March 18, 2009

Anonymous: Go Ask Alice

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The little research I did about this book before reading it left me unable to tell if it was fictional or nonfiction. I can say this for it, however. The editors have left a note instead. This book is based on a real diary kept by a teenage girl. If you're unfamiliar with the book it is about a teenage girl's struggle as a drug user. The last sentence on the back cover of my copy is very true. Alice is unforgettable.

There are few words that come to mind to describe how I feel about Go Ask Alice after reading it. Utterly stunned, perhaps. This story was unbelievable, not in the sense of my not seeing truth to it but for it being so very intense. I've never read anything like it. I can see that it would be a very good book to read for some people and why it's so well recommended.

There is a peaceful activity some teachers have their students volunteer to take part in. I don't have a name for it but what they say is something like this.

"Whoever (fill-in-the-blank), cross the line and step across the room. Look around you. Forgive yourself and all the others around you. Feel the peace and forgiveness you have for yourself and for each other. Cross the line once more."

I remember a couple of my teachers saying something to that effect when I was in eight and eleventh grade. I won't bother to go into the details of the second time. As an eight grader when my teacher said to do this for who knew where to find drugs on campus, I was the only student who did not cross the room. I was the only one who did not know. I've stayed in that bubble and net of safety all my life, too.

What is my point? As someone who has been from the complete other end of the rope, this book truly shocked me. As an afterthought I have thankfulness for being in my own naive world which protected me from what Alice went through. There isn't an Alice in real life to hug but for every person who relates to Alice, I wish to offer a hug. Go Ask Alice is two diaries worth of sorrow for her.

March 17, 2009

TBR Tuesday

I've recently explored other blogs quite a bit more than usual and have come across the title "TBR Tuesday." I hope no one will be upset if I use this, too. It just means they had a clever idea. I would like to twist it a bit to define what my own TBR Tuesday will be but am still in the thinking process. This is what I am thinking:

  • Select a book from my TBR pile.

  • Select the page number for which also represents the current number of books in my TBR pile.

  • Share a quote from it.

  • Share the book's summary.

  • It is my hope that this will be a way of rediscovering my To-Be-Read books because when you have so very many it is tough to keep them on in your head when many of them sound so very good.

    This week I picked up a book I chose for TBR Tuesday and found page 174 to be blank! This wasn't the best start. It seems Darcy's Story by Janet Aylmer wasn't the book for this week. With that, I selected a second book.

    Frank Beddor: The Looking Glass Wars

    Quote from the Book
    "Dodgson jumped up, spilling tea onto the rug and dropping his fountain pen, which dripped ink onto the pages of his journal." (Beddor 174)

    Summary from the Book
    "When she is cast out of Wonderland by her evil aunt Redd, young Alyss Heart struggles to keep memories of her queendom intact until she can return and claim her rightful throne."

    Website of Interest

    Why I Chose This Book
    I ended 2008 and began 2009 reading a two-in-one book of Lewis Carrol's, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. The Looking Glass Wars then seemed the perfect book today since I had been saving this book to read for more than a year before reading those two stories of Lewis Carrol's.

    March 16, 2009

    Alice Hoffman: Green Angel

    Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    This book quite fooled me. There wasn't anyone who had recommended nor mentioned it to me at all. Rather, after signing into PaperBackSwap one day I was taken by it's interesting cover. Please refrain from throwing your shoe at me for judging a book by it's cover. I opened another tab and headed to LibraryThing where I researched the book.

    It's published by Scholastic. So is Harry Potter, I told myself. It was as I guessed, a Young Adult fantasy. I saw some teens I know have the book but moved on to see more about the book. It was what sounded like a touching book about healing. Okay. I requested it.

    I received it in the mail. What is this? I was confused and couldn't determine what book it may possibly be as I went in search of a pair of scissors. It was rather thin. I opened the package and there was Green Angel. All one-hundred and sixteen pages of it. Now I had truly expected something much thicker. No where had I seen this book was quite thin. A little disappointed, I set it aside on a bookshelf, not among my newly acquired books.

    I remembered this book which I only received last week and picked it up on Friday. It was a short book, but I had time to kill and was feeling too down for a deep and thick book that required a lot of thinking. Immediately upon opening it I found it had been stamped by it's previous owner with a little monster from the book Where the Wild Things Are. Turning the pages twice, I came across this enchanting looking layout:

    I began to read and found not much of any conversation in the book but the writing was smooth and it kept my interest. It told the story of a fifteen-year-old girl named Green who loved and had a knack for growing things in her family garden. It told about her love for her family and most strongly for her younger sister, much the opposite of Green but a good sister nonetheless. It went on to tell how, as the back cover will tell you, embers flew from the sky one day and took her family away.

