Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: "Welcome Back, Stacey! The Baby-Sitters Club #28"

Welcome Back, Stacey! The Baby-Sitters Club #28 by Ann M Martin
4 out of 5 stars

I was 24 years old when my parents split up. They told my sister and I on a Thursday at the beginning of October in 2004. Around 9pm. (A new ER was about to come on and we were mad they were making us miss it to "talk" lol.) When they were done talking, we left and just drove around. We ended up at the Barnes & Noble in the next town that didn't close til 11. (Books are comforting, right?) We were shocked, flabbergasted even. But not really. The signs were all there, just like for Stacey, once we looked for them.

I think this is the reason I connected and liked this book so much. As a child, I was just like "Yay! Stacey is coming back! Woo she's wearing a crazy outfit! (More on that later)". But as an adult, I can really see how well-written and thoughtful this book was. Stacey is scared when she hears her parents fighting all the time...her dad is a workaholic, Type A personality that is hardly ever home and her mom is a bored stay-at-home mom that overspends to compensate. (Although I would call $1500 at Tiffany a little excessive too eek.) They've fallen out of love with each other, it happens. A lot nowadays. But for the kid, no matter what age, it's devastating.

So Stacey does what any self-respecting teen would do in this situation: she locks herself in her room, cranks the music up, and refuses to speak to her parents. :) Of course, she comes out for meals because she's Diabetic (capital D because it's her defining characteristic) but she solves that by hiding behind the newspaper.

Let's talk for a minute about What Stacey is Wearing the day after her parents have The Talk. This has got to be the WORST outfit in BSC history. Seriously. I would expect this kind of clownery from Claudia, but not Miss Sophisticated, I Heart NYC, Stacey Anastasia McGill. She should have her Bloomingdale's card revoked. And she thinks this is one of [her] better outfits-short red pants with purple suspenders over a bright yellow and black sweat shirt. On my feet I put my purple push-down socks and a pair of red hightop sneakers. I added jewelry-a big necklace with wooden bananas and oranges strung on it, and dangly earrings shaped like sunglasses. Then I rolled up a red scarf and tied it in my hair like a headband. My outfit was pretty colorful. [Understatement of the century!] I think I was trying to make up for the gray day.

(click to make bigger or go here)

Stacey turns to her friends for comfort, and while they can't really help her much, they are there for her. Even stuck-up Laine tries her hardest, going so far as to let Stacey use her phone to call the BSCers and her "other BFF" Claudia. Dawn and Kristy give the best advice obviously, having gone thru this themselves. And eventually Stacey seems to come to terms with it, although I'm sure not completely.

Her big issue now is: who is she going to live with? Her dad has decided to stay in the city, moving to a new apartment, and her mom is considering moving back to Stoneybrook. What to do, what to do? Well, unless you are completely obtuse, you've noticed the cover up there with the BSC members rushing to meet Stacey (who seems to have raided her mom's closet). Hey wait...where's the big "Welcome Back" banner?? They always have a banner! Mary Anne got her period? We need a banner! lol...

So she obviously picks her mom, because let's face it: she wasn't that popular at her NYC school after the whole peeing the bed, fainting in the cafeteria faze. She's tres-chic in little ol' Stoneybrook plus she's got her mom who she's much closer to and way more friends and you can't forget all those dang kids needing substitute parents! Welcome Back, Stacey!! We missed you and your poofy, permed hair!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

TILT: Booky Stuff...Random, Yes?

Today's Things I Love Thursday is kind of all over the place with random booky stuff...but that's how I'm feeling this week, so I'll go with it. :)

First up is this book trailer for It's a Book by Lane Smith...I saw a poster for this at my library a few weeks ago and thought it was cute, but didn't realize it was from an actual book. When I stumbled across it on Pinterest, I was pretty excited. I understand the irony of watching a video about a pro-book book but it's still fun. :)

Next up are these aaaamaaaazing illustrations done by Lucy Knisley depicting each of the Harry Potter books/movies in super-quick illustrated posters. They are gorgeous and you should go check them out on her blog, LucyLou and maybe donate her some money for all her hard work! (I did!)

