Sunday, December 28, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: THE GOLDFINCH BY DONNA TARTT

Book: The Goldficnh
Author: Donna Tartt
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013
Pages: 771
Rating: ***/5 Stars

Synopsis:
Theodore Decker is just a boy when he is a victim of a terrorist attack on a museum in New York. Losing his mother in the attack, Theo's life becomes wrapped around a painting titled The Goldfinch. Moving from New York to Las Vegas and then back to New York, Theo has many adventures with varying characters, some are part of high society New York and others are part of the underground crime world.

The allure of the painting and where it leads Theo is the real mystery to this book.

Review:

The Goldfinch is a tomb filled with interesting characters, some more likable than others. Hobie, a person who restores furniture, is my favourite character as he shows Theo compassion and kindness.

Upon the beginning of this novel, I thought it was a coming of age book where the character learns from his struggles but I was wrong. Theo's life is one crazy instance after another and with only one or two constant people in his life, he hardly has any direction.

Theo's character is interesting as he very much believes in right and wrong. His mother represents rightness to him whereas his father represented everything that was wrong in his childhood. As a young man, this struggle of his belief in right and wrong and how the two are not mutually exclusive lead him into many instances where he is in the wrong.

For example, he is in love with a girl who completed him but the two were never together. Theo chooses to pursue her while being engaged to another woman. While the two are right together, Theo goes about it all in the wrong way.

This novel was lengthy and there were several different plots to the novel. Some friends of mine thought the ending showed that there was no point to all of his struggles but what I got from the book was that Theo had to learn that his belief in right and wrong being two mutually exclusive things was never true and that sometimes you had to wrong things to to the right point.

I give this novel 3/5 stars mainly because I didn't think it needed to be too long. The parts about high society New York were irrelevant in many cases.

Don't forget to be awesome!
Tara

Sunday, October 26, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: WE WERE LIARS BY E. LOCKHART

Book: We Were Liars
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2014
Rating: ***/5 Stars

Synopsis: Cady is an upperclass teenager living in the East Coast of the United States. Cady's family owns property with several houses and buildings on an island in which they visit every summer. One summer things change for Cady and her family and the next summer she visits it becomes her mission to find out what happened.

Review:

I have never read any of E. Lockhart's novels but I was looking forward to reading this book because of the hype that the book has had over the blogging community. Many book bloggers have been raving about this novel and I needed to read it.

I must say, I was highly disappointment. I found the poetic language that was used made the characters seem one dimensional. I found the book took place in modern times but the teenagers hardly used technology and I found the way Cady referred to her family was not with the times of today's teenagers. I saw how disconnected everyone in Cady's family was from reality and I had a hard time caring about the characters.

I did find the twist at the end very enlightening and if I were to read the novel again I would want to see the foreshadowing that was placed throughout the book in preparation for the twist. I think the ending was my favourite part of the whole book and that is what saved the book for me.

Have you read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart? If so did you like it? Did you find the book was connected with reality or did you find it too dream like?

Happy reading,
Tara

Slight Hiatus

I am so unbelievably sorry for my lack of posts lately. My last post was in August and I started a job with a bit longer hours in September and have had little time for reading and blogging in general.

For some reason I have had a hard time keeping a work/life balance. I have had a few weekend events over the past two months but most of my weekends are spent catching up on sleep and eating healthy because in the week I don't sleep or eat healthy. I want to get back into the swing of things. Perhaps writing my plans down will help me to continue with my plans of blogging because I really do enjoy it.

I know my 50 Book Challenge is not going so well so I am hoping that I can work up to reading 30 books by the end of 2014 instead of the regular 50. I am going to write a review for We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I am currently in the middle of reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. So look forward to those reviews in the future.

I hope everyone is having a good time reading!

Tara

Monday, August 4, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: THE SILKWORM (CORMORAN STRIKE #2) BY ROBERT GALBRAITH

Book: The Silkworm
Author: Robert  Galbraith
Publisher: Mulholland Books, 2014
Rating: *****/5 stars
Goodreads
Synopsis:

In this sequel to The Cukoo's Calling, the story continues with a third person narrative about a detective named Cormoran Strike who served the UK in Afghanistan where he lost his leg. Having gained a little fame from solving the Lula Landry case, Cormoran receives a new case by a woman who finds her husband missing.

 Mrs. Quine's husband is a mediocre writer who socializes in the publishing world but has gone missing (something he opt to do from time to time). However, upon finding the author, Cormoran leads into more of a mystery than he expected to have. With a gory murder scene, eccentric authors and publishers, and a budding friendship with his assistant. Robin, The Silkworm has proven to be just as good as The Cukoo's Calling.

Review:

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I must say that reading a murder mystery novel by Jo Rowling (her pseudonym is Robert Galbraith) seemed a little strange at first. Upon thinking about the Harry Potter series though, I realized that part of the fun about reading that series was the suspense and mystery behind it all. Mystery is what Rowling is good at and I have to say she brought me into a genre I had very little knowledge of until now.

My favourite part about reading The Silkworm is that I don't particularly love Cormoran Strike. Cormoran is abrasive and sometimes obtuse with the people he cares about. For someone who reads well into situations, he hardly prepared for the dinner situation with his sister. As a reader, it is refreshing to read a character who you route for to solve the case and prove himself time and time again but also to not really like him socially.

In both The Cukoo's Calling and The Silkworm, the murderers were not obvious and I was always left wondering who did it until the cases were solved. I really enjoyed how the mysteries were not predictable (keep in mind, I am used to child mysteries I watched/read as a kid).

I am wondering if Cormoran and Robin will eventually get together? I am thinking that is what Rowling is leading up to and I think they would work perfectly together.

Overall, I give The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith *****/5 stars. I loved the plot development, narrative, and suspense throughout the book.

Have you read either The Cukoo's Calling or The Silkworm? If so, what did you think? Do you think Rowling does a good job of crossing from children's fantasy to murder mystery?

DFTBA,
Tara

Saturday, July 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK BY PIPER KERMAN

Book: Orange is the New Black
Author: Piper Kerman
Publisher: Spiegal & Grau
Rating: ****/5 stars
Goodreads
Synopsis:

Upon graduating college Piper begins a relationship with a girl named Nora who is involved in drug trafficking. Before Piper knows it, she is participating in illegal activities. When Piper finally gets out of the relationship she starts anew and begins a good life with a guy named Larry. Years later she is contacted by authorities and goes through court proceedings before being sentenced to just over a year in prison. Piper writes a true story of her time in prison, the people she meets, and the lessons she learns.

Review:

Orange is the New Black is one of a few non-fictional memoirs I have read and I have to say it was enjoyable. Piper wrote about prison in a very realistic way in which the reader doesn't constantly think "Oh poor you" about the main character.

Piper Kerman does come across as very privileged in comparison to her other inmates and her experience is probably not like that of most people in prison but she does a good job of telling the reader about the conditions of prison. How the GED program was cancelled for a bit and when it was reinstated, the people who completed the program were very enthusiastic as it was a huge accomplishment for them.

