Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth

Reader Friends, today I am sick.  Not sick enough to stay home from work in bed, just sick enough to be miserable.  Because of my misery and cold-induced brain fog, I'm not even going to try to come up with an original summary for this.  Here's what Goodreads has to say (you can read what I thought below the summary):

I'm sitting on my couch, watching the local news. There's Chloe's parents, the mayor, the hangers on, all grouped round the pond for the ceremony. It's ten years since Chloe and Carl drowned, and they've finally chosen a memorial-a stupid summerhouse. The mayor has a spade decked out in pink and white ribbon, and he's started to dig.

You can tell from their faces that something has gone wrong. But I'm the one who knows straightaway that the mayor has found a body. And I know who it is.

This is the tale of two fourteen-year-old girls, best friends, and one terrible summer when lies, secrets, jealousy, and perversion ended in tragedy more tangled and evil than a tight-knit community can possibly believe.

A dark tale with a surreal edge, Jenn Ashworth's gripping novel captures the intensity of girls' friendships and the dangers of a predatory adult world they are just grown up enough to think they can handle. And it shows just how far that world will go, sacrificing truth in the name of innocence.

Honestly I was just not a fan.  The author jumps back and forth between the present (what Lola, our narrator, is doing with her life after Chloe's death) and the past (the terribly twisted relationship between Chloe, Lola, and a third friend, Emma).  While I appreciate this device in many books, this particular book is hard to follow.  There isn't a good indication of when we have moved to Lola's past and when we are in Lola's present.  As I read, I found myself constantly confused about what point in Lola's history I was supposed to be in. 

The characters present my other main issue with the writing.  I hated them all.  And this isn't always a problem for me.  I can actually really enjoy a good character who has no redeeming qualities (see Giliian Flynn's books or Dare Me, which I'll be reviewing soon).  But I do need characters to interest me.  I don't have to like them or like anything they do, but I have to want to know about them and be curious about what their motivations are.  I didn't have that interest in any of these characters.  Not only were they annoying and unlikable, they weren't even interestingly annoying or unlikable.  They were such generic bratty teens, with generic uninvolved parents, and a generic jerk boyfriend.  If you're going to go with dark and unlikable, make it interesting and unique.  This wasn't.

Entertainment Value
It crosses over with the characterization I mentioned under the writing section of my review.  Didn't like or care about the characters.  It also starts off so slowly and the lack of distinction between time periods made it even more difficult to read.  I hate to say it, but in the end this one felt like a chore.  I've been really enjoying some darker reads this fall, so I was excited to hear this one described as such, but this book just didn't live up to that for me.

I do want to think TLC for the opportunity to read the book!  Click here to see the rest of the tour stops!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Reader Friends, I have a confession.  I am woefully lacking in knowledge regarding 80's and early 90's pop culture, especially given that those were my formative years.  The thing is, I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and I was very sheltered.  If you have questions about Psalty the Singing Psalm Book or the Donut Man or need the lyrics to DC Talk's Nu Thang album, you should come to me.  I also consider myself something of an expert on Christian video games released by Wisdom Tree.  We had them all: King of Kings, Exodus, Spiritual Warfare, Bible Buffet, and Bible Adventures.  We also had a few secular games (the arcade version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but my knowledge of other pop culture (songs, movies, bands, etc) is really limited. 

::Fifteen minutes later, after finding I can play ALL THE CHRSTIAN GAMES here::

So I knew I was handicapped going in to Ready Player One, which is, basically an homage to all things 80's and early 90's pop culture, especially video games.  However, I had heard wonderful things about the book and figured I could enjoy it even if I didn't get all of the in jokes.  The basic plot is a future dystopian-ish world where everyone pretty much lives within a Virtual Reality construct that is like a mash-up of Warcraft and Second Life/Sims.  In this world, an egg has been hidden that contains a secret puzzle that will lead users to a multi-million dollar inheritance left by the creator of the video game.  It just so happens that the creator grew up in the 80's and the clues to the puzzle all revolve around 80's trivia and pop culture.

