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Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

in a sentence: meet a boy named Bruno and discover the unfamiliar and confusing adventure that awaits him.

i'll be honest - the number one thing that interested me about this book was that the inside cover. they thought it would spoil the reading of the book to give anything away and believed it was important to start to read without knowing what is it about. having read it, i totally agree with that sentiment and will try and do my best to review without spoiling! though there is a movie version already, so you may already know.

Bruno and his family live in Berlin, and is pretty happy with his life actually. he's a typical 9 year old boy with a typical bratty older sister (she's 12, practically a teenager) and doting house servants. he loves adventures and exploring and all the fun discoveries that come with that sort of thing. something happens that leads his family to move away from his home and he is not pleased about that.

i absolutely adored Bruno's voice in this book. that's not to say that he was the narrator, because he wasn't really. it is his voice that is heard mostly in the book and his phrasing and everything, but we also get a peek into the thoughts of others through his eyes and through general narration. i'm not explaining it very well, but i really did like the way that Boyne did that.

Bruno experiences the changes and new experiences through his 9 year old eyes, and so do we. it is with this naivety and simple acceptance that we learn what is going on in the story. there are some internal struggles, some serious questions and curiosity - but he is only 9 after all and who cares about what a 9 year old wants to know? so mostly Bruno discovers things for himself and does his best to make sense of them, and what he can't make sense of, he shrugs away.

this was absolutely one of the best pieces of literature i have ever written. not purely because of the subject matter, but because of how it was written. i am seriously impressed with using a 9 year old as a narrator successfully and in a way that brought me to that level of naivety without any hint of condescension. even the chapter titles were 9-year-old-yet-adult-geared without being condescending. it was just incredible, and if you haven't read this yet - do it! you'll thank me.

fave (non-spoiler) quote: "One afternoon, when Bruno came home from school, he was surprised to find Maria, the family maid - who always kept her head bowed and never looked up from the carpet - standing in his bedroom, pulling all his belongings out of the wardrobe and packing them in four large wooden crates, even the things he'd hidden at the back that belonged to him and were nobody else's business." (opening paragraph and it totally sucked me in / set the tone for the book).

fix er up: a tad predictable, but that didn't hurt the overall impact and beauty of the writing.

title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
author: John Boyne
genre: Adventure, Friendship

Review: Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

in a sentence or two: the "true" diary of a 15 year old girl who is seduced by the mysterious world of drugs and just can't seem to pull herself out.

the narrator (Alice?) opens her diary by talking about an incident with a boy named Roger, though the real shift in events comes when she finds out her family is going to move for her dad's new job. you get the feeling that Alice is a bit of an outcast, though not a total weirdo or anything. she just has a hard time fitting in with people, and thinks this move might help her. even after moving to a new school, Alice has a hard time fitting in and meeting people. she spends her summer with her grandparents and gets invited to a party that introduces the world of drugs to naive and lonely Alice.

apparently this is an actual diary with changed names and dates to protect the privacy of those involved. i also noticed it was written in 1970, which helps explain some of the dated language. for the most part though, the diary is more than a simple narrative of Alice's life before, during, and after drugs - it's an inside peek at what challenges she's facing and why. some of her thoughts are so insightful, while others barely pass as shallow - which supports the insecure and awkward adolescence we all have to go through.

i don't want to give too much away for the plot, because that's where i believe so much of the power behind this book is. Alice deals with eating disorders. she deals with insecurity. she deals with her loving and supportive family. she deals with her multitude of crushes. she deals with the allure and excitement of drugs. She deals with peer pressure both encouraging her to do the drugs and against her when she chooses not to. her experiences are discussed with her diary without a big show or bragging, but simply as they happened.

Alice's voice is haunting, though i don't believe that is her intention. she's just so darn real and authentic that you can't help but get wrapped up in her pain when she's sad and her joy when she's happy. a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but definitely worth the ride. i appreciated the editor's note at the beginning of my edition that says it's not a definitive statement on the middle class drug world, it does not offer any solution, and that they hope to provide insight to the complicated world in which we live. well editors, mission accomplished.

fave quote: "Adolescents have a very rocky insecure time. Grown-ups treat them like children and yet expect them to act like adults. They give them orders like little animals, then expect them to react like mature, and always rational, self-assured persons of legal stature. It is a difficult, lost, vacillating time. Perhaps I have passed over the worst part. I certainly hope so, because I surely would not have either the strength or the fortitude to get through that number again" (76)

fix er up: i'm not sure there is anything. this was a quick read, and such a powerful read too. not too angsty or braggy or anything like that - just real. the epilogue caught me off guard, though i dont qualify that as a 'fix er up' either. **note** after doing some peeping around on the internet, apparently there is much debate and disbelief as to if this is a true diary or a made up account by the editor/psychologist. i could definitely see it being made up, but certainly find no harm in treating it as a true diary.

title: Go Ask Alice
author: anonymous
genre: Diary, Edgy, Challenged

Review: As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway

in a sentence or two: Anna (prefers to be called Anastasia, thankyouverymuch), the quirky and secretive new goth girl disappears, and the only evidence left behind is her black dress laid out on the snow by a hole in the frozen river. her 'bland-as-water' boyfriend is wrapped up in her mysteries, which only seem to be multiplying after her disappearance...

the narrator, Anna's boyfriend, has quite the complicated home life. he's the last child at home with an older brother living down south and a sister that disappeared never to be heard from again. the death of his other sister so many years ago severely altered the way his parents treated him, each other, and the world (and not in a very pleasant way). the narrator (remains nameless throughout, except for the letter G) is going through his boring and pretty much useless high school existence until Anna comes along. she's pretty, sure, but she's also goth - complete with black make up, black clothes, and black doc martins. after a chance encounter in the library (where he is hoping to meet girls, ironically), they begin a relationship unlike anything he would have ever expected.

