Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: All Lined Up (Rusk University #1) by Cora Carmack

Release Date: May 13, 2014
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Age group: New Adult
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Amazon

Rating: 5/5

Description (from Goodreads):

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

MY THOUGHTS (with pictures of my favorite [fictional] football player ever, Tim Riggins):

The moment I heard All Lined Up being compared to Friday Night Lights, one of my favorite shows of all time, I knew that I would have to read it. I've been wanting to read more New Adult literature for a while now, but I've had a hard time deciding from where to start. I do not mind the sexual content, but I don't want it to be too explicit because that usually makes the books unbelievable for me. I also don't want to read about abusive relationships, especially when the female characters are willing to forgive the abuse for the guy that they "love". I had read one Cora Carmack book before (Losing It) and quite enjoyed it, so I felt safe going to this one.



Let me just begin by saying that All Lined Up will most likely reach my top 10 books read in 2014 list, it was that good. It is not only romance, but also a story about a girl learning to love herself the way she is. It is also a story about a fragile, difficult relationships between a daughter and a father who are often too much alike for their own good.

Dallas is an aspiring dancer whose dreams of dancing in a good school have been put on hold by her football coach father who does not think she is old enough to be on her own. Dallas's father has raised her alone and it is very clear that deep down, he is not ready to let her go. The relationship between them is difficult, but it is also loving, and it is clear that whatever decisions Coach Cole makes, they are made for the best of her daughter.



Dallas has grown up with football always being part of her life. Her father has a passion for fixing teams, meaning that they would move to towns with up and coming football teams, coach Cole would coach the team to the top and then look for the next team that needs help. This means that Dallas has moved around Texas for her whole life, often feeling like a second best to his father's passion for the sport.

When Dallas's father is appointed to the position of the head coach at Rusk University, Dallas applies for the dance program at the school. The program feels like a joke to her and despite her dream of getting rid of football after high school, it becomes clear to her pretty much from the start of the freshman year that there is no escaping football, not in Texas and especially not as the coach's daughter.

Carson has just transferred to Rusk, only to get the place of the second QB of the team. He is determined to train harder than anyone else, give 110% to football and avoid all distractions just to get a scholarship and be able to stay in Rusk. Then he meets Dallas, a girl that takes his breath away with her honesty and he instantly knows that he has just met the most gorgeous and deadly distraction known to man.



When Dallas realizes that Carson is in the team and Carson realizes that Dallas is the coach's daughter, they understand that their budding relationship could be bad for both of them. They try to stay away from each other, but without success. For the first time in years, Dallas feels like she can be herself with someone. She feels like someone gets her passion for dancing, her need to express her feelings through her body. Carson does not feel himself with the guys of the team who are mostly douches, and he fast realizes that Dallas is pretty much his only friend at Rusk.

Dallas is passionate and honest, but also torn apart by things that have happened to her before. As mentioned, her relationship with her father is problematic, she has no idea what she is doing with her life because she has been forced to put her dreams on hold, and she is constantly jealous of the freedom and spontaneity of her best friend Stella. What makes Dallas so likable is the fact that she is so real. She is not flawless, she makes mistakes and wrong decisions, but she learns from those and the relationship she has with Carson clearly brings out the best of her. She does not need Carson to be better, but she wants him to be around because he makes her happy.

Carson is not sure whether football will be his future, but he knows that he needs the place in the team in order to get the scholarship and an education of some kind. He is not from a rich family, and he knows that he must work for the things that he wants. When he meets Dallas, he knows that he is willing to work to gain her love. Carson is so charming and nice and honest and he definitely sounds like the guy I would completely fall in love with. The chemistry between him and Dallas is amazing and though the scenes between Carson and Dallas are extremely romantic, they are not cliche.



Those of you who have read my blog for a while probably know that I am a massive ice-hockey fan. Like football for Dallas in Texas, ice-hockey was something for me in Finland that was difficult to avoid. Fortunately, I fell in love with the sport and I can't get enough of it. The way Carmack describes the atmosphere of the games was something that I was able to connect with - even though he game described is different, the feeling is the same. Reading those game scenes made me think of hockey and yearn for some of the wonderful hockey memories I have. Though you don't have to be a sports fan to like this book, I really appreciated the fact that Carmack has made the book extra special for those who are sports fans.

