Tag Archive: books


A Review Day


“A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it”. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958
*****
I have read a fair amount of books in the past year, and any of you who have read some of my first posts will know that I have a slight, or rather, considerable obsession with words, both previously written, and those haunting my own brain. So I thought maybe this would be a good time to share with you one of my more recent reads that has stuck with me.

The book is a fairly recently published one, of the YA variety. I found it while wandering between the stacks in my local library (one of my favorite activities). The title, /Stay With Me/ by Paul Griffin had me reaching for it at first glance. What can I say, it sounded like a desperate love story. I am a major sucker for a good tragic love story. The book fell good in my hand, and the cover was intriguing enough (Looking through a chain link fence you see two lovers pressed together in a kiss, a pit-bull lying, smiling, at their feet) to encourage me to crack the spine. After scanning the synopsis I knew that this would be one of the beautiful darlings that I would be taking home with me for a few weeks. It only took be two days (or should I say nights, I don’t really have time during the school days to read) to finish, and I was left breathless, and wanting more.

This novel was the perfect mix between character, and plot driven story arcs. For the plot side of things, we started with the meeting. That slow, slightly hesitant and utterly confusing game of the beginning of relationships. Then the actual romance, following by the tragedy. The one moment that changed everything. Within just a few pages the author had the entire course of the plot turned on its ear, leaving the reader with a feeling of helplessness and sorrow for the characters. I thought there was no possible way that the author could wrap this story up into a satisfying perfect little package… I thought it would be a lifetime movie imprinted within the pages of the book. And I was right, in a way. This book had all the elements of a lifetime movie that keeps me up at three am almost every Saturday throughout my summers, but instead of the inevitable cliff hanger ending that wraps things up in the most unsatisfying way, Griffin pulls it together at the last moment, throwing in a twist I definitely could not foresee, but made so much sense if you had keyed in to his little hints. I have a lot of respect for his ability to pull this story together. It may not have ended the way I was hoping for, but really, it was much /much/ better. (sorry I’m being vague, but I don’t want to spoil the book for you)

This book was so much more than a love story. It was a journey of friendships, of the fine line between right and wrong, of what really makes a good person, of a boys love for dogs, and of the characters relationships with each other, their family, and the world. I feel the best type of book is the kind that makes you feel as though you are an intruder; like you are spying and eavesdropping on the lives of these people. It almost gives you this sense of shame for doing so, but you are so caught up in the world that you are not able to focus on that. Griffin does a great job at this, giving you bits and pieces of the story, letting you clutch onto perfectly timed back story presents, and allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions, with just a gentle, subtle, perfectly crafted hand on the small of your back, guiding you along.

In a lot of novels you read now a days you are likely to get either plot or characters, but almost instantly you are introduced to this spectacular, flawed, and interesting cast. The story is told from two perspectives. First we have Mack, a tough closed off fifteen year old who has trouble looking people in the eye. He has a potent loathing for violence, yet his quick to fire temper completely embodies that. The boy is shy, a little bit of a slow learner, which has caused him to drop out of school, but he is so sweet. There is this soft spot for the underdog that only a few can see. He has a habit of picking dogs up off the street, specifically after they’ve been in dog fights, and taking them home to train them. Mack allows very few people to see this side of him, while actively hiding it from all others.

Then there is Cece; the smart, sassy, opinionated girl with a great love for cheesecake and all things food, and a major fear of dogs. We meet her as she is studying for this big test that could place her in a prestigious high school and on her way up and out of her town.

Together they are perfect, yet complete opposites. She’s straight forward and sharp, where he is shy and closed off. She has the world on a string and can do and go anywhere she pleases, while he has potential that is likely to never be nurtured, making his life seem to be stuck in place, if not going backward. They are each others’ yin and yang.

They are supported by a handful of vivid persons. There’s Vic, the wise old owner of the restaurant they both work at, who seems to have an uncanny knowledge of what everyone needs, whether they know it or not. Anthony, Cece’s older brother who is an all around good guy and has a gift and strong desire to make people happy. Along with their mother who is an alcoholic, Mack’s father who is gruff and also an alcoholic, and a handful of other minor characters.

What really makes this book so good, so memorable though, is the voice of each of these characters. Griffin has an ear for how people really talk, and his characters are so unique and amazing. You’ll have to read this to see what I mean, but his words truly jump off the page. It was a really great book.

((All this being said I would like to mention that this book is very biased, and I suggest you read it to make your own conclusions and opinions about it. I hope you aren’t disappointed.))

