Spelled by Betsy Schow

2015-07-02 20.23.29

Title: Spelled
Author: Betsy Schow
Genre: Young adult fiction
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary (from Amazon):

Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks―like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This book was hilarious. Dorthea isn’t your average prim and proper princess.

A curse hovers over her the females in her family, which means Dorthea is locked up in her castle all the time. She has never seen the outside world and doesn’t have any friends outside of the castle. She’s spoiled and doesn’t appreciate it.

When she has a wishful thought, it turns into a real wish and comes true–but not the way she expected. She ends up on an adventure with two unlikely partners to fix the world, magic, and restore the fairy-tale rules.

The humor was great and I loved the characters and their relationship with one another. The overall plot was interesting and unique in its own way. The writing style itself was unique as there are many puns based off of Disney and other princess’, as it is a reverse spin-off of The Wizard of Oz.

I love series’, but I as happy to pick up a standalone. As I got to the end of the book, it hinted that there will most likely be a sequel. I’m not 100% sure, but that was the vibe I got from the ending of the last chapter and the short epilogue.

As much as I loved the adventure and the characters, I have to say I think this book worked well as a standalone. But it seems as though it’s going to get dragged out into something more.

Spelled by Betsy Schow gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“No need to panic. I was the heroine in this story, so everything would get fixed somehow.” –Betsy Schow, Spelled

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

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Memory Man by David Baldacci


Title: Memory Man
Author: David Baldacci
Genre: Mystery
How I got the book: Borrowed from my mom’s bookshelf

Summary (from Amazon):

Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice.
The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.
The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.
His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can.
But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

This novel was interesting until the very end.

It follows Amos Decker, a man who can’t forget anything due to a brain trauma that caused him to have an exceptional memory. Decker used to be a cop and then detective before his family–his brother, wife, and child–were murdered.

The killer was never caught until one day, years later, someone confesses. At that time a shooting occurs at the local high school killing several students as well as a couple teachers.

Decker is brought onto the case as a consultant as they realize both the shooting and the death of his family are connected.

The novel follows Decker as he tries to follow the killer’s clues, which are directed at him. The case is a lot more personal than anyone ever thought.

Overall, this was a great mystery to read. It was heavy, but all questions were answered by the end, the characters were well developed throughout the book, and the plot was complex enough that it wasn’t predictable but you were able to slowly figure it out along with the characters. Which, in my opinion, are the best types of mysteries.

Memory Man by David Baldacci gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Damaged minds, even turned exceptional in some ways, are capable of many things. Some good, some bad.” –David Baldacci, Memory Man

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

The Boy On The Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

2015-07-09 19.29.21

Title: The Boy on the Wooden Box
Author: Leon Leyson
Genre: Autobiography
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my mom’s bookshelf

Summary (from Amazon):

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

Inspiring.

Breathtaking.

This book is an autobiography written by Leon Leyson, a Jewish boy who survived the Holocaust. He was only ten-years-old when the Nazis took over.

Leon survived because of Oskar Schindler as well as the strength of his family.

It’s a quick, easy read and has more than enough information. The first chapter explains background on Leon, his family, and his life before the Nazis. The rest of the novel–up until the last chapter–is his experiences being held captive by the Nazis and working for them as well as trying to stick with his family as they keep getting split up.

There’s an afterward of letters written by Leon’s children as well as pictures.

It’s a sad tale, but has a happy ending. I think this is a story that everyone should read.

The Boy on the Wooden Box gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“A hero is an ordinary human being who does the best of things in the worst of times.” –Leon Leyson, The Boy on the Wooden Box

TTFN & L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads):

After everything they’ve been through together, Angela, Maddie, and Zoe know they’ll be friends till the end–but sometimes the fates (or parents) have other plans.
With sophomore year and its troubles behind them, the winsome threesome is on cruise control, enjoying the well-earned perks of being sixteen. But then Angela (SnowAngel) gets some seriously bad family news :'( that threatens to change her life forever. On top of that, Maddie (mad maddie) decides to let loose her wild side 😛 and Zoe (zoegirl) struggles to keep a big secret from Angela :O. Will junior year pull the girls apart just when they need each other most? Only their instant messages reveal the full story…

I have to say that I enjoyed TTFN more than I enjoyed the first book, TTYL.

I was used to how the three main girls acted and I also felt as though the troubles they faced this time around were more realistic.

