Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: "Kristy & The Mother's Day Surprise: The Baby-Sitters Club #24"

Kristy & The Mother's Day Surprise: The Baby-Sitters Club #24 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

Another boring Kristy book...bah. Kristy has a Great Idea for a Mother's Day gift, which involves the BSCers spending their free-time and own money on a bunch of kids (some of whom they don't even like *cough*Jenny Prissy-Pants-Prezzioso*cough*). Yeah, okay. They take the kids to a local carnival, fun times, Margo pukes, etc...oh and the other BSCers feel bad because Mary Anne doesn't have a mom and they keep making insensitive comments about it, until she decides to give her Dad a Mother's Day gift and it's all good.

In the meantime, Kristy's mom and Watson are acting all gaga over how precious family is and wouldn't it be great to add another kid, etc...really? Let's take a run-down of the Brewer-Thomas clan, shall we?

Kristy's mom
Charlie (17)
Sam (15)
Kristy (13)
David Michael (7)
Karen (6)
Shannon the Dog
BooBoo the Cat
Ben Brewer's Ghost

Okay, they are getting pretty close to Pike clan status here. And what do they go and do? Adopt a 2 year old Vietnamese baby! Yeah, weird. And Kristy and the others have no idea this is going on?? How long does it take to adopt a kid...at least a year right? Don't you think they should have sat down and discussed this as a family instead of dropping hints like, "...we have a gorgeous house...with plenty of room. Do you realize that we have three spare bedrooms?" That is no reason to adopt a kid. That's a reason to downsize your McMansion.

Anyway, they adopt Emily Michelle (guess the authors didn't want to have to worry about spelling a Vietnamese name right each book). This will eventually lead to Nanny and her Pink Cadillac moving in too, but we'll worry about that later. How about we end with a What Claudia is Wearing? I think this is a good time for one:

Then there was Claudia. She was wearing a pretty tame dress, too-with a red necktie! Then, she had on these new, very cool roll socks. When she pushed them down just right, they fell into three rolls. The top roll was red, the middle one was peacock blue, and the bottom one was purple. [I'm sorry, I couldn't find roll socks in 3 colors lol] She looked as if she were wearing ice-cream cones on her feet. In her hair was a braided band in red, blue, and purple, like her socks. And dangling from her ears were-get this-spiders in webs. Ew. (But they were pretty cool.)

And I'm going to keep posting this, to keep reminding you of it! :) Once I start reading the next Super Special (1 more regular book review), I'm going to do a little giveaway on here and my Twitter. What do you think? Would you be interested in a BSC giveaway? I'm planning on doing some other book giveaways later in the year, but thought I'd start with the books that are the whole reason I started this blog. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: "Dawn on the Coast: The Baby-Sitters Club #23"

Dawn on the Coast: The Baby-Sitters Club #23 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

Okay, let me just get this out of the way right now: this book was boooooring. Nothing really happened, Dawn is kind of one-dimensional and dull most of the time. :( There was plenty of foreshadowing though, so let's go through that first:

1. Dawn goes to sunny, warm, perfect California to visit her dad & Jeff. She misses it terribly and thinks about moving back there permanently, leaving her poor, old mom all alone in Stoneybrook.

2. Dawn meets a hot older guy on the plane and spends the whole flight chatting with him. Doesn't she have a fling with some kid's dad or something later on? No? Kind of?

3. Dawn and Mary Anne's parents have "cooled off" their dating, but "you never know..."

4. Dawn's dad invites the whole BSC to come visit soon, very soon.

And now, a few highlights:

1. Clover & Daffodil, Dawn's favorite kids to babysit in Cali. "Pieces of eight! I'm rich!"

2. Claire Pike: "...streaked up the stairs, waggling her head and crying "Moo!" Was she calling her mother or making cow sounds? Did it matter? This was definitely going to be one of Claire's sillier days."

3. The stewardess on the flight to Cali: "First of all, she looked strange. Something about her hair....or her makeup. Her cheeks had a cakey look, and when she had put on her lipstick, she had drawn it above the natural line of her lips. Also, she painted on her eyelashes. You know, dark little lines painted on her eyelids. The whole effect was pretty weird."

There aren't really any "What Claudia is Wearing" and Dawn is pretty tame usually (bikini, sundress, hemp clothing, etc...) so guess what? You get another "What Claudia Should Have Been Wearing", or in this case, "What Claudia Would Have Worn to Sunny California" lol...fun fun!!