Anna was a total riddle, both in the book and to me as a reader. a lot of the things she said worked herself in circles or just averted the topic altogether. the narrator was intrigued by her and drawn into her mysterious ways, just accepting her the way she was. her disappearance really did shatter the world of the narrator, and the way in which that is portrayed is so authentic and realistic it hurt my heart and periodically brought tears to my eyes.

all of the characters in the book are flawed. seriously. and for some characters, you don't even know how they are flawed, just that they are. you are simply left to take Anna's word for it and deal with her insinuations and vague references. that was the heaviest part of the book for me - the total abundance of flaws and prevalence of hurtful behavior. realistic, but heavy.

this is the hardest review i've written so far. i just could not find the words to describe the book or the way i felt about it. much more than an edgy novel, more than a ghost story, more than a introspection of people in the narrator's life, hardly classifiable as a romance, impossibly crafty and creative, this book is a thoughtful and mysterious story full of riddles from within the characters and from the plot development from Galloway. the whole thing was suspenseful, sad, creepy, funny, and creative. most of all, it was intentionally mysterious and therefore (for me) a bit unfulfilling. overall, i do think it is deserved to win the Alex Award and is one that i will want to read again some day to try and pick up more of the subtle intricacies.

fave quote: "This is what I know happened, or think happened. I fell in love with a girl, and then she left, and later she tried to come back, or I thought she did, and I went after her. It should have been simple but in the end it could not have been more complicated, and maybe that was the whole point to begin with, but if love is true and still leaves you lonely, what good does it do? I started going over everything again, thinking I might find a way to her, wherever she was, or at least figure out what to do with all the things she left behind." (pg 3)

fix er up: there just was not enough resolution for me. i know it's a mystery and i know that a major point of the book is to be unresolved and unsettling...but it was too much for me!

title: As Simple As Snow
author: Gregory Galloway
genre: Edgy, Mystery

Review: Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

in a sentence or two: it's 1793 in Philadelphia, and a mysterious fever is said to be killing people without mercy. the murmurings of yellow fever come to fruition when 15 year old Mattie's mom is struck ill with a fever that drives her crazy and gives her eyes a horrid yellow tinge.

Mattie, her mom, their cook Eliza and Mattie's grandpa run a coffeehouse in Philadelphia. grandpa served under the great General Washington and likes to fill her days sharing stories, sneaking her candy, and being overall supportive and encouraging. her dad died from a fall off a ladder which left her mom understandably saddened and bitter, very much unlike the soft and comforting woman she used to be. their life at the coffeehouse provides a good deal of gossip off the street about the fever, however, their first awareness is when their beloved scullery maid and friend of Mattie dies suddenly in her home.

the book is the journey of Mattie and her family in their attempts to avoid the yellow fever. the fear that people felt from not knowing how to prevent the spreading of the disease or what to do when it struck is strongly delivered by Anderson. the differing opinions of doctors, the despair, and the struggle to keep going when everything seems hopeless flood this book with rich emotions.

i was impressed with Mattie's voice as the narrator. as a 15 year old, she's in that awkward phase somewhere between being a girl to being a woman, which adds a blend of insecurity and determination that fits perfectly with the surrounding circumstances of the rest of the story. i didn't think i was getting too sucked in to the emotions until i was bawling in the middle when someone died...then i realized how captivating this book was.

something i really appreciated was at the end of the book when Anderson answers some questions like "did the epidemic really happen" and "where are they buried" as well as the real life counterparts of the names she uses in the book. as a piece of historical fiction, i thought this complimented the read well. while Mattie and fam aren't necessarily real characters, they certainly represent one of the situations that many people faced during that time.

if you're looking for a solid hist-fic read with a wide range of developed emotions (including a little romance), great plot, a compassionate voice, with more-than-a-dash of historical accuracy in the form of events and language, this is for you.

fave quote: "They told of a small child huddled around the body of her dead mother. As volunteers placed the mother in a coffin, the child had cried out, 'Why are you putting Mamma in that box?' They had to turn the child over to a neighbor and take the mother away for burial. They told of the dying man who pulled himself to the window of his bedchamber and begged people to bring him a drink of water. Many passed by, hurrying away from the sound of his voice, until a brave soul entered the house to help him. They told of thieves who crept in and stole jewelry off the dead and dying. They told of good people who refused to take any money for helping strangers, even though they themselves were poor and near destitute...They told of terror: patients who had tried to jump out of windows when the fever robbed their reason, screams that pierced the night, people who were buried alive, parents praying to die after burying their children." (105-106)

fix er up: i would have liked more development with Mattie's love interest, Nathaniel. though the lack of it didn't hurt the book at all, and in fact now that i think about it, keeping it on the back burner of the plot makes sense. i'm just nitpicking.

title: Fever 1793
author: Laurie Halse Anderson
genre: Historical Fiction

Review: Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book #1) by Charlaine Harris

in a sentence or two: Sookie is a cute, charismatic, mind-reading barmaid in small town Louisiana. she Bon Temps and vampires are the prime suspects.
She desperately wants to meet a vampire - and then wouldn't you know it, she meets Bill. about that time, murders start happening in the little town of

Sookie lives with her grandma and works at the local bar. she's a bit envious that all the vampires like to hangout around New Orleans (how can small-town Bon Temps compete with that?). lucky for her, Bill walks in and tosses her world upside down. not that it wasn't already a bit topsy-turvy, her being a mind reader and all. when she discovers that two of her less-than-desirable patrons are going to lure Bill outside for his priceless vampire blood, she decides to do something about it. but don't worry - Bill returns the favor by saving her life too.

i was super intrigued by the idea of vampires being an accepted reality in the book. which gave room to more creative and thoughtful story lines other than "wehavetokeepeverythingsecret" being rehashed over and over, and was pretty refreshing. there is a good reason this book claims to be a mystery series and not merely a vampire book - there are murders happening in Bon Temps and no one can figure it out. the only clues are that the victims are women (fang-bangers [LOVE THAT]) and had an...ahem...sexual history. so along with the mystery, there is the Bill/Sookie budding relationship which adds some romance to the mix quite nicely.

overall, i was really impressed. Sookie's 'gift' as a telepathic isolated her from the world (which she explains pretty well), which i thought to be an accurate prediction of what that would really be like to hear everyone's thoughts all the time. Bill is trying to 'mainstream', that is, be among the living and lead a normal life. so we get to see how other vampires choose to live, how 'fang-bangers' choose to live, and how the rest of the world views the whole thing. there are even laws as to what vampires can and can't do, and what humans can and can't do to vampires.

i love a good mystery. i love a good romance. i love a good vampire book. this is all three in a steady balance with a quaint southern narration that wasn't hokey or dripping with southern drawl, but small-townish and southern enough to make you feel right at home with the characters, sipping some sweet tea on the front porch. and since is the first in a series, you can bet that i'll be visiting Bon Temps again real soon!

fave quote: "This was pretty exotic stuff for a telepathic barmaid from northern Louisiana" (197)

fix er up: not a fix er up exactly, but more a caution for young adult readers/adults who are recommending this to young adults. the book does contain some erotic sex scenes with Bill and Sookie. not that teens don't know about sex or shouldn't read about sex or whatever - but just a warning that there are some pretty intimate scenes. the good news is they are both consenting adults in a committed relationship blahblahblah - plus it's well written and not smutty. just a heads up.

title: Dead Until Dark (Southern Vampire Mysteries, Book #1)
author: Charlaine Harris
genre: Vampire, Mystery, Romance, Lisa's Faves

Review: The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

in a sentence: Zoe's really hit the trifecta - her mom is terminally ill with cancer, her best friend is moving away, and she met (was stalked by) a sexy vampire named Simon.