The writing was fine - typical to me of most best-sellers.  It wasn't particularly impressive, but there was nothing wrong with it either.  The story is the main focus of the book, not the writing.  I think the writing can appeal to a wide range of readers, however, which is always a positive.  It's not so difficult that younger readers won't be able to understand or appreciate it, but it's also mature enough for adults to enjoy.  Luke read it too and loved it, but commented that the writing felt "young" to him.  It should be noted that the narrator is in high school, which could be why he felt this way.  I thought the book had a pretty wide appeal.

Entertainment Value
This is where the book excelled for me.  I was totally wrapped up in the story and characters.  Even though I didn't get a lot of the 80's references, I got enough to be fascinated by how detailed the author went.  I also loved the concept of hidden eggs within a video game and the puzzles that the narrator had to solve.  I think the author really committed to the story and LOVED that there were several jaw-dropping moments for me.  Lots of twists and turns and unexpected happenings, which are my favorite sort of happenings.

I highly recommend reading it, even if you aren't a huge fan of 80's pop culture, but especially if you are.  Luke loved reading all the video game references and the storyline is intriguing and exciting even if you aren't as knowledgeable.

I read this one in e-book format from my not-so-local library.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird Winner

Congratulations, Jessica Love! chose you as my To Kill A Mockingbird winner!  I'll be getting in touch to get details so TCM can send you movie tickets and Harper Collins can get your book in the mail!  Thanks to everyone who entered!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Amazing To Kill A Mockingbird Giveaway!

Reader Friends, I am so lucky to be a part of this amazing Harper Collins/TMC giveaway for an amazing movie experience and book.

You’ve read the book…now see it come to life on movie screens nationwide!

For one day only on Thursday, November 15th, select movie theaters nationwide will show the award-winning film version of Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird, in an event in honor of its 50th anniversary. In partnership with Fathom Events, Harper Perennial is offering YOU a chance to win 2 tickets for this event, plus a copy of the book!

PRIZE PACK: 2 tickets to the event at the movie theater nearest you and a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird

First: Click here for a list of participating theaters to confirm there is a screening of the event near you.
Second: Comment on this post and share it with your friends on your own blog/Facebook/Twitter!
**A winner will be selected at random by end of day Sunday, October 28th.
**To participate, first CONFIRM there is a movie theater in your area.

Like I said before, I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this event.  I'm going with Sugar Bear and we've even been discussing potential ham costumes.  I am a huge fan of the book and the movie.  The giveaway is short though, so be sure to leave me a comment BEFORE SUNDAY!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Audiobook Review: Pretty In Plaid by Jen Lancaster

I've had this book on my shelf forever and had kind of been holding off on reading it because I didn't want my Jen Lancaster experience to be over.  But when I saw it available on the library website I decided it was past time for me to read it, especially since she recently released another that I can look forward to.  This one is the prequel to her memoirs (Bitter Is The New Black, Bright Lights, Big Ass, and Such A Pretty Fat) and tells about her childhood, teen years, and her time in college and as a young professional.  It's written in the same tone as her other books and delivered exactly what I hoped it would.

If you've read Lancaster before, you know what to expect with her writing.  She writes conversationally and tells hilarious stories with herself as the butt of most of the jokes.  She has a dry, self-deprecating sense of humor and isn't afraid to laugh at herself, which is my favorite thing about her books.  I love a person who doesn't take themselves too seriously and can look back and laugh.  Lancaster is the master of this type of humor. 

Entertainment Value
If you like her brand of humor, you'll like the book.  It's not that her life is particularly fascinating (I found many of her experiences in this book to be pretty mundane) but the way she tells a story is hilarious.  If you are easily offended, however, this probably won't appeal to you.  She can be crass and off-color and definitely uses harsh language.  However, I love her style and think this book totally reflected her personality in a way I could relate to, even if I didn't always find her likable.  Basically it comes down to whether or not you find Lancaster funny.  If you do, you'll like the book.  If you think she's shallow and vulgar in her other books, you won't enjoy this one either.