I also thought when Kerman wrote about the lack of resources for inmates who are preparing for the real world when they leave. The point of prison is to prevent crimes but when there are a lack of resources available to the inmates, when they leave they are likely to go back and end up in the same situation. While Piper had an education and was well networked, she mentioned that many of her peers had no work records and could not look for work while in prison because they did not have access to computers.

I think Orange is the New Black showed me that in prison the inmates aren't just sitting in sells (unless you are in solitary confinement) but you are working and communicating with other people. Overall, I would give Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman ****/5 stars.

Have you read Orange is the New Black? If so, did you like the book? Have you seen the Netflix adaptation?

DFTBA,
Tara

Friday, July 11, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: LAST SACRIFICE (VAMPIRE ACADEMY #6)

Book: Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: ****/5 Stars
Goodreads
Synopsis:

In the final installment of the Vampire Academy series, Rose is put into danger at ever increasing odds. She is put on trial, locked away in prison, escapes, hides out with a bunch of vampire hippies living in the forest, finds a lost princess, and ties all the loose ends together.
Review:

Last Sacrifice, to me, felt like it was too good of an ending. While it was action packed and there was a great smutty scene to make us all woo over the loving couple, it just felt too perfect. Lissa and Rose remain best friends and Dimitri is back in everyone's good books.

When Rose, Dimitri, and Sydney go to seek safety with the Moroi, Dhampirs and humans that live in the forest I felt like these people came out of nowhere. Here we are ending a book and this entire group of people that live a totally different lifestyle to the one that Rose lives are being introduced to us. I am not sure if they will reappear in the spin-off series Bloodlines but I want to know more about them.

Rose's dad, Abe was amazing in this novel. Showing absolute faith in his daughter despite only knowing her for a couple of months. Abe's unconditional love for Rose was very nice to see and his flirtations with other women were quite funny to read.

I was very surprised about Jailbait and who she was. I am excited to continue on that plot line with Bloodlines which I just picked up. I also think the only person who didn't get a good ending was Adrian and I hope he reappears in Bloodlines with a better life for himself.

Overall, I give Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6) 4/5 stars. Everything I wanted to happen happened but I thought some of the plot lines were random and may be leading into the new book series which I didn't like when I was reading the ending of one series.

Have you read the Vampire Academy series? If so did you like it? I haven't seen the movie but I heard it wasn't great.

Happy reading,
Tara


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: ATTACHMENTS BY RAINBOW ROWELL

Book: Attachments
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Rating: ****/5 stars
Goodreads
Synopsis:

Lincoln had a tough breakup with his high school sweetheart in his first year of college. Having never recovered from that, he spent years in academia. Now 29 years old and on the  cusp of a new millennium, Lincoln finds himself in a job for a newspaper where he is sent flagged e-mails through the companies e-mail server and sends people warnings when they have written inappropriate e-mails. Lincoln finds his job insanely boring and he knows on some level that this is wrong but he does it anyway because the pay is good but low and behold, he reads an e-mail that is flagged and he finds the conversation to be funny and interesting. Instead of sending them a warning though he keeps reading and falls in love with one of the girls sending the e-mails.
Review:

Attachments was the perfect novel. I have said this again and again, Rowell knows her readers which is evident in her first novel, Attachments as well as Elearnor & Park and Fangirl. What I loved about this novel was the simplicity of Lincoln's life and how he wasn't even looking to fall in love with someone but it happened and not in a way that he could share with the girl he was in love with without seeming creepy.

I found the idea of falling in love with someone before meeting them was so new in this book because of the setting, 1999 which was really interesting. It is completely plausible for someone to look at your Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media before meeting you and now it is less creepy (although still somewhat weird). I think Rowell writes era pieces in such a way that shows just how new things were (the walkman in Eleanor & Park and having your own batteries).

SPOILER, DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK:
I didn't love the ending which makes it a 4/5 for me. I thought the way they met in the theater was great but then she said what he did was wrong. I know they needed to clear things up why wouldn't they have cleared things up before making out in a theater? To me it wasn't realistic but that could be my own issue.

Overall, I give Attachments by Rainbow Rowell 4/5 stars. I thought it was beautiful in so many ways, the pacing was perfect. I did not like the grammar mistakes throughout the book nor was I in love with the ending.

Have you read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell? If so did you like it? I can't wait for Landline to come out this summer so I can read it enjoy Rowell's humour.

DFTBA,
Tara

Saturday, June 7, 2014

IF A BOOK IS WELL WRITTEN, IT SHOULDN'T MATTER THE GENRE

This post is in response to the article titled Against YA Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you're reading is for children. written by Ruth Graham.

I am going to start by stating that I disagree completely with this author. There are a few statements that really bother me such as, "Let’s set aside the transparently trashy stuff like Divergent and Twilight, which no one defends as serious literature. " I understand that there are many themes in Twilight that are problematic but those books got both teenage girls and young adults to put down their smart phones, to stay in on a Friday night and read which is not that bad. Also, I'm not sure if the author has read Divergent but I don't consider it trashy. Graham seems awfully judgmental.

Another statement that the author made that left me boggled was, "But even the myriad defenders of YA fiction admit that the enjoyment of reading this stuff has to do with escapism, instant gratification, and nostalgia." First of all, when I read The Catcher in the Rye or Bell Jars was not simply for pleasure but was to read a coming of age book that has somehow fundamentally been able to show the experiences of being a teenager with so many different expectations. I read both of those novels while in university when I felt more pressure on myself than I ever had in high school and those two books helped me but they were considered Young Adult (you could argue against Bell Jars). My point is, that not all young adult novels are meant for pure enjoyment but so what if they are? If I want to read The Vampire Academy does it hurt anyone? No. In fact, I contribute to the publishing industry by purchasing those books. The same a thirty-five year-old can watch Pretty Little Liars, they can also read the novels. 

Finally, another point that Ruth Graham makes that I find particularly problematic is, " But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way. It’s not simply that YA readers are asked to immerse themselves in a character’s emotional life—that’s the trick of so much great fiction—but that they are asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults. " I haven't read The Fault in Our Stars in awhile but I remember there being plenty of metaphors that take on a discussion that involves critical thinking like holding the item that kills you but not giving it the power to. Also, books like Shine by Lauren Myracle show how homophobia can affect a community in a very real and troubling way. Yes, there are books that end perfectly in YA fiction but there are also books that end in tragic ways or hopeful ways. There are books in adult fiction that end perfectly and end tragically.
 In my opinion, if a book is well written, it shouldn't matter the genre it is in. The Hobbit is a children's book but I will proudly dote it around in public when I am reading it. By saying adults shouldn't read Children's Literature of Young Adult Fiction, it is saying that children and teens do not deserve the best writing, they shouldn't be exposed to wonderful literature until they have reached their adult years. I say that is a problematic way of thinking. If we do not expose children and teenagers to well written pieces of literature we create an even bigger problem on our hands. 

