Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

Don't look at me like that. It's just a book review. The book is called Dirty Little Secrets, and was written by the fabulous C.J. Omololu. First of all, I'm surprised I knocked out 4 books in a month. That's probably a new record for me. Second, I'm surprised I read two books that I absolutely loved in a month.

Dirty Little Secrets has just about everything I love in a novel. Dark, disturbing, and real. Lucy seems normal enough, but behind the walls of her home is a secret she works hard to keep hidden from everyone around her. Piles of junk and stacks of trash. Nothing is thrown out, but everything is wasted. Suddenly her mother dies, and everything changes for Lucy. She knows she can start over -- fix what her mother let get out of control -- but she only has a few hours to do it.

Based on whatever summary you read, you may or may not know exactly what Lucy does when she finds her mother. I don't want to give anything away myself, but it's slightly disturbing. Despite this, there's a level of sympathy the reader has for her. Every word is captivating, while at the same time the horrific knowledge still clings to the reader. I for one had to keep reading to know how this would pan out.

Chapter after chapter digs deeper into Lucy's secret life, and even reveals secrets about her family that she never knew. A normal life is in her reach, and yet her old was is trying to drag her back.

I love it. So magnificently horrifying in a completely realistic way. The story takes place in a little more than 24 hours, and Lucy's anxiety translates onto the page. The end was what I would call perfect. Just as disturbing as the beginning, and not an ounce too corny. I felt for Lucy, even if I didn't know what it was like to live like her. Another great book, and in a style I love. And on a slightly related note, with writing like that, I may start to change my sour opinion on first person point of view.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fifty Posts In

That's right! It's my fiftieth post on blogger! I don't know if I should be stunned that I got this far, or appalled that it took this long. But here it is, the fiftieth post, and with it I unveil a new theme. The other one was driving me a little nuts, despite how pretty it was. I think I like this one though. Thoughts?

And that's about all I had to say. Just a new theme for fifty posts. I'll return be back to "regular" posts after this.

Girl, Stolen - book review

Not all books are easy to get through. Some can be very short, easy reads, and yet they are a pain to finish. It's usually different for everybody, but for me, Girl, Stolen was one of those books.

I'm a little frazzled right now because I accidentally threw away the notes I took on this book, and I already returned it to the library. So I'm going to keep this review a little brief.

Girl, Stolen by April Henry is about the tale of Cheyenne. She is sixteen years old, her father is president of Nike, and she has been blind for three years. Then one day while she waits in the car for her stepmother to pick up her medicine to fight her pneumonia, someone hops in the car and drives it away, with Cheyenne in the backseat.

Griffin has inadvertently kidnapped a blind girl. He only meant to steal a car and impress his father and his criminal ways. Now he has to deal with this mistake and make it work, and the more he gets to know Cheyenne, the more he wants to defy his father and help her escape.

So the book is written in alternating points of view. It's a little heart pumping, but it's also pretty predictable. Honestly, the only reason I read the whole thing is because it had a similar story to my WIP. (Thankfully, I think they're different enough.) The story was good, but I think the voice was a little annoying. There was a lot of telling, and info-dumping. There was a long-winded explanation to the reader about VIN's in one chapter, and in the next, Griffin explained the exact same thing to Cheyenne. There was even an explanation about Nike, which I think was unnecessary. It wasn't too horrible, but for good chunks of the book, it felt like the reader wasn't expected to know anything.

Overall, not a horrible book, but not a great one. It didn't take long to get through, so it wasn't a waste of my time to read. You might like it, even if I didn't. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Book Review of "wow!"

Very rarely do I finish a book... especially a very long book... and want to keep reading it. It's a very depressing moment to realize there is no more of that particular book to read. And all you can say is "wow," or laugh like a moron while uttering "oh my gosh" over and over again. This book has basically bumped off every book I've ever read from the number 1 spot. So I might gush over this book a little bit more than is necessary.

The point I'm getting at here is that if you haven't read Unwind by Neal Shusterman, I strongly recommend you get yourself a copy and read it as soon as possible.

It's years into the future. Years after the second civil war -- the Heartland War -- the war that pitted Pro-Life and Pro-Choice against each other. In the turmoil, a solution was formed. No longer can a child be aborted, but it can be unwound once it turns thirteen. Every piece of this child is still alive, but it is in a divided state -- unwound.

