Review: The Likeness by Tana French

Book/Author: The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad # 2) by Tana French
Publisher/Year: Viking Adult, 2008
Pages: 466 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Six months after the events of In the Woods, Detective Cassie Maddox is still trying to recover. She's transferred out of the murder squad and started a relationship with Detective Sam O'Neill, but she's too badly shaken to make a commitment to him or to her career. Then Sam calls her to the scene of his new case: a young woman found stabbed to death in a small town outside Dublin. The dead girl's ID says her name is Lexie Madison (the identity Cassie used years ago as an undercover detective, and she looks exactly like Cassie.

With no leads, no suspects, and no clue to Lexie's real identity, Cassie's old undercover boss, Frank Mackey, spots the opportunity of a lifetime. They can say that the stab wound wasn't fatal and send Cassie undercover in her place to find out information that the police never would and to tempt the killer out of hiding. At first Cassie thinks the idea is crazy, but she is seduced by the prospect of working on a murder investigation again and by the idea of assuming the victim's identity as a graduate student with a cozy group of friends.

My thoughts: I read Tana French's In The Woods a few years ago and I absolutely loved it. I final got the chance to pick up the sequel this October and was not let down. French has a gift for creating suspenseful situations. I'm not usually too interested in murder mystery novels but this series has me hooked. I will definitely be putting the third book, Faithful Place on my wishlist for this holiday season. The Likeness starts out with a bang as detective Cassie Maddox is called to the scene of a murder where the victim is shockingly identical to her. Thus begins the undercover operation to discover who killed this mysterious doppelganger.

This book took me longer to read than I would have liked but it was not for lack of interest. I was itching to pick it up at any free moment I had. The relationship development between Cassie/Lexie and her roommates was so descriptive and interesting to me. They were SO close, I was holding my breath so many times because I was worried that she would be discovered as an imposter. As the story unfolds, the secrets slowly pour out of the walls of their old house. 

The one thing that really bugged me about this novel is that Lexie had stolen the identity of a false identity made up by Cassie years ago. It was never addressed how exactly Lexie came upon that identity or how it was possible they could look and sound so much alike but not be related at all. Other than that, The Likeness was a great psychological thriller that definitely messed with my mind. Even if you don't typically read mystery novels, I would suggest stepping out of your comfort zone with this. I doubt you will be disappointed!

My rating: 4 stars 


Review: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Book/Author: The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2)
Publisher/Year: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010
Pages: 407 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.

My thoughts: I must have the worst memory in the history of people under 60 who have not suffered some traumatic memory loss. I read the first book in Carrie Ryan's series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth just two years ago and I hardly remember a thing about it. The only thing I really remember is that I wasn't very crazy about the first book and most people thought it was really good. In her second novel, The Dead-Tossed Waves, the story of the undead continues as we learn that Mary has grown up and now has a teenage daughter who is the MC of this book. It's rare for me to enjoy the sequel far better than the first book but this was an example of that. Right from the beginning there is action as Gabry and her friends jump the barrier that separates their relatively safe town and the unknown area where the unconsecrated roam. Her friends are attacked and those who aren't infected end up imprisoned for crossing the barrier. So much action and conflict, I was hooked!

When Gabry meets a stranger across the barrier who looks at her as if he recognizes her, I was intrigued. It takes almost the whole book to find out the deal with that and it did a good job of keeping me engaged. I was trying to figure out what the big secret was, but I ended up being so far off with my guesses anyway. As for the characters in The Dead-Tossed Waves, I thought Gabry was much more tolerable than her mother had been. I couldn't stand Catcher from the start but was routing for her and Elias to get together.

I wasn't sure about this one after being let down by the first, but I'm glad that I read it because Ryan has redeemed herself. I will most likely read the third book because I'm interested to see how Gabry's story ends up. If you haven't read any of the series, I would honestly recommend skipping The Forest of Hands and Teeth and moving right on to The Dead-Tossed Waves. There isn't much pertinent info in the first book that sets up for the second. This could very well have been a stand alone novel, minus the cliffhanger. Speaking of the cliffhanger, eeeesh! I want to know what the heck happened to Gabry and Catcher, and if she will ever see her mother or Elias again. Well worth the read, especially in October. The mudo (zombies) make for a creepy story!

My rating: 3 stars


Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Book/Author: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher/Year: Dutton/December 2010
Pages: 372 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

My thoughts: I'm a little late to the party on Anna and the French Kiss but as with any book that gets a lot of good buzz, I was nervous that I'd be let down. I wouldn't say I was let down because I definitely fell in love with the idea of this book. However, I didn't think it was the "OMG skfhsdkjghf this is my new favorite!" that I thought it was going to be. I loved the characters and the slow build of the love story between Anna and St. Clair. It also made me want to get my butt on a flight to Paris right away. I've never traveled abroad but I enjoy planning trips that are probably pretty unrealistic and Anna had me thinking I should just quit my job and run off to Europe for awhile. I am kicking myself for never spending a semester abroad.

Anna was a really likeable main character. She was hilarious, down to earth and someone I would totally want to be friends with if she were a real person. And St. Clair.... ah, how swoonworthy! With his English accent and obvious crush on Anna, it drove me nuts how he kept going back to his stupid girlfriend. It's rare to have a book with characters who are so widely liked by readers. I don't know a single person who didn't like Anna and the French Kiss or the characters of Anna and St. Clair. Stephanie Perkins has a talent for knowing how to make her characters so relatable and fun. I find it funny that bloggers will refer to this book simply as "Anna" and people know exactly what is being referred to.

Other than Anna and St. Clair, I thought a lot of the other characters were also well done. The friendships that Anna built with the other kids at SOAP and the things that she learned about being a true friend added another dimension to the story that made it more interesting. I'm ready to run out and grab myself a copy of Stephanie Perkins' second novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, because I've heard it's even better than Anna and the French Kiss.

My rating: 4 stars


Review: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman

Book/Author: Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman
Publisher/Year: Harper Perennial/ August 2011
Pages: 352 pages
Where I got it: received as e-book on NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.
The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.
Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

My thoughts: Domestic Violets surprised me in a very good way. It reminded me of a few different books and movies all mashed into one. There was a nice balance of humor and seriousness between the protagonist's work life and home life that made for an interesting story. For the most part I really liked Tom Violet, except when he was flirting with Katie, his fellow copywriter at work. I know without that aspect we wouldn't have the conflict but I really wanted him to get it together with his relationship with his wife. Tom became a hero when he finally stood up for himself at work and made a fool of his boss and company. He did what anyone who has ever worked in a monotonous office job has only dreamed of, and in that moment he became a bit of a local celebrity.