Zoe spends a lot of her time alone due to her mother being in the hospital and her dad spending time with her mom or trying to catch up on work when he's not dutifully at her hospital bedside. consequently, Zoe is rather withdrawn, doesn't eat much, and begins to feel pretty sorry for herself. and her best friend, Lorraine, has no idea how to talk to Zoe about her mom (she's got her own mom issues) and is having a hard time moving away anyhow. there is just no one there to comfort Zoe...until Simon.

Simon is a vampire who is on the trail of a vicious killing vampire in the neighborhood and stumbles upon Zoe one night at the park. naturally, he is captivated by her beauty and the compassion he sees in her eyes. so he stalks her (yeah, a bit creepy and romantic in a vampire-y sort of way) and begins to share his world, and his history, with her.

i was surprised at how much of the story was about Zoe dealing with her mom's cancer, though it definitely fit with the rest of the story. the alternating chapters between Zoe and Simon provided insight into both worlds, as well as an examination of their character from an outside and inner point of view. there is minimal explanation for the origin of Simon, but as mentioned, about half the book is about Zoe and her mom's situation, so it fit well.

Klause does a nice job of balancing the realistic hurt that Zoe, her mom, and her dad are feeling with the supernatural hurt of Simon and his situation. ultimately, Zoe was able to feel comfort from someone who shared her pain (though in a much different way) and got her first real kiss as an added bonus. it was a quick read, but a very very good one. i'll be reading this again!

fave quote: "Things changed, she realized. People grew, they moved, they died. Sometimes they withdrew into themselves, and sometimes they reached out after needing no one. She remembered Simon's clinging embrace. What would it be like if nothing changed? she wondered. It would be stagnant, she supposed: decadent, terrifying. But why did it have to be painful - all this change? Why did it mean losing people you love?" (192-193)

fix er up: really could have done without the over-mentioning that Zoe had big boobs. yes, seriously. it's mentioned at least 3 or 4 times - once by Zoe, twice by Simon (to himself), and once by her friend Lorraine. it just seemed random and a bizarre point to keep coming back to.

title: The Silver Kiss
author: Annette Curtis Klause
genre: Vampire, Coming of Age

Review: Ithaka by Adele Geras

in a sentence or two: faithful Penelope is waiting for Odysseus to come home after the trojan war (still waiting 16 years after...yeesh) and in the meantime, the palace is overrun by dirty, nasty, stinky, mean men who are determined to marry Penelope and become ruler of Ithaka.

i was really excited to see this title, especially after having read Troy and really liking it. i am personally intrigued by greek mythology and the stories about the trojan war, and having the ability to read them in young adult form is just perfecto for me.

Ithaka focuses mainly on Klymene and her interactions with the other characters - the main of whom are Penelope (Queen of Ithaka, Klyemene is her personal handmaid / honorary daughter), Ikarios (Klymene's twin brother), Telemachus (Son of Penelope and Oddyseus and first love of Klymene), Melantho (the newest handmaid to Penelope, and rather conniving and slutty actually), and then the suitors (the dozens of men living at the palace for like 6 months waiting for Penelope to choose one of them).

as with Troy, there is a casual incorporation of the gods from Olympus and they are only seen by some characters. this element helps keep the story flow to the nature of a greek myth nicely. the god's don't consistently intervene, which is nice, but when they do you get a glimpse of them and their intentions before they vanish.

the best way that i can think to describe Ithaka is that it's a multi-layer love story complete with betrayal, murder, sadness, and hope. i did feel like it got a little long, however, that may have been the attempt by the author to help portray the extreme waiting that Penelope did so faithfully (well, most of the time) for Odysseus and to help the reader realize just how long and unpleasant the icky suitors made time at the palace for everyone in the meantime.

i couldn't help feeling like some of the characters were more shallow than i'd hoped for. while i really dug Klymene as a caring, devoted, and genuine person, i was let down by Telemachus, completely forgot about Ikarios at times, and felt that while Melantho provided a solid element of bitchyness that was necessary for the twists in the story, that she was a pretty underdeveloped character herself. i felt like they had to be deeper than they were portrayed, and that really bugged me.

overall, i appreciated the take on the flip side of the Odyssey from the palace point of view, and particularly from Kylemene's perspective. similiar to Troy in that the main characters are part of the palace life, Geras paints a vivid picture of that life and the surrounding landscape of the island of Ithaka and at times i really did see what she was describing. the story doesn't end perfectly, which is refreshing, and there are some serious heartaches along the way. Geras deals with first loves, doubt, and hope in an interesting and serious way.

fave quotes: "'Sorrow', said Odysseus, 'has to be borne, or we might as well die on our way out of our mothers' wombs. Life is threaded through with it, but you must face it and grieve and carry on if you're to be a real man. It's easier to do that when you've got your family around you. When you're in your own house. Home...that's the best that we can hope for this side of Hades, and it's worth fighting and even dying for. Ithaka is worth every bit of agony I've gone through to get here.'" (299)

"The only answer was a shrug, and Klymene sighed. She was used to the way men sometimes behaved, but it was exhausting. The wouldn't ever admit, straight out, what was wrong, but waited for the thing - whatever it was that was bothering them - to be drawn out slowly like a thorn from an animal's paw. You had to ask questions. They had to be the right questions. You had to guess and cajole and tease the pain out of them, and it could be a tedious business." (319) - a good example of Klymene's character also.

fix er up: i really wanted deeper character development from others besides Klymene!

title: Ithaka
author: Adele Geras
genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Review: The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas

in a sentence or two: an in depth character study and observation of dr. Edward Weyland (vampire) and a few of his more intimate human encounters

in the 5 sections of the vampire tapestry, there are 5 separate accounts of the life of Edward Weyland. beginning with his near-death encounter with a suspicious collegiate faculty, we are taken on a journey of personal thoughts and feelings (or lack there of) of Weyland and the people he comes to know.

there isn't much time spent on the genealogy or origins of Weyland, mainly because he isn't aware of any. that fact, among others, sets us up for a very interesting character study of the lone member of perhaps the most intriguing and infatuating supernatural being ever.

throughout the five sections, Weyland is accused of rape, held hostage, goes into therapy, gets swept away by the opera Tosca, and is stalked by a satanist who wants to use Weyland for his own gain. through the eyes of Weyland we see the weakness and emotions of human kind (his cattle, as he calls them) as well as the lack of understanding or care on behalf of Weyland.

as bizarre as it may sound, the best way for me to describe this book is that it is a character study of a vampire in modern times. it shows how people would interact with one, and how he interacts with them. his solitude and complete lack of interest (well, almost complete) in his prey (that's you and me folks) create a sad, intriguing, complex, yet basic creature that i found to be really fascinating. there are suspenseful moments and plot twists, but at it's core this book is an in-depth exploration of what / who a vampire is.