I would love to read your thoughts on the matter. If you want, you can leave a comment or you can link me to a post you have made on your blog about this topic. Let's keep up the discussion, I am curious on both sides of the argument. 

DFTBA,

Tara

Friday, June 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: SPIRIT BOUND (VAMPIRE ACADEMY #5) BY RICHELLE MEAD

Book: Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin Razorbill
Rating: ****/5 Stars
Goodreads

Synopsis:

Rose is back in the United States from her trip to Russia which resulted in a failed attempt to kill her Strigoi (lethal vampire) love interest, Dimitri. Now she is graduating from St. Vladimir's Academy with the fear of Dimitri coming after her for revenge while she sets on a mission to find out how to bring Dimitri back from the undead. With a prison break, a hostage situation, and an assassination, what will happen to Rose and her friends in this next installment of the Vampire Academy?

Review:

I think that Spirit Bound was definitely an action packed novel filled with twists and turns but I was disappointed in Rose's character. The reader knows that she has a temper and is not afraid to state how she feels in front of very important people but it was so frustrating to see that she let her weaknesses shine during very vulnerable times. Huge developments in the Moroi world were happening and she was mouthing off to the Queen which I was incredibly frustrated by.

In Frostbite, when I was introduced to Adrian's character, I did not like him. He seemed like he was a rich snob trying to seduce teenage girls. My opinion changed as the series went on to the point where I felt sad for Adrian, especially when reading Spirit Bound. The fact that he loves Rose so much and is willing to be with her when she tries to bring Dimitri back from the dead and continues being with her through so much more is really heartfelt.

SPOILER, DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK. : Dimitri's characterization was interesting in this novel. He immediately wanted to distance himself from the one person who he was always connected with. I understood why he did not want to be around Rose but it was awful to read. However, at the ending he showed that he cared so much for her that he wouldn't let people arrest Rose without a fight.

I gave Spirit Bound 4/5 stars because it was very captivating although frustrating to read the characterizations. I can't wait to wrap up this series as it has been a fun ride.

Have you read Spirit Bound, if so did you find it frustrating to read about Rose's impulsive tongue?

Happy reading,

Tara

Friday, May 30, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY: ON MODERN ANOREXIA By: Kelsey Osgood

Book: How to Disappear Completely: On Mondern Anorexia
Author: Kelsey Osgood
Publisher: Overlook Hardcover, 2014
Pages: 272
Rating: ****/5 stars
Goodreads

Synopsis:

Kelsey Osgood sets out to write a book explaining her struggle with anorexia as well as outlining some of the struggles of the friends she met along the way who were also dealing with the disease. Unlike some novels and memoirs based on eating disorders which deters the reader who struggles with Anorexia from recovery, How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia, Osgood writes a novel that shows just how hard iti is to recover.

Review:

This was the first book I have read on eating disorders besides stories from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. I really thought the author set out on the right path but in parts of the novel that were possibly damaging to a reader who struggles with eating disorders.

Answerly Book club on YouTube reviewed this book and one of my comments was featured on a video and it basically was saying how we often think that psychological disorders are often seen as biological but Osgood showed how a disorder can be enhanced socially as well. The author often talked about how she felt special having an eating disorder and how without having it, what would make her special? While I am in no way implying that eating disorders are also not caused biologically, I do think it is interesting what social factors can be at play.

The anecdotes of Kelsey Osgood being extremely sick but thinking that she wasn't sick enough because she didn't have a feeding tube, she wasn't being admitted right away, she was an outpatient etc...were extremely sad to read. To know the depths of the authors sickness and how she was constantly fighting between recovery and wanting to get sicker was truly heartbreaking.

I really valued reading this novel. I majored in psychology and took 2 abnormal psychology courses and we did not go over eating disorders at all. I did however note that the author discussed how in the DSM V they are no longer classifying Eating Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified as a disorder which I think  can be dangerous. I think that people often have disordered eating and need to get medical help for it but may not be considered because they do not meet specific requirements of anorexia nervose, bulimia, or overeating disorder.

One quote that particularly struck a cord with me was this one here:


“Girl, Interrupted. Kaysen writes that the real persistence of suicidal ideation is that suicide, once you have opened your mind to the possibility,

becomes a potential solution to any and all problems.


With that quote to end it, I will leave it to you to leave a comment down below on whether or not you have read How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia by Kelsey Osgood. If you haven't, have you read any other novels on the topic of eating disorders?

Despite this being a totally depressing book, I really valued reading it and I learned quite a lot. 

DFTBA,
Tara

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: THE WISHING SPELL (THE LAND OF STORIES #1) BY CHRIS COLFER

Book: The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1)  
Author: Chris Colfer
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers, 2012
Rating: ****/5 Stars
Goodreads

Synopsis:
Alex and Conner are twins (Alex is a girl and Conner is a boy) who have encountered some rough times. Their father recently passed away and their mother is struggling to make ends meet. When Alex and Conner's grandma comes to visit for their birthday, she leaves with her a book of stories that both Alex and Conner had remembered reading all their life. One night, Alex was reading The Land of Stories when she realized she could drop things into the book and they would disappear. Conner figured out what Alex was up to while at school the next and when they got home and started tinkering again with the book, they found themselves being pulled inside. While inside the story land they found themselves in, they found their favourite fairy tales were real and the characters were right before their eyes. While all this was too good to be true they still wanted to get home and went after the items that were needed to make The Wishing Spell which they were told would send them home. This adventurous story is filled with so any twists and turns and is a great middle-grade read.
Review: 

A friend of mine lent me this book and when I first began reading it, I was not enthralled. I had a hard time getting into the story (which is why it is only 4 out of five stars) but once Alex and Conner were in the The Land of Stories, I was hooked. I loved reading the tales of the fairy tale characters that we all know and love from Colfer's perspective. Goldlilock's backstory was particularly interesting and so was Sleeping Beauty's.

Chris Colfer's writing is superb, it is not overly complicated like some fantasy books are and it is not too simple like some middle-grade books are. His writing flows so nicely and his ideas are absolutely creative. I thought the ending of the book was really neat and I was impressed with Colfer's creativity.

I think as a child, I would have loved reading this book. A world in which my beloved characters were real and one could interact with them was truly interesting. This book has a Once Upon a Time  (the TV show) feel to it but that is what I love about it, I love that show.

Froggy's character was my favourite, he reminded me of Mr. Tumnus in a way. Froggy is the first character introduced to Alex and Conner when they enter The Land of Stories and he remains a character throughout the book and I especially love his ending.

Overall, I give The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer a 4/5 stars only because it took me a bit to get interested in the story but once I was, I LOVED it.

Have you read  The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer? If so, did you like the book as much as I did or not so much?

Happy reading,
Tara

Monday, May 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: BLOOD PROMISE (VAMPIRE ACADEMY #4) By: Richelle Mead

Book: Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin Razorbill, 2009
Goodreads
Rating: ****/5 Stars

Synopsis:

Rose is a dhampir (a guardian for mortal vampires, Moroi) who is dropping out of school to go after Dimitri, Rose's romantic interest who was recently turned into a vampire. Her job is to go to Russia, find him, and kill him.