Claudia took her accessories to the max on this trip: at least 5 different pairs of sunglasses (it's bright there!), bangles, flip-flops, sun hats, a fun octopus beach bag and a cute swimsuit cover-up she had puff painted herself. She brought 2 swimsuits, both bright neon colors of course and a seahorse beach towel she found in one of the local surf shops. Her "going to dinner" outfit was a sunshine yellow strapless dress over purple Capri pants with orange accents. Her outfit to Disneyland was themed, to say the least. Minnie t-shirt, sunglasses, socks, headband over long, straight pigtails, necklace and earrings. Luckily, she didn't see the Minnie underwear!

And before I leave you, I just wanted to repeat what I had said a couple of posts ago, in case you missed it! Once I start reading the next Super Special (2 more regular book reviews), I think I'm going to do a little giveaway on here and my Twitter. What do you think? Would you be interested in a BSC giveaway? I'm planning on doing some other book giveaways later in the year, but thought I'd start with the books that are the whole reason I started this blog. :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Review: "The Luxe" Series Books 1-4

The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen
3.5 out of 5 stars averaged

I actually looked at this series many times at the bookstore before I bought it. I'm glad I finally did, I really enjoyed it and I have started reading her other series, Bright Young Things too. It's not the best writing ever and there are plenty of small things that I didn't like, but there was just something that made me not want to put them down.

In The Luxe, which is the first novel, we meet sisters Elizabeth and Diana Holland who live in 1899 Manhattan. The book opens with Elizabeth's funeral but not everything is what it seems. There is plenty of drama-rama, gossip, intrigue, sleeping around and incredible fashions.

Penelope Hayes [was wearing] her black mink wrap. The wrap was new, like her dress, which was ivory satin overlaid with black velvet in an art nouveau design-very modern. ... [Elizabeth] arranged her hair by herself, in a neat chignon, and dressed in a white shirtwaist and a starched Dutch blue skirt. ... Penelope Hayes wore red. It was the deep shade of American Beauty roses, and the sleeves of her matching bolero were elaborately embroidered in the same crimson. She had ordered the dress from Paris for the fall season, and was now especially glad that she had. She painted a violent streak of color across the fabric department...as she followed Elizabeth...[who] was wearing a very pale blue, so she might have almost blended in with all those bridal hues, except that her dress was made out of ordinary cotton eyelet. 

These books revolve mainly around 4 young women: Elizabeth (older and more reserved) and Diana (younger and prone to flirting with strange men) Holland, Penelope Hayes (Elizabeth's best frenemy and bad girl du jour) and Lina Broud (the Hollands' maid who will do anything to move up in society) along with a handful of handsome young men: Henry Schoonmaker (playboy who has too much fun with one girl, is forced to get engaged to another, and falls in love with a third), Teddy Cutting (Henry's best mate & in love with one of the four ladies), Isaac Philips Buck (Penelope's bff & gossip bringer and spreader), Will Keller (the Hollands' footman & also in love) and Tristan Wrigley (a young salesman out for more).

I don't want to give too much more detail, in fear of spoiling any of these for you. If you love historical romances or fiction, these are great fluff for that. They have been compared many times to Gossip Girl, which I would completely agree with. I love that TV show, but we are a season behind now and it is TORTURE when we accidentally see a commercial or snippet of it! I actually have the books to read also (got them in the big HPB sale last fall) but I haven't gotten into them much yet. I heard the first one is just awful, so maybe I need to force my way through that one before giving up lol.

Anyway, these books are similar to GG yes, but different also. The main one being that it's set in 1899 duh. :) There's cheating, lying, sex, fights, love, heartbreak, hope, loss and lots more. All the feelings!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TILT: The Joy of Books! Plus Updates!

Things I Love Thursday is simple today...this video. Because A) It's books duh! B) Imagine the time and patience it took to do this! C) The rainbow order bits and D) BOOKS! DANCING! :)

Also, a bit of an update for you...the next books I want to blog from 2011 is the Luxe series, but I want to make a pretty, pretty Polyvore for them, so it's going a little slow. 