it was sooooo gooooooood! Charnas creates an amazing character with Edward Weyland, and using 5 different 'stories' within the story is an excellent way to keep the story shifting and changing. while any of the 5 sections could be read individually (apparently the section 'Unicorn Tapestry' won the Nebula Award) they are much more cohesive and rewarding as a whole. also, i feel like i was attracted to Weyland in spite of myself throughout the book...which is odd because he is repeatedly described as heartless, nonchalant, uncaring, etc etc.

while i'm not the most well versed on vampirical fiction (and i intend to change that), i have heard that this is the quintessential vampire book, and i am strongly inclined to agree! the way he survives, the way he hunts, and the way that humans play into his existence is simply fascinating.

fave quote: "On a Tuesday morning Katje discovered that Dr. Weyland was a vampire, like the one in the movie she'd seen last week". (opening line of the book baby!)

fix er up: nothing i can think of. pretty solid read.

title: The Vampire Tapestry
author: Suzy McKee Charnas
genre: Vampire, Drama, Lisa's Fave

Review: The She by Carol Plum-Ucci

in a sentence or two: Evan Barrett is haunted by the cloudy memories surrounding the death of his parents, and wants some real answers as to what really happened to his mom and dad on their last night at sea. he has faint, yet terrifying, memories of a horrible screeching coming from the sea - from a local legend he once firmly believed in called simply 'the she'...

okay first of all, how cool is the title / cover of this book? regardless of my immense enjoyment of "the body of christopher creed" by the same author, i probably would have snatched this off the shelves of the library based on the sheer creepiness of the cover. that, and the intrigue of a sea-monster...

Evan's parents disappeared when he was young. note, i say disappeared, not died...necessarily. there is a big fat cloud of mystery surrounding their last night at sea, and Evan, his brother Emmett, his aunt Mel, and his grandpa (opa) have all come to their own separate conclusions about what happened that night and why. Evan was never really sure what his theory was, mainly because his memories were suppressed for the most part until Grey slipped him some acid at a party...whoops. Emmett and aunt Mel have much more 'factual' opinions as to what happened, while Evan is increasingly convinced that 'the she' is responsible for what happened to his parents.

now enter Grey - the girl who slipped Evan acid at a party without his knowledge. she too experienced something very similar to what Evan remembers...the screeching that only they could hear that happened right before someone died. that's right, only SOME people can hear the creeptastic screeching from 'the she', and it only happens when someone (typically a romantic couple, because apparently 'the she' gets jealous of lovers-on-the-sea) is about to meet their doom. while Evan lost his parents, Grey lost a person she hardly knew after her boat tipped and sucked the young girl to her death care of 'the she'. that event (as well as some unpleasant family history) bumped Grey into the mental hospital where she's trying to become a better and healthier person as well as discover what the heck is going on with 'the she'. of course, Grey and Evan join forces...though a bit reluctantly and awkwardly at first. he's still not over that whole i-slipped-you-acid thing.

Plum-Ucci weaves a very intriguing story. she uses broken characters to create a mystery/coming of age hybrid that keeps you intrigued while genuinely caring about what happens to the characters. it's a tough line to walk, and at some points in the story, it begins to show. for the most part however, the balance is attained through the discovery of self and discovery of the mystery of the she. the characters discover just as much about themselves as they do anything else in the story.

i was honestly able to feel the haunting presence of 'the she' at times while reading this. the descriptions of the sea, the houses, the boats, and everything else is so vivid and realistic that you feel sucked into the little sea-side town. i cared about the people and i cared about what was discovered about 'the she'. i can't say i was surprised at the ending, especially after having read one of her books before, but i did appreciate the compromise of solution that she came to to explain it all. overall, a pretty darn good read.

fave quote: "I want to jump through the radio to get to my mom's screaming Maydays, and I want to bolt upstairs to get Emmett. I end up backing out slowly, hearing The She until she has almost overpowered my mother's voice, which is screaming. The sound is all through me then, coming from the sky, the beach, the radio." (13)

fix er up: i was a bit irritated at referring to high-fives as 'skinning'...as in, he held his hand up for me to skin it, so i did. sometimes attempting to use teenage vernacular in stories really bugs me. also, like i previously mentioned, at times the story lost a bit of it's balance by focusing too much on the relationship between Evan and Grey - but that was an interesting sub-plot none the less.

title: The She
author: Carol Plum-Ucci
genre: mystery, thriller, coming-of-age

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Pub Deets: 2007, Razorbill
Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Source:  Purchased

Clay receives a box of cassette tapes (yes, apparently they are still around) from his classmate and crush Hannah...who died by suicide two weeks ago. there are 7 cassette tapes with a total of 13 recordings on them - the 13 reasons why Hannah gave up.

Hannah was the new girl her freshman year, with a clean slate. she was funny, smart, pretty, and socially capable of doing pretty well for herself. She makes friends with the other 2 new kids that year, and they find themselves supporting each other as newbies while spreading their wings socially among the other students. And that's about the end of what goes right for Hannah. Her two 'closest' friends betray her and a path of seemingly unrelated events and rumors tear her down piece by piece until she can't stand it anymore.

Clay is the latest recipient of the tapes that Hannah recorded the day before she died. He can't remember a single malicious thing he did to her, in fact, he was pretty smitten with her so he can't figure out why he would be one of Hannah's 13 reasons. But in order to find out, he has to listen to all the tapes in order, hearing each other person/reason why. Each story is heartbreaking and hauntingly familiar to clay. He saw/heard the rumors Hannah is talking about but is hearing the truth from her now. The way he sees his classmates, his town, his teachers, even himself, changes with each tape he plays.

This was a very emotionally exhausting read. Asher was able to create characters and stories through a storytelling mechanism WITHIN a book...wowsa. The distance they were removed from the reader did not affect my ability to connect with Hannah or clay at all. Hannah isn't the tragic portrait you'd imagine, and at times the things that happen to her feel overwhelming, and perhaps just the teensiest bit exaggerated. However, I feel like it's definitely plausible that rumors snowball and create reputations that affect others actions and ultimately all of those actions+rumors+actions can crush a person. like they do to Hannah.

While a bit heavy handed, Asher makes a good point with an incredible story. Clay's desperation is so real and his hurt is felt so deeply. even Hannah, whose voice is portrayed through the tapes and in italics through the story (which wove in very nicely) is incredibly genuine. His social statement is well taken, and his storytelling is suspenseful, funny, and desperate all at the same time.

"Like driving along a bumpy road and losing control of the steering wheel, tossing you - just a tad - off the road. The wheels kick up some dirt, but you're able to pull it back. Yet no matter how tightly you grip the wheel, no matter how hard you try to drive straight, something keeps jerking you to the side. You have so little control over anything anymore. And at some point, the struggle becomes too much - too tiring - and you consider letting to. Allowing tragedy...or whatever...to happen." (Hannah 124)

I had a hard time figuring out what to make of the role and purpose of Clay's mom in the story. She popped up here and there, always supportive and loving...but felt awkwardly placed within the overall story.

Review: Rumors (The Luxe Series #2) by Anna Godbersen

(note: since this is the second in the luxe series, there are references to the first novel that are spoilers if you haven't read it...though you really should get on that)

in a sentence or two: the lives of new york's most luscious characters are still as deliciously intriguing as ever. Elizabeth found Will in california on the brink of oil-wealth, Diana and Henry's love is burning hotter than ever, Lina is trying to make a name for herself as a former housemaid turned society girl, and Penelope is still the raging bee-yotch she's always been.

romance and intrigue really do fuel the fires of this book. the elizabeth and will storyline is too sweet to handle (but you do handle it, of course). you can almost forgive the fact that she abandoned her mother and their horrible financial situation by faking her death in order to make her own personal quaint little existence happen. a fact that has almost killed Mrs. Holland (elizabeth's mom) makes you re-think that assessment. when it comes to diana (little sis) and henry (former fiance of elizabeth), his adoration for diana must be kept in check so as not to appear as if he's rushing past the death of elizabeth just to be with her sister - scandalous! and a bit creepy really. lina, the former housemaid of the family, is trying desperately to make a name for herself as a society girl with some help from penelope (former best friend/social rival of elizabeth). penelope is all too consumed with trying to woo henry back, or force him back, or do whatever it takes to get him back.

if it sounds complicated to follow or very much like a soap opera...it is! and that is what makes it so delicious. godbersen is thankfully gratuitous with details such as what their gowns are made of, how the lighting plays on their shoulders, and even down to the subtle public gestures like fluttering eyelashes or restrained smiles that make the society ladies what they are. she is also gratuitous with the inner thoughts and emotions of the characters, being careful to use equally lush phrasing to complete the overall feel of the book.

as others have noted, i had a bit of a hard time feeling like i was going to be interested in the rest of the series. it felt predictable to a point, and while i was loving the richness of detail and scandal that oozed from the pages...i thought i could take or leave it overall. THEN the twist in the last few pages shocked me from placidity and made me yearn for envy!

godbersen carefully weaves the 5 different stories into one complete volume. she takes the time to provide enough character analysis for the major players to keep you in check, while making sure the story moves along. she really is quite crafty! the introduction of new characters is for sure a good sign of more twists and turns to come, and i am all aboard the 1900 turning point - sure to be bursting with even more cattiness, scandal, romance, secrets, girlish squeals (from me), and lush detail - in the series!

fave quote: "'I love you.' He said it simply, quietly. He didn't say those words as she had imagined them said so many times by characters in novels. He didn't say them with desperation, with pleading, with fluid rage or florid persuasion. He spoke without lasciviousness; he spoke only with the intention of being understood." [insert my girlish squeal here] (Henry to Diana, 286).

fix er up: i preferred some story lines over others, and so found myself a little pouty when the next chapter wasn't one i wanted, but of course, enjoyed it none the less. also, penelope wasn't as outrageous as i was hoping for though out the novel...but i do feel that is going to change in the future one(s).

title: Rumors (The Luxe Series #2)
author: Anna Godbersen

genre: Historical Fiction, Chick Lit

Review: The Warrior Heir (The Heir Trilogy) by Cinda Williams Chima

in a sentence: 16 year old jack discovers he is part of a rich history of weir (magic folk), specifically in the warrior guild. this discovery comes just in time too, as there happens to be an interest in warriors to fight to the death at the Game.

jack has a typical teenage morning - scarfing down breakfast in order not to be late to school. only this time, for the first time EVER, he forgets his heart medicine. after nearly obliterating someone accidentally at soccer practice (a rather tool-ish someone really), he decides he feels really great - like a blurry contact lens has been removed from his eyes and he is more in tune with what he hears and sees. the near-obliteration was caused by a burst of magic energy, and draws in all sorts of strange people start coming to the small town.

there are many interesting characters, both weir and anaweir (non magic), in this book. my favorites were jack's non-magical, but very understanding and supportive, best friends - will and fitch. they are the typical loyal friends, but each with their own useful quirks. while i felt emotion about other characters, like jack's mom becka and the principal at the high school, i also felt like they were not very developed. it didn't matter if they were good guys or bad guys, i still felt like they were surface characters lacking depth.

the story itself is fun and creative. chima creates an interesting fantasy world of wizards and guilds, with the added bonus of barbaric traditions and an oppressive guild system which puts the wizards in charge of all the other guilds whether they like it or not (mostly not). jack's journey from complete ignorance to his immersion in the weir-world was a bit confusing and frustrating...for him and for me as the reader. i felt like the weir-world was explained away, rather than being explored and made rich with detail and history. a majority of the explanations were focused on him having a 'warrior stone' though he should be a wizard, which i assume sets up the next book in the series but seemed like a distraction in this one. chima does have a backstory for the ultimate creation of wizards and the other guilds, which i LOVED...so i know that there was potential for something deeper than was presented in the book.

i thought it was a great story, but it lacked a certain...richness i expect from a fantasy book. one example of this is at a very formal and elegant dinner before the Game, and there is one paragraph describing some various wizard party favors - bubbles that burst with different things popping out of them. one paragraph...really? if i'm 350+ pages into a book, i'd like a little more detail about the inner workings and traditions of the wizarding world i've been reading about so far. i'm torn as to whether or not i'd like to continue on with the series...perhaps some further peeking around for other reviews will help me to decide. in the meantime, i think the warrior heir was an interesting and creative story, sans the elements of rich details and characters.

fave quote: "But it wasn't just that. He felt danger closing in, drawing closer with every breath he took. He pulled the thin sheet up to his chin. The motel felt like a frail eggshell, a feeble shield against the dark. And he worried that all his relatives and friends together would not be enough to save him." (81). now that is the detail and feeling that i wish had permeated the whole story!

fix er up: consistency and details. this is a fantasy book after all! let loose and splurge on deets.

title: The Warrior Heir (The Heir Trilogy)
author: Cinda Williams Chima
genre: Fantasy, Adventure

Review: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

in a sentence: 16 year old Mattie is talented enough to pursue her heart's desire of becoming a writer and going to college in New York City...but will she have the guts to leave all the familiar things she loves behind?

the story takes place in the north woods, 1906. mattie and her 3 sisters live on a plot of land (farm-ish) with their dad, and formerly their brother who ran away. her mom died from breast cancer, leaving the rest of the family reeling in despair, heartache, and a total lack of communication. having the talent that mattie does with writing is rare enough, but having that talent in a time that was so forbidden for girls and when responsibilities to family were put above all else, makes it even tougher for mattie. now throw in a hunky neighbor boy who's putting the moves on her...and she's got a really tough decision to make.

