Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ReRead: Bloomability

Last week Ashley, from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing, wrote a fantastic post on Sharon Creech for her weekly Memory Monday feature. Creech, the author of Walk Two Moons and Ruby Holler , just happened to write one of my favorite books in middle school: Bloomability. My original copy of Bloomability didn't hold up to well to the constant reading, dropping in the bathtub and just wear and tear. I came across a copy yesterday at my local used bookstore and I just had to reread it and visit the wonderful story Creech has created.


Bloomability is the story of 13 year old Dinnie, whose nomadic father keeps her family on the constant moved. With their latest story in New Mexico Dinnie's family begins to fall apart--her brother Crick is in jail and her teenage sister eloped and is pregnant. Her mysterious Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max swoop down on their town and (as Dinnie puts it) kidnap her and run away to Switzerland. In actuality Max is the new headmaster at a Swiss boarding school, which Dinnie will attend. Dinnie faces homesickness, deals with where she belongs and meets an incredible cast of international students. She learns that it's okay to struggle and to feel uncertain--all while surrounded by the beauty of Switzerland.

Why I reread this book:
I've had a travel bug for as long as I can remember and Europe is the cream of the crop for me. There was no place I wanted to visit more. At the time my book diet consisted of a steady stream of The Babysitter's Club, so Bloomability opened up a whole new world for me. Boarding schools. Switzerland. The clashing of cultures. I was in love. I searched the web for hours looking for a boarding school to go to. Sadly my dream never came true, but I've adored any boarding school related since, such as Harry Potter and St. Trinian's.

Dinnie's struggle to find out who she is and where belongs echoed the same thoughts going through my middle school brain--what 13 year old doesn't have those exact thoughts? While I was rereading the story I especially loved how Dinnie captures her thoughts and feelings in her newly adopted Italian language. What better why to express yourself--the most basic terms? Loved it.

The secondary character that stood out the most is Guthrie. Guthries is boisterous and full of life. He drives Dinnie out her shell and into exploring her new surroundings. He exclaims over everything--it's wonderful and free and lively. Everything is "such the best." I laughed a little when I read that phrase--"such the best." I tried incorporating it into my daily language at the time. It didn't hold but I still use it my head sometimes. :)

Creech's story of growing up and coming to terms was a great novel for me as middle school and I still very much enjoyed it this week--it was such the best. What books have you reread from your past? Any that really stuck out for you?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: Clockwork Angel

by Cassandra Clare
Published on August 31, 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry

Goodreads Summary: 
Magic is dangerous--but love is more dangerous still. 

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

My thoughts: 

I thought I loved The Mortal Instruments. Me + TMI= 2gether 4ever. But then The Infernal device series walked into by life and I dropped Jace, Clary and the gang to hang out with my new loves. Seriously, Clare's writing is phenomenal and I fell fast for her steampunk Victorian thriller/romance.

The main character, Tessa, leaves America to make a new life with her brother, who is currently living in London. Upon arriving in Merry Ol' England, she finds herself in the hands of two devilish sisters who open her eyes to the magic that lies within. A break-in later, we are introduce to Will, a Shadowhunter, who rescues Tessa and introduces her to Downworld and the lives and times of the Shadowhunters. Tessa, at first, appears as a smart, naive, bookish young lady. But through her connection with Will and the others she finds the spark that ignites her character-- a passion. She finds herself torn between the life she did know and the life she has now.

The supporting cast and plots blend in nicely with the main plot and I couldn't help but fall in love the sensible, but somewhat mysterious Jem--Will's partner-in-crime. Charlotte and Henry, who run the Institute where they all live, are in a unique stage. They aren't old enough to be parents to any of the other characters, but they aren't as young either. There's also the question of how they came to be in a relationship, as well. Jessamine, the daughter of dead Shadowhunters, is the last "main" supporting charater. Brought up to be a lady, Jessa wants nothing to do with Shadowhunters and is in a battle aganist her heritage and her upbringing. 

And then there's Will. Will had me as soon as he made his first crack about demon pox. He's arrogant, rude and inappropriate with a dark past. He teases Tessa mercilessly, but is quite serious about Shadowhunter business. And even though he and Jace share many qualities--a dark past, a "whatever" attitude about their own lives and that something-somethings that just makes you want to kick them in the mouth, Will made me love him with his wise cracks and his charm. Love him.

Clockwork Angel is a great companion series to The Mortal Instruments series and also as a seperate triology. Clare claims that both The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices series interact with each other. I'm hoping to see some of that interaction with Clare's two lastest novels City of Fallen Angels (coming out on April 5) and Clockwork Prince (coming out Dec 6)!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Coming out on July 12, 2011!

On the last day of her junior year, Hannah's boyfriend Ryan dumped her. Facing a summer of loneliness, Hannah turns to her best friend Ava for comfort. Ava does what BFFs do: she stays by Hannah's side...until it's time for Ava to head up to Maine for the summer. Also left behind is Ava's boyfriend, Noah, who's such a great guy he gets Hannah a job at the diner he waits tables at. Slowly, Hannah comes out of her funk thanks to Noah's good conversation and their fun times at the diner. But things get complicated when their friendship turns into attraction--and one night, into a passionate kiss. The novel opens on the first day of senior year; the day Hannah is going to see Ava, Ryan, and Noah all in one place. Over the course of the day secrets and betrayals are revealed, and alliances are broken and reformed. In the end, everyone is paired up once again, but not the way you might think...

This sounds like such a great book! I've been looking for another contemporary novel and I think this one is going to be fantastic. And the way that the summary reads, it's all going to happen in a day? Sounds interesting...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by the awesome people at The Broke and The Bookish!

This week's topic is Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves---the things that are just driving you crazy!

1. Bending pages as a placeholder--USE A BOOKMARK!
2. Love triangles--It seems as though every single book I've been reading has a love triangle. Not something that is going away, but I'm a little tired of it.
3. Receiving a damaged book from a mail order. :(
4. Stains--I hate opening a library book and finding someone else's lunch on the pages.
5. Reading series out of order---it's only happened a few times, but it kind of ruins it.

NEW (the I wrote the above at 5 this morning :/)

6. Movie art on books--Seriously, as much as I love Mandy Moore, I don't need to see her on my Sarah Dessen books. And I don't think the Percy Jackson movie came anywhere close to earning a spot on the book cover.
7. Extra chapters for new editions-- I saw this recently and thought it was pretty lame.
8. Marker on the bottom of my bargain and used books--Stickers and marks! Ugh.
9. No Face Girl--check out Maureen Johnson's books for an example

That's all I can think of right now. I'll have to think about it some more :) What are some of your bookish pet peeves?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Catching Fire and Mockingjay

The Hunger GamesCatching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

Sometimes, when a book is talked about over and over... it puts me off. Such is the case for Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I read The Hunger Games, enjoyed it, but just couldn't work up the enthusium to read the second and third book. I pushed them aside, thinking I would read them when I had finished the books I had.

Enter my lovely best friend, who threatened to tell me the ending if I didn't read them so we could discuss them. 

So Catching Fire and Mockingjay flew to the top of my pile. I read them and upon putting Mockingjay down I had one immediate thought:

What the hell just happened?

I was floored. Collins had spun a web that had be second guessing everything I thought would the books would be about. I watched the main character battle with her every emotion, trying to find herself in this twisted world she lived in. I watched a love triangle sway back and forth, while desperately hoping my guy would be the right guy. I watched the past creep up and not let itself be forgotten. 

I watched a beautiful, tragic story end when all I wanted to do was go back and change everything.

If you haven't read The Hunger Games trilogy, you should pick it up soon. I promise you will enjoy them. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (9)

IMM is hosted by Krisi at The Story Siren. It's a great way to share what books we've borrowed, received or bought!

From the library:

The Emperor's Tomb (Cotton Malone)
The Emperor's Tomb  by Steve Berry. This is an adult international thriller--it's one of my favorite genre and Steve Berry is the best. If you like Dan Brown and his books, Steve Berry's quite similar. 

Bought (Hastings and I were best friends this week):

Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely (Quality))Devil's KissA Northern LightShiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. I've heard great things about this series 
Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda. I got this one from the library too, but took it back when I found my own copy. Knights Templar? Has awesome written all over it.
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. I ADORED Revolution and really wanted to read another Jennifer Donnelly book. 
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm giving in and reading this one. I've held off for quite a while, but it's time :)
Ophelia by Lisa Klein (Not pictured) This book has been on my TBR list forever. I've picked it up at the library several times but have never managed to acutally read it. Now I have a copy to read at my leisure.

That's what was in my mailbox... what's in yours?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Published: Harper Teen (Jan 4, 2011)
Source: Bought

Summary from Goodreads: 

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

My Thoughts: I thought Unearthly was an outstanding book and one that I really enjoyed reading. The angel lore was interesting and different from the other angels books I have read. Granted, that would only include The Mortal Instruments series--so for all I know it's the same as a million other books. :)

I did love the fact that there was no big reveal about the fact that Clara is an angel--she knows, she lets the reader know... there's no "OMG I'M AN ANGEL, now I have to cry and be angsty for several chapters" moment. It was quite refreshing. It let the book glide into the real plot--should Clara follow her heart or her purpose?

Speaking of heart, Tucker is an absolute doll and one of my favorite male leads this year. I want to spend the entire summer fishing, swimming and living on a boat. Love him.

Unearthly was a great opening for what I believe will be an amazing trilogy--I'm really interested in seeing the development of the story line!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: Madame Tussaud

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran
Published: Crown Publishing Company (Feb 15, 2011)
Pages: 464
Source: Bought

Goodreads' Summary: 

In this deft historical novel, Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror? Her head was shaven for guillotining, but she escaped execution, though she was forced to make death masks for prominent victims. Novelist Michelle Moran covers this breathtaking period without losing the thread of its subject's singular story.

Confession time: I love France. All of it--its history, its culture, its cities! But especially Paris and Versailles. So when Madame Tussaud showed up on my doorstep I dropped what I was reading at the time to pick up this novel. And Moran did not disappoint. She took a name and gave it a history, a purpose, a heartbeat. She breathed new life into the historical figure of Madame Tussaud.

Marie Tussaud is portrayed as a analytical business woman, making her way through the politics of the French Revolution. She cares deeply for her family's museum of wax figures and creating figures that all of Paris want to come and see. Her wax figures reflect the turbulent times and who was in and who was out.  Her ventures lead her from tutoring the king's sisters to creating busts of those behead by the guillotine. 

Moran's novel is full of the main characters of the French Revolution and I found myself looking up those figures and trying to figure out how Moran would adapt certain aspects into her novel. And Marie's story itself left me pondering and mulling over the whole things days later

This is a really great book for francophiles and history buffs--but it's also just a great story about surviving and seeing how far someone's limit can be pushed. 

"Sometimes, it is not the kings and queen who make for the most fascinating history but the shadowy souls who happen to be in the right place at the right time." Madame Tussaud

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (8)

IMM is hosted by Krisi at The Story Siren!

I hit up Books-A-Million and Hastings this week. They both had great deals going on--I think I spent a total of 15 dollars for all five books?

EnthusiasmThe Summer I Turned PrettyChicks with Sticks: It's a Purl Thing: It's a Purl Thing (Chicks with Sticks (Hardcover))The Secret Life of Prince CharmingClockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1)

Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman  (I loved this book--it's a reworking of Pride and Prejudice!)
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (I actually bought two of these--one for me and one for my 15 year old cousin--I can't wait to see what she thinks of it)
Chicks with Sticks: It's a Purl Thing by Elizabeth Lenhard (The knitter in me had to pick up this book a few years ago at the library--it's a three book series and a great story of growing up and friendship)
The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti (I've never read any Deb Calettis, so this one will be my first)
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) (I'm so excited to read this book. I love love love The Mortal Instrument series, so I'm hoping to adore this one as well.)

And NetGalley! I almost forget--which is really hard to believe because I was so pumped about these books.

The Last Little Blue EnvelopeBumped

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (SOOOOOO HAPPPPYYY to get this book. I've been a Maureen fan since some parents tried to ban some of her books at the local high school and I had to see for myself what all the fuss was about. And booo to the book banners--Maureen rocks. And I get to see her in a few weeks! Yay!)
Bumped by Megan Mccafferty (There is so much hype about this book, but I've heard it's great)

That's what I got this week. What's in your mailbox?