Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: "Playing With Fire: Sweet Valley High #3"

Playing With Fire: Sweet Valley High #3 by Francine Pascal
2 out of 5 stars

You all know by now that I love rereading books from my childhood and teen years. SVH was one of my favorite guilty pleasures, although you know, not guilty because I don't feel guilty about any of my books lol. I still have about a dozen of my own copies, mostly the Sagas (can't wait to get to those!!) and the arc of books around Senior Prom and the big accident and the evil twin and stuff (books 95-100ish?)...ugh, so good! :) But I hadn't been able to find many at Half Price (some of the only books I've never had luck with, somebody is hoarding a huge collection of SVH books in their attic!) so I figured I'd never get to do a big reread like the Baby-Sitters Club. When I found some a few months ago at a school sale, I was pretty excited, but they've just been sitting there since then. Well, I decided last week that I needed some good old trash reading so I grabbed the first one that I had, which turned out to be #3. This isn't going to be in a normal review format though and I'm not going to super-analyze it like the BSC books, but just have some fun with it and see what happens (and feedback is always welcome & appreciated)! So let's get started!

Before Reading: I don't remember this one at all. The copyright date is 1983, which is like whoa! My book was presented to a Baptist church library by The International Order of Rainbow Girls. (Which I now wish I belonged to.) I would think this is the type of book the Baptist Church would want to keep OUT of their library, but that's just me.

The Main Plot in 50 Words or Less: Jessica wants Bruce Patman. She gets him but has to change her entire personality to keep him. Elizabeth disapproves. Jessica learns her lesson, dumps Bruce. Sassy pants is back.

The Second Plot in 20 Words or Less: Droids go big, then don't. Chubby girl moves to town, worships Jessica.

Opening Line: "Well if it isn't her royal highness herself." -Todd Wilkins
Closing Line: But they all deserved the pressure, Elizabeth told herself, not realizing the chaos she was about to create.
Best WTF Line: "I get nervous around people who eat all the time." -Winston Egbert

Happenings in SV: The Fifth Annual Rockin' Dance Party Contest opens the book, which Jessica & Winston are Queen & King of; Ken (Matthews?) has a party at his lakeside home; Bruce wins the Sun Desert Road Rally which is some kind of drag-racing thing; The Droids play at a dive-bar called Sand Pines; Bruce has a big 18th birthday bash at the country club.

Fashion Icons: Dressed in a bright blue, skin-hugging mini-dress and matching tights, Jessica was an eye-catching sight. The outfit accented her long shapely legs and brought out the blue in her sparkling aquamarine eyes. Across the room, Elizabeth, in her stylish but more casual wheat-colored pants and tan, striped shirt, also eyed her twin with admiration. Blessed with the same all-American blond good looks, the sisters appeared as alike as identical twins possibly could, but Elizabeth sometimes envied what she felt was her sister's more dramatic flair. If Elizabeth envied her twin so much, maybe she shouldn't dress like a mom running for the PTA President. Also, these outfits were for the dance.

Twin Hijinks: None, although Jessica does buy Elizabeth-esque clothing to impress Bruce and Elizabeth borrows some clothes to go to a club.

Other Thoughts: This didn't feel like a real SVH book to me, maybe because Jessica wasn't her usual conniving self. Also, Bruce seemed odd. I remember him being a player, sure, but not so controlling. He doesn't want Jessica to be a cheerleader? I mean, come on. Most of the people are announced by their full name, even Lila Fowler (who barely had an appearance boo). Winston is a big old nerd and should be happy anyone likes him, even a "butterball" like Robin Wilson. Apparently s-e-x doesn't exist in SV, because even though Bruce untied Jess' bikini top and they had several heavy make-out sessions, nothing else happened.

The Next Book*: Can Liz outwit her scheming twin and make Robin a Pi Beta? Find out in Sweet Valley High #4: POWER PLAY.

*(not necessarily what I'll be reading)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Secondary Characters

I thought I was going to skip this week's TTT on The Broke & The Bookish because I couldn't really think of any secondary characters that I loved. But then I started reading other people's posts and saying "oh yeah! I forgot about him!" or "I love her!" so I figured I'd better start my own list. :) Some of these you've probably seen several times already but maybe there's one or two that reminds you of your love for those in the backgrounds.

  1. Neville or Luna (Harry Potter) --As always, I could have probably done my whole list on Harry Potter. (One of these days, I might just do that lol.) But these two are the ones who pop up first in my head after the trio. They had such depth and growth with their stories you can't help but love them (and wish they had ended up together).

  2. Diana or Matthew (Anne of Green Gables) --Diana Barry is the perfect BFF. Period. And Matthew...oh, I loved Matthew so much. That's about all I can say lol.

  3. Iko (Cinder) --I really need to get Scarlet, I'm not sure why I've been putting it off. I loved this little robot friend though with her fascination with girly things. :)

  4. Claire Pike (Baby-Sitters Club) --any of the Pike kids really, but Claire is my favorite. I mean come on:  "...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." Hilarious.

  5. Minny (The Help) --like I said in my review, I felt that Minny was much more fleshed out than Aibileen and I just loved her attitude. :)

  6. Mr Bennett (Pride & Prejudice) --Elizabeth's father may get pushed to the sidelines over her loud, overly dramatic mother, but he was one of my favorite characters. He had such a dry wit and quiet sarcasm sometimes.