mixed in with mattie's bumpy home life are her friends (my favorite is weaver), her aunt josie (town gossip), and her inspiring teacher (ms. wilcox). the story shifts time from past to present, but the past isn't that far back - so eventually they line up and move forward chronologically.

there's also a sub-story about grace brown, a young woman whose body is found in the river outside of the hotel mattie works at...the day after grace begged mattie to burn a stack of letters for her. SHADY! while it felt a little disjointed to have this side story going on with the rest of mattie's life, it really does serve a purpose in the end.

jennifer donnelly has a very mesmerizing writing style. there is something about the pace she uses, the way she develops characters, and the way she tells a story that really drew me in. i wasn't blown away by the story or any of the twists, and i don't think i was meant to be. she drafts a story that's unique, elegant in it's own way, and creative, and very simple but deliberate in delivery. her research about women author's helped form an integral part of the story, and served as a good reminder about how much there was to overcome. i especially like when she delves into why women authors (and most other progressive women really) either didn't marry and were happy enough (like jane austen) or did marry and were terribly unhappy (like her teacher, ms. wilcox). very interesting...

i liked this book more than i anticipated for sure. i thought the pace would be boring, but it was just right. it's a coming of age story, but it's also about overcoming adversity found within your own family and within your own expectations of yourself. it was not a run-of-the-mill empowerment book either...there were wayyyy too many let downs for it to be a feel good book. i strongly suggest reading it, you'll like it.

fave quote: "It was one more hard and hopeless thing, and I was tired of hard and hopeless things." (mattie, 184)

fix er up: the grace brown sub story could have been woven in a little neater, while still keeping the mystery factor in tact.

title: a northern light
author: jennifer donnelly
genre: Chick Lit, Coming of Age, Historical Fiction, Printz Honor title

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

in a sentence or two: miles 'pudge' halter leaves his home in florida to go to the boarding school of his
father, and his father's father, etc. while attending culver creek (the alabama boarding school), he discovers friends (for pretty much the first time in his life), first love, and explores all the intricacies of the 'great perhaps'.

this was a book i listened to on tape. i must say, the audio recording was fantastic! the southern drawls of the colonel (miles' roommate) and alaska (the girl) were so well done and distinct with their accents, inflections, and personalities. well done brilliance audio!

miles arrives to his dorm room when as a 16 year old junior, which means that everyone else (for the most part anyway) have been there since they were freshman. this gives him only a slight disadvantage as his roommate is chip martin, referred to as the colonel. the colonel is quick to give miles his nickname, pudge. miles is skinny as a rail and lanky to the most gawky extent...which is why pudge is so perfect! the colonel is loyal, considerate, brilliant, and almost always in charge - hence the title for him. it is at culver creek boarding school that miles/pudge has his first cigarette, gets drunk for the first time, and has his first...ahem...3rd base experience. it is also at culver creek that miles/pudge has the opportunity to explore the intersection of christianity, buddhism, and islam in his religion class, the opportunity to develop real friendships with people who are from totally different backgrounds than him, and to learn more about who he really is as a young person.

so much of this novel was about just being a teenager and growing up. though some critics say that the use of explicit language and situations makes it unsuitable for kids or young people, i say - when was the first time you dropped the f-bomb? when was the first time you felt like you really loved someone? when you were 20? 25? hardly. the reality is that so much happens when we are teenagers and john green takes the experiences seriously and genuinely in this book. but it is so much more than a mere teenage coming of age story...

the words on the back of the CD case say "first drink. first prank. first friend. first girl. last words." miles/pudge has a weird obsession with last words (as does the author, it turns out). it's this quirk that helps him to fit in to culver creek. all those firsts listed? well, that's the meat of the story. the first girl is the underlying theme for the book - again, very real to a teenage boy's experience at a co-ed school for the first time. miles/pudge becomes 100% totally enamored with the quirky, brilliant, and foxy alaska. she's so different from anyone else he's ever known, an enigma of sorts that entrances him and challenges him. just as he thinks their relationship is turning the corner, something happens that changes everything.

i can understand why this book is the 2006 Printz Award Winner. it's clever, thoughtful, creative, real, and honest. it's also funny, ridiculous, and awkward in the best teenage ways possible. green takes all of the reality and dissects it in a way that makes total sense (in hindsight of course), and as a reader and former teenager - i really dig that.

fave quotes: "how will i ever get out of this labyrinth?" - an ongoing quotation in the novel, used first by Alaska as the last words of a general. utilized by the characters in the book and the author to keep a central theme on the whole experience.
"i go to seek a great perhaps" - more famous last words, and the whole reason miles/pudge declares he is going to the boarding school.

fix er up: i felt like near the end, i got a little tired of the 'searching' and the theories for why the event happened. though, if it were my friend and my heart and my hurt, i'd probably do the same thing that miles/pudge and the colonel did.

title: Looking for Alaska
author: John Green
genre: Coming of Age, Challenged Title, Friendship, Lisa's Faves, Printz Winner

Review: Are You in the House Alone? by Richard Peck

in a sentence: it all starts when gail gets a very graphic and sexually violent note in her locker at school...and then the phone calls start, but only when she's all alone.

i must confess, this has been on my to-read list for awhile, but after a recent conversation with my friend elizabeth about goosebumps and fear street, i decided that now was the time to read it. i was hoping for something that would be so absorbingly scary that i could jump up in my seat as i was reading! high expectations, i know, but this book did a pretty darn good job of getting there.

you're introduced to a multitude of characters that could be the creep doing these things to gail, so you're guessing along with her to try and discover who the guy is.the first 2/3 of the book was what i expected - mysterious, creepy, scary, angsty. after the 'event' that shifts the story, i was not sure what to expect for the last 1/3 of it. however, this was a scary story, and if the scary part happens before the end, what are we to do with the rest? good thing richard peck had an idea of what to do, and executed it well.

at the same time viewing the entitlement issues of small town-high school dynamics and relationships paired with a suspensefully uncomfortable undertone, this book takes a hard look at some tough issues. as someone who is an avid Lifetime Movie Network fan and Law and Order: SVU, this book particularly spoke to me. happy endings are not a given. punishment isn't always just. victims sometimes make themselves more of a victim from their lack of action. if the first 2/3 of the book is the mystery, the last 1/3 is the genius of the author for taking that mystery and making it feel tangible and real.

though a bit clumsy in parts, especially with the veiled conclusion at the end, are you in the house alone was a thrill ride for the first part and a thoughtful pondering for the last part which made for a unique and relevant book. in particular, the last conversation between the mother and daughter about the overall conclusion. that gave me the heebie jeebies. i was hoping for something better than Fear Street (my memory of Fear Street rather as i have not read them since i was about 10), and i was not disappointed.

