Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I've Added to my To-Be-Read Shelf Lately

Today's The Broke & The Bookish topic: 10 books I've added to my TBR shelf. Easy right? I count TBR as books that I physically own, so this should be even easier. Tell me what books you've added to your shelf lately! And hey, what should I read next?? Here's a quick snapshot I took of my to-read books, almost exactly 2 months ago:

1-3 a handful of free eBooks: Friends with More Benefits (Luke Young), Cinema Lumiere (Hattie Holden Edmonds), The Story of Awkward (RK Ryals)

4-7 several graphic novels: X-Men: Days of Future Past & Present (Chris Claremont), Locke & Key: Vol 6 (Joe Hill), Shadow Kiss: Vampire Academy #3 (Richelle Mead)

8 I Will Always Love You: Gossip Girl #12 (Cecily Von Ziegesar)

9-10 some old school: A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle), Izzy, Willy-Nilly (Cynthia Voigt)

And bonus: the 2 oldest books on my TBR shelf, both from 2008 eek!!: Odd Hours: Odd Thomas #4 (Dean Koontz), A Lion Among Men: The Wicked Years #3 (Gregory Maguire)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: "A Room with a View"

A Room with a View by EM Forster
3.5 out of 5 stars

You may have noticed that I ended my Classic a Month challenge in December. It was starting to feel like required school reading and I'm sure you all remember that that always sucked all the interestingness out of any book. But towards the beginning of this month, I decided I wanted to read a classic again and I picked this one. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. It was a light, fluffy read...probably considered a contemporary romance in its time. (Reminder: spoilers abound.)

Lucy Honeychurch is a young woman of "society" in a small town in England. She is on a vacation (roadtrip) with her cousin/chaperone, Charlotte, in Italy when she meets the Emersons. Mr Emerson is a strange older man who says what he is thinking and doesn't care who hears him. "My dear, I think that you are repeating what you have heard older people say. You are pretending to be touchy; but you are not really. Stop being so tiresome, and tell me...what you want to see." George, his son, is a silent young man who seems to catch Lucy's curiosity but not her eye. As a "commoner" he is obviously beneath her but she does find him interesting.

While out on her own one afternoon, Lucy witnesses a violent crime and is understandably shook up over the whole thing. George happens to be there too and helps her deal with it and the two have a "secret moment". They soon find themselves in the same group of peers, going on outings and picnics together. At one of those picnics, George gets swept up in his emotions and does the unthinkable...he kisses Lucy. *Gasp* How dare he??! Lucy is outraged and immediately asks Charlotte to take them away.

The second half of the book follows Lucy's return home and her engagement to rich, respectable Cecil. Cecil is the good choice, the smart one. So why can't Lucy stop thinking about those Emersons? It's made even worse when, thru a series of happenstances, the father & son move to town and become a part of their social circle once more. Lucy finds herself drawn to George again and again and it becomes the classic struggle: marry for money or love? I'll let you guess which she chooses in the end. ;)

"You love the boy body and soul, plainly, directly, as he loves you, and no other word expresses it. You won't marry the other man for his sake."
"It isn't possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal."

And now I have a confession to make: I thought the author was a woman until about halfway thru the book. I then read the forward (which always spoils the book, I don't understand that!) and found out that this was actually written by a man. And it kind of changed how I viewed the book after that. Passages like this soon had a negative connotation:

It was unladylike. Why? Why were most big things unladylike? It was not that ladies were inferior to men; it was that they were different. Their mission was to inspire others to achievement rather than to achieve themselves.