Tom has always struggled to be different from his Pulitzer Prize winning father, famous author Curtis Violet, so when he writes his first novel in the same style as his father, it leads to realizations about himself and his relationship with his dad. I think one of the things I liked so much about Domestic Violets was that despite all of the things going wrong in Tom's life, he finds a way to pick up all of the broken pieces of his life and reassemble them into something better. He had a failing relationship with his wife, an unbearable crush on a coworker and he's still able to muster the courage to quit his day job to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. He fixes the relationships with the people who are most important to him and realizes what he needs to make him happy. I'm not sure it's all believable but it was nice to get that happy ending for a guy who went through a lot of crap throughout the rest of the novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Norman's writing is humorous and poignant and he has the rare ability to write a likable character who is also flawed in so many ways. Tom has a lot of baggage and he screws up A LOT but I was cheering him on throughout the novel. I think I also may have developed a slight crush on his character. I'd recommend this book for fans of Joshua Ferris, Jonathan Ames or anyone who enjoys routing for the underdog.

My rating: 3.5 stars 


Review: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Book/Author: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster/ May 2011
Pages: 232 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): From Jessi Kirby, a debut novel about confronting the past in order to move ahead.

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love- a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing- not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death- stays buried forever.

My thoughts: I feel like I've unintentionally been reading a lot of the same types of books lately. I recently read Twenty Boy Summer, which also deals with loss and life at the beach. In Moonglass, Anna and her father move to the beach town where her parents met. Anna is forced to confront her past in this new town where there are reminders of her mom all around her. This was more than just a summer beach read like the cover leads you to believe. There is a darkness in Anna's life that she has tried to bury and when it's finally let out after so many years of buildup, it's pretty shocking how broken she is.

Moonglass is a wonderfully written debut novel that will keep you turning the pages. I know what it's like to be the new girl in a new school and I think she fit in quite well. Her romance with Tyler was very realistic with a slow build that added to the drama and almost forbidden aspect because of her father's disapproval of him (and any other lifeguard). Her friendships were interesting as well. Her character was so open to people who were complete opposites of her and she was able to develop strong bonds with both Ashley and Jillian.

I really enjoyed how Kirby wrapped the story up, in fact I feel like it was one of the few novels I've read lately that I got complete closure on. It deals with some pretty heavy stuff but the writing flows so well that it doesn't feel like work to get through. I never felt depressed while reading about the loss of Anna's mother and the burden that she has carried since that night. Instead, I was optimistic about how it would all be resolved. There's a reason the dust jacket is covered with praise from Sarah Dessen- her fans would love this book.

My rating: 4 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Books I want to reread

Top Ten Books I want to Reread

1. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger - this was one of my immediate favorites when I read it about 6 years ago. As with any old favorite, I want to see how it holds up with time. Plus I could use a reread of such an epic love story.
2. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - I remember this story being beautifully written and inspirational. I think it's one of those books I might like even more the second go round.
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer - I read this one more recently so I might not revisit it for a bit, but it's definitely on my to be reread list! Oskar is one of my favorite fictional characters ever.
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - This book made me cry more than any book ever has and I think that's a great thing. I will probably reread The Book Thief over and over.
5. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky - I've reread this a few times already and I think some days are just days you have to sit and read this in one sitting.
6. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I'm already in progress with this (sort of). I began listening to the audiobooks but have only completed the first two. I'm not sure if I'll continue with the audio version or if I'll pick up the actual books instead. Either way, this is a series that I'm sure I will continue to reread over and over for a long time.
7. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - I read this during a somewhat difficult time in my life and I remember relating so much to the main character. I'm not sure how it will be on a reread but I'd like to find out.
8.  Looking for Alaska by John Green - I love John Green and this was the first book by him that I read, before I realized that he has a formula for his characters. I thought it was such a good book and it's pretty perfect for a rainy day reread.
9. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - I just really enjoy Ms. Plath's writing and I'm planning on reading her journals soon. I think after getting a little more insight into what went on in her head, it'd be good to reread The Bell Jar.
10. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller - I read this in college when I first started getting back into reading for pleasure again and I remember being a little overwhelmed with schoolwork at the time. I'd like to reread and see if it's more enjoyable to me now.


Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Book/Author: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown and Company/ April 2011
Pages: 277 pages
Where I got it: bought on Amazon
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): In her acceptance speech for Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Tina Fey announced that she was proud to make her home in "the 'not-real America'." It is perhaps that healthy sense of incongruity that makes the head writer, executive producer, and star of NBC's Emmy Award-winning 30 Rock such a cogent observer of the contemporary scene. Bossypants, her entertaining new memoir, shows that strangeness has been her constant companion. Fey's stories about her childhood in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania are only appetizers for LOL forays into her college disasters, honeymoon catastrophes, and Saturday Night Live shenanigans. Most funny read of the month; the best possible weekend update.

My thoughts: I don't have much more to say about Bossypants other than you should read this now, whether you're a fan of Tina Fey or not. This book is laugh out loud funny. In fact, I started reading it on a day out at the beach with a bunch of friends and they all kept looking at me like I was either crazy or annoying (or both?) because I couldn't stop giggling. I've always been a Tina Fey fan and an even bigger Liz Lemon fan. Bossypants made me realize they are probably the same person. I love how much Fey embraces her goofy, awkward side because let's face it, we were all a little awkward at some point. I still am.

If you're a weirdo and don't like Tina Fey (and the haters do exist as she mentions several times in this book), read this and I'm fairly certain you're view will change. Bossypants is witty and sarcastic, and the cover is so creepy I just can't stop staring at it. There were so many quote worthy passages, but I'll leave you with one of my favorites.

"Little kids’ birthdays in my neighborhood were simple affairs. Hot dogs, Hawaiian Punch, pin the tail on the donkey, followed by cake and light vomiting. (Wieners, punch, and spinning into barfing would later be referred to as “the Paris Hilton.”"

My rating: 5 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week we are talking books that we feel as though everyone has read but for whatever reason we haven't gotten around to. I was pretty proud of myself while trying to come up with this list. I feel like in the last couple of years I've made a pretty conscious effort to read the classics and over hyped books.

