Friday, November 7, 2014

Welcome to the rest of my book review round-up for this last month! I have no idea how I got so behind on these, but holy cow, it got bad there. I promise to try to never let it get this backed up again. Here's the rest of what I'm been reading lately!

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale : This was a hard one for me. I originally wanted to read it pretty much just based on its cover, but then I found out it came from James Frey's writer sweatshop, so then I didn't want to read it, but I eventually caved. Morals? What morals? And then the day that I finished this I heard about Hale's disastrous PR fail of stalking a blogger. Which is not what I want to talk about here. I just want to focus on the book. And it was okay at best. She seems to make fun of a lot of what it seems she perceives as insincerity of Minnesotan kindness. I just don't know how I feel about it over all. I found Kippy pretty obnoxious as a character. Her entire town seemed really corrupt and every one was kind of a jerk. The ending is pretty decent, so I didn't finish it hating it. But the more time I've spent thinking about it, the less fond of it I've become. 

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz: I talked about this book a while back when I wrote about how inspiring young adult books are. This is not going to be about that. Because besides the inspirational bit, this book was almost exactly like reading a teen-scream horror movie. I kept thinking of Scream and Saw and I Know What You Did Last Summer and even Cabin in the Woods.

The characters were all really well distinguished. I've loved Stolarz's writing style since I read her Blue is for Nightmares series in 2006. So I really just enjoyed this one over all. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy horror movies or mystery/scary books.

Favorite Quotes:
Give yourself permission. Live your own life, make your own choices.

What can this moment teach me?

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes : I know this book is still used to teach students anti-bullying, but I'm not sure it's very effective. I was actually very disappointed in this book. It's so apologetic of bullying It's ultimate message seems to be if you feel bad about it then all is forgiven and everything's okay. But it really isn't. Bullying remains forever. Even people who are capable of forgiving their bullies don't forget the bullying. I just couldn't get behind this one.

Money Hungry by Sharon G. Flake : Raspberry is obsessed with money. She doesn't spend it. She hordes it. In a million places in her bedroom, she keeps it. In Raspberry's mind, money is the only thing keeping her and her mother from returning to the streets. 

I really liked Money Hungry. I can identify with Raspberry's financial concerns even though it shouldn't be her problem. It also made me so aware of the failings of our society. We--as a society--have failed in the safety systems we've set up And we've failed in being empathetic towards others. I would recommend this to people looking for realistic fiction.

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout: This was a delightfully creepy mystery. Samantha wakes up with no memory of her life or herself. She feels like a stranger in what is supposed to be her life. But her friend is still missing, and she's determined to find out what happened to them. I loved the twists and turns in this one! I couldn't figure out what was going to happen. I kept trying to guess who the bad guy was, and then I would change my mind in the next scene. Definitely worth reading if you like mysteries!

Favorite Quote:
My life was a mess, but as my eyes were drawn to the casket's polished mahogany, I knew that my life--as screwed up as it was--had to be better than no life.

Matilda by Roald Dahl : Somehow, I missed reading this one in my youth. It astounds me because I adored the movie and Matilda remains one of my favorite characters. The book was just as good (if not better!!) than the movie. I loved it. I could see tiny Matilda trying to reach books at the library and tipping over the water glass with her mind. I really loved the whole book.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour: This is such a delightful teen romance. When Emi finds a letter in a famous deceased star's record, she sets out on a mission to deliver it. Along the way she meets Ava and begins to fall for her. It's a beautiful story about finding out how the past doesn't make you who you are, you do. I loved the descriptions of movie sets because it's something that's always intrigued me. I forget that people actually design them as a job. And I'm so jealous of Emi's job as a designer.

Favorite Quote:
People talk about coming out as though it's this big one-time event. But really, most people have to come out over and over to basically every new person they meet.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton : I've been dying to read this ever since I first saw the cover. And I'm so glad I did. It was beautifully written, and such an intriguing entrancing story. It was completely strange, but Walton did such a fantastic job tying all the pieces together that by the end I was blown away. While I wasn't a huge fan of the final plot twist, I really loved all the characters. I would recommend this to people who like slightly off-the-wall things and books with multiple characters and generations.

Royally Lost by Angie Stanton : This book was terrible!! I wanted something like Chasing Liberty which remains one of my favorite romcoms even though it isn't very good. But what I got was stereotypical characters that portrayed all the wrong things and a degree of insta-love that even I had a hard time believing it. The main girl character was entirely unpalatable--every terrible version of American girls ever portrayed and the main guy character was so forgettable that I can't remember a single distinguishing thing about him--including his name. Pass this one up if you're expecting a fun romantic read. 

 Fifteen by Beverly Cleary : Another Cleary book I just couldn't like. It was written in the 50's, and it's all about how this girl wants a boyfriend basically in order to be popular. And I understand that it was a different time period, but I just wanted Jane to like trip off a cliff. I was tired of her incessant boy obsession by the third page (and I was definitely boy obsessed myself). I think the irritating part for me is that she was ready to lose herself to having a boyfriend. She thinks at one point that if she were to start dating Stan she'd be able to tell her friends, Stan likes when I wear this color and Stan and I were going driving later and Stan, Stan, Stan. It becomes entirely about him and she relegates herself to nonexistence. Even at my boy-craziest, I still wanted the boy to like me back and care about my own thoughts and opinions and hobbies. And that was what bothered me the most about this one.

The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton : I was incredibly disappointed by this book. This was one of those books that I heard a lot about growing up. Everyone kept telling me to read it because I was sure to love it. I mostly just spend the whole book extremely confused about what was going on? And I never felt particularly connected to the story. It's part historical novel, part mystery novel. But it doesn't really match either category enough to succeed as one or the other in my reading. 

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson : I raved about Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun. The Sky is Everywhere was actually her first book. The writing is equally as beautiful, but I felt way less attached to the plot. I was interested to find out that this story is also about twins and death, although this time one twin has died and the other is dealing with the aftermath. And really, Lennie isn't dealing well. Until Joe comes to town. He coerces her out of the darkness and brings her into the light. But Lennie keeps finding herself drawn to Toby--her dead twin's boyfriend. 

I loved Lennie and Joe together. They were delightful. And Nelson's descriptions of Joe were fantastic. I also loved Lennie's friend Sarah. She was so cool and exactly the friend I would have wanted in high school. I just didn't like Lennie and Toby's involvement with each other. It's probably an accurate depiction of dealing with grief, but I disliked it all the same. I would still recommend this to people, especially if they've already read I'll Give You the Sun, which I preferred overall. 

Favorite Quotes: 
My sister dies over and over again, all day long.
it's time for me to talk about what I'm going through--but she, and the experts, and Gram, for that matter, don't get it. I can't. I'd need a new alphabet, one made of falling, of tectonic plates shifting, of the deep devouring dark.
What do you do when the worst thing that can happen actually happens?
Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes part of you, step for step, breath for breath.

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