Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Andersen


Description (from Goodreads):
“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.
My thoughts: I got this book yesterday night from the library and I had to spent the whole night reading it, I just couldn't put it down. I read Catalyst by Laurie Halse Andersen a couple of weeks ago and I knew what to expect. After I finished with this book, I was speechless. And that does not happen very often.
Lia's best friend Cassie has died alone in a motel room. Lia feels responsible for her best friend's death. Cassie tried to call Lia 33 times before she died. Lia didn't answer. Lia and Cassie made a deal when they were younger. They both wanted to be the skinniest students of their high school. Cassie, suffering from bulimia and Lia, suffering from anorexia get smaller and smaller. When Cassie dies Lia starts to fight with herself; there is the hungry Lia who wants to take a bite from muffin and eat like a normal teenager. There is the strong Lia, the one who says that food is disgusting, the one who is in charge of the ideal weight goal. The strong, forceful Lia is in charge and the hungry Lia cannot fight against it. Lia gets skiennier and sicker all the time without understanding that eventually, if she goes on the way she is going on now, she is going to die. The fact that Cassie's ghost is hunting Lia, telling her that she is going to die, does not help at all. Can Lia fight against a part of herself and Cassie? Does she find a way to get better soon enough?
The imagenery and lyrical language are amazing in this book. At some points you feel like you are reading a beautiful poem when you read this book. Andersen uses language so greatly that the reader is able to see the struggle Lia is going through, the reader is able to sense it. Even though you wouldn't like the story inself you will love this book because of it's amazing use of English language. I am still mesmerized.
If I wouldn't have made by best reads on 2009 list yet this book would totally be on it on the top 3, maybe even on the first place.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review: Secret Schemes and Daring Dreams by Rosie Rushton

rDescribtion (from rosierushton.com):
What would happen if Jane Austen's EMMA was set in the twenty first century? Emma Woodhouse is a caring, considerate sort of girl who is well aware of her own good fortune and talent for getting the best out of other people. Which is why, when she meets someone with untapped potential, she puts all interests to one side and sets out to change their lives for them - whether they like it or not. When Emma's childhood friend, George Knightley, needs help at his family's country house hotel over the summer, she sees the perfect opportunity to improve the lot of her new friend, the shy and unfortunate Harriet Smith. But as one after another of Emma's secret schemes go horribly wrong, she finds that nothing (and no one) is ever as simple as it seems.


My Thoughts: This is the 3rd book I read by Rosie Rushton and I must say that it wasn't be best from those three books. Emma does not belong to my favorite Austen novels but there are some elements I really like about Emma, like Mr. Knightley. ;) When reading Austen's Emma I like Emma as character even though she is a little snob and knows that she is above the other people. While reading this book Emma made me really annoyed because at some parts she was a total bitch.

While reading this book you get to know Jane Austen's Emma's characters on 21st century. Mr Woodhouse is ex-rock star who tries to save the world by using and advertising green products and living green lifestyle. Ms. Bates is called Lily Bates, a way too talkative girl who sees Emma as "goddess". Jane Fairfax is Jake Fairfax, Lily's rockstar cousin who shares a secret with Freddie Churchill (Frank Churchill). Theo Elton (Mr. Elton) is a medical student who has a secret crush on Emma. The story pattern is the same as in Emma but with a 21st century twist.

Mr Knightley is so gorgeous in Jane Austen's Emma. While reading this book I kept waiting and waiting to see the gorgeous Knightley but someway I feel like he wasn't there, all the other characters were so visible and he was just somewhere at the background.

I think that Rosie Rushton's books are great for teens who want to get to know Jane Austen but who are not ready to read the actual novels. This book along with the other "Austen books" is fast to read. For you, who has already read Emma by Austen, this is a nice, 21st century perspective to the story with a teenager heroine.

Other Jane Austen related YA books by Rosie Rushton:
-Summer of Secrets (modern retelling of Northanger Abbey)
-The Secrets of Love (modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility)
-Love, Lies and Lizzie (modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice
-Echoes of Love (modern retelling of Persuasion) WILL BE PUBLISHED IN FEBRUARY 2010

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top 10 reads of 2009

Here are my top 10 books of 2009. I only count the books I read for the first time this year because otherwise the top 3 books would probably be books I've read several times (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, etc.) Click the name of the book which will take you to Goodreads to read the synopsis of the book.

10. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
('Sequel' to Something Borrowed. I really liked this book because the "heroine" grows as a person; first I couldn't stand her but in the end I really started to like and understand her.)
9. The Reader by Berhard Schlink(Not the type of book I normally read. This book included a lot of sexual tension and images, disturbing situations etc. but the way the book is written is so beautiful that I must include it to this list.)

8. The Importance of being Emma by Juliet Archer
(A very funny modern day adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma. I think that Mr Knightley had a lot to do with the fact that I liked this book so much. I think that Juliet Archer's next book will be a modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion.)
7. Edmund Bertram's Diary by Amanda Grange(There are so few books about Edmund Bertram and I was so happy when I found this one. I love Edmund, he is my second favorite Austen hero and I just loved to read more about him. Mr Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange is also awesome.)

6. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
(This book really made me cry. Beautiful story with suprises. I also love the movie adaptation of this book.)
5. Must've Done Something Good by Cheryl Cory(I could say that this is a modern day adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, at least it has a little P&P twist on it. Really great book which made me laugh.)

4. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella
(The Funniest book I read this year. I was laughing alone in my room while reading this. Can't wait to read something else by Sophie Kinsella.)

3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
(This book was a total suprise for me. I'd read a lot about it from the blogsphere but I thought that it is one of those books everyone else but me loves. When I found out that the local library has a copy of it I decided to lent it and see what all the fuzz is about. I was mesmerized.The story is filled with tension and adventure. Can't wait to read Catching Fire.)
2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
(This books is so beautifully written that it makes me cry. Morrison captures the extremely hard situation and writes beautifully about it. One of the best books I've ever read.)

1. The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith
(This book suprised me completely. The text at the back cover and the picture in the cover almost made me not to read this one. I am so happy I picked this one up and started reading. This book has it all; humor, love, friendship, action... Everyone should read this one! )

The worst books of 2009:
3. The Truth about Diamonds by Nicole Richie
(I hope she understands that she is good at something else than writing)

2. The Heroines by Eileen Favorite
(The idea is SO GOOD but the story sucks BIG TIME)

1. Tuulikaappimaa by Jari Tervo
(The worst book I've EVER read. I have nothing good to say about this book.)

Have you read any of these books from my list? Do you agree/disagree with me about something? I would love to know your thoughts!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Review: Heart On My Sleeve by Ellen Wittlinger

Description (from Goodreads):
The story begins when 18-year-old, Boston-born, singer-songwriter Chloe visits a college in Connecticut as a prospective student and meets the dreamy singer-actor Julian from Florida. Both primed to say good-bye to high school and hello to the rest of their lives, the two share an intense, somewhat smooch-filled weekend that blossoms into an online romance. Inconveniently, Chloe already has a boyfriend. And both of them have prom, graduation, and summer jobs to contend with. A bouquet of ill-timed roses exposes Chloe's secret tryst and wrecks prom, but the revelations don't stop here. Chloe's sister Genevieve comes out as a lesbian via e-mail and Julian's sister e-announces her Las Vegas wedding to a man no one has met. The reaction of Chloe's parents to Gen's coming out is both comical and wince-inducing. (If she grew her hair long again would her heterosexuality be saved?) But, with the help of a few instructional books, everyone comes around in the end.

My thoughts:
It was extremely interesting to read this book! The whole story is told via emails, IMs, letters, notes and postcards. This book really made me want to send a letter to someone, too bad I did not figure out for who.

Chloe is an aspiring musician who loves folk music. On her weekend trip to her new college she meets Julian, a little shy but nice guy with an amazing voice. After their weekend together Julian and Chloe start up an relationship by emailing and sending letters to each other. Through this letters the reader gets to know details about Julian and Chloe; you get to know about their families, friends, siblings etc. The whole story is built around Julian and Chloe and by them other characters come into the picture. Both of the individuals, Julian and Chloe have problems in their own lifes and through their messages you get the feeling that they believe that when the college starts and they can be together, they are able to forget all these previous problems and start a new life.