Carmack has such a talent for creating likable characters, intriguing story lines and perfect romance. Her pacing is perfect and her writing is simply beautiful. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for everyone, especially for those who, like me, want to get into the new adult genre, but who don't know from where to start. I also want to mention that Cora Carmack sounds like such a sweetheart. I tweeted about the book and she tweeted back to me several times, thanking me for my praise. I know not all authors are able to do this, but I always appreciate it when authors answer to your questions etc.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (#11)

For more information, click here

Ten Books I Want To Reread

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


According to Goodreads, I read this in 2009, so I think it's a high time for me to read it again, especially since the film is coming out soon. I remember this one giving me some definitely feels, so I probably should prepare for an emotional rereading experience. Back in 2009 I gave this 5/5 stars and I have a feeling the rating will remain the same after a reread. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han


This is also a title I read back in 2009. I remember loving this one (hence the 5/5 stars), but I never got a chance to continue with the series since my local library did not have the following books. I will definitely pick this one up from the library as soon as I get home! I am especially excited about getting back to Jenny Han after reading and loving To All The Boys I've Loved Before.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver


I've been meaning to reread this one for such a long time and I'll definitely do so as soon as I get home because I'm pretty sure I have an ARC of this at storage. I gave this one also 5/5, so I know I can expect a satisfying reread. I recently read Panic by Lauren Oliver, so I'm definitely looking forward to reading this one because I remember liking this even more than Panic.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


With the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After looming closer, I want to get back to both Anna and the French Kiss  and Lola and the Boy Next Door before reading the highly anticipated third book by Perkins. I gave this one also 5/5 stars and I remember being completely in love with Etienne, so I CAN'T WAIT. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


No explanation needed.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger


I read this one only last summer, but I REALLY enjoyed it and I really want to read it again before the film comes out. It might still be a while for the film, but I am so excited because Mae Whitman is going to play Bianca!!

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord


I only read this a couple of months ago, but I want to read it again because IT WAS JUST SO GOOD! I loved the characters, the friendship between the main character and her best friend, the romance - there really was nothing I could complain about. If you are looking for a perfect summer book, PICK THIS ONE!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


I devoured this one so fast that I did not fully get to appreciate all the references to films and games etc. At some point, I want to reread this one slowly and watch all the films Cline mentions in his story etc. 

Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita


I remember LOVING this one when I read it for the first time back in 2009. This read like a Disney channel or ABC Family film, and those are my weak spots!! I know I have this home and I can't wait to get back to this one and maybe to the following books in the series.

True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet by Lola Douglas


This is probably one of my favorite nostalgia reads EVER. Every single time I see my copy of this book, I get a smile to my face. I remember buying my copy from Books-A-Million before going to the pool back in summer on 2008 during my exchange student year in US. I have the copy that can be seen in the picture with the splashproof cover, and I remember my friend throwing water on the cover to see whether it really is splashproof (it wasn't). Though the story was cute and all, I want to read this book again just because of the memories that I get when I hold it in my hands. They've actually made a film adaptation of this as well which is a prime example of a crappy Disney channel/ABC family movie you just can't not love. 

Have you read any of these? What are some of the titles you would like to reread? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Expected publication date: June 3rd, 2014 (review copy received from Netgalley)
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Age group: YA
Pages: 208 (hardcover)
Pre-order the book: Amazon - Book Depository

Rating: 3/5

Description (from Goodreads):

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

My thoughts:

After Alice allegedly sleeps with two guys in one night, her life changes. Rumors start to spread about the school, and though she was no saint before the party, now the words "Alice Franklin is a slut" are on everyone's lips. When Brandon, one of the boys she slept with according to the rumors dies, the fault suddenly is placed on her. She loses her friends, her social life, her dignity... all because of what other people say she did. 

The story is narrated by Elaine, a super popular girl who used to have an on-off relationship with Brandon; Josh, a football player and Brandon's best friend; Kelsie, a former "nerd" and Alice's ex-best friend; and Kurt, a shy and smart guy who might know something that could help Alice. These four individuals from different levels of high school social hierarchy tell the story of what happened with Alice, what she allegedly did and what their relationship with her was before and after the event. 

