Archive for September, 2008

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Books I Read in September 2008

September 30, 2008

Here is a list of books I read in September 2008:

 

  1.  Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (4 stars): Heart-wrenching and beautiful.
  2. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (3 ½ stars): I thought it’d be better but still charming.
  3. Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall (5 stars): Super, totally, without a doubt extraordinary.
  4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (3 1/2 stars): Really interesting way to look at things, Bradbury’s writing could have been better paced. (Review coming soon for this book!)

 

What books have YOU read this month that is coming to a close? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Wigs & Makeup from SpiritHalloween Which of those do you recommend to others? Tell me in the comments!

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Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall

September 28, 2008

Title: Sisters of Misery

Author: Megan Kelley Hall

Rating: ★★★★★

Number of Pages: 308

Edition: Paperback

Year: 2008

 

 

 

 

Contains: Mystery/Suspense, Drama, Relationships, Romance, Coming-Of-Age

Analysis of Book (1-10 on each aspect):

Characters: 10

Plot: 10

Writing: 10

Wow Factor: 10

(WOW… PERFECT 10!)

Summary: Maddie Crane has the perfect last name, making it easy for her to be socially involved with the most powerful girls in school, the Sisters of Misery. However, she doesn’t have the perfect life. Her dad walked out on her and her mom when she was just a child, leaving behind financial problems. Abigail, her mother, sticks Maddie into every social situation she can, yet barely pays attention to her. Maddie gets the change of a lifetime when her aunt, Rebecca, and cousin, Cordelia, move into Hawthorne, MA with her, Abigail, and Maddie’s grandma Tess. Cordelia is beautiful, full of life, and adventurous. Maddie and Cordelia become best friends and that strains Maddie’s friendship with Kate, the meanest of the group, and the rest of the Sisters of Misery. The Sisters of Misery do not like this intruder to their small town and they want revenge. In a turn of events, Cordelia goes missing and no one knows where she could be. Can Maddie find her in time or is it too late? Maddie will have to piece together the mystery that is her town, its past with witchcraft, and the people she thinks are her friends in the race to find her beloved cousin.

My Review(spoiler-free!): What can I say? I’m in love with this book. It literally blew me away. Completely. Utterly. It was beautiful. It was scary. It gave me this feeling of fright, amazement, and a need to keep reading… I was still up at two in the morning just finishing it because I needed to know what would happen next, flowing from beginning to end. Maddie is understandable and probably my favorite character. Cordelia’s beauty and self-assuredness make Maddie braver and make her see her “friends” with new eyes… and opened up my eyes to what Maddie has had to be involved in since she was a little girl. I was suspicious all throughout the whole novel of what happened to Cordelia and who did it. The ending was astounding. I could not believe what I was reading. It all clicked then and made it all more amazing. All the characters were well-written and in depth. The writing was beautiful, Mrs. Kelley Hall really has a way with words. I wrote down many cool words I learned by reading this book… some include: decrepit, dilapidated, siphoned, Houdini, and tourniquet. I’d never read a mystery book so good. The plot was creative and something I’ve never read about. It was interesting and I think the witchcraft involved make it all that much better. The beginning of every chapter had a little insight of what that chapter was about and the gemstone that went with it so with that and the past chapters I was predicting and always coming out wrong. You can not predict this book, but what you can (and should do) is read it! I certainly loved it and can’t wait for the sequel… The Lost Sister!

My Thoughts(contains spoilers so please don’t read it unless you’ve read the book. I don’t want to spoil it for you!): Oh lord, this book was great. I could not figure out who Cordelia was romantically involved with. I had Reed, Finn, Kate, Trevor, everyone pinned to who took Cordelia and I was aghast to learn she’d left herself because of Abigail. The ending was like “wow wow wow” I just stared at my ceiling for like five minutes thinking about everything that went on in this book. I liked Reed but at the same time I didn’t. I kind of wanted Maddie to end up with Finn because he was so helpful at the asylum with Rebecca. I did not like Abigail one bit. She was just didn’t care about Maddie really. The things Rebecca planted were very mysterious and I tried to figure them out. Megan tricked me into thinking it was all these people and never really Abigail. Kate was evil; she was just so mean. She made everyone feel bad and I just wanted her to be the one disappearing. I think Trevor is a scum for raping Cordelia, but these characters were just the way they were because of their surroundings and their past. I just really loved this book and want everyone to read it and love it too.