On the one hand, it totally lined up with what I was looking for in an audiobook.  It's a light summer (yeah it was still summer when I listened to it) and it was simple enough to follow that I could listen while cleaning or cooking or driving.  I can't do anything too difficult (classics, for example) on audio because I need to be able to do other things while I listen.  So this was perfect subject matter.  On the other hand, I find the bad language a lot less easy to hear than I do to read.  I can skim over those things more easilty than I can hear them, so that was a drawback for me.  In the end, I still enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it to those who like Lancaster and her sense of humor.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Review: Falling Together by Marissa de los Santos

I'm always excited when I get an email from Trish or Lisa at TLC Tours, but occasionally they include offers to review books that just about knock me out of my chair with excitement.  Then I sit on pins and needles until I get the email saying I made it on the tour.  This was one of those books.  I am a HUGE fan of de los Santos.  I really liked Love Walked In and then totally fell in love with Belong To Me.  So I was thrilled to have a chance to read this new one that follows three college friends who have lost contact, but reconnect in a trip that takes them across the world. 

Completely satisfied.  I think de los Santos is a great writer, one of the best in women's literature for creating complex characters.  Her characters are never one dimensional and this book is no exception.  What I really appreciate about the writing is that I didn't find a single character who just existed to move the plot along.  Each character, even secondary characters, had a personality that really mattered to the story.  They are by turns sympathetic and frustrating, which is exactly what I like to see in a character. 

Entertainment Value
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one.  The pacing is good, the story is interesting enough, but it was really the characters that made the book for me.  I've been reading a lot of page-turning thrillers, so the pace of this one threw me off a bit at first, but once I was into the story I realized it was fitting for the book.  I like the fall setting of course and I think it's a perfect season read with a pleasant ending that, while not trite, leaves the reader happy.

I recommend it to lovers of women's fiction, fans of the author, and anyone looking for a happy seasonal read.

Thank you to TLC for including me in the tour.  Click here for a list of other tour stops

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Bookcases Are Back!

I had planned to do a vlog of putting together my bookcases and organizing them by color vertically rather than horizontally.  I thought a tutorial would be fun, but my laptop broke, which meant I didn't have a webcam to use and I didn't want Luke filming me with the iPhone, so I decided to just do pictures.

After Luke put the shelves together, sans cat-pee-ruined portions

All the bookcases put together and in place.  Yay Smart Shelves!

Gather all books of the same color and order them in the color direction you want them to go.  Mine start with light pink, move to red, then orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.  So I started by gathering all my pinks from lightest to darkest. 

Then I started at the top, putting one or two books on each shelf, depending on how wide the books were, and moving to the right as the colors got darker.  It really helped that they were already arranged by color.  Had I not had them organized by color before, it would have taken a lot longer.

After that I just kept going from top to bottom moving the color band along as uniformly as I could.

And when I was finished I had one big rainbow, plus my Best Americans on top.  It obviously still needs a bit of work - you can see that there are some gaps, and my yellow section is particularly pitiful.  I also need to find something to put on top until I complete my Best American collection and can cover the top with those.  As of right now they look kind of lonely up there. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You To Know

So this is a case of "don't judge a book by it's cover" and also "seriously do your research before you sign up for a book tour."  Because the fact that I didn't enjoy this book is 100% my fault.  See, what happened is that I saw the adorable cover with the cute little puppy faces and decided based on the title that it was going to contain dog facts/training advice.  I glossed over the summary and didn't read the exerpt because I thought it would be like "I'm not a person" and then a little paragraph about how it's important not to treat your dog like a child and why.  Which is what I wanted to read  But it's actually humorous essays from a dog's point of view and it's not really advice it's more like what your pet would say if he or she could talk.

So it's not that the book isn't funny or that it wasn't well written, it's that it's in a genre that I just don't find all that entertaining.  Basically, what I'm trying to say is that my review is totally biased and it's totally my fault because I went into the book with faulty expectations.  That said, I'm going to do my best to review the book based on its merits and not on how it didn't meet my expectations.