Written by a woman, it sounds like sarcastic wit but by a man, it's condescending. Why is that? Have you ever had your view of a book changed after finding out something about the author? I want to hear about it, so comment please!
(pictures done by me)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: "Saga: Vol 4"

Saga: Vol 4 by Brian K Vaughan
4 out of 5 stars

Seriously, I say this every time but this series just keeps getting better and better! This review will have spoilers for vol 1-3, so if you haven't read those yet, go check out my review of 1 here! (and 2 and 3)

This volume picks up with the last...a year or so down the road. And of course, we don't get caught up with everything that's happened in those months, we just get thrown into the current story. Hazel is an adorable, bouncing toddler. Marko & Alana are hiding out on a new planet, where Marko is the stay-at-home dad and Alana is acting "incognito" on the open circuit (think super trashy tv that the audience can interact with). Prince Robot's son is born, but dad is still missing or dead. King Robot makes an appearance though and he is awesome. (That's all I'll say lol.) The authorities seem to have stopped looking for the outlaws...for now. Things seem to be finally looking up for the star-crossed lovers.

Until they're not. What do you expect? It wouldn't be an interesting story if everything was hunky dory all the time. There's a new political radical out there and he's determined to get some justice for the underdogs, no matter who he has to kill. (And he kills a LOT.) Alana & Marko's relationship is feeling the strain of living a double life and it isn't helped by Alana getting into party drugs at work. Marko's mother is doing well, remembering Mister Heist by reading his trashy novels. Speaking of Heist, one of his ex-wives makes an appearance in this volume and causes trouble, possibly accidentally?

It's kind of hard to discuss much more of this story without some kind of slight spoilers/surprises, so stop here of you haven't read it yet and want to be totally surprised. Did you stop? Okay, good. When Sophie & Lying Cat showed up suddenly about halfway thru the story, I was honestly shocked to see them. I had totally forgotten about my 2 favorite characters! Almost 8 yr old Sophie is adorable with her hipster cape and glasses. And LC (as Sophie calls her) ugh...I love her so much. And even Gwendolyn, their caretaker, is growing on me. Especially when you find out what she's up to. And who she's going to be working with in the future.

And let's end with my favorite page from this volume (there's always at least one that totally grabs me or in this case makes me actually laugh out loud).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

TILT: Be a Proud Nerd!

Yay, it's pre-Friday! :) I need some Things I Love Thursday today, how about you? This was a no brainer: I am totally obsessed lately with quirky/weird graphic tees. I would buy every one of these plus a dozen more if I had the money. What are you obsessed with lately? Do you have a favorite bookish tshirt? I want to see it!

(if you do not want your item featured, please contact me!)

Wha'cha Reading? Giraffe on Zazzle by Redqueenself  -He has glasses!! So cute!

Read to Me on BookRiot -love the conversation heart look.

meet me at the library by Abjectbirth -perfect for...a day at the library? I think so! :)

I'd Rather be Reading by LittleAtoms -I love the color & style of this tshirt. Bonus: it's on clearance right now, so hurry and go buy it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: "The Geography of You & Me"

 The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith
4 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book! This is probably my favorite by Smith now. It's a typical young adult contemporary romance in a lot of ways, but it was really sweet too. Set in New York City, we've got upper-class, private school, penthouse Lucy and lower-class, public school, basement Owen. Both are kind of stuck in their own heads a lot of the time and barely notice the other until they get stuck in their apartment elevator during a blackout one afternoon.

They're kind of forced to look up and see each other then. As the two start to talk, out of necessity, they find that they aren't as different as they thought. Both are alone in the big city, with no friends to speak of, and nothing to do. Owen is a tad more pessimistic, with good reason...his mother died recently and his dad moved them to NYC for the apartment job. Owen doesn't like the city, the crowds, the noise, you name it. But he can't, won't leave his dad. Lucy is a city girl, kind of like Ms. Stacey McGill, but she feels abandoned as her parents go off on trips around the world and her twin brothers head off to college.

Her parents' lives had always seemed to run parallel to their children's. They weren't so much a constellation, the five of them, as a series of scattered stars. There had always been something far-flung about their family, even when they were all in the same place.

After Lucy & Owen get out of the elevator, they spend the evening together, roaming the city in the dark, getting free ice cream, watching the sea of businessmen walking home among the quiet streets, and eventually end up on the roof of their apartment. They really connect there and talk well into the night.

"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?"

