Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: "Kristy's Great Idea: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #1"

Kristy's Great Idea: The Baby-Sitters Club Graphic Novel #1 by Raina Telgemeier
5 out of 5 stars

I've seen these graphic novels before in the store but it wasn't until the new color version came out this year that I decided I had to have them. And I am so glad I did; they are definite buys for any diehard BSC fans! Obviously, we all know the story by now: "...make one call and reach a whole bunch of [sitters] at once." Four friends get together and change childcare in Stoneybrook forever; daycares and au pairs everywhere weep. If you need more detail, head on over to my very first BSC review and enjoy! :)

The artist does a great job bringing these girls to life. They're age appropriate (even more than the book covers, in my opinion) and the attention to detail is almost perfect. I say "almost" because there were a few things that slipped by. My biggest complaint was Claudia's outfits and purple streak in her hair. I really wish they had drawn her exact outfits from the book and I don't recall her ever having colored hair. (I'd say that's a little too permanent for her parents.) Her room is also a lot neater and plainer than in the books, but I guess that would get tiresome to draw every time. And a minor detail: in the end, Stacey adds up their sitting money to $52.75 instead of the original $26.75, which seems a lot more accurate to me anyway. In the book, I can't remember if it tells how Mary Anne's mom died? Here they say cancer.

Other than these small things, the graphic novel is very true to the book and just adds a richness to the story with the pictures. I loved seeing all the background characters come to life. We get such a clear picture of the 4 girls but sometimes the family members and sitting charges are a little fuzzy. Karen Brewer and Morbidda Destiny were probably my favorite. (I always pictured Boo-Boo as a black kitty though.) I think I'm more terrified of the witch now than just reading the book lol. I'm super excited to read the next book. Wouldn't it be awesome if they did the first Super Special?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author Meeting: Jandy Nelson! + Meg Wolitzer & Ally Condie

After getting to meet all the fabulous authors at the North Texas Teen Book Festival back in March and Rainbow Rowell in June, I was pretty happy with my year, book/author-wise. Then I found out that Jandy Nelson was coming in November to the big Half Price Books in Dallas and I was ecstatic. I had such a deep connection to both her books and I just knew I had to meet her. I feel like she's not talked about much yet in wider circles and she should be. So I dragged my sister off to the bookstore once again and had an amazing time. :)

(L-R: Jandy Nelson, Meg Wolitzer, Ally Condie)

Surprisingly, I haven't read any of the other two authors' books: Meg Wolitzer and Ally Condie. Unsurprisingly, after I left the event, I had to add them both to my to-buy list lol. We got to HPB pretty early because I was afraid it was going to be massively crowded like Rainbow's, but I was actually the first one there! So I wandered around while I waited and added stuff to my Christmas list. :)

Once the event got started, it was lots of fun. All 3 of the authors (and the moderator) were great and had so many interesting things to say. Ally is very quiet and Meg was so funny trying to explain her "adult" book she was writing. You can watch Jandy talk about creating the twins in I'll Give You the Sun over here on my Facebook page. (And like it while you're there, maybe?) Then we all got in line to get our books signed. I brought my two books for Jandy, obviously, and didn't have anything for the other two, though I did thank them for coming and let Meg know I would be picking up her book, Belzhar, soon. I actually got it at the library already and finished it yesterday and now I'm super annoyed I didn't go ahead and buy it! (I got Atlantia too.) While talking to Jandy, I let her know how much her books spoke to me and even sparked my creativity, in ways that I never had with a book, and she was really interested in that (or at least pretended to be lol). Hence, her first signature. I love when authors have the time to personalize their signings and talk to people. It makes it a lot more fun and memorable. If you get a chance to see these authors, definitely do it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Book to Movie Adaptations I Need to See

I always love and have lots of fun with this Broke & The Bookish topic. You can check out my 10 Most Anticipated Books to Movies from 2013 and also my 10 Best Book to Movie Adaptations for more fun. And of course the Book vs Movie tag below for my actual reviews. I'm going to split today's topic up a bit just because.

Let's start with some that I haven't seen yet but totally still need to:

1. The Fault in Our Stars --I know!! I can't believe it either! My middle sister went and saw it without me and I just never got to it.

2. The Book Thief --I didn't really have anyone to go see this with. :(

3. Paper Towns --this one actually looks better to me than TFIOS. Way less crying. (Her eyebrows though, they squick me out a bit lol.)

And a couple that I'm not sure if I should see (weigh in below!):

4. Divergent --I loved the first book but they just went downhill after that. Do I really want to set myself up for that disappoint? (Like Twilight?)