Cutesy I think is the best way to describe it.  There are 11 different dogs, each of which has his or her own personality.  Each dog also has a story line - there's the German Shepherd who is looking for a job, an elderly Cocker Spaniel who is dealing with age, a Bloodhound who wants to be a movie star rather than a hunter, etc.  Each story has a cute picture to go along with it.  It's something you'd find in the humor section at Barnes and Noble - one of those books with as many pictures as words and something funny on each page?  Do you know what I'm talking about?  Am I making any sense?

Entertainment Value
Again, I think this was really just meant for a different audience with different expectations.  I personally wasn't all that entertained.  Straightforward literal humor just isn't my thing.  But I think this does have a huge potential for readers who prefer that kind of humor.  I can think of several friends and family members off the top of my head who would love this kind of book - I'll probably be passing it on to one of them.

It wasn't my thing.  I didn't love it.  But I don't think that means that the book wasn't successful for what it was intended to be - a humorous collection examining life from a dog's point of view.   Like I said, I think that had I not jumped on the book for its adorable cover and paid more attention, I would have had a more accurate understanding going in.  Lesson learned.  But I do think the book is perfect for many readers and there are quite a few people I'll recommend it to. 

Thanks to TLC for letting me part of the tour!  Click here for a list of other tour stops.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review: Faith and Other Flat Tires by Andrea Palpant Dilley

Faith and Other Flat Tires is the memoir of a girl who grew up in a very conservative Christian family as the daughter of missionaries, who began to question her faith as she matured.  The book follows Andrea from her childhood in Kenya to her difficult teen years to her rejection of faith as a young adult and her consequent return to faith.

I can't say I was really impressed with the writing.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either.  It read more like a journal than a book and the ending didn't provide much closure.  There was nothing about it that really turned me off in terms of style, but there also wasn't anything that really appealed to me about it either.

Entertainment Value
I thought I would identify with the author more closely than I actually did.  We had similar upbringings in very devout, conservative homes, although I never lived overseas.  But I just never really got interested in the story itself.  I always feel bad when critiquing a memoir and saying it wasn't interesting, but I found myself really struggling to get through the book.  I think much of that was based on the fact that this is a story I've read before, in many formats.  Nothing sets the author's experience apart from other stories of doubt and renewed faith, which is what I'm looking for in a memoir.  If I knew the author, I think her story would have a greater impact, but as a memoir, it isn't novel.  Also, as a spiritual memoir, I appreciate gaining new insight.  But in this case, I didn't feel like the author brought anything new to the table in terms of dealing with doubts.  In the end, I didn't really idenitfy with her and I didn't learn anything new from the book, which caused it to be something of a dud for me.

Look, it's not that I don't recommend this book.  It's a fine book.  I just think that there are many better memoirs of doubt written by masters like Os Guiness and C.S. Lewis.  It's not that I don't appreciate the author's story or that, as a believer, I don't think I should rejoice when anyone returns to their faith.  But I just think there are better books about the experience for serious readers.

Thanks to Handlebar Marketing for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Audiobook Review: A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth is kind of a person hero of mine.  I first "met" her in college when I heard her sing "Taylor the Latte Boy" (still my favorite) on Prairie Home Companion.  And then I was introduced to the wonder that is Wicked.  And my love just grew from there.  I was absolutely devoted to her character on Pushing Daisies and I listen to her CDs all the time (fingers crossed that there are more to come).  I even watched her episode on Glee, even though I hate that show.  Not only does she have an amazing talent, but she's also a Christian with very similar beliefs to my own.  This book, her memoir, tells about her successes and failures in show business as well as her years growing up and some of the more controversial aspects of her career (posing in Playboy, going on The 700 Club, etc).

Adorable.  Exactly what you'd expect if you are familiar with her work at all.  She's cute and chipper and adorable and the book stays totally true to her style, if you're at all familiar with it.  I wanted to say that it's representative of her as a person, but I don't really know her as a person.  It's representative of the person she portrays?  Is that better?  If you are familiar with her adorable stage personality, you will find more of the same in this book.

