushed about it on several occasions. She even let me borrow her copy, so I knew I was in for the long haul even if I didn't like the novel. But for her sake I stuck it out. At least now I get to vent about what I didn't like.

For one, The Pillars of the Earth was entirely too long. It was almost a thousand pages, which wouldn't be a bad thing if the same things didn't keep happening throughout the plot. The book is about the building of a cathedral and the storyline followed this basic premise: start building, something happens to hinder the building, issue is resolved, rinse and repeat. The author could have cut out about five of the "setbacks" and still had a long novel.

Another problem I had with The Pillars of the Earth were the characters, who were all boring. For a novel that is almost 1000 pages you would think there would be some decent character development. While some characters mature slightly, other characters remain shallow and caricature-like. Characters I didn't mind reading about were Philip, Aliena, Jack and Ellen, the "good guys." The villians were the worst offenders: they were completely evil and the only purpose they served was the stop the building of the cathedral. One "bad guy" William was the prepretrator of several graphic rape scenes, but still feared the fiery depths of Hell (makes a lot of sense, no?).

I usually love historical fiction and was originally excited to read The Pillars of the Earth because I don't know much about the Middle Ages. However, the story just didn't seem authentic. I didn't feel remotely like I was living in the twelfth century. The dialogue was pretty modern, with a couple of "thys" and "thous" thrown in for good measure. The attitudes and relationships between the characters also seemed pretty modern, so I was not impressed at all.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy The Pillars of the Earth, but luckily I know I will not be picking up the sequel, another 1000 page tome (Yikes!).

Rating: 5 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from a friend

1989/NAL Trade/976 pages.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rearview mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends - friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn't like constant reminders that they were swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.

Now, two years later, Ally's mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally's low-key, happy life, it'll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.

But then there's Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake's friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it's Ally Ryan.

Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can't be forgotten. Isn't there more to life than money? (from book jacket)

This book was on my list of books to read and I picked it up at the library not really knowing what it was about. But after I read the synopsis, I was very intrigued. I wonder what it would be liked to be hated among your friends and neighbors over something that you didn't do? Add a West Side Story-esque romance in there and I was ready to get started. I read She's So Dead to Us in one night because I wanted to see what happened so badly.

She's So Dead to Us is a great novel for those who like Gossip Girl and Mean Girls. I think at one point the book actually started channeling Mean Girls because some of the plot points were really similar. But that's okay because I love Mean Girls. You have Ally, the protagonist. She's good at basketball, smart, pretty, extremely likable and all she wants is to have her friends back. But the people she grew up with her whole life want to make her life miserable because Ally's dad lost their money. I thought it was crazy how people who were literally best friends with Ally could easily and guiltlessly turn on Ally, but most of the characters were spoiled, rich kids so maybe it's not too far of stretch. Ally continues to be civil with her former friends, while they continue to prank her and treat her horribly.

However, one of the group doesn't like how they are treating Ally, and that person is Jake. Jake is new to town so his parents didn't lose any money, and he has a crush on Ally. I liked how their romance was forbidden and took awhile to actually develop because Jake's friends try to keep them away from Ally. Also, Ally and Jake don't always make the best impressions so there are many times where one character is angry with the other. I thought their relationship was realistic and liked how the book changed points-of-view between them.

The book ends on a major cliffhanger, and makes you want to read the sequel rightaway. There was enough unresolved drama to fill several books, so I can't wait to see where Kieran Scott takes us next.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2010/Simon & Schuster/275 pages.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream Pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show op?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never look at beauty the same way again. (from book jacket)

I adore Libba Bray and her novels, so I was really excited to borrow Beauty Queens from the library. This book was so awesome! It's crazy to think that the same author who wrote Beauty Queens also wrote The Gemma Doyle trilogy because the books are so different - but in a good way.

Libba Bray is a very intelligent author, in both her writing and plotting, so I knew that Beauty Queens would be a smart book with commentary on the ideas of beauty. The whole book was a satire, and even included product placement and commercial breaks to mirror tv shows and movies. There was a lot of discussion on feminism and the pressures on young girls from society to be beautiful. The commentary could be heavy-handed at times, but I didn't mind because Beauty Queens espoused such a great message.