Well, that’s all for now. So until next time, Keep on Dreaming &*)

Advertisements


The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.  ~James Bryce

*********

I love reading; I’m sure that by now all you who have read my posts have figured that out. Today, somewhere between un-decorating my home, baking for the New-years, cleaning and packing up all of our Christmas ornaments (Notable only if you have ever tried to squeeze seventy-odd boxed Hallmark ornaments into on small plastic tote, without breaking them, you would now how utterly annoying and aggravating that process can be; I had to take all of them out at least three times,) I still managed to find the time to read. I finished two books today. And no not out of the five mentioned on a couple of posts ago; I did manage to get another trip to the bookstore, though I was utterly unsuccessfully in my attempts at weaseling a stop at Bath and body works too L.  But oh well, I did get five more books.

1.        Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder (Hardback; read today)

2.       13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Hardback)

3.       Saving Grace by Katherine Spencer (Hardback; read today)

4.       Rebel Angels by Libba Bray (Paperback)

5.       The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (Hardback)

I swear, you don’t pick the books, they pick you.  Have you ever read a book where, once you finish it, you realize that within its pages was the answer to your latest problem? Maybe it’s the state of mind that you are in when you go to look for reading material, or maybe it’s just fate, whatever it is, some things are being made increasingly clear today as we draw closer to the hour of our new year, it is time for a revolution.

A few weeks ago, I began thinking of everything that I needed to accomplish in the year to come. I thought of a list of about fifteen and jotted each one on a separate sticky note before adhering them onto the wall above my bed, thinking that I could take each one down as I got the tasks accomplished. The next day after I had come home from school, all of them had fallen down (okay, so maybe they could improve the stickiness of those things just a tad) except for one; Have Fun.  Now me, being ticked off at my foiled plan, didn’t really bother to think about this, but after I had read those books, I was reminded of the note.

It’s funny how the one plan that stuck was also the most cliché. But none the less, it’s true. Looking back on this last year, I have never quite grasped that concept. I’ve pushed, planned, attempted to do new things, set now failed goals, and all around lived in the future; worrying over things to come and forgetting to take time to see the good things right in front of me. How many days have I spent unhappily thinking that MAYBE something bad Might happen? Or ruined a possible good time with friends regretting a moment in my past? Too many to count, that’s for sure.

I realized that the only way I can change anything in my life, is to be content with what’s happening now. Forget thinking about the future, and don’t spend every waking moment living in the past. We have no guarantees, anything and everything can and most likely will happen, and so what’s the use of planning for a future that will possibly never happen? Every year I make that list, more often than not including the same things, and looking back on those years, I hardly ever got to achieve those mind set goals. Sometimes planning gets in your way of actually doing anything. That’s not to say that I didn’t accomplish anything, but when you actually take time to look into your past, what is the stuff that you remember the most? Sure, there’s heartache, grievances and tragedy; but behind all of that darkness, the things that shine through are the special moments in your day to day life. Staying up all night talking with your best friend, playing a game that you have always loved, the memorable laughter of your group at lunch, the inside jokes, or a simple smile from someone you pass on the street; these are why we have reason to look back.

Then I got to thinking about all the things I missed out on because I was too embarrassed, or it wasn’t practical. When was the last time I had been on a swing? Way back in elementary school, that was one of my favorite activities, I stopped doing that as I grew, but why? Was it really that childish, or was I just worried about what others would think?  So it all comes down to this: Forget everyone else and have fun. Sure, I have tasks that I would like to accomplish in this year, but if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. And who knows if missing out on those will lead me down a new, exciting and fun path.

Well that’s all for now, Happy New Year, and Keep on Dreaming. &*)

Books and Batteries


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.  ~Anna Quindlen, “Enough Bookshelves,” New York Times, 7 August 1991

**************

Yes, I did manage to get to Hastings last night, but not by the way of my brother. He came home from meeting some friends at two and collapsed on the couch. Turns out he had a 100.7 fever L poor thing. But my sister did offer to take me there in exchange for me making dinner (our parents were away shopping in a nearby bigger town) it was an easy trade off. I made her cheeseburger sliders and some waffle fries. Simple, but she was happy and I got to go buy books 8^D yay! So it turns out they were having a sale on all used book (I was looking at them anyway because they’re cheaper than others.) And I found five fairly big books and got them all for twenty dollars! Plus, three of those were hardback. I was, needless to say for a book geek like me, thrilled! I almost got one more, but it was a diary book, and I absolutely loath those. So here are my new books.

1.      Tamar: a novel of espionage, passion, and betrayal by Mal Peet (Hardback)

2.      Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle (paperback; smallest book)

3.      Dance of the Assassins by Herve Jubert (Hardback)

4.      Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson (Paperback)

5.      What I Meant by Marie Lamba (Hardback)

Then there are the two I got for Christmas.