Entertainment Value
Obviously I loved reading the behind the scenes stories of her roles in Wicked and Pushing Daisies.  But what I identified the most with was the controversy that Chenoweth describes after he appearance on The 700 Club.  Chenoweth recorded an album of traditional Christian music, hymns and gospel songs that she grew up with, as well as some of her own, and was scheduled for an appearance on The 700 Club.  On the show, she discussed her new CD and her own religious beliefs. 

She was unaware at the time of Pat Robertson's outspoken stance against gay marriage and experienced an instant backlash in the form of boycotts against her CD, her shows, and attacks on her own beliefs.  It wasn't because of her own beliefs (Chenoweth is unapologetic in her approval of gay marriage) or even that those beliefs were even mentioned in her appearance.  But the fact that she had allowed herself to be in any way connected with the show made her a pariah in her community.  At the same time, she responded to the criticism by defending her choice to go on the show to promote her music to its intended community, but also made her own beliefs known. 

To add insult to injury, she was then attacked by the Christian community and asked to step down from her scheduled appearances as the Women of Faith events.  She was damned on one side for not shunning all Christian communities who opposed gay marriage and on the other for having "liberal" beliefs on gay marriage.  That was the moment when I fully connected with her story.  I cannot begin to describe how closely I can identify with being "too conservative" for my liberal friends and "too liberal" for my conservative friends.  It can be so hard to find a place in the middle and I often feel like Luke and I are alone in what we believe.  This was an excellent reminder for me that others deal with the same thing - and that my small-scale issues are at least not being enacted in the public eye. 

Overall, I'm so impressed with Chenoweth's personality and the way she stands up for what she believes, even when it's unpopular with the media or with her more conservative roots.  While I'm not sure I agree with every decision she makes, I so admire how she owns those decisions and doesn't back down.  I also love her willingness to admit to mistakes in her career and personal life and the fact that she never seems to take herself too seriously.

So freaking cute.  Chenoweth narrates, so obviously there is nothing at all to dislike.  I love audiobooks where the author also narrates - it can really give insight into the book.  You get a much better idea about which lines are intended to be sarcastic and which are intended to be jokes and which are meant to be taken seriously when you know the author is reading it the way it sounds to her.

If you're a fan of Chenoweth's it's a must read.  I think it will also appeal to those who are interested in show business, particularly musical theater.  And of course I really appreciated her take on religion.  If you're not into musical theater, you're not familiar with Chenoweth, and you're not all that interested in reading celebrity biographies, you'll probably want to avoid this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Series Review: The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

It's taken me way too long to write about these, mostly because I've had a hard time coming up with anything to say.  The plots are all complex and since it's a whole series, I can't go into too much detail, especially beyond the first one, without giving things away.  Basically, though, the entire series revolves around Euginides, an expert thief, who has been captured and can only earn his release by stealing a valuable treasure that could change the course of three nations.  Each of the books continues the Euginides' story and has an overarching storyline, but each book is also its own story.  No cliffhangers here - you can read the stories book by book without missing anything, but if you're like me you won't be able to stop after the first one.

Not a single complaint.  One hugely successful aspect of the writing is the age range that these books can appeal to.  They're intended for an older middle grade/younger YA audience and written for that audience's reading level, but they are still so smart and relatable.  I think they'll appeal to all lovers of YA and to adults as well.  I would recommend these to younger readers (or even as read-alouds), but I've also recommended them to my husband.  I rarely read MG, but I'm so glad I made an exception for these.  They're really ageless - like the Narnia books or Harry Potter.

Entertainment Value
Like I mentioned above, I couldn't read them fast enough.  I fell completely in love with the characters, the setting, the relationships, all of it.  It was this summer's Song of Ice and Fire (but shorter and clean) for me - I just became completely immersed in the world to the point that I couldn't think about anything else. 