5. Maze Runner --I thought the books were just okay.

6. Percy Jackson --I really enjoyed these books, but I heard the movie wasn't that great. At all.

A few lot upcoming that I am looking forward to very much:

7. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them --I don't care if JK Rowling is just doing it for the money or not: more Harry Potter world all the time please!

8. The Selection --sure it'll be super cheesy and pandering to young girls who only want to be princesses, but meh...pretty dresses! Lol.

9. Eleanor & Park --OMG YES PLEASE!!! All of Rainbow Rowell's books need to be made into movies TV series for years. :)

10. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies --this should be loads of fun. I really enjoyed the book.

11. The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love --this was actually my least favorite of Smith's books so far, but I do think it'll make a cute movie.

12. Looking for Alaska --do you think they'll make every John Green book into a movie eventually? It's kinda crazy. Oh wait, they're doing Let it Snow too, which I would really like lol. So they're just missing Will Grayson, Will Grayson. (Who else wants to see the Tiny Cooper Musical come to life??)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Review: "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters"

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H Winters (and Jane Austen)
4 out of 5 stars

I read this book way back in January. I know, the shame oh the shame. But I really enjoyed it and still wanted to talk about it, so here we are. I can't say that I have a love/hate relationship with Jane Austen's books because I usually just end up feeling kind of "meh" about them. Actually, I went back and checked and I've literally given every book of her's 3 stars, so yeah average all the way for me. I was pretty sure I wouldn't like this remake of Sense & Sensibility too much and especially not more than Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Luckily, I was wrong on both counts and liked it infinitely better than both.

The quiet story of S&S benefits greatly from the dash(wood) of adventure from the mutated sea creatures. In the water lies danger. In the water, only doom. The essential story is still here: Mrs Dashwood, a widower, must care for her 3 daughters and try to get the 2 eldest married off before it is too late. When she receives a letter from an old relative, the monster-hunter and adventurer Sir John Middleton, offering her family a home on a dangerous island, she takes it, willing to do anything to get away from her dreaded daughter-in-law. The women leave at once for the island, fighting off killer sea monsters along the way.

And the men are all here, in all their faulted glory. Colonel Brandon suffered from a cruel affliction, the likes of which the Dashwood sisters had heard of, but never seen firsthand. He bore a set of long, squishy tentacles protruding grotesquely from his face, writhing this way and that, like hideous living facial hair of slime green. His appearance, besides the twitching tentacles that overhung his chin, was not unpleasing, despite being an absolute old bachelor; for he was on the wrong side of five and thirty.

Mrs Jenning's "high society" takes place in a submarine station dome four miles below sea level. The girls must wear float-suits at all times and travel via gondolas thru the canal streets. While there, Elinor and Marianne endure being snubbed by the men in their lives, get attacked by giant killer lobsters, and unearth the horrid secrets of the odious Miss Lucy Steele. All while mending a broken heart. It's tragic really. The climactic ending scenes do great justice to both the original story and this mash-up...adventure, romance, and a dash of humor. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Review-palooza Continues: 3 "Adult" Summer Books

This batch of books are still continuing the summer/roadtrip/vacation theme, but have a more adult/serious feel to them. They didn't really go with the fluffiness of the others, so they got stuck together basically lol.

The Last One by Tawdra Kandle
3 out of 5 stars

Okay, this first book is definitely in the "adult" category. Not young adult at all, maybe one of those "new adult" books? The main character is college aged so I suppose that counts. There are definitely sexy times in this one, so don't be like me and read it at work because you will get embarrassed lol.

Meghan is about to start her last year of college and still doesn't have an idea of what exactly she wants to do when she graduates. She feels like she's drifting thru life so decides to sign up for an ArtCorps program for the summer, which will allow her to teach art in under-funded areas. (Sounds like fun!) She'll stay in one of the local people's homes and decide whether teaching is for her or not, and best of all, get away from her real life and family.

Sam is the perfect, straight-laced, "do things right and take care of your family" guy that Meghan has the bad fortune of making a horrible first impression on and then having to spend the summer with. He has worked hard to get his family farm up and running again after his parents died, while also taking care of his sister Ali and her 8 year old daughter. He doesn't have time for romance or flighty college girls, but when Meghan arrives, he realizes that maybe he should make time.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
4 out of 5 stars

This is a book that will make you feel. When you finish it, you will either love it or hate it, there is no in between. For me, I loved it. Mim is a deeply flawed character. We can see those flaws but still love her for or in spite of them. In her own words, she is "not okay". The author tackles mental illness, self-medicating, Down Syndrome, and a slew of other "serious topics". But he does it with an honesty and self-humor that is refreshing.