There's a nice little bit, where Lucy says she wants to go to Notre Dame and see Point Zero, and it immediately reminded me of Anna & The French Kiss. I wonder if that was intentional. Anyway, the next morning Lucy wakes up on the roof alone. Owen is gone and she doesn't hear from him again. For weeks really. The two go their separate ways, like nothing happened. They are apart for most of the book, which kind of makes for an odd romance book, if you think about it. But this isn't just another romance book, it's also about journeys. Lucy finally gets to go to Europe with her parents and learns that she doesn't always want or like to be so self-sufficient. Owen and his dad head across America, trying to find a home and a way to live as two instead of three. As they travel away from each other, Lucy & Owen keep in touch with postcards, cheesy pictures with unsentimental notes of "wish you were here". But really, they do. They have gotten closer, made a connection, without even realizing it.

If you were to draw a map of the two of them, of where they started out and where they would both end up, the lines would be shooting away from each other like magnets spun around on their poles. The map was as good as a door swing shut. And the geography of the thing - the geography of them - was completely and hopelessly wrong.

So. Do they get together again? Maybe. Does it matter? Probably not. It's all about where they end up and what they do once they get there. Who they become. And why.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Have/Want to Reread from my Childhood

The Broke & The Bookish are visiting a topic near and dear to me today...childhood favorites! As you may already know (or not), I like to reread my childhood/teen favorite books all the time. So this is pretty easy for me. I decided to split it into two parts though: first up are ones that I have already read in the last few years.

In no particular order:
Baby-Sitters Club (duh) -isn't it funny how I thought I could read and review the whole series in a year?? (haha...nope) I did just read Dawn's Big Date and oh boy, wait til you see the outfits in this one!!

Sweet Valley High -I really can't wait until I get to the "Night to Remember" saga, so much good/crap reading!!

A few Lois Duncan, including Killing Mr Griffin -I don't really get why or how "they" decide to update books, but there's usually no need. This was one of those cases.

Christopher Pike is my scary bad boy for life lol. They're like the Halloween version of SVH.

Bad News Ballet -I loved the first two and would like to get more of the series eventually. Who didn't want to be a ballet dancer in the 80s??

Pippi Longstocking -reading Pippi as an adult was hard. She's better left to the bright imaginations of the young.

Nancy Drew -another one that was hard to read.  Who gets hit on the head that many times without some permanent damage?!

Wayside School -these are such silly books, it's hard not to get caught up in them, even as an adult.

To Kill a Mockingbird -who else is ecstatic yet apprehensive about the sequel coming out this summer??

And now some books/series I want to reread in the future:

More BSC & SVH obviously :)

Camp Sunnyside Friends series, if I ever find any of them. I remember wanting to go to summer camp so freaking bad as a kid!

Sleepover Friends series -I actually have a good stack of these already, but I've been waiting til I get thru my SVH books first.

Odd Thomas series -I devoured Dean Koontz books as a teenager and I loved this series, but never finished it.

Indian in the Cupboard -I loved this series as a kid! One of the few books that I think might be more geared towards boys that I read too? Either way, it was great!

Where the Red Fern Grows -this was one of the first books that I remember making me cry.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: "Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story"

 Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan
3 out of 5 stars

I'm not really sure how I felt about this book, even a week later. I really enjoyed Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I loved Tiny (like everyone else) so I was pretty excited to hear that he was getting his own story. And when I saw it was going to be available early at the NTTBF, I was over the moon. Then I opened it and saw the...interesting format. Maybe you haven't heard of this book yet and want to be completely surprised? If so, stop reading here.

Before going further, I recommend putting on your favorite musical soundtrack or Broadway playlist in Pandora. It really sets the mood. :) Tiny Cooper is written as a "musical novel", which essentially means it is his musical script (from the end of WG2) with extra notes about stage direction, how the actors should be feeling at certain times, and whatever Tiny seems to be thinking at the time. Most of the story is told thru song, which is honestly a little hard to read, even if you are "musically inclined". I think it would make an excellent audio book though, I can totally see/hear that!

