Admitting Defeat with Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium (Delirium #1)

by Lauren Oliver

Released: January 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 441
Source: Purchased

Synopsis: Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe. I wonder whether the procedure will hurt. I want to get it over with. It’s hard to be patient. It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet. Still, I worry. They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness. The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

Lauren Oliver’s writing style is incredible. It’s beautiful. It’s poetic. I want to read it out loud so I can hear it. It leaves a hole in my chest, but in a good way. I remember thinking that when I read Before I Fall, and if you haven’t read that book, I definitely recommend it. So, when I picked up a copy of Delirium, I couldn’t wait to read it. It started out promising. I devoured the first eight chapters. And then, everything came to a screeching stop. Don’t get me wrong– Lauren Oliver’s writing style is still impeccable in this book. It was just…boring.

The last time I felt this bored reading a book was when I read the Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. That was another book that started out promising but then bored me to tears a few chapters in. I kept reading because so many people praised Cassandra Claire, and I wanted to find out why for myself. Yes, there was a chapter or two at the end that piqued my interest, but upon finishing the novel I just resented the whole experience. I wasn’t prepared to let that happen again.

Not to mention, I couldn’t buy in to the premise of love as the demise of a society. Or the scapegoat, at least. It made as much sense to me as the idea that different personality types lead to the demise of a society. Just no. With the exception of the Hunger Games, I haven’t read a dystopian novel and loved it, so I’m starting to think the dystopian genre really isn’t a good niche for me after all.

I don’t often admit defeat. Especially when it comes to books that I own! I typically see not reading or not finishing books I own as a waste of money, but today I’ve decided that my time is more valuable than my money.

There is no start rating for Delirium (not to be confused with a zero-star rating). I didn’t finish it, so I don’t think I can rate it fairly.

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

these broken stars

These Broke Stars (Starbound #1)

by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Released: December 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 374
Source: Gift from the splendid Kate @ Literary Kate

Synopsis: Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive — alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

This is what I loved about These Broken Stars:

1. Lilac LaRoux. So often are female characters written into un-flexible molds. They are princesses and tomboys and bookworms and the girl next door, but rarely do they cross over. That is not the case for Lilac LaRoux, who has an appreciation for jewel-toned dressed and designer shoes, but can also navigate around printed circuit boards and electrical wiring. Heart-throb Tarver Merendsen may be a hero in the headlines, but Lilac LaRoux is the true hero in this story, driven by her brilliance and bravery.

2. Soft Science Fiction. I love science fiction movies, and I love science fiction video games, but I do not often read science fiction books. It seems silly, but I’m intimidated by science fiction books because I’m afraid that the ideas will fly right over my head. Soft science fiction makes the genre more approachable though. Even though the ideas may be a little more fantasy than fact, the backdrop is fascinating nonetheless.

3. Of all the beautiful descriptions about stars and space, this line about Lilac LaRoux’s father is my favorite: “But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possesses that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?” It’s brief. It’s simple. It’s powerful.

4. This book is equal parts science fiction and romance, but there are no traces of insta-love here. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen come from two different worlds and both are influenced by their pride. They are forced into showing each other their vulnerabilities after the Icarus has fallen, and they only have each other to rely on for survival. Watching the pair grow up and grow together revealed more about the two characters than any cliché love triangle.

5. The mysterious visions. Is it trauma? Is it fantasy? Is it an alien life form? I needed to know what caused Lilac and Tarver to hear voices and see impossible visions. The revelation at the end did not leave me feeling disappointed at all.

This is what I did not like about These Broken Stars:

1. The pacing was slow during parts of the book. I suspected that might be the case with These Broken Stars since a majority of the story takes place on a deserted planet. With the exception of the elements and one wildcat, there are very few external conflicts in this book. This can be okay, but their fight for survival became mundane after a few chapters. What kept my drive to read to the end alive was my love for the characters, the mystery of the abandoned terraformed planet, and the strange visions.

2. I was left with so many unanswered questions about humanity’s role in the universe. They’ve colonized a handful of planets, and wars and rebellions were briefly mentioned, but the authors seemed to gloss over the causes. I wanted to know more, especially what was causing the rebellions.