The use of multiple narrators really gives a thorough look into the situation and the spread of rumors. Mathieu manages to create four different, very distinctive voices that work well - Elaine manages to be as annoying as the popular girl usually is, but there's also humanity found these from under all of that popularity; Josh is grief stricken and slightly confused about his feelings; Kelsie, to be honest, is bit of bitch, but I guess you can kind of understand from where she's coming from; and Kurt's intelligence comes clear from his voice, and I think I found his segments the most enjoyable to read. 

I found the Texas setting of the novel interesting - the book discusses the dynamics of small town and what goes on in there, especially among the young people. There's some discussion about religious beliefs there was well, which I usually don't really enjoy, but in this one I feel like it worked due to the setting. For some reason I kind of felt like something like this could happen in an episode of Friday Night Lights (TEXAS FOREVER!!) 

The Truth About Alice was a fast, fairly enjoyable read! The way it is narrated is quite unique (at least I had not come across a book quite like this before) and though the religious talk within it kind of threw me off at first, I got past it quick and focused on the other aspects of the story. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Post (#8)


For more information, click here

Weekly recap:
The Diviners by Libba Bray (Review) (*****)
Top Ten Tuesday - 5 books about friendship
Waiting on Wednesday (Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsay Lane)
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (Review) (***)

Coming up:
Review for The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Review for All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Tuesday Freebie - Top Ten books I want to reread

What I read this week:
All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
Royally Lost by Angie Stanton
Shatter Me by Taheref Mafi
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

What I watched this week:
Modern Family season finale - SO GOOD and TOUCHING! This show might not be the best comedy out there, but it does always manage to make me feel things. 

Playing House - I am not sure whether I have mentioned this one before, but if I haven't, I will do it now. You should definitely watch this one! It's funny, has a kickass friendship and hilarious characters.

 

John Mulaney - New In Town - You can find this little gem from Netflix. Mulaney wrote for SNL for years and starting from September (I would think), he'll have his own show on FOX!

Kate & Leopold - This film used to be one of my favorites when I was younger and it still gets me. Plus, Hugh Jackman is a TOTAL babe.

Scoop - I LOVE Woody Allen, and this is one of those films from him I had seen only once before. It is not his best, but I do love the films by him in which he himself acts as well. 

Around the Internet:
17 Books To Read After You Graduate High School (I still have quite many of these to read and I graduated from high school in 2011)

I am still so not over this news... They're publishing a LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES BOOK. A BOOK? GIVE IT TO MEEEEE NOW. If you are as excited as me and want to read an excerpt, you can find it from here

In other News:
As I have probably mentioned million times here before, I will be traveling to London. I will be flying from Edinburgh to Heathrow on Thursday after noon and I'll meet my mom and my aunt who are traveling from Finland at the airport. We will have three full days at the city (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) after which we fly back to Finland and I FINALLY get to go home for summer. We haven't made much plans for the trip yet, other than that we will probably take one of those bus tours since it's my mom's first time in London. We also will visit the Portobello market on Saturday. And I am dying to go to the big Waterstone's which happens to be the biggest bookstore in Europe. 



The hockey championship games are almost over, which means it is time to take a little break from hockey until August. BUT BEFORE THAT... FINLAND WILL PLAY IN THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL AGAINST RUSSIA AND I AM SO EXCITED. My favorite player of all time, a guy I've been a fan of since he was a second goaltender in my team in Finnish league back in like 2004 is on the Finnish goal and I am just SO HAPPY for him because he deserves to be in the final more than any other player in the team. He is the sweetest human being I know, and he is so talented and I'm just gushing about the fact that he's in the World Championship final because I always knew when he hardly got to play that one day he would be here. Ahh, all the FEELS. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#10)


"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"
For more info, click here

I did not allow myself to buy any physical copies this week since I am traveling next Thursday first to London and then from there to Finland and I've already decided on the books I'll haul with me back home. I will buy The City of Heavenly Fire on Wednesday and I will include that in my London haul in a couple of weeks (there will be no STS next week since I'll be in London). So, without further ado, these are the ebooks that I acquired this week.


All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
 Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti

So, what did you add to your shelves this week? 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Age group: YA
Pages: 295
Buy the book: Amazon - The Book Depository 

Rating: 3/5

Description (from Goodreads):

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

MY THOUGHTS:

A girl with a cancer. A boy who rekindles his friendship with her when he finds out. From there on, he just wants to make her laugh and realize that she does not have to give up. Sounds like a setting for one of those super sad, tearjearker cancer books, right? RIGHT? If you are looking for The Fault in Our Stars 2.0, this novel for sure isn't that. 