Aside from the format, we've got the story itself...which is basically Tiny's story in WG2. There really isn't any new material and that made me sad. I think that does a disservice to Tiny, in a way. I mean yes, there are some really beautiful parts to his story, such as when he finally comes out to his parents and they are completely understanding or when Tiny tries to figure out what is missing in his life. (Fun fact: "Without Love" from Hairspray is playing right now.)

I was hoping to see Tiny grow (not literally lol) though and *spoiler: highlight* maybe get back with boyfriend WG or at least be happy with himself. Or even Tiny in college. Wouldn't that be great? Maybe there will be another WG2 or Tiny Cooper story in the future. Even if it's another musical novel, I would still read it. Also, it's too bad Glee is over now because they would rock a Tiny Cooper musical!!

Maybe there is something you're afraid to say, or someone you're afraid to love, or somewhere you're afraid to go. It's gonna hurt. It's gonna hurt because it matters.

But I just fell and landed and I am still standing here to tell you that you've gotta learn to love the falling, because it's all about the falling.

Just fall for once. Let yourself fall!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Review: "Texas Gothic" & "Spirit & Dust"

Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
4 out of 5 stars

My middle sister told me about this book awhile back so when I saw it at Half Price one day, I decided to go ahead and get it. I read it last week because I wanted to have it done before I met the author at NTTBF and I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed it! So much that I went and checked out the sequel (below) at the library and finished it Saturday morning right before the festival. :)

Texas Gothic is an interesting blend of magic and old Texas history. And within that magic, there is something we don't see very often: witches mixed with science mixed with ghosts. Amy Goodnight is a witch from a long line of witches, but she doesn't like to admit it. She wants to be normal (who doesn't) and that's hard to do when her sister Phin is creating ray guns to monitor a ghost's "footprint".

I was the designated grown up in a family that operated in different reality than the rest of the world.

Amy & Phin are spending the summer house-sitting for their Aunt Hyacinth and unfortunately they have a lot more trouble than just keeping the goats from escaping. There seems to be a ghost on the loose and he's terrorizing people on the ranch next door. Said ranch just happens to be owned by a young handsome cowboy who immediately clashes with Amy and doesn't believe in ghosts, magic, or any of that other nonsense. Amy is dragged into the mess against her will when the ghost seems to become attached to her and she starts Nancy Drew-ing around.

"Those books were highly unrealistic. Do you have any idea how much brain damage a person would have if she were hit on the head and drugged with chloroform that often?"

Cowboy Ben's main irritation stems from the anthropologists digging up his land after a skeleton is found. (And it's questionable whether this is Amy's ghost or not.) Local ghost stories merge with scientific facts until it's hard to tell who the villain is, dead or alive. It was so interesting to read a story based in Texas that included the history of its land and local legends but wasn't completely stereotypical. Yes, there were cowboys and cattle but it didn't bash you over the head with "yeehaws" and "y'alls".

Spirit & Dust
3 out of 5 stars

This companion novel focuses on Daisy Goodnight, cousin to Amy & Phin, and voice of dead people everywhere. Daisy is sassy, sarcastic, and a lot of fun. She's also barely 17 and assists the FBI in missing persons cases. When she's pulled out of her chemistry class to help on a case in Minnesota, she doesn't expect it to be any more unusual than her other cases. But it is, from the first moment she talks to the dead guy in a dirty alley.

There's a lot more going on in this story than the first and I think that somewhat detracts from it. We've got the ghosts sure, but then there are super powerful witches, people with other kinds of powers, dead people living in objects, dead people rising from the beyond, dead people going to the beyond, dead people everywhere lol. And that's not even counting the mobsters or the freaky things that happen at the museums. (I know, you're thinking "what museums??" but you should really be focused on the mobsters.)

I liked the story overall, but didn't love it like the first. It was maybe a little too smart for me at certain points, when Daisy & mobster Carson were researching Egyptian mythology and the like. I enjoyed the museum parts (I know, again with the museums. Just read it and see!) in that it felt like the movies Night at the Museum. I'm a sucker for lame children's movies like that and this had that same kind of "impossible, but maybe it could happen" feel.