1.      Midnight Rider by Joan Haitt Harlow (great book; read it three times Paperback)

2.      Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead (The one I was wishing for! Hardback)

I love books. Yes these should keep me busy for at least a weak (maybe a little less) who knows. The great news is that I have twenty more dollars in my purse and that’s enough to buy five more used ones! That is of course, only if I can convince somebody to take me there again before the sale ends *crosses fingers* I can’t wait until I get my license and can drive myself places; my dad has a rule that since my sister didn’t get hers until she was seventeen and a half a can’t either. Even though my brother got his at sixteen and my sister would love to not have to drive me around everywhere. *sigh* I’m working on my powers of persuasion but I’m not sure if he’ll cave.

I feel bad though, because the cost of my trip to the store was my sister’s battery dyeing.  I accidentally left the door open which slowly drained the life out of the poor car.  You see, it was icy and snowy and sleety and I was on a curb, next to which is ankle-twisting-rock-beds; she was threatening to lock me out. Thus I was in a hurry. It was her fault really :^S alright, fine, it was my own, but a girl can try to advert the blame right? At least that’s what I tell myself. Her car is resilient though I mean come on she set the engine on fire at a gas station, backed it into a trash can, this little mishap, and it’s still working. Geez.

The fruits of my parents’ strenuous labor (Also known as shopping) and my utterly influential mom were all taken from the wonderful event of Bath and Body Works’ After Christmas sale!  Every girls’ heaven, I swear.  Well this little trip (Though we do have a store here; my town isn’t that small) was a big bottle of Sweet Pea lotion, two sweet pea hand sanitizers, and a large moonlight path perfume for me; plus several bottles of things for herself. 8*) what’s even better is that she “forgot” *Coughpurposefullydidn’tgetcough* the Sweet Pea perfume so we’re going to be forced to go back to retrieve some bottles and a few other select items without my dad going. Could I have the luck to drag her there and to Hastings again in one shopping outing? We’ll see.

Tomorrow, we will be forced to drive my dear brother to the airport (which is located in the town my parents went shopping) and see him off and bid farewell. Sad, his stay here went by all too quickly, but I’d be willing to wager that his angel of a dog will be glad to be rescued from her prison holding cell. (A.K.A The Kennel *Bum bum bum bum*) Okay so ‘angel’ is stretching it a little bit, she’s a handful and has my full respect. Miss. Ginger is a beagle (white with brown spots) whom my brother saved from the pound about five months ago. Not only is she adorable, but she brings out a good side in my brother that’s rarely seen. Her latest adventures have included: chewing up the carpet in her apartment, claiming the bed as her own, chewing holes in one sock of every pair he own, and gobbling her dog food scoop. You can tell whose really in charge of that house hold.

Well, that’s all for now, thanks for reading folks, and keep on dreaming &*)

I’m ba-ack



I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.  ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

**************

Holiday’s over  L but the memories and bright feelings of Christmas still remain. So I got the book I so desperately wanted 😀 and finished it yesterday at about two (It was only six-hundred pages) It was amazing….. the absolute perfect ending to a great series. I’m sad to see it end. *sigh* well as it turns out, my best friend and I got nearly all the same things for Christmas.. just goes to show you how alike we truly are :^P

I am so excited to have my family back together under one roof. My big bro is staying in town until Wednesday, at which point he’ll be forced to return to his own town and reenter the working world. But for now, I can just enjoy seeing him again. Today, he is taking me to our local Hastings so I can endeavor burn through the forty dollars of gift card money I have in order purchase so good reading material before I must return my eyes and mind to the “books” they have in the room they call a “library” at my school. It’s a pathetic excuse for one. This is also where I get to make my drama/English teacher really mad at me.  She has this stupid rule that we must ask her if it is okay to read a non AR book before we are allowed to read it. I’m sorry, but there’s no chance on this earth that she will be able to stop me from reading the books I want on Christmas Vacation. It is and will always be my choice. And this is why I can no longer claim to be a teacher’s pet; I would say that to her face if she tries to punish me for it.

Other than that I really have no plans for my day (well there is always reading the books I buy) 8) and more than likely helping my mom around the house or playing with my dog. (He is currently sniffing the front door anxiously awaiting the return of my missing family members. Or in his mind ‘guarding’ the door from all the evil that may enter through it) What I really need to do is write. I have my final project/nanovel to finish, but I am currently stuck. I have planned (mentally and I’m open to other ideas) what’s going to be happening and I know precisely how it will end. The problem? I’m not sure how to get there right now….. though honestly, killing off another character probably wouldn’t hurt. And this thought pattern folks is why my writing friend calls me a ‘character serial killer’  But come on! I have only killed nine and a half (one came back to life) named characters, and am planning on killing several dozen unnamed ones. That’s not that many! (muhahahaha) Okay, maybe it is, but I have too much fun. [:#{) This state of mind is also why I won’t write if I am in a bad mood. One bad day could send my book world’s death count into a dangerous catastrophic spiral. (I.e. it would be the end of the world as I know it.) I don’t want that any more than my characters would; leaves for a messy clean up. (:^S Ha.

Okay so that’s all for now, until next time friends; Dream on &*)