    Nothing is green anymore. The ground is dead with ashes. Green is, figuratively speaking, dead to some things as well. This short little story had a lot in it, though. There is a lot about finding strength, learning to live without those you've lost and how to move on, as well as finding a new life. Perhaps we should say rather than to simply not judge a book by it's cover to not judge a book by it's size.

    March 14, 2009

    February's Bookpile

    I had meant to post these at the end of February. Instead I was rather late in posting about books I read and so I procrastinated about posting the bookpile for the month of T0-Be-Read books as well. Here they are at last!

    Where they're from:

    PaperBackSwap: A Certain Slant of Light, Chocolat, The Devious Book for Cats Ella Minnow Pea, Green Angel, and Ophelia
    Borders: A Dirty Job, The Graveyard Book, and Persuasion
    BookMooch: Confessions of a Shopaholic and Cut
    Early Reviewers: Never Tell a Lie
    Gift: Hunted

    Award Ceremony

    I almost feel like I should have a little ceremony on these posts sometimes. The stage is set, the seats are filled in the audience, and the lights have been dimmed as I call attention to those who are seated.

    "The award for recommending the following book which I brought home in the month of February goes to..."

    A name is called and everyone claps and cheers. Though I am unsure what this award should be, perhaps it would look something like a bookshopping receipt or one of those slips of paper informing you of a transaction done from shopping online. The person is, I am sure, most happy for this award.

    I am being humorous. Forgive me if I am poor at it. I see some things funny to which others may simply wonder, 'What?'

    Why is BookMooch sinking?

    This is a question some fellow booklovers have asked themselves. As I look at my list of books acquired last month and where they each came from, I see quite a bit more from PaperBackSwap than from BookMooch. It seems the answer is this: I don't check my e-mail as often these days. When a book on my wishlist becomes available another person snatches it first. However, the biggest problem is having books on BookMooch which are reserved. It seems everything is reserved these days. I can hardly find books at all.

    Sometimes I've simply given points away because I wonder when I may find books I want. I did this just last week to someone who mooched from me. They mooched two books and were given two points back. I just want a home for the books I have listed. Goodness knows I never wanted some of them to begin with but am giving them away on PBS and BM because the other option was my sister throwing her books in the trash, something that was actually her preference. I know those reading this post must be cringing now.

    PaperBackSwap seemed the easier way of getting books. However, it's most alarmingly more expensive. I was given two points for joining PaperBackSwap and sent six books so far in all. That is enough for eight books. I have requested and received thirty-six books from them. This means I've paid them an estimated $100. By having the option of buying your points instead of earning them, a book for a book, PaperBackSwap is gaining on BookMooch.

    I would personally choose BookMooch over PaperBackSwap if a book were available on both sites. It's cheaper, and there is the bonus of both communication as well as those lovely book condition notes. The whole experience is more personal. Someone requests a book and says, "Thank you!" The sender sends the book and says "I hope they enjoy this book." The receiver receives the book and says, "Thanks again!" It's such a happy place! PaperBackSwap has 'communication,' too. You can send a letter to people thanking them after you receive a book. This is something I do but am unsure just how many others do. I rarely receive a "You're welcome" back. Maybe it's like a chain of never ending e-mails, but it's polite, and if someone sent me a "Thank you," you can bet I will send a "You're very welcome! I hope you enjoy reading it." On to new subjects...

    The Bookpile

    I am so happy because by posting these books later than usual I can smile and laugh at my TBR pile for having read some of these books already. Conquering four out of thirteen isn't a whole lot, but it's something. You can read about the books I have already read here: Hunted, Ophelia, Never Tell a Lie, Green Angel

    First off, I would like to give a squee for this lovely page. I am of course revealing Kerian is not my real life name, but this was too exciting. Thanks again to my wonderful friend foggidawn for this signed ARC!

    I will start at the top of the bookpile and work my way down which starts us off with Cut. This isn't a book I picked out for myself at all. Rather, it was recommended as a book I could pass on to a few teens. Cutting is terrible. I'm not talking about cutting classes but think you know that.

    I would like to share that through my teen years I went to a friend's house after school every day for a year, the main purpose to not just hang out with a friend, but to keep her company when she felt alone and to hide all the sharp object I could without hiding the kitchen knives and her father's razors. By the next day in math class, she'd only say this: "I found them."