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - Yep. All of you have read this except me.
2. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater - I have these on my Nook but haven't gotten around to them yet. I've heard so many good things from other bloggers.
3. Anything by Bill Bryson - I have Neither Here Nor There on my bookshelf but I haven't read anything by him yet. I have no idea why considering how much I enjoy travel literature.
4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - this is an obvious classic that I just don't know why I never read. It wasn't required reading but after East of Eden I definitely need to read this at some point.
5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I read an abridged version of Little Women when I was little but it there was so much of the real story cut out.
6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - It's been sitting on my shelf and I WILL get to it soon, but for now I'm one of the few left in the blogger community that hasn't read Delirium yet.
7. The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty - I've been hearing people tell me to read this series for years now and I'm beginning to think I'm the only person left who hasn't been introduced to Jessica Darling.
8. Almost anything by Jane Austen - I've only read Emma. FOR SHAME, I know.


Review: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang: A NovelBook/Author: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Publisher/Year: Ecco/ August 2011
Pages: 309 pages
Where I got it: received for review from the publisher
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads): Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief.

Performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang dedicated themselves to making great art. But when an artist’s work lies in subverting normality, it can be difficult to raise well-adjusted children. Just ask Buster and Annie Fang. For as long as they can remember, they starred (unwillingly) in their parents’ madcap pieces. But now that they are grown up, the chaos of their childhood has made it difficult to cope with life outside the fishbowl of their parents’ strange world.

When the lives they’ve built come crashing down, brother and sister have nowhere to go but home, where they discover that Caleb and Camille are planning one last performance–their magnum opus–whether the kids agree to participate or not. Soon, ambition breeds conflict, bringing the Fangs to face the difficult decision about what’s ultimately more important: their family or their art.

My thoughts: The Family Fang is a story about a dysfunctional family of performance artists, the Fang's. Art has always been the most important thing to Caleb and Camille Fang, until they have children and suddenly have other responsibilities. The Fang's learned to incorporate the kids Annie and Buster, or Child A and Child B, into their "art" butas the kids grew up they weren't as willing to be a part of their parents mischief. This book was full to the brim with conflict and it reminded me of the family dysfunction in television and movies such as Arrested Development and The Royal Tenenbaums (in fact the blurb on the back of the book mentions this similarity to the Wes Anderson film). It was highly entertaining but often uncomfortable.

The Fang's artwork was always about the reaction of others and much of it was cruel or just plain wrong. I have to give props to Buster and Annie for both turning out relatively normal after having parents as bizarre as Caleb and Camille. I felt so bad for them because it was clear that their parents would always choose their artwork over them and that rejection is a pretty terrible thing to deal with for any kid. For the most part I enjoyed the wacky antics that went on in the novel, although the horrible parenting drove me nuts. I didn't particularly care for any of the characters, they were more of a love to hate bunch. The public displays that the Fang parents created were often at the expense of their children's privacy or innocence. A and B never got a choice whether or not they wanted to be a part of their parents creative process and now as adults they are finding out not only are they still a part of it but they have become victims of the Fang's craziest piece yet.

For much of the novel I was entertained but nothing was really making me want to drop everything to pick up the book. There was a bit of a twist ending that pulled me back in and caused me to blow through the last 50 or so pages. Overall, I thought The Family Fang was a fun read with a peculiar premise. I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in reading books with a mix of flawed characters and comedic situations. It's not necessarily a laugh out loud book but it's one that will have you thinking on a much deeper level about society, families and what's important in life.

My rating: 3 stars


Review: The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

Book: The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock
Published: July 19, 2011/ HarperCollins
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 368 pages
Where I got it: received for review from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Life on the tiny island of Guernsey has just become a whole lot harder for fifteen-year-old Cat Rozier. She’s gone from model pupil to murderer, but she swears it’s not her fault. Apparently it’s all the fault of history.
A new arrival at Cat’s high school in 1984, the beautiful and instantly popular Nicolette inexplicably takes Cat under her wing. The two become inseparable—going to parties together, checking out boys, and drinking whatever liquor they can shoplift. But a perceived betrayal sends them spinning apart, and Nic responds with cruel, over-the-top retribution.
Cat’s recently deceased father, Emile, dedicated his adult life to uncovering the truth about the Nazi occupation of Guernsey—from Churchill’s abandonment of the island to the stories of those who resisted—in hopes of repairing the reputation of his older brother, Charlie. Through Emile’s letters and Charlie’s words—recorded on tapes before his own death— a “confession” takes shape, revealing the secrets deeply woven into the fabric of the island . . . and into the Rozier family story.

My thoughts: The Book of Lies revolves around the Rozier family, past and present. The book begins with a confession from fifteen year old Cat that she has killed her "friend" Nicolette. The rest of the book explains the complicated relationship and events that led up to the accidental murder. We also learn about Cat's uncle, as told by her father on old tapes. He was held as a prisoner by the Nazi's during their occupation in Guernsey in WWII. Historical fiction based in WWII has always fascinated me but that part of the story actually fell flat for me in this case. I was more interested in Cat's slow reveal of how she became an accidental murderer.

Cat was kind of an annoying teenager but I found it very easy to read the sections she narrated. It was like she was telling her story directly to me. I also was never quite sure if the murder was actually an accident because of how often she seemed like she was okay with it. I don't really blame her since Nicolette was so awful to her but there were times where I thought Cat could have done with some medication to combat the crazy vibes wafting off her.

This was a difficult review to write, partly because I've just been in a blogging slump and partly because I felt like there wasn't too much that actually happened other than Cat's story behind her confession and that murder might run in the family. The Book of Lies was an interesting read with enough mystery to keep my attention but I wasn't wowed by the suspense level.

My rating: 3 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Books atop my fall TBR list

This week's Top Ten Tuesday covers the books that are at the top of our to be read list's for fall. My list is a combination of books I'm anticipating the release of as well as some of the books that I plan to read in the next couple of months.

1. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - this book blew up after BEA and I cannot wait to get my hands on it when it comes out!
2. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins - Okay, so I haven't read Anna and the French Kiss yet but I've heard how awesome it is by some of my favorite bloggers and I trust you guys! So let's just say Anna and the French Kiss is also a part of this list, my number 2B :)
3. Delirium by Lauren Oliver - I still haven't read this. The pretty cover is calling my name though.
4. The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle - this book just popped up on my radar in the last few weeks but it sounds so good that I think it's going to be worthy of an immediate buy upon it's release (next week!)
5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - this sounds super creepy and perfect for an October read
6. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath - I've been waiting for the right time to read this and I think fall will be the perfect time.
7. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young - I just bought this and I can't wait to read it after all the buzz about it lately
8. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby - another one that I just bought. I love the cover for this and it's fairly short so I'm probably going to read this soon. Plus, I've heard it's really good!
9. A Long Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pausulka - I've had this book on my shelf for awhile. Between the title and the cover I'm always drawn to it but I haven't read it yet. That will change soon.
10. One Day by David Nicholls - with the movie release I'm seeing more and more people reading this book in public. I received it for Christmas and hadn't even heard of it at that time. Now I'm pretty eager to read it so I can see the movie.

As always, thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for coming up with this awesome meme!

Blog Tour: Repairing Rainbows by Lynda Fishman

Book: Repairing Rainbows by Lynda Fishman
Published: Tribute Books/ 2010
Genre: memoir
Pages: 277 pages
Where I got it: received for review from the publisher
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): At thirteen years old, Lynda's life comes to a disastrous halt when her mother and two younger sisters are killed in a plane crash. Her father, overcome by despair, simply continues to exist, in a state devoid of hope. After burying a wife and two young children at the age of 44, the overwhelming responsibility of raising a daughter alone completely immobilizes him.

Teetering on that tender brink between childhood and adolescence, Lynda faces the responsibility of a father in a complete state of shock, a house to take care of and hundreds of decisions about how to proceed with their shattered lives.

In Repairing Rainbows she candidly describes the agonizing memories, deafening silence and endless hardships that are the fallout of incredible loss. As we follow her through marriage, motherhood and her own spiritual journey, Lynda reveals her complex feelings of hope, anger, pity and determination. Most importantly, she learns the crucial difference between "truly living" and the existence that is so often mistaken for being alive.

A true story, written by a woman whose normal and abundant life hides a terrible past, Repairing Rainbows is loaded with important lessons to help others overcome struggles and obstacles, and fulfill their lives. It is a powerful, captivating, riveting and easy-to-read story that will undoubtedly touch the hearts of its readers.

My thoughts: I don't typically read self published books just because they tend to be so hit or miss, but when I received an email to do participate in a blog tour for Repairing Rainbows,  I was intrigued by the summary. I really enjoy reading memoirs, although it makes me feel like I have issues getting so engrossed in the tragedy and misfortune of someone else's life. I think it's the writing style that keeps me so captivated because they often read like a diary or as if the writer is there telling me the story.

At the young age of 13, Lynda Fishman lost her mother and two sisters in a plane crash. Her father was never the same after the crash. While he was physically present in her life, he basically abandoned her emotionally, leaving her to deal with everything on her own. 40 years later, she is still coping with that loss. Repairing Rainbows is the story of how she decided that she was going to live positively, despite her obvious misfortunes. Overall, I really enjoyed this memoir and felt very emotional while reading about everything Lynda went through. She could have chosen a different path for her life, one full of depression and bad decisions and I don't think anyone would have blamed her. Instead, she held her head up high and dealt with the cards she was given. She and her husband, Barry, are true inspirations.

I would have given this a higher rating except that she started to lose me in the last section that focuses on her family's visits with a medium. It took too much of a supernatural turn that I felt it wasn't fully believable as a memoir anymore. They visited this woman regularly to connect with all of the people they had lost over the course of their lives. I enjoy ghost stories and pulling out the Quija board now and then, but it was hard for me to believe that this woman was actually connecting with the spirits of the dead. It also felt very rushed to finish out the book and include all of the details from these interactions.

My rating: 3.5 stars

Useful Links:
Repairing Rainbows website
Repairing Rainbows blog
Author's Twitter


In My Mailbox (9)

 In My Mailbox is a weekly feature created by Kristi at The Story Siren where we get to share the new books we've gotten in the mail or at the bookstore, etc. This week I went back to the Borders going out of business sale to take advantage of the 40% and 50% off, as well as the 15% coupon I got in my email. I almost went a little overboard but I ended up saving $52 so it was pretty worth it despite how sad I got about it being the last time I will probably ever shop there.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
How To Buy A Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
Anthropology of An American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann


Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Book: Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Published: Dutton Juvenile/ April 2011
Genre: YA
Pages: 264 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance

My thoughts: Another fantastic, unputdownable book by Gayle Forman! At first I wasn't sure I was going to like Where She Went very much because I suspected that Forman was going to take in a different direction, but about one quarter of the way through I was completely hooked and loving it. I ended up liking this even more than it's predecessor. It was perfect in almost every way. The emotional rollercoaster that Forman puts the reader on is a hell of a ride but that's what makes the ending all the more worth it. All told, I think I read both of these in a matter of a few hours each. I'm not much of a re-reader, but these two books will be added to my small stack of MUST READ AGAIN books. Seeing things from Adam's perspective was an interesting change and helped me understand things that had happened in If I Stay that we probably wouldn't have known otherwise.

Like my review for If I Stay, I don't want to give too much away here because I don't want to take anything away from your experiences if you haven't read this yet. This is probably the shortest review I've written but I don't care. I don't want to waste any more of your time that could be spent running to the bookstore or Amazon and ordering these books. Even if you don't typically read Young Adult, I urge you to give this contemporary series a chance because it's such a heartbreaking story that's beautifully written. I apologize for this gushy, fan girly review but seriously guys, go read If I Stay and Where She Went.

My rating: 5 stars 


Top Ten Tuesday - Books you loved but never wrote a review for

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a weekly meme where we share lists of some of our favorite bookish things. This weeks topic is the top ten books we loved but never wrote a review for. My list consists of ten of my favorite books. I never wrote a review for these because I read them before I started my book blog. Before Recklessly Reading came about, I hardly ever reviewed books. I hated taking the time to gather my thoughts and always rushed into the next book. I think at some point I might like to go back and re-read so that I can give them a proper review. It also might be interesting to see how my taste in books has changed.

1. The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger
2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
3. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
4. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
5. White Oleander by Janet Finch
6. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
7. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
8. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
9. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Book: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Published: Speak/ April 2010
Genre: YA
Pages: 242 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Wow, where do I even begin with this book? I've been hearing amazing things about it since it's release but I also heard how much it's going to make me want to dive right into the sequel. So for that very reason I have been putting off reading it, until I could make sure that I have Where She Went waiting for me immediately after finishing. I am taking only the smallest break right now to review If I Stay! It's been awhile since I've found a book that I absolutely could not put down. I started this around midnight, read about half and woke up to finish it the next day. It is that amazing!