One of the main girls moves far, far away and of course it’s a big deal. Who would want to leave in the middle of their junior year of high school across the country leaving their hometown and best friends? The worst part was that the move was due to her father losing his job. So the move just added on more stress.

This was a great tale of how the three girls stuck together even though they were so far away from each other. There were great lessons to be learned as they were all still there for each other miles away.

TTFN by Lauren Myracle gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“mad maddie: on every single sitcom in the world, this is how problems start. some idiot plays dumb and doesn’t tell someone else what’s really going on, and then there’s mass confusion and mistaken assumptions and everything ends in chaos.” –Lauren Myracle, TTFN

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads):

Angela, Zoe and Maddie are finally seniors and ready for the great year they deserve. After two years of fighting, experimentation and some hilarious stories, they are prepared to enjoy the fruits of seniority – even though being top dogs at school means thinking about college, sex and even the impending end of their inseparable trio.

This is the third book in the Internet Girls series and I have to say that it hit home for me.

Angela, Zoe, and Maddie are seniors in high school and are dealing with the stresses of applying to colleges, getting accepted, and–the worst part–being apart from each other in different states.

One thing I didn’t enjoy in the book was that the three girls were at “war” with a girl named Jana in their class. They play pranks on her and she retaliates for most of their senior year. It took bullying to a whole new level and I felt like seniors shouldn’t be acting like that.

They also deal with what most 18-year-olds deal with: relationships. Zoe finds true love, Maddie stumbles upon it, and Angela realizes she doesn’t need a man to complete… someday her prince will come.

Ultimately, this book dealt with friendship and how truly important it is.

L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“we’re our own destiny, that’s all. and 1 day we WILL be gone, so we better appreciate life while we can.” –Lauren Myracle, l8r, g8r

Check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

Reading Books May Contain Spoilers

I’m sorry to say that there is no book review today (I’m off to a great start this month!) due to recovery from surgery last week, finishing up my school semester, and getting back to work. Next week I’ll clump the two book reviews together; especially since they’re part of a series.

In other news, I had to share this with you guys…

I went to the bookstore last night and while I was browsing a young girl–who looked to be about 10- or maybe 11-years-old–and her mother were in the same aisle as me. We were in the young adult section and the young girl picked up a book and held it in front of her mother’s face.

Mother: Oh, did you want to get that?
Girl: Yeah, I think the book sounds pretty good.
Mother: But honey… if you read the book, then you’ll spoil the movie for yourself.

I had to walk into a different section because I didn’t know whether to laugh or to be horrified. I mean, who says that?

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

The mother should be encouraging her child to read. She should be using the movie as a treat for finishing the book so they can discuss the differences between the two, which one they liked better, etc. The movie is rarely anything like the book, anyway.

Education aside, why were they in the bookstore in the first place? If she wasn’t planning on buying any books–because apparently books have “spoiler alert” written all over it–why were they browsing?

There is a media section that sells music and movies downstairs, so were they lost? I don’t know.

Am I thinking too much into this? Yeah, probably; especially since it’s none of my business. I was just baffled, I guess.

I saw the mother and daughter leave the store and they were carrying a bag, so maybe the daughter was able to get the book after all. I hope she did and I hope she enjoys it a lot.

TTYL by Lauren Myracle

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Summary (from Goodreads):

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

TTYL was published way back in 2004. I remember reading it back then and thinking the book was amazing. This book is written in IM messages. I used to be on the computer nearly 24/7 chatting with my friends through AIM, so this book was right up my alley.

I was only about 11 or 12 when I read the book and the characters are 15 and 16. Upon reading the book now I realized just how much went over my head the first time I read it.

I loved the characters, I loved the IM format, I loved the drama of it all. I would have given that book five stars ten years ago after reading. Now? Not so much.

The concept of the IM format is great and the story is told really well from the three female protagonists gossiping to one another. The girls themselves–Zoe, Angela, and Maddie–are so different from each other. Zoe is the brains of the group. She always does well in school and never does too much to get herself into trouble. Angela is the princess. She’s always talking about boys, clothes, and make-up. Meanwhile, Maddie is the risk-taker. She’s blunt and sarcastic.

This book goes through the beginning of their sophomore year at school. Zoe finds herself involved with a teacher when he hits on her, Maddie gets into the wrong crowd of friends, and Angela has boy troubles. Typical teenager stuff, right?

Yeah, but some of the things that happen to them just seem unrealistic to me. Plus, all three girls were whiny and very immature. This is a dirty book–something that went over my head when I read it the first time a few years ago. That being said, it just made me have a love/hate relationship with the girls. If I can’t relate to the characters, then that’s a problem.

