Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (2)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and this week's topic is Top 10 Books That Should Be in a Beach Bag.

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Need I explain this?

2. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
When I think of summer, I instantly think of trips and Ginny's quirky trip is one I definitely want to take.

3. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Any of Dessen's books should be in a beach bag, but this one is a favorite and it is appropriately set during summer.

4. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
A cute, campy road trip book full of images, playlists and other fun doddles.

5. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Pageant girls + desert island = lots of laughs!

6. Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
A rockin' book about summer camp and the awesome people as well as the not-so-cool ones you might meet. I wish my camp experience was a fun-filled as the one in this book.

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Nothing in this book is light, fluffy, cute - characteristics associated with summer books. Why is this book on the list? Because it is addicting and consuming. Just remember to put on sun screen before you start, because you are not going to want to stop.

8. How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt
Besides traveling, the other of my favorite things to do in summer is to volunteer. Reinhardt's combines both of these things in a young girl's service trip to Tennessee to build a house for a family that lost theirs in a tornado.

9. Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson
I actually haven't read this yet, but this is one of my beach bag books this summer. The premise reminds me of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, except this story takes place in Italy! One of the countries on my to visit list.

10. Shark & Boys by Kirsten Tracy
Also another book that I haven't read yet, but in my beach bag. The premise sounds like it's going to be a humorous fun read.

That's it for my list. What's books would you put in your beach bag?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wondrous Words (11)

Source: (we♥it)

"What should I do about the wild and the tame? The wild heart that wants to be free, and the tame heart that wants to come home. I want to be held. I don’t want you to come too close. I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at nights. I don’t want to tell you where I am. I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me. I want to be with you."
- Jeanette Winterson

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I haven't been posting this week because I been busy with end of finals stuff and then I will be graduating! That's right, on Saturday I will have my BA in International Relations. Yay! Hence, my lack of posts because I am still finishing up one final and then lots of pre-graduation activities (most of them revolving around alcohol). So I'm been too busy for any posts, but I will return to my regularly schedule of posts after commencement and the post-graduation activities are done. I have lots of books to review and now with my horrid 50 page paper finished, I can read whatever I want! :]

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Lover's Dictionary - David Levithan

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Indiebound Summary:
A sweet and touching modern love story, told through dictionary entries.

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.

How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

I am a fan of David Levithan's work ever since Boy Meets Boy. I pretty much read almost all of his young adult novels and when I heard about his first adult book coming out, it was instantly put on my to-read list.

The Lover's Dictionary differs from his other novels, as each page contains a word, relating to love, and a short vignette-type entry that ties into the term. The couple is reference by I, you, he, etc. and never by a name, creating the impression that the couple could be anyone. Despite the anonymous nature of the couple, through the entries, the reader gets to glimpse the relationship the two have. The ups and downs. And the pro of the anonymity of the couple is the love story can be universal.

It is definitely very ambitious project and I certainly enjoy how he approached it. It took a little getting used to, but the wonderfully crafted entries and the emotion captured in each won me over. From aberrant to zenith, Levithan captures the range of feelings love evokes in beautiful passages. I had to keep a mini notebook with me to capture some of my favorite lines.

A wonderful story that many can relate to.

Book Source: borrowed from work

Author Website | Twitter (Book) | Indiebound | Goodreads

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Draw the Dark - Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Goodreads Summary:
There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town, for one. That fire, for another. But what they'd really like to forget is Christian Cage.

Seventeen-year-old Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy. Ever since, he's drawn obsessively: his mother's face...her eyes...and what he calls "the sideways place," where he says his parents are trapped. Christian figures if he can just see through his mother's eyes, maybe he can get there somehow and save them.

But Christian also draws other things. Ugly things. Evil things. Dark things. Things like other people's fears and nightmares. Their pasts. Their destiny.

There's one more thing the people of Winter would like to forget: murder.

But Winter won't be able to forget the truth, no matter how hard it tries. Not as long as Christian draws the dark...