fave quotes: "When you've got a problem your friends can't face, you become a...leper" (87)
"I felt drunk with all the knowledge. I knew hew was missing an important, human part. Call it insanity if you feel like making excuses for him. He thought everything belonged to him and that he could do no wrong. Nobody had ever told him otherwise. At that moment it didn't even chill me to realize how many people there are like that in this world." (147)

fix er up: there were some loose ties i was not down with. the family's lawyer after the incident just sorts of fades into the background for example.

title: Are You In the House Alone
author: Richard Peck
genre: Horror, Mystery

Review: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

in a sentence: sherlock holmes and dr. watson are on the case of a mysterious, super-huge, hell-fire breathing, psychotic hound from hades intent on killing all the baskerville men.

i must sheepishly admit that this is the very first sherlock holmes book i've ever read, despite the fact that i own the complete sherlock holmes by sir arthur conan doyle (a gift from my wonderful husband). i was so excited about the cover of the book that i own that i took the time to take a picture of it for this post because i could not find it anywhere online. seriously, how cool is that cover?

the story is narrated by watson both as an active voice and from a couple entries from his diary and letters to holmes in correspondence. his observances of holmes were very interesting and more at the 'commoner' / reader level. after all, we'd be foolish to assume that we are anywhere near the intellect of mr. sherlock holmes!

the mystery was a little tough to get into, though by the end i was rushing through the pages to discover what conclusion the detectives would come to! i enjoyed the cleverness of the clues, the creativity in laying out the net to catch the bad guy / bad hound, and that i was kept in the dark enough to enjoy the suspense. there were many shady characters that had me guessing who was good, who was bad, who was shady, etc. these characters also felt distracting from the story line at points too, but i believe it was supposed to be a diversion from who the real culprits were...creating a line of shady suspects to choose from.

as a result of reading this book, i am interested to read further adventures of holmes, and perhaps even watch a movie version of this book. the pace of the plot was pretty even keel, with mystery and new developments tossed in periodically to keep you intrigued, and saving the intense conclusion for the very end. and for those who missed parts of the story, sherlock holmes kindly recalls all details for watson (and consequently, the reader) and pieces everything together from the start of the case to the end.

fave quote: (holmes to watson) "It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people, without possessing genius, have a remarkable power of stimulating it" (pg 8) a solid description of what holmes thinks of himself and of watson - in a backhanded compliment sort of way...

fix er up: i had a really hard time visualizing the locations. this could be because doyle just didn't spend as much time on describing physical places as he did on describing the characters, or because i just don't know what the English country side is supposed to look like, let alone a mire / moor.

title: The Hound of the Baskervilles
author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
genre: Mystery

Review: Breaking Dawn (Twilight Saga, Book Four) by Stephenie Meyer

in a sentence: the saga of Bella and Edward draws to a close, despite the complicated logistics of vampire life.
(note: since this is the last book of the series, there are spoilers galore.)

this book is definitely the most "romantic" of the series. and by romantic, i mean steamy as all get out.  bella and edward's love is totally infallible, pure, whole, etc etc etc. Breaking Dawn picks up the day before Edward and Bella's wedding, which is of course the most romantic and perfect thing ever. Bella is adorably awkward (per usual), Edward is breathtakingly gentlemanly and irresistible (per usual), and they tie the knot at the ripe age of 17 and 18 in the company of their friends and family. while on their honeymoon at Isle Esme (apparently the Cullen family can afford to buy islands, but when you can predict the stock market and live forever, money racks up i suppose) - which is just as romantic as you suppose it is - they discover that vampires and humans CAN get pregnant together and have babies.

part of me dreaded that everything would work out perfectly, and the book was just the wrapping up of the journey through the lives of Bella and Edward. i knew that despite the anxiety around the baby, it'd be fine. i knew that despite the worry about Bella becoming a vampire, she'd be fine. i even knew that despite the fear that the vampire/human hybrid baby would be an issue for the volturi (the vampire government), everything would be fine. however, i couldn't help the guilty pleasure enjoyment over reading about the Cullen family, how Bella breaks the news to Charlie that she is a mom / vampire, that werewolves - excuse me - shape-shifters, can coexist for a common purpose, and i still enjoyed reading about the relationship between Edward and Bella.

i was disappointed that more suspense, mystery, intrigue, SOMETHING, didn't take a more prominent role than a storybook romance in the 756 pages. part of me realizes that as an author, Meyer has a gift for creating suspense and a difficult time delivering it. which was the case for Breaking Dawn. Meyer also has a gift for creating characters that readers care about and want to see happy in the end, and delivers.

all in all, i enjoyed my time spent reading the series, and will most certainly do so again. i will try and look for clues and foreshadowing throughout the series, though doubt i'll find anything. more likely, i will shamelessly gush over the epic romance and love every minute of it. the series definitely fades off in creativity and innovation towards the end, but like i said, at that point you already care and are invested in the characters and the story that it doesn't matter as much as it should.

the Twilight Saga was quite a journey, and i had an absolute blast. read it, you'll like it. (just don't over think it or expect too much)

fave quote: "And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever" (Bella 754).

fix er up: i was irritated that i was able to accurately predict things. i like to be surprised, to be on the right track but not spot on, or to be totally wrong. i had to suck it up and just enjoy what happened.

title: Breaking Dawn (Book 4, Twilight Saga)
author: Stephanie Meyer
genre: Vampire, Romance, Mystery

Review: Eclipse (Twilight Saga, Book Three) by Stephenie Meyer

(note - since this is the 3rd book in the twilight saga, there are spoilers for the first book in the series, twilight, and the second book in the series, new moon)

in a sentence or two: a group of vicious vampires is on the move towards Bella, Edward, and the rest of the gang in Forks. good thing there's a growing group of werewolves in the area...but can the vamp and the wolvies make the teamwork happen? 

i'll just put this out there - not my favorite book in the series. oh of course i (shamefully) loved the Edward + Bella romance back on track, and i enjoyed learning more about the history of the werewolves and all that stuff...but it just felt like it lacked something the other two books have. for the rest of the post, i will try and review the book on it's own merit and not as a comparison to the other books in the series, but i did want to add that for those who are interested in the series as a whole.
we're back deep in the love triangle- Edward (vampire), Jacob (werewolf), Bella (clumsy, cute girl). Bella is finishing her senior year in anticipation of becoming a vampire sometime soon after graduation. suspicous activity in her room and a huge murder spree in Seattle raise some serious vampire eyebrows. someone (or some group of someones) is interested in coming to pay the Cullen family and Bella a visit. and it's not going to be very pleasant.