  7. Casy (The Grapes of Wrath) --I felt that this preacher's story was too short. I wanted to know all about him, what really led him to leave the church (besides wanting to be with a bunch of women lol), how he managed to escape the dirty cops, what he could have accomplished if he hadn't died so suddenly.

  8. Fezzik (The Princess Bride) --by and far, my favorite character in this book and the movie. From my review:  Oh Fezzik, you break my heart with your gentle giantness and rhyming words. I would read a whole book just about Inigo and Fezzik growing old together. (Artwork by b-maze on deviantART)

  9. Cinna or Finnick (Hunger Games) --I've only read this series once, right when Mockingjay was coming out, so I don't remember a whole lot of details. But I know I loved these 2 guys. I'm planning a reread soon and I can't wait to see how they stand up in my memory.

  10. Dee (Just One Day) --I hope Dee shows up in the second book at some point. I just really love him. He's such a good person and friend.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: "Dawn & The Big Sleepover: The Baby-Sitters Club #44"

Dawn & The Big Sleepover: The Baby-Sitters Club #44 by Ann M Martin
4 out of 5 stars

This was book 100 for the year for me woot woot! :) And I actually really liked this one, even though Dawn is usually pretty boring and whiny. Also, I didn't remember much about it so that was a nice surprise. But let's talk about this cover for a minute. First, those boys pillow fighting? Kristy would put the kabash on that immediately. And I'm pretty sure the boy in red is wearing one-piece pj's...possibly footies. The girl (?) in the pink is seriously scary, I think she might be an alien. And then there's Dawn's left hand. I'm pretty sure she's just got it sticking out weird, because her fingers are bent funny, but...maybe she needs to take that "places baby-sitters don't touch" class down at the Y.

The book starts out with Dawn & Mallory watching the younger Pike kids. They're all excited because they've just gotten letters from their school pen pal project. They're writing kids in New Mexico who are all part of a Native American tribe called Zunis. Adam is upset because his pen pal isn't wearing a headdress and named Chief Rocking Horse. Luckily, Mal calls him out on his stereotyping crap. Which is honestly surprising, since they stereotype all the time with California girls and New York chic and Asians are smart etc... Anyway, the Pike's learn all about the Zuni people, who are a contradiction with their Pueblos and multi-family living and then their Nintendos and Ninja Turtles. Dawn is kind of jealous that she doesn't get to have a non-white friend but then she remembers Jessi and it's all good. (Just kidding)

We get two Claudia outfits in this book so let's start with one that I think actually turned out pretty cute and I can totally seeing a model or famous person wearing now. "...even the way she dresses is artistic. For instance, she walked into school today wearing a bright yellow, oversize man's jacket with rolled-up sleeves; a wide paisley tie right out of the nineteen-sixties; orange stirrup pants; [do you know how hard it is to find stirrup pants now???] ankle boots; and huge hoop earrings -- and you know what? On her, it looked totally cool.

At the BSC meeting a few days later, Kristy is a little put-out when Mallory arrives late, until she finds out why. The Zunis' school burned down and was destroyed along with several homes nearby. The girls are all horrified, but only Dawn thinks beyond that and starts coming up with a plan to help the kids. (Rivaling Kristy's Great Ideas in this book!) She decides that the kids of Stoneybrook Elementary should have a fund-raiser and food/clothing drive for the Zuni kids. Mary Anne is pretty practical about it at first, warning her that it's a big project and she'll have to get the elementary teachers involved and such. But Dawn isn't put off. She decides to call Jeff's old teacher, at home, and talk to her about it. Mrs. Besser is happy to hear from her, even asks how Jeff is, and is super excited about Dawn's plan.

The BSC is all on board to help out (of course) and Charlotte comes up with the bright idea to have an assembly to tell all the kids. The day of the assembly, the BSCers get to leave school early to go over to the elementary and there's an amusing moment in Dawn's math class when the principal comes over the intercom and announces that all the BSCers will be leaving early and advising the teachers. One of the boys in Dawn's class, Ray Something, (class clown? Isn't that Alan Gray?) says "Well, excuuuuuse me! If I join the Baby-Sitters Club, will I get a day off, too?" Heh. I'd be annoyed too, those girls are always doing cool things and getting away with crap. Anyway!! Dawn's plan is three-fold and to make this shorter, we will talk about the main events in each of those points:

1. Have a door-to-door food & clothing drive: it's not really door-to-door, because the kids just bring junk from their own homes. They dump stuff off in Dawn's barn (I'm sure her mom and Richard are getting sick of loaning out their barn for free).

  • The kids start asking for receipts for their donations, to make sure they get credit. A lot of the clothing is junk, like a polyester pale blue leisure suit. I'm sorry, I think Claudia would totally have stolen that. And then there are silk nightgowns, designer dresses, and running shoes that look like they've never been worn. Also imported chocolates and three jars of caviar. (That must have been the Delaney's.) See where this is going? 
  • One boy, Rob Hines, comes by with donations at least 4 times in a week. When Dawn finds a men's suit with a tailor's receipt still hanging on it, she starts to realize that they may have a problem. Turns out some of the kids are grabbing whatever they can and to sort it out, Dawn starts requiring permission slips from the parents before she accepts a donation. 

2. Have a fundraiser to earn cash money for the school. Each kid is in charge of their own fundraising, which seems really smart. (Where's my sarcasm font?)

