Book Review: You Know Where to Find Me


Book Review: You Know Where to Find MeYou Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn
Release Date: March 2008
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 208

Once upon a time, Sleeping Beauty decided to take a nap from which she would never wake up. (pg. 12)

Miles and Laura were always close. The two cousins grew up more like sisters than anything else. They had their own language, rules to fairy tale games, and secrets they shared between them. As they got older, Miles slide further and further into Laura’s shadow. Nicknamed 8-mile, the overweight and standoffish Miles could never compare to her cousin/sister. Laura was the fairy princess living in a big castle. She was smart, beautiful and charming. Her life appeared to be perfection…but then sometimes appearance can be deceiving.

When Laura commits suicide, Miles life is turned upside down. She’s never imagined a life without Laura and has no idea how to live in world without her. Her only solace is found in highs from pharmaceutical drugs…no matter that they are the very same thing that killed Laura. Miles swears that she’s in control and only uses them to take the edge away off of her grief and loneliness, but the more she depends on them the quicker she hits rock bottom. Once there she discovers that her life isn’t as empty as she thought and with the help of family and friends, she may just be able to piece her life back together.

My Thoughts

I have to admit that I was a little caught off guard by this book. Cohn had been on by TBR author list for a while, so when I saw this book come in I decided to pick it up and read it without knowing anything about it. I think part of me expected something along the lines of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist or Ely and Naomi’s No Kiss List and instead found a book dealing with dark and serious issues such as suicide, drugs, and body image. Thankfully, Cohn sets the stage pretty well and I knew what I was getting into within the first 20 pages.

While Laura is central to the plot as a reader you don’t really have any true connection to her. What is seen of her is through other’s eye and never actually met the character. Laura is merely something that allows for the story to manifest, but the real star is Miles. This is her journey through grief and trying to come to terms with losing her sister/cousin. Grief is universal and it’s easy to understand why Miles would be so upset and the struggles that she is going through.  Her voice was true and real and easily came to life to me. There were times I wanted to hug and comfort her and then shake her until she saw the errors of her ways.  I will say that Miles is probably the only character truly fleshed out. We get a glimpse of them through Miles’ eyes, but never who they truly are. Jim was probably the only other character that I felt any connection to. The rest I was pretty indifferent to.

I will also warn that the book can be slow moving and confusing.  There were several things that made me go “huh?”. For example, the second chapter is entitled A Love Letter to Percocet, which is a review by Miles explaining how to use Percocet and the “lovely” effects it has.  While I struggled with this a bit, I do believe that it was a good reflection of the mental state Miles was in.

The only thing that really bothered me was the fact that her best friend found her several time in a drug-induced unconsciousness and did nothing.  In fact, when she ends up in the hospital, he gets mad at her for allowing it to go that far! If one friend had just died due to over-dosing wouldn’t you be sure that the other didn’t follow? I would have been telling someone who could get her help rather than believing that she was in-control or would eventually stop. I understand that getting mad at her is a natural reaction, but I didn’t think he truly had a right to. He saw it happening and did nothing to stop it from going that far. But maybe that’s just me?

If you’ve read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts as well!

Book Review: Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies


Book Review: Models Don’t Eat Chocolate CookiesModels Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne
Release Date: February 2009
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 243

Eighth grader Celeste Harris is no stranger to being the big girl. At school, she is taunted by mooing and nicknames like “Burrito Grande” by many of the popular kids. And while Celeste may not be picture-perfect, give her comfy sweatpants, a stack of Oreo cookies, and her long time best friend (Sandra) and life isn’t so bad.  Well, that was until the HuskyPeach Modeling Challenge entered her life. Thanks to her aunt, she finds herself trapped into a contest she wishes to be no part of. Sure, everyone would love to be a model, but when you add the word plus to it…well, Celeste would rather not think about it. Thankfully, she has plan on to get out of the competition without quitting.

Launch Operation Skinny Celeste. It’s all about no Oreos, no snacks, and certainly no big slices of her aunt delicious dessert with ice cream. After all, if she’s no longer husky there’s no way she can be Miss HuskyPeach, right? Right?! Striving to lose the competition any way possible, Celeste lands in humiliating and disastrous situations. Despite it all, she learns that what matters most is to do what you want (no matter what anyone else thinks) and to have fun along the way. With the chance to pull out of the final round Celeste must make a choice: will she run away or will she return to have fun no matter what the outcome may be?

