Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Looking for Alaska" By: John Green Review

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Looking for Alaska
By: John Green
Synopsis
Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (Fran├žois Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. After. Nothing is ever the same. 
My Thoughts
     Miles "Pudge" Halter's entire life is separated into two sections, before and after. The before time equals his life before meeting Alaska Young and attending Culver Creek Boarding School. Before the terrifying and heartbreaking event that took Alaska from school and from Pudge's life. The after is coming to terms with life, death, and how normal teens deal with absolute loss. Pudge and his friends try to find meaning in something that may never have meaning.
      I enjoyed Looking for Alaska but I think if I had read it before reading The Fault in Our Stars, I would have enjoyed it more. Dealing with a possible suicide is always heart wrenching and Green talks in no nonsense terms about life, death and what comes after. The teens are nowhere near perfect and their actions after Alaska's unfortunate death show how imperfect life and death truly is.    
     Perhaps my favorite part of the book is Pudge's fascination of famous people's last words. The juxtaposition of a dying person's last moments and their life here on Earth worked well for the story and gave extra meaning to Alaska's life and subsequent death. Well written and definitely a page turner, Looking for Alaska will appeal to readers of The Fault in Our Stars quite well and to teens as a general audience.
Book Details
Publisher: Speak
Date of Publication: December 28, 2006
ISBN: 9780142402511
# of pages: 256
Location: Alabama

Originally published at the Brunette Librarian's Blog

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Wintergirls" By: Laurie Halse Anderson Review

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The Wintergirls
By: Laurie Halse Anderson
Synopsis
“Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.“Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.I am that girl.I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.
Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.
Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.
My Thoughts
            Lia begins Wintergirls by hearing the terrible news that her former best friend has died, alone, in a hotel. What follows is a whirlwind of emotions as Lia wonders what she could have done to help her dead friend while spiraling downward into her own bout with anorexia and mental illness. Lia presents her story in the first person, often crossing out thoughts she wishes she wasn’t having with thoughts she thinks everyone wants her to have. To add to this difficult situation, Lia’s parents seem disinterested in her issues and more absorbed in their own careers than their daughter’s problems.
            Incredibly heart wrenching and an emotionally moving story, Wintergirls takes us into the mind of a teenage girl in the midst of her own mental breakdown. Having a break in reality and seeing her dead friend every night before she sleeps, Lia’s mind plays tricks with her emotions and without much support from either her family or her friends, she continues to spiral downward. I was touched by how ingenious Lia was in hiding her anorexia from her parents (pennies in the pocket of her robe to weigh more), and appalled at how little her parents seemed to want to address her issues until it was too late. 

Book Details
Publisher: Viking
Date of Publication: March 19, 2009
# of Pages: 278
ISBN: 9780670011100
Location: New Hampshire

Originally published at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Brown Girl Dreaming" By: Jacqueline Woodson Review

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Brown Girl Dreaming
By: Jacqueline Woodson
Synopsis
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
My Thoughts
      Telling the story of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood, beginning in Ohio, then living in the South in the middle of the Civil Rights movement and ultimately ending up in New York City, the city of dreams and light. Beautifully told in verse, Woodson’s story shares their triumphs of life and love of family. It’s really a love letter to her family, whether it be good or bad, and a snapshot of her childhood life.
            Woodson doesn’t hold any punches in her writings. She discusses without sugarcoating her religious upbringing in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, her absentee father, her unwed mother and the surprise of a younger half white sibling and what his arrival meant to her family. Jackie’s time in the South is marked by sit-ins, black’s only restrooms, and the trying times her family endures when fighting for their own rights in this controversial period of American history.
            Gorgeously written, Woodson’s story speaks to the human experience. Covering such taboo topics as religion, race, poverty, education, incarceration, death, sickness, unplanned pregnancies, learning disabilities, absentee parents and growing up. This story is so much more than a coming of age novel, it’s a historical document testifying to our past and giving us hope for our future.