Review:

I loved Blood Promise. Richelle Mead created a complex character out of Rose. Not only is she her usual badass, snarky self in this book but she also shows her weakness, her love for Dimitri. From the beginning of this book, the reader is drawn to the different characters that we are introduced to and a whole knew setting.

Sydney's character as an alchemist was very interesting and I am excited to read Bloodlines after. I also liked Abe's character and I knew something was up with him from when Sydney described him. I loved finding out who he was at the end (saw it coming!).

The twists and turns in this book were so interesting. I loved when it would get steamy and then would hate when Rose was so weak she needed to be carried down the stairs. I kept screaming in my head THIS ISN'T YOU! The escape scene in the mansion was so wicked and you finally felt like the real Rose was back.

Overall, I give Blood Promise 4 out of 5 stars. There was some blood whore talk I didn't like but I really loved how complex Rose's character is. I also have really come around to liking Adrian.

What were your thoughts on Blood Promise? H\ave you read Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, did you like it?

Happy Reading,

Tara

Monday, April 14, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: WONDER BY R. J. PALACIO

Book: Wonder
Author: R. J. Palacio
Publisher: Books for Young Readers
Rating: *****/5 stars
Goodreads 

Synopsis:

August was born with a facial deformity in which he barely has ears, his eyes are lower than they should be, and his mouth is quite small. He does not attend school until Fifth Grade in which he is enrolled at a private school in Upper Manhattan. How will the students at August's school react to having August as a peer and will he make friends?

Review:

As someone who grew up with a facial deformity I knew I had to read this book. Unlike August though, I began school in kindergarten (and attended daycare before that) so the students in my class were used to me. That didn't make my time at school any less difficult but it did mean that most of the students in my class didn't stare at me.

Palacio wrote Augusts' story from different perspectives (his older sister, her boyfriend, his friends from school, his sister's friend) and I felt like that was a nice twist on the story. I often forget that my older sister went through her own difficulties (well I don't forget, I just remember always being hurt when she wouldn't do things with me).

August has real concerns about attending school and he takes most of it the way I took it (I either ignored it or made a joke of it). I used to wear leg braces in my primary years and so on top of having a facial deformity, I wore leg braces so I totally understood why August was so upset about having to get a hearing aid. Something so insignificant can be a big deal.

The author did not spare the main character heartache and challenges which I think is so important because she knows his whole life will be that way. There will always be challenges to overcome and some will seem like the world is crashing in around you and others you will want to take a running leap at for all the excitement but the thing is, those challenges happen and you move on from them. Life goes on and that is what I took from this book.

I was lucky, I was able to have a surgery (I had to wait till I had stopped growing) and things were better. There are still challenges that make me want to hide in my bed but like August, I persevere.

I give Wonder 5/5 stars because it was a spectacular read. The author was able to grasp different sides of his story and I really valued the different perspectives.

Have you read Wonder? If so what did you think?

DFTBA,
Tara

Sunday, April 6, 2014

BOOK REVIEW:: SHADOW KISS VAMPIRE ACADEMY #3 By: Richelle Mead

Book: Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) 
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: ****/5 Stars
Goodreads

Synopsis:
Rose Hathaway is a dhampir (someone who protects moroi, mortal vampires from immortal vampires, Strigoi). As she trains to be a guardian to her best friend Lissa who is a moroi, Rose begins to realize that she is closer to Lissa than she expected. Lissa is a spirit user, a rare element of magic that is in very few moroi. When Lissa brought Rose back to life from a car crash, Rose became shadow kissed and as Lissa used her spirit powers, Rose became affected.

While both Lissa and Rose were learning about what their connection meant, St. Vladimir's Academy, where the girls were training, quickly becomes unsafe for the first time in its history. Rose and the person who is training her (Dimitri) end up warning the school before going into a battle that will change everything.

Review: 

For the first part of this book I was going to give it 3 out of 5 stars because I just didn't feel like the plot lines were going anywhere. I kept thinking that each book in this series was a stand alone book with a few connections here and there but by the time I got to the ending, I realize that Richelle Mead was writing a 6 book story and I was reaching the climax. The ending is jaw dropping and I never would have guessed the twist beforehand.

I was always wondering where Mead was going with Adrian's character as it was pretty clear where both Rose and Lissa's love interests lay but now I understand where Adrian comes into play. I'm still not 100% sold on him yet as a character but I do believe his intentions can be good at times.

I also really like Christian's character in this book. I really think he was able to prove himself by using fire to battle Strigoi with Rose. I think the two of them were a force to be reckoned with.

The only thing that I seem to really dislike about the Vampire Academy series is the romanticizing of teacher-student relationships or even adult-teenager relationships. I think the more we expose ourselves to these kinds of relationships, the less we see them as exploiting and dangerous. There are no repercussions of the teacher-student relationship in this series and that is what bothers me the most. I think that we need to stop giving authors and screenwriters a break for because they wrote a good story, we need to push that it is wrong to romanticize a adult-child/teenager relationship because in the real world there are damaging effects that occur when these relationships happen and are exposed.

Overall, I give ****/5 stars for Shadow Kissed (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead. Have you read Shadow Kiss, if so, did you like it?

Happy Reading,
Tara-Lee Upshall

Sunday, March 23, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING BY ROBYN SCHNEIDER

Book Title: The Beginning of Everything
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Katherine Teggen, 2013
Rating: ***/5 Stars

Synopsis:
Ezra was popular until his girlfriend cheated on him and he ended up in a car accident, leaving him injured. Ezra realized his friends were not true friends because they never visited him over the summer while he recovered. Now, starting his senior year, Ezra doesn't know where he fits. He can't play tennis anymore and he doesn't feel comfortable around his old group of friends so he begins hanging around his childhood friend, Toby.

Not to mention, the new girl, Cassidy. who was famous for her debating style at her old boarding school and now trains Ezra for the debate team meet that Ezra accidentally signs Cassidy up for. Cassidy hides her past and when she realizes that her past and Ezra's past meet up, things become complicated. Will Ezra find his new place in this world where he doesn't play tennis and will he find out more about Cassidy? 

Book Review:

I first picked this book up because Hayley Hoover was reading it as apart of the Answerly Book Club From the synopsis, I was pretty much intrigued about the book. I really like coming of ages stories. I thought that Ezra's character was deep in many parts of the book but so shallow in others (he had his mother's old books under his bed, unread, and then chose to put them up on a shelf despite knowing he wouldn't read them). Ezra also underestimated his classmates and how they viewed him after the accident.

I did not like how this book played on high school stereotypes. There are always popular people but they are popular because people like them, not because they are on the tennis team. There are also always going to be mean people (who somehow become popular) but high school social groups are not as rigid as the author made them seem. I felt like the social groups were blown out of proportion and at times, I felt like I was reading a book parodying The OC.