What drew me to this book was that it wasn't like many of the fantasy novels lining up the young adult shelves. It wasn't a paranormal romance. It wasn't a mocking of the genre either. Rather, it was a blend of fantasy, mystery and history. And it was history part caught me. I wouldn't say I'm a history buff, but I do like learning about parts of history that rarely make it in the textbooks I had. Like when the White House was burnt down in 1814 by Great Britain. Or the forced sterilization of certain individuals and groups in the 19th and early 20th century. So when I saw "Nazis came to town", I was intrigued.

In this story, debut author Bicks weaves 1940s American into the life of contemporary teen, Christian. As Christian sleepwalks and draws, he is pulled into the town's past. Into a history that many would like to keep buried. I was amazed at the skill Bicks had in combining the historical with the fantastical to build a suspenseful mystery. She didn't veer off into too much history, though I probably wouldn't have minded, nor did she overdo the fantasy. It was just the right mix of both to move the story along.

While I initially picked it up for the historical elements, it was hard not to care about Christian Cage. His parents disappeared as a child and he was raised by the town sheriff. Due to the rumors about the disappearance of his parents and an unfortunate suicide of his first grade teacher (which some of the townspeople blame him for), he grew up pretty much a loner. The only thing he cares about is his art and finding a way into the 'sideways place'. Christian is a gifted artist, but his gifts extend beyond his drawing skills. He draws the things people fear the most. Their deepest, darkest secrets that they lock away. So he isolates himself from people. To keep them from getting hurt. To stop himself from unintentionally hurting other people.

Draw the Dark is a great book. Once I started, I lost myself in Winter, Winconsin as Christian attempts to figure out the messages his blackouts and dreams are telling him. Ilsa J. Bick definitely created a intricate mystery that will engage readers, both male and female. And with some loose threads at the end, I hope that means a sequel will be forthcoming.

Book Source: ARC borrowed from librarian

Author Website | Indiebound | Goodreads

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wondrous Words (10)

Source: (we♥it)

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
- Victor Hugo

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wither - Lauren DeStefano

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Goodreads Summary:
Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

I wanted to read this since I saw the eye-catching cover. It looks more like a photo that belongs in the covers of a fashion magazine then on the cover of a dystopian YA novel.

Wither is compelling and completely hard to put down. I started it on an evening and sat in bed reading until 2AM. The last book I did that for was Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay. I tried telling myself to put it down, but I could not sleep until I finished the book. The book literally swept me away with its prose. The amazing writing connect me with Rhine and I rooted for her as she maneuvered and manipulated to gain freedom. She is an easy character to root for - strong and determined. Her emotions are believable as she moves from initial anger to homesick misery to unexpected empathy towards her captor and husband. While Rhine was flushed out, I felt many of the secondary character were not quite as complex. The other two sister wives seemed somewhat stock character like - the young, naive, romantic and the older, jaded, realist provides contrast to Rhine, but I would have like to see them develop more. Additionally, I felt Gabriel did not develop as much as Linden and therefore, could not buy the romance between Rhine and Gabriel. I felt like she latched on to him, as a mode to retain her self in this walled world.

DeStefano created a creepy world where genetic engineering has doomed the human race. While the first "perfect" generation is healthy and illness free, the generations following would be doomed to dying at the ages of 20 or 25, depending on gender. Rhine lives in this dangerous world, where Gatherers kidnapped women to be brides for wealthy families to ensure the line continues. It is a fascinating premise of a world, but there are still some holes I hope is addressed in future books. For example, where's the police? The Gatherers are human traffickers and its obviously a brides black market so where is the judicial system? I would think that despite the bleak world, basic rights, such as freedom, would be intact. And despite the panic, it's hard to think citizens would just accept the fact that women are nabbed ALL THE TIME.

If this world is so deprive of rights, why would parents want to have children in this environment? Knowing they themselves will pass at 20 and 25 respectively, therefore leaving their child/ren to fend for themselves in a cruel and dangerous world, I find it hard that parents would want to bring children up in a world like this. I understand the wealthy might want to have kids since they live in gated homes and so not exposed to the horrors of the average person, but why would others do when they might not be around thereby turning their kids into orphans. Wither has a promising world, but I hope to see it be cultivated more.