 

Do you want to read this book? Have you read this book? What did you think? 

Stick around… an interview with Megan Kelley Hall (the author of this book) is coming up shortly!

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Booking Through Thursday (9.25.08): Well, That Was Different

September 25, 2008

 

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?

And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

 

There are a couple of books that I’ve read that are out of conformity for me. Most of them are for school. I’ll tell you the books and what I thought about them.

 

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond: I had to read it for AP World History last year. It is really, really long, nonfiction, and did I mention really long? It taught me a lot and made me appreciate the way history occurred, but I think it could have done that in less pages and with more interesting topics in the chapters (one chapter was only about plant pollination… boring!). I didn’t really like it overall, but it did make me think.
  • Ishmael by Daniel Quinn: Another book I had to read for AP World History. This one was actually better. It was interesting and easy to read. It was also fiction, which was great. Ishmael made me think about the future of humanity and what I can do to change it. 
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: I read it for English class this year and really enjoyed it. At first it was hard to get into but everything after 90 pages was great. It was very well written and opened me up to older books. Without English class I probably wouldn’t have read it.
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: It was a good book. It entailed a story about our government and the future that could happen if we let it. I really related to this novel because of our government now. 
  • Wuthering High by Cara Lockwood: This book was okay. I’d never really been into fantasy novels. My friend lent it to me and said it was super amazing. It was alright. I’m still not much of a big fantasy fan. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

    Now it’s your turn. Tell me about books you’ve read that are unusual for you to read. Did you like them? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you guys in the comments!

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    Interview with Lisa Schroeder

    September 22, 2008

    Hi all! This here is an interview with Lisa Schroeder who is the author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me (which I’m giving away! To enter the contest click here. It ends 9/30). She will also be releasing a new novel titled Far From You in January 2009. From experience I can say she’s very down-to-earth and friendly towards her readers, so check her out on her website and on her MySpace. Lisa was nice enough to answer some questions I had about her and her book. The questions are in bold and the answers are in normal font. I hope you enjoy it!

    1. How did you come up with the idea for I Heart You, You Haunt Me?

    I had a dream about a girl whose boyfriend died and loved her so much, he couldn’t leave her, and came back as a ghost. I got up the next morning and started writing. And so, the book was born.


    2. Why did you write I Heart You, You Haunt Me in verse? Was it because that’s your style or because it fits the story?

    I’ve been a big fan of verse novels for a long time, but had never tried writing one. When I sat down to write it, that’s the way it came out. A few pages in to it, I thought, is this the right thing? Do I know what I’m doing? Should I do it this way? But it seemed to create an atmosphere that worked, and I liked what I had so far, so I kept going.

    I will write in verse when I think it fits the story. If it doesn’t fit the story, I will write in prose. I’m very aware not everyone likes books written in verse. And that’s okay. The way I look at it, no matter what I do, not everyone is going to like it. There are also a lot of people who love it. They love the way the format packs emotion, they love that it is usually a quick read, they love all of the white space on the page, etc. So, I have to trust that the books written this way will find their ways into the right hands. Becaue I enjoy writing in verse and my editor has liked my books so far written in that format. I also think sometimes, something different that sets you apart a little in the very competitive market of publishing can be a good thing.

     

    3. Music is a very important part of the book. Why did you make it so?

     I think it came about because I needed a way for Jackson to communicate to Ava. Then, as I wrote, it just seemed natural, because music IS a very important part of teens lives. I also think of a song as a form of poetry, so music may very well be an important part of all my verse novels, we’ll see!