I felt like Cassidy's character was almost in the way of being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl and I still didn't like the ending her character had in the story. While she overcame obstacles, the reader was unaware of them until very late in the book.

I give The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider 3//5 stars. I liked it but not enough to recommend it to anyone looking for a YA contemporary novel.

Have you read The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider? If so, what did you think about the book?

Happy Reading,

Tara

Monday, March 17, 2014

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: DRAMA BY RAINA TELEGMEIER

Book: Drama
Author: Raina Telegmeier
Publisher: GRAPHIX, 2012
Rating: ****/5 STARS
Goodreads
Synopsis:
After seeing Les Mis when she was younger, Callie, a middle school girl joins the production team for her school's musical of Moon Over Mississippi. With all of the interesting aspects of designing the set, Callie also comes across love drama which is handled in very witty and real way.
Review:

The only graphic novel I have read is Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life and I loved it for the Toronto references. I was recommended Drama by the teacher librarian at one of the schools I work at and I took it home over the March Break and loved every single page of it.

While the plot is predictable and reads like a Degrassi script, you can't help but love the characters. I constantly saw myself in Callie in several different parts of the book. My absolute favourite part was when Jesse and Justin's dad was driving the three of them to the bookstore and she asks about what they were like as kids (I literally laughed aloud through the whole scene).

I could feel for Callie with her boy trouble as I have experienced the same sort of issues but never all at once. I never understood the whole having three guys liking you at the same time while being twelve-years-old. For sake of the plot though, it made for some laughs and some sympathy from the reader.

I give Drama by Raina Telegmeier 4/5 stars because it was funny and the reader could sympathize well with the character. If there are more graphic novels out there like this one, I will definitely read them!

Have you read any graphic novels lately? Let me know which ones you like in the comments.

Happy reading,

Tara

Sunday, March 16, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: BOSSYPANTS BY: TINA FEY

Book: Bossypants 
Author: Tina Fey
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books, 2011
Rating: *****/5
Goodreads

Synopsis:

Tina Fey, largely known for her impersonation of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live and her role as Liz Lemon on 30 Rock, writes a memoir of how she became a comedy writer and an actress. Her witty banter is what sets this autobiography apart, it has her quirky and unique humor.

Review:

I am not a fan of non-fiction and when I am a fan of it, I am usually crying because of how sad the memoir is. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself enthralled in Tina Fey's writing, laughing and learning along the way.

Tina Fey describes her time at summer camp in which she befriended gay friends and learned that they weren't just props for her amusement but were actual people with their own love lives. I thought her anecdote about being upset when her gay friend introduced her to his partner and she came off as jealous. While she wasn't homophobic at all, she was creating a friendship with these people without seeing them as complexly as she could have.

I also thoroughly enjoyed when she wrote another anecdote of how Tina Fey and another writer on SNL wanted to do a skit about 1960s period pads but the male writers on the show had no idea what they were talking about. I laughed aloud so many times throughout this book and yet I felt empowered at the same time.

Much like Lean In, there is this sense that women can have families and be successful and not have to sacrifice both. I really like how Tina Fey shows how she manages to be a boss but also care about the people who work for her and the show 30 Rock.

Overall, I give this book 5/5 stars because it was a brilliant non-fiction piece that captured my attention the whole time. I have a new respect for the writers of comedy shows and just how difficult it can be.

Have you read Bossypants? What did you think of it? Are you a fan of non-fiction books or do you prefer the wonders of the fiction world?

Happy reading,

Tara

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: TOP TEN BOOKS DEALING WITH TOUGH SUBJECTS

I am participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week was a rewind in which we could pick a Top Ten topic from previous posts and I chose Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects.

So here are my Top Ten Books with Tough Subjects:

10. Shine by Lauren Myracle
I think I have talked about Shine by Lauren Myracle before on this blog but I am going to give my love for this book still. I think it is a hugely underrated book. Shine is a book about a hate crime that occurs to a boy who is openly gay living in a small town in the south. His friend sets on a journey to find the truth to what happened while her friend lays unconscious in the hospital.
9. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I absolutely loved Looking for Alaska by John Green. I remember reading it when I was in grade twelve and I just loved reading it. I found the characters to be very deep and I found the information on religion to be very interesting without being preachy.
8. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Reading The Glass Castle was very hard because of the main character's living conditions. The story is a non-fiction memoir of a girl's life with parents who have a hard time taking care of themselves let alone their children.
7. Night by Eli Wiesel
I have always taken an interest in The Holocaust because I just could never believe something so horrible could happen (to then realize that there have been just as worse if not, even more worse genocides in this world). This book is a memoir written by a man who faced life in the concentration camps.
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
While The Fault in Our Stars has many laugh out loud moments, the novel also has you weeping when you least expect it. Cancer seems to be that one thing that hits home too close to home and I am still so affected by this book.
5. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Who didn't love reading Anne Frank in school? I read both her diary and the play and I was just so touched at how thoughtful this young girl was and her absolute love for humanity. She is one of those people who made an impact on society without ever knowing it as she died way too young for her age.
4. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
I didn't think I could read a sadder life situation after reading both The Glass Castle and Night but then I read Angela's Ashes and the complete poverty that Frank had to live in was just astonishing and appalling.
3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys 
The most recent book I have read on this list and still affects me so much. I could not believe the complete lack of care for other humans that the Soviets faced when they took people from their homes and moved them to Siberia.
2. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
I adore the Harry Potter series and I think that the tough subjects that I read in those books growing up was what led me to being interested in the darker parts of history. Death had never occurred to me until I had read the Harry Potter series and it opened my eyes to the reality of death.
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a fantastic book that high school students across North America have read. The novel showed me just how much racism can affect a community and how it just takes one person to stand up and show people how wrong it really is.

Have you read any of these books? Would you add any books to this list of tough subjects? Let me know your thoughts on the subject in the comments below!

Happy Reading,
Tara

Friday, February 21, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: FROSTBITE (VAMPIRE ACADEMY #2) BY RICHELLE MEAD

Book: Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2) 
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill, 2008
Pages: 327
Rating: ***/5 stars
Goodreads

Favourite Quote:

“You can't force love, I realized. It's there or it isn't. If it's not there, you've got to be able to admit it. If it is there, you've got to do whatever it takes to protect the ones you love.” 
― Richelle MeadFrostbite

Synopsis:

Rose continues on at St. Vladimirs as a student and a future guardian for her best friend Lissa (Rose can also read into Lissa's thoughts). Rose is a Dhampir (part Moroi, a mortal vampire, and part human) and Lissa is a Moroi. Rose continues to have a crush on her instructor Dimitri who is older than she is and will also be Lissa's guardian once they graduate the academy. Dimitri has a new love interest and Rose tries to find love with her friend Mason all the while, one of the royal Dhampirs, Adrian, flirts with her. With new threats from the Strigoi (immortal vampires), ideas are put into question about how to better protect the Moroi and Mason wants to go out and fight the Strigoi. Will Rose end up with who she truly loves and will the threats from the Strigoi be solved?