Overall:

Despite the pacing and the unanswered questions, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars. Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner crafted a beautifully written book with intriguing characters and mystery. The end of These Broken Stars filled me with so much wonder that I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of This Shattered World. Even more exciting is the next installment follows two new characters and dives into wars and the rebellions that plague humanity. It’s rare that I want to read beyond book one in a series, which is why I have to give These Broken Stars four stars!

My Rating: Four Star Review

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski

Ten Things We Did and Probably Shouldn't Have by Sara Mlynowski Book Cover

Released: June 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Source: Purchased

When April’s dad relocates to Cleveland, April begs to move in with her friend Vi instead of leave behind everything that is comfortable to her, especially her boyfriend Noah. April’s dad agrees to this arrangement without knowing Vi’s mom won’t be present (she’s traveling the U.S. in an off-Broadway production). The girls provide April’s dad with a fake e-mail address, and Vi responds to every e-mail as if she were her mom. Let the bad decisions begin!

The plot is fast-paced but not hilarious like the book’s blurb promises. Perhaps it is a sign of my old age (is 26 old?) that I found the characters’ decisions to be unrealistic and obnoxious. When does buying a several thousand dollar hot tub with grocery allowance sound like a reasonable way to pay someone back? The characters in Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) are kind of equally annoying. With the exception of Dean, Vi’s boytoy, I didn’t like any of the characters. Vi is bossy and rude (and Dean can do a whole heck of a lot better). Marissa, as it turns out, is a crappy friend. Noah is just gross. And April is…inept; what sixteen year old doesn’t know how to do basic chores– like washing the dishes or laundering their clothes? What kind of sheltered life does she live, and why didn’t her parents teach her this? Ultimately, I found it really hard to root for anyone or sympathize with anyone in this novel.

Amid preposterous decisions, this novel tried to break out of the contemporary fluff model by trying to explore difficult issues like divorce, feeling abandoned by family, adoption, and eating disorders. Unfortunately, there was too much to address in such a short novel (with sooooo much going on), that discussion of these topics lacked consistency– kind of like If I Tell by Janet Gurtler. The only topic that was explored fairly substantially in this novel was April and her relationship with Noah. The couple has been together for two years, and April feels confident that she wants to take their relationship to the next level. There is no beating around the bush here– we’re talking about sex. Initially, I appreciated how the author handled the subject. Both Vi and April look into and discuss birth control options– perhaps the only good decision made in this entire novel. Additionally, I liked how the author navigated April’s feelings toward sex. It explores the behavioral script of what losing one’s virginity should be like– reality rarely meets expectations, and her insecurities are also explored; she notices that Noah is distant, and she feels having sex will make their relationship more stable. Alas, sex does not equal love– a hard lesson learned, yet that kind of thought process is a very real one regardless of age, experience, and gender. Unfortunately, the outcome of this decision is awful, and I don’t think it really added anything to the story. It just made me feel uncomfortable and disappointed that the experience was portrayed in such a negative light. A very grey topic was painted black and white.

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski was a quick read. I devoured it in one sitting, but readability does not make a book great. Honestly, I think the real reason I couldn’t put this book down was because the characters made some train wreck decisions, and I was rubbernecking. Overall, the book was okay even if there were a handful of parts that left me feeling disappointed, which is why I give this book two out of five stars.

Rating: Two Star Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Book Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell book coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Released: September 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Age Group: Young Adult/New Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 455 (e-book)
Source: Purchased

So rare is it that I love a book that has been hyped. Usually, the higher the pedestal, the farther a book has to fall– such was the case with Divergent by Veronica Roth or An Abundance of Katherines by John Green for which there is no link here because I couldn’t make it past page 50. However, I recently read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and the only thing I’m disappointed about is not reading the book sooner so I could fangirl along side the rest of the book blogosphere.

Freshman year of college is a test for all 18 and 19-year-olds, and it’s no different for Cath, who is a new student at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska*. At least she can rely on her twin sister, Wren, also a freshman at the University of Nebraska, to help her navigate the microcosm that is a university campus and being away from home for the first time…right? But, when Wren chooses to embrace the college life that includes the drinking and the boys and the rowdy parties, Cather slips into the fan fiction world of Simon Snow (read: Harry Potter) that’s safe and comfortable and already accepting of her. Unexpectedly, her sassy roommate, Reagan, and her sassy roommate’s attachment/unattachment, Levi, draw Cath out of her shell.