Book Source: ARC from publisher

Author Wesbite | Indiebound | Goodreads

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Avalon High - Meg Cabot

Publisher: HarperTeen

Indiebound Summary:
Avalon High, I was starting to think, might not be so bad after all.

Maybe it's not where Ellie wants to be, but if you have to start at a new school, Avalon High is typical enough: There's Lance, the jock. Jennifer, the cheerleader. And Will, senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy.

But not everyone at Avalon High is who they appear to be . . . not even, as Ellie is about to discover, herself. As a bizarre drama begins to unfold, Ellie has to wonder, what part does she play in all this? Do the coincidences she's piecing together really mean—as in King Arthur's court—that tragedy is fast approaching for her new friends?

Ellie doesn't know if she can do anything to stop the coming trouble. But somehow, she knows she has to try.

The impetus that actually drove me to read this book is watching the Disney Channel movie of Avalon High. I enjoyed it and so the saying goes "the book is usually better than the movie", I had to get the book. While the overall story line is similar, the movie differs a lot from the book.

Avalon High is a modern take on the Arthurian legend. Ellie, named after Lady Elaine of Astolat a.k.a Lady of Shalott, knows way more on medieval life, especially King Arthur and his court, than any teenager should know. That's because her parents are medieval scholars and when they move their family to Annapolis for their sabbatical, Ellie notices that her new classmates have way more in common with the Arthur legend then coincidence. Then strange things begin happening and Ellie needs to figure out what's going on before everything ends up in tragedy.

The plot seemed obvious; Will is so-Arthur like with the girlfriend named Jennifer and the best friend named Lance and they were seeing each other behind his back and crazy step-brother Marco is obviously the evil Mordred with his antics to hurt Will; that not a lot of the story surprised me. But despite this, I delighted in the story because of the awesome characters and Cabot's style of writing. No matter how cliché or plot-obvious Cabot gets sometimes, I always get drawn into her stories because her characters' voices is always so damn well-done. In Avalon High, Ellie's the voice of the story and she's funny and witty - just a very bright voice:

My dad grew up in the Bronx, where there aren't any snakes. He completely hates nature. He totally ignores our cat, Tig. Which of course means that Tig is crazy about him.
And if my dad sees a spider, he screams like a girl. Then my mom, who grew up on a ranch in Montana and has no patience for spiders or my dad's screaming, will come in and kill it, even though I've told her a million times that spiders are extremely beneficial to the environment.

I had a great time snickering as I followed the course of events through Ellie's perspective. And I love how wacky her parents are.

The thing that I liked in the movie over the book was that it changed the gender roles of Arthur and the plotting made it less obvious who was the bad guy and who really was King Arthur. I found that way cooler than the book's Lady in the Lake role it gave Ellie. Lady of the Lake is cool and all but Allie (as she is known in the movie) as King Arthur is even more awesome.

Book Source: borrowed from library

Author Website | Indiebound | Goodreads

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New York, New York

I'm back from vacation/work in New York City! NYC is such an amazing city and I definitely did not have time to see everything, so I have to go back soon. What I did see was the Empire State Building, Grand Central, the Museum of Natural History, the Strand, the United Nations, NYU and Time Square. I want to go back for the Met, NYPL, Ground Zero and etc. And of course, another visit to the Strand! :]

But I had tons of adventures including almost not having a place to stay for a night, a Starbucks barista whose boyfriend is cheating again, an almost showdown at the Natural History Museum, some film being shot in the middle of Time Square, etc. I met tons of new people from all over, got to sit in the Great Hall of the UN and our delegation got an award! Yay!

Unfortunately, I did not bring any personal reading with me as I was busy finishing up homework (yes, I was doing homework in NYC) or participating in the conference - National Model UN. So I don't have any super new reviews to post. On the other hand, I still have a backlog of reviews from books that I read prior to leaving for NYC that I still need to write/post. So look out for that. And maybe my first contest...
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