Mia's story is one full of heartbreak and struggle as she literally fights for her life after a horrific accident. She is faced with the choice to wake up in that hospital bed or pass on to wherever it is that people go after death. Reading this made me so emotional and it got me thinking about how quickly life can change in an instant. It made me feel so many things, but most of all grateful for all of the wonderful people I have in my life, and how nobody should ever be taken for granted. 

Whatever Mia decides, everyone's lives will be changed forever. Obviously I was rooting for her to wake up, but I could also completely understand her reasoning for not staying. It was heart wrenching to read about the visits with her grandparents, best friend Kim and rocker boyfriend Adam. Despite how sad the story was overall, I didn't cry much until the very end when I just let out a huge sigh and bawled my eyes out. It was like so many emotions had been building within me throughout the novel and I had been holding my breath the whole time until it all just came gushing out once we learn her decision.

Not only was this awesome and unputdownable; it was also well developed and the characters were all so great. For a book that is just over 200 pages, Forman did a fantastic job of getting in all the necessary details and completely connecting the reader to the story. I don't want to spoil too much for you if you haven't read it, so please do yourself a favor and go buy it, put it on reserve at the library... whatever it takes! Also, please please please ignore the blurb on the front that says If I Stay will appeal to fans of Twilight. Whether you're a Twi-hard or not, this book is nothing like Twilight. Apples and oranges people!

My rating: 4 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie Week!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke & the Bookish where we create lists to discuss some of our favorite bookish things. This week is a freebie week, so we get to come up with a list for ANYTHING we want related to books. Since I'm pretty nostalgic and love to reminisce about my childhood, I decided it would only be fitting that my freebie top ten list would be related to my favorite bookish memories.

Top Ten Favorite Bookish Memories.... and GO!

1. Wandering through the library trying to find books I hadn't already checked out. I spent so much time in my local library as a kid, it actually ended up being pretty difficult for me to find new books to read at the rate I was flying through them.

2. Scholastic book club day! It was exciting on both the day we got the Scholastic book club circular and the day that our orders came in. I remember the excitement and stress I felt trying to narrow my selections down.

3. Book-It. I honestly could have cared less about the pizza but it was a fun incentive to keep challenging myself to read more books.

4. Making forts on the floor of my room and figuring out new ways to trick my mom into thinking I was sleeping instead of staying up all night to read.

5. Discovering new book series. Every time I picked up a new series, I felt this excitement and anticipation of the new friends I was about to discover.

6. Listening to my Gram read to me. This was when I was really little and I'm not sure if I would remember it if I hadn't seen a bunch of footage on an old home video. I spent a lot of my childhood at my grandparents house and my Gram was like a second mother to me. I think that her reading to me at such a young age was part of why I became such a huge reader.

7. Summer reading and getting the syllabus for English classes. I was always the big nerd who got excited about the new books I was going to get to read for my classes.

8. Taking the old literature books from school because a new edition was coming out in the next school year. My mom was always actively involved in PTA or befriending staff at my school's and she somehow managed to get her hands on all the old English textbooks. I would take them and pretend that I was simultaneously the teacher and the entire classroom and read aloud from the books to no one in particular.

9. Book fairs. Just like Scholastic book club day but x100000. The smell of all those new books in my school cafeteria was sooo exciting. Then swapping books with friends after reading the ones we all got.

10. Making my book collection into my own mini library. I got little book plates and kept a notebook of who was borrowing books from me. My neighbors did this too and we loved going into each others libraries and "checking" the books out.

Obviously I was a huge nerd as a kid although I took some time off from reading in high school because I thought I was too cool to read. Some of these are my favorite memories of growing up and I'm so glad I found reading again.


Review: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Book: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Published: 2009/ Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA
Pages: 290 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads):
"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?"
"Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"
According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy ever day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie—-she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

My thoughts: I really had no idea what Twenty Boy Summer was about before I read it, so I was pretty surprised when it started straight away by kicking me in the chest. I thought it was going to be just another summer fluff read. I was dead wrong but oh man, I loved this book! There is so much depth within the pages of this novel. After the death of Frankie's brother, best friends Anna and Frankie struggle to pick up the pieces without the third piece of their trio. Anna was keeping a big secret from everyone because she promised Matt that he would be the one to tell it, but then he died and she was left alone with that secret. A year later, Anna accompanies Frankie's family on their summer vacation to California. It's the first time the family has been back since Matt's death and we see that there is so much they have to work through upon their arrival.

Frankie has turned to clothes, makeup and boys to distract her from the void her brother has left in her life. She makes it the girls' mission to hook up with 20 boys between the two of them over the summer, and one of those boys would be the one that would take Anna's virginity (nicknamed the Albatross). Apparently this book was banned because of the promiscuous behavior. Like all books banned, this infuriates me! If the people fighting to ban it actually read and paid attention to the subject matter, they would see that Anna and Frankie were just normal teenagers faced with the pressures of high school. Anna was not even into the mission of finding a bunch of guys because she was still so hung up on Matt. These two girls were actually fairly well behaved girls all things considered. They had fun sneaking out and lying to Frankie's parents, but it was never anything too harmful. The adventures the girls had made for an epic summer that I had so much fun reading about.

The relationships in Twenty Boy Summer seemed so real to me. Frankie and Anna were opposites but they got along so well. They reminded me of me and my own best friend. I also loved getting the glimpses of Anna's memories of moments spent with Matt. Just reading about it, I got those butterflies that you get from your first love. Normally when I read a book like this that has two romantic interests, I will choose one over the other, but in this case I was so happy that Anna found Sam. He was exactly what she needed and it tugged on my heart strings how guilty she felt for being attracted to him but I couldn't blame her for feeling that way.

There were so many moments where I felt like I had to put the book down and just have a good cry but oddly enough, I never felt like it was too depressing. There was a lot of sadness but there was also plenty of happiness and points where the characters were making progress in getting on with their lives. The cover is so simplistic yet gorgeous! I've always loved beach glass and the tie-in's with the beach glass made it the perfect cover for the book. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a fast paced summer read that has more than just your typical fluff.

My rating: 4.5 stars


Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

Book: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Published: October 2006/ HarperTeen
Genre: YA
Pages: 336 pages
Where I got it: bought at Borders
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads): When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

My thoughts: 13 Little Blue Envelopes was my first experience with Maureen Johnson and it was such a fun book to read! As I'm sure I've mentioned a bunch before, I love traveling, so anytime I get the chance to travel along with the characters in my books is usually a must read for me. I've never been to Europe but I have some major wanderlust for that part of the country. Ginny's trip sounds so amazing, although I would have been terrified to travel to another country alone at 17. There was more to this story than I was expecting, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Ginny's aunt was one of the most special people in her life who promised she'd always be there for her, so when she disappeared, Ginny felt abandoned. After her aunt passed, there were so many things left unsaid. The 13 enveloped offer her closure in the typical and exciting Aunt Peg fashion. Along the way, Ginny finds love and friendship and gets the opportunity to learn more about herself which I think is so important for a girl her age.

A couple of little things nagged at me while reading this story, though. First of all, that cover. Eeeeesh. I like the envelope idea but the body shot of the girl tells me nothing about the story. Also, where were Ginny's parents?? They let their daughter travel to Europe alone without any contact whatsoever (this was one of the terms as instructed by Aunt Peg- she was to have no contact with anyone in the states). I'm not even as concerned that Ginny's parents were so trusting of her, but that they trusted the crazy, unstable aunt who wasn't around anymore to help her if she wound up in any trouble. Lastly, I didn't really buy the attraction between Ginny and Keith. They seemed to disagree more than they agreed. It just felt too forced for the most part.

Despite those things, I enjoyed 13 Little Blue Envelopes and I plan to read the other books in the series. This was a quick read that was appropriate for summer reading. I liked reading about Ginny and the excitement of traveling abroad while not knowing what's in store. I definitely felt that itch caused by the travel bug creeping up on me!

My rating: 3.5 stars


Review: The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness by Ned Zeman

Book: The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness by Ned Zeman
Published: August 4, 2011, Gotham
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 288 pages
Where I got it: received for review from the publisher
Buy It: Amazon

Summary: A journalist faces his toughest assignment yet: profiling himself. Zeman recounts his struggle with clinical depression in this high- octane, brutally funny memoir about mood disorders, memory, shock treatment therapy and the quest to get back to normal.

My thoughts: I've said this before about reviewing memoirs... how can I possibly judge something that a person experienced? This is not a product of someone's imagination, these are the true events of Ned Zeman's life. Admittedly, I had some trouble getting into the book at first, as I felt there was a bit too much focus on the people he profiled at his job as a contributor to Vanity Fair. However, as Zeman began falling into the dark, twisted world of the clinically depressed and started experimenting with different medications, I found myself quickly sucked into the story. After many failed attempts with mood altering drugs, he turned to the controversial ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, also known as electroshock therapy) and once again the story got a whole lot more interesting.

ECT pretty much did exactly what it sounds like it should do to a person's brain. Ned began to forget things but continued to go through the emotional ups and downs as his brain was subjected to the scheduled brain frying sessions. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, there was a humor present in Zeman's rehashing of events. He was able to poke fun at himself and the sad state of his sanity which is something I give him a lot of credit for. He went through so much crap and found himself feeling desperate enough to try anything that might help him. As a Psychology minor, reading about other people's downfalls and learning about the way the mind works has always been an interest of mine. I was very impressed with the way Ned's friends formed a support group for him in order to make sure he was getting to his appointments and taking care of the things he might forget because of the amnesia. Things could have turned out much different for Ned had he not had such an awesome group of people who cared about him.

I think that I could have done without a lot of the info in Part 1 of the book, but overall I found The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness to be an entertaining and informative story about how depression can completely take over a person's life, and the ways in which it can affect those around you. I'm actually quite interested to learn how he was able to recover enough to remember details and write this book. ECT sounds like such a horrible procedure, I'm surprised that he's not a vegetable by now!

My rating: 3 stars

Head on over to The Broke & the Bookish, where I'm giving away a copy of The Rules of the Tunnel: My Brief Period of Madness to one lucky winner. Thanks to TLC Book Tours for the chance to read this book & give away a copy!


In My Mailbox (9)

The last month I've gone book buying crazy. Bad for my wallet, but exciting for my bookshelves. Does anyone else like to just stare at their shelves sometimes, or am I the only weirdo that gets all mushy inside when I see all those books that are just waiting to be read? Anywhoooo, I went to the going out of business sale at the only Borders left open around LA and got a few things. I was not impressed with the sale prices yet but of course I still had to buy more books.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Juliet, Naked by David Horby

From NetGalley:

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein
Moonlight on Linoleum by Terri Helwig

Happy reading ya'll!


Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Book: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Published: May 2011, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: YA
Pages: 320 pages
Where I got it: received as an e-book from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

My thoughts: I began reading Awaken back in the early spring but because I'm a butthead sometimes, my NetGalley copy expired before I could finish. Then it took me a few months to get a copy to finish reading it. Once I was able to pick it back up, I was mad at myself for not getting my hands on it earlier. Maddie's world was so interesting! She is pretty much the first daughter of the new education system. In the year 2060, the world is pretty much all computerized. Want to hang out with your friends? Hop on the internet and virtual chat with everyone in a coffee shop setting. Even exercising is computerized. Having a father who is the head of digital school put a lot of pressure on Maddie to follow the rules. When we find out that she had something to do with a huge security breach years ago, it's easy to see that she doesn't necessarily believe in what her family is responsible for.

Awaken is about much more than just teenage rebellion. It's about standing up for what you believe in despite how much it might effect your life as you know it. Maddie chooses her beliefs over her family, which is something that only the strongest willed person would be able to do. However, the story was almost too unbelievable for me. I have been on this earth for almost 26 years now and I don't feel like the world has changed too drastically. It's very hard for me to believe that a world would be so different in my lifetime. I enjoy technology as much as the next nerd, but I could not wrap my head around how life could change so much in 50 years. The people in Maddie's world were so connected in the digital sense, but I couldn't help thinking it was more like they were disconnected. They were giving up real human interaction. It just seems so lonely to me and I was glad that Maddie was able to recognize that she was unhappy with that way of life.

Sadly, I was disappointed in Justin's character as her love interest. I felt that it was unfair of him to ask her to betray her family and expect her to do what she ultimately ended up doing by choosing his side. He seemed like a total toolbag and I just couldn't understand why Maddie was attracted to him, other than for his mysterious ways.

I don't usually talk about covers, but I will admit that I am one of those people that judges a book by it's cover. This cover is what initially attracted me but I was glad to discover that the story was worthy of such an awesome cover. While there were certain things that I didn't like about Awaken, I enjoyed the concept and reading about a character who was able to fight for what she believed in despite being in such a tough spot.

My rating: 3.5 stars 


Review: Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris

Book: Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris
Published: 2007, Little Brown & Company
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 387 pages
Where I got it: received as a Secret Santa gift a couple years ago
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads): For anyone who has ever worked in an office, hating everything and everyone in it, yet fell apart when it was time to leave -- this book is for you. Heartbreaking, yet hysterically funny, Then We Came to the End is the definitive novel about the contemporary American workplace.

My thoughts: Then We Came To The End has been on my to read list pretty much since it's release but for some reason it took me almost 4 years to actually pull it off my shelf. With any book that I wait that long to read, there was a huge amount of hype leading up to it for me. There was nothing that wowed me about this novel, but I found it to be an entertaining read that was very relatable for anyone who has ever worked in your typical office environment. There were many points where I was laughing out loud because I could picture some of the events happening in my own office. There were a lot of things that were a little outrageous but they still were so funny to picture. It's easy to see that author Joshua Ferris' view of corporate America is a bitter one, but he's able to poke fun at that in his debut novel.

I enjoyed the use of first person plural and how we never find out who the narrator is. He/she speaks on behalf of the group and refers to all of the employees of the ad agency where this book takes place as the collective "we". The characters were all so entertaining, from the crazy ones, to the slackers to the workaholics. There have been a lot of comparisons to The Office and Office Space in other reviews, and it's definitely very much along those lines but I would say more like if the employees of Dunder Mifflin were all on crack.

While there were plenty of funny moments, there were also a lot of really depressing ones. The characters were waiting with bated breath to find out who would be the next to be laid off. They were all aware that their jobs as advertising creatives basically turned them into soul sucking demons. As someone who goes to work most days dreading what lays ahead, I know how terrible it feels to have a job you absolutely can't stand but you need it to survive. Ferris wrote Then We Came To The End shortly before the economy got really bad, so I imagine that if he had waited to write this just a year or two later, it would be so much worse. There's not much you can do other than to laugh though when you realize you're not the only one who hates their job or works with a bunch of crazies.

My rating: 3 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Books Every Teen Should Read

Hey guys! This week's TTT over at The Broke and the Bookish is about the books every teenager should read. I feel like there are a bunch of books that I've read lately that I've thought, "man, I wish I read this when I was a teenager!", so this was a fun topic for me to cover.

1. The Catcher In The Rye - one of the first books that I read as a teen that really got me excited about reading again. I know it's typically a love it or hate it book, but as a 14 year old, I really connected with it.
2. To Kill A Mockingbird - I didn't read this until I was in college and remember thinking I missed out by not reading it as a teen.
3. Speak - While I wasn't super crazy about it, I think it deals with some heavy issues that teenagers should be aware of.
4. Fahrenheit 451 - A must-read for anyone interested in the printed word.
5. The Diary of Anne Frank - This book has so much to offer- a history lesson and a connection to another teenager, this is one that young girls especially need to read.
6. The Giver - Another fantastic book that I didn't read until I was in my 20's.
7. Shine - Having just read this, it's still weighing heavily on my mind. It teaches a good lesson about tolerance.
8. The DUFF - an honest book about the pressures of being a teen and discovering yourself.
9. Invisible Man - I first read this book in my AP Lit class and it ended up being one of my favorite books of all time. I don't know if it's because of the great discussions we had, but I think everyone should read it in high school.
10. The Harry Potter series - Because every teen deserves some fun reading! If I hadn't read this series, I don't think my reading habits would be the same today.


In My Mailbox (8)

Hey Guys! It's been awhile since I've done an In My Mailbox post but I went to a book sale yesterday at one of the local libraries and scored some great deals that I wanted to share.

From the library book sale:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (this one is signed!)
Mercy by Jodi Picoult
The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
Paint It Black by Janet Fitch
Before I Die by Jenny Downham
Not Me by Michael Levine
Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See

From BookMooch:

Neither Here Nor There: Travels In Europe by Bill Bryson (I requested this about 8 months ago and forgot about it until it showed up out of nowhere on my doorstep last week)

For review from the publisher:

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

From NetGalley:

Tris and Izzy by Mettie Ivey Harrison
After Midnight by Irmgard Keun

And lastly, the Gilmore Girls complete series on DVD! This is not a book but this is what I'm most excited about this week. I have been (impatiently) waiting for Amazon to have this as the deal of the day for at least a year now and finally last week they did. You better believe I scooped that up real fast.

As always, thanks to Kristi from The Story Siren for getting this meme started! What was in your mailbox this week that you're most excited about?


Review: Shine by Lauren Myracle

Book: Shine by Lauren Myracle
Published: May 1, 2011/Amulet Books
Genre: YA
Pages: 350 pages
Where I got it: Netgalley
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): When her best guy friend falls victim to a vicious hate crime, sixteen-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

My thoughts: Shine is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. I am loving all of these YA books I've been reading lately that have female protagonists with such strong hearts. Cat was such a likable character because of her perseverance in discovering who hurt her best friend, Patrick. Patrick was a gay teenager who fell victim to the small town's single minded people, put into a coma during an assault involving a baseball bat and a gas pump. Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. There were a lot of heavy themes presented in this YA book. I've never read any of Myracle's other books but I'm glad I decided to start with this one, as I've heard the others are more chick-lity and not really my style.

Shine reminded me a bit of the movie Winter's Bone in that they both feature a young girl on a personal journey in a small town, searching for answers. I felt like Shine was a journey that I was experiencing right alongside Cat as she went from person to person until she finally discovered the true story. I've never really lived in a small town but I can imagine that this is pretty accurate to how things still are in the South in many places. It's a nice wake up call for the rest of us who don't realize that bigotry is still such a prevalent issue in today's society.

While I enjoyed Shine overall, I felt like a lot of it was just okay for me. It wasn't until the interesting turn of events at the end when we find out who tried to kill Patrick and the motive behind the crime that I felt like the story was redeemed for me. It was such an emotional moment that I had to stop reading for a bit because it weighed so heavy on my heart to think about how there are people out there so twisted. There is a lot of darkness here, but there are also important lessons everyone can learn about betrayal and tolerance.

My rating: 3 stars


Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Book: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Published: June 14, 2011/ Harper
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 368 pages
Where I got it: received as an ARC from the publisher
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads): 'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

My thoughts: What an exciting page turner Before I Go To Sleep was! I love books that read like a diary but even without that aspect, this would have been just as addicting. I started this on a plane and before I knew it, I had read half of it. Christine suffers from amnesia after an accident that occurred in her twenties and now she can't remember anything about her life. With a little help from her doctor, she begins keeping a journal that helps her remember little pieces about herself and everything she goes through each day. Watson's novel fascinated and terrified me at the same time. I could not imagine what it would be like to wake up every morning and have no idea who I am or where I am.

Christine's relationship with her husband was such a roller coaster ride as she went through the motions of getting to know him and trust him, despite a note in the front of her journal written in her own handwriting telling her not trust him. I felt so bad for her each time she relearned of her son's death and the other misfortunes she had in the past. Even just waking up in the morning, she did not recognize her own body. To her, it seemed as though she had aged 20 years overnight. When I discovered that the author is actually a man, I was very impressed at his ability to write from a female perspective in such an effective manner.

Before I Go To Sleep was a thrilling and fantastic debut novel for newcomer S.J. Watson. There is a twist that I kind of anticipated from the beginning, but Watson did a great job at making me believe it wouldn't actually happen and then BAM! It did (although it wasn't quite what I thought) and I was left stunned. It's hard for me to write this review without giving too much away, so do yourself a favor and go read it! This will be one of those books I recommend a lot this summer to people looking for a thrilling page turner.

My rating: 4 stars 


Review: Hereafter by Tara Hudson

Book: Hereafter by Tara Hudson
Published: June 7, 2011/ HarperCollins
Genre: YA/ Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416 pages
Where I got it: received as an e-book from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Can there truly be love after death?
Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.
Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.
Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.

My thoughts: I've always had a thing for ghost stories but as I get older I feel like it's getting more difficult to impress me. Hereafter is a captivating story told from the point of view of young Amelia, who is a ghost. I really like books where the narrator is not your typical protagonist and this was no exception. It reminded me of The Book Thief in certain aspects, which is one of my favorite books. Part love story, part ghost story; this paranormal romance novel is a spooky and exciting debut effort from author Tara Hudson.

After her death, Amelia spent her days trying to get the living to see or hear her again. She was unsuccessful for a very long time, until Joshua came along and almost died at the very same bridge and river that took Amelia's life many years before. Joshua comes from a family of "see-ers", or people who have the ability to interact with ghosts once they've had some sort of triggering event. When Joshua's heart stopped briefly in the river, he was then able to see and hear Amelia as if she was a regular human girl. Of course, the two of them fall in love and Joshua sets out to help Amelia discover who she was. Throughout the novel, Hudson slowly reveals the details behind Amelia's death and the person she was before she died in the river. She had me on the edge of my seat as I waited to learn more about the sweet and modest girl.

In addition to the mystery of Amelia's life, the couple was faced with other obstacles along the way. There was Eli, the "bad" ghost, who was trying to recruit Amelia to the dark side, so to speak. As the only other ghost Amelia had ever come in contact with, he had a lot of answers for her about what she was going through. I enjoyed reading about the internal struggle she had in needing him for answers despite knowing his evil intentions. It presented an interesting dilemma for Amelia and helped demonstrate the age old question of what happens when good and evil face off. There was also Joshua's grandmother, Ruth, another see-er who was NOT a fan of Amelia. She made it very clear that she did not approve of the two as a couple, or of any ghostly beings.

There were a lot of entertaining qualities in Hereafter. The only real issue I had with it was how much it seemed to focus on the developing relationship between Amelia and Joshua and maybe not quite enough focus on Amelia's backstory. It was also a little bit weird to me how okay Joshua was with the fact that he was dating a ghost. I did not realize that it's the first in a series when I was reading it, so I was happy to see that I'll be able to read more about Amelia in the future.

My rating: 3.5 stars 


Review: Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Book: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Published: April 2011, Balzer & Bray
Genre: YA
Pages: 323 pages
Where I got it: received as an e-book from NetGalley
Buy It: Amazon

Brief Summary (from Goodreads): When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food. 

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.
Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

My thoughts: I heard a lot of the buzz and controversy about Bumped when it was first released and then I kind of forgot about it until now. I'm not sure what I was expecting since I've never read McCafferty before but this was definitely a shocking read. I would not consider myself to be a prude by any means, but this book was chock full of sex and lude language. The thing that shocked me the most while reading Bumped was that it is set in the not so distant future of 2035, yet life is so dramatically different. A virus has made it impossible for anyone over the age of 18 to procreate, so the world has adapted to the idea that teens should be "bumping" to avoid extinction. Many of the girls will go pro in bumping, which means they need to pop out as many babies as possible during their teenage years. They continue to go to school but their full times jobs become being surrogates for the older couples who can no longer have children of their own.

Twin sisters Melody and Harmony meet for the first time after being separated at birth and discover that they could not be more different despite being mirror images of one another. Melody and her friends spend their time trying to get matched up with hot guys to bump with and attending masSex parties, which are pretty much just orgies. Harmony is from Goodside, where she was raised to be deeply religious. When Harmony ventures to her sister's world in hopes of bringing her back to Goodside and "saving" her, she gets more than she bargained for after pulling the classic twin switcharoo (although unbeknownst to Melody). The sisters soon realize that they have more in common than they originally thought.

There was a lot of goofy, made up language in Bumped that reminded me of what it was like to read A Clockwork Orange for the first time. I felt like I needed a dictionary for McCafferty's jibber jabber just to keep up sometimes. I did find a lot of the words funny, but I'm not sure if that was just me being immature or if it was from the fun McCafferty was poking at society and how young girls are growing up too fast these days. Not only was the language weird, McCafferty also used a lot of slang that got pretty annoying. I felt like I was at the mall listening to a group of the most idiotic girls talking.

I didn't think that religion was portrayed in a very good light in Bumped. I felt like Harmony and the rest of Goodside were depicted as the extremes. I have no idea what McCafferty's stance is on religion but I got the feeling that there were bad vibes underlying in this book. One thing I thought was done really well here was the way in which it was unheard of for the teenagers to have sex for pleasure or to fall in love with someone. Condoms were considered contraband in Melody's world. Everything was so carefully calculated based on a matched couple's looks, talents and family history. I think that the idea behind Bumped was a good one and McCafferty obviously has a lot to say about where today's society is headed, but for me a lot of that was lost in the complicated language and sometimes overwhelming story lines. With that said, this would be a great discussion book for a book club because it's so different from most of the other books out there right now.

My rating: 2 stars