I also have 3 BSC books to review and then it's time for another Super Special! Yay! Once I start reading that, I think I'm going to do a little giveaway on here and my Twitter. What do you think? Would you be interested in a BSC giveaway? I'm planning on doing some other book giveaways later in the year, but thought I'd start with the books that are the whole reason I started this blog. :)

What else is new? I decided as part of my New Year Goals to read a classic book each month, to get me away from the YA/Vampire/BSC trap I've gotten into. (not that there's anything wrong with that!) So, I am currently reading Pride & Prejudice at work (because it makes me look smart lol). I have to honestly say that, right now, it is a little slow and I'm not sure what the hype is about. *cringes* But I am giving it a chance, so we shall see. Any suggestions for the next months' classic choices? I'd love to hear them!

I also had another trip to the big Half Price Books in Dallas last weekend (I loooove that store) and came back with a decent haul of books, including the 4th Vampire Academy book, which I will start soon, and The Help, which I have bowed to peer pressure to get lol. Okay, I think that's all I have for now...happy reading and have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

TILT: Pinterest!

Today's Things I Love Thursday is brought to you by the letter 'P' for Pinterest. I love Pinterest, it's such a fun time-waster lol. There are so many great pictures and ideas on there...and OMG, don't search the food boards when you're hungry! You will want to eat everything in your kitchen afterwards, trust me! Do you have a Pinterest account? Follow me on there! Want to get on Pinterest? Comment below with your email and I'll send you an invite!

Here's a few of my favorite book related things...and my whole book board.

I love the colors in this room, but I really pinned it for the READ on the wall...I want to get those big wood letters at the craft store in all different fonts to spell READ over my bookshelf.

Book Christmas tree...next year for sure.

I neeeeed a book cocoon!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review: "Jessi Ramsey, Pet-Sitter: The Baby-Sitters Club #22"

Jessi Ramsey, Pet-Sitter: The Baby-Sitters Club #22 by Ann M Martin
4 out of 5 stars

I'm not really sure why I gave this one 4 stars? Maybe because I like animals? Or because Kristy is being a bossy cow and everyone gets mad at her? I think I definitely gave an extra star for Jessi's picture on this one...it's way better than her first book and that isn't saying much lol.

So it's another normal day at a BSC meeting...Kristy has a great idea, blah blah blah. Then the Mancusis call and they need an emergency pet-sitter for the week they are on vacation. Which just happens to be the same week Jessi is free from ballet and her normal job with the Braddocks. Funny how that worked out huh? Well, Kristy says she doesn't "want any of [her] sitters tied up for a week" which doesn't go over to well with the others, but Jessi gets the courage to ask for the job. That's pretty brave of Jessi, being a lowly Junior Officer who has to sit on the floor and all.

Kristy "allows" her to take the job, but warns her what she's getting into: There are three dogs, five cats, some birds and hamsters, two guinea pigs, a snake, lots of fish, and a bunch of rabbits and turtles. I'm guessing they are compensating for not being able to have kids, which is totally fine, but they kind of went a little overboard there.

Oh, in between all that, we get a sort-of What Claudia is Wearing, which I took liberties on and did quite well, if I do say so myself. Which I do. :)

Claudia also loves fashion, and you should see her clothes. They are amazing, always wild. Like, she'll wear a miniskirt, black tights, push-down socks, high-top sneakers, a shirt she's painted or decorated herself, and big earrings she's made. Her hair might be pulled into a ponytail and held in place with not one but six or seven puffy ponytail holders, a row of them cascading down her hair. I'm always fascinated by Claudia. Aren't we all, Jessi, aren't we all.

There isn't a huge plot in this book, which is kind of odd. You get plenty of Jessi feeding and walking all the animals. There's one small bit where the snake gets loose and Mary Anne freaks out. Also, there's a preggo hamster to deal with, but that's about it.

The second plot is about Dictator Kristy and her reign of terror. She's annoyed with Charlie because he's going off to college next year (or not since they never age) and has been bossing her around. So she's taking it out on the BSC'ers and they are getting piii-iiissed. Plus she says stuff like, "I AM the president, which gives me the right to boss you club members around." Yeah, I'd be pissed too. And all of a sudden, we're in the middle of a BSC FIGHTATHON (patent pending).

