Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: "The Disenchantments"

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book. So so much. First of all, it's a contemporary romance told from the point of view of the guy. How often does that happen? No really, I'd like to you have a favorite male main character book? Tell me about it below! Second of all, it's got an epic roadtrip and that is just about my most favorite thing ever! And finally, it's a music-driven story and those are a close second after roadtrips. Mostly because it gives me a chance to make a playlist and you know I love a good playlist. :) So be sure to check out my 8Tracks mix at the bottom and let me know how I did with the "mood".

Okay, on to the actual story. Colby and Bev are BFF's and about to graduate high school. But instead of heading off to college, they are going on an epic trip across Europe for a year. And to start the trip off, they are going on a month long tour with Bev's punk rock girl band (+2 other girls from school). This band, The Disenchantments, is not great but what they lack in talent, they make up for in determination and spirit. Colby goes along as manager, roadie, and van driver. Surprisingly, their parents are all okay with this. Especially Colby's. His dad and uncle had a band when they were younger so they think he is just following in their footsteps. His mom is off on her own spiritual journey in France and has lovely dreams that she tells Colby all about.

"I was walking along the Seine, like I do every day, and I looked up and all of my favorite French words were drifting across the sky on kites."

Colby and the girls are barely a single day into their roadtrip when Bev drops a bomb (spoiler, highlight to read): she's decided not to go backpacking around Europe and is instead going off to college in the fall. (/spoiler) Colby is shocked and bewildered and doesn't know what to do...with the tour, with Bev, with anything. And the story goes on from there, unwinding the how and why of Bev's secret and what it means for the two friends.

Honestly, I kind of hated Bev for most of the book. I think you were supposed to though. She was selfish and emo and just generally, an 18 year old. Colby has built her up in his mind as the perfect (almost manic pixie dream) girl and when that dream comes crashing down, it's a disaster. Because, of course he's in love with her. How could he not be? The other two girls in the band, sisters Meg & Alexa, are great secondary characters. Part punk, part hippy, they each have their own problems and idiosyncrasies and blended together nicely with Bev & Colby. And there is a virtual bevy of wonderful background characters. My (and most peoples') favorite is Jasper, the young tattoo artist who just wants to dance get out of his tiny town and explore the world. I would LOVE a companion novel about Jasper.

As the tour goes on, we get more and more of Bev & Colby's back story and a sense of who they really are. There is plenty of angst and self-pity, but it's all balanced out with beautiful sections about art and music and growing up and self-discovery.

We felt so small with the city lights stretching forever below us, and we yelled at the top of our lungs because we were just these small humans but we felt more longing than could ever fit inside us.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: "Stacey's Ex-Best Friend: The Baby-Sitters Club #51"

Stacey's Ex-Best Friend: The Baby-Sitters Club #51 by Ann M Martin
2 out of 5 stars

This one was kind of boring. Laine visits Stacey and is a total snob about everything. That's pretty much it, but since that doesn't make much of a review, let's dive a little deeper. Here we go.

It's snowing in Stoneybrook and Stacey is reminiscing about how much her life has changed in the last year, when Laine (her NYC BFF) calls. She calls Stacey "Anastasia" because it sounds more sophisticated and is all excited about her winter break coming up. Laine doesn't have any plans yet, except maybe go to a bunch of parties with her 15 year old boyfriend, King. I'm sure his real name is Walter or Herbert or something like that. He has long black hair with purple tips that he wears in a ponytail. Totally distant. (Oh wait, Laine didn't know what "distant" meant. Guess the BSC slang hasn't gotten to the big city yet.) Stacey suggests that Laine come to Stoneybrook and stay with her instead. Because that's what a teenager wants to do on their vacation: spend time at another school.

When Stacey tells the other BSCers about Laine coming, they're all excited and Mary Anne conveniently mentions that she'll be there for the Valentine's Dance. Which is being held on Friday the thirteenth, oh noze!! That's like total bad luck! (This would have been a prime time for another Cokie Mason mystery, but alas, the ghost writers didn't think of that.) All the girls have dates and then Kristy has a Great Idea, suggesting they throw a party for the kids they sit for. They decide to have all the kids make cards to trade, but using riddles instead of their real names. Throughout the book, we find out that nearly all the kids have crushes on each other. The sitters think that's adorable and encourage it. Because these second graders need encouragement to express their love. Yeah.