And finally, I have recently (2 minutes ago) discovered the Bookfessions Tumbler and am now obsessed with it. It's funny cause they're true! :) This one also reminds me that I have Half Price Books coupons that I need to use this weekend woot!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: "The Great Gatsby" Classic a Month #3

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
2 out of 5 stars

I really thought I would enjoy this one more than I did. My sister had read (most of) it in high school and liked it, several friends loved it on Goodreads. But...I didn't. Maybe I just didn't get it. I thought about checking out the movie version from the library and see if that would help me understand it better.

Okay, so I know this is supposed to be about the "Great American Dream" even if that's not what Fitzgerald intended when he originally wrote it. Money buys happiness and all that jazz. But none of the characters seem particularly happy to me. The narrator, Nick Carraway, is a young man in his late twenties/early thirties who has convinced his father to pay for a summer "working" in New York City but really he just parties constantly on the small island across the Long Island Sound. He has grand plans to become a "well-rounded man" by reading lots of educational books and getting plenty of fresh air etc...

That kind of goes out the window when he gets invited to his neighbor's house one evening for a party. The neighbor turns out to be the fabulously rich and infamous Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is from mysterious origins, throws huge, lavish parties that last until dawn and doesn't drink so naturally he is very popular and very talked about.

It's a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.

Gatsby and Carraway become friends of sorts and semi-confidants. Or rather, Gatsby tells Carraway all kinds of things about himself and doesn't really care to hear anything about Carraway. It seemed he was very lonely and when he finally found someone willing to listen and help him, then he took advantage of that person as much as he could.

None of the characters are "likable" to me. Maybe they're not supposed to be, I don't know. Daisy, the love interest, just comes across as a spoiled rich girl only interested in keeping her fantastic life of partying and lounging about. I had no sympathy for her, Gatsby, Carraway, any of them. So you tell me: what do you like about this book? Please, explain it to me!

I hope she'll be a fool -- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books On My Spring To-Buy & To-Read List

I'm going to do the Top 10 of my To-Buy and To-Read list today...thanks to The Broke & Bookish for this weeks list! :)

Let's start with to-buy and I'm going to limit this to just future releases because if I don't, it would be like my Top 52 or something lol. (I just checked and it's actually I good or what?)

1. Spell Bound: Hex Hall #3 by Rachel Hawkins: technically I need to buy 2 and 3; I read 1 and enjoyed it but wasn't sure if I would read the other 2. After hearing all the hype though, I think I want to.
2. Lover Reborn: Black Dagger Brotherhood #10 by JR Ward: mmmm....I devour these books when they come out! I can't wait for Tohr's story.
3. Uglies: Shay's Story Graphic Novel by Scott Westerfield: I'm really excited about this fresh take on the Uglies series and seeing it in graphic novel form!
4. Bitterblue: The Seven Kingdoms #3 by Kristin Cashore: isn't this on everyone's list?? OMG I can't wait lol...
5. Black Dawn: The Morganville Vampires #12 by Rachel Caine: oooh....I didn't know there was a new one already! I have to read the last one still!
6. Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson: the first non-series book on my list lol...
7. What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas: looks interesting.
8. The Boy on Cinnamon Street by Phoebe Stone: looks similar to Lola & The Boy Next Door maybe? Which I looooved and will be reviewing soon. :)
9. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella: hmm...she usually does best sticking to the Shopaholic series, but this one looks pretty cute.
10. Where It Began by Ann Redisch Stampler: Oooh...a mystery. :)

And on my to-read list...meaning I already have them and what the heck am I waiting for??

1. Lover Unleashed: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9 by JR Ward
2. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
3. Ghost Town: Morganville Vampires #9 by Rachel Caine
4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
5. Destined: House of Night #9 by PC Cast
6. Extra: Uglies #4 by Scott Westerfield: I think this is going to be my next one so I can review the series as a whole.
7. Hunger: Gone #2 by Michael Grant: these books are surprisingly hard to find at Half Price, I ended up buying it new recently at B&N.
8. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
9. The Princess Bride by William Goldman: I've seen the movie a long time ago but never read the book and the awesome Mark of Mark Does Stuff is going to start reading it next week and I want to read it along with him. :)
10.My last to-read is an unknown...I need to pick a classic for April but I'm not sure what I want to go for yet. Any suggestions? Does Princess Bride count? No? Darn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: "An Abundance of Katherines"

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green'
3 out of 5 stars

So I'm sure you've all heard or participated in some of the hype concerning John Green in the last few months or so. It seems like lately, he's just been everywhere. I'm not even sure where I first heard about him, but I know it was about his vlog with his brother, Hank. (Probably one of the Harry Potter videos lol.) And I honestly didn't even realize he wrote books until my Twitter peeps started talking about this amazing new book coming out called The Fault In Our Stars. All of a sudden, every other tweet was about TFIOS and I was like, "what the heck are they talking about??" And then I looked it up and was like, "ooooh". Yeah. I added TFIOS to my to-buy list because I wanted to be like the cool kids and then when I saw Katherines at the library one day, I decided to give it a shot.

I can't say that this blew me away, but I did enjoy it and I still want to read his other books because I've heard some of them (TFIOS obviously) are better. Plus, this book had math in it and I'm not all about that. Not that the math bits were boring, they weren't. It just went *woosh* right over my head. :) Oh and he's a superb anagrammer. (That's probably not even a word) I can't anagram without pencil and paper, so that's pretty dang cool.

So what's this story about, besides math and anagramming? Well, there's this guy named Colin and he just got dumped by his girlfriend, Katherine. But the thing about Colin is he likes to date girls named Katherine. Or maybe he doesn't really like to, but it just keeps happening. 19 times to be exact. And he wants to know why. And since he's a super smart dude, he tries to figure it out the only way he knows how: by creating an algorithm. Or maybe it's a theorem? A formula? I don't know, I haven't taken a math class in....too many years. Lol...

Colin's best bud, Hasan, convinces him to take a road-trip after graduating to take his mind off his troubles and the pair end up in a dead-end, broke-down, tore-up town in Tennessee called Gutshot. It's as bad as it sounds. Hasan is pretty cool but then not, if that makes sense. He's an over-weight, self-deprecating Muslim dude who is content hanging out at his parents' house watching Judge Judy and not going to college in the fall. Hasan is pretty dang funny. By the way, I've decided to start referring to myself exclusively as 'Daddy'. Everytime Daddy would otherwise say 'I' or 'Me', Daddy is now going to say 'Daddy'. And he's there for his pal when he needs him most. But the use of the word "fugging" got old very, very quickly. And also the Muslim words being mixed felt very awkward and stilted whenever they did it.

There are minor adventures in Gutshot along with some "Eureka" moments but no real story. There's a girl and a guy and a fight. Colin learns things. Hasan figures things out. There's a wild pig chase. And a dead Austrian. Yes, really. Oh, and lots of math, anagramming, footnotes and smart people talk.

What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: "Hard to Get"

Hard to Get by Emma Carlson Berne
2 out of 5 stars

I picked this book up on a whim from the YA section at the library one day. It was an okay read, probably better suited for younger girls (obviously). I mean, I know I read a ton of YA books and they're fine (and awesome usually), but sometimes they really do seem too young. Does that make sense? I don't know so I'm just going to go with it. :)

Val is in high school and has been dating continuously since she was first allowed. After she catches her current boyfriend cheating on her, she decides she needs to take a break from boys and just be by herself for a while. Which is all well and good, but her BFF's don't think she can do it. In fact, they bet each other that she won't even last a month. When Val finds out, she's (rightfully) pissed, but decides to go with it and bets against the one BFF that she CAN do it. The stakes are high (for them)...loser has to wear a hideous purple monstrosity to prom and winner gets to wear some diamond jewelry or something.

Everything is going hunky dory until the guys at school find out Val is newly single. They start bombarding her with gifts, letters, friend requests, etc...the scene where she opens her locker and all these stuffed toys fall out was pretty amusing. To distract herself from all the boys, Val decides to throw herself into her community project for school...where she meets Adam. Turns out Adam is, in fact, a boy. But it's okay, because he's kind of emo and arty and Val would totally never fall for anyone like him. See where this is going yet?