Nobody likes their club jobs anymore (except Kristy who was born to lead and Jessi & Mal who are just lowly Jr. Officers) so they decide to have a vote. Turns out they're all practically perfect for their jobs and they all vote to keep everyone the same. *Yawn* Kristy realizes she was being a giant dictator (hilarious Big Bang Theory reference :)) and everyone makes up. *yay* The end. Oh, the Mancusis let the whole neighborhood take their hamster babies; Jessi & Becca name theirs Misty. I would have named it Cheesester (get it? Ham & Cheese? Lol...I crack myself up).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: "The Reading Promise: My Father & The Books We Shared"

The Reading Promise: My Father & The Books We Shared by Alice Ozma
5 out of 5 stars

This is the first of 6 books left over from 2011 that I still wanted to review. It was my second of four 5 star books (non-BSC or rereads) and even though it did have it's faults, I still enjoyed it immensely. Many of the reviews I've seen comment on the fact that the author omits large parts of her life (including her mother's apparent suicide attempt) or that she doesn't really discuss the books that they are reading at the time except for little quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

"To observe attentively is to remember distinctly." -Edgar Allan Poe, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"

I don't think that matters. The author makes her point very clearly: reading is important. "Someday, I will tell my children this story"..."Of how I risked my life for the book fair. And it will make them think about the importance of books, and how wonderful they are." She starts a reading challenge with her father when she is a child to read out loud every night; they end up with a streak of 3,218 nights until she goes off to college. This book is the story of that relationship with her father and how that reading streak impacted her.

What did I like about this book? The passion the author and her father (a retired children's librarian) have for books. Even when he is sick and has no voice, he whispers a few chapters to her. On prom night, he reads to her before her date arrives. And on the last day, they find an empty stairwell in her dorm and end their tradition.

There are some truly humorous parts too, like the "Boy-Haters Club of America" and the chapter where Alice is terrified John F. Kennedy's dead body is in her bottom bunk bed. As someone who spent an entire semester in an English class at college writing papers on the man and conspiracies surrounding his death, I can say with certainty that this is a logical fear. ;)

What did I not like about this book? Yes, the skimmed over parts involving her mother and sister were annoying. Her father's attitude towards her at times was sad. The winter they had to sleep in coats and "typing gloves" hit a little too close to home lol. (Speaking of, it is absolutely freezing in the library right now where I am typing this!!) But none of that was enough to make me knock a star off. Give this book a shot. Make a Reading Promise with your children. Your parents. Your friends. Yourself.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Faves: New Year's Resolutions

Since I didn't get to a TILT yesterday, I thought I'd do a Friday Faves instead! :) Today's is all about resolutions...we're almost done with the first week of 2012 and everyone is inspired to change or do new things in their lives, myself included. I've done the "lose weight", "clean every day", etc... before and well, let's just say I'm still fluffy and there's still stuff all over our apartment lol.

I like the idea of having a word theme for the year so I've decided my word is "ORGANIZE". Organize my house (hanging pictures on our walls finally!), organize my books (new bookshelf?? I wish/hope!), organize my blog (at least 2 a week), etc...I also found these resolutions on a google search and liked them, so I've adapted some of them too:

1. Use libraries more (check! Going tomorrow :))
2. Read one "Classic" book per month (any suggestions?)
3. Do not buy books unless they're going to be read (hmm...I don't know about this one lol)
4. Buy books without looking up the reviews first (great reason to browse in the bookstore!)
5. Reread books (well, I think I already have that covered but I'm going to continue it)
6. Keep a reading journal (see above re: bloggy-blogg!)
7. Read less, enjoy more (great idea! Savor them!)

Are you feeling inspired yet? No? How about some posters and one plate to help? :)

Be More Awesome Than Last Year by HappyTownUSA --I LOVE this one. I have it as my desktop right now.

Be Happy by MBartStudios --remind yourself every time you eat dinner, happiness really IS good for your health!

Be Yourself by VeritasCrafts --because you are totally awesome! :)

Live Like You Want by MoonAndLion --because who cares what anyone else thinks?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Best & Worst of 2011

I thought it would be fun to look back and see what my best & worst books of 2011 were. (Well, the worst might not be that much fun, but we'll muddle through okay?) I'll link back to my reviews when I have them, otherwise I'll just link to Goodreads.

Also, I'm contemplating on if I want to do all the reviews that I am behind on for 2011 or just start over with what I'm reading now and going forward? I know I will for sure do the BSC books. Maybe I'll just pick out the few that really influenced me? Hmm...okay, time for the list!

