Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Tina's Mouth - Keshni Kashyap and Mari Araki

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 4.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (I really enjoyed these illustrations.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Page Count: 248 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Tina M. attends a "fancy" school. At this school she is taking a philosophy class in which she has been assigned to keep an existential diary. She decides to address her diary to Sartre, who is one of the philosophers they are studying. In it we watch Tina discover how to be, how to grow up and who she really is.

This was a very amazing graphic novel. The illustrations and Tina made it truly fantastic. I loved the idea of a YA graphic novel about existentialism and philosophy. It made a great parallel for Tina's coming of age story. Some people may find Tina a bit irritating or snobbish, but I just took her as some one who had a lot of learning to do. It's easy to latch on to a concept to help define yourself by.  I of course was reminded of Persepolis in the tone of this story. This is a great book that will make you think about it long after you put it down. It will inspire you to read (more) Sartre. The friendships in this were very well done and you really got a sense of each person that Tina hung out with. Definitely check this one out if you enjoyed Persepolis or love graphic novels that make you think.

First Lines:
"Dear Mr. Jean-Paul Sartre,
I know you are dead and old and also a philosopher. So, on an obvious level, you and I do not have a lot in common."

Favorite Line:
"What is nirvana, mon philosophe?"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

This Week in Books

This Week in Books was created by Alea at Pop Culture Junkie and showcases books that were received that week!

For Review: Thanks Viking, Dial and William Morrow
Gilt - Katherine Longshore
When Kitty Tylney's best friend, Catherine Howard, worms her way into King Henry VIII's heart and brings Kitty to court, she's thrust into a world filled with fabulous gowns, sparkling jewels, and elegant parties. No longer stuck in Cat's shadow, Kitty's now caught between two men--the object of her affection and the object of her desire. But court is also full of secrets, lies, and sordid affairs, and as Kitty witnesses Cat's meteoric rise and fall as queen, she must figure out how to keep being a good friend when the price of telling the truth could literally be her head.

Three Times Lucky - Sheila Turnage
Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel--a café owner with a forgotten past of his own--and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known. 

In the Bag - Kate Klise
A successful chef and single mother, Daisy Sprinkle, is on vacation with her teenage daughter, Coco, who picks up the wrong duffle bag at the airport. That situation is not improved by the note Daisy finds tucked into her carry-on, apparently from the man in 13-C. Daisy is in no mood for secret admirer notes or dinner dates. Or even men, for that matter. 

Andrew doesn’t know what possessed him to do something like that. Hitting on strange women on airplanes is definitely not his typical style. But there was something about the woman in 6-B that could not be ignored. Of course, now he has no time to think about her, since his son Webb seems to have made off with a budding fashionista’s luggage. 

Determined to make the best of a bad situation, Daisy cooks up a plan to calm her daughter’s panic over the lost bag with a week of fabulous food, shopping, and museum hopping. Andrew is busy woking on his latest project and hoping Webb finds enough to entertain himself. Little do they know the teens are making their own plan. . . one that will ultimately reunite Ms. 6-B and Mr. 13-C. 

Won: Thanks Regal Literary and Knopf
The Night Bookmobile - Audrey Niffenegger (signed)
Wonder - R.J. Palacio

Comic Book Tattoo - Various authors and illustrators

That's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: The Squirrel Mother - Megan Kelso

Where I got it: Inter-library Loan
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (It sort of sets the tone for the book.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: July 1, 2006
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Page Count: 147 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

I'm going to just go ahead and get started with the review here, since this is a story collection.

My favorite story was "Fuck the Troops". It was completely accurate and talked about how we glorify war and forget our vets. It was a sad tale, but so accurate. I enjoyed all the stories throughout this though and the illustrations were great too. There were stories of love, loss and some that seemed just plain bizarre. Megan Kelso drew upon so many different topics in an entirely interesting way. Each story is a little nugget of wisdom and rebellion. Her brief tales and awesome illustrations leave you pondering well after having finished reading. I will definitely be purchasing my own copy so that I can reread it and lend it to my friends. If you're a graphic novel fan and like stories that make you think make sure you pick this one up.

First Line:
"Once upon a time, there was a lady with lots of children."