Connor is sixteen, and got into one too many fights at school. Risa is fifteen, and is taking too much space in the state home. Lev is thirteen, and he's a tithe. All three have been marked to be unwound. The three find themselves together as they run from the Juvy-cops. And it isn't easy, especially since Lev sees himself being an Unwind - a tithe - as a good thing.

This book is massive. It's long, and it's full. There are seven sections, and within each section, are chapters that follow along a different character. Throughout the pages we get to know Connor, Risa, Lev, and a few other people along the way. The story goes deep into it's own history, and into ethics and morality, and even makes the reader question if there is a God.

This book is almost scary. At times I thought about how I was lucky I'm 19 and too old be an Unwind. It seems so real, like it's something that could happen one day.

The writing is spectacular, even though it's in present tense (which usually bothers me.) And even though it takes place in the future, it doesn't focus on that fact. But the book does include interesting ideas, like how there is not "black" or "white" skin colors, but "umber" and "sienna."

It was a little hard to get through, but the more I read, the more I wanted to know what was going to happen, and my only disappointment is that it's over.

Oh, and this book earns another point because I'm pretty sure that there was a reference to Back to the Future when it says "an old movie plays on an antique plasma-screen TV. The movie shows a crazy vision of a future that never came, with flying cars and white-haired scientist." Tell me that's not Back to the Future II.

Unwind... go read it... now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Batch of Favorite Lines

Road Trip Wednesday has rolled around once again.

My favorite line from my WIP? Truth be told, I haven't officially touched it in a long time. I've been waiting for that special moment when I can throw myself into it. But I suppose that moment will never come and I'll have to suck it up and jump back in anyway.

However, picking a favorite line is tough. It's like children. You wouldn't pick one child of yours over another as your favorite, right? I'd hope not. And while each line isn't necesarily a child, I might consider each book my baby, and each line is a part of it, like a limb. ("I like my baby's arm better than its foot..." Okay, now I'm just rambling.) All I'm saying is that it's difficult to do, especially in less than 24 hours.

So let me cut to the chase. Last year I took a web page design class, and for our final project, we had to create a website for something that interested us, using blah, blah, blah. I used my WIP as the theme. And I saved the files and codes on my flash drive, so I still have it. And on one of those pages, I included the "excerpt," and three lines which I felt were pretty awesome. Maybe not my favorite, but summed up a lot of the book.

So I'm cheating a little. Three lines (which each are about two sentences long.) But I want to share them now.

And uh... just so you know, this is pretty much the first I've shared any of my book to anyone I didn't know personally. Big moment.

1."Well, thanks for getting your brother away from me," Olivia said, anger rising in her voice and sarcasm taking over, "but you can just go fling yourself down the stairs now."
Not even two seconds later, Chase's body pushed itself backwards and flipped over the railing. The impact was instantaneous.

Uhm, wow. That's got to make you do a double take over what you just read, right? It's completely unexpected, and shocking, and the last sentence is a little unsettling. No need to include graphics to stick that scene in the reader's head, right?

2. In the light of the car's headlights, a figure appeared almost out of nowhere, standing in the middle of the road. Benjamin slammed his foot on the break pedal, but the car came to a stop about seven or eight feet too late.

Okay, so re-reading this now, I already know there's a part I want to take out because it's rather redundant. Let me fix that.

In the light of the car's headlights, a figure appeared almost out of nowhere. Benjamin slammed his foot on the break pedal, but the car came to a stop about seven or eight feet too late.

Better? I think so. This is also a little bit jarring, which I like. It's shocking without being too over-the-top. And it's a different way of saying what actually happened. I almost think it's a little poetic, but that just might be me.

3. "Oh, God," Benjamin said to his reflection in the windshield. "I killed him."

The thing I like about this line is that it doesn't occur directly after line #2. In fact, it doesn't occur until a few chapters later, way, way, way, after the line, after the main action, way after Benjamin should be uttering that line. (I really hope I'm not giving away spoilers or anything. I don't think I am.)

I like this line because of where it is -- much later than where you'd think it would be. I think it's a real turning point in the novel and the character... but I'm not saying in which way either of those turn.

So there we are... my "favorite" lines from my WIP, if you can call them that. (Okay, my original WIP, not that one I've been struggling to start for the past few months. Insert involuntary "ugh" here.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In a Heartbeat - Book Review

First book read in the new year, and so the first official book review of the new year... on the 11th. Oh yeah, it's 1/11/11 -- but I'm waiting for the ultimate 11/11/11 at 11:11 for that ultimate wish.

