Month: July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayFrom The Broke and the BookishJuly 21: Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC,  neurotypical character, LGBTQ etc etc.)

I have been thinking about and reading a lot about this type of character over the last couple of years, and especially because my summer course required me to read even more books about it. This isn’t my usual “top ten” but instead just a simple list of ten in no particular order.

Part-Time Princesses by Monica Gallagher – Four very different girls, and best friends, experience the ups and downs of working at the local theme park.

Heaven by Angela Johnson – An African-American girl explores her roots and family in the town of Heaven.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – Without giving away too much, there is sexual diversity and discovery, as well as family interplay with the idea of acceptance.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – I think the title basically says it all for this one.

Ethan, Suspended by Pamela Ehrenberg – Jewish-American kid gets sentenced to a D.C. suburb and attends school with African-American and Hispanic kids who follow different rules than he is used to.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Socioeconomic and ethnic diversity culminate in a heart-wrenching love story.

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner – A diverse range of kids are involved with rescuing the Star-Spangled Banner from thieves.

The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne – A man with Tourette Syndrome performs strength training and works in a library, amazing story.

The Vow by Jessica Martinez – A girl promises to marry her best friend so he isn’t forced to leave the country after his father loses his work visa.

Night by Elie Weisel – One man’s tragic tale of life during the Holocaust in a concentration camp.

Book Review: Emma

emma

Alexander McCall Smith was selected to rewrite the great stories of Jane Austen, however his execution left something to be desired.

There was very little about this version of Emma that was different from the original. Some of the language had been updated and the accompaniments such as a Mini Cooper, however, these slight changes were not enough to convince me that Austen’s tale had been updated or improved upon at all.

Emma is still the same self-absorbed rich girl that we all know who befriends simple Harriet Smith and proceeds to set about match-making everyone in sight except for herself. There are many of the same events and personalities as the original including the drawing of Harriet, the picnic with Miss Bates, the elusive Mr. Churchill, and the anxious Mr. Woodhouse. However these similarities made the story fall flat rather than stand up by itself.

While McCall Smith did an admirable job of sticking to the original story, it was done in such a way that was too strict. Not to mention the overly verbose paragraphs about the background of Mr. Woodhouse and the internal monologue of Miss Taylor.

The plot itself, having not changed all that much was still interesting, a slow love story mixed in with other love stories, misdirection, misguided help, and a rather harsh protagonist. Austen might approve of how little the story was altered, but I, however was not that impressed.

Overall, it was not as new as I had anticipated and hoped it to be, having just finished Pemberly Digital’s “Emma Approved”, so I reluctantly gave it a solid three stars and called it a day. There wasn’t really much “modern” in Emma: A Modern Retelling.

Goodreads rating: 3 stars

My personal rating: 61

  • Writing style – 6
  • Plot – 8
  • Dialogue – 7
  • Personality of Main Character(s) – 7
  • Love story – 6
  • Invokes emotion – 3
  • Synopsis accuracy – 8
  • Consistent level of interest – 6
  • Stays on topic – 6
  • Accuracy of genre/genre blending – 4

Top Ten Tuesday (even though it’s Thursday)

Top Ten TuesdayI was going back through The Broke and the Bookish’s Web site for Top Tens and noticed that I missed one I really wanted to do: June 30: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015. So I’m going to write this up for you now so you don’t miss out on it. I’m doing this list according to the number of stars something was given on Goodreads followed by any standouts that should also be mentioned.

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – Possibly the best book by Clare, mostly because I love Magnus Bane, and who wouldn’t? Bane is fantastic.

The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow – Historical fiction, very well done, great use of time hopping.

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood – Three sisters who are witches in a time when witches are being hunted, great first title.

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis – Snow White reimagined in a science fiction sort of way, not quite the style of Meyer but very good.

Fat Chance by Nick Spaulding – A couple on a weight loss show, rediscovering their love, passion, and habits.

The Lightning Thief graphic novel by Rick Riordan et al – Depiction of one of my fav books, ’nuff said.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich – A hot guy with powers needs bakery chef with powers to help him find a magical stone.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – A distraught mother seeks answers after the suicide of her daughter. Told in an interesting style: texts, emails, Facebook posts, and prose.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – Darrow discovers that his planet is not in as dire straights as he as always been told and transforms himself in order to infiltrate the society in power.

