Friday, March 23, 2012

Sloppy Firsts Review

Goodreads Summary: When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

A fresh, funny, utterly com
pelling fiction debut by first-time novelist Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts is an insightful, true-to-life look at Jessica’s predicament as she embarks on another year of teenage torment--from the dark days of Hope’s departure through her months as a type-A personality turned insomniac to her completely mixed-up feelings about Marcus Flutie, the intelligent and mysterious “Dreg” who works his way into her heart. Like a John Hughes for the twenty-first century, Megan McCafferty taps into the inherent humor and drama of the teen experience. This poignant, hilarious novel is sure to appeal to readers who are still going through it, as well as those who are grateful that they don’t have to go back and grow up all over again.

Okay, so I tried to write my own plot summary, but I failed to really capture the essence of the novel without making it sound very, very cliche. And while it is in fact cliche at times, I still liked this book. 

As stated above, Jessica Darling is devastated when her best friend moves away. And while the first of the book is really just her moping about her life and missing her best friend, it really get better in the second half. The first half did annoy me- the only really winning part was that Jessica and I share a similar sense of humor and an anxiety- prone behavior. When I thought back to the end of my sophomore year though, I was able to see where she was coming from. I actually think I would have enjoyed this book more had I read it then, rather than now. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. Also, the second half was wonderful, since it became more than Jessica sitting around- she actually started taking action and stuff. Overall, a very light read. I will be reading the next one. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Divergent Review

In a dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions that represent a particular virtue- Abnegation for the Selfless, Amity for the peaceful, Candor for the honest, Dauntless for the Brave, and Erudite for the Intelligent. When Beatrice is sixteen, she must choose the faction that she lives in for the rest of her life, just as every other sixteen year old does. Many choose to stay in the faction in which they are born. But there are several surprises at the Choosing Ceremony. In the very competitive initiation program that follows, Beatrice renames herself  Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are and where romance will fit into the life she's chosen. But Tris is has a secret, a secret she must keep from everyone because it means death. Conflict among the factions threaten to destroy the only life she's ever known.

So when I look at this plot summary now, it looks like your normal dystopian novel. Female character is special, society is crumbling. But I promise you, my dear readers, that this book is a phenomenal dystopian novel. I don't like to use the phrase "the-next-Hunger Games" (because the only thing these books but if there was a gun to my head and I had to name a phenomenal book that I could see gaining a lot of popularity in the next year or two, this would be  that novel because it is just that good.

This is very much a plot-centered book, and it has a strong plot to back it up. If you are very knowledgeable about dystopian as a genre, you may be able to guess what will happen, but I can almost guarantee you will not get every detail right. I can somewhat guess how the whole series will progress (Yes, it's a series and the second one comes out in May.) However, after the end of this book, I am excited to see how the series will progress.

I also really like the characters. Beatrice is probably my favorite though, not only because she is the protagonist and we are supposed to like her. It's because she is A STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. I like books with strong, empowered females. She makes all her own decisions and doesn't play the whole "woe-is-me" game. Like, "Woe is me! I have to leave my faction and my family." No, she chooses to leave her faction and family and lives with the consequences of her choices. Yes, there is a romantic side plot of sorts, but I wouldn't say it influences any of her choices throughout the book, except at the very end. And not to give away any spoilers, but if she had done what she was probably supposed
 to do, I would've considered her a heartless monster.

Overall, an excellent book and I would definitely recommend it to people who liked The Hunger Games. And even if you loathed The Hunger Games, you may like this.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shine Review

Shine by Lauren Myracle is about a girl named Cat who lives in a backwater town in North Carolina. When her friend Patrick is brutally attacked and in a coma, Cat becomes determined to find out who did this to her friend, knowing that the police in town won't do anything.

Though this book has a definite plot, I would not consider it a plot driven book. To a point, you want to find out who did this horrible thing but you also care about the characters. The reader gets an excellent picture of rural Southern life. All the characters are believable as to where they come from. Myracle also deals with a lot of social issues- rape, homosexuality, drugs, etc. Pretty much any social issue you can think of, she brings up within this book. Under normal circumstances, I would find this annoying, however, Myracle is a strong enough writer to where it's not like, "Okay, kids, let's take a paragraph to talk about drugs." The fact that she doesn't do this only proves Myracle to bring a strong writer. Also, she excellently points out that these social issues often get swept under the rug in Southern culture, which is true.

I would recommend this book to anyone. I have not read much else of Myracle works, only her short story in Let It Snow with John Green and Maureen Johnson two authors I adore, and Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks which was also good, but a decidedly different novel. I love it when authors branch out from different genres and do it well. That is the make of great author, in my opinion.As for this book, I would recommend it to everyone, because I think everyone can relate to it in one way or another.

Also, look at how beautiful the cover is.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Update of My Reading History of 2012

So today, my only class was cancelled so rather than just playing Pokemon Red until it's time to head home, I decided to make a blog post about my reading history, including a tiny review.

So without further ado, here's all the books I've read so far in 2012.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 5/5
This is such a phenomenal book. Although  I probably can't say anything about this book that hasn't already been said, I adore it. I'm actually considering reading it again soon, so that I can soak up its beauty again.

2. Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer 2.5/5
Okay guys here me out. I am teaching this book for my Lit. for Adolescents class, so I had to read it. (By the way, my group is teaching right now and WE ARE DOING SO AWESOME! Thanks for asking.) I had read the first two books many moons ago. And actually, this was the book that made me understand why it appeals to the audience it does. Maybe I am just wiser than I was at fourteen.

3. Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin 3.5/5
I liked this book, but it wasn't great. I though it was well-written though. This was for my book club, and I didn't even get to attend the meeting because I forgot I was going to a concert that night. Overall though, very interesting though I confess I have never read the book that it is based on.

4. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich 1.5/5
Oh my goodness, this book. It could be because I am a daughter of middle class parents, but I did not like this book.This one we had to read for Lit. for Adolescents. I argued that since it was written and published ten years ago, and we've seen a significant  change in the economic climate.

5. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche 4/5
I have already discussed my feelings towards this book and the thoughts and emotions it brought up in me that it was probably not supposed to. But besides those feelings, it was still a really enjoyable read. Bertsche is a hilarious writer and the fact it mad me reevaluate my friendships and the way I make friends made it all the more enjoyable.

And those are the ones I counted towards my books I've read total. In this I only counted books I read for the first time. Here's a list of books I read that I didn't count towards my personal list, but that counted on my Goodreads.

1. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
I read this my junior year of high school and had to read it again for Lit. for Adolescents. It was just as enjoyable the second time around

2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
I don't count this one because I'm not actually sure I read all of it. It was for my Early American Lit. class. I didn't review it, but it was fairly enjoyable.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
This one we had to read in Lit. for Adolescents. No surprise, I had read it before. Still enjoyable, and the groups that taught it did a pretty good job.

4. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
Another one I read for Early American Lit. that I am not sure I actually read in its entirety.

I guess I'll also let you know what I'm currently reading.

1. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I also read this my junior year. It's definitely better the second time around, or maybe I just have a better teacher.
2. Shine by Lauren Myracle
OH MY GOODNESS! THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD THUS FAR! Seriously, I read half of it yesterday. Really good thus far.

In non-book related news, I have become obsessed with Florence + The Machine's album, Ceremonials.