  • The Pike kids, along with Mar-Car & David Michael & Linny Papadakis (who doesn't even go to SES??) organize a big backyard carnival. Jessi's cousin Keisha visits to help, but doesn't get any lines (because she's black). Jessi also manages to get this high school dude named Goober (Claire thinks it's Boober the Fraggle) who does a dinosaur show for parties, to come. Not sure if he got paid for this or not. The Perkins girls bring their own dinosaur of a dog, Chewy, who gets scared by Goober and causes a minor skirmish that Mal & Jessi throw way out of proportion.
  • The Rodowsky boys decide to have a yard sale, Claudia draws the short straw (literally) to help them. They have all the kids bring stuff to them to sell and halfway thru the sale, Claudia realizes that it is just like the clothing drive. David Michael brings Watson's collection of expensive old books and Mrs Delaney finds one of her super fancy lamps (again, the Delaney's don't even go to SES and they're so snobby, no way they'd donate stuff). Mr Rodowsky apologizes and clears everything up and the parents are all understanding and offer to buy back their own belongings "for the kids". 
  • Haley Braddock dresses up as Madame Leveaux and tells fortunes outside her house for 25 cents. Alan Gray (who apparently has a crush on Kristy in this one) and a couple of other guys from school come by and get bamboozled by Madame for $2.00 lol. 

3. Have a giant sleepover in the school (elementary? not real clear) gym for all the kids who participate.

  • Dawn gets the local pizza place and toy story to donate food and prizes, as long as they get publicity for it. She also has teachers and cafeteria workers donating their time to help out and a grocery store gives pancake stuff for breakfast. The day of the sleepover, the pizza guy tries to back out because his "special order of flour" hasn't arrived. What, the cheap stuff? Dawn is upset and says she'll just have to go to another pizza place and tada, he can just go to the grocery store and get flour! 
  • The kids all arrive and start having fun. Only two kids go home early. Pizza is a hit, toy prizes are a hit. Haley gets most creative, Rob Hines gets most clothes donated. They play games, read books, and get ready for bed. Kids wake up all night having to pee, they all get sticky at breakfast, and finally the parents show up to pick up kids.
  • And here's where I cried at a stupid Baby-Sitters Club book...a 2nd grade boy, no name, asks Dawn "Is Johnny going to have dinners, too, now? He told me he wasn't having dinners 'cause his house burned up, and he hast to stay in a hotel." Dawn tells him yes and he says "You're the nicest girl I ever met." Gah! Stupid books, shut up, I'm not crying! This is as bad as that awful Christmas song about the kid buying shoes for his mama, which I am NOT going to link to because I refuse!!

So, Dawn's plan was a huge success and they pack everything up to send off to New Mexico, which I'm sure cost a bundle. They send the remaining money in a check to the school principal who sends a letter back and again, I cry at a BSC book!! What's the deal?? I haven't cried at any of the others...oh, no wait, Mimi's book I did :(( But none of the others! Anyway, he thanks them profusely and says that the kids have started their own fundraising efforts and the government is even going to help them out now. Which seemed odd, that they weren't already, but whatev.

And let's end with Claudia's other outfit (which was actually at the beginning of the book, oops). "Claudia greeted us at the door to her room with her hair in a ponytail on top of her head, held up by a huge barrette in the shape of a bone, like Pebbles in The Flintstones. It made her hair bounce when she moved. She was even wearing a Pebbles-type outfit -- a pink, off-the-shoulder blouse with huge polka dots and a ragged bottom over black tights. On anyone else, it would have looked dumb or babyish, but on Claudia it looked cool."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

TILT: Book Pretties :)

How about some good old-fashioned book pretties today? Just things that caught my eye and made me say "oooh, pretty". :) Any lovelies you've found recently and want to share? Comment below!

(please contact me if you do not want your work shown)

Library Girl Pillow by Stephanie Fizer Coleman (on Society6) --my mom actually Pinned this for me and I love it! :) You can get it on a bunch of different things too...I might have to ask for the iPhone case for Christmas!

BiblioTelefono (Book Telephone) on LibriAntichiOnline --found on their FB page, I wasn't able to find it on the website though. It's very cool! I'd have it on a little antique side table with my typewriter next to my comfy reading chair.

Book Sculpture by ClassicNotebook --this is such a work of art, I'd be almost scared to touch it! Reminds me of the Where the Wild Things Are altered book I got in a swap a long time ago; I may have to share that with y'all soon!

Kid's Classics Box Set on Anthropologie --how could this rainbow of stories not make you smile??

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Summer Romance Formula

I like to read light, fluffy books in the summer...who doesn't? So I've been reading lots of young adult contemporary romance mixed in with my Harry Potter and classics. :) Lately, though, I've noticed that they all seem to have a similar formula so I thought I'd explore that here and see what you think. Note: none of this will be outright spoilers for any of the books mentioned, but general summaries that would be on the back of the book anyway. Also, just because there's a formula, doesn't mean these aren't good books. Several of these are 4-5 star books for me! What can I say? I'm a sap for a love story. And I'd love to hear your thoughts (if you agree or not) and suggestions below!

1. It's summertime (duh). There is lots of sunshine, but there will probably be at least one rainstorm that the main characters will get caught out in.

2. The setting is usually on the coast somewhere and near a large body of water (lake, ocean, large pool). Thus, the main uniform is bikinis and board shorts with an occasional sundress and cargo shorts thrown in.

3. Main characters are almost always neighbors. They've either known each other forever or have never spoken. No middle ground. If they are not neighbors, one of them is a tourist, just visiting for the summer.