So Laine comes to stay with Stacey and she has to make her room totally fresh, which means getting rid of the kitten poster, Claudia's rag doll Lennie, her pig collection, and all the lame cassette tapes. And of course her outfit has to be perfect: a purple shirtwaist top over flowered leggings, cowboy boots (cowgirl boots? cowwoman boots?), a purple hair ornament made from shoelaces, and long dangly silver earrings. As soon as Stacey and her mom arrive at the train station and see Laine, she immediately feels dorky. [Laine] was hard to miss, considering she was wearing a jean coat with a fur collar (I sincerely hoped the fur was fake), black capri pants edged with lace, very chic black ankle boots, and on her head, a brilliant red over-sized beret.

Laine is not impressed with little, boring Stoneybrook or Stacey's lame sleepover. And she doesn't really want to go to the Valentine dance with some geeky 8th grader, especially after she meets them at school. Which she didn't want to go to in the first place. But Stacey gives her this heart-warming speech that changes her mind.

"...we used to be part of each other's lives. When I was living in New York and we went to the same school, we were practically sharing one life. Now our lives are so different. We talk a lot, but we hardly see each other. I feel as if I'm losing half of ME, and I'm trying to figure out how to get myself back. I miss you, Laine, I really do." aaawww....

So at school, Laine is horrified to find that they can't leave campus or go to the bathroom in groups and that the boys at SMS are huge geeks. Even though Stacey got the cream of the crop: Logan, Pete Black, Rick Chow, and Austin Bentley. Pete is completely enamored with Laine and tells her "[she has] hair like gossamer." Hah! Pete asks Laine to the dance and she agrees, after talking to King first. Oh, she calls King "Heart" and he calls her "Babe". Gross.

Over in baby-sitting news, the Hobart boys are disappointed when they find out that American kids don't wear suits and carnations to Valentine's parties. Poor kids. At the next BSC meeting, half the girls are mad at their dates and Kristy says boys are trouble. (Well yeah, you would think that.) Laine asks them if they're still going to be baby-sitting in the summer and Stacey is like, yeah duh. Laine suggests she get a "real job" like her, cashiering at a boutique. (What business owner in their right mind would hire a 13 year old?? I'm pretty sure that wasn't even legal back then.) Stacey gets peeved and is starting to wonder why she even invited Laine.

[Stacey talking about buying stuff on home shopping shows.]
Laine: "...[girl at school] always comes to school with J-U-N-Q-U-E."
Stacey: "Maybe she L-I-Q-U-E-S what she buys."
Oh snap! ;) Laine also tells Stacey she should go on a diet. Harsh.

It's finally the night of the dance, which means the book is almost over yay! Laine was dressed in black from head to toe. Black leotard, long black jacket, black leggings over black stockings [WHAT??], black shoes. Her jewelry was silver, though. [I'm sorry, I had to do a better version of this outfit, because I just did NOT understand it!!] Laine is horrified, yet again, when she finds out they are meeting the boys at the dance. And when Pete gives her a corsage. And when she says the pink heart decorations. And when she sees Pete's sneakers with his suit. (He'd be totally in style now.) And so on and so on.

Stacey finally has enough and yanks Laine off the dance floor and they have a big argument. Laine wants to go home (to New York) and Stacey agrees. She is over it. The whole friendship. A week later, she writes Laine a long letter basically about all the things she (Laine) did wrong and why their friendship is over. You know, typical junior high stuff. She even returns her half of her friendship necklace, so you know it's really over. I wonder if we'll see Laine again. I can't remember, but I'm guessing yes.

And that's it, except for the kids' Valentine party, which is a huge success of course. And Stacey dresses like a red elf: red leggings, red ankle boots, a bulky red sweater, and red barrettes. What's the deal with the city girls and their leggings and ankle boots???

Side note: I realized that I use the word "totally" waaaay too much! I had it 8 times in this review before I took some out! Oops.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

TILT: Bookish Accessories

It's the Thursday before a 3-day weekend and I am Ready. So let's do a fun Things I Love Thursday to distract us for awhile, shall we? I've gathered up some cute bookish accessories and I want to see/hear about your favorites below!

(if you do not want your item featured, please contact me!)

Librarian Necklace by MissingPiecesStudio -I'm big into librarian things lately, can you tell??

Bookshelf Phone Case on InspiredCases -this is exactly what I was looking for, 2 days ago! And it's going on my wishlist. :)

Bookish Nails by OneNailToRuleThemAll -I tried to talk my sister into doing these for me, she said no lol. I mean, she did these super cute pineapple ones, she can totally do that right??!