When Mim finds out that her mom is seriously ill, she runs away from her dad & stepmom and begins an epic roadtrip back home. On the way, she meets a host of eccentric and sometimes terrifying characters that change her life in one way or another. This is so much more of a spiritual roadtrip than a physical one, for both Mim and the reader, and you will both be in tears by the end.

For Real by Alison Cherry
4 out of 5 stars

Amazing Race is one of my and my sister's (my sister and I's? Help, grammar police!) favorite shows. To find a book that mimics that theme was so exciting and then when I actually loved it? A miracle! Claire and Miranda are sisters and love each other, but they are exact opposites in every way. Claire is shy, quiet, awkward, loves watching reality shows. Miranda is outgoing, popular, gorgeous. But when Miranda needs to get revenge on a cheating boyfriend, Claire has the perfect plan. It just involves dropping everything and going on a race around the world together with millions of people watching on their tv's.

The behind-the-scenes moments were just as fascinating as the race. I never really thought about it, watching reality shows, but I'm sure they all do dozens of reshoots for each one hour show we watch. Can you imagine having to eat slugs 4 times because the camera angle was wrong? ew. So Claire and Miranda go off on this epic journey, but right from the start, things are not as great as they expected. No spoilers, of course, but there are some fun twists and surprises here. And boys, oh yes, boys.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Roadtrip-Palooza: 5 Reviews in One!!

I'm continuing my catch-up with more mini-reviews today! This batch is all summer sun & fun, but with that essential roadtrip/vacation twist. Oh yes, the roadtrip. Another one of my favorite things to read about. My sister and I have discussed taking an epic roadtrip one summer, but if you want to do it right, it can be really expensive! Boo...maybe eventually. Until then, let's discuss these books!

Five Summers by Una LaMarche
3 out of 5 stars

I always wanted to go to summer camp. My favorite movie is still The Parent Trap (original, natch). I love Camp Nowhere too. The Baby-Sitters Club super special where they go to Camp Mohawk is one of my favorites. So you'd think I'd be all over this book about four best friends and their adventures at summer camp. I kind of was, but not as much as I'd hoped. Honestly, I don't even remember a lot about it, which is kind of sad.

The 4 girls haven't been all together in 3 years and are excited to reunite for a weekend at camp. Your "summer self" is sometimes different from your "rest of the year self" and these girls are no exception. They each have secrets about themselves that they don't want to let out. So of course, they all get exposed. There's romance and fighting, friendships come and go, plenty of cute boys, and an epic "capture the flag" game. A lot of reviewers compared this to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I'm sorry, it just doesn't live up to that group of BFF's for me.

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
3 out of 5 stars

I'll be spending this summer in the Hamptons. Rory is excited for her summer job, "errand girl" to a rich family (the Rules), but it doesn't turn out quite how she imagined. She doesn't fit in with these people and they never let her forget it. Especially Isabel, daughter and queen of the Hamptons. The book alternates between the two girls and I actually really ended up liking Isabel in the end. There's a lot more to her than just the party girl.

Of course, no summer vacation would be the same without a little romance. Each girl falls for a guy who might not be right for them, but when has that ever stopped us? As the summer goes on, the heat and secrets build up until it all explodes in their faces. I enjoyed this book, but it was just missing something to make it a favorite. And I'm not even really sure what that would be lol. There is a sequel, but I don't know if I'll bother reading it.

How My Summer Went up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
3.5 out of 5 stars

This was a cute book with a premise I hadn't really seen before. Rosie is a Jersey girl with a temper and when she "accidentally" sets her ex-boyfriend's car on fire, she has to pay the consequences. Big time: like restraining order and court dates. Her parents decide the best thing would be to get her out of town for awhile to give things time to cool down and not make the situation worse. So Rosie is shipped off on a cross-country trip with neighbor boy Matty and two of his best friends, nerdling brothers Logan and Spencer.

I wasn't always the kind of girl who wakes up on the first day of summer vacation to find herself on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order.
What can I say? First I lost my heart. Then I lost my mind.

You'd think a story with one girl + three guys in a small car for a week would mean lots of steamy scenes and love triangles squares, right? Luckily, this doesn't happen here. Well, okay, there is some romance but it's light and not the main point of the story, for once. We have plenty of time for Rosie to realize what a nutcase she was over ex Joey (and it does take a while, the girl is stubborn) and how she can grow out of this.

"Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."

Beach Blondes by Katherine Applegate
4 out of 5 stars

This is actually 3 books in one and was a mega impulse buy for me one day at Half Price Books. Normally, the cheesy cover would have thrown me off but I am so glad I gave it a chance. I wasn't expecting so many feels with a silly summer book. Because this is way more than just "fun in the sun" and summer romances. (Although it does have that too!)