4. One of the characters realizes that they are in love with the other, somehow conveys that to the unsuspecting other, and suddenly they are in a serious relationship.

5. One or both sets of parents usually disapproves of this relationship because they are: too young, on the wrong side of the tracks, have a giant family, too smart/responsible to fall for the slacker, etc... This does not keep the young lovers apart and usually pushes them even closer.

6. Boy & Girl are super happy, spending their days swimming and playing water sports, eating ice cream, looking at the stars, and watching fireworks. Occasionally one or both will work, but it does not detract from gazing into each other's eyes and sharing their deepest secrets.

7. The BFF (usually of the girl) will feel neglected due to the relationship and lash out at a most inopportune moment. Sometimes she will apologize and help fix things, other times the friendship is completely ruined.

8. The summer and relationship go along beautifully until roughly the middle of July. Then, something disastrous happens (a death, cheating, lying, etc...) and the relationship is put to the test. Usually, this means a breakup and dating other people (bonus if it's a sibling of boy/girlfriend).

9. This drama will continue until about the last 5-10 pages of the book. Then, something big will happen again to bring the two back together. Someone will have an epiphany, a secondary character will convince one of them that they are being stupid, another accident (not life-threatening) will occur, and so on.

10.Both characters will realize that they made mistakes and apologize. They kiss and make up, resolve to be together no matter what gets in the way (50 states, college, ex-girlfriends, whatever) and the book ends. There are generally fireworks at the end of the story.

Bonus: The title has either "Summer", "Boy", or "Next Door" in it. If the book is called "The Summer I Met the Boy Next Door", you have the trifecta of contemporary romance and never let it go. ;)

Books that I have read that fit this formula:
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (review)
The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han
The Boys Next Door series by Jennifer Echols (almost a trifecta!)

Books that I haven't read yet that I think will fit this formula:
How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
The Boys of Summer series by CJ Duggan
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (I'm reading this right now!)
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: "The Catcher in the Rye" Classic a Month #8.2013

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
2 out of 5 stars

Some books have an expiration date of when you should read them by. This book's sell by date is the end of your high school days and use by date is end of your college days. Since I am well past both those dates, this book tasted like feet to me. And I'm going to stop using that metaphor now before it gets stale. Hah! Get it? Stale? Okay, now I'm done. :) Anyway, I did not enjoy this book. At all. Holden Caulfield is an insufferable know-it-all and there was no plot really to speak of.  But, since I'm in the blogging biz, speak of it, I must.

Holden is a 16 year old boy from a rich, talented family who has just gotten kicked out of another prep school. He says he's not too worried about it because the school was just full of phonies anyway. But deep down, he's maybe a little scared about what his father will do. Okay, I get that this is written from his point of view and it's his story and all (oh man, he's got me using "and all" too...that was so annoying!) but it was really hard to read. I feel like anything I say about this book is going to make me sound like a phony, just like him. But he just kept going on and on about all the pretentiousness when he was sitting there with his fancy luggage, it just makes you sick. There see, just like him. I can absolutely understand my 16 year old self falling in love with this book though and just thinking it was the best thing ever, that the author wrote it *for me*. I did the super angsty poetry and everything. Maybe I'll pull some out for another Throw-Back Sunday, but I'm warning you, it's pretty bad and embarrassing.

Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.

When Holden gets kicked out right before Christmas break, he decides not to head home for a few days and kicks around in the city. (New York, natch.) This is meant to be some adventuress story about all the crazy things he gets up to in those days. I think. It doesn't really work. You just feel bad for him and bad for yourself for having to read about it. I'm pretty sure he's got social problems...he doesn't really know how to interact with people, constantly getting in their face and yelling, drinking a LOT, not knowing what is appropriate to say and when. And he definitely has a nervous tick for cursing, there's 3 on the first page alone. I did read in one review that he could possibly be gay, which would explain all his sexual misadventures.

The saving grace of this book was his sister, Phoebe. She may just be in 4th grade, but she sees right through Holden's crap. She worries about him, getting kicked out of another school, and she sees right away that he is so depressed and down that he can't even think of one thing that he likes in the world, except their dead brother. She even saves him the end, changing his mind about running off and getting help. Because he does need help, obviously, and the book ends where it began, with Holden in some kind of hospital or home, telling us about his crappy existence.

Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sleeping Guys in Libraries is Back!

I haven't been going to the library much lately, but I'm here today and what do you know, there's a sleeping guy! :) This guy isn't even pretending to read or anything, he's just like "I came here for the nap." There's another guy near me dozing, but too many other people around so alas, no picture.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: "Twenty Boy Summer"

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
4 out of 5 stars

How pretty is this cover? I thought the heart was made of scraps of paper at first, but it's actually sea glass (which makes more sense duh) and it's just so simple compared to all those ones with skinny girls in giant, poofy dresses running from nothing. But it works. I wasn't expecting so many feelings with this book. When I started it, I thought I was getting a light and fluffy summer book about two girls flirting with a bunch of boys. Instead I got a heartbreaking story about falling in love and losing that love in an instant and how to come back from that. This was really a good book, but it should come with a warning: "do not read in public, for you will probably ugly cry". And how do I know this? Because I read it at work. And I know what you're thinking...didn't it mention the sad bit on the back of the book? Well yeah, but apparently I didn't pay attention or already forgot because I was pretty shocked when it happened.