Favorite Line:
" Long after thousands have died and peace has eluded the living, concede that is was all a big mistake."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Mister Death's Blue-eyed Girls - Mary Downing Hahn

Where I got it: ARC from AmazonVine
Rating: 3 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (This cover is just perfect. I can't even describe how much I adore it!)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Publisher: Clarion Books
Page Count: 336 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Two girls are shot and all eyes on on one of the dead girl's ex-boyfriend. Nora and Ellie were the girls' best friends and are in shock. They can't get over how close it was, they could have been killed too if they weren't running late. Now it's summer and Nora is left in town all alone while everyone she knows goes off trying to forget. Nora, unfortunately only has the town to keep reminding her of the crime. The ex-boyfriend, Buddy, didn't do it. The cops have nothing on him, but everyone still thinks it's him. Even Buddy's parents aren't sure. He's completely alone and just wants to get out of this town. Mister Death is pleased, even if his kid brother is trying to ruin everything by being so obvious. Mister Death is sure he will never be caught, those girls got what they deserved. This is a story about life after tragedy and the different effects on all the people involved.

I honestly expected a lot more from this story than a bunch of boy obsessed girls. Honestly that's what a lot of this book consists of, even after the girls die. It was interesting getting inside everyone's head and seeing the events unfold through different eyes. Poor Buddy, what a terrible thing to endure, having all the guilt forced upon you while you are crushed with longing for the girl you love. Mister Death was so creepy in his thoughts, he's the kid who brings a gun to school. It was interesting getting part of the story from his perspective though, to see how little it takes to snap the part of his brain that is broken. Girls can be so cruel. It's tragic and interesting that this story was based on a real event. This flowed in a sort of timeline, but each chapter seemed a bit disjointed.I didn't really see the story going anywhere. It was really just about each character being in their own world after the murders. I was expecting a lot more about the murders I guess, something a little more thrilling. I did enjoy the time period though. It was interesting reading about the 50's. I had never read anything by Mary Downing Hahn, but I might check out one of her middle grade books to see if it's her style I don't like or simply this story didn't grab me.

First Line:
"He opens his eyes."

Favorite Line:
"I savor it, let the words roll around in my mind until I can almost taste them, until they flow through me like blood in my veins."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #50

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week I'm waiting on Blind Spot by Laura Ellen. This one has an amazingly creepy awesome cover.

There’s none so blind as they that won’t see. Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer. This unflinchingly emotional novel is written in the powerful first-person voice of a legally blind teen who just wants to be like everyone else.  

So make sure you add it to your Goodreads list and check it out on October 23rd 2012!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Purity - Jackson Pearce

Where I got it: ARC from publisher for review
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 3 stars (I like the color and simplicity, but...I don't know that I'd pick it up if I didn't know about it.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 224 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Shelby promised her dying mother three things: to love and listen to her father, to love as much as possible and to live without restraint. Shelby has been keeping these promises, (though with some loopholes) she has even made a "life list" of things she wants to do without restraint. Her dad has thrown himself into charity work and one such event is the Princess Ball, which he wants Shelby to attend. The catch? At the end of the evening she's supposed to pledge purity to her father. Shelby is trying to figure out a loophole for this one though, because to vow to purity, would either break rule three or rule one if she broke her vow. Her solution is to lose her virginity before the vows, then they will be null and void. Unfortunately this turns out to be a bit trickier than Shelby thought. She has to figure things out and fast though, because she only has a few weeks before the Princess Ball to figure out what matters to her most.

This was a really interesting story. No other novels come to mind that have a girl on a quest to lose her virginity so she doesn't have to wait until marriage. This story was about a lot more than Shelby's virginity though. Shelby had a lot of stuff going on, and the rules sort of guided her life. She clung to them so tight, because they were her way to honor and remember her mother. Unfortunately though, the rules sort of hindered Shelby's life by making them the thing she cares most about.
Jonas and Ruby were amazing characters. Very fun things happen with them. They were just very likeable characters, even if Jonas was often sullen and embarrassed by Shelby's sexcapades.
I had a hard time relating to Shelby in some aspects though, mostly the dad experience. I haven't talked to my dad in a really long time. My parents divorced a long time ago and really we have always been in separate worlds. The thing we have in common is our reading habits (voracious in a way that allows us to ignore everything else). Because of this, it was a little tricky to relate to Shelby and her father's awkwardness and such.  Another thing that bugged me were the ages in the story. Maybe they've been fixed in the final edition, I'll check, but Shelby is 10 when the book starts and less that 5 years later she is 16. Also, she mentions that her mother is 33 but her tombstone reads March 1970- August 2004 which would make her 34. Little things, but still.
 All in all though, this is a highly recommendable book. I loved watching Shelby come to understand things that she had been struggling. He inner conflicts about God and love and life were just so honest and truthful. It was very intriguing to read about Shelby's conflicting emotions about God and his plan. I also loved the lighter moments, cake tasting, stealing a car, jumping off a trestle and plotting to lose one's virginity. Definitely check out this novel if you want a quick contemporary.

First Line:
"When I said it, I didn't mean it."