Summer Smith (yep, her name really is Summer) is hating life right's February in Minnesota and her boots are full of cold, wet slush. There was no sun. There never had been a sun. It was made up by science teachers. So when her mom asks her if she wants to spend the summer in Florida at her aunt's mega-mansion, she jumps on it. Who wouldn't? On the plane ride there, the weird old lady next to her offers to read her tarot cards and tells Summer that she "will meet three young men, each very different, each very important in her life." Summer is a little weirded out but forgets all about it when she steps into the sunshine.

Diana is Summer's cousin and doesn't want to have anything to do with her relative, but when her mom goes off on a book tour (she writes romance books and has big hair lol) for a week, Diana is stuck entertaining Summer. Well, she's supposed to anyway. Doesn't mean she will. Diana's got lots of issues and her mom thought having perky Summer there would help lift her out of her funk. It doesn't.

Marquez is a local girl who takes Summer under her wing when Diana won't. Marquez wants to get out of their little town as soon as she can and pushes away from everyone who doesn't. She denies her artistic side for the practical "grownup" side that she thinks will help her succeed. Even when that means losing the guy she loves.

The book follows all 3 girls throughout the summer, weaving their individual stories together into one of friendship and healing. Each girl has something in their past that comes back to haunt them and of course, there's a guy for each girl. I can't wait to get the next books in this series (a standalone spring break story and another summer anthology).

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
4.5 out of 5 stars

I wish I owned this book, so I could highlight all my favorite parts and reread it over and over again. Also, I really want my sister to read it eventually but she's the "nonreader" so it'll take a while. :) It's perfect for her though: a roadtrip with country music and hot cowboys!

Reagan and Dee are best friends. Dee is also a rising star in country music who goes by Lilah to her fans. She's going on tour for the summer and Reagan is coming along to get away from a bad-for-her boy and major breakup. (Also, a real break...her wrist.) Dee is fresh from her breakup with childhood sweetheart, Jimmy, who can't handle the spotlight he would be in with Lilah. The girls' friendship is pretty perfect and adorable. Dee is light where Reagan is dark and they bring out the best traits in each other and always have the other's back.

Until Matt Finch arrives. Matt joins the tour as Lilah's opening act and is quickly forced to act as her boyfriend due to publicity stunts, but it's Reagan's heart that he really wants. Prickly Reagan isn't falling for the sweet boy act though and resents him for horning in on her summer of BFF fun. It takes a lot to bring her around but when he finally does, it's something worth waiting for.

And then there's the music. Such an integral part of the story. It's kind of like reading the movie Pure Country. Have you seen it? If not, you are missing out and should go find it immediately!! And then you'll want to download the soundtrack. Trust me. Okay, now I want to go listen to it too lol.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Summer-palooza: 5 Reviews in One!!

I've got so many books to review, to get caught up, that I decided to combine a bunch into mini-reviews. As you can tell, this batch is all about the Summer Romance Formula. :) I purchased a ton of these back in the spring and read them all summer long. It was pretty enjoyable. So let's get going with some reviews, shall we? These are going worst(ish) to best!

Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells
2.5 out of 5 stars

I had a hard time getting into this one. I didn't connect with the characters or their story very well and it was very slow in the beginning. Mia is 16 years old and on summer vacation to the Hamptons with her family and aunt, uncle, and 2 female cousins. She thought it was going to be the best summer ever, reconnecting with her favorite cousin and spending all her time basking in the sun. But her cousin is a drunk party girl, her mom & dad are having problems, and she's just gotten dumped by the guy she was "in love" with.

And then, here comes Simon. The strange, slightly too quirky (he quotes The Great Gatsby blegh) guy next door that the cool kids tolerate. Simon, of course, goes after Mia and she rebuffs him at every shot. She starts spending a lot of time alone on the beach at night to get away from her family and, of course, runs into Simon. They start having late night talks and eventually, Mia falls for him. I am glad that the author didn't do an insta-love at least, this relationship definitely grew over time. If you know anything about reading into the clues given, you will know that "something big" happens to the two lovebirds and boy, is it a doozy. No spoilers here, but it will either make you love or hate the book, no in between.

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
3 out of 5 stars

Maddie is the typical blonde cheerleader but she has a dirty little secret...she likes comic books. Okay. I am a proud comic book reader and also a girl, so this just rubbed me all kinds of wrong. I don't care what you're reading: comics, 50 Shades, Berenstain Bears, whatever...if you're enjoying it, that's all that matters and NO ONE should make you feel bad for it. And that's why I had to mark this one down a star.

