Sunday, February 28, 2010


Due to technical difficulties, my blog has moved locations to  Please follow me there for a review of Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Fat Cat".. a Different and Delightful Story

I have a hard time finding books to read.  I visit my favorite book blogs each day and if their is a book that gets a good review, I will read that.  I am a picky reader and not a fan of some genres which is why you will NEVER see a science fiction or mystery book on here.  It is one of my weaknesses as a reader and book blogger.  I tend to pick the same "types" of books and I guess I am not very well-rounded in that regard.  When raved about Fat Cat, I knew I had to check it out for myself.  I was not disappointed at all!  This book is different from my usual "chick lit" books and even though it is classified as YA, there is plenty of substance to interest adults.  The science project aspect in this book makes it different from others books and allowed it to stand out from similar YA novels.  Catherine Locke is required to participate in science fair for Mr. Fizer's science class.  Not only does she have to participate, but the entire project is based on a picture that she pulls from his stack.  So, imagine Catherine's dilemma when she ends up with a picture of an early Neanderthal.  Cat knows she needs to find inspiration for this picture to devise a truly great experiment, not only to win the science fair, but to fulfill her long quest to beat her rival and former best friend, Matt McKinney.  I loved how Cat jumped at the challenge before her with so much determination and grit.  She used the science assignment to begin a year-long quest to determine how her body would respond to living life like the early hominis.  This experiment meant she had to give up modern technology, walk everywhere, and eat only what could be produced.  As an overweight teen, she wanted her experiment to improve her physical state and return her body to its "natural condition."  The author uses a clever journal format in the novel that allows the reader to see how the experiment progresses while she reveals pieces of Catherine's life.  As the pounds started melting off Cat, I could not stop reading because I really wanted to see how the experiment concluded.  I was impressed with the author's ability to drop little hints and use foreshadowing to keep the reader interested.  As soon as I decided to put the book down and do something productive, I would get to a cliffhanger line and of course, I would have to keep reading.  This put the book in the category of "has to be read in a night."  My advice is not to start it unless you have a few hours to read it from start to finish.  I thought this book was going to be a typical makeover story but it involves a much deeper message about beauty and how to discover and love who we are on the inside.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not my Favorite Zarr Book

As I have said before, I am a HUGE Sara Zarr fan.  Along with Sara Dessen, she is one of the most talented young adult writers.  I thought I read everything by Zarr until I saw this book at the library and realized I somehow missed it. I felt like I had won the lottery!  Story of a Girl delves into the consequences of one incident and how one mistake can ruin an entire reputation.  It tells the story of Deanna, a thirteen year old who was caught by her father in the backseat of a car with her older brother's seventeen year old friend.  Years later, she still carries the label of school slut and her father has yet to make eye contact with her.  She carries the burden of making one mistake and having to pay a huge price.  To make matters worse, she has feelings for her best friend, who happens to be the boyfriend of her only other friend.  This book was probably my least favorite Zarr story.  I really did not like the character of Deanna and I had a hard time feeling bad for her because of it.  I felt like she was totally consumed with self-pity and that if she could find a way to move on with her life, maybe others would too.  She seemed to want her friends to pity her for what happened and her entire existence revolved around her obsessing over her sad life.  I wanted to scream at her to get over it or do something about it.  Deanna further irratated me by making all the wrong choices, and failing to learn from her mistakes.  Even after her life is "ruined" by Tommy, when she reunites with him at her job in a pizza place, she picks up where they left off, in the backseat of his car.  This drove me crazy!  When she makes a move on her best friend, I wanted to throw the book.  Despite the decent story, Deanna irritated me for the entire story and I was glad to be rid of her when I finished the book.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On the Fence

I just finished reading Commencement by Courtney Sullivan and I am still not sure whether I liked it or not.  Did you ever read a book like that?  There are elements of it that I really liked and then aspects that I hated so that leaves me totally undecided.  I really need to make a pros and cons list and then leave it at that.  In the pros column, the story was tender and sweet and I enjoyed reading about the close friendship between the four female characters.  I have a few really close girlfriends and I could relate to the bond that the four held.  The book starts out really strong and uses effective flashbacks to build the story.  However, it loses steam about a quarter of the way in and then drags until the ending.  This left me loving the beginning and ending and hating the middle!  Back to the positive qualities of the book, the female characters are well-developed and interesting.  I liked how each character tells a different chapter of the novel and I felt like this allowed each of their voices to be heard.  I enjoyed the differences in the women's personalities, from sweet and naive Sally to tough-as-nails April.  I also felt like the book enabled me to see into the culture of a women's college and experience some of the traditions of a one-sex college.  Now, onto the negative elements.  I thought the book went overboard on the coverage of feminism and I was bored by the barrage of feminist discussions between the characters.  I also could not get past the lesbian relationship between Bree and Lara and despised reading about their love life.  I don't know much about Smith College but I think the book would offend graduates of the school by making light of the achievements of the graduates.  So, having written some of my likes and dislikes of Commencement, I am left where I started...on the fence.  I hope some of you will read it and leave a comment so I can see what you think!  In other news, I just saw that my VERY favorite author, Adriana Trigiani, has the next book out in her series.  I rarely spend money on books and prefer to support my local library, but his is one that I am going to have to buy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I really want more!!!

I first heard about Invisible i by Mellissa Kantor on Susan's blog when she posted an interview with the author.  If you want to read a really good book review or find a new book, you should check out her site!  Of course, I worry that you won't come back here because she does an incredible job!  I tried to win this book in one of her frequent giveaways but sadly,  I had to wait for my local library to get it.  This book ranks up there as one of my favorite YA books! There was so much to love about this book!  I was immediately drawn to the character of Callie, who is a popular i girl at her high school.  Even though she has a clique of popular friends, she doesn't feel like they truly accept her for who she is and most of the time, she has to pretend to be someone she is not to fit in with them.  Callie seemed so real to me and every description of her clique of friends brought images to mind from my own high school experience. I love the lessons about being true to yourself that are woven into this book.  I hope the teens who read it will see that real friends are more important than their social ranking.   I am in awe of the author's ability to create so much mystery and suspense in this book.  As Callie joins two outcasts on the search for her missing friend Amanda, I found myself creating my own theories on her disappearance.  You know a book is really good when you start creating possible scenarios while cooking dinner!  Even though I was disappointed that the ending left reader's with more questions than answers, I was also extremely excited that there will be more books in this series.  I know I am already dying to read the next one.  It has been a long time since I read a book with this much creativity, warmth, humor, and style. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Once Was Lost...Just Okay

I am a big fan of Sara Zarr's work.  Having read her first two books, I could not wait to read Once Was Lost.  This book was a quick read but it was just average in terms of storyline and character.  It did not draw me in or have any elements that made me want to keep reading.  I would say the one redeeming quality is that it asks some big questions about God that most teens ask, such as "does God really care," and "why does God allow bad things to happen."  It also does a good job of showing teens that it is okay to question God and faith as a part of establishing a personal belief system.  The main character, Samara, struggles to understand her mom's alcoholism and her dad, the town pastor's, response.  I could easily feel her frustration but I thought Zarr could have developed the main character with more personality and depth.  Her father, who never seems to have the right words for Sam, comes across as shallow and a little self-righteous, but again, his character is not fully developed.  I wanted more emotion and substance from each of the characters in this book.  I also felt the plot was weak and predictable and I knew how the book was going to end half way into it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And I may have found my favorite book of 2010...already!

A few months ago, I started reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  I got about five pages in and decided that I hated it.  I didn't like the incorrect grammar (I am an English major!) and I thought I would hate reading a book about maids.  When the list of the best books of 2009 came out, and this book was on it, I decided that I better give the book another chance.  I am so glad I picked this book up again because it will likely be one of my favorite books of 2010.  I am so impressed that this is the first book by this author and I she writes another soon.  There is so much to like about this book.  The book is written from the perspective of different women which gives it a depth and allows the reader to connect to each of the character's.  This book also has an intense story that deals with how African American maids deal with their relationships to their bosses during the Civil Rights Movement.  However, this intensity is artfully balanced with humorous moments and characters that are just downright funny.  I found myself experiencing a huge range of emotions while reading this book, which is quite an accomplishment for the author!  Another feat of this author is how well she makes the book come to life.  The descriptions of the characters and setting enabled me to create a clear picture in my head.  It made the book even harder to  put down because I felt like a part of the story.  One reason I especially loved this book is that it subtly teaches deep lessons to the reader that hold true today.  I came away from the book remembering that there are no "lines" and that people are just people, regardless of race, class, or color.  I have heard rumors that the book is being considered for a movie and I know I will go see it.