Sunday, July 19, 2009

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging (IS NOT FUNNY)

Title: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging

Author: Louise Rennison


Who Should Read It? Um, no one? Or rather, YA readers who find British humour hilarious and don't mind slightly annoying main characters

What I Have to Say: I do NOT understand why I have heard only good things about this book. "Bridget Jones for teenagers - but funnier," "This book it funny. Very funny." I don't get it because, well, it wasn't funny. Or maybe I was just too American for it, because as opposed to finding Georgia Nicolson and all of her Britishisms funny, I found her completely ANNOYING. Along with her friends. And her sister. ALL she did was complain, complain, complain, and then say the occasional stupid thing that, I suppose, was supposed to be funny.
The ONLY reason I give this book 2 stars is because it did incite a reaction (be it a negative one), and I think I might have sort-of laughed one towards the end.
I'm sorry, but I just don't get all the rage.

Summary (which comes straight from Amazon and isn't really a summary):She has a precocious 3-year-old sister who tends to leave wet nappies at the foot of her bed, an insane cat who is prone to leg-shredding "Call of the Wild" episodes, and embarrassing parents who make her want to escape to Stonehenge and dance with the Druids. No wonder 14-year-old Georgia Nicolson laments, "Honestly, what is the point?" A Bridget Jones for the younger set, Georgia records the momentous events of her life--and they are all momentous--in her diary, which serves as a truly hilarious account of what it means to be a modern girl on the cusp of womanhood. No matter that her particular story takes place in England, the account of her experiences rings true across the ocean (and besides, "Georgia's Glossary" swiftly eradicates any language barriers).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Library

So, I am home in Louisiana now, and yesterday I did something that I haven't done in AGES: I went to the library!!!!

One of the many reasons that I haven't done this in ages is that I haven't lived in the United States in the past 5 years, so it hasn't really been easy. But also, I find that if I love a book, I just want to own it.

The fact is, though, that now I am broke. And I no longer have the monetary luxury of buying all of the books that I want to read. So I went to the library, got a library card, and checked out three books. It's a start. I got "Ink Exchange," by Melissa Marr, which is on my summer reading list. I also got "Fever 1793" by Laurie Halse Anderson and "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging," which are not on my summer reading list.

I really liked Wicked Lovely, so I am excited about Ink Exchange, and really, I've just been wanting to read anything by Laurie Halse Anderson, so Fever will do.

But seriously, if I keep this up, reading books that absolutely are NOT on my summer reading list (right now, for example, I am reading A Long Way Gone, which is absolutely NOT on my list), there is absolutely NO WAY that I am ever going to get the list finished.

I guess what's most important, though, is good reading - am I right? :-)

So anyhow, the library experience was a good one, and even if the library was severely lacking in book choice, they did have some pretty awesome ones. It's also comfortable there - I like the library. And I guess I'm kind of sad that in three weeks I go back to France, where the libraries are less than comfortable and there are next to no books that I want to read. And where the book stores are MAD expensive. Lucky for me, I have my kindle! Thank you, Dad!

And that's all.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Title: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Author: Ishmael Beah


Who Should Read It? Read this if you're interested in a tragic/traumatic true story that will make you cringe and force you to become aware. No, really, whoever you are, just READ THIS BOOK!

What I Have To Say: Wow! Really, that's it, just wow! This book read more like a conversation (granted, a one-sided conversation in which I said nothing, but still. . .) than a book. I felt like Ishmael Beah was sitting right there beside me recounting the tragedy of his life as if it was just another day in war-free America. That's not to say, though, that it wasn't heart-wrenching and painful to read. It was honest, extraordinary, awesome, introspective, and straight-forward. And the story is a story that NEEDS to be heard. I think that it is important that people become aware of what children are put through in other countries, the wars that they are forced to fight - over time, awareness leads to action and action leads to change. Ishmael Beah told his story in such a way that forces even the most uninterested person to become aware - without making them feel like they are suffering through a history lesson. This book was everything it needed to be, everything it should be. . . and even more.

Summary (straight from the back of the book): This is how wars are fought now: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs, and weilding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,00 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What does war look like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But it is rare to find a first-person account from someone who endured this hell and survived.

In "A Long Way Gon: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier," Ishmael Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a powerfully gripping story: At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from the fighting by UNICEF, adn through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.