i was glad to see some good action sequences by the end of the book and trying to tie up some loose ends that were still out there from the series. Meyer does a solid job of portraying emotions in an authentic and palpable way, and not just with the main character. a prime example is my favorite part of the book was a scene where Jacob and Edward (both madly in love with Bella) are talking about their love for her, while she's quasi-asleep. the dialogue is just so thoughtful and heartfelt. Meyer's created a varied cast of characters you care about and want to follow up with that you like, don't like, maybe even some you'll hate. Meyer has created characters that are forced to explore some of the more difficult decisions we have to face in life with tact and awkwardly honest intentions.

fave part: the Jacob & Edward chat in the cave over Bella's head about their love for her - comparing, contrasting, and appreciative.

fix er up: there was hardly any depth of character development, and some characters (Rosalie, Edward's sister) were left out almost completely. also, it's becoming increasingly evident that Bella is a shell of a character...i'm craving some uniqueness in her that sets her apart as an independent creature.

title: Eclipse (Twilight Saga, Book 3)
author: Stephanie Meyer
genre: Vampire, Romance, Mystery

Review: New Moon (Twilight Saga, Book Two) by Stephenie Meyer

(note - since this is the 2nd book in the twilight saga, there are spoilers for the first book in the series, twilight)

in a sentence: Edward's attempt to force upon Bella a 'normal life' goes horribly wrong...but the good news is that Jacob Black is there to try and keep her whole.

i had heard from some of my students that this book was not the best of the saga, and now i know why they might think that.. for a good 85% of the book, there is no Edward. without spoiling why there is no Edward, it was something that i was very skeptical of. i was so smitten by the Bella + Edward dynamic that i thought i wouldn't enjoy it nearly as much as "twilight". turns out, i did! this gave a totally different feel for Bella and the overall tone of the book. the way that Meyer goes about describing her lonliness without Edward is so powerful, painful, heavy, and overwhelming. her high school experience and her relationship with her dad and mom were written with such intensity and realistic appreciation of the hurt she is going through. my heart hurt with Bella as she struggled to live with the immense heartache. i am so impressed at the ability to present her hurt so palpably to the reader.

the novel isn't all fog and heartache, though it is an overarching theme. Bella's relationship with Jacob Black grows and changes in ways that she certainly wasn't ready for. i liked that Jacob served as more than a "friend", and how Bella dealt with that uncertainty. i guess mostly i am impressed with how meyer is able to write about teenage relationships with the backdrop of vampires, missing hikers, and really BIG wolves roaming around Forks.  Bella is a bit two-dimensional and most of the insight we get into who she is, is through relationships.

the characters are just as emotionally charged and easy to connect with as in "twilight", though i am apprehensive to make too many comparisons to the first novel. this one is very different in the tone and character focus, but still very much part of the overall series and extending plot with elements from the first book coming back into play and the setting up of what is sure to be some epic action.

i appreciated the suspense, mystery, heavy-toned nature of this book within the series. i also liked the fantastic new twists in the storyline, and found the lack of Edward surprisingly refreshing.  these are the first books in a long time that i am so deeply invested in, and as an avid bookworm, it's a really great feeling! ps - i read this book in a day. yep, one single day.

fave quote: "I was like a lost moon - my planet destroyed in some cataclysmic, disaster-movie scenario of desolation - that continued, nevertheless, to circle in a tight little orbit around the empty space left behind, ignoring the laws of gravity" (Bella, 201)

title: New Moon (Twilight Saga, Book 2)
author: Stephanie Meyer

genre: romance, mystery, vampire

Review: Twilight (Twilight Saga, Book One) by Stephenie Meyer

in a sentence or two: Bella (adorably accident prone) meets Edward (amazingly hot vampire) and they fall in love. turns out, human/vampire relationships are mighty complicated.

i should start by saying that i tried to read this book about 6 months ago and could not get past the first chapter. i have no idea why, because this time around i PLOWED THROUGH this 500 page beast in about 5 days. not just any 5 days, but 5 weekdays where i worked / had studying to do on top of it. as you may have gathered from that obsessive and slightly embarrassing confession that this is one absorbing book.

Bella decides to leave phoenix where her mom and new boyfriend live for Forks, WA her junior year of high school. also known as waving farewell to the permanent sun for the permanent rain and gray weather. it's not all that bad in Forks though. she moves in with her dad, Charlie, and begins to adjust pretty easily to the local high school. she's the new token hottie around town and has no idea. this of course makes her even more adorably irresistible to the boys. it's that first day of high school during lunch when she first sees the amazing majesty that is Edward Cullen. Edward is essentially perfection wrapped up in a very mysterious package.

The development of Bella and Edward's relationship is what drove this book for me. somehow, Stephanie Meyer is able to take the idea of "vampire teenage romance" and make you forget how corny it is. my heart was skipping beats as they have their first kiss, their first expression of their emotions, etc etc etc gush gush gush. there is more to this than just a teeny romance, thanks to the vampirical element. the mystery and intrigue is enough to balance the gushing with some suspense. her exploring and explaining of vampires, how they manage to survive in society, how they feel about themselves, and how they deal with life in genral is very interesting...if different than a bulk of vampiric lore out there.

i liked how the author portrayed both Bella's family and her experience at Forks high school. despite the fact that Bella's parents are not together, she's still an emotionally stable and all around good kid. Meyer respects the idea that not all families are perfect, but that non-traditional family situations can be workable too.  the awkwardness of the entire new school, but ultimately the acceptance she found was very refreshing too. again, the author's idea that just because you're the new kid doesn't mean you're going to be the loser for the rest of your high school career is a respectful challenge to what i was expecting to happen to Bella.

one of my favorite elements of the relationship between Edward and Bella is that Edward can read minds, but not hers. so he discovers what he knows about her by listening to other people at first, and then 'casually eavesdrops' her conversations with her friends to gauge her responses. the best part is that he tells her, so she's able to give what responses she wants so he can guess what she is thinking...oh the head games of teenage love!

this book is really, really, really absorbing (not necessarily quality, mind you). i think that the audience is intended to be a teenage female, though certain boys i know have read this and enjoyed it. i would worry that all the romance would turn them off to it, but perhaps the suspense and mystery of the story is enough to hold their interest past the gushfests. the writing style is casual enough to engage the reader with the characters very easily and you bond with them right away. any book that can push people to finish it the way twilight does has got to be something amazing.

fave quote: (the first time that Edward and Bella are really alone) "I don't know how long we sat without moving. It could have been hours. Eventually the throb of my pulse quickened, but he didn't move or speak again as he held me. I knew at any moment that it could be too much, and my life could end - so quickly that I might not even notice. And I couldn't make myself be afraid. I couldn't think of anything, except that he was touching me." (Bella - 276)

title: Twilight (book 1 in the Twilight Saga)
author: Stephanie Meyer

genre: Vampire, Mystery, Romance