I think Cath is going to be one of those rare female characters who empowers her readers. Like the way Hermione Granger made being intelligent and a bookworm totally awesome, Cath will make reading and writing and being snarky and being nerdy totally awesome. Plus, she’s easy to relate to. She’s cynical and insecure and scared, but she’s also introverted and witty and passionate, and as I kept flipping pages, I kept thinking, “That’s me. Cath is me!”

Then, we’re finally given a love interest that isn’t a “bad boy with a heart of gold” because those don’t actually exist. Trust me, the bad boy will always be a jerk (especially in college), and you’re just being blinded by his manly sideburns and five o’clock shadow. Levi is a nice guy— the kind that offers to walk with you at night even though it’s cold outside because he wants to make sure you feel safe, the kind that will drive you home no matter the distance or the road conditions, the kind that will encourage you to embrace and ramble on about your (nerdy) passions. He’s not compared to Adonis; in fact, he’s got lines in his forehead and a bit of a receding hairline, and he probably has a farmer’s tan too from working hard out in the sun! He’s still handsome and he’s charming (of course, he’s from the midwest), but more importantly, he’s the kind of you guy you cannot wait to see or talk to over the phone because he just sort of makes awful days melt away or he makes you feel like the most important person in the room or he makes you feel like yourself again. I know someone kind of like Levi, and perhaps that is why the relationship that develops between Cath and Levi gives me butterflies in my stomach. Plus, the romance happened organically, which is refreshing in a world of love triangles that don’t make sense and instant, unfettering “love” amongst teenagers.

As much as I loved Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I have to admit that I did actually skips parts of this book, which I don’t often do. Each chapter starts with an excerpt from the Simon Snow novel, or Cath’s fan fiction, or newspaper clippings discussing the pop culture phenomenon. Then, there were several pages where Cath was reading her fan fiction out loud, and I pretty much skipped all of that. The integration of Cath’s Simon Snow fan fiction was cool at first, but after a while I became bored by it, and I felt it was distracting from the story that I truly wanted to read– Cath’s college experience.

Still, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell earns a solid four stars from me for multifaceted, perfectly imperfect characters, a charming romance, and a realistic portrayal of college and falling in love for the first time. Thank you Rainbow Rowell for giving the world Cather Avery.

Rating: Four Star Review

*I think it’s really cool that this story takes place in Nebraska, one of the most underrated states in the US. Who writes about Nebraska?

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick #Review

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick book coverNever Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Released: May, 2012
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Age Group:
Young Adult
Genre:
Historical Fiction?
Pages:
216
Source:
Purchased E-Book

I read Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick for very superficial reasons: 1. it was on sale the day I purchased it and 2. it was the shortest novel I owned, and I wanted a “quick read” to get myself out of my reading slump. I don’t think I even paid much attention to the blurb the day that I bought it other than it took place in Cambodia and something about the “main character”, Arn, dancing to Elvis Presley and hustling adults to bring home extra coin to his family. I mistakenly thought this was going to be a coming-of-age novel. Perhaps my obliviousness was a blessing because had I realized this book took place in Cambodia during the 1970s, I might not have picked it up on New Year’s Eve.

I only vaguely knew about Cambodia during the 1970s– the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot. It’s not something that I ever learned about in school though. All of my world history classes– high school and college– were western centric, so if America or the UK or the Soviet Union were not involved, we didn’t touch the subject– not even when 25% of a country’s population was annihilated by corrupt leaders.

Never Fall Down is based on the (true) story of Arn Chorn-Pond, who, during 1975 and 1979, survived the genocide of Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge labor camps, and the Cambodian-Vietnamese War. This book is listed as “young adult”, but every page is filled with sights, scents, and sounds of death. Everyday, the Khmer Rouge kill people who are too educated, too rich, or too supportive of the old ways. The labor camps turn into killing fields and mass graves for over two million Cambodians, but Arn Chorn-Pond survives the fields because he volunteers to learn an instrument to play the patriotic songs of the new government and he learns to manipulate the members of the new regime. On the eve of Cambodian liberation, Arn Chorn-Pond is handed a gun and made to not only fight for the Khmer Rouge but for his own life as well.

I have one reservation about Never Fall Down though, and it’s not the grim content– it’s the narration. Patricia McCormick spent two years interviewing Arn Chorn-Pond and surviving family members to learn their story, and in an attempt to capture Arn’s “authentic” voice, McCormick decided to write the entire story in broken English. Unfortunately, not only did it make this story difficult to read, I found the voice to be more like a caricature than authentic. It just seems…tacky, and perhaps I am putting that lightly. It was so unappealing and unnecessary that it turned a four-star book into a three-star book.