Favorite Line:
"I'm imminently going to be de-virginized."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: In Too Deep - Amanda Grace

Where I got it: Library
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 4 stars (I love the coloring of the text, but don't really get the cover. I guess it's symbolic.)
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: February 8, 2012
Publisher: Flux
Page Count: 228 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Sam didn't start the rumor.
Through a series of misinterpretations the school is now convinced that Sam was raped by Carter at a party he hosted. This isn't true though. Same didn't know what people were talking about, but accepted their condolences. When she found out the rumor had already taken root. Sam wasn't sure how to proceed. She knew she had to set the story straight, but maybe Carter deserves to be questioned. How good of a person could he be if people believe this lie so readily?

Sam really got herself in deep. I felt her awkwardness and the uncomfortable pressure of having to tell people the truth. It's a hard situation, especially with such an intense subject like rape. There would definitely be people who hated her, because they wouldn't know the whole story. I really thought she should have said something the minute she figured out what was going on. Though, at first I though maybe Carter does deserve this but honestly he doesn't. Even though he wasn't a great guy, rape is a terrible thing to accuse someone of. If they were going to make him out to be a jerk, they should have just called him on the things he did do. There were plenty to choose from. It would have been interesting to have alternating perspective in this novel. I really would have liked to see what was going on in a lot of the characters heads. Nick was such a great guy, and I loved the relationship between Sam and him. They fell together so easily and you could tell the characters clicked. But then you have this horrible guilt/secret/disaster mixed with a bit of bad advice from some vengeful girls and Sam is a mess.  This was a great novel about decisions and consequences. Not only Sam's but Carters and their friends. You should definitely check out this novel if you like drama. Amanda Grace did a fantastic job at showcasing how rumors spread in high school and how some decisions, while obvious, can be hard to make.

First Line:
"'Close your eyes.'"

Favorite Line:
"I'm wearing a scarlet letter, but this one is for liar."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In My Mailbox #131

In My Mailbox brought to you by The Story Siren
For Review: Thanks Hyperion and Little, Brown
Newly engaged and unthinkingly self-satisfied, twenty-eight-year-old Adam Newman is the prize catch of Temple Fortune, a small, tight-knit Jewish suburb of London. He has been dating Rachel Gilbert since they were both sixteen and now, to the relief and happiness of the entire Gilbert family, they are finally to marry. To Adam, Rachel embodies the highest values of Temple Fortune; she is innocent, conventional, and entirely secure in her community—a place in which everyone still knows the whereabouts of their nursery school classmates. Marrying Rachel will cement Adam’s role in a warm, inclusive family he loves. But as the vast machinery of the wedding gathers momentum, Adam feels the first faint touches of claustrophobia, and when Rachel’s younger cousin Ellie Schneider moves home from New York, she unsettles Adam more than he’d care to admit. Ellie—beautiful, vulnerable, and fiercely independent—offers a liberation that he hadn’t known existed: a freedom from the loving interference and frustrating parochialism of North West London. Adam finds himself questioning everything, suddenly torn between security and exhilaration, tradition and independence. What might he be missing by staying close to home? 

The Boy Recession - Flynn Meaney
I loved Bloodthirsty and can't wait to start this one. 
Down-to-earth Kelly is always the friend and never the girlfriend. But as her junior year of high school starts, Kelly is determined to finally reveal her true feelings for her long-time crush and good friend Hunter - that is, until the Boy Recession hits. Over the past summer, an overwhelming number of male students have left Kelly and Hunter's small high school class. Some were sent to private school and others moved away. Whatever the case, the sudden population shift has left the already small Julius P. Heil High in desperate shape. The football coach is recruiting chess champs for his team, the principal's importing male exchange students to balance out school dances,and Hunter is about to become an unexpected heartthrob. Content with his role as the guitar-strumming, class-skipping slacker, Hunter is unprepared to be the center of attention. Desperate coaches are recruiting him for sports teams, and the drama teacher casts him in the lead role of the school musical. Even the Spandexers, powerful popular girls in tight pants, are noticing Hunter in a new light - with a little work, he could have potential. He might even be boyfriend material... In order to stand out from the crowd and win Hunter's heart, Kelly needs a "stimulus package" in the form of cougar lessons from a senior girl who dates hot freshman boys and advice on the male mind from her Cosmo-addicted best friend, Aviva. As if dating wasn't hard enough without a four-to-one ratio!

Bought: some bookish type video games
if you are looking for some fantastic video games I would highly recommend these. :)

That's what I got this week. What did you all get?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Greyhound of a Girl - Roddy Doyle

Where I got it: Netgalley
Rating: 3.5 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (Love it!)
Genre: Middle Grade
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Page Count: 201 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

Mary O'Hara's grandmother is in the hospital, dying. She's trying to come to terms with things when she meets Tansey. Tansey is a little odd, but super sweet to Mary. Mary discovers a lot of things when she introduces her mother to Tansey. Tansey also apparently knows Mary's grandmother and the three of them go to visit her in the hospital. Mary learns a lot about the past while trying to figure out how to cope with the future.