    I wish I could have done something better for her. I feel a little better knowing I can accidentally leave this book sitting out for a group of girls I know of who are either cutting as an 'art' or cutting as some sort of relief. (For anyone who knows I have a teenage sister, she is not doing this so know she is fine.)

    On bad days I gather my cell phone, coat, and shoes to head out the door. I walk not knowing where I will go. One day it took me to a grocery store. There isn't much in this part of my city except those, hotels, gas stations, fast food chains, and hair salons. I went looking for a book to cheer me up. Instead I found a measly selection of books but found the dvds. They had a measly selection of those as well. However, they did have Jane Austen's Persuasion. I bought it and had an Austen marathon that weekend. The following week I excitedly purchased the book. I have only read three of Austen's books as of yet but consider myself a big fan. This is one of the books I was recently reading during the week but am momentarily paused on pending if anyone wanted to read it at the same time as me.

    I hadn't been that interested in Confessions of a Shopaholic when I went to see it in theaters. I blame that on having gone to actually see Coraline that day with it so happening that they were sold out. I suppose I could have enjoyed Confessions of a Shopaholic better were it not for that though I have never been that girly, into chick lit, nor shopaholic save for bookshopping myself. On hearing the book actually takes place in England I thought perhaps I would read it and so got the book. This isn't one I would necessarily read soon.

    A Certain Slant of Light. Hum. One of those long ago recommended books by a friend. I can't recall a detail about it save for the main character is a ghost. No one sees her until one day, perhaps a hundred years later even, when a boy can see her.

    I can't pin point Chocolate to any one individual for the book recommendation. I can say that yet again I have seen the movie, though only after this recommendation was made. Thank you to a vast crowd of LibraryThingers! This is one I want to read very soon! I would have started it sooner if I didn't have that Austen inspiration. I wanted to take advantage of feeling up to something less modern. I look forward to reading this book and not so much for any weight gain from the consumption of chocolate while reading this book.

    I had been very eager to read humorous Christopher Moore's A Dirty Job ever since I finished reading You Suck. Though it's not part of that book much nor Bloodsucking Fiends, it does have a slight connection. There is a scene when the main female character from those books drops into the shop of the main character of A Dirty Job. She has a very interesting conversation with him in the way of something other worldly or undead. This book's cover has an old fashioned stroller being pushed by a man with a hand covered in skin. The baby girl inside has a skeletal head and there is an ax in her buggy. (I have remembered the word, alas.) No other spoilers here!

    Ella Minnow Pea is the name of a girl in it's book. The country has some stunning and most shocking terrible times or removing certain letters from the alphabet, or perhaps simply banning them. I'm told it's very funny and have two friends I can think of from the top of my head who have read it. My mother and I both look forward to reading it.

    I hunted week after week for The Graveyard Book before finding it in stores. One would imagine I would have then jumped right into it, right? I have just been caught up in so many books. It was driving me insane that so many people I know have read it and I could not discuss it with them. I can't wait till I will be in on the book's secrets, but to add to that, I also can't wait to enjoy another of Neil Gaiman's books.

    It seems a woman who stands in my kitchen now was ever excited the day I showed her my newest addition to my TBR pile. A Devious Book for Cats had arrived, and excited as I was for this humorous book, I was showing it off to people here. (We have four cats, so do call us crazy.) I figured I would finish the book I deemed myself at the time to be stuck in (since I wanted to read this) and slid the book into their waiting hands to read before me. Weeks later, and I find it hidden away unfinished when I ask to 'borrow' it for a 'photo shoot.' (How nice! I am the proud owner of a famous book.) Oh well. It wasn't the book for her but I will be happy to read it.

    * This post will be edited and a link will be added for Green Angel on Monday. It's going to be on the entry after this one.

    Elizabeth Aston: Mr. Darcy's Daughters

    Believe it or not, the last few entries were all still for February. I was neglecting my blog. However, with this post I am all caught up. This is a true March read. Now to only post that ever late book pile after this! Well, onto the book...

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    One of the first things I have to say about this book is that I can't believe I let it sit in my TBR pile so long. I first read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, for which Aston's Mr. Darcy's Daughters is based on, in a women's literature class in the spring of 2003. I was an immediate fan of it and went on to reread it perhaps four times since then. It was during that same literature class that I discovered another of my favorites, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre as well. Not a person who was on the internet much at all in those days, it was only with Jasper Fforde's hit Thursday Next series that I discovered those lovely books about other books. I soon became a fan of books about classic literature that wasn't actually classic literature itself. This book is one that stands to impress and does not fail to keep me excited about the rest of the series.