Book Details
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Date of Publication: August 28, 2014
ISBN: 9780399252518
# of Pages: 336
Location: South Carolina

Originally published at The Brunette Librarian's Blog

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Mayhem" By: Jamie Shaw Review

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Mayhem
By: Jamie Shaw

Synopsis
When college freshman Rowan Michaels meets gorgeous, up-and-coming rock star Adam Everest, she knows a player like him is the last thing she needs after her ex-boyfriend shattered her heart. But she can't stop thinking about the kiss they shared on his tour bus.
On the first day of school, Rowan is stunned when Adam saunters into her French class. He's soon failing miserably, and, on a whim, she offers to tutor him. But Adam doesn't recognize her as a makeup-free, glasses-clad college student—a far cry from the beautiful, mysterious "Peach" he met at his concert.
During a wild weekend on tour with the band, Rowan can't help falling for the sweet guy buried beneath Adam's rocker persona. Yet she knows she could never compete with the girls constantly throwing themselves at his feet. She'd just end up hurt … again.
Peach is all Adam thinks about, though, and when Rowan realizes this, she has a decision to make: stay just friends to protect her fragile heart … or reveal the truth about the night they met and admit she's fallen completely, hopelessly in love with him.


My Thoughts
   Rowan is a freshman in college living the dream. She’s living with her boyfriend who she thinks she loves. Yet one night her dreams for the future are dashed when she sees him with with another woman. That very same evening, she meets Adam Everest, local college student and rock star extraordinaire. While dealing with the heartbreak of her first love, she looks to Adam. Hijinks ensue as there are mistaken identities, rock band parties, late night/early morning study sessions and some super sexy times.
    This is going to get a bit confusing, so pay close attention.  I started out strongly disliking it, and ended up freaking loving this book. The first ⅓ of the book, I absolutely couldn’t get my mind around. I began reading it and I didn’t like the characters one bit. Rowan seemed needy and Adam was just a huge dirt bag. But once I got through my initial dislike of them, I truly saw Rowan and Adam for what they were. These two twenty something people, looking at the world in a different way and just trying to find their way through life when they are confused. Ultimately these two are just trying their best and I had initially met them at their worst.
     Adam is fantastic. I think I’m glad that I didn’t like him in the beginning because he became redeemed as you meet him through the story. He’s this partier who goes through women like socks. Yet he knows that Rowan is different. First of all, she’s the only woman who has ever turned down his advances. She doesn’t seem super impressed by his rock star status. Rowan likes his friends and they like her. Dealing with the heartbreak of her boyfriend cheating and then fighting loneliness in a city by herself, Rowan and Adam find friendship first, then a fantastic relationship. Adam is the true definition of a reformed rake and I wish I was lucky enough to have found him when I was going to college!
     A little hard for me to get into to begin with, I am thrilled I was lucky enough to read Jamie Shaw’s newest book. She plans to continue this series with the other band members. I’ve been stalking her like a crazy person. Her followup to Mayhem is titled Riot and will explore the story of Adam’s bandmate Joel and Rowan’s friend Dee. Filled with fun sexy times and a great voice in the New Adult genre, Jamie Shaw is a rising star! I wouldn’t mind being one of Adam’s socks...just sayin’!


Book Details
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Date of Publication: January 20, 2015
# of Pages: 258
ISBN: 9780062379610
Location: Virginia

Originally published at the Brunette Librarian's Blog

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

"The Game Plan" By: R.L. Mathewson Review

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The Game Plan
By: R.L. Mathewson
Synopsis
Spend the next 40 years in prison or break her lease early? Normally she’d be able to say that this one was a no-brainer, but things have definitely changed since she was forced to move in across the hall from Danny Bradford. A lot of things…… She wanted to get through one day, just ONE day without Danny Bradford doing something to test the limits to her control, but with that damn smile of his and his habit of leaving her contemplating manslaughter, she didn’t see that happening anytime soon. He loved his family, but some days……. It was too much, but that was okay, because his small neighbor living across the hallway provided him with endless hours of entertainment. Not on purpose of course, but did it really matter as long she made him smile?