Fairest by Marissa Meyer – Novella, part of The Lunar Chronicles. A great story and depiction of why people end up the way that they do. Cannot wait for the final installment.

Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer – A great chronicling of the events of the witch trials in Salem in the 1690s.

Part-Time Princesses by Monica Gallagher – Four girls whose lives don’t go as planned and end up stuck at their summer jobs, only to figure out that it’s not so bad.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor – Alyss, Princess of Wonderland, is forced to leave her home and live in our world only to be ripped back to help overthrow the vicious dictator in power.

Zodiac by Romina Russell – Rhoma, of House Cancer, realizes there is a problem approaching through the universe but no one believes the girl until it is too late.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Red vs Silvers, those without power and those with it, until one Red discovers that she too has powers and is pursued because of them.

Blameless by Gail Carriger – This book had five stars but is part of a series so I can’t technically just recommend it on its own but I think it was my favorite out of all of them, re: Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

What I’m Reading

And I know you’re always wondering what is currently on the docket…er, shelves, headboard, nightstand, etc. that I am currently reading. Quite the selection right now, and a range, if I do say so myself. Yes, I know I have been reading Seventh Son and Heart-Shaped Box for months but I tend to read scary stories more slowly, or else I tend to read them during the day when they are less likely to give me nightmares. Anywho, carry on with browsing.

currently reading 7.14.15

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten TuesdayI’m so excited to get back to doing these. I love to make these lists, hard as they are to compose sometimes. This week’s topicJuly 14: Last Ten Books That Came Into My Possession (bought, library, review copies). Although I fudged a little and took out some of the books that I mentioned in my last post, partly because I couldn’t remember the exact order and partly because I like to put new titles on here for you.

The Taker by Alma Katsu – Borrowed from a friend

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – I had to return my library copy so my dad (who has a new recent obsession with Hill) lent me his.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – Purchased

Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith – Library

Magyk by Angie Sage – Library

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud – Library

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – Library

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor – Library

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan – Library

Heroes Are My Weakness by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Library

Lots of library books on here, clearly my new job has its perks…and distractions.

Book Reviews: June/July

As always, I’m going to include the ones that stand out and aren’t part of a series that I haven’t been reviewing in succession. Brace yourself, I’ve read a lot of books since my last update.

part-time princessesPart-Time Princesses by Monica Gallagher: 4 stars – My first graphic novel, black and white images tell the story of four teenagers who are working summer jobs until they can start the real world. Unfortunately, this does not go according to plan and they quickly find themselves sinking back into new roles while trying to redefine themselves.

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines: 3 stars – A new take on some old fairy tale favorites, tells of the life of Cinderella after she marries her prince, and other princesses who are not what they seem. Entertaining and little a fluffy, good distraction reading.

The Lightning Thief graphic novel by Rick Riordan et al: 5 stars – A great depiction of the imaginative world of Percy Jackson. Same story but told with colorful pictures: 12 year old Percy discovers he is a demi-god and the gods think he stole a magical item from them.

Heaven by Angela Johnson: 3 stars – A melancholy tale about a young girl who discovers something about her family thatthis one summer conflicts with her image of them and the world. Reasonably done but without enough detail for my taste.

This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki: 4 stars – Another graphic novel that spoke to me. This one about a young girl and her summer cabin where she goes every year with her parents. But this year, her parents are fighting, her childhood friend seems too immature, and she develops a crush on a local older boy.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer: 4 stars – I’ve tried to read this novel many time and this round, it actually stuck. Maybe because it was an audiobook about Artemis’ adventures to catch a fairy and save his family from destitution.

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich: 5 stars – What an amazing find. Magic, hot guys, and a little danger, this book has it all. Bakery chef, Lizzie, is in for a big surprise that comes in a hunky package. A guy named Diesel needs her help to track down a magical stone which turns people into gluttons.

ameliaReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: 5 stars – A wonderfully sad yet fascinating story told through prose, text messages, emails, and Facebook posts about how a young girl killed herself and the mother’s quest to find out why. Powerful and crushing, very realistic and the back and forth of past and present was excellent.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Alexie Sherman: 4 stars – Humorous, sad, uplifting, heartbreaking. The tale of a young Indian who wants better for himself than being stuck on the reservation. But his adventures in the all white school down the road aren’t quite what he anticipated. Filled with drawings that add character.

Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings: 4 stars – A young boy embroiled in the after math of a tragic accident, how he is coping and how he feels responsible. This book is more about learning right from wrong and developing a moral code than anything else. Well done.

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell: 3 stars – A family’s misadventure in Florida, young love, heartbreak, and death. The young girl who was right in the middle of everything and what she actually said about it. Set back after WWII, follows themes of that time including Antisemitism and post-war adjustment.ethan suspended

Ethan, Suspended by Pamela Ehrenberg: 3 stars – Ethan is forced to live with his grandparents in a black DC neighborhood after an incident at school. He is the only white, Jewish kid in this new place and it definitely causes more than one issue for him. An interesting read from a different perspective.

The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley: 4 stars – Two orphan girls find themselves surprisingly adopted by a strange woman claiming to be their grandmother, which is impossible because their parents said she was dead. Unfortunately, that’s the least exciting thing that happens in a town full of fairy tale characters including Prince Charming, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Puck.

Alooking glass wars World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull: 3 stars – Slow to pick up in pace, lots of over information without explanation at first, but eventually the speed increasing and the adventure begins! Jason has been thrown in a new world and he is trying to find a way to get back but along the way discovers lots of secrets that were better left hidden.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor: 4 stars – A revival of an old story, Alice in Wonderland. Told from Alyss’ perspective, the princess of Wonderland, as she gets tossed into this world following a coup staged by her aunt. Years later, she is sought out and must return to take her rightful place on the throne.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke: 2 stars – I had a very hard time getting into this story. A wonderful idea about a young girl who discovers that her father can literally read books into life which means his life is in danger, however the style was long and drawn out and not as full of adventure as I had hoped.court of thorns

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: 4 stars – Feyre kills a wolf to help feed her family and is stunned when a High Fae comes to claim her life for the action. However, he gives her a deal: come live with him over the wall instead and he will leave her family in peace. She agrees and discovers that maybe she will be better off for it.

Playing Catch-up

welcome to maineI realized that it’s been nearly a month since I have logged on to give you an update. It’s been a hectic month indeed! I’m not making excuses, I’m just saying I have been neglectful. So I’m going to do this post as a general what’s happening one and a second one for all the books I have been consuming, which I’m sure is the real reason most of you read this.

In the last few weeks, I have moved back to my home state of Maine. Hurray for no longer being a displaced New Englander. Whether or not the move is permanent, we will have to wait and see. But I’m relatively certain I will be here for the next six to eight months. And thankful that it is cooler here than the D.C. area. Plus I was able to go strawberry picking and picked about 30lbs of them with my dad! strawberry picking

I have also completed a summer course on YA literature, which was pretty phenomenal. We were allowed to choose almost all of our own books for the course from a wide range of genres. We studied how teens choose books and why certain themes might be appealing to them. We also wrote a final paper on the topic of our choosing and I am proud to say that I earned a very high grade in the class.

I started a new job!! Yay me! I officially have my first library job at a smaller, local library and it’s going pretty well. I’m still in the learning process and a lot of what I do on a daily basis is a bit repetitive but I’m enjoying it. I get to talk about and look at books all day long plus interact with the regulars who are all very nice. It’s great to be back in an environment where people who aren’t your coworkers know your name, I’ve missed that.

Additionally, I have been dealing with all three of the weddings in my life again. First and foremost was my best friend’s bridal shower which went very smoothly, I am happy to report. Next on the list will be dress shopping with one of my sister and my friend’s bachelorette party 😉

sconeI am planning on using the next six weeks or so to really have some “me” time and focus on getting back into a healthier lifestyle, reading books for fun, and maybe doing some puzzles. I’ve also taken up cooking, well, baking, again and my first two trials (scones and garlic cheese biscuits) went pretty well. No complaints from my taste testers aka mom and dad.

I’ve been really busy settling back in but now that I’m more or less settled, I want to get back to this blog and my other writings. After all, NaNoWriMo is only 4 months away! So hopefully, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the coming months. But I make no promises once September hits, that’s sure to be a doozy.

Oh and did I mention that I was able to see Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, AND Mount Vernon before I left? I am definitely one lucky nerd!

mt vernonmt vernon panorama