Greg is one of those guys people who have been in big high school all must be familiar with - he seems to be friends with everyone, but in reality, no one really knows that much about him. In actuality, he only has one friend, Earl, a guy with very distinct personality. They spend time watching films and since they were 11 years old, they have been doing films of their own - mostly their own interpretations of their favorite film classics. The films they do are sacred and no one is supposed to see them. Mostly just because, according to Greg, they suck. So what happens when Rachel, the girl with cancer, actually finds these films funny?

Throughout this book, I was not quite sure what to think of Greg. He is the narrator, telling the story through different events, pretty much starting from the point he hears about Rachel's sickness. Since everything happens from the point of view of Greg, the novel does not go into much detail about the pain or feelings of Rachel - we see that she is suffering and sick, but we do not actually hear her talk about the sickness to a large extent. What we hear about is Greg and his thoughts.

I think I could put it like this: Greg is not very confident of himself. He describes himself as "pasty and fat", and he tries to turn all the uncomfortable situations into jokes. He thinks all the films he has done are crap and that the writing he is doing at the moment (the novel itself) is also a crime against the English language. I get the fact that he is in an awkward stage of his life, but at points Greg gets a bit annoying. But I think that is the whole point of the novel - Andrews wants to introduce us a character with faults, a character who, despite the fact that his friend is sick, sometimes hopes that he was not dragged into the situation. Greg is very realistic - he does not turn into a hero even though Rachel maybe would have needed a hero.

This novel is very funny - Greg's sense of humor is weird and absurd and I especially loved the different references to films. And to some extent I get Greg and the lack of confidence - I am a film student and I hate to show people what I do because I think there is always someone who could do it better than me. Earl is also very interesting character - he has a very distinct personality which comes across from the way he acts and especially from the way he speaks. Though, it has to be taken into account that everything we know about the characters is through the eyes of Greg.

It was refreshing to read a novel from a male point-of-view - many of the young adult novels I have read in the past have been from the female POV, which of course makes it easier to identify with the character, but at the same time makes it harder to sometimes understand all of the actions of the male character. There were some parts in the narration that probably come across better to a male reader, but other than that, I really enjoyed the male narrative voice.

All and all, I really liked Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and will definitely read more from Jesse Andrews if possibility for that is given. According to IMDB this book will be adapted into a film, which I think could be a very hilarious one if they do it right. JONAH HILL FOR GREG! (I feel like always when there is a character who is not a "typical" hottie, I say that Jonah Hill would be perfect).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#7)


Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted here, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating."

For more information, click here

Evidence of Things Not Seen  by Lindsey Lane
(published September 16th 2014 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

This one sounds so GOOD! Especially the way the narrative changes from first-person to third-person sounds really intriguing. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (#10)

For more information, click here

Five Books About Friendship (just couldn't come up with 10 for some reason... sorry)

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord


Open Road Summer by Emery Lord is so far the best book I've read in 2014. It really has everything that I want from a contemporary book, from romance and likable protagonist to a cute love interest. But in addition to those, it has an awesome friendship. I love how the friendship between Reagan and Dee is not perfect, but it's one that is filled with love and trust. They make mistakes and decisions that the other one might not like, but in the end, they are ready to solve their problems in a manner that is not over dramatic or cliche. If you are looking for a PERFECT summer read, please do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

In case you're interested, my review can be found from here

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


Despite the fact that these books are about magic and growing up and facing your fears, they're ultimately mostly about friendship and what you can reach when you pull together with people you can trust. Harry, Ron and Hermione will always be the number 1 group of friends I would like to join.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella


I very rarely pick up purely chick-lit books, just because I feel like they are all kind of same (they probably aren't, but I'm just ignorant). Well, in any case, this one was hilarious. Basically, Lara, who has always had a overactive imagination suddenly gets confronted by the spirit of her great-aunt Sadie, who is the complete opposite of Lara. From this, hilarity ensues. I remember laughing out loud in the middle of the night while reading this (if I remember right, I think my mom came and told me to shut up.)