Okay, so here are the things I didn't like about this book (consider these spoilers if you actually plan on reading this!):
1. I liked the premise of Val giving up boys and all, but she takes it to the extreme. This book seems to claim that girls and boys can't be friends at all unless they are "interested" in each other. That's just stupid.
2. Val's BFF that bet against her is kind of a bitch frenemy. She doesn't seem to care that Val is doing this for herself not just so she doesn't have to wear an ugly dress. She constantly throws these hot guys at Val in the hopes of messing her up.
3. The boys attacking/stalking/loving her was completely unbelievable. Like so unbelievable that halfway through the book I thought maybe it was really about a magic spell gone wrong. :/
4. The ending. Obviously, she falls for Adam etc...but she also doesn't want to lose the bet. She ends up turning him down and losing him temporarily. Idiot.
5. The characters were very flat. I liked Val okay, but she didn't have the "spirit" in the end that I would have expected. Her BFF's were just boring. Even Adam wasn't book boyfriend material for me. Meh.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Best Historical Fiction Books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday by The Broke & Bookish is Top 10 Best "genre" books...I decided to go ahead and do historical fiction too. Just because lol.

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--obviously this is my number 1; I feel really strongly that everyone should read this at some point in their lives.

2. Night by Eli Weisel--I read this one in 9th grade I think and it has stuck with me since then. I'd like to reread it at some point. Also, I never knew it was actually a trilogy. Huh.

3. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory--it's been a long time since I read this; pre-2008 since it's not even on my Goodreads list lol. Any Philippa Gregory books (Alison Weir also) could go on this list for me...I went through a huge faze of historical fiction books for a while and I gobbled hers up. I have The White Queen in my TBR pile and I'm excited to get into it soon.

4. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen--a very recent read for me, but one I very much enjoyed!

5. The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen--I think these would count don't you? Set in the early 1900s with plenty of fashion, intrigue, suspense and more! :)

6. Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling--I looooved this book as a child. I think I still have it somewhere.

7. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank--another that should really be on everyone's list.

8. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare--when I was searching lists on Goodreads for ideas, this one popped up. I wouldn't have thought of it on my own, but I remember reading it and loving it as a young teenager.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee--I'm actually about to start reading this for my Classic a Month, but I originally read it in high school I believe? Maybe 8th grade.

10. The Help by Kathryn Stockett--This is also on my TBR list and I was excited to see it come up on several peoples Top 10 lists.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: "The Carrie Diaries" 1-2

The Carrie Diaries 1 by Candace Bushnell
2 out of 5 stars

My sister checked these books out at the library and I was bored one day, so I picked up the first one. It was okay, nothing special really, unfortunately. We've seen most of Sex & The City TV show (in edited reruns) and we own both the movies, so it seemed like a logical choice that we would enjoy the books. We've never read any of the first SATC books though, so maybe that makes a difference?

Anyway, like I said it's an average book about young Carrie in high school. If you've watched the show, you'll notice several discrepancies, the most obvious being that Carrie has 2 sisters here and that she can cook quite well. In the show, I'm pretty sure she was an only child and I know she didn't cook (because she stored her sweaters in the oven lol). It's things like that that really bug me. I mean the author knows how the show went, I'm sure she helped write some of it or at least had some say on the details. Why would she go and change things in a prequel that she knows true fans are going to devour and dissect? Okay, done ranting.

Young Carrie is still very into fashion and writing, but doesn't have the charisma that old(er) Carrie does. She's insecure in her writing and becomes an "anonymous" on the school paper. She lets the cool older chick who dresses like Madonna run all over her and beat her down. And worst of all, she lets a boy make her feel inferior and unsure of herself. *shakes head*

Spoilers ahead for the very end of this book and then on to book 2, which is obviously a spoiler for book 1. :)

I kept wondering and wondering if we were going to meet any of the other SATC girls and it really irked me that she waited until the last page (I think it was the last page? Close enough.) to give us a glimpse of Samantha Jones. Turns out she's Donna LaDonna (Madonna girl)'s cousin (who is now sort of friends with Carrie) and has offered her assistance in big, bad New York City if Carrie ever makes it there. So we get this tiny glimmer of exciting in an otherwise dull book and that one little piece makes you want to read the sequel dang it!

The Carrie Diaries 2: Summer & The City by Candace Bushnell
3 out of 5 stars

Luckily, the 2nd book was much, much better than the first. To me anyway. Carrie is finally in the city where she belongs, she's friends with the wild Samantha Jones, and she's going to become Famous. This is the Carrie I was waiting for in the first book...she's more confident (although still gets taken in by the older man), she seeks out vintage and wild clothes to make an "ensemble", she parties with Samantha (a lot) and she's writing (a little).