Even though through the letters, emails etc. Chloe and Julian get to know each other they notice in the end that they really do not know each other since there are so many things you cannot see via emails and letters. As the first day of college gets closer, Chloe and Julian get more distant and they both realize that maybe they are not that in love they believed they were.

It was really interesting to read how the relationship between Julian and Chloe develops. Julian and Chloe both send emails to their friends and sister's as well and this gives more insight to the story.

This was the first book like this I'd ever read. I just got 'The Year of Secret Assigments' by Jaclyn Moriarty from the library and it seems to be a story told by email etc. also. So I am really looking forward to reading it.

As I final word I want to say that even though I really enjoyed this book I felt that I had some difficulties in reading it. The letters in the book were written with black ink to gray paper and it was pretty hard to make sense of the words written. Also some slang words were used, especially on the IMs and I had to look for some words I did not know previously. So this book is not the best for the ones that have to wear glasses and who still do not see well (like me) and for the ones who do not know the computer slang words. :D

Monday, December 21, 2009

Book Review: Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary from Goodreads:
Chemistry honors student and cross-country runner Kate Malone is driven. Daughter of a father who is a reverend first and a parent second ("Rev. Dad [Version 4.7] is a faulty operating system, incompatible with my software.") and a dead mother she tries not to remember, Kate has one goal: To escape them both by gaining entrance to her own holy temple, MIT. Eschewing sleep, she runs endlessly every night waiting for the sacred college acceptance letter. Then two disasters occur: Sullen classmate Teri and her younger brother, Mikey, take over Kate's room when their own house burns down, and a too-thin letter comes from MIT, signifying denial. And so the experiment begins. Can crude Teri and sweet Mikey, combined with the rejection letter, form the catalyst that will shake Kate out of her selfish tunnel vision and force her to deal with the suppressed pain of her mom's death? "If I could run all the time, life would be fine. As long as I keep moving, I'm in control." But for Kate, it's time to stop running and face the feelings she's spent her whole life racing away from.

My thoughts: I've read Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen a couple of years ago in Finnish. Reading Catalyst in English was a total different exprerience since the book was on it's original form, not translated to some other language. Andersen's language is so vivid and beuatiful and noticed that I was constantly analyzing the text by different ways. Someway Andersen's language reminded me a lot of Chuck Palahniuk's language in Fight Club. Andersen also uses a lot of short sentences to mimic the way Kate talks and thinks. In Fight Club listing is also used as a element to bring some order to the chaos and I was suprised to notice that someway the lists Kate makes in Catalyst also bring order to the chaotic life of Kate. Andersen also uses some type of black, sarcastic humor in this book which reminded me about Palahniuk.

Kate is the star student, the perfect daughter and girlfriend. Since she was young she has been dreaming about MIT, the school her mother also went. When MIT disapproves her and Teri and Mikey move to her room everything changes. Teri has been Kate's "enemy" since elementary school and living with her is hard. Kate opens her heart to new people, especially to Mikey, and notices that everything she thinks she knows can change just in a blink of a eye. After an shocking accident Kate has to start to think about her past, her mother and especially about her future. Is everything she wants to do just a flick of imagination? Does she even know what she really wants to do with her life?

I throughly enjoyed Catalyst by Laurie Halse Andersen. The beautiful use of language made me speecless, the character became familiar to me and I somehow were able to feel what Kate is going through. Catalyst is a young adult book with a deeper message and I promise it will make you think about your own life and the things that are important to you.

Bernice L. McFadden's SUGAR: 10th Anniversary


Bernice L. McFadden's debut novel 'Sugar' celebrates it 10th anniversary on Jan.9 2010.
Please help Bernice to celebrate this great milestone and purchase copy of Sugar. Bernice hopes that we, the booklovers, will purchase total of 10,000 copies and so bring Sugar back in to the literary limelight.

Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden: (summary from Goodreads)
From an exciting new voice in African-American contemporary fiction comes "a literary explosion...a stunning tale of love and loss" (The Chicago Defender). The novel opens when a young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before. Over sweet-potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, transforming both women's lives-and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out-but ignorance and superstition in. To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace.