Anna has lived all her life next door to brother & sister, Matt & Frankie. She is best friends with Frankie and has been in love with Matt (two years older than the girls) since she was ten. She's been keeping this a secret for the last 5 years, but on her 15th birthday, things suddenly change...Matt kisses her. Anna is overjoyed to find that he has the same feelings she does but they are worried about what Frankie will think. They decide that Matt has to be the one to tell her, in a few weeks on their summer vacation to California. Anna agrees but is also conflicted about keeping this secret.

The thought of keeping something so important, so intense, so unbelievable from my best friend for even one more day almost killed me. Never before in our shared history did I hide so much as a passing crush-she knew everything. She'd been there for every tragedy, every celebration, every embarrassing moment.

And then the unthinkable happens. Matt dies, the girls are devastated and Anna has this huge secret. She decides she can never tell Frankie, that she is doing this to protect her, that she won't appreciate or understand. And a year passes. The girls and their families are trying their hardest to move on, but the cracks are showing. Frankie is a bit of a party girl, Anna doesn't bother trying to get any boy's attention, but continues to do her best to protect Frankie for Matt. Anna goes on summer vacation with Frankie and her parents and they all try to act like it's okay and things are moving forward.

Sometimes I think we all feel guilty for being happy, and as soon as we catch ourselves acting like everything is okay, someone remembers it's not.

Frankie decides to make it her mission to help Anna get some "experience" and comes up with her Twenty Boy Summer plan. Anna goes along, for Frankie, but can't even fathom a time when she can forget Matt long enough to like another boy. The grief in this book grips you but there are also moments of joy. Anna's love for Frankie is beautiful, she will do anything to make her happy, even sacrificing her own happiness. Ockler's descriptions of the ocean and the beach made me ache to be there, digging my toes into the warm sand, feeling the ocean spraying my face, and the sun beating down on my shoulders. And also scouting out boys. :)

Somewhere along the seashore, a strange wind blows over the ocean, and twenty oblivious boys simultaneously look up from their surfboards.

Of course, there are boys boys boys. Maybe not quite twenty, but plenty to keep the girls occupied. Some are gross, icky boys with only one thing on their mind and some are wonderful, understanding, cute boys that turn out to be perfect for healing hearts. I wasn't crazy about all the sneaking around they did to get to these boys, but then I would have done the same thing at their age. And on the flip-side, I wasn't crazy about how oblivious Frankie's parents were to her pain and scheming, but I'm sure it's normal too. On the surface, Frankie is all about the Plan but you can tell underneath that she's just a hurt little girl. And it's those moments that really make the friendship between the two girls so real. And the betrayal that happens towards the end of their trip so awful. I can imagine how I would feel at that age if (SPOILER): someone had read my journal and I just cringe in sympathy. This book has really helped me find my love for contemporary romances again...I was in kind of a rut and now I just want to devour them all. :) 

Every story is part of a whole, entire life, you know? Happy and sad and tragic and whatever, but an entire life. And books let you know them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

TILT: Bookmark-Palooza!

I figured it was time for another bookmarks edition of Things I Love Thursday. :) And also, I couldn't find anything else that inspired me hah!

(please contact me if you do not want your work featured)

Crochet Music Notes Bookmark by LittleOwlsHut --this is a PDF to make your cute is that?? I know a few people who would love these! :)

Hold My Spot Metal Bookmark by SnappinStudio --it has a fold over on the back to go around the pages. Genius! And you can personalize them too. Great Christmas present ideas here, y'all! :)

Reading Is Strength: Wonder Woman on MirageBookmark --this is kind of an amazing website...I encourage you to browse in it when you have some free time!

Owl Elastic Bookmarks by Santa Bagunca --unfortunately, I don't think this person has a website, but how cute are these? They make lots of super cute owl things too, wish they had a site! Oh well, I'll just have to go to Brazil someday. ;)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review: "Finally" & "13 Gifts"

I was at the library one day with my sister and wandering around looking for books (they didn't have Insurgent, boo) and came across these companion books to 11 Birthdays, which I absolutely adored. I checked them out and have now added to my "eventually buy" list. This series is so wholesome and good, perfect for the middle grade or slightly younger child that wants a contemporary novel instead of all fantasy or adventure. (There is a bit of both in these though.) My only complaint about these books was that the endings seemed rushed and not altogether satisfying. Well, I was just checking prices on Amazon and found out there will be a 4th and final book released in September that will bring all the stories together! How excited am I? Okay, not quite Harry Potter book 7 midnight release excited, but definitely Harry Potter movie 4 excited lol. So, because of that good news, I highly recommend that you have all 4 books ready if you plan on reading them or giving them to someone. The endings leave you wanting more more more about this cute little magical town called Willow Falls and that strange lady with the duck birthmark.

Finally by Wendy Mass
4 out of 5 stars

Rory Swenson is desperate to be twelve years old and it's finally happening. Turning twelve means all kinds of new things and responsibilities like getting a cell phone, staying home by herself, and getting to sit in the front seat of the car. Rory has been keeping a running tally of all these things and now that her birthday is finally here, she is ready to present them to her parents in a concise and well thought out chart. Her parents agree to go along with everything, despite being incredibly strict before. And Rory's adventure into pre-teenhood begins. ;)

This book is definitely the funniest of the 3. Rory is a bit of a klutz at times and though she is determined to succeed in all her plans, sometimes that falls short. Let's take her birthday morning as an example...she wakes up and is disappointed to find no special birthday breakfast waiting but instead some cereal and a note from Mom saying she is taking little brother to Toddler Yoga Class. No worries, she can use the stove now and cook her own breakfast. That goes out the window when she realizes that cooking is WAY too hard. But hey, she can have a cup of coffee now too! Or six cups of coffee. After getting the shakes, not being able to stand still for a second, and filling out her cell phone chart in a caffeine-induced haze, she decides that coffee may not be all that great after all. Amen sister. I'm a Dr Pepper gal myself...or Dr Dazzle if I'm being cheap hah!