Still, a book like Never Fall Down needs to be read. It’s a powerful story about a time in history that I think many of us are unfamiliar with. And that’s the thing about history– we read about it or experience it first hand and (hopefully) we learn and (hopefully) we don’t let history repeat itself.

Rating: Three Star Review

 

The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima Review

Book Cover for The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams ChimaThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima

Book Two in the Seven Realms series

Released: September 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 586
Source: Won from Heather @ Proud Book Nerd

It’s a rare occasion when I read the first book in a series and I enjoyed it enough that I consider reading the second book in a series. It’s an even rarer occasion when I actually pick up book two in a series. Remember when I declared my love for Matched by Ally Condie, The Candidates by Inara Scott, and Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel? I never actually continued those series, and I probably never will now. Then, there are these anomalous events where I find myself not just reading book two but then scrambling to get my hands on book three and four. There is the Harry Potter series (duh!) and the Twilight series (I can’t explain this one), and now there is the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. I reviewed the first book, The Demon King, two years ago, and believe it or not, I just finished the second book in the series. OH. MY. GOSH.

P.S. Spoilers?

In The Exiled Queen, we find our two heroes, Han and Raisa, separated once more. Yet as the tides of war lap at the Seven Realms, both are traveling to boarding school, Oden’s Ford, to seek refuge and to perfect skills that may aid them in the battles to come. I don’t know why, but if a story involves a boarding school, there is a 97% chance I’m going to love the book. I am such a nerd that I’m excited to learn about my favorite characters’ school day (please ignore the notes on how to travel to Aediion that I’ve jotted down in my own composition notebook). I just get really absorbed into the surroundings. Plus, there are so many unsupervised opportunities to mingle with one’s peers, and in such close quarters, there are so many opportunities to bump into love interests. Despite taking place in a fantasy setting, the romantic elements seem more realistic in this novel than in most other YA novels I’ve read. The passion without obsession. The mind’s hesitation to start a relationship, when the heart wants nothing more than to jump in with abandon. The crushing force of seeing the person you’re falling in love with doting on another.  There were moments when my heart was screaming for two characters to kiss, but instead they were both stuck inside their own heads filled with doubt, too afraid to make the first move. Won’t we all experience this at least once in our own lives? And kudos to the author, who wasn’t afraid to write about hormonal teenagers and birth control (ie. maidenweed).

The characters continue to grow and develop in The Exiled Queen. Just when I thought I understood a characters motives, they are thrown into situations that challenge their values. I was always eager to turn the page so I could discover what caused the change of heart. Raisa continues to be my favorite character because she’s learning to become a warrior without sacrificing her femininity, and characters like that seem so rare. There are also a handful of new characters, who I don’t quite trust. Dean Abelard is introduced as the head of Mystwerk House. She holds dinners during the school year that are reminiscent of the Slug Club from the Harry Potter series– only the most gifted students are invited, and they take turns teaching each other valuable lessons. I sense Dean Abelard is loyal only to herself, and she has a few tricks up her sleeve to ensure she comes out on top (a true Slytherin!). Then there is the mysterious mage, Crow, who is a master of illusions, and I’m dying to know his true identity.

My only issue with the Exiled Queen is the pacing, and that may be more of a result of preference than anything. During the first half of the book, both Han’s and Raisa’s parties were traveling through the realms. Of course they ran into trouble and excitement along the way, but I found myself wanting to fast forward to their adventures in boarding school instead. For someone who claims she loves traveling, I’m definitely not a huge fan of it in fantasy novels. Mostly, I just view it as an opportunity for retrospection and world building, but book one was full of that and I wanted more of the plot to be revealed. This does begin to happen near the end of the book, and I found myself staying up way past my bedtime…during the work week. The Exiled Queen ended with a cliffhanger, and it left me asking a million questions that I just know will be answered in the next installment of this series.

So far, the Seven Realms series is incredible, and if it’s not on your reading list, you should definitely add it– especially if you’re reluctant to read high fantasy books. I was too, but this series made the genre more approachable because Cinda Williams Chima created the perfect balance of world building and character development.