If this wasn't a satire, I might not have enjoyed the book as much, since Libba Bray uses many tropes and cliches to characterize the villains and some plot elements. For example, at one point one of the beauty queens is dangled over a pond of piranhas - and who hasn't seen that before? But I knew it was supposed to be comical and not serious so I didn't really mind.

I liked that the novel changed points-of-view, so the audience could see each of the girls and what makes her tick. There were even neat facts sheets about each of the contestants spread throughout the book. Each girl had some kind of secret and none were as shallow as they seemed at first. Even so, most of the girls fit some kind of stereotype: the dumb blonde; the warrior feminist only doing the pageant to take it down; the girl doing the pageant to please her parents, etc. But, once again, since this was a satire, it didn't matter as much.

A combination of Lord of the Flies, Lost, and Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beauty Queens was funny and an enjoyable book to read. It had great messages about beauty, societal pressures, and feminism and discussed them in an engaging manner. I would highly recommend Beauty Queens along with Libba Bray's other novels.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2011/Scholastic/396 pages.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 48

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever. (from GoodReads)

I absolutely loved Wither, the first book in this series, so I cannot wait to read Fever. I don't like this cover as much, the rocking horse is a little weird, but I know the book will be awesome! Fever will be released February 21, 2012.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse is a wealthy, exquisite, and thoroughly self-deluded young woman who has "lived in the world with very little to distress or vex her." Jane Austen exercises her taste for gently satiric social observation and her talent for investing seemingly trival events with profound moral significance as Emma tries to arrange a wealthy marriage for her poor friend Harriet, but refuses to recognize her own feelings for the gallant Mr. Knightley. Though Austen found her heroine to be a person whom "no one but myself will much like," Emma is her most cleverly woven, riotously comedic, and pleasing novel of manners. (from back cover)

I really enjoyed reading Pride and Prejudice last year, so I thought I would give Emma a try. I was glad that I did, because Emma was a great novel.

Obviously Emma is a classic, and I'm happy to report it's one of the classics that I like. The writing is a little bit harder to read than modern English, but it's really not that bad. One thing I've noticed about older writing is that they tend to have really long sentences, but that's about the only thing that's different. It's funny, because in terms of plot not that much happens in Emma (even though it's over 400 pages) but the book is still interesting to read. The narration is very well-written and even though a lot of the book is Emma's thoughts, I still liked to read about them.

Emma paints a very accurate picture of the life of gentry in 19th century England, and even moreso because it's actually written during that time. I could actually get a feel of the lives of these people which mostly was sitting around chatting with friends, but it all seemed very leisurely.

One of the plot points in Emma is that she is constantly matchmaking her friends and neighbors. This goes badly as she is usually wrong and then someone's feelings end up getting hurt. Even though I already knew who was getting together (I was spoiled sometime in the past, not sure where) it was still interesting to see how everything happened.

If you enjoyed any of Jane Austen's previous novels, I would definitely recommend Emma. Even if you haven't read any of Austen's other books, Emma is still a great place to begin.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library

1815/Barnes and Noble Classic/462 pages.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 47

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about new books.

The Story of Us by Deb Caletti

A new novel about love, life, and everything in-between... from fan-favorite and award-winner Deb Caletti.

Cricket's on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend, trying to figure out whether she's in it for the right reasons. But this is a bad week to try to figure it all out. After ditching two previous husbands-to-be at the airport, Cricket's mother Daisy is finally getting married, to Dan Jax. Cricket loves Dan, but as the families and friends start to arrive for Wedding Week at the beautiful guest house on Bishop Rock, run by old hippies Ted and Rebecca Rose and their sweet, sexy son Ash, things start getting complicated.

There’s no airport on Bishop Rock, as far as anyone knows, but Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, and Cricket’s own desires have chosen now to have a mind of their own. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her.... (from GoodReads)

I absolutely love Deb Caletti and all of her novels, so I cannot wait to read The Story of Us! But I have to wait soo long: April 24, 2012 is the release date :(