In case you're interested, my review can be found from here

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson


Moomins and Moomin books had such a huge role in my life while growing up (I bet everyone in my age group who grew up in Finland can say that). I might have to take back my words about Harry, Ron and Hermione being the number 1 friend group I would like to join and say that it is actually the Moomins I would like to join. Like seriously, who wouldn't want to just have adventures, eat pancakes and sleep through the winter (though then I would miss a lot of hockey). These books and the TV show taught me so much about family, friendships and life in general. And it seems that according to Neil Gaiman, this book is a "masterpiece". 

In case you're interested, my review can be found from here.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell


Yes, ultimately this book is a romance, but it is also a story about two friends, Beth and Jennifer. These two women share different backgrounds and relationships, but they share their worlds with each other via emails. I loved both Beth and Jennifer, though I feel that ultimately I was able to identify with Beth more. Seriously, if you are looking for a cute romance + a good friendship story, pick this one up.

If care you're interested, my review can be found from here

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Release Date: September 1, 2012
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Age Group: YA
Pages: 578
Buy the book: Amazon - The Book Depository

Rating: 5/5

Description (from Goodreads):

It's 1920s New York City. It's flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It's after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it's the opportunity to party like never before.

For Evie O'Neill, it's escape. She's never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she's shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she's always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be.

But New York City isn't about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren't crimes of passion. They're gruesome. They're planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can't solve them alone.

Evie wasn't just escaping the stifling life of Ohio, she was running from the knowledge of what she could do. She has a secret. A mysterious power that could help catch the killer - if he doesn't catch her first.

MY THOUGHTS:

Honestly, I did not really know what to expect from this book. The Goodreads rating was good, which is also a great sign and when I noticed that I would be able to get a used hardback of it from Amazon for like £2.50, I decided to order it and give it a chance. I cannot express how happy I am of the fact that I decided to do so.

It is the 1920s. Evie moves from Ohio to New York City to live with his uncle Will. The prospect of living in New York is like a dream come through to her - she dreams of the flappers and follies, the gin and the parties and the prospect of falling in love with someone special or several not so special guys. But it does not take long for Evie to realize that New York also has its dark side and that she has a very close connection to it.

I love the 20s, and I love New York City, so the setting of the book was a spot on for me. While reading the book I was able to see all the glamour and the well dressed people in the secret clubs protected with passwords. Evie is an interesting character - at points she is extremely selfish and does not think about the consequences of her actions, but at the same time she can also be very responsible, brave and intelligent. I think the fact that there were also things that I did not like about her made her more realistic and thus a character more easier to relate with.

Even though Evie could be called the "main" character of the novel, there are also several other characters the story follows. Thus, the novel is not only the story of Evie, but also a story of other people similar to her and people who are part of her life. I really liked the fact that the so-called "side characters" were also very well established and really served a purpose in the story and eventually they almost became like protagonists along Evie with their own stories and their own battles. I really liked Mabel, Evie's best friend - she is intelligent and interesting, but also a bit shy and not quite sure of what she wants from her future and what she wants to stand for. The romance in the story was not what I expected, which I loved - there was no instalove and at least I was not able to guess who the main love interest will be until the first clear signs of it were given by Bray.

Bray's writing is phenomenal. I was sucked to the story from the beginning until the end and I felt like I just need to keep reading to know more. The pacing of the story is brilliant and there really weren't any boring moments in the novel, which sometimes happens with a long book like this. The story itself was nothing like I expected - it is so complex it is hard to explain, to be honest and the description does not really do justice for it.

The Diviners was a truly enjoyable and exciting novel with a great ensemble of characters that I could not help but to fall in love with. I want the sequel right now and I really don't know how I will be able to wait. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sunday Post (#7)


For more information, click here

Weekly recap:
Jane by April Lindner (Review) (***)
Top Ten Tuesday - 10 books I almost put down but didn't
Waiting on Wednesday (Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones)

Coming up:
Review for The Diviners by Libba Bray
Review for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Books About Friendship
Waiting on Wednesday
Stacking the Shelves

What I read this week:
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

What I watched this week:
Grey's Anatomy - SEASON FINALE (So good - I really liked the way Christina was said goodbye to. She got her dream, and it wasn't like final or anything because they will still be in touch etc. I really also liked the twist in the end!)

Once Upon a Time - SEASON 1 (I finally finished with this and I think that after taking a little break from this show, I am good to go with season 2 next week!)