His Majesty's Dragon

Title: His Majesty's Dragon

Author: Naomi Novik

Rating: 1/2

Who Should Read It? Anyone with the potential of enjoying an interesting fulfilling fantasy or sci-fi novel , especially those also interested in

What I Have To Say:Honestly, the ONLY reason that I read this book is that it was a free download for my kindle. I don't think I ever would have been interested in it otherwise. But thankfully it was a free download for my kindle, because this book was awesome.
It's like a science fiction book, but instead of space ships, there are dragons; and instead of taking place in the future, it takes place in the past. It's also a love story between a man and his dragon. It was exciting and beautifully written, and the world that Novik creates is exciting and well-developed - like a parallel universe of the times of Napoleon Bonaparte, making this book historical fiction as well as fantasy. Just as the world is well-developed, so are the characters and the relationships between them. The relationship developed between the man and his dragon is such that you also would feel the pain of it if they were to be separated. The dragon himself, Temeraire, is intelligent and witty and loving and emotional and everything that a dragon lover might hope for a dragon to be.
The ONLY problem with this book is that the battle scenes are sometimes hard to follow and a little bit uninteresting, and it is a little bit hard to believe that Temeraire could actually be as bloodthirsty for battle as he claims to be.
Aside from that, though, I really can't recommend this book enough.

Summary: The novel begins when the H.M.S. Reliant captures a French ship carrying a dragon egg that is primed to hatch. A substantial prize, it puts Laurence -- the Reliant's captain -- and his officers -- gentlemen and aspiring gentlemen -- in a difficult position: One of them must become the creature's rider when it hatches. The prize then would become a deadweight, bringing to an end "any semblance of ordinary life. . . . An aviator could not easily manage any sort of estate, nor raise a family, nor go into society to any real extent." For the one chosen by the hatchling (and a dragon won't let just anyone harness him), it would mean "the wreck of his career." Naturally, it is the heroic Capt. Laurence whom the dragon picks.

And who is this dragon? "A pure, untinted black from nose to tail . . . [with] large, six-spined wings like a lady's fan," he is a Celestial, a Chinese dragon bred for emperors alone. Laurence names him Temeraire, and it's Novik's characterization of the dragon, who speaks in perfect 19th-century English, that makes the book hum. No ancient wisdom for him, just a voracious intelligence that demands bedtime readings on such subjects as mineralogy (dragons do like gems, you know) and historic battles.

Bad Kitty

Title:Bad Kitty

Author:Michelle Jaffe


Who Should Read It?If you're interested in quirky YA mysteries, this book might be for you. Even if you like YA novels in general, I think you might actually have to be a teen to really love this book.

What I Have To Say:Okay, so I didn't love this book. The characters had too many weird quirks, and, while I am totally into unbelievable characters (hey, if I read a book like this, it's not to read about reality), but these characters were just annoyingly unbelieveable. And sometimes I wanted to hurt them.
That's not to say that I didn't like the book, though. The story was fun and interesting (and totally predictable, which, again, is totally a-okay with me) with plot twists galore.
The beginning of the book was quite fun, but towards the end, it lagged a bit, and, while I wanted to know if what I thought was going to happen would actually happen (it did), I was ready for it to be over.
At the same time, I did like it enough that I'm thinking about reading Jas Callihan's next adventure.

Summary:Jasmine Callihan, her father, and stepmother are vacationing in Las Vegas at the posh Venetian Hotel. All the 17-year-old really wants to do is sunbathe by the pool, write in her journal, and attempt to be a Model Hallmark Card daughter, all the while avoiding her perfect cousin Alyson and her Evil Hench Twin, Veronique. Her plans go awry, however, when a small boy and his cat make Jas a central character in a murder investigation. Soon Jass best friends come from LA to join her adventure and all attempt to solve the murder of Len Phillips, business manager of world-famous photographer Red Early.

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

Title:I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

Author:Ally Carter


Who Should Read This Book?Pretty much anyone interested in YA books, especially light-hearted, fluffy ones.

What I Have To Say:What can I say? I loved this book. It was very much a Young Adult novel, and while I don't think I would recommend it to just anyone, I did think it was an exceptionally fantastic YA novel. There's spies, there's girly girls, there's love, there's comedy, there's fluff, there's action - what else could a girl ask for from a YA novel? And it's written in such a way that I believed I was actually listening to Cammie, the main character, and not Ally Carter, the author. A lot of YA authors, I find, have trouble making that happen.
Anyhow, this book was just adorable.