My Thoughts

First, I have to state how much of a difference one year can make in my mind. Due to an error on the back of the book, I began Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies under the impression that Celeste was only twelve years old in seventh grade. This really warped my perception of the book. I kept yelling over and over in my head that no twelve year old should be worried about dieting and losing weight. I wanted to hug her, give her more cookies, and tell her it would be okay. Okay, I know this is illogical and that kids of all ages get teased and worry about body image, but something about actively dieting at twelve just didn’t sit right with me. Of course, the truth is that Celeste is really in eighth grade and is thirteen. When Celeste finally states what grade she’s in my defenses did lower a bit more. The story became more believable to me at that point. However, her grade level didn’t come out until I was a good way through the book and was at that point it was little hard to change my mindset. (I do realize it states early on that she is thirteen, but it didn’t fully sink in until much later. And I think the seventh grader part still irked me for somereason.)

I will also warn you that Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies is not really about body size acceptance. Celeste does diet, she does lose weight, and she does feel better herself due to it. However, she does it in a healthy manner. She switches cookies for apples, stops snacking so much, and starts walking more with her friends. It was really more about a healthy life style than a crash course diet. In fact, she probably only loses a fraction of her overall weight goal. Celeste’s self esteem does go up with her weight loss, but her happiness isn’t solely based on it. Sometimes new clothes and a new look can go a long way, but during her transformation she learns more about who she is. She discovers how to stand up for herself, what she likes, and to find enjoyment even in the most undesirable situations. It made for a very realistic approach to body image for teenage girls.

In the end, I’m very glad I got to meet Celeste. She was charming, humorous and very likable. Her voice is what really makes the book and even with my other issues I never stopped rooting for her. I look forward to seeing what future stories Dionne offers.

Book Review: Fragile Eternity


Book Review: Fragile EternityFragile Eternity by Melissa Marr
Series: Wicked Lovely #3
Release Date: April 2009
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 400

Seth never expected he would want to settle down with anyone—but that was before Aislinn. She is everything he'd ever dreamed of, and he wants to be with her forever. Forever takes on new meaning, though, when your girlfriend is an immortal faery queen. Aislinn never expected to rule the very creatures who'd always terrified her—but that was before Keenan. He stole her mortality to make her a monarch, and now she faces challenges and enticements beyond any she'd ever imagined. In Melissa Marr's third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos.

While it’s been a couple years since I’ve read Wicked Lovely (I only skimmed Ink Exchange, but do plan to go back and READ it), Marr easily pulled me back into her world of faeries. Fragile Eternity returns to Seth and Aislinn and their struggle and challenges since Wicked Lovely. I’m still no closer to loving Keenan, but I can’t help feeling sorry for him a little. He’s trapped in this unfortunate situation just as Aislinn is. I do really believe he would change the circumstances if he could…well almost. The way he manipulates Aislinn drives me batty. He comes off sweet and loving, but underneath I worry he’s just twisting her to his will.

I enjoyed meeting Sorcha and learning more about her court. I hope this will not be the last we see of the Unchangeable Queen or her realm. I felt like Marr only gave us a taste of Faerie and that there is much left to be uncovered. Though I suppose that can be said about any of the monarchs and their courts. There are so many whisperings of war and balance that the possibilities that could unfold are endless.

I will warn that there is a lot of repetition, especially when it comes to the mortality issues and the whole love triangle (square?). Aislinn is stuck in this rut of rehashing the same problems over and over as she tries to come to terms with them. Also, if you look at that big scheme of things there is no resolution for this book. However, I put my focus on Seth and his journey and wasn’t too bothered by the ending. My only real complaint in the no-resolution department is when it comes to Aislinn and Seth. Their future is much too shaky and uncertain for my likes. I fear the many paths that they could travel and where it may take them.  But I’m still holding out hope that they will get their forever.

Marr certainly seems to be setting the stage for something big and I can’t wait to see where it will go!

 

 

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower


Book Review: The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Release Date: 2012-08-14
Publisher: MