Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Books!!

I love, love getting new books. Especially ones that I have been DYING to read. Today I got Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I am about 40 pages into Shiver and am LOVING it. Stay tuned for the reviews!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

A tale of twelve princesses doomed to dance until dawn…

Galen is a young soldier returning from war; Rose is one of twelve princesses condemned to dance each night for the King Under Stone. Together Galen and Rose will search for a way to break the curse that forces the princesses to dance at the midnight balls. All they need is one invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with enchanted silver needles, and that most critical ingredient of all—true love—to conquer their foes in the dark halls below. But malevolent forces are working against them above ground as well, and as cruel as the King Under Stone has seemed, his wrath is mere irritation compared to the evil that awaits Galen and Rose in the brighter world above.

Captivating from start to finish, Jessica Day George’s take on the Grimms’ tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses demonstrates yet again her mastery at spinning something entirely fresh out of a story you thought you knew.

I think the description of this book doesn't do it justice. The book is actually mostly told from Galen's point of view, which surprised me a little because from the blurb above (which is what is given in the book) I guessed that it would be about Rose. Not that it mattered. I really liked this book. It drew me in right from the start. I don't think it really matters if you are not familiar with the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I wasn't, and I don't feel like that hindered my progress at all. Basically, (and I don't know what the Grimm story is, but this is how this novel went...) a queen makes a bargain with an evil magician in order to bear children, and in return the queen will come "underground" and dance for him. Little did she know that she would not bear only one child, but twelve and when the queen dies, her daughters are forced to finish out the contract. Every third night, the princesses dance, and in the morning their dancing slippers are worn through and need replacement. They are unable to tell anyone of the "curse" and their father, the king, is worried for their health. He sends a proclamation to all neighboring countries to send their princes, and the prince who figures out where the princesses are going at night and solves the mystery of the dancing slippers will become heir to the throne and marry one of the princesses. When they all fail, the under-gardener at the palace, Galen, asks to try to solve the mystery. Again, most of the story is told from Galen's perspective, which I actually quite enjoyed. I loved evey page of this book and can't wait to read more by Jessica Day George.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Novel Idea by Aimee Friedman

Once upon a time there was a Brooklyn hipster named Norah. Unlucky in love, and short on extracurriculars for her college apps, Norah decided to start a book group. She knew the perfect locale -- a local indie bookstore with a crush-worthy cutie manning the soy latte counter.

When the first meeting arrives, Norah gets a page-turning surprise. The attendees may be bookish, but there are also a few hotties! Most noteworthy: sweet, literary James. He's like a modern Jane Austen hero.... Only, how to snag him?

Ever the romantic heroine, Norah devises a secret plan. And if it works, Norah may just find her "Happily Ever After" love story. The End.

This book was actually quite funny--I was pleasantly surprised. I thought all the characters meshed well, and the sub-plots of romantic chaos were a fun addition. It had some twists that surprised me, which were nice, because it was a fairly predictable book. It was mostly "fluff", with Norah taking love advice from a Harlequin romance novel, but it was just the sort of quick-read "fluff" that I needed yesterday. Again, a clean read. Nice. I love those. :)

So, now I'm wondering... I have read so many decent to great books lately, it may be time for an awful one. I hope not, but we'll see. Happy Reading!

To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker

Once caught, it’s harder still to let a pirate go.

When Annalisa Townsend’s ship is set upon by pirates in search of her father’s treasure, one of the crew, James Sterling, discovers her in the hold. When he moves to take her necklace, she begs him not to, as it is all she has left of her mother. He accepts a kiss in exchange for the necklace. “A fair trade, m’lady,” he tells her afterward, before disappearing.

A year later, with a forged letter of marque, Annalisa is intent on hunting down the wretched James Sterling and reclaiming her father’s treasure from him. But now she’s in danger of him stealing something far more vulnerable this time: her heart.

This was a quick, charming read. I don't know that I've ever read a book about pirates, so it was a fun change. Since it was set in the early 1800s (? I think) it was a clean read. They were very proper, and such. Well, except the pirates. Isn't that what makes it fun though? I read this book on Monday and loved every second. In fact, as soon as I finished, I took it to my sister so she could read it too. Even though it was a short book, I was very attached to the story. Anna is another one of those women you can relate to. She was a bit headstrong and determined, but also vulnerable. I liked her very much. James Sterling... I can totally picture in my head. Exactly. He is the guy that you would never in a million years admit to liking out loud, but secretly you are obsessed with him. A guilty pleasure. Kind of like a soap opera. :) By the time I reached the end of this book, I had been madly in love, heartbroken, scorned, depressed, giddy, and relieved. This is a book I'm happy to add to my collection. Enjoy!

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

Morgan Sparks has always known that she and her boyfriend, Cam, are made for each other. But when Cam’s cousin Pip comes to stay with the family, Cam seems depressed. Finally Cam confesses to Morgan what’s going on: Cam is a fairy. The night he was born, fairies came down and switched him with a healthy human boy. Nobody expected Cam to live, and nobody expected his biological brother, heir to the fairy throne, to die. But both things happened, and now the fairies want Cam back to take his rightful place as Fairy King.

Even as Cam physically changes, becoming more miserable each day, he and Morgan pledge to fool the fairies and stay together forever. But by the time Cam has to decide once and for all what to do, Morgan’s no longer sure what’s best for everyone, or whether her and Cam’s love can weather an uncertain future.

This book has gotten a lot of mediocre reviews, which surprises me, because I loved it. I had a hard time getting into the first few pages, mostly because of Morgan's "psychic" ability. I didn't know much about this book when I started reading it, so that little turn of events was a bit odd for me. Once I read the first few pages two or three times and realized I wasn't misreading it, I moved on and loved it. I thought Pip, Cam's "cousin", was quite funny at times, and very endearing. This was one of those books that, although I was happy with the ending, I also felt like I was saying goodbye to friends. I know everything works out in the end, and there really isn't a set-up for a sequel, but a part of me wishes there was one. This is another one of those books that I would happily recommend to anyone, well--any female. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None is the signature novel of Agatha Christie, the most popular work of the world's bestselling novelist. It is a masterpiece of mystery and suspense that has been a fixture in popular literature since it was originally published in 1939. First there were ten-a curious assortment of strangers summoned to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to any of them, is nowhere to be found. The ten guests have precious little in common except that each has a deadly secret buried deep in their own past. And, unknown to them, each has been marked for murder. Alone on the island and trapped by foul weather, one by one the guests begin to fall prey to the hidden murderer among them. With themselves as the only suspects, only the dead are above suspicion.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again-- I love intrigue, suspense, and mystery. This had all. I was reading it in bed last week and I really thought every single noise in my house was a crazed murderer. It was fabulous. I love books that scare me so much (in a good way) that I can't even put my feet on the floor because I am afraid something is lurking under my bed. This was the first Agatha Christie book I've ever read (absurd, I know--with my love of mystery and all) and I was left guessing until the VERY last... 2-3 pages. Everything got explained and even then I was just... mesmerized. This has to be, by far, the most well-written murder mystery I have ever read. And, trust me, I have read A LOT. Wow. She's not the queen for nothin'!

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter

Dreams come true in this hilarious, feel-good fairy tale about life, love, and dating literature’s most eligible bachelor!

After a string of disastrous dates, Emily Albright decides she’s had it with modern-day love and would much rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and spend her time with Mr. Darcy, the dashing, honorable, and passionate hero of Jane Austen’s classic. So when her best friend suggests a wild week of margaritas and men in Mexico with the girls, Emily abruptly flees to England on a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead. Far from inspiring romance, the company aboard the bus consists of a gaggle of little old ladies and one single man, Spike Hargreaves, a foul-tempered journalist writing an article on why the fictional Mr. Darcy has earned the title of Man Most Women Would Love to Date.

The last thing Emily expects to find on her excursion is a broodingly handsome man striding across a field, his damp shirt clinging to his chest. But that’s exactly what happens when she comes face-to-face with none other than Mr. Darcy himself. Suddenly, every woman’s fantasy becomes one woman’s reality. . . .

I just want to start by throwing this out there-- Why is it that EVERY woman thinks they'd be good enough for Mr. Darcy? I'm being serious. Only about 1% of the population of women could "tempt" him, and I'm sure I WOULD NOT be in that 1%. That said-- Me and Mr. Darcy wasn't one of my favorites. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't original. Everything that happens to Emily is an exact parallel to what she has LITERALLY just read in Pride and Prejudice. In my opinion, if she was really THAT big of an Austen fan, she would have figured it all out SO much sooner. The language throughout was a bit unnecessary, but I think maybe it wouldn't have annoyed me so much if I hadn't read as many clean YA novels before getting to this one. This book was more of a chore to finish than anything.

Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Stolarz

Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She's inexplicably drawn to Ben...and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help--but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.

I just want you all to know... I was fully prepared to give this book a very bad review. All that changed when I was finding the book summary on Amazon and realized that there is a BOOK 2. It's true. It's called Deadly Little Lies. (Don't look it up unless you want to spoil this book!!!!) I also want you to know that I just barely put it on hold at the library. :) Now... Book review.

The things I liked:

  • The whole book minus 1 page.
The things I didn't like:

  • The last page.
This was a really quick read. And when I say that, I mean I read it in a couple hours one night. I didn't want to put it down. It was definitely one of those books that sucks you in and you don't want to do anything else, for fear that it will break the spell. I loved everything about this book. I loved Camelia (even though I HATE her name--Not in general, just not for a main character in a book. I realize that I was READING, but it was still a mouthful.) I loved Ben, too. (Although I may be a bit biased on that point, because Ben is my son's name). The whole book was a bit intriguing, which I like. I'm a sucker for a good, suspenseful book. So, what was the problem, you wonder?? Just as I am turning to the last page, ready to breathe a sigh of relief that all is well and good, I was knocked upside down and kicked a few times. Not literally. But it felt like it.

HOWEVER, now that I know there is a sequel, I am feeling much better about things. Like the world is finally right again. Enjoy, and don't be too mad at the frustrating ending. I have a hunch that everything turns out alright in the know, of the SECOND book...

The Season by Sarah MacLean

Seventeen year old Lady Alexandra is strong-willed and sharp-tongued -- in a house full of older brothers and their friends, she had to learn to hold her own. Not the best makings for an aristocratic lady in Regency London. Yet her mother still dreams of marrying Alex off to someone safe, respectable, and wealthy. But between ball gown fittings, dances, and dinner parties, Alex, along with her two best friends, Ella and Vivi, manages to get herself into what may be her biggest scrape yet.

When the Earl of Blackmoor is mysteriously killed, Alex decides to help his son, the brooding and devilishly handsome Gavin, uncover the truth. But will Alex's heart be stolen in the process? In an adventure brimming with espionage, murder, and other clandestine affairs, who could possibly have time to worry about finding a husband? Romance abounds as this year's season begins!

I loved this book. Plain and simple. Alex is a great character. I loved that she wasn't a frilly girl. I loved that she had a mind of her own and wasn't afraid to act like it. I also loved Gavin from the second he was introduced into the book. I thought his chemistry with Alex seeped off the page and felt so real. They were a pair I couldn't help but root for. The Season had just enough romance to go with the mystery and intrigue and since it was a very clean read, I would recommend this book to all. And don't blame me if you are dying to watch Emma or Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility when you are done.

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

In The Year of Secret Assignments, a tenth grade English teacher attempts to unite feuding schools by launching a pen-pal project. Best friends Cassie, Emily and Lydia initiate the correspondence, and are answered by Matthew, Charlie and Seb. Emily and Lydia are more than pleased with their matches, but quiet Cassie has a frightening experience with Matthew. When Lydia and Emily discover that Matthew has threatened their fragile friend, the Ashbury girls close ranks, declaring an all-out war on the Brookfield boys. Soon, the couples are caught up in everything from car-jacking and lock-picking, to undercover spying and identity theft.

I have to say, I laughed out loud on multiple occasions as I read this book. Almost once per page for the first 1/3 of it. The girls reminded me of some of my friends when I was in high school and it was funny to read their interactions with their "pen pals." I loved how fiercely loyal these three girls were to each other. I loved the "tasks" they assigned each other. Over all, I thought this was a fun read. The language in a few parts and some of the things said were a bit inappropriate, but if you can get past that, the storyline was pretty decent. I would recommend this book, but not to everyone.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

This riveting story about 16-year-old Jenica; her pet frog, Gogu; and her four sisters takes place between the fairy world and the family's Romanian estate of Piscul Dracului. When the girls were young, they discovered a mysterious portal that appears every full moon and allows them access to the Dancing Glade in the Other Kingdom. They dress in the finest gowns and spend all night dancing with a host of bizarre and enchanting fairy creatures. Unfortunately, the girls' simple and carefree lives change drastically when their father becomes ill and must spend the winter in the milder climate of Constanta. Jenica takes charge of the estate and the family's merchant business but their overbearing, power-hungry cousin, Cezar, interferes with their affairs and questions the sisters' knowledge of the Other Kingdom. As he tightens the noose around them, everything Jenica has come to love-her sisters, her frog, her home, and the Dancing Glade-is in jeopardy. To make matters worse, her sister Tatiana has fallen in love with one of the mysterious and feared Night people. This relationship is doomed from the start and it is up to Jenica to make things right-but to do so she will be put to the ultimate test.

This was another one of those books that I liked, but I didn't love. This is our book club pick for April. I was on the hold list forever at the library, so when I finally got it, I realized that I couldn't wait until April to read it.
I actually really liked the story, I just found it quite slow-moving. I liked the characters--I thought they were all very well developed, which isn't always easy when there are SO many in one book. I liked the plot twists, especially the one GIANT one that I wasn't expecting (If you've read this, you know what one I am talking about.) and I really liked the ending. Not just because it was THE END, but because I was satisfied with the ending. I don't know if I would read any more of her books, unless they are chosen for my book club, but I did like this one. I'm not a huge fan of lots of descrpitive detail-- I think it mostly just slows the pace of a story--but in this book, I have to say that I thought it was necessary. Unfortunately. Yawn.

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

With a past too terrible to speak of, and a bleak, lonely future ahead of her, Aerin Renning is shocked to find she has earned a place at the most exclusive school in the universe. Aerin excels at Academy 7 in all but debate, where Dane Madousin—son of one of the most powerful men in the Alliance— consistently outtalks her. Fortunately Aerin consistently outwits him at sparring. They are at the top of their class until Dane jeopardizes everything and Aerin is unintentionally dragged down with him. When the pair is given a joint punishment, an unexpected friendship—and romance—begins to form. But Dane and Aerin both harbor dangerous secrets, and the two are linked in ways neither of them could ever have imagined. . . .

I'll start with the things that I really liked about this book. I liked that it was written from more than one point of view. I think because it was written this way, it was much easier to relate to Dane and Aerin. They each had "secrets" they didn't want to tell, and they had their reasons. I liked reading how they worked though them and began to understand why things were...well, how they were. It also had a kind of "Star Wars" feel to it, which was unexpected and different, that I actually really enjoyed. I'm far from a Star Wars fan, but I've seen the movies and it made it simpler to visulalize the world(s) these two live in. I liked reading through how Aerin changed throughout the book, because she annoyed me a little at first (but I'll get to that in a minute). I like how the story was wrapped up. It could (and might) have a continuing story, but it doesn't necessarily need one. It could stand alone, which was REALLY nice after all the sagas I've been reading!

Now the things I didn't like. Aerin. Throughout the book, she started to grow on me, but at first, I couldn't imagine her as a heroine. She was jumpy and reclusive and terrified of everything. As you read, you get an explanation for it, which helped in the "liking-Aerin-department". I also didn't like that they advertise it as a "romance." They don't really fall in love, they are just good friends--maybe with a few awkward and unexpected kisses thrown in. But really, it was just a step up from the loathing in the beginning of the book. As much as I wanted something REALLY exciting to happen, it would build and build and truly had the potential, but it seemed like the author just... got sick of writing and ended the book. It wrapped up well, like I said, it just wasn't as exciting as I wanted it to be. I thought the idea for the story was great, but it never really reached my expectations, which was disappointing.

All in all, I did quite like this book, I just didn't love it. I would definitely recommend it. Happy reading!

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Fifteen-year-old Callie's class trip to England is, like most things in her life, remarkably unremarkable. Ever since she was overheard making a derogatory remark about cheerleaders by one of the most popular girls in school, Callie has been permanently on the D list. To her misery and embarrassment, she has been ditched by her class-trip buddy, leaving her stranded at their London hotel. A scheme to join fellow classmates on a surreptitious trip to a hot club leads to her tripping spectacularly over her new Prada heels. Upon waking from her blackout, Callie discovers that she has been transported to Regency England and is now the long-lost American friend of Emily, a well-to-do teenager. True to her character, she makes a series of faux pas with the titled gentry, earning her the disapproval of a matriarch and a dashing 19-year-old duke. Although her adjustment to an 1815 lifestyle is rough, she begins to appreciate her friendship with Emily and her surprising budding romance with the duke. Callie's perpetual awkwardness, chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome, spiritedness, and openness make her genuinely likable. Endearingly funny episodes involving a Heart and Soul pianoforte duet and a CPR rescue in front of an astonished crowd are contrasted with Callie's determination to rescue Emily from an engagement to a suitor 30 years her senior.

This was another one of those books that I just thoroughly enjoyed. It wasn't anything special, and it was fairly predictable, but it was exactly the kind of book I was in the mood for when I read it. (Isn't that the best??) I thought Callie was a very likable character and Alex (the Duke) was a character I had a love-hate relationship with. I loved him, but I hated how conceited he was. I really liked his chemistry with Callie once he loosened up a bit. The story line was cute, not overly clever, but it was a fun twist on the "Pride and Prejudice" story, for all you Jane Austen lovers. I really liked the end. The entire book, I was trying to figure out how the story could be wrapped up into a nice, little, feel-good package, and I think the author did that well. Austen fan or not, I say--check it out!

Go Ask Alice--Anonymous

The torture and hell of adolescence has rarely been captured as clearly as it is in this classic diary by an anonymous, addicted teen. Lonely, awkward, and under extreme pressure from her "perfect" parents, "Anonymous" swings madly between optimism and despair. When one of her new friends spikes her drink with LSD, this diarist begins a frightening journey into darkness. The drugs take the edge off her loneliness and self-hate, but they also turn her life into a nightmare of exalting highs and excruciating lows. Although there is still some question as to whether this diary is real or fictional, there is no question that it has made a profound impact on millions of readers during the more than 25 years it has been in print. Despite a few dated references to hippies and some expired slang, Go Ask Alice still offers a jolting chronicle of a teenager's life spinning out of control.

Has someone ever raved and raved about a book and told you that you should "definitely read it!" and then you do and you HATE it? That was this book for me. My 14 year old sister actually had a friend of hers recommend it, and she told me about it, not really knowing what it was about. I got it from the library, read it, and.... here I am. If you decide to read it, I want you to know exactly what you were getting yourself into. It's a downer. And it doesn't have a happy ending. Throughout the story, you note how her language and personality changes when she is doing drugs and hanging out with the "wrong crowd" vs. how she acts when she is clean. I thought the language and the subject matter (a 15-yr old trading sex for drugs and dealing at school) was actually quite offensive. I was horrified to know that a friend of my sister "loved" this book and recommended it to her. I would never recommend it to anyone and I kind of wish I had never read it. The whole time, I was waiting for it to get better--for her to "overcome", but she didn't. She overdosed and died. I really can't stomach books with children doing harmful, illegal, or degrading things. It was much to depressing for my taste and after reading it, I really just felt like I needed to take a shower...

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Homeschooled Laurel begins public high school as a tenth grader when her adoptive parents move to LA., leaving behind the land that has been in her mother's family since the Gold Rush days. The many clues that Laurel is different (she is strictly vegan; sunlight seems to shine through her fair skin; she never gets cold; she craves the outdoors; she doesn't menstruate) culminate in a bump on her back growing to the size of a softball and blooming into a flower that has foot-long petals. Returning to her parents' land, she meets Tamini, a faerie to whom she is attracted, who tells her that she is not human, but rather is a plant or, more specifically, a faerie. David, her accepting and supportive classmate, tests her tissue and confirms that Tamini is right. When a creepy alleged realtor pressures the family to sell the land, the teens become suspicious, and they are soon fighting for their lives in a centuries-old battle between faeries and trolls. Laurel's struggles to figure out what it means to be human are matched by her struggles to determine what it means to be a faerie, and she is torn between love for David and love for Tamini. The ending allows for many possibilities in the upcoming sequels. The book has a nice mix of danger and romance, the world of magic and the world of high school, with well-developed characters and a quick-moving plot.

This book. Wow. I couldn't put it down. Literally. I was standing in my kitchen, stirring our dinner, and this book was STILL in my hand. If you are a Twilight fan, I am fairly certain you will love, LOVE this book. Think: Tamani = Edward, David = Jacob. I have to tell you, I fell hard and fast for Tamani. The whole book was

From the beginning of the book, it is made very clear that Laurel is quite different from everyone else her age. I loved that it set her apart and made me wonder what was coming up next--WHY was she so different? Enter David. He befriends her on her very first day of school (Hello?? Jacob?) and they are soon inseperable. She confides in him about what is going on with her (she thinks she has cancer) when she doesn't feel she has anyone else to turn to. Enter Tamani. Yum. He explains everything to Laurel, leaving her even more freaked. Enter crazy guys trying to kill Laurel. Some near death experiences, a few kisses, a little intrigue and here I am DYING to read the next book. PLEASE BE RELEASED SOON!?!?!?

Sea of Monsters (P.J. and the Olympians, Bk. 2) by Rick Riordan

When Thalia’s tree is mysteriously poisoned, the magical borders of Camp Half-Blood begin to fail. Now Percy and his friends have just days to find the only magic item powerful to save the camp before it is overrun by monsters. The catch: they must sail into the Sea of Monsters to find it. Along the way, Percy must stage a daring rescue operation to save his old friend Grover, and he learns a terrible secret about his own family, which makes him question whether being the son of Poseidon is an honor or a curse.

Ok, as much as I loved The Lightning Thief, this was WWWAAAAAYYYYY better. I loved the story. Since it didn't have all the "explaining" that the first one did, I felt that it was a really quick and enjoyable read. There were enough plot twists to keep me guessing (a little--C'mon, it's written for kids. My 11-yr old sister is reading them. It may keep someone her age guessing a bit longer.) EXCEPT, the end. I NEVER saw it coming, and it made me want to start the 3rd one right then. Some concepts were a bit predictable, but overall, I totally loved this book. I really like that, because they are written for young people, they are very clean. I would recommend this to even the most picky reader!

Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman

Fourteen-year-old Shawn McDaniel loves the taste of smoked oysters and his mother's gentle hugs. Unfortunately, it's impossible for Shawn to feed himself or to hug his mom back. Shawn has cerebral palsy, a condition he has had since birth that has robbed him of all muscle control. He can't walk, talk, or even focus his eyes on his own. But despite all these handicaps, despite the frustration of not being able to communicate, Shawn is still happy to be alive: "Somehow all the things I think about and remember turn to joy... favorite movies... pinecones... chocolate pudding... the scent of Comet in a stainless steel sink.... Life can be great, even for me. Even for me." That is why he panics when he begins to suspect that his father is thinking of killing him. Shawn knows that his father is trying to be kind; he imagines that his son's life is an endless torment. His dad has no idea of the rich life that Shawn lives inside his head. And Shawn, helpless and mute, has no way of telling him.

This was our February book club pick. This was a very short book-- maybe 150 pages or so. I, surprisingly, really liked this book. It was thought-provoking and heartbreakingly moving. I loved Shawn. He was a wonderfully real character. The author of this book, Terry Trueman, actually has a child with cerebral palsy and it made the book that much more real for me. He knows what he is talking about--he knows what life is like, he knows the struggles and hardships and he knows the joys. I loved that Shawn wasn't a vegetable--he had thoughts and feelings and knew what was going on. I think the character was very well written. All in all, it was a sad story--his dad's thought-processes and reasoning, Shawn knowing what was going to happen and not being able to tell anyone, and the ending really surprised me. I would recommend this book, most definitely. I thought it was a fantastic, but as I said, sad read.

Meet Your Match by Stephanie Fowers

"Meet Your Match" is the second novel by Stephanie Fowers to fall into the "Mormon Chick-lit" genre. Stephanie takes everything that is stereotypically true about college singles wards and turns out a story that is funny, quirky, and highly entertaining.

Jacqueline Childs (known as "Jack" to most of her friends) is a girl who has been burned. She believes herself to fall under the singles' ward appellation of "burnt girl," but Christian and Britton, two of her best guy friends, think she's really a "squirrelly girl," meaning - girl who likes to flirt and break hearts. She's not trying to break hearts - she's tired of having hers broken, and she wants to just take a break from the whole dating scene - but when she won't even return phone calls from would-be suitors, Britton insists that she's just being squirrelly.

No, she'll tell you who really is squirrelly, and that's Charity, the new Relief Society President in their ward. That girl has serious flirtation issues and Jack can't stand her. It gets especially bad when Charity makes a play for Christian and Jack find that she's jealous - but why should she be? It's just Christian, a safe guy. She reasons with herself that she just doesn't want to see Christian get hurt.

Britton has a more cynical viewpoint. He thinks that jerks always win and that nice guys (or girls) always come outlosers. Wanting badly for it to be different, Jack argues that everyone is really looking for a nice guy - and enters into a little competition with Britton. A nice guy and a jerk will both go after the same squirrelly girl, and they'd just see who won. It's already obvious that the nice guy (Christian) is interested in the squirrelly girl, so now it's up to Britton, who will, very convincingly, play the part of the jerk and see if he can steal her away. But what will happen when Jack's jealousy gets the better of her?

I thought this book sounded cute. I knew that it was an LDS-themed book, which is why it really surprised me how much I truly disliked this book. I was appalled to discover how disrespectful the guys were towards the women in the book. They made fun, called names and said horrible things to Jacqueline. It really was a struggle to get through for me. Maybe that's how some guys are in real life. I just know if one ever treated me like they treat "Jack", it would be the first and LAST time. Anyway, not very helpful if you are looking for a good book, I know, but everything I have been reading lately has been recommended to me by others, except this book! If you dare, give this one a try. Maybe I'm just overreacting. :)

(I sure do have a lot of negative reviews so far huh?? Maybe I just feel like I do. But stick with me. I have some really fantastic ones coming up!!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I wouldn't describe this book as "extraordinary", "elegant", "beautiful", or "perfectly satisfying." I would describe it as... "boring", "boring", and "very boring".

When I was in high school, I remember this book being one selected as required reading. I vaguely remember hating it then, but when it was chosen as my book club pick for the month of January, I decided to give it another shot. You know, fairness and all that.... My taste in books has changed significantly since I joined my book club-- I had been in a reading "rut" and the ladies helped me widen my sights to more than my old standbys-- so I thought maybe this book would finally "speak to me" the way it so often seems to do to others.

Let me tell you, it didn't just speak, it SCREAMED to me. It screamed "SLEEP!!!!"

I tried. I really did. I thought maybe it would work like it does with food. You hate something as a child, but keep trying it- just in case- and you find that, as an adult, you really actually love it. ( I do this with fish, but guess what? I still hate it. ) As was my experience with this particular book. I'm pretty sure I would rather watch 18 hours of golf ON TV, ON A SATURDAY, than ever read this book again. No offense, Fitzgerald... You're just not my cup o' tea.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The Hiding Place is an autobiography of Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983 (and yes, she died on her 91st birthday)) written with John and Elizabeth Sherill and first published on November 1971. The book chronicles the life of Corrie ten Boom, a resident in Holland, a spinster, and a strong Christian. It narrates how she hid Jews when Netherlands fell to Nazis' hands and how Corrie, due to her strong Christian faith, succeeded to survive in the woman's concentration camp Ravensbruck , where she was exposed to inhumane treatments and horrible conditions. The title of the book referes to both the place where Corrie and her family hid the Jews in their house and also to the Scriptural message from the Book of Isaiah which states in part, "Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word... Hold thou me up" The book makes us reflect on World War II, the Holocaust, and the Nazis' horrors.

I loved The Hiding Place for many reasons. But first things first. A bit slow moving at first, it details the life of Corrie as a grown woman and then backtracks to her childhood and the events that lead up her adulthood. As I was reading, I was wondering what all this history had to do with her hiding Jews later in life, ultimately resulting in her imprisonment in a Nazi work camp. But now that I am finished reading it, I think that information was important in establishing what type of person Corrie was. She constantly made sacrifices for the people she loved. Reading this story at the start of the new year--reading about her joys and sorrows, trials and triumphs, and knowing that she rarely complained but instead made the best out of every situation, even as she was starving and watching her loved ones die-- it put things into perspective as I was making my New Year's resolutions. This book made me so very grateful for the luxuries I enjoy and often take for granted. It made me grateful to live in a free country--one in which I am free to worship as I please, that I am not opressed because of what I look like or who my ancestors are. It made me grateful for the love and support of my family. This was a very sad book, but it made me want to be better. It was a great way to start my year.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan

What if the gods of Olympus were alive in the 21st Century? What if they still fell in love with mortals and had children who might become great heroes — like Theseus, Jason and Hercules?

What if you were one of those children?

Such is the discovery that launches twelve-year-old Percy Jackson on the most dangerous quest of his life. With the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena, Percy must journey across the United States to catch a thief who has stolen the original weapon of mass destruction – Zeus’ master bolt. Along the way, he must face a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. Most of all, he must come to terms with a father he has never known, and an Oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.

I loved this book. I thought it was clever and funny and fast paced. It was clean, too. (Well, duh--the main character is 12.) I never in a million years would have dreamed that I would like dipping my feet in the vast pool of fantasy literature, but I am really liking the majority of what I have read so far. I am reading bk. 2 now, and I've heard that it's way better than this one. I'll let you know what I think! :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Welcome to Reading for Refuge! My name is Megan and I love to read. This year I have a goal to read 100 novels and my mom gave me the idea to blog about my experiences. It's all very Julie-esque (for those of you who have seen Julie & Julia).

My main reason for starting this blog is to document my progress towards, what is for me, a very fun goal. I love everything about books... the smell, the feel, the words on the page (NO BOOKS-ON-CD FOR ME!!!) and I think it will be exciting to look back at the end of the year and remember.

I can't wait for you to join me on this journey and I hope you enjoy reading my story! Thanks for visiting Reading for Refuge!