Shelf Portrait Necklace by PteelyBraire -this is genius! You can pick your favorite books and they'll do the spines custom for you! Love it.

And for those in the US, happy 4th of July!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book vs Movie: "The DUFF"

I've been excited to see this movie since I first heard about it. It sounded like such a great throw-back to all those silly teen movies that used to be around more: She's the Man, 10 Things I Hate About You, it's all dystopian and vampires and Shailene Woodley. ;) I actually went and bought the book (which I'd never heard of) because of the movie. That's a first for me, I think. No wait, I watched Beastly before reading it and ended up loving the movie more. Anyway, I read this book back in April and finally got to watch the movie last weekend, so figured it was time for another book vs movie! (Spoilers for either/both, so be warned.)

First of all, The DUFF was written by a 17 year old girl. That's so unfair cool. ;) I gave the book 3 stars; it's a quick, easy read and I enjoyed it. Bianca and her 2 best friends are going along in their lives happily, until the resident hottie, Wesley Rush, mentions to Bianca that she's the DUFF in their little group. What's a DUFF, you ask? Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Yeah. Kind of harsh. As I'm sure you all know, words can hurt.

Calling Vikki a slut or a whore was just like calling somebody the Duff. It was insulting and hurtful, and it was one of those titles that just fed off the inner fear every girl must have from time to time. Slut, bitch, prude, tease, ditz. They were all the same. Every girl felt like one of these sexist labels described her at some point.

Of course, Bianca is pissed and hates Wesley even more than she already did. Until she doesn't...hate him, that is. You know how it goes: you think about someone so much in anger, then all of a sudden, you're just thinking about them period. So what does she do? She sleeps with him. Yeah, that's smart. And that's where the book and movie start to differ, in a huge plot-changing way. (And big spoilers after this!)

In the book, Bianca & Wesley "hook up" a LOT, which surprised me a little. You don't see that very often in a young adult book and I suppose that's why they took it out of the movie. I can't say that I agree with their reasons for removing that plot though, it's not look teens don't know it's happening. Anyway, the other main difference was the relationship between Bianca and her parents. In the book, her dad is the one who is around, and despite their many problems, I really wanted to see that on the screen. So, as much as I love Allison Janney, I was pretty disappointed by that part of the movie. The additions to the movie (the mean girl, cyber-bullying, etc...) were all fine to me, as long as I didn't remember that it was a book lol. You really had to take these as 2 separate pieces, I think, to enjoy them. I really did like the movie and will probably buy it.

As far as the actors go, I thought they were fine. I liked the actress who played Bianca, obviously she's not fat or ugly, just normal looking but that's okay. I only watched the random odd episode of Parenthood, so she's not ingrained as that character for me luckily. I felt like Wesley looked too old, but that's how it goes in teen movies. And I honestly just don't get the whole Bella Thorne thing. Why is she popular? The friends were fine, if forgettable. Those few scenes where Bianca & Wesley are laughing and joking around were my favorite, they felt very natural and maybe ad libbed? The romance was there, maybe more so in the book of course.

“I think about you much more than any self-respecting man would like to admit, and I'm insanely jealous of Tucker - something I never thought I'd say. Moving on after you is impossible. No other girl can keep me on my toes the way you can. No one else makes me WANT to embarrass myself by writing sappy letters like this one.

Only you.”

When I was looking for gifs/pics on Pinterest, all I kept coming up with was Lizzie McGuire. People on Pinterest are obsessed with Lizzie McGuire. So I figured I'd end this review with her, just because. You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My 10 Favorite Reads of 2015...So Far!

This week's TTT on The Broke & The Bookish has great timing, since I was planning on doing this topic soon anyway! We're talking favorite books of the year so far and I've had plenty. :) I'm already at 60% of my goal for the year, with 90 books, so I'll probably end up raising that again lol. And luckily, I've only had one dud...the infamous Sweet Valley High book. So let's take a closer look at my favorites and then I want to hear about yours!

1. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson --I can't believe this is still my #1 for the year, being the very first read too! It was just so lovely.

2. Rose Under Fire (sequel to Code Name Verity) by Elizabeth Wein --I think I enjoyed this sequel even more than the first.

3. Mosquitoland by David Arnold --there's something about this quirky little book that I really loved. Mim & Walt were such amazing, damaged characters.

4. Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell --this book starts out very slow but keep going, it is well worth it! Toby Dobbs is lonely in his big, old house so he gets some roommates. Fifteen years later, he's ready to be alone again but the roommates aren't budging. Way more serious than it sounds. ;)

5. The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E Smith --my favorite of her books now. This is a great romance but also a journey of adventures and finding yourself.

6. For Real by Alison Cherry --Amazing Race style adventures + sisters bonding + some romance = an awesome book! I'll be reviewing it in detail soon.

7. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord --a country music roadtrip? Yes, please!

8. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson --I just finished this last weekend. My sister had insisted I borrow it because she loved it and I did too! Not just the mystery with Jack the Ripper-esque murders, but also the daily life of a London boarding school. It was all great!

9. Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore --another suggestion by my sister! :) The blend of magic and old Texas history really made this an interesting read.

10.Sense & Sensibility & Sea Monsters by Ben H Winters --I know you're probably thinking "seriously??" on this one but it was actually really good! The original classic was fine but a little slow. With this remake, you get the prim & proper but also the scandalous and serpentine!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Review: "A Wrinkle in Time"

 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
3 out of 5 stars

I never read this book as a kid. Just skipped right past it. And I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Reading it as an adult left me confused and a little bit jaded. But I honestly can't see how a child could read this with any kind of comprehension of the plot. Since this is considered a classic, spoilers will be free-for-all, so beware if you want to give it a shot yourself.

The story starts out well enough with 15 year old Meg lamenting her high school career, or rather the lack of it. She's considered "weird" because her parents are highly intelligent scientists and her youngest brother (5 year old Charles Wallace) doesn't speak much in public. Meg is smarter than she seems or acts, as is Charles Wallace, but it's not helping them much. On "a dark and stormy night", the Murry family is visited by a strange creature named Mrs Whatsit, who mentions to their mother that the tesseract is a real thing. In case you're not up on your scientific studies, a tesseract is essentially, a wrinkle in time. Don't ask me to explain it further, there's math involved and I'm just not up for that. (This comic by Faith Erin Hicks probably explains it better than me!)

This is about when we get into the strange and unusual. Mrs Whatsit, along with her 2 friends (sisters?) Mrs Who and Mrs Which, take Meg, Charles Wallace, and a school friend of Meg's named Calvin on an amazing adventure thru time and space to save the Murry's father. He has been missing for quite some time and it is up to the children to find and rescue him from Evil, even though they have no idea what they are doing most of the time. There are fantastical creatures, 2 dimensional planets, Mediums with crystal balls, Dark Evil Things, and a planet where every person and thing is perfectly in sync with the next. It is on this planet that the children's father is being imprisoned by IT...a disembodied brain controlling everything around it. Pretty creepy.

Side note: does anyone remember the Galactic Milieu series by Julian May? I loved those books but got grounded (because of bad grades) from reading the last one in 9th grade and now I can't remember if I ever read it. I should pick those up sometime and reread them.
Another side note: was I the only one who got grounded from reading books? Lol...

Okay, moving on. The children free their father but in the process, lose Charles Wallace to IT. He is turned into a pod person and they escape to another planet before IT gets Meg as well. Meg is severely injured when they tesser (you know, move thru time) but is taken care of by the strange creatures on the planet, whom she calls Aunt Beast. I think this was probably my favorite chapter. The gentleness and quiet laughter from Aunt Beast was so refreshing for Meg and me.

"How strange it is that they can't tell us what they themselves seem to know."
"They are very young. And on their earth, as they call it, they never communicate with other planets. They revolve all alone in space."
"Oh, aren't they lonely?"

In the end, it is Meg who goes back to save Charles Wallace and she does so with love. Yep, love is the only thing IT doesn't have. Convenient, right? But that's okay, I still kind of teared up. The 3 children and their father tesser back home, where they are reunited with the rest of the Murry's in the vegetable garden.

"How did all this happen? Isn't it wonderful? I feel as though I were just being born! I'm not alone any more! Do you realize what that means to me?"

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: "All Night Long: Sweet Valley High #5"

All Night Long: Sweet Valley High #5 by Francine Pascal
1 out of 5 stars

Before Reading: OMG, Jessica is dating Pornstache from Orange is the New Black!!! Look, proof!!! Also, why is she wearing her jean jacket on one shoulder?

The Main Plot in 50 Words or Less: Jessica dates an older guy and stays out all night. Liz covers for her. That's pretty much it.