Review:

Rose's character continues to surprise me and the more and more I read of her, the more I like her. She has a fierce loyalty to her best friend Lissa and has a lot of respect for Dimitri, her instructor. I also like how she is unafraid to said what she feels and is honest most of the time.

I also really liked how Mason was when Rose was drunk. He never took advantage of her and when they were finally together and Rose wanted to put a stop to it, he didn't push further, he respected her.

What I did not like about this book (and the first book in the series as well) is the underage romance between Rose and Dimitri. I love Rose and Dimitri but I don't like that she is underage and he is her instructor. As a teacher myself, I could never condone such a relationship. When relationships between instructors and their students (Pretty Little Liars as well) are portrayed in books and television it blurs the lines between what is right and what is wrong. To this day I have friends who argue with me that there was nothing wrong with Ezra and Aria's relationship (Pretty Little Liars) and I just want to shake them. I know Rose will be of age soon and that they don't have much time before they will both be guardians for Lissa but at the same time, a relationship like that could ruin careers and lives in the real world.

Besides my rant on student-instructor relationships, I loved this book. I find Dimitri to be so interesting and I want to know more about him. I would also like to know more about Adrian (who is also much older than Rose) and I can't wait to see what more can happen with the magic that Christian, Lissa, Mia, and Tasha have been practicing.

Overall, I give this book 3/5 stars mainly because of the underage relationships. I loved the story and how strong of a character Rose is and I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Have you read Frostbite by Richelle Mead? What are your thoughts on student-instructor relationships?

Happy Reading,
Tara

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Discussion Post: Life of a Blogger: Introvert or Extrovert?

I haven't written a discussion post yet and I thought I would give it a try. Jessi from Novel Heartbeat has a weekly feature on her blog titled Life of a Blogger What We Do When We're Not Blogging. Each week there is a new topic up for discussion and this week is whether you (the blogger) are an introvert or an extrovert.

As a book blogger, I find this question very difficult because on one hand, I love to be alone and read, on the other, I like to have fun experiences just like the characters in the books I read. Like many things in life, I don't think everyone has to be one or other when it comes to being an introvert or an extrovert. People can be extremely bookish and yet go to nightclubs every night. Others can be really loud and be the class clown but spend their Fridays practicing the piano by themselves. No one has to be one or the other.



I like to think of the Introvert-and-Extrovert system to be on a continuous line with each extreme on either side. That way, many people can place themselves wherever they see fit. I would fit mine right in the middle of that line with a little bit of introversion and extroversion within me. If you were to ask me to jump up and be in an improvised play, I would totally be game for it. If you were however, to ask me to get up and sing karaoke, I would totally shy away (you haven't heart my singing voice).

What I find frustrating about being in the middle is that sometimes you will find yourself sitting at home on a Friday night wishing you hadn't said no to going out with your friends to the bar so the next Friday night you will go out with your friends and be wishing you were at home. This seems to be my biggest dilemma.

Anyways, those are just my thoughts on where I am on the spectrum of introvert/extrovert. Let me know where you would place yourself down in the comments below.

DFTBA,
Tara

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: THIS STAR WON'T GO OUT: THE LIFE AND WORDS OF ESTHER GRACE EARL BY: ESTHER EARL, LORI EARL, WAYNE EARL, AND JOHN GREEN

Book: This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl
Authors: Esther Earl, Lori Earl, Wayne Earl, and John Green

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile, 2014

Pages: 431 pages

Rating: *****/5 stars!




Favourite Quote:

“The measure of a friendship is not its physicality but its significance. Good friendships, online or off, urge us toward empathy; they give us comfort and also pull us out of the prisons of our selves.” Esther Earl.

Synopsis:

For those of you who do not know about Esther Earl, she was a nerdfighter (people who decrease world suck) and Harry Potter fan who was a friend of John Green's. John Green had made a couple of videos about Esther and that is how I got to know her or her internet persona, crazycrayon. I watched her YouTube Videos and followed her on Twitter all the while, she was battling cancer. Esther helped campaign for the Harry Potter Alliance to win money and brought two communities together. Unfortunately, Esther lost her battle to cancer in 2010 and her death impacted the nerdfighter community in such a way that people who had never even talked to her or interacted with her were so impacted by her passing. This Star Won't Go Out is a book with writings from her journals, blogs, video transcripts, writings from John Green, her parents, and her friends.

Review:

The books begins by an introduction from John Green about how his friendship with Esther began and just how much she impacted him. Reading about John Green a huge author and YouTuber caring about one of his teenage fans in such an open and honest way just made me feel that much more respect for John Green. As much as John Green inspired Esther, the reader begins to realize how much Esther inspired John Green. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was a story that John Green had been wanting to write  but it wasn't until he met Esther that he was actually inspired to write it. While the book is not about Esther, it was inspired by her and that is huge, a sixteen year-old girl inspired one of the bestselling books in the last few years. Amazing.

After the introduction there are excerpts from Esther's parents, Esther's journal's, and updates from her parent's blog while Esther battled cancer. Esther had thyroid cancer which, like cancer tends to do, spreads to other areas of the body, in Esther's case, her lungs. She required oxygen and the BiPap machine to breathe properly. Despite her medical condition, she still managed to write inspirational words, love passionately, care abundantly, and geek out over the best things like Harry Potter. I found it so cool how she was able to create meaningful friendship with her online group called Cattitude and how honest they were with each other.

I cried a lot during this book mainly because the people around Esther loved her unconditionally and she loved them right back. Like with most books about people battling cancer, I often think about what it would be like if I had cancer (not that I wish to have it but when reading, it is hard to not think about) and I just can't see my sister caring at all or anyone writing blog posts updating people about my condition. I think that what Esther had, the kind of love that surrounded her, was beautiful in every aspect. 

One of my dearest friends has a best friend who is battling cancer. I grew up knowing her family (I was in the same grade as her younger cousins) and knowing the strength of this girl and what she has gone through is truly remarkable. Reading about Esther only gave me a small insight into the medical aspect of chemotherapy but it showed me the emotional aspects of battling cancer. I think that cancer is one of the worst things in the world but in the midst of battling the fight against it, true beauty is found in the love that people have for each other.

Have you read This Star Won't Go out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl, if so, what did you think? 

DFTBA,
Tara 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

FEBRUARY BOOK HAUL!



































February Book Haul!
Middle Grade Books:
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
I chose to purchase this book because I had heard about the movie which one of the characters is voiced by Emma Watson (one of my favourite celebrities). I looked the book up and thought it sounded magical and interesting. I think I will review this book along with the movie (which is on Netflix).
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild and illustrated by Diane Goode
I shall tell you a secret...I have always admired ballet. I have always had two left feet and was never in dance as a kid but I loved ballet. Ballet Slippers are so cute (I am always known to wear ballet flats as shoes) and I love the buns that ballerinas wear for their hairdos. I love the way the dancers glide effortlessly around the stage, twisting their bodies anyway they wish. So when I watched the BBC adaptation of Ballet Shoes (which coincidentally has Emma Watson starring in it) I always wanted to read the book. Now is my chance.