Summary (straight to you from Amazon):Cammie Morgan is a student at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a fairly typical all-girls school-that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE and the latest in chemical warfare in science, and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes in computer class. The Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but it's really a school for spies.

Even though Cammie is fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways, she has no idea what to do when she meets an ordinary boy who thinks she's an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, or track him through town with the skill of a real "pavement artist"-but can she maneuver a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her?

Cammie Morgan may be an elite spy-in-training, but in her sophomore year, she's on her most dangerous mission-falling in love.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: the Golem's Eye

Title: The Bartimaeus Trilogy: the Golem's Eye

Author: Jonathan Stroud


Who Should Read This Book? Anyone into teen fantasy with a bit of second degree humor; any adult looking for a dark, funny, pseudo-light but kind-of deep read with demons, magic, and politics.

What I Have to Say: Because of how much I love love LOVED the first book in this trilogy, I was SO hoping to be able to give this book five stars, and in the beginning, I thought I was going to be able to. Bartimaeus was back, with the same hilarious and sarcastic whit. He was everything the first book brought us to expect and then some.
Unfortunately, Bartimaeus's point of view is severely underrepresented in this second volume. Stroud puts way too much focus on Nathaniel who, despite being the main character, has gone from just somewhat unlikable to completely unlikable, and this adds a little bit too much gloom to the already gloomy atmosphere of the book.
Luckily, Stroud also spends a great deal of time focusing on Kitty, a fiery, feisty girl who plays a major role in the resistance. She is completely likable and allows us to see everything from an outsider point of view.
Jonthan Stroud's writing is strong, his story intricate, complex, and exciting. One of the amazing things accomplished in this book is that it is almost impossible for the reader to decide whose side they are on. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? It's hard to tell.
While there were a couple parts that lagged and while I think a bit more Bartimaeus would have made it a bit more readable, this book was awesome for what it was, and the world Stroud creates is vivid and fascinating and something about which I am excited to read more..

Summary(taken directly from Amazon):Due to the success of his first campaign involving the Amulet of Samarkand, Nathaniel, now fourteen, has been appointed the youngest representative ever to the Office of Internal Affairs, and has been devising traps to capture members of the Resistance--a secretive group of commoners who are determined to undermine the ruling class of magicians. When a magic-sapping Golem’s surprise first attack is labeled an act of Resistance terrorism, Nathaniel reluctantly summons Bartimaeus for help. Meanwhile, a zealous young member of the Resistance, Kitty Jones, is planning to rob the sacred tomb of the great magician Gladstone, and turn the power of his buried magical instruments against the spell makers. The towering clay Golem and its shadowy master unites the destinies of Nathaniel, Bartimaeus, and Kitty together in one fateful night--unfortunately, that night is much too slow in coming.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Seras-Tu La? / Will You Be There?

Continuing on with the recent books I've read:

Title:Seras-Tu La? (English Title:Will You Be There?)

Author:Guillaume Musso


Who Should Read This Book?Anyone interested in heartwarming, sentimental love stories with a twist; anyone looking for a book similar (though not quite as awesome as) "The Time Traveler's Wife" but with a little more fluff.

What I Have To Say: This book was beautiful. The story was beautiful. The characters were beautiful. The brief anti-smoking message at the end of the book was beautiful. The sentiment was beautiful. It was really just a joy to read. It made me laugh. It made me cry. I couldn't put it down, and it wasn't so long that I really needed to. Unfortunately, there was one very small part of the book that annoyed me and that made me think about one of the main characters in a very different way. In a way, he contradicted himself, and it made me feel like he didn't deserve what he was getting. Aside from that, though, this book filled my heart with warmth and joy.