Rory continues to try out new things and learn some lessons along the way about what growing up really means. Some things work: she becomes an almost expert baby-sitter. And some don't: her first time shaving her legs was, let's just say, a huge disaster. And hilarious. (There's blood) But in the end, she gets exactly what she needs and it all works out. Although she can't wear gold jewelry or most makeup.

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
3 out of 5 stars

While Tara's 13th birthday story wasn't on the same level as the first 2, I still enjoyed it. Probably more for the interactions between previous characters than her individual story though. Tara's mom is constantly moving them around the country due to her career, so Tara finds it tough making new friends. She decided a long time ago that she really liked it better on the sidelines and didn't try to interact too much anymore. But when her mom pushes her to make more friends, she ends up getting into a bit of trouble and gets shipped off to her cousin's home in, you guessed it, Willow Falls.

While she is there, she meets a wide assortment of characters, many brought back from the first 2 books. Her cousin Emily, for example, is the girl that Rory baby-sat for. And she becomes friends with Amanda & Leo, who were being very odd throughout the book. (The main reason I'm so glad there is a 4th book coming out.) And of course, she has a run-in with Angelina, the mystical old woman with the duck birthmark. Tara gets roped into a wild goose-chase for Angelina and luckily her new friends are happy and excited to help her.

There is a bit of romance in this book, since the main character is a little older, but nothing too major and actually pretty sweet. Also, Tara is quite angsty for a while which got a little old but she gets over it and gets into finding the 13 items for Angelina, which have a surprising connection in the end. And as always, there are lessons for Tara to learn and this time, some grown-ups get some lessons too.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Graphic Novels

This week's TTT on The Broke & The Bookish is sort of a freebie, asking for your Top 10 in X Setting, but I couldn't decide on a specific setting so I twisted it around to fit my own needs lol. I decide to do my 10 favorite graphic novels, because I think a lot of people discount them as not real books or "just silly comics". But trust me, you can get just as much out of a good graphic novel as you would a straight written book. And if you share my love for GN, please comment...I always need/want new suggestions!

1. Saga by Brian K Vaughan --star-crossed lovers fighting a war between worlds. Romeo & Juliet meet Star Wars. However you want to put it, this is a great series for lovers of fantasy/science fiction.

2. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks --I so wish Hicks would turn this into a series or at least do a sequel. I adored this coming-of-age story about Maggie and her brothers. Teens starting their freshman year of high school would connect with this story best.
*Bonus: New York Four (And Five) by Brian Wood is a similar story about dealing with your freshman year of college. :)

3. Echo by Terry Moore --Terry Moore loves to write about and draw women. And he's quite good at it (though a little overly-voluptuous sometimes). I've talked about my love for Strangers in Paradise before, but Echo is a really good one too. It'd be perfect for someone more interested in science and how things work.

4. Locke & Key by Joe Hill --I've still only read the first two in this series but it is phenomenal so far. My dad keeps asking me if I've read the next two so he can borrow them lol. If you love being scared and freaked out, this is the series for you.

5. Chew by John Layman --this is another new series for me and I've only read the first one but really enjoyed it. About a detective who gets clues from what he eats and all the problems and indigestion this causes. If you gross out easily, this is NOT the series for you lol.

6. Sandman by Neil Gaiman --I can't have a top 10 list of graphic novels and not include this, it would be sacrilegious. I *think* this is the first GN my dad made me read, back in high school. It was definitely my first Gaiman. I know a lot of people suggest you start with one of the later volumes, but I can't remember which one.

7. The Unwritten by Mike Carey --this is the graphic novel for literary junkies, bibliophiles, book nerds. Think if Harry Potter actually were The Boy Who real life. That is what Tom Taylor is dealing with. His dad used him as inspiration for his books and now his fans think Tom is the real deal. And maybe he is? The series has its ups and downs, but stick with it. The last one I read, the fifth, was the absolute best.

8. Fables by Bill Willingham --this is another one I read mostly in high school and actually stopped at Vol 11 (they're on 20 now!) and really loved. It's all fairytale retellings...Rose Red & Snow White, Bigby Wolf, Jack of all trades, etc. (Side note, my dad named one of their cats Bigby lol) There is an adult twist to a lot of the tales, so I wouldn't recommend this for a younger teen, but older to adult definitely. Especially if you have a love for fairytales.

9. Runaways by Brian K Vaughan --these were some of the first books I rated on Goodreads, back in 2008! I loved this series & would really like to do a reread of it soon. In this young adult series, 6 kids find out their parents are Super Villains and try to deal with it.

10. Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan --if you are a dystopian lover (and I know there are lots of you out there! :)), this is THE GN for you! A plague has killed off the entire male species (human, animals, everything) except for one man and his monkey. :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: "The Summer We Read Gatsby"

The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
3 out of 5 stars

I'm not sure why I thought it'd be a good idea to read a book centered around The Great Gatsby when I didn't even enjoy the original that much. But this book had been on my to-buy list for a long time and it had good reviews and I saw it at the library one day, so I decided why not? Glowing recommendation, right? Well, this book was pretty decent and I definitely enjoyed it more than Gatsby. If you're a fan of Gatsby, I'd highly recommend it...I think you'll get the sentiments and references a lot more than I did. Like the title, this is a good summer read, especially if you're one of those lucky ones who get to go to a summer/beach house. :)

The story starts in 2008 and seems to be told looking back, which didn't really work for me. Too much "looking back" and "I should have known..." etc. It was confusing and clunky. Cassie is a 28 year old divorcee who has been living in Switzerland and is now visiting her half-sister Pecksland, an over-dramatic "actress" who has a tendency to call people by their proper name, whether they like it or not. Peck and Stella (Cassie's real name & what I'll call her from now on too) get together for a summer in the Hampton's after their Aunt Lydia dies and leaves them her summer home. She specified in her will that she wanted them to spend one last summer there together before they sell it and also to "seek a thing of utmost value". (Not sure if we ever found out what this was, actually.)

The opening premise is good...I liked both girls quite a bit and really enjoyed seeing their relationship grow over the summer. They started out as two complete opposites (personality, looks, living situations) and it was a lot of fun watching them become real sisters by the end of the book. Peck teaches Stella to live a little and Stella gives Peck a sense of responsibility. I would have bumped my rating up to 4 stars if that was all the book was about. But it wasn't. (<--one of those "flashback" things that are annoying lol.)

There were romances for both girls too and even that part was okay, if a little weak in parts. It was the "Fool-in-Residence", Biggsy the artist, and his plot that I had problems with. Named so after the Fool's House, Lydia had a habit of taking in wanna-be artists and letting the creativity run rampant. The last Fool, a handsome young man named Biggsy who liked to capture weird moments on camera, refused to leave after her death and seemed to think he deserved to stay. At first, the girls are okay with it because he helps with cooking and cleaning but then things start getting weird. And the weird parts are why I bumped it back down to 3 stars. I won't go into any more detail than that though, because I do think this is a book worth reading, especially, as I said before, if you are a Gatsby-fanatic. :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

TILT: Book Nerd & Proud Of It!

I think it's pretty obvious that I like to "nerd out" on lots of different things so I thought that would be a fun focus on today's Things I Love Thursday. :) What do you nerd out on? Besides books, of course! Toys, food, animals, TV shows? Are you a closet Big Brother nerd? (I am!) I want to hear your secret and not-so-secret obsessions!

(please let me know if you do not want your work featured!)

Word Nerd Pendant Necklace by GraceandTruthStudio --I love that they used a typewriter font and it looks kind of aged. It'd be fun to pair it with the fairytale necklace in this TILT.

Nerd Herd Tee by Steve Cluck --possibly the best and least offensive thing to come out of the House of Night series lol.

Book Worm Girly Nerd Print by MessyMissKate --such a cute print! Love that she's nerdy and quirky with her blue hair!

Book Nerd Note Cards by ArtsyLetters --perfect for sending out to your fellow book lovers or with giveaways! (This shop has lots of other neat things too, like these typewriter key earrings!)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Demand Sequels To!

This week's TTT over at The Broke & The Bookish is all about sequels...or the lack thereof. This should be pretty easy (she says, before actually coming up with her list). What books leave you desperate for more or ended with such a cliffhanger that you cried out loud in frustration?

1. Harry Potter --hah, you knew I'd go there, didn't you? Y'all are so smart. ;) I know we had seven glorious books, but I want more!! I want prequels about James & Sirius & Remus (not that rat, Peter, though). I want Hagrid's story and Dumbledore's and McGonaggal's. I want to know all about the children, James & Lily & Scorpius & Teddy. (The James Potter fanfic series by G Norman Lippert helps a lot with this last bit! The first was really fantastic.) I just want to be totally overwhelmed with the wizarding world by JK Rowling.
I want this next generation photo by Mox-ie to be real! :)

2. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares --when I won a copy of this in 2010, I enjoyed it immensely but was super mad at the huge cliffhanger...until I found out she was going to turn the story into a trilogy. I anxiously awaited the next book, wanting to know what happened to the characters...and 3 years later, I am still waiting and it doesn't look like it is going to happen. I think that's even worse than just a standalone book with a cliffhanger.

3. Kiss & Make Up by Katie Anderson --not that this was the best book or anything, but I think it would make a fun series. Trying not to spoil anything, but the ending sets it up so that could happen at some point.

4. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks --a great YA graphic novel that is just begging for a sequel. So many things were left unexplained!

5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver --because the real ending blew chunks. :(

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern --I'd love to see the next generation of circus performers and magicians. Kind of like Harry Potter, I am just being selfish and wanting to see more of this world!

And...that's all I've got. Harder than I realized! Most authors know exactly when to finish their stories and have that perfect balance of wanting a little bit more but being satisfied where it ended. So what's on your list? Any that I mentioned?

Winners of the 80s-Tastic Baby-Sitters Club Giveaway!