"The Best" in no particular order:

1. The Doll People series by Ann M Martin-my first review here! These were such cute little books. I picked up the first one as a Christmas gift for my 10 yr old stepsister, I really hope she gives them a chance because I know she will like them!

2. If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman-wonderful, heartfelt, tear-jerkers.

3. Harry Potter any and all :) by JK Rowling-rereads don't really count do they? Oh well, I will always give these books 5 stars!

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (I had the worst time spelling his name right!)-a book that moved me like no other in a long, long time.

5. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma-another book that really influenced me this year; I haven't actually reviewed this one yet but I think I want to before moving on to current books.

6. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books 1 & 2 by Maryrose Wood-2 children's books that I picked up on a whim at the library and thoroughly enjoyed. Might have to review these as well!

7. Various Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M Martin including Kristy's Great Idea, Boy-Crazy Stacey and Mallory & The Trouble With Twins :)

"The Worst" list...but let me first say that this is how I feel about them, you may feel completely different! I'm not telling you not to give them a try, I'm just saying I didn't like them. Okay? O-tay!

1. Crescendo: Hush, Hush #2 by Becca Fitzpatrick-when I finally realized that I don't like books about fallen angels lol.

2. Infinity: Chronicles of Nick #1 by Sherrilyn Kenyon-my stepmom loaned me this one at Christmas and I read about 230 pages before I gave up. It was too confusing since I hadn't read her Dark Hunter books (which I think I had started the first one and gave up on as well) and just had too much going on.

3. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer-basically it's all Kristen Stewart's fault.

4. The Last Summer by Ann Brashares-I think she should stick to Travelling Pants books...speaking of, isn't there a new one out? Might have to check that out.

5. Various Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M Martin including The Truth About Stacey, Kristy's Big Day and Hello, Mallory (you see what I did there? Heh...)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year & My Christmas Haul :)

Happy New Year all! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, enjoyed spending time with your loved ones and got lots of fun goodies. :) I most definitely did on all 3 counts and am ready to start the new year fresh with you lovelies and my books. (Cute little owl graphic found on MyOwlBarn blog)

I thought I'd start off with a Christmas book haul post, because I got so many wonderful book-related things on and around Christmas, I just had to share them! This is not meant as a bragging post but a sharing post btw...I would love to hear and see what you got too! (This is going to be picture heavy, my apologies for those with slower computers!)

Okay, first up is the books of course...my sister got me a huge stack of books because she's awesome and she knew if she didn't, I wouldn't buy her any nail polish lol. She got me the Vampire Academy books (minus the 4th because they didn't have it in paperback; also got the 3rd which is at work already), the newest Morganville Vampires, and the next two in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield.

Then, after Christmas, Half Price Books was having their big 20% off sale so you know I had to go! (Twice actually heh.) I got a great big stack of books, including the 5th Vampire Academy book again while trying to buy the 4th. :( I need to go exchange it soon boo. I've already read Pretties and have started the 3rd Vampire Academy, so I am off to a good start for this year's goal of 130 books on Goodreads!

Also, from my sis I got the last Momiji Book Club figure that I needed for my collection and this cute little Book Owl from an antique store (that a friend on Flickr told me is actually a weather owl that changes colors in the hot and cold! Cool!).

From my mom, I got some fun little pins (some book-related and some bacon-related lol) from BeanForest and SweetMeats on Etsy. Also in the picture is my Momiji pin. I am most definitely not to be trusted in a bookstore with a credit card lol...lucky for me and my bank account, my dad & stepmom got me a Barnes & Noble gift card! Woo...now I can go get all the new releases I've been wanting too!

My mom also got me these 2 amazing prints from Gorjuss in Scotland which I love love love and are going to look great over my bookshelf. We have a major problem with actually hanging pictures in our apartment, but I am making a public announcement that I WILL get these hung up by the end of January, so you guys hold me to it okay? The 2nd one with the little claw hand is going to look really cool next to my Wild Things statues. :)

Okay, so that's my bookmas haul...I hope you enjoyed checking out my goodies and please feel free to share yours! I will hopefully (cross fingers and toes) be back this week with a best and worst of 2011 list and maybe even a review! xoxo, Gossip Girl Jenn = )