Summary (taken directly from Amazon):To all appearances, Eliott’s life has been a success. At 60, he is an esteemed surgeon with a daughter he adores. The only thing missing is Ilena—a beautiful, generous-hearted girl who died 30 years ago. But when he is given an extraordinary opportunity to revisit his past, Eliott suddenly finds himself in 1970s San Francisco searching for the passionate young doctor who has yet to lose the love of his life. What ensues is a story full of intelligence, hope, and humor about making the right choices and trying to keep what we most desire.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Millenium 2: La Fille Qui Revait d'un Bidon d'Essence et d'une Allumette

aka The Girl Who Played with Fire. This sequel to Stieg Larsson's "the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is coming out in English on July 28. While finishing up the book I am reading now, I thought I would post some reviews of books I have read recently. Since this one is coming out in English soon, and since I read it recently(in French), I thought it would be a good start.

Title: Millenium 2: La Fille Qui Revait d'un Bidon d'Essence et d'une Allumette.

Author: Stieg Larsson



Who Should Read It? Anyone who likes a good thriller, or really even just a good fast-paced book. Anyone who liked the first one.

What I Have To Say: This is a fantastically tordid and twisted story that pulls the reader in every possible direction and sends them on a page turning murder investigating roller coaster ride. This book is a nice continuation of the first one (although, sadly, not quite as unique and exciting, thus no 5 stars) in that we get to see the two main characters working together once again, but in a very different way that the first time around. We learn so much more about both of them and begin to understand what makes them tick, making them even more fascinating than they were the first time around. The greatest thing about this book, though, is that, for me at least, it is anything but predictable. I actually changed my mind several times throughout the course of the book about the innocence of certain characters.
One last thing - after reading this book, I am convinced even more that the untimely death (what is up with all of these "premature" deaths as of late?!?) of Stieg Larsson in 2004 can be considered a tragedy. Apparently, he was planning to write 10 of these thrillers, but now we'll just have to live with three.

Summary:While Lisbeth passes supposedly tranquil days in the Caribbeans, Mikeal Blomkvist is back, victorious, and ready to start work on a special issue of Millenium with a theme that will prove controversial for people in high places. He has come across the horrifying story of prostitutes being imported to Sweden from some of the more eastern European countries.
In the meantime, he spends his time hoping to see Lisbeth again, not fully understanding why things between them ended the way they did. When he finally does, it doesn't go exactly as planned, and next thing he knows, he finds himself investigating not one, not two, but three gruesome murders for which Lisbeth is the only suspect.
Despite evidence to the contrary and depsite all of the horrific details that come up about Lisbeth's past, Mikael doesn't believe that she could have committed the murders, and he intends to prove it. He just hopes that he's not wrong about the socially awkward computer genious misfit that we came to love in the first edition. But how can he be sure when Lisbeth has disappeared. And, as is to be expected, she has her own ideas about whom she contacts and on what terms.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Reading List 2009

So, a little while ago, I decided to make a list of all of the books that I want to read this summer during all of my free time.
I started the list, and before I was even CLOSE to done, I realized that there was NO POSSIBLE WAY that I would ever get around to reading all of these books this summer. There are just too frickin' many. :-( ::sadness:: In any case, I figured I would stop there as opposed to continuing on and just making the list even more impossible to finish. This is what I came up with (and thus what you potentially have to look forward to in this blog's future):

(N.B. I'm going to keep coming back and striking out the books that I finish)

Books I Have
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: the Golem's Eye - Jonathan Stroud
The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Ptolemy's Gate - Jonathan Stroud
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
Samurai William - Giles Milton
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Ally Carter
The Tale of Murasaki - Liza Dalby
Le vieil homme et la guerre - John Scalzi
Dreaming Water - Gail Tsukiyama
Nous Les Dieux - Bernard Werber
We - Zevgeny Zamyatin
Planet of Adventure - Jack Vance
the Seven Towers - Patricia Wrede
Bad Kitty - Michelle Jaffe
Blood Engines - T.A. Pratt
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
Elric: The Stealer of Souls - Michael Moorcock
the Merchant of Death - D.J. McHale
Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson
Foundation - Isaac Assimov (this will be a reread)
Et Apres. . . - Guillaume Musso

Books my sister (hopefully) has
Being Nikki - Meg Cabot
Twenties Girl - Sophie Kinsella
My Sister's Keeper - Jodie Piccoult
Good Grief - Lolly Winston
Sundays at Tiffany's - James Patterson

Books I Will Have to Find Elsewhere
House of Night: Untamed - P.C and Kristin Cast
Dedication - Emma McLaughlin and Nicolas Kraus
(because I loved the Nanny Diaries!)
Vampire Academy, Books 1 and 2 - Richelle Mead
Ink Exchange - Melissa Marr
Vampire Diaries - L.J. Smith
(all of them, because the show is coming out next season!)