I purchased by own copy this morning from the local bookstore. Can't wait to start to read it! Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors since I read The Bluest Eye and she has said that Bernice L. McFadden's novels are
"Searing and expertly imagined." Can't wait!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Describtion (from Goodreads):
Some summers are just destined to be pretty

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer -- they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

I really thought that this book would be one of those books I can just read fast, without any thought (I really need those books to get rid of school stuff at least for a while). I was totally wrong, but also positively suprised about it. Belly is again at the beach house. Everything is the same as during the previous summers, but also different. Belly has grown into a beautiful start of a woman and especially Conrad notices it even though he does not show it. Belly has been in love with Conrad for ages and during the summer she notices that whatever she tries to do, she will keep loving Conrad.

It is interesting to read how Belly's crush into Conrad builts into love. Belly, the narrator of the book, goes back into the past in several chapters of the book and gives insight about things that happened on previous summers. I liked the fact that the book was narrated by Belly. The reader gets to know what is going on in her head, how she thinks about herself and how she fights with the feelings towards Conrad. 'The Summer I turned Pretty' is a lot more than just a love story. It is a story about growth, both physically and mentally, friendship, family and traditions. It is a heart warming story about the summer that changes Belly's life.

I love summer and since it is really cold and dark here in Finland it was lovely to read this summery book. A sequel to this book will be published in 2010 and I must say that it is one of the books I wait to read the most during the next year.

Check out the booktrailer from here!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Book Review: The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Review: 15-year-old High School sophmore Virginia Shreves from New York City has a larger-than-average body. She feels like she does not belong to the gorgeous Shreves family and she feels like she has been changed to another baby when she was born. Byron and Anais, Virginia's older siblings, are star student, beautiful, thin and intelligent. Virginia's mother is successful psychiatrist and her father a businessman. Virginia is not beautiful, at least that is what she believes, she is not that intelligent as her siblings and she feels like her parents are not as proud of her as Byron and Anais.
Suddenly a shocking phone call from Byron's school changes everything; the way Virginia thinks about her friends, family and most importantly, about herself.

My thoughts: This book was hilarious. To the other people Virginia may seem shy and unconfident, but I think that she is funny just because she understands her "problem" and is able to make fun of it. My body is larger-than-average and when I was younger I felt bad about it next to the thinner bodies of my friends. Now when I've grown older I've understood that I like my body, I love it. It is a part of me and I am proud of it. And just like Virginia says at the end of the book; "If you had a small, puny present and a big, round present, which one would you open first? The big, round one, right? Who ever said smaller is better? NO ONE, that's who!", big things are not bad, they are normally things we want.

I loved to read how Virginia builts up her confidence and realizes that she is proud of herself the way she is. She undestands that the most important thing is that she feels good about herself, not that someone else says what she should look like. After Virginia feels good about herself she is ready for new friends and even a new romance.

This is the second book I've read this year about a girl struggling with her weight. Pretty Face by Mary Hogan (I have a review about it here)
told about girl who also struggled with her weight but in the end realized that she is beautiful just the way she is. I loved the both books and I would love to read more books like them. So if you know any books like that, please leave me a comment. :) Also, if you have read any other books by Mackler I would love to hear what you thought about them. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Review: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Review: Aislinn has always seen faeries. These faeries, powerful and dangerous, hide the mortal world. Aislinn fears their power, fears that they will get to know about her Sight, fears for her family and friends. Now two fairies, Keenan and Donia are stalking her. Keenan- a gorgeous male faery, is trying to talk to her asking her questions she is afraid to answer. Aislinn tries to ignore Keenan and Donia but soon she discovers that it's too late for that. Keenan is the Summer King and determined that Aislinn will be her Summer Queen, someone who he has been trying to find for nine decades. But there is a problem: Aislinn does not fall in love with Keenan, he is in love with a mortal, Seth. Things get hard when Aislinn realizes that maybe she really is the Summer Queen Keenan is looking for. Aislinn has to make some major decisions because her life is going to change forever. Is she able to keep the things she loves from her old life? Will she be able to develop her relationship with Seth? Melissa Marr answers to all of these questions in 'Wicked Lovely', a 21st century faery tale.