     

    4. How do you come up with character names?

    Oh, that’s a good question. And a hard one. J I will often go to baby name web sites and look around and try to find something that seems to fit the character. I’ve learned it’s important to try and have names that start with different letters so readers don’t get confused, so that’s one thing I take into consideration. I don’t know – sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. I like a combination of traditional names with very different names, for some reason. I think different stands out, but too many of them and readers are going to think that’s weird. But if you go into any class in an elementary school, you’re going to find a combination of different and traditional. So it makes sense to me to do it that way.

     

    5. Was getting I Heart You, You Haunt Me published an easy or difficult task?

    It’s a very different book, so it definitely wasn’t easy. First I had to get an agent, and I had some agents who wouldn’t even read it (you send a query letter first and try to peak their interest) because they didn’t know what a verse novel was or what would make a verse novel good. Finally, I had an agent who said she wanted to read it, and thankfully, she loved it and wanted to take me on as a client. When we sent it out for submissions, we received quite a few rejections from editors before we finally found one who loved the story. I think a lot of editors just didn’t know what to do with it. It isn’t quite literary, because it has the paranormal element, but it’s written in verse, which is a more literary style. But, as I’ve told other authors, all it takes is one!

     

    6. Can you tell us anything about your new book, Far From You?

    My editor and I just finalized what the jacket flap will say, so I’m happy to share that with you.

    ***

    Lost and alone…down the rabbit hole

    Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but time hasn’t quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can, by writing her music, losing herself in the love of her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife.

     

    But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half-sister, she’ll face issues she’s been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.

    Perhaps she’s not so alone after all…

     

    7. Do you believe in ghosts?

    I’m not really sure. I think I do believe that our loved ones I the afterlife are closer than we think. And I don’t think they haunt us as much as they just want us to know they are okay, and they love us.


    8. Describe yourself in three words. 

    Work in progress.


    9. Did you always want to be an author? 

    No, not really. I’ve always liked to write but I think I was afraid to try, like I should have had some kind of training, like an MFA in writing or should have majored in English in college or something. Once I realized there was no harm in trying, and I could learn what I needed to learn on my own, I was on my way and let myself want that.

     

    10. Do you have any life mottos or quotes? If so, which?

    Oh, I love quotes! I’ve started doing a thing on my livejournal blog every week called Motivational Monday, where I pick a quote and talk about what it means to me.

    I really love this one – “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

    Writing and getting a book published is freaking hard, so I have to remember to find joy in little things along the way, and to remember why I started – because I love to write!


    11. Do you have any advice for teens who want to become published authors?

     First of all, read, read, read. Reading a lot will only help your writing. Secondly, write for the love of it, not because you hope to get published. I wrote a lot of books before I finally got one published. Those books were my schooling, and helped me to learn things about writing, and also gave me confidence to know I can see a book through, beginning to end.

     

    12. Would you rather: be a teenager or an adult?

    Oh wow. I’m glad I was a teenager, but I don’t know if I would want to be one again. I had so much fun in high school, but I don’t miss the drama with friends and boys and parents and all that. Everything just seemed so big and important, and I’d get wrapped up and bothered by things that make me laugh now.

    Being an adult is hard too, but I think you have more of a perspective about what’s really important in life. Or something.


    13. Any last words?

    Thank you SO much for choosing my book as one to offer as a prize for your contest. And thanks for wanting to interview me for your blog, I’m truly honored. I think you do a great job with your blog and I enjoy popping by and seeing what you’re reading and what you have to say about the books you’ve read. 

    And with that I’ll just wish you and all who stop by here these words:

    Happy Reading!!

     

    I know, I know, you must be mesmerized by her coolness by now. Remember to enter my contest for this book… it won’t disappoint! Wait around for Far From You and a shout out to Lisa for answering my questions!

    What do you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! 🙂

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    Booking Through Thursday (8.18.08): Autumn Reading

    September 18, 2008

     

     

    Question: Autumn is starting (here in the US, anyway), and kids are heading back to school–does the changing season change your reading habits? Less time? More? Are you just in the mood for different kinds of books than you were over the summer?’