Overall, the book did tackle real-life high school problems. Hanging out with the wrong crowd of kids, finding and keeping a boyfriend, and just trying to stick together with your best friends. In that sense, it was good because I think most–if not all–teenagers go through that.

TTYL by Lauren Myracle gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“it’s funny how some things r easier to talk about over the computer, isn’t it?” –Lauren Myracle, TTYL

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

Written in beautiful prose, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir. Woodson describes her life from the moment she was born and beyond in free verse.

We get a closer look at her life, the ups and downs, the special moments and the not so special moments. We follow her as she moves from one place to another, the relationship between her and her family is uncanny.

Woodson was very observant as a young girl and learned a lot from her family and the world around her. She makes a big point to mention that she’s black, as is basically stated in the title, and how she lived in the era where black people were fighting for their own rights.

There is so much love and hate in this story and so much history behind it all. We’re not just learning about Woodson’s childhood, but we’re also learning a little bit about the world in 1963.

I would highly recommend reading this novel to anyone. It’s quick, beautifully written, and teaches us a lot. I even had a hard time picking a favorite quote for this one and ended up going with one of the Haikus in the story.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Even the silence
has a story to tell you.
Just listen. Listen.”
–Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

Puck’s Choice by Skye Hegyes

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Puck Dupree moved in with her sister after spending over a year trapped in the form of a fox. She had hoped to move on with a normal teenage life; however, trouble seems to have followed her. The Council wants her to partner with a mage or forfeit her life, a friend of hers has a stalker who may or may not be trying to destroy her, and a boy at school keeps watching her. If only she could decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her.

Puck’s Choice is about a high school girl learning to deal with normal, teenage, human things while at the same time coping with the fact that she’s a shifter. Puck doesn’t seem to mind that she’s a shifter, except she has a few bad memories because of it; her parents and her ex-boyfriend.

Throughout the novel, she’s trying to deal with memories from her past that haunt her as well as deal with present issues; like falling in love.

I love the characters in this novel. The thought of humans changing into animals intrigues me. Plus the fact that no one knows who’s human and who’s not. I think that’s what made the ending so exciting for me.

My only complaint is that the summary was kind of misleading. The Council doesn’t really come to play and get explained until the very end of the book and the boy at school only watches her for a chapter or two before they become good friends.

I have to admit as I read the novel I kept thinking it was four stars. However, when I read the ending I decided on five stars because everything was neatly tied up with a bow. I finally understood the significance of the title, we understood more about the Council, and even some of the characters.

Puck’s Choice by Skye Hegyes gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m alive if that counts for anything.” –Skye Hegyes, Puck’s Choice

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!
Be sure to check out Skye’s blog!

No Book Review

Due to school, work, and Camp NaNo, I did not finish reading the book I started this week.

The review should start back up again next week.

In meantime, here’s an adorable picture of my cat and turtle:

20140205_110118

 

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

This book is amazingly popular and well-known. Of course, I had never heard of it before until I had to read it for school.

Despite the awards its won, I have to say that I was not impressed. It was a hard book to grasp. The parts I did understand were pretty good and it was uniquely written to say the least.

However, that’s where it went wrong–the writing style.

Out of 13 chapters, three are written in first person, one is written in second person, and the rest are written in third person limited. It doesn’t follow just two characters, though. Each chapter is a different character making it all the more confusing.

Plus, one chapter is written with a lot of dialogue, but no quotation marks. It was by far the most difficult chapter to read. That chapter was in first person and the name of the character wasn’t mentioned for a very long time so I had no idea who I was even reading as.

One chapter is over 70 pages long because each page is set up like a Power Point slide. You have to turn the book the long way to read it and each page has explanations or charts or webs. It was as though I was reading a school project, but it was still the story.

Another chapter was written as a newspaper article; footnotes included. The footnotes took up half the page making them their own mini chapter within the main chapter.

Sound confusing? Trust me, it was.

The worst part was the first chapter was absolutely amazing! It was written in third person limited and we followed a character at her therapy session because she’s a kleptomaniac. It was well written and intriguing. That chapter made me feel as though I would really enjoy the book. However, we never got to really read her story again because the rest of the chapters followed other characters. I call it the decoy chapter.

So, considering this “review” turned more into a rant, I guess you all know what rating this book is going to get from me.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan gets 2 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m always happy. Sometimes I just forget.” –Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!