Vampire Academy:
I have already reviewed the first novel in the Vampire Academy series but I have not ready any of the other books. I ordered Frostbite, Shadow Kiss, and Blood Promise. Expect to see reviews of each of those books in the future.

Young Adult:
This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl, Lori Earl, Wayne Earl, and John Green.
I remember watching Esther's YouTube videos the summer before Esther passed away and thinking how smart and funny she was. I was impacted by Esther that summer by how her only wish was that people would tell others how much they loved them. I have just started reading This Star Won't Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl recently and I have cried a couple times already.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Having just finished Between Shades of Gray I knew I had to read her second book, Out of the Easy. I feel like both books will have taught me about a culture and region I know very little about: Lithuania and New Orleans. I cannot wait to delve into this book.

Let me know if you have read any books on this haul and what you thought of them. Are there any books you have purchased/borrowed lately that you are excited to read?
Also, if you want to see my future book reviews, you can follow me on bloglovin' by clicking here. 

Happy Reading,
Tara



Friday, February 14, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY BY RUTA SEPETYS

Book Title: Between Shades of Gay 
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books, 2011
Pages: 344
Goodreads
Rating: *****/5 stars!

Favourite Quote:
“Good men are often more practical than pretty " said Mother. "Andrius just happens to be both.” 
Ruta Sepetys

Synopsis:  

Most people know the terrors of the holocaust and the perils of World War II but what is left unheard is an equally as tragic story of people in the Baltic region being ripped from their lives and sent to Siberia. Between Shades of Gray is a story about a teenage girl named Lina from Lithuania whose family (including herself) are forced from their home. They are sent on a journey to Siberia to a work camp facing horrible conditions all while being torn away from their father who they think was sent to prison. This story is one of how corrupt and awful the Soviet Union was to innocent people. Lina's story of her will to survive, keep her family together and go back home is one of admiration.

Review:

I love history but I must admit, I know very little of the Soviet Union, Stalin's reign, or even much about Eastern/Northern Europe. Between Shades of Gray changed that for me (along with the Olympics) I was constantly searching about Russia and the Soviet Union. I wanted to know more about this time in history because the story about Lina was just so tragic. I cried at different parts of the book and at time, I had to put the book down and walk away. The heaviness that was set within me was just too much.

Lina's and Andrius' love and friendship was so admirable at a time when trusting no one was probably the best solution. The picture I have of Jonas is one of a happy go-lucky kid in a terrible situation but nothing gets him down.

I learned so much about Lithuania and Russia from reading this book. I realized there was a time when people couldn't talk freely in case the Soviets overheard. You couldn't help family members who were taken away because the Soviet Union would find you and most likely do the same thing. People of all ages were targets and were treated as slaves despite their innocence. The fact that this tragedy lasted so long and was kept quiet until 1990 is remarkable and yet so sad. It seemed like after WWII stories of the Holocaust were available because people never wanted it to happen again. However, the Soviet Union reigned over the people in the Baltic Region (as well as many other countries) and they were not allowed to talk about what was happening out of fear. I can't imagine it.

Ruta Sepetys did a wonderful job at telling a story that has been hidden and kept secret for decades. I belive the story of the people who were taken away as slaves by the Soviet Union should be told across history classrooms across the world.

I give Between Shades of Gray 5/5 stars because it was written beautifully and I could feel the pain that Lina felt as she faced such tragic circumstances.

Have you read Between Shades of Gray? If so, what did you think? Did you know much about the Soviet Union before reading the story?

DFTBA,
Tara

Saturday, February 8, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: FANGIRL BY RAINBOW ROWELL

Book: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2013
Pages: 445
Rating: *****/5 stars

Favourite Quote:
I'm going to keep making fucked-up decisions and doing weird things that I don't even realize are weird. People are going to feel sorry for me, and I won't ever have any normal relationships- and it's always going to be because I didn't have a mother. Always. That's the ultimate kind of broken. The kind of damage you never recover from"(Rowell 234-235).
Synopsis:
Cath is a first year college student who is a fanfiction writer of the popular Simon Snow book series. She used to be very close with her twin sister Wren but when they both embark upon college, Wren decides to choose her own Path leaving Cath feeling left behind. After suffering silently, Cath begins to make friends with her roommate and her believed-to-be boyfriend and finds a writing partner for her fiction writing class. As the semester moves on though, Cath is faced with challenges that her family, friends, and Professor give her. 

Review:

There are few times where I can really, truly relate to characters in a book I am reading. Having read Eleanor & Park (another of Rowell's books) I can honestly say that Rowell knows her audience. She knows she is writing for young adult readers who have most likely read Harry Potter. She understands the importance of the internet and  what it is like to really like something that some people might find lame. This book described a lot of what I was like as a university student. There were a lot of similarities between Cath and myself (an absent parent, a too-cool sister, and an obssession with a book series) and I found myself relating to her a lot. One thing that I didn't have in common with Cath was that she went away to college whereas I stayed at home and while I am not in a lot of debt and I have a huge connection to my community, I regret staying in most weekends and not meeting enough people.

Fangirl brought out the complications that come along with growing up and leaving high school. University is very different from high school and I was made aware of it in the same way that Cath was. A friend of mine from high school cheated on our history quiz by looking at my sheet while I was writing the quiz and she was caught. I had very similar experiences as Cath and reading this book seemed liked reading a year book from my first year of university.

What I found when reading Rowell's writing is that she has the ability to make the reader empathize with the main character to the point where you are crying Cath brings up memories of her mom or feelings of rejection from her sister. You feel her emotions so readily and it can be truly heartbreaking.

I loved reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and I would recommend this book to any book lover. I give this book 5/5 stars for being fantastic. 

Let me know if you have read Fangirl and what you thought of it. If you have read any books similar to Fangirl, I would love some recommendations! 

Happy Reading,
Tara

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BOOK REVIEW; DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES BY RACHEL COHN AND DAVID LEVITHAN

Book: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Publisher:Knopf Books, 2010
Pages: 260
Rating: ****/5 stars
Goodreads

Review: 

As Christmas loomed upon the internet in the month of December, I saw many book bloggers reading Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Having read many of David Levithan's book before and loved the movie adaptation of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, I knew this book needed to be on my Christmas list. I asked my sister and future brother-in-law if they could get me this book for  Christmas and sure enough, they did. Unfortunately, it meant they had ordered the book because it was not in stock and it would come in early January. So by the end of January it was in my very interested hands and I devoured this book.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares is a love story featuring two teenagers, Dash and Lily. Dash, the cynical bah humbug was in a bookstore when he came across a red book with instructions. Upon following those instructions, Dash goes on an adventure with a girl named Lily who he doesn't even know. Lily's older brother was supposed to keep an eye on her over the Christmas holidays while their parents were in Fiji. Instead of doing what they ask, he sets up a fun adventure for Lily to carry through.