I can't say enough good things about this entire series.  Each book was better than the last.  The author has a fifth book coming out at some point in the future, although no date is announced yet.  However, because each story has its own arc, don't feel like you need to wait for the series to be complete.  It's just beautiful and I recommend it to everyone, especially those who are into fantasy worlds like Westeros, Narnia, and Middle Earth.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Audiobook Review: If You Ask Me (And You Probably Won't) by Betty White

Can this post start with anything other than me declaring my undying love for Betty White?  Although, if you are human, you are fairly sure to agree.  How could you not love Betty White?  So obviously, on my summer spree of audiobooks of humorous essays, Betty White needed to make an appearance.  This is her latest in a string of memoirs chronicling her life and experiences, as well as her thoughts on various subjects.  Since we're dealing with humorous essays, I'll avoid the two part review and just tell you my overall opinion and thoughts on the narration.

Meh.  Oh how it pains me to type that, Reader Friends.  But it's true - the book was just ok for me.  It wasn't particularly funny, although it was pleasant and parts were inspiring and sweet and vaguely humorous.  I think my expectations really kept me from fully enjoying the book the way it was meant to be enjoyed.  Had I read anything written by White before I might have had a better idea of what to expect - and I will read her again in the future with altered expectations. 

What I expected was full blown hilarity - the kind of outrageous situations she seems to get herself into on tv.  So when Betty would start a story I would feel on the edge of my seat waiting for the punch line, only to be disappointed when the story had a very typical real-life ending.  For example: Betty gets locked out of her house in her nightrobe.  I wait for something crazy to happen, but in the end Betty's neighbor has a key, so she gets back into her house.  It's not that the stories weren't nice, they were just...typical.  It was like listening to my Mema tell me about her day.There were other stories as well - more inspirational than humorous - like the story of Betty's relationship with Koko the gorilla and her work with animals. 

Amazing - it's Betty White, obviously!  Her narration totally made the book for me.  I'd listen to her read the dictionary if she recorded it. 

This is good as a light read or a small diversion.  I don't expect that it'll be life-changing or have you rolling on the floor laughing, but it's enjoyable.  I will try more of White's books, although I won't be rushing out to get them immediately.  I think I'll enjoy them more if I go into it with more reasonable expectations.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl has been reviewed on so many blogs and in so many other places throughout the summer,  I'm just not going to bother doing a plot summary.  If you missed out on the plot summary somehow, check it out by clicking here to see the Goodreads page. 

I think the writing in this book is superb.  It's an amazingly creative psychological thriller that kept my nerves on edge throughout the entire book.  And the ending.  Holy moly, it was perfection.  I really think Flynn has accomplished something great with her ability to reveal just enough to keep the reader guessing, particulary regarding character development.  There's nothing worse to me than reading a psychological thriller where the suspense is tied up in a very obvious "I know the answer but I'm not going to tell you" feeling from the author.  In the case of Gone Girl, I think the suspense is held more in the development of the characters themselves.  I am a huge fan of the author's writing style, I think she's definitely talented, and I'll be reading her other books ASAP.  Also, I think it's worth saying that I'm thrilled to see a well-written book on all of the summer reading/best seller lists.  This one is worthy of being read beyond the entertainment factor alone.  And speaking of...

Entertainment Value
Amazing.  I only spent a day or two on it because I was so wrapped up in the story that I couldn't stop reading.  I love that while the writing is superb, it's still engrossing.  It would make a fantastic beach or airplane read, but it's also perfect for snuggling up with at night in front of the fire.  And it will definitely make you think.