The Second Plot in 20 Words or Less: Liz and Todd fight over Liz protecting Jess. The twins take a tourist guide license test. (Whatever that is.)

Opening Lines: "What do you think? Do I look sophisticated enough for Scott?" Jessica Wakefield stood poised before the full-length mirror in her twin sister's bedroom, chin thrown back, her lovely features arranged in a languid pout.

Closing Lines: Tomorrow, she promised herself, stifling the tiny stitch of fear in the pit of her stomach. I'll tell him tomorrow...

Best WTF Lines: There had been a dumb, leering smile on his face when he'd made the old joke about them being "double the fun". Elizabeth had nearly gagged. [me too]

It was a kind of grown-up pajama party, with everyone wearing nightshirts and nightgowns, and the floor strewn with mattresses for them to sit on instead of chairs.

...there was a manlike hardness to his bronzed build she found dangerous and exciting. ...she sensed it wouldn't be so easy fending him off if they were alone.

"...Scott sure likes 'em young...gotta watch out for them when they're that age. All tease and no tickle...jailbait, if you ask me..."

Happenings in SV: Jessica wants to go to a beach party with this college-aged guy, Scott, and Elizabeth doesn't think she should. Jessica goes anyway and gets in over her head. Everyone is drinking beer and smoking joints. (Jess does not partake.) Scott takes Jessica into the woods or something and tries to go further than she wants. She fends him off, Scott calls her a baby and leaves her there, after saying the party is an all-nighter and she's not getting home.

Elizabeth is furious when she doesn't come home the next morning, but covers for her. Todd thinks she's being used again and they argue over it, big time. Cara sees Liz (as Jess) talking to Todd and spreads tons of gossip about it. Of course, they get back together in the end. Blegh. There's a big surfing contest between Bill Chase and a new guy, Sonny Callahan. Todd sold Bill his surfboard to get the money for a Yamaha motorcycle. Liz is apprehensive about it. Bill wins the contest.

Fashion Icons: "This halter top would look really sexy with my red shorts," Jessica said, holding up a scrap of lacy white cloth as she smiled sweetly at her twin.

In her chamois bikini and cornrowed blond hair, the girl was a dead ringer for Bo Derek.
In her [Jessica] new red string bikini she was a match even for "Miss 10", if she did say so herself.

She [Elizabeth] slid into a pair of old jeans worn to velvety softness and yanked a long-sleeved T-shirt over her head. Quickly she combed her wet hair and secured it with a tortoiseshell clip on either side. She was jamming her feet into a pair of moccasins when the phone rang. 
Choosing a short, bias-cut skirt and matching striped top that was one of Jessica's favorite outfits, she (Elizabeth) hastily made the change, pulling the clips out of her hair and giving her head a shake. A dash of her twin's favorite cologne and some of her lipstick and she was read to go downstairs and greet the world as Jessica Wakefield.

She'd (Alice Wakefield) gotten up at dawn to go jogging, as she did every morning, and still was wearing her burgundy velour warm-ups and her running shoes. Her honey-blond hair was caught up in a ponytail, adding a youthfulness to her tanned, slender appearance that made her seem closer to her daughters' age than her own.

Dana was in one of her usual outrageous getups: an oversize t-shirt over a red-striped miniskirt; purple tights; and black suede ankle boots. An enormous gold loop dangled from one pierce earlobe; the other sported a tiny silver star.

Lila, in her metallic-blue one-piece, her wavy light-brown hair done up in French braids, was practically draped over his board as she feigned a keen interest in surfing.

Twin Hijinks: When Jessica doesn't come home, Elizabeth pretends to be her twin with her mom and at school. It works of course. She takes her tourist guide test for her too but bombs it horribly.

Other Thoughts: This book was so horribly disgusting, like the last one, but I had to give this a one star. Seriously, Scott is so gross. But I was so surprised the authors didn't take it all the way. It's weird that they really don't mention S-E-X in any of these early books. Oh yeah, they make out and Scott slips his hands down Jess' bikini bottoms, but that's it. **Trigger warning: Are you seriously telling me that this skeezy, college-aged, pornstache guy would stop when this little high-school girl tells him to?? There's no way. And the reason I gave it one star, besides the skeeze, was because the Scott storyline was basically 2 chapters and then he was gone. Like, he's on the cover!

The Next Book*: Will Todd's motorcycle drive them apart? Find out in Sweet Valley High #6, DANGEROUS LOVE.

*(not necessarily what I'll be reading)