    Answer: The season absolutely changes my reading pattern. School started a month ago for me, so I know the readers of my blog have noticed the effects… less reviews, more posts coming in on the weekend (like how I’m doing BTT on a Sunday instead of a Thursday). It’s sad. I wish summer was longer. But what can I do? School is my first priority and so that’s how it has to be. Sure, I still read, but I read less pages a day and take longer to post reviews. Other than that, I think I am less likely to read a cute, light summer read during the year. Last year I tackled books like Dreamland, Converting Kate, Nineteen Minutes, The Pact, Rx, Exit Here, and other more serious books. I’m least likely to read light stuff. I don’t know why, but that’s how I am. 

     

    What do you guys think? Does autumn change your reading schedule and the actual books you read? Tell me in the comments! 

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    Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

    September 18, 2008

    Title: Elsewhere

    Author: Gabrielle Zevin

    Rating: ★★★ ½

    Number of Pages: 377

    Edition: Paperback

    Year: 2005

     

     

    Contains: Fantasy, romance, relationships, drama, coming-of-age.

    Analysis of Book (1-10 on each aspect): 

    Characters: 7

    Plot: 8

    Writing: 8

    Wow Factor: 8

     

    Summary: Liz is a victim of a hit-and-run driver. Unfortunately, she passes away. When she wakes up she’s in a place that she can only be dreaming about. The place is called Elsewhere and everything there is kind of like Earth but at the same time not like it at all. People on Elsewhere get younger instead of older. However, it’s still like Earth in the sense that you have friends and family and a job. Betty is Liz’s grandmother whom she never met until now. Liz meets other people who become great friends. Liz may have thought at the beginning of her arrival to Elsewhere that she’d never get used to this new “life” but as time goes on, she learns she loves it.

     

    My Review (no spoilers): This was a charming tale of coming-of-age. Liz is a believable character and I think I would act just like her if what happened to her happened to me. I’d be depressed and want my old life back. I really liked Betty, she’s very alive and she just wants to help Liz get used to Elsewhere. Thandi was funny and a good friend. I liked all the characters a lot. The boy in the story was really cute to Liz. The plot is probably my favorite part, I’ve never read a book about the afterlife and this was a different way to look at it. I really liked this book although sometimes I found somethings not important that I don’t want to reveal because they contain spoilers.  Whenever I was reading I was asking myself what about this and what about that. Is there crime in Elsewhere? I didn’t feel as though I had a good sense of how it worked and the whole aura of what Elsewhere really looked like. I wish Thandi was a more developed character and Thandi’s and Liz’s friendship too. I think I expected more than I got from this book. I still recommend it though. 

    My Thoughts (contains spoilers): Well, I liked this book, as you can tell. It’s just I thought I would get so much more than I received. Owen and Liz and their problems were just a little weird for me. First he likes her, then he doesn’t, then he leaves her for his wife, then he takes her back. I guess the progression is what I didn’t like? I felt as though there was no point when they would in the end get back together. Also, when Liz was a Sneaker, I was just like… you’re going to be saved by Owen and come back to Elsewhere. I didn’t understand why Liz went to Zooey’s wedding after reading the letter (it didn’t make me want to go to my friend’s wedding if she hadn’t even gone to my funeral). I liked it, its just some things were iffy.

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    Teaser Tuesday (9.16.08): Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn

    September 16, 2008

     

     

     

    shouldbereading.wordpress.com

    TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!
  •  

    Book: Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn

    Page: 3

    Teasers: “I hope your friends use condoms,” Nancy said, which is funny because she knows Shrimp is my only friend. She threw a box of Trojans onto the lace-trimmed four-poster bed that I hate.

     

    Wait around for the Gingerbread review, author interviews, and much much more. Remember to enter the contest for I Heart You, You Haunt Me… contest ends 9/30/08!