Alpha House - SEASON 1 (You all should really watch this amazing comedy on Amazon Instant! It is about four Republican senators who live together in DC. I love everything related to US politics, so when I found this from Amazon Instant, I was so excited.)

Saturday Night Live hosted by Andy Samberg (Andy Samberg is one of my favorite human beings ever and I was so happy to see him host the show after an amazing year with Brooklyn Nine Nine. There were two glorious digital shorts, one of them being a new Lonely Island video.)

Around the Internet:

In other news:
Only a bit over a week and I will be going to London. I am somewhat excited about London, but to be honest, I am more excited about going back home to Finland right after that.

There was a problem with my dissertation topic which I was quite stressed about for a couple of weeks, but now it has been fixed and I have a topic that works and one that I am SUPER excited about. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (#9)


"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"
For more info, click here

There was a book market this week in Edinburgh which led to me buying quite a many books I probably would not have bought otherwise, at least not at this moment. I am traveling home via London in just a couple of weeks so I should probably stay away from bookstores until then because there’s no way I can carry all of these new purchases with me to Finland for summer, but oh well, I guess I can read them in the fall then. The final item in the haul is from Amazon!


Selected Short Stories by H.G. Wells
I couldn’t find the version I got from Goodreads, but I believe it is a 1961 Penguin classics edition (it just has one of those orange covers) and it includes The Time Machine, which is one of the main reasons I bought this one when I came across it. I read The Time Machine earlier this week from my Kindle and found it to be quite interesting, so when I got the chance to own it as a physical copy, I decided to buy it. I also feel like these short story collections are good when you want something quick to read between bigger books. If you are familiar with H.G. Wells’s work, what are you favorite stories? Have you seen the original The Time Machine film? IT IS SUPER AWESOME!

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
The short story, "Franny", takes place in an unnamed college town and tells the tale of an undergraduate who is becoming disenchanted with the selfishness and inauthenticity she perceives all around her.
The novella, Zooey, is named for Zooey Glass, the second-youngest member of the Glass family. As his younger sister, Franny, suffers a spiritual and existential breakdown in her parents' Manhattan living room -- leaving Bessie, her mother, deeply concerned -- Zooey comes to her aid, offering what he thinks is brotherly love, understanding, and words of sage advice.
I got this awesome edition from 1964 in perfect connection and I’m super excited to read these soon!
Of Mice and Men/Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men -The tragic story of the complex bond between two migrant laborers in Central California. They are George Milton and Lennie Small, itinerant ranch hands who dream of one day owning a small farm. George acts as a father figure to Lennie, who is a very large, simple-minded man, calming him and helping to reign in his immense physical strength. .
Cannery Row -The "story" of Cannery Row follows the adventures of Mack and the boys, a group of unemployed yet resourceful men who inhabit a converted fish-meal shack on the edge of a vacant lot down on the Row.
 
My edition is from 1949 and it’s still in really good condition. I really like these orange Penguin classics and definitely would like to collect more of them.
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
One of the best-loved classics of all time, "Three Men in a Boat" is a hilarious account of three friends and their dog on a holiday trip on the Thames in England. Harris, George, Jerome (the narrator), and Montmorency (the fox terrier) decide to take a break from their tedious routine, to restore their 'mental equilibrium'. And so they take a trip on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford, making certain stops at interesting places, camping out, and inadvertently landing up in
comical muddles and misadventures.
Originally planned as a travelogue, this book turned into a literary classic, thanks to the narrator's humorous digressions, segueing into the historical background of some places. It is sprinkled with his own musings as they cross Hampton Court Palace, Monkey Island, Magna Carta Island, Marlow, little villages, and other known landmarks on the way.
The three men in the novel are based on real-life characters: Jerome himself, and his two friends, George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel.
The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse
I couldn’t find this one from Goodreads either. As the title says, it is a collection of verse from some of the most important contemporary writers. I believe the edition I got is from the 60s and though it is a bit battered, I simply had to buy it because I think the cover design is absolutely gorgeous. I am also really interested to delve into this – I probably will read just pages from here and there rather than to read the book from page one to the final page. I am hoping that maybe this book will get me more into poetry because I used to be really into it in high school.