This was a very interesting novel. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but it wasn't this(not in a bad way). It was quite neat though. Mary was a snarky girl and all her female  family members were quite interesting. I really liked them all. This novel was a bit too short for me though, but realistic I suppose. You can't have the tragic decline last for too long, otherwise it's not as dramatic, it's just drawn-out. I don't know anyone from Ireland—but the author is—and the dialogue seems to be realistic, if a bit strange. There was a bit of a surprise in the book which was nice to have a little mystery in such a short novel. I just really wanted more with these characters. I did love diving into the past while the characters reminisced about life on the farm. That was a big part of the story. I think the largest part was just the relationship between the four women characters. How all their actions led to things being the way they were and how they all got to be at this point. This was a quick, touching and slightly quirky novel that I recommend you check out.

First Line:
"She hated the hospital."

Favorite Line:
"Although, now, you threw your sandwich at a seagull."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Let's Talk: Books I Have Read Because of Book Bloggers

Let's Talk is a weekly feature at i swim for oceans.

Question: What books have you read because of the recommendations of book bloggers?

 I only recently started keeping track on Goodreads of who recommend me books, but I know there are a ton of bloggers that I value the opinions of. A lot of the time though, I am turned off of books more so than turned on to them. I'm not saying that I see a negative review and automatically decide not to read it, but sometimes someone will say like "there was so much bodice-ripping romance!" and I'll think O_o maybe not for me. I think that book bloggers influence people, even if it's not directly from their blog. I get a lot of recommendations on Twitter and Goodreads. I think most book bloggers post their reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and those reviews help people decide if a book is for them or not. Maybe people don't come to my blog to see reviews, but they read my reviews in one of the million other places that I post. As the head of the YA department at my library, I am always talking about books. I tell kids about books and fellow librarians and EVERYONE! So I think bloggers are super important, because early reviews help librarians decide which books to order and we don't always trust the industry reviews ;)

I have had the pleasure of being recommended some fantastic titles from fellow book bloggers though. One that comes to mind because I adored it is one that Irish from Ticket to Anywhere recommended. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. It was such an amazing read, and I'm so glad she made me read it.

A lot of the time bloggers don't necessarily recommend books just to me, but talk so much about how much they love the, (like Melissa and Raw Blue) that I am dying to read them, because they must be fantastic. This happens a lot with books that have little publicity or covers that don't quite work for me. I'll read a review and know that it is a great pick for me.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book and Movie Review: Thin - Lauren Greenfield

Where I got it: Inter-library Loan
Rating: 4 stars  
Cover Rating: 5 stars (The photographs in this are
Genre: Non-fiction
Publication Date: October 12, 2006
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Page Count: 192 p.
Buy it: Book Depository / Amazon
Add it: Goodreads

So I'm going to be reviewing the movie and book sort of together, because they are pretty much the same thing. The documentary took four of the girls from the book and followed them around during their treatments and such in Renfrew. I'm not sure how I feel about Renfrew. I mean it seems okay at times, but having never been to a facility like that, I don't really have much to compare it to. The therapist Adam seemed like the best person in that whole place. He was one of the few who seemed to really care about the women and whether or not they got better. The thing I enjoyed most about the book versus the movie was the variety of women and ages. I feel like the girls in the movie, were all practically the same, whereas the book had much older and young women in it as well as an over eater. One thing that seemed strange to me about Renfrew was the overweight staff. Some of the nurses and such were quite fat. It seems like that would scare the girls more than it would help them. You're supposed to show them a healthy alternative to what they are currently at. I think that when they see these overweight women it would just make them feel even more uncomfortable about eating and gaining weight. The photographs were amazing, some were completely breathtaking in their raw intensity and truth.
Here's a tamer example of the photographs inside. That's the same girl. On the left is when she first arrived and the right is ten months later. It's crazy to think of how small some of these women came in at. Under 80 pounds some of them! I've always been fascinated with eating disorders. There is such a stigma around them. Many people don't believe it's an actual disease. I think very often it is. It's usually not the only problem either. I think the documentary and book both showcased the disease in a different light. It showed the struggle each of the girls face, not only in treatment but afterwards too. These are very eyeopening and I hope many people will look at and watch Thin. It is powerful and honest. 

First Line:
"Every girl is affected by the desire to be thin."

Favorite Lines:
 "I feel like I shouldn't even have this disorder. There are people here who have been sexually abused and come from parents who are just horrible. I had a wonderful childhood."


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