    Mr. Darcy's Daughters was an absolutely wonderful and most enjoyable book. I can't say that enough. A part of me before reading it wondered what the damage would be to the memory of characters from Austen's work. However, there wasn't a reason for such worries. Elizabeth Aston did not ruin Elizabeth nor Mr. Darcy for me one single bit. It's not that I've really come across characters destroyed for me with books about classic literature, but rather some books just do not capture those classic characters well. With this book, there was rarely such chance. We in fact do not see Mr. or Mrs. Darcy at all. I was a little sad over that matter to begin with, but there are a great many books taking over where Pride and Prejudice leaves off and I know I have a great deal of books in my very TBR pile that do so.

    How does a book about Pride and Prejudice survive without it's star characters? It provides new ones, of course, who I assure to you are just as interesting as the very Bennet family itself had been. The daughters of the Darcy's, every one of them, are in London. I can hear Lady Catherine to Lizzy now. "What, and all at court?!" Well, that I will not answer! Second born to the Darcy's, Camilla is the heroine of Mr. Darcy's Daughters, a young woman much like her mother. If this is beginning to sound like a repeat of Pride and Prejudice with simply new characters do not fear. I will insist it has it's differences.

    This outstanding book which brings you back to Pride and Prejudice, reintroduces you to some familiar characters, and has a story in a slightly similar fashion as it's model, is yet a story of it's own. I liked the characters and understand perhaps not every future book in the series will take place from Camilla's point of view. However I am greatly looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I'm so happy I read this book and am no longer missing it from never having read it. I gave it 4.5 stars, withholding from five stars because they could have used a smidgen more creativity. Happily enough I received book two in the mail since finishing Mr. Darcy's Daughters last Sunday and will start to read it soon. If only I could read every book I want to read 'soon' soon. "So many books, so little time." (Unknown source.)

    March 13, 2009

    Kate DiCamillo: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    As someone who adored both rabbits and dolls as a child I found this children's book to be quite cute. Edward Tulane was not necessarily the idea toy. For one, he was partially porcelain. For another, he was without a heart. No love for the little girl who loved him terribly, someone knew Edward's unspoken secret. One day everything in Edward's world changes. There were times when I felt very sorry for Edward. Heartbreaking as parts were, it was all for the better. This darling book is one I would definitely read to children if I knew any.

    March 12, 2009

    Lisa Klein: Ophelia

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    It's funny how you can go from fearing Shakespeare's works rather very much, then grow to understand it well enough that suddenly you ace every essay you write on his works and later in life find yourself wanting to read books about his works. Lisa Klein's Ophelia is a book not about Shakespeare's Ophelia as I thought when I first heard mention of it but about Hamlet. Luckily for me I have read Hamlet whereas I have not yet read Ophelia.

    Before I began reading I anticipated that I would greatly enjoy this book and was most right. It has been a good seven years and many, many books since I read Hamlet. However, I followed Klein's Ophelia well and would not say Shakespeare's play need be fresh in mind prior to reading this book to enjoy it. I would for certain though consider the experience of reading Ophelia further enjoyed if Hamlet is taken up after reading Ophelia. I can't imagine anyone who would not wish to do so after reading Klein's retelling and yet at the same time unique story.

    The twist to Ophelia is that this is Ophelia's story to tell and it is very much not the story you have heard from Hamlet. Klein opens a new door for us to see Hamlet from Ophelia's point of view. On top of that it goes on further to tell a story of it's own beyond what Shakespeare had to offer in the way of revealing more to Ophelia's life. What if . . . What if things weren't quite the same? What if . . . I dare not say in my attempts to not reveal spoilers. The point is, it is much different however fantastic literature.

    I truly feel had I more patience and were I just a little religious I would have enjoyed this book further. As is I love it, and yet the ending just wasn't for me. Perhaps it would have revealed a little more understanding on my part were I religious. I am an open minded person myself but think others who are religious may enjoy this book a little more than I have. That isn't saying a great deal of course because I rather enjoyed this book quite a lot.

    Ophelia has made me starved for more books like it and I eagerly await for Lisa Klein's book in progress, another book having to do with one of Shakespeare's works. She has told a little about it on her website where you may learn more about her and her newly published book, Two Girls of Gettysburg as well. Reading Ophelia has sent me in a great mood for books about classic literature and so I am buried in Austen while taking advantage of this reading craving to tackle my Austen book challenge.