From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War  by Robert M. Gates (FOR MY DISSERTATION RESEARCH)
From a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, whose government service spanned six presidencies, this is the inside story of the role of America and the agency in the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.


The Unfinished Journey: America Since World War II by William H. Chafe (FOR MY DISSERTATION RESEARCH)
This popular classic text chronicles America's roller-coaster journey through the decades since World War II. Considering both the paradoxes and the possibilities of post-war America, Chafe portrays the significant cultural and political themes that have colored our country's past and present, including issues of race, class, gender, foreign policy, and economic and social reform. He examines such subjects as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the origins and the end of the Cold War, the culture of the 1970s, the Reagan years, the Clinton presidency, and the events of September 11th and their aftermath.
In this edition, Chafe provides an insightful assessment of Clinton's legacy as president, particularly in light of his impeachment, and an entirely new chapter that examines the impact of two of America's most pivotal events of the twenty-first century: the 2000 presidential election turmoil and the September 11th terrorist attacks. Chafe puts forth an excellent account of George W. Bush's first year as president and also covers his subsequent role as a world leader following his administration's declared war on terrorism. The completely revised epilogue and updated bibliographic essay offer a compelling and controversial final commentary on America's past and its future. Brilliantly written by a prize-winning historian, the fifth edition of The Unfinished Journey is an essential text for all students of recent American history.
Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.
From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
This specially priced volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make.”










Friday, May 16, 2014

Book Review: Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Release Date: October 2, 2011
Info about the author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Poppy 
Age group: Young Adult
Pages: 294
Buy the book: Amazon - The Book Depository

Rating: 2/5

Description (from Goodreads):

As a dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is living her childhood dream. She gets to be up on stage in front of adoring crowds every night. And while she might not be a prima ballerina yet, she's moving up the ranks and surely if she works hard enough she can make it happen.

But devoting her whole life to ballet leaves very little time for anything else: friends, family, school have all fallen by the wayside. Hannah doesn't mind, until a chance encounter in a restaurant brings Jacob into her life. He's cute, he plays guitar and he's offering a whole future that Hannah never considered. And now she must choose between her lifelong dream or what could be the love of her life...

MY THOUGHTS:

Hannah is 19 years old. She left her parents and her home when she was 14 and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan Ballet Academy. Now she is a dancer in the Manhattan Ballet, dreaming about her first solo role and a possible promotion. But when she meets Jacob, a NYU student and a musician, she starts to question her future. Is she ready to sacrifice her life to be a ballerina, or are there maybe other things she would like to do?

I am not very familiar with ballet. I have actually seen a ballet in New York City and then also here in Edinburgh, but that is pretty much it. And I guess I can count Black Swan to my ballet experiences because I have seen that film like 20 times. This book was written by an ex-professional ballet dancer, and she uses some of the terminology related to that world (movements etc) I did not really understand. But that did not really take that much away from the reading experience. So you do not have to be a ballet expert or anything to read this one.

The world of ballet and ballet dancers has always been very distant to me and I am sad to say that this book really did not bring me closer to that world. I loved the New York setting and some of the description of the city, but otherwise there were so many issues in the book that I simply cannot post this review without writing about them. First of all, Hannah is extremely superficial and self-centered for most of the novel. I realize that she is a professional ballet dancer and has to make a commitment, but for most of the time she is total bitch towards Jacob. She does not have time to see him, but then she has time to see Matt, who is this rich guy who just kind of shows up at one point, just because "he understands" her world. I feel like she does not even give a chance for Jacob to understand. Jacob is alright, I guess, but there really is no depth in his character and the whole relationship just feels way too fast. And Jacob is maybe too perfect in the sense that Hannah treats him like shit and he still remains interested.

Hannah's friends also are pretty annoying and there honestly is no depth to them - they are also superficial and self-centered (expect maybe Bea and I hope there would have been more about her in the novel). The world these girls live in is something I have not experienced, so I cannot say are they realistic portrayals or not, but I hope that they are not. I feel like a lot of things were over-simplified for this novel in order to make it compact and happy - even though there are struggle and disappointments, the ending is one of those happy, fairytale-like endings. 

If you are a fan of ballet/dancer yourself, this will probably hit closer to home than it did for me. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't memorable either. I probably will have forgotten most of the character names etc. once this review is posted. A fast, somewhat entertaining read for someone interested in ballet/New York.