Congrats Tahleen & Mary Rose! :) I will be emailing you in a few minutes for your addresses & thank you to everyone who entered...I really appreciate it and I am so happy to share the BSC love! <3

Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: "Stacey's Emergency: The Baby-Sitters Club #43"

Stacey's Emergency: The Baby-Sitters Club #43 by Ann M Martin
2.5 out of 5 stars

We finally, finally get the one where Stacey gets sick from her diabetes and it is so anti-climactic it's not even funny. And pretty boring actually. I was expecting a fainting incident or at least a peeing-the-bed accident lol. Anyway, the book starts out with the usual stuff...Kristy's GREAT IDEA, BFF's, Claudia is a fashion icon, Mary Anne is a big ol' baby, etc...and I don't have my book in front of me, so I'm going by memory and this may be fairly short compared to the others. Hope you don't mind! :)

Stacey is obviously still feeling crappy at the beginning of this one, but she hasn't told her mom or dad, even though her schoolwork is starting to suffer. Duh, doesn't she know that if you have an actual excuse for bad grades, you use it as long as possible?? So, she's feeling bad, is pretty sure it has to do with her diabetes, and what does she do? Steals a package of Ho-Ho's from Claudia's room. I know right?! Scandalous!! Suddenly, Miss I Only Eat Carrots and Pretzels is a chocolate fiend...sneaking candy bars in her room at midnight, taking home a pile of fudge from Charlotte's, mainlining Nutella in the girls' bathroom at school. (Okay, maybe not that last one.)

Suddenly it's time for a Daddy's Fun Weekend in the Big City but Stacey doesn't really want to go, not just because she's feeling like uber-crap but because her parents have really been getting on her nerves lately. They're constantly making her take sides and interrogating her on what the other is doing and then not believing her. Like, Stacey's mom goes over to the Pike house to council Mrs. Pike on hat-fashions and Mr. McGill thinks she's having a torrid love affair with Mr. Pike or something. But of course, Stacey doesn't tell her parents why she's upset (I suppose this is very realistic actually, I never told my parents anything at that age) and ends up going on her weekend anyway.

And then we launch into the "Stacey so thirsty" chapter...on the train ride into the city, she makes about 50 trips to the bathroom, gulping water from the gross little sink in her cupped hands and then of course having to pee constantly. Once she meets her dad, she makes him buy her a giant diet soda and drinks it on the way home. That night, she gets up every hour or so to get a glass of water, which of course her dad hears and is totally worried. When she gets up the next morning and is totally exhausted, she agrees to go to the hospital, where they immediately check her in and plug her into all these drips and stuff.

The majority of the book is spent in the hospital, which makes for some pretty boring reading. Although, I guess if you were sick yourself, you would empathize more with Stacey. I can totally see that, kind of similar to how I connected so much with Stacey's divorced parents book. (Wow, there's like totally something here for everyone y'all. ;)) I think Stacey ends up spending two weeks in the hospital, because the docs are having a hard time getting her diabetes under control. (She doesn't bother telling them that she was stuffing herself with sugary-goodness the week before.) Her mom of course arrives the next day and stays with Laine's family, which Stacey thought was odd, because why couldn't she just stay in Stacey's room at her dad's apartment? Duh Stacey, because your parents hate each other. So much that they start taking turns staying with Stacey in the hospital. She gets pissed after a while and has a little tantrum and asks them to leave her alone for a day. Brat. Of course, everything is talked over at the end when she is all better and she tells her parents how she can't/won't be in the middle anymore.

Back in Stoneybrook, Charlotte, being so overly attached to Stacey, freaks out when she finds out her sister from another mister is in the hospital and develops a severe case of hypochondria. The BSCers of course try to "cure" her, but it doesn't work until Stacey finally comes back home and is all better. Also, the "main" members of the BSC go visit Stacey while she is in the hospital, and since there is no outfit :( I have a special one that I've been saving forever. So here is What Claudia Should Have Worn to visit Stacey in the Big City:

Claudia had borrowed Mary Anne's striped stockings from her Halloween costume and paired it with a teal button-down shirt dress. Over that she placed a cute yellow belt with a heart buckle, her awesome banana necklace and a red infinity scarf. She decided to wear her Day of the Dead sugar skull earrings she had made in art class along with a bunch of beaded bracelets. She had yellow ballet flats on and was carrying a red purse that she found in her mom's closet. Claudia's long, straight hair was divided into three messy braids. She looked totally fresh.

And that's it for this one...I had more to say than I thought! Oh and I totally had this postcard book and the chain letter one, wish I still did!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

TILT: Book Fan Art #2

I decided it was time to do another fan art Things I Love Thursday, but I had a really hard time picking some. So these are kind of all over the place. I'm slowly gathering up artwork to hang over my bookshelf...I'd like to have all different kinds of work but all book/reading related. I just got Terry Moore's 2013 Sketchbook in the mail the other day and I am going to frame the cover for sure. (I just wish the pages weren't two-sided! :/) Do you have any bookish art? Or fan art? I'd love to see it!

(please contact me if you don't want your work shown)

Kavalier & Clay by Anna Rettberg --I kind of like that my mosaic cut off his head lol. But the full piece is very nice, I think she perfectly captured their attitudes. You should also check out the rest of her work, super cool stuff there!

Tris & Four (Divergent) by ??? --I couldn't find the source for this one, which I hate, so if you know the artist, please comment! I'm really excited about this movie and I really need to go get the 2nd book soon augh!! :) (And now it looks like Tris is trying shoot Sam Clay in the head!)

Peeta vs Gale by ApricotTeacup --this just makes me laugh. And Catching Fire is another movie I can't wait for. I think I'm going to do a quick reread of all 3 after I finish Harry Potter for the summer, to prepare for the movie. I've only read these once in 2010 when the Mockingjay craze was going on, so I think I'm overdue for a reread!

The Other Mother Loves You by StravaganzaArt --Deliciously creepy! Coraline is another book I need to reread soon, maybe in October.