    Other than Hamlet the other plays I've read by Shakespeare are Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night. Besides a reread of Hamlet I hope to soon pick up King Lear for Christopher Moore's newest book, Fool, a book which I suspect though have not yet heard if it will require a little more knowledge from the reader prior to reading.

    March 4, 2009

    My Rating System

    I would like to provide an explanation of how I generally rate books.

    5 stars: This was a truly outstanding book!

    4.5 stars: Not the absolute best but an incredible read.

    4 stars: This was a marvelous and very good book. Four stars and above are for favorites. They are books which I would consider rereading.

    3.5 stars: This was better than the average book.

    3 stars: This was a good book.

    2.5 stars: I didn't enjoy this book so much.

    2 stars: I wasn't too fond of this book.

    1.5 stars: I probably only liked part of this book. It would probably be a book that is a collection of short stories in which I only read or liked a few of the stories and either didn't get to or didn't so much enjoy the rest of the stories.

    1 star: I really didn't like this book.

    0.5 stars: I couldn't stand this book at all.

    March 3, 2009

    Markus Zusak: The Book Thief

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    I found this book to be absolutely incredible. It was very powerful and touched me greatly. I can remember the very day I bought it (New Year's Eve 2007) and the exact book I bought at the same time as this one (The Lightning Thief). For some reason it took me a great amount of time to pick up The Book Thief and read it. It probably would have taken longer had someone not suggested it as a book to read for last month. Writing this now I realize I meant to write that person a thank you but have forgotten. I hope to be doing that shortly.

    Right away as I sat in a public place reading this book I thought it would be a deeper book than what I had been reading more of lately. It wouldn't be a book that could easily be read where people may be loud nor would be considered anywhere on the same end of a rope as a light, fluffy read which requires little thought. Death seemed the perfect narrator and I put down my book with haste eager to read more of the life he had to tell of Liesel Meminger, the girl he knew best as the book thief.

    Early on in the reading of this book readers will know much of what is to come later on. When Death begins the story of the book thief I didn't at first believe he would tell her story so well as he does. My thoughts had been Death would surely only see glimpses of her and every other person's life, toward each of their life's end. He surprised me, as did Markus Zusak, with a beautifully written novel that made me love the characters and which produced tears.

    I'm partially German on both sides of my family. This book made me feel a little better about it. Everything that happened around the time of WWII was most incredibly the worst of horrible things. It had made me have a dislike toward being part German. Zusak shows us that there are good Germans as well as bad Germans, however. This book will tell you the story of a very good German.

    I highly recommend this book for many reasons. It is mere fiction, unlike The Diary of a Young Girl, however it has much to tell in it's strong and moving tale. You would be at a real loss and missing out on one of the most precious books without ever reading The Book Thief.

    This was the first book I read by Markus Zusak. I'm very curious about his other books now such as I Am the Messenger. I would greatly enjoy reading more of any of his books and will be excited about any future books he may write. I feel he has produced one incredibly special book with The Book Thief and do not doubt other books of his to be the same in their own way.

    March 2, 2009

    Hallie Ephron: Never Tell a Lie

    Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

    This book was one of my EarlyReviewer books. A date on the spine says it was to be published in January of this year though I received my uncorrected proof in February. I happened to come across it in a bookstore on Saturday. It sat in it's hardcover edition on a twenty percent off sale for new hardcover fiction and a part of me was very excited to have already read it.

    Never Tell a Lie is a book of mystery. A happy couple expecting their first child decide to have a garage sale to clear their attic of the belongings of their beautiful Victorian home's previous owner. They've been together since the days that they were in high school and early that morning one of their first visitors is someone they had gone to school with.

    Neither of them had seen Melinda, expecting her own first child, in years. Ivy was never close to Melinda and is eager to be free of the visiting woman who feels they were actually very close. Ivy is relieved when her husband, David, distracts Melinda by taking her on a tour of their grand house. She is tired and feeling every month of her pregnancy. Ivy does not notice that she never sees Melinda leaving their home.

    In a matter of days David and Ivy are contacted by the police. Melinda is missing. The last place she was known to be was at David and Ivy's home for their garage sale. The single question of where Melinda is leads to a great deal of more mysteries.

    I don't ordinarily read mystery books anymore though once read a great deal of it so it was nice to enjoy a mystery once more. I found it to be a good book and this book has interested me in reading more books in it's genre once more. I would read another of Ephron's books when she has more to offer readers.