Samantha is pretty much the same as in the TV show, except she's engaged...don't worry though, she's only in it for the money lol. Also, she might want kids someday? Carrie also meets Miranda, the young, extreme feminist. Miranda is a total man-hater who protests outside Saks and thinks falling in love, getting married and having children is the stupidest thing a woman can do. And Charlotte? Well, that's kind of a spoiler so you'll just have to read the book and find out, now won't you?

This book shows Carrie doing plenty of stupid things, but it also shows her growing into the strong girl we know in the show (and the other books? I don't know, I haven't read them. My sis is considering it, but I don't know if I ever will.) I'm glad I read this one, especially after the first, but will I read a 3rd if one comes out? Meh. Probably. :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: "Jessi & The Superbrat: The Baby-Sitters Club #27"

Jessi & The Superbrat: The Baby-Sitters Club #27 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

I keep waiting for a really good Jessi book and it just hasn't happened yet. There's another new kid in town or rather, back in town. Derek Masters is a TV legend (in the 7-14 age range) who has moved back to Stoneybrook from LA for a few months. I'm not really sure why his parents keep uprooting him and his younger brother...if they picked one place and stayed there, he probably wouldn't have all these problems making friends. I'm getting ahead of myself though.

Okay. Becca, Jessi's sister, is obsessed with this TV show called P.S. 162 and tells Jessi all about the one kid Derek who used to live in Stoneybrook. Well Jessi thinks this is the most amazing thing in the world and starts doing all this research to learn about him and basically starts a scrapbook chronicling his career. Okay, not really that last part but it's pretty close. She gets Mallory to tell her everything she knows from Nicky, who was in the same class, and hey, I just realized that's supposed to be the triplets on the cover. Weird.

At the BSC meeting, Derek's mom calls and explains that they're back in town and need a baby-sitter. Lo and behold, Jessi gets the job and flips her lid. Oh and there's a fairly tame What Claudia is Wearing that I nerded up a little. :)

That Monday...she had two French braids pulled back and wound into one. She's also a wild dresser. At that meeting she was wearing a bright pink T-shirt, a short red flouncy skirt, and underneath the skirt she had on black footless tights that she had rolled up to mid-calf.

So Jessi is super excited to baby-sit Derek because he's going to be totally rad and just like his character on the show and ZOMG...or not. Come on Jessi, grow up. There's a reason you're just an Associate Member and can only baby-sit in the afternoon. Derek is just a normal kid who wants to fit in at his new school but can't because all the girls are googly-eyed over him and the boys think it's hilarious that he wears makeup on-set. Jessi does her best to help him fit in (inviting kids over to play, taking him to the Pike Lost Children's Center, etc...) but he seems to still be having trouble with John, the titular SuperBrat. 

John does nasty things like stealing Derek's homework, tying his shoelaces together and throwing his lunch all over the cafeteria. But who is this John? That is the question. Nicky Pike doesn't know him, the BSC has never heard of him and they obviously know every kid under the age of 13 in the tri-state area. Are you ready for this? Derek IS John. No!? Yes!! ;) Typical kid stuff, he makes up an imaginary enemy to take the blame for all the bad things that he has actually been doing. Once he starts making friends, "John" kind of goes away until the end when Jessi is like "hey? Where'd that little bully go?" Why didn't Derek ever get in trouble at school for doing this stuff though?

B-side story takes place in Jessi's ballet world where she is trying out for a part in "Swan Lake" and is desperate to get it but thinks there is no chance at all. So she lets Derek convince her she could be a model/actress and her parents actually let her call all these agencies getting info and stuff. Really? I'd be like, "I am not your damn blasted chauffeur. You can do that stuff when you can drive!" I mean, she's 11 years old! She hasn't even gone through frigging puberty yet! Anyway, Jessi ends up getting the part (of course) and realizes that ballet is what she wants to do and gives up on the other stuff. And Derek gets some new movie part and moves back to LA early. Another one hit wonder kid in BSCLand.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TILT: Books. Just Books.

Today's "Things I Love Thursday" is simple: Books. I love books. :)
Happy Pre-Friday!

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