I adored the characters in this book. Dash is the description I would have advertised for someone I was looking to date and Lily reminds me of myself in many ways. I found the adventure to be so enticing and something you could see happening to characters in the movies. While the plot was a bit far-fetched at times, I think that was the magic of it. The magical idea of letting yourself go on an adventure with instructions from a book can be so interesting to me.

I remember in 2009/2010 it was really popular to write nerdfighter notes in books in bookstores and this concept of leaving a book with instructions to a total stranger remind me of that. I also really enjoyed Dash and Boomer's friendship especially towards the end when Dash realizes that when he needs someone, Boomer is always there.

The reason I am giving Dash & Lily's Book of Dares 4/5 stars is because by the end of the book I wasn't entirely interested. The NYE festivities left me feeling a little nonplussed when reading them and I wasn't begging to find out what happens because I felt I already did know what happens. Overall, I loved the book but I would have enjoyed a more enjoyable ending.

Have you read Dash & Lily's Book of Dares? If so, what did you like about the book? Did you not like it?

Happy Reading,
Tara

P.S.
Currently reading Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and um, how did Rowell know me so well? I was Cath at 18-years-old right down to the slash fanfiction.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Raimbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2013
Pages: 328
Rating: *****

Review:
If you were living under a rock, you probably still heard about Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell but if you haven't, here is a synopsis. Eleanor is the new girl who walks onto a school bus full of hostile teenagers. Park has been going to school with these people his whole life, trying not to face any of their wrath. Taking pity on Eleanor, he let's her sit beside him. Through their bus rides together, they become a couple who face such terrible odds. Eleanor has a horrible home life and Park has to battle his adolescent issues with his parents. These two find love within each other when it is needed most.

I began reading this book on Saturday and was finished it on Sunday. I devoured the book because it was filled with such cute flirting as well as real and raw emotions. At times I cried reading this book because of Eleanor's unfortunate situation and other times I laughed at Eleanor and Park's witty banter. This book brings the reader back to high school. While reading about Eleanor getting onto the bus and having no one to sit with I was instantly transported back to sitting in class and not having a partner to work with.

I thought that Rainbow Rowell wrote about first time love as if she was experiencing it while writing it. When someone you love touches you it feels like the most intense moment ever. I felt like Rowell wrote a love story that people can relate to on a number of levels.

I felt like Rowell was able to bring the reader into that situation so the reader felt the hurt and pain that Eleanor was feeling. I have never gone through what Eleanor went through with her home life but I cried in several parts where Eleanor was trying to hide her home life from Park or her step-dad did something mean to her.

I give this book 5/5 stars because it was filled with young love was written so I couldn't put the book down. I can't wait to read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Attachments.

Have you read Eleanor & Park, what did you think? Have you read any of Rowell's other books? Which one is your favourite?

Happy reading,

Tara

Saturday, January 18, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Book: Vampire Academy #1
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill (2007)
Pages: 332
Rating: ****
Review: I know, I know I know. I am late on the bandwagon. To be honest, I had never heard of this series until I read a blog post by Caitlyn (I quietly lurk blogs) who stated that she really enjoyed this book series. After that, I saw Catching Fire and there was a trailer for the movie before Catching Fire came on.

I love fantasy novels in which I can just be transported to another world or a different version of the one I live in. So I was excited but hesitant to start this series. I was hesitant because I disliked the whole "I can't function without a boyfriend" mentality of Twilight and was worried that I would see that in similar books.

There was no need for hesitation though. This book stars two main girls, Rose and Lissa. Rose is a dhampir, part Moroi and part human who is training to become Lissa's guardian. Lissa is a Moroi, a mortal vampire who can die but she also has a special power (I won't spoil it for you). Throughout the book Rose shows her extreme loyalty to protect Lissa from Strigoi (actual immortal vampires who are much stronger than the Moroi) as well as from other sources who want access to Lissa's power.

What I loved about this book was that the females are powerful on their own. They managed to live on their own for a year, reach the top of the social ladder when they came back, and escape from dangers within the Academy. Don't get me wrong, there is a hint of slut-shaming amongst the students at Vampire Academy which I don't condone but it is addressed by the very hot Dimitri. Dimitri was raised amongst "blood whores" and Rose asks him what it was like and he defends them and the people who raised him.

Overall, I give this book 4 our 5 stars. I think there were many great themes in this book and I am very excited to read the second book. I do think the writing needed some work but other then that, I am looking forward to getting further into this series.

Have you read Vampire Academy? What did you think of it?


Happy reading,

Tara

Thursday, January 16, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD By Sheryl Sandberg

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: *****
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 217

I am not sure if everyone is aware but Answerly is doing a book club this year and Hayleyghoover is choosing to read books written by women. The first book she chose was Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. I am a huge fan of all three Answerly hosts and thought this was a really unique way to discuss books. I had heard of Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead before and was recommended it by a friend so when Hayley mentioned it, I immediately jumped on board.

I consider myself to be a feminist but I also adhere to a lot of traditional gender roles (I am a teacher and I run a book blog) so I remember reading about this book and thinking, "It wouldn't have information for me, only business women could relate to this book." However, that is not always the case.  

I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was written well and backed by facts and personal anecdotes. I really appreciated her knowledge of the working world and how she acknowledged her own privilege throughout the book. She gave plenty of general knowledge for both men and women about the workforce (thinking of the corporate ladder as a jungle gym instead) and she managed to speak about companies we had all heard of.

Sheryl Sandberg, for those of you who don't know, is the COO of Facebook and used to work for Google and the National Treasury. She was on Forbes' most power women list (beating Michelle Obama) and has completed many talks and workshops on women and leadership. She wrote this book to educate people on how women should take on more leadership roles in the workplace to make it easier for other working women.

Sandberg discusses many reasons why women hold back (they only apply for jobs they are 100% qualified for whereas men will apply for jobs they are only 60% qualified for) as well as how women tend to do more of the child care and housework along with working where men get off on doing less of the child care and work. I think Sheryl really hits the head when she says that women need to lean into their work while having a family (she also supports women who choose to stay at home) while men need to lean into their families more.

The biggest flaw I have with Sandberg's book is that she does not acknowledge that many women are in careers that are female dominated (teaching, nursing etc...) and those careers are at a standstill. If you go into teaching, you can be the best teacher in your region and still not make enough because your career is not valued as much a male dominated career. In addition to all of the great suggestions Sandberg offers, I think she should have given a shout-out to the female dominated careers and how we can make them more credible. Perhaps I am overseeing the issue as a teacher myself and maybe Sandberg is not the one to do it but I think that parts of this book were meant for only business careers.

Overall, I found this book very informative and empowering. Sandberg writes in a way that makes the world of business sound fun and interesting. I truly learned a lot from reading this book and admire Sandberg and her career.

Have you read Lean in: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead? If so, what did you think?

Happy reading,

Tara