Rating: Four Star Review

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns graphic novel cover

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

Batman: the Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson (illustrator), Lynn Varley (illustrator)

Released: November 2002 (first published 1986)
Publisher: DC Comics
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Speculative Fiction/Superhero Fiction
Pages: 197
Source: Borrowed from my boyfriend

In a near-future version of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne is in his 50s, and he has retired as Batman, but when crime rates begin to rise, Bruce Wayne can no longer resist the desire to don his bat suit once more. This time, he faces new enemies– a gang of morbid youngsters, who call themselves the Mutants– as well as old some old favorites; Harvey Dent (aka Two Face), who was thought to have been cured after a successful plastic surgery, holds the entire city hostage with a bomb, and the Joker, who awakes from a catatonic state, breaks out of his room in Arkham Asylum and goes on a killing spree because, well…that’s just what he does. Meanwhile, the retirement of Commissioner James Gordon ushers in a new police commissioner who seems to have a vendetta against our masked vigilante. The vendetta intensifies after Superman diverts a Russian nuclear warhead, which detonates in the U.S. desert, emitting an electromagnetic pulse causing even more chaos in Gotham City. Batman turns the once vile gang of Mutants into a non-lethal force to control crime during the blackout caused by the EMP, and for a while, Gotham City is one of the safest cities in America. Humiliated by Batman’s ability to control Gotham’s unruly citizens, the U.S. government orders Superman to destroy Batman. The two superheros meet in Crime Alley, Batman’s origin, for a fight to the death.

Batman tv series (1966-1968)

Batman tv series (1966-1968)

I should preface this by saying, I rarely read graphic novels, and when I do read them, I certainly do not read superhero graphic novels (unless you count Sailor Moon manga). So as I read Batman: the Dark Knight Rises by Frank Miller, I was simultaneously underwhelmed and overwhelmed. This comic is lauded as one of the most (if not the most) influential Batman comic of all time. It was the comic that breathed life into characters that the 1960s nearly killed off with its campy shenanigans.  Once the comics returned to its gritty and pulp-inspired origins, popularity for the Batman series soared. Yet, just as the 1960s seemed cheesy to fans in the 1980s, the 1980s may seem slightly cheesy to fans today. Whenever I read the slang of the gang of Mutants, I couldn’t help but cringe. It would almost seem nit-picky if it didn’t occupy so many speech bubbles. “I’m a slicer-dicer, spud. A real slicer-dicer”. It’s supposed to be edgy and intimidating, but to me it just seemed silly– like, why are they calling people potatoes?

robin

I feel conflicted about the artwork. I can get over the obvious 1980’s influenced accessories and hairstyles, but I found myself disappointed by the inking. I was craving bold lines and vibrant colors, but most of the time I found soft and muted watercolors. That’s not to say that I disliked the artwork entirely. No. There are a number of images ingrained in my mind. Batman looming over a pig of a man, who is dangling upside-down off a Gotham City high-rise. The Joker laying limply in the Love Canal at a carnival, battarang lodged in his eye and slack-jawed. Superman’s body wasting away during the nuclear explosion. I stared at the grotesque images with grim fascination. These few images, juxtaposed against the soft water colors on the previous page, captured something far more sinister than I expected.

Then there was the plot, which was a little hit-and-miss for me as well, but I think this is one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” instances. I know very little about superheroes and the DC Universe, so I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia or asking my boyfriend a bunch of questions, and this sometimes distracted me from enjoying the comic. I was on board for the first half of the graphic novel, where Bruce Wayne becomes Batman again and fights crime. It was fast-paced and filled with villains I’m familiar with. It was simple enough for a Batman-newb like myself. But I found myself getting disoriented during the second half of the graphic novel. Like, why did the Police force dislike the Batman so much? And why is Superman trying to kill Batman– don’t they basically fight for the same team? Any why is Robin a girl? I mean, I loved it, but I thought Robin was a consistent character– I was wrong.

Batman Graphic Novels

Overall, I enjoyed Batman: the Dark Knight Returns. It was successful in making me more curious about the Batman series; I suppose it’s become a gateway. I mentioned in a recent Weekend Review that I have a tall stack of Batman comics to read, and I’ve already began working my way through. I recently finished Venom, and I just started Haunted Knight. I’ve even began perusing the graphic novel shelves at the book store, which was a section I generally stayed away from because really, I had no idea what to even pick up.

Read Batman: the Dark Knight Returns if you’re a fan of Batman comics– it’s a classic after all. If you’re a newcomer, you might want to start somewhere else because this graphic novel does seem dated, and it requires you to already have some knowledge about Batman and the DC Universe.

Rating: Three Star Review

If you’ve read Batman: the Dark Knight Returns, what did you think of it? If you’re a fan of Batman comics, are there any titles you think I ought to check out?

I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

[Warning: this post may contain spoilers]

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, someone talked me into reading the series. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about it, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. While Twilight focused on Bella and Edward’s relationship,  New Moon, focused on Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. I finished book two just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring; I actually skipped nearly an entire chapter of this book because it could not hold my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk– she was over-compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. Their attitudes were so unappealing that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy; attempting to finish the book became a challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences, and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because, while I liked the movie’s ending a little better than the book’s ending, it was still a “cop-out”, and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan #Review

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

 

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Released: January 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Age Group: Adult/New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 211
Source: Purchased

I am smitten with the format of The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. The novel is a series of dictionary entries, and each word represents a feeling or a thought or a moment that occur during the course of a romantic relationship. The entries are brief, but Levithan’s writing is powerful. If you’ve been in love or if you’ve been hurt or if you’ve been in love with the idea of love, then at least one passage will resonate with you, knock you down, leave you breathless. This was mine:

corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.

The Lover’s Dictionary is told in alphabetical order instead of chronological order, and while I appreciated the creativity of the storytelling, I did struggle with the story as a whole. At first, I thought I was reading vignettes about many different relationships. It wasn’t until the end that I realized it was about just one relationship. I ended up giving the book a quick, second read-through so I could gain a better understanding of what I had just read. I also feel like I may have picked this book up at a bad time. The Lover’s Dictionary isn’t the happiest of novels. For every entry about love and butterflies, there were twice as many about drinking too much, distrust, and complacency, and it weighed heavy on my heart.

I recommend this book…but not if you’re falling in love because it will just “harsh your mellow”. And not if you’ve just gotten out of a relationship because it will make you feel even worse. Everyone else should give it a go though!

Rating: Three Star Review

Book Report: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
Released: May 1999
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Non-fiction, Travel
Pages: 304
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America: majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way; and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

My Thoughts:
Good gravy! All I really want to say is, “OMG! GO READ THIS BOOK NOW!”. But, that doesn’t really make for an interesting review. Does anyone else find it challenging to write a review for a book that you absolutely loved?

There is no doubt that Bryson is a well-traveled individual, but he seems so out of his element on the Appalachian Trail. This makes for some pretty hilarious stories– his foray into a camping supply store, meeting other foolhardy hikers, his companion (Katz), crossing paths with a moose, and of course bears. If you’re familiar with Bill Bryson’s writing, then you know it’s never short on snark. Sometimes his style of humor can be exhausting, and it can make him seem pretentious. This is not the case in A Walk in the Woods. For every jeering remark he makes, it’s followed up by an anecdote of his own ineptitude. Hiking the Appalachian Trail seems like it was a humbling experience for Bryson.

Bryson’s account of the trail was satisfying enough, but the gem of the book was his discussion of human interaction with nature. The first half of the book, while it focuses on Bryson’s experience of hiking the trail, introduces the reader to the National Park Services. The NPS is a government organization created to preserve nature, though they have been known to single-handedly eradicate entire species of animal or plant. Oops! The second half of the book provides a more in-depth look at the human/nature relationship and on a broader timeline– from the European explorers first trek into the woods to modern-day ghost town made so because of a massive fire that’s been burning in a coal mine since the 1960s . You come away with the feeling that humans, who have always had a fascination with their surroundings, manage to destroy the beauty of nature out of sheer curiosity or their desire for recognition or monetary compensation.

A Walk in the Woods is the fifth book I’ve read by Bill Bryson, and I think it might be my favorite. It’s a perfect balance of everything that is typical of Bryson’s style. It’s equal parts breathtaking, informative, and hilarious. The landscapes he creates with his words makes me want to trek along over 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail myself. Then, he obsesses over bears and hantavirus-carrying mice, which immediately brings me back to reality. I am not a hardy person, and I am better suited to experiencing Mother Nature vicariously through others. Thank goodness for Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.

Read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson if– OMG! JUST GO READ THIS BOOK NOW!

Rating: Four Star Review