My thoughts: This book was one of those books I picked up from the library just because I had read good reviews of it from the other book blogs. I liked the book, but it wasn't one of those books that "changed" my life. I feel like that the beginning of the book went on very slowly and then at the end everything just wrapped up real fast. I expected Keenan to be "more gorgeous"; he was okay but probably I won't remember him after a while.

I will get the second book from the library probably at tomorrow. I think I will try to read it because 'Wicked Lovely' wasn't bad, it just wasn't a type of book I normally use to read. And I've heard that the second book is better than the first one. What I liked the most about this book was the relationship of Aislinn and Seth. I loved the fact how they developed into something deeper from a friendship. Personally, I see Seth as the hero of the book; he is the one character I will probably remember after a while.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Review: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The story starts from autumn 1941 in Lorain, Ohio. Through winter, spring and summer the story develops. The narration changes and the reader gets different point of views of the happenings while Morrison's own voice functions as a gold standard throughout the whole story. The focus of the story is on 11-year-old black girl Pecola Breedlove. Pecola has one wish; she wants to have blue eyes. The bluest eyes. Pecola is ridiculed, spat upon, and ultimately raped and impregnated by her own father, Cholly Breedlove. Pecola wants to be the very opposite of what she is- white child, a doll like figure.

I read this book for my English A2 class. My teacher himself said that this is one of his favorite books and I was very interested to read it. The story is heart breaking, the language used so beautiful that it comes poetry and the happenings so shocking that you just have to keep reading until you know what is going to happen. I felt bad for Pecola from the beginning to end. She wants to be something she never cannot be and is desperate because of that. In the end I also felt bad for Cholly. He does a horrible act, rapes his daughter and she becomes pregnant, but while reading the story yo
u get to know so much of Cholly that in the end you understand why he did what he did.

We are going through this book right now at my English class. My teacher LOVES to analyze everything so we basicly go through this book word by word. It is interesting to notice new levels of the story, learn more about the characters etc. There is so much I could write but I just wanted to write something because I think that this book is one of those books you should read. It is something so different, shocking and beautiful that you will never forget it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
-born in 1931 in Lorain, Ohio to working class family
-as a child, Morrison read a lot; her favorites were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy
-in 1949 Morrison entered Howard University to study English
-she received a B.A in English from Howard University in 1953. After that she earned a Master of Arts degree in English from Cornell University in 1955, for which she wrote a thesis on suidice in the works of William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf.
-In 1958 she married Harold Morrison. They got two children, Harold and Slade, and divorced in 1964.
-Wrote 'The Bluest Eye' first as a short story which developed into her first novel and was published in 1970. At 2000 it was chosen as a selection for Oprah's Book Club.
-In 1987 published 'Beloved' earned Morrison a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the American Book Award. The book was adapted into a movie in 1998 starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover
-In 1993 Morrison was awarded the Nobel Price Winner in Literature. She was the first black woman to win it.
-Currently Morrison works as a member of the editorial board of the National magazine

Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks



Review: It is 1958. Landon Carter is a high school senior in a North Carolina town. He is a shallow but well-meaning teenager who spends most of time hanging around with his friends and tries to ignore the responsibilities the forecoming adulthood is bringing to him. When he signs into a Drama Class he thinks that he will survive without any work. Suddenly he notices that he is in the male lead part at the Christmas play and that his opposite actress is the "saint" of the whole town, Jamie Sullivan, daughter of the town's reverend. Against all odds, Landon Carter falls in love with Jamie but quite fastly learns that there is a secret which Jamie has hid from everyone except her father.

My thoughts: I saw the movie starring Mandy Moore a while ago and it made my cry. When I saw this book at library I decided to read it. It probably made me cry more than the movie. I was reading it at the bus at morning when I was going to school and suddenly I noticed I was crying. It was pretty hilarious situation.
Landon and Jamie are so different and it is great to follow how their relationship develops. Personally, since I am not a very religious person, it was at some parts pretty "hard" to read all those religious parts included in the book. But since the story takes place at 1958 I totally understand the whole concept of religion in Jamie's life etc. because the culture was totally different then. All and all I enjoyed this book a lot and I will try to find something else by Nicholas Sparks to read at some point.