My Thoughts
    Hilarious, fun, and quirky are the three words I can’t get out my head when reflecting on The Game Plan. A sequel to a few of my other favorite Mathewson novels, The Game Plan continues the Neighbor from Hell series. I had been eagerly anticipating Danny and Jodi’s story and boy, was I not disappointed in the least!
     Jodi is coming off a breakup from a truly terrible character. She moved into a new apartment building in an attempt to rebuild her life and career. Things seem to be going fine yet her neighbor, Danny Bradford begins to make her life an absolute living hell. Keeping her up at all hours of the night, stealing her food, and being rather obnoxious, Danny loves making Jodi’s life a little more difficult.
    Danny has had a hard time of it lately. Recovering from a wound he received while a marine, Danny is intrigued by the small spitfire that lives across the hall from him. When he discovers that she is more than she appears, he finds himself even being more vexing than usual.
      Incerdibly funny and cute, I thought this latest addition seemed to fit in well with the others. My favorite characters in previous novels showed up and I was tickled for a brief glimpse into their lives. Danny is heroic, funny, and is absolutely every inch a Bradford and has that special charm. It is a little over the top in parts, but I think those pieces just add to the total fun of the novel. A great story that has the perfect amount of romance, humor, and sexy times, The Game Plan is Mathewson’s crowning achievement of 2014!


Neighbor from Hell Series
Playing for Keeps
Perfection
Checkmate
The Game Plan

Book Details
Publisher: Rerum Industries, Inc.
Date of Publication: December 27, 2014
ASIN: B00R3TEWXM
# of Pages: 332

Friday, January 9, 2015

WHO MOVED MY CHEESE? By Spencer Johnson

WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?
by Spencer Johnson
c1998  
ISBN 0399144463
94 pages


This book is a simple parable that reveals ways to deal with change in your work and life. 
It is about two mice (Sniff and Scurry) and two little people (Hem and Haw) who are looking for cheese.  The cheese is a metaphor for what we want in life (like a job, relationships or power).  The maze is a metaphor for where you spend your time looking for what you want (within an organization, community or home).  Every day these characters run through a maze looking for cheese.  They all find it, but then the cheese one day disappears.  The characters all deal with the change in different ways.  Sniff-sniffs out change early and is not caught off guard, Scurry-scurries into action to find new cheese, Hem--denies and resists change through fear and Haw-learns to adapt when he can see something better.


Here are some helpful things we can learn from this book.


*  If you do not change--you can become extinct.
*  Move with change and learn to enjoy it.
*  Change happens.
*  Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again.
*  The quicker you adapt to change, the sooner you can enjoy it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"One Night...Nine Month Scandal" By: Sarah Morgan Review

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One Night...Nine Month Scandal
By: Sarah Morgan

Synopsis
A sleek Ferrari in the sleepy English village of Little Molting was always going to create a stir—but for schoolteacher Kelly it only means one thing. Her ex, Alekos Zagorakis, has stormed back into her life the way he left it: completely on his own terms. Four years ago Kelly stood, bridal bouquet in hand, realizing that her gorgeous groom wasn't walking down the aisle to meet her. Now he's come back to claim what's rightfully his—and that includes one night with Kelly…. But it's a night that has lasting consequences!


My Thoughts
    Kelly was left at the altar by the love of her life, Alekos years before. Having thought she moved on, she decides to sell her engagement ring on eBay. Imagine her surprise when Alekos shows up ready to claim the ring...and her! Only a few months after their initial meeting again, Kelly finds out she’s pregnant and reaches out to Alekos.
    This is my first Sarah Morgan book and it will likely be my last.  I know that sounds incredibly negative and I honestly don't mean for it to be. I just felt a huge disconnect between myself and the characters.  Kelly seemed like such a pushover and not realistic at all. Would she really be wearing around a ring of the man who left her years and years before? Would you she immediately sleep with him when she saw him for the first time...in years after everything he put her through? Again, I just had a hard time connecting with the character and her motivations behind her actions. I didn’t care for Alekos AT ALL...he seemed arrogant, self centered, and just blase about the whole situation. I wanted a little redemption after what he had done, but I never got what I wanted.
    
Book Details
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Date of Publication: July 16, 2010
# of Pages: 192
ISBN: 9780263878257
Location: Greece

Originally published at The Brunette Librarian's Blog