Winter Girls - Laurie Halse Anderson
Midnighters #1: the Secret Hour - Scott Westerfeld
Extras - Scott Westerfeld
(I loved all the Uglies books, and I don't know how I haven't read this yet)
Vampire Kisses - Ellen Schreiber
American Wife - Curtis Sittenfeld
(I do love me some Curtis Sittenfeld. I just recently learned that it's a woman, not a man, and suddenly everything started to make sense. :-) )
Ghost Girl - Tonya Hurley
Anathem - Neal Stephenson
In the Courts of the Sun - Brian D'Amato
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
(yes, I'm finally going to start the Mortal Instruments books!)
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
the Book Thief - Marcus Zusak
Shanghai Girls - Lisa See

Sunday, July 5, 2009

First Review!: Samurai William by Giles Milton

First of all, it's weird that this book ended up being the very first book I review. It's a true story, and I'm much more into fiction. But it's about Japan, and I love Japan, so there we go.
Now, on to the book.

Title: Samurai William - the Adventurer who Unlocked Japan

Author: Giles Milton

Rating: 1/2

Who should read it? Anyone interested in Japan before we really knew about Japan.

Summary (direct from Amazon): Samurai William tells how, in 1598, William Adams, an English seaman of humble origin, sailed out of Rotterdam on a Danish ship en route to the East Indies. After 20 months at sea in which they survived a series of disasters, starvation and disease, Adams and a few remaining sailors floated into a harbour on the island of Kyushu in southwestern Japan. Though not the first Westerner to reach Japan--Portuguese traders and Jesuit monks from Spain had arrived about 60 years earlier--Adams was the first Englishman to arrive. The impact this one man would have on future relations between East and West is the subject of this engrossing book.

After landing, Adams spent some time in prison and was nearly executed before he made an unlikely ally in Tokugawa Ieyasu, a powerful feudal lord who would later become shogun of Japan. Intrigued by the outside world and impressed with the sailor's navigational abilities, Ieyasu commissioned Adams to oversee the construction of some ships to be used for both trade and exploration. In time, Adams mastered the language and complex social customs of Japan, began teaching the shogun about geometry and mathematics and served as a translator and political counsellor to Ieyasu. For his service, he was awarded great wealth, land holdings and even a lordship, making him the first foreigner ever to be honoured as a samurai. When news of his high standing reached England, a small crew of Englishmen were sent to Japan to use Adams's political connections to open trade between the two countries.

What I have to say:
It's a beautiful story of how trade originally developed between the west and Japan the first time around, complete with fascinating details and citations from the people that were there. Milton's fast-paced story brings the characters and the settings to life. Throughout the course of the book, I found myself experiencing everything from shock and outrage to to love to devastation. At points, I even found myself siding with people that I would never ordinarily side with. Giles Milton took the facts and made a very readable novel out of them.
Unfortunately, I have heard that the story he told is not exactly factual. He has many references and gives many citations, but I've come to believe that not everything was 100% accurate.
There's also the small fact that the title was very misleading. I went into the book hoping to learn more about the life of William Adams, but the book was far more about trade. Very little was actually said about the life of William Adams. Upsetting.
Just one more negative thing - it also seemed very forumlated. As if he took lots of little parts of books he'd read and put them all together, as opposed to actually just writing the story. It kind of made me think that he'd written it as a (very long) high school history paper.

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Post

Welcome to my book blog!
I have another blog about my life, Vegan in the Land of Frog Legs and Cheese,in which I find that I am ALWAYS wanting to write about the books that I read.
So I decided, WHY NOT start a different blog about it? Almost all of the blogs that I follow are about books, so now I will have one, too.
I'm a 26 (almost 27) year old girl who LOVES to read! I mostly read YA, chick lit, fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction, but really, when it comes down to it, if it's a book, I'll probably enjoy reading it.
So basically, I'll talk about books I want to read, books I'm thinking about reading, books I'm going to read, books that I have but can't get around to reading.
And I will do my best to post reviews of (almost all) the books that I read.

So that's that - now, off to do what I do best: READ. So that I will then have a book to say something about. :-)

My Contests

None for now!