I highly recommend it, although I have a few words of warning.  The content is graphic at times and the language is harsh.  If you're easily creeped out or offended, this one isn't for you.  Also, the worldview presented is bleak at best.  If you're looking for redemption or even one likable character, you are out of luck.  It's dark and twisted, as are all the characters, and the ending for that matter.  So be warned that you're not going to find a light in this tunnel.  It certainly doesn't reflect my worldview in the least, but that didn't ruin the book for me.  The characters were fascinating and complex enough that I didn't mind how completely unlikable they were.  And the ending was perfect.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Book Review: Virgins by Caryl Rivers

Virgins was originally published in the mid-80's and is set in the 1960's.  It focuses on the senior year of high school for two virginal Catholic school girls who are aching to grow up and experience life.  It's really not as much of a plot-driven book as it is the story of their senior year and their coming of age.  It reminded me a lot of a Judy Blume book - like something you'd read in middle school or high school and share the "dirty" parts.  The main focus of the story is how the girls toe the line between what their strict Catholic upbringing and their desire to be adults.  It was rereleased in June by Diversion Books in ebook format and is available through Amazon and Banres

I mean, it's a mid-80's YA book, what can I say?  You're not really reading it for the superb writing.  For what it is meant to be, the author does a fine job.  The only thing I can say that really bothered me was some inconsistency is one girl's character.  Constance (Con) is our main character's best friend.  She is supposed to be worldly and rough around the edges.  She reads Freud and Dorothy Parker and pushes boundaries by wishing for lovers and actively trying to loser her virginity.  However, for a girl who reads Dorothy Parker and Freud, she seems to know absolutely nothing about sex.  She tells Peggy at one point that women who don't have lots of sex are Frigid, which causes them to become paralyzed and put in the hospital and fed through tubes.  I just felt like a girl who is reading Freud as a teen would know better, even given the strict Catholic upbringing.  So that kind of bugged me.

Entertainment Value
I thought it was fabulous!  Super cute, something I would have adored in high school and loved now as well.  Peggy and Con are lovable and relatable and girls I'd want to be friends with.  I also loved Sean and Peggy's relationship and the way it affects Peggy.  I also loved the super strict religious elements of the book - I could totally identify with Peggy and Con's sheltered upbringing, as well as their own questions about faith and how to make religion their own.

I think it was a lot of fun to read.  It reminded me of both Grease and Judy Blume.  So if you're fans of either of those things, I think you'll really enjoy this one.

Thanks to TLC for including me on the tour.  Click here to see the other tour stops!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What I Read In September

This was a slower reading month for me than August.  And it was a difficult month for us as a family.  Luke's father has been very sick all summer and his condition worsened during the past few weeks.  Luke went to be with his mother and tell his father goodbye, and last week his father passed away.  Between running the house without Luke's help (how do people with children DO IT?) and taking the trip to Arkansas to be with his family, I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked.  Of course, I still managed to fit in SOME reading time, like I always do.  Here's what I read in September:

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santos

Spook by Mary Roach

Slummy Mummy by Fiona Neill

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes A Day by Gary R. Morgan

Bitter Is The New Black by Jen Lancaster

How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley

Sultry With A Twist by Macy Beckett

Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes by Cathy Holton

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Books Read In September: 11
Books Read This Year: 92
Total Pages Read This Year: 28,428
Money Saved Using Library, Books I Own, and Review Copies: $1014.78

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Book Birthday, Sultry With A Twist!!!

I'm not going to review this one because the author is actually a friend of mine - a Nestie in fact.  My policy in regards to Nestie authors is that I don't do critical reviews.  I'd be biased, obviously, because I love them, and I'd never critique a friend's work unasked.  So that explains the lack of critical review on this one and also gives you a heads up that I may be a bit biased in my love for this book.

I don't typically read romance novels, but since this one is by a Nestie, I made an exception, and I'm so glad I did.  The main character is Mae-June July Augustine, who left her small town life and the man who broke her heart years ago and hasn't looked back.  It's not until she's paid her dues and is ready to open her own bar that she learns of an outstanding warrant from her days in Sultry Springs.  The only way to get it off her record and move forward with her new life is to return to Sultry Springs to serve out a 30 day community service sentence - under the authority of the town's sheriff, her old flame, Luke Gallagher (love the name!).

If you're looking for butterflies, this will provide them.  I'm so excited for Macy and highly recommend that you check this one out if you're a fan of romance - or if you just want to support a deserving author.  Thanks to Netflix for allowing me to review this one early.