Monday, March 9, 2015

North Texas Teen Book Festival

This past Saturday I got to go to the first ever North Texas Teen Book Festival (NTTBF from now on) and I had such a great time, that I was finally inspired to break my blogging slump to talk about it. :) It was a free event (which made it 10x better lol) and I took my middle sister with me, because she is an awesome book nerd just like me!

I was super excited Saturday morning, but I had to finish the book I was reading before I went lol. (Spirit & Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore, which I'll be reviewing this week) Then I put on my pop-art comic dress, made sure my "Mischief Managed" tattoo was still there, and went off to pick up my sister.

There were 50+ young adult authors in attendance and they had panels all day long, which was so great. The only problem was there were 5-6 panels each hour and you had to pick which ones to go to...so hard! The first one we went to was about dystopian & sci-fi futures with Ally Condie and a few others. (I didn't really know any of them.) The second was one I was really looking forward to: "My True Love Gave to Me", about Stephanie Perkins' wonderful holiday anthology. Perkins, Ally Carter, Jenny Han, and David Levithan were there and it was so great. Perkins talked about her battle with depression and how this anthology really helped her break out of it and then about her next project, Summer Days & Summer Nights. Can't wait for that! B went up and asked a question: "what kind of music do you listen to when you write?" Ally Carter sometimes listens to "Wrecking Ball" on repeat lol. And afterward, we got to meet the amazing Stephanie Perkins and take a picture with her! I got B into Anna and the French Kiss so this was really exciting for both of us. :)

At noon, I had to go to the "867-5309 Jenny" panel...because, you know, I'm a Jennifer lol. There was a panel full of Jenn* authors and it was loads of fun. Some interesting facts: most Jennifers have the middle name of either Lynn or Elizabeth, would have been named Jason if a boy, and the majority were born in 1980. :) After, all the Jennifers took a picture together and we got a bookmark signed by all the authors.
(Jenn* pic courtesy of @JenBigHeart)

The last panel we went to was "Thrill Ride" picked by B because it had one of her favorite authors, Rosemary Clement-Moore (yep, the one I was reading that morning). That one was fun. We found out everyone's phobias and that monkeys were little balls of fluffy death (or something like that lol). My sister got to talk to Rosemary afterwards and she was pretty excited about that.

And now I have to talk about the not-so-great parts. :( First was the cafe, which I'm sure was not really the fault of the NTTBF organizers. Everyone converged on the cafe at once after each panel and was such a ridiculously small area that we waited around 30 min just to get thru the line to pay for our outrageously expensive hamburgers. (Seriously, $2 for a bag of chips???) Then there was the author signings. They started at 3:30 til the event closed at 5:30ish. Our last panel ended around 2:45 and we went straight down there to get in line...but they were already closed. The authors were split up in 3 different areas, but all the big ones (Perkins, Han, Levithan, etc...) were in the Grand Ballroom, which was not really that grand. They had the lines capped off inside the room and then there was a line forming outside the room to get inside already. It was not great. B managed to get her book signed in a smaller room (along with the other 2 she already had), but I didn't get any of my 4 signed that I brought. Luckily, I don't really care too much about having a signature in my book. (My other sister offered to go sign all my books while I was gone. I declined lol.) I understand this was the first convention and I really hope they learn from their mistakes for next year, because otherwise it was a really wonderful day.

And so I'm not ending on a sour note, let's take a look at the actual books that I bought there, okay? Of course, there were tons of books for sale by Half Price Books (another small issue I had...the books were all regular price, even those that had been out for years. Greedy.) I picked up 2 newish ones: Adi Alsaid's Let's Get Lost and Jennifer E Smith's The Geography of You & Me; 1 that I read a while back & really wanted still: Sara Zarr's The Lucy Variations (review here); plus 1 that will be out in a few weeks: David Levithan's Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. This one is much anticipated, the companion/sequel to Will Grayson, Will Grayson and I'm pretty excited to start it. I also bought B Lola & The Boy Next Door. :) So that was our day...wonderful and exciting with a few small hiccups and now I have to go find room on my bookshelves for these new books. Eeep!!