Back onto the whole book review thing.

In a Heartbeat, by Loretta Ellsworth.

See, this is why I prefer suspense and psychological thrillers -- because I don't like it when books make me cry. Okay, that's a lie, but I'd like a little warning so that my eyes don't start to tear up in a public place. However, I will have to commend any author who can do that. I don't think it's an easy feat to accomplish, and is done better not in a straightforward description, but by what the characters say -- or even don't say.

Now that I've opened with that little tidbit, what is this book really about? A heart. One girl dies in a freak ice-skating accident. Another girl is dying of a sick heart. Eagan, the ice-skater, was an organ donor. So Amelia is lucky to get her heart. Each girl gets her say in the novel, every other chapter, as Eagan deals with being dead, and Amelia deals with the grief and gratitude of knowing she has someone else's heart beating inside her chest.

It's not a bad read, but not a great one. I don't believe in wasting my time on a book I don't like, and I read through it, so that says something. The book had two very distinct, very different characters, so the author did a good job of separating them, even after Amelia began to take on the characteristics of her donor. The author had a good voice throughout, and succeeded in portraying anger without needing to use exclamation points. I'd say some of the guys were a bit unrealistic, but overall, this was a decent book.

One little detail I also thought was cool, each chapter begins with the chapter number, and the name of the character the chapter's point of view is in. Through the chapter numbers run a heart line. The one's in Amelia's chapters keep beating, whereas Eagan's flatline. I just thought that was interesting and cool that such a small detail was stuck in there.

All in all, I wouldn't read it again, but it's a good book to read at least once. Go ahead and pull In a Heartbeat off the library shelf and check it out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review - Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Well, I think I put this review off long enough, and while I munch on some Cherry Garcia ice cream, I'm finally sharing my thoughts on Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Dash and Lily are both in New York, and are both spending Christmas alone. Dash finds a red notebook in a bookstore that sends him on a journey through the countless shelves. He decides to pull a twist on the notebook and sends the owner on her own journey, through New York, and soon the two are sending this red notebook back and forth with directions and dares that keep the preoccupied and guessing the whole holiday season.

The book swaps chapters. Dash, Lily, Dash, Lily... Dash's chapters were written by David Levithan, and Rachel Cohn wrote Lily's chapters. It's clear there are different voices in the chapters, which is good because it helps the reader feel how there are two separate characters with their own personalities. Dash is smart, and sly. Lily is cunning and cheery. Dash hates Christmas, Lily can't get enough of it.

I was sucked into this book from page one. Dash has a vocabulary that would put my 12th grade English teacher to shame. In fact, the entire book had a vast vocabulary with words such as philatelist, esoteric, inveterate, and lascivious. And countless other words that nearly made my brain explode, but I loved it.

There were a few slightly cliche passages, mostly towards the end, but there were also passages that could have been very cliche, and weren't at all. And I even loved the mention of the "epistolary flirtation." I was happy to know I knew what an epistolary was by the time I reached that.

I would recommend this book. It kept my brain active, and it kept me entertained. Go ahead and add it to your bookshelf.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Road Trip Wednesday of 2011

I read a bunch of books in 2010. Some were for school as I finished up my senior year, but most were for recreation. Road Trip Wednesday has asked me to pick my five favorite.

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I felt like I wanted to be in this story, and I didn't want to slap any of the characters.

2. Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
This one hit close to home with it being about a girl with actual weight problems, who actually struggled with them, and didn't magically reach a magical (and realistically unattainable) happy ending like other "fat girl" books.

3. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
A little less interesting than Looking for Alaska, but John Green rocks my literary socks. And I liked Hassan's character.

4. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
I haven't done my official review for this yet, but Dash used a vocabulary that would make my English teacher from last year feel inferior.

5. 1984 by George Orwell
Of course I picked a classic. Seriously though, I did enjoy this book, even if I did have to read it for school.

And to complete this post, I must sum up 2010 in a book title....

The Middle-Aged and Restless

Oh yeah... I went there.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Reading Update

Remember back at the end of September when I posted a picture of my "to be read" list?

Well, I thought I'd share what it looks like now...

Doesn't really look all that different, does it? I've knocked a few books out of the running, (4, plus I'm in the middle of reading one now,) but I've also added books, (4, two of which I just bought.) I'll also be adding another few books once they come in the mail, hopefully this week. Add to that the books I'm getting out of the library this week.

And again, I do indeed have a perfectly good bookshelf, but it's more fun to store them here.