Okay, moving on. Maddie is eagerly awaiting the latest issue of her favorite comic and when it doesn't come, she decides to venture into the unknown: a comic book store. She meets cute nerdy guy Logan and he offers to loan her his only copy of the issue and the two start a tenuous relationship. Logan is great and his friend Dan is the typical chubby funny sidekick. It was Maddie I had the most problem with. She lied to her best friends nearly all summer when her relationship with Logan started growing, she sort-of cheated on her boyfriend, and she just didn't grow until the very end. It was a good moment, her "coming out" into the geek world, but I just don't know if it was enough for me to like her.

Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana
3 out of 5 stars

This is more of a time travel book than anything, but still has its summer romance moments, so I stuck it with this batch of books. Haley is 17 years old and had hoped to spend her summer with her friends and cute boys, but instead is dragged off to a Disney campground with her dad and stepfamily. I'm kind of surprised they were allowed to use all the Disney info. Haley had a mysterious seizure a few months before so her dad is being extra over-protective and she can't stand it. When she goes off on a scavenger hunt with some new friends her first night there, she discovers another side of the campground: 1982 River Country. Yep, you read that right: she has a seizure while exploring the abandoned water park and it somehow takes her 32 years into the past.

I kind of love time travel books, especially ones that go to the 80s or 90s, because, you know, that's when I grew up. ;) So reading about Walkmans, Jelly shoes, TV Guide, and E.T. brings out the nostalgia factor big time. Haley is understandably freaked out at first but then just decides to take it all in stride. I wait in a rocking chair, watching feathered hairstyle after feathered hairstyle pass me by. I see three rainbow-striped dresses, a dozen boys with socks up to their knees, and lots and lots of headbands on girls. *What* is that all about?

She meets a cute lifeguard named Jason who wears short shorts and runs into her mom and dad as teenagers. She somehow decides it's her mission to make sure they still get together, just like it really happened. Along the way, she falls for Jason, even though there's no possible way for them to be together. And she has some adventures: some scary and some fun. Does she make it back to her present/future? Well, you'll just have to read it and see. Lol...I will say that the ending was my favorite part and made me a little teary-eyed rereading it just now.

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
3.5 out of 5 stars

"Other people's stories are their own to tell." And that's how it goes in this book. From the past to the present and back and forth, we find out the true story of the conflict between teenagers Gwen and Cassidy. Gwen is trying to deal with her past as she struggles in her present, taking care of her autistic little brother (who sometimes stole the show), working for a rich old lady all summer, and trying to keep her family together. Cassidy is a "rich kid" making up for his past mistakes in school by being a "yard boy" for the summer. The two teens are forced to deal with their past relationship choices and decide if they want or can even have a future together.

There are a lot of different stories going on here and unfortunately, it sometimes made the book confusing and even drag on a little long. Gwen's cousin Nic and BFF Viv have been together for years and have always assumed they would grow old together, but everything can change in a summer. The difference between the rich and the poor, the locals and the tourists, the good and the bad, is a big part of this story too. Overall, a decent read but not quite on the same level as My Life Next Door.

On the Fence by Kasie West
3.5 out of 5 stars

This book was probably my favorite out of the bunch. It's got the romance for sure, but it also has a family story that will bring you to tears more than once. Charlie is the only girl in a family of 3 older brothers and her dad. Even her best friend and next-door neighbor, Braden, is a guy. So you can probably guess who she falls for right? I don't have to tell you? I knew y'all were smart.

Charlie is a tomboy to the core (playing football with the boys is a normal occurrence) but when she has to pick up a summer job at a frou-frou clothing boutique to pay off speeding tickets, she realizes that maybe being a girl isn't so bad after all. Not that she wants anyone, ever, to find that out. As the summer goes on, it gets harder for her to hide her second life and she starts having late night chats with Braden over their shared fence. (Not on some weird bridge like on the cover.) The two grow closer but also apart somewhat...they can't be that close without their relationship changing and that's terrifying for Charlie. She doesn't understand how anyone could see her as anything but "one of the guys".

"By a show of hands," Braden said loudly, "who here would've asked Charlie out in the last six months had they not been given the 'We will kill you if you look at Charlie' speech by the three lugs over there when she turned sixteen?"

Charlie has a lot of growing up to do and she doesn't know how to do it without her mom, who died when she was little. The relationship she has with her dad is good but it doesn't take the place of a mom and when she finds out a secret from her past, it threatens everything she knows.

Charlie "Why are you doing this to me? Why couldn't you just let me figure it out on my own?"
Braden "Because I don't want to see you hurt."
"Unless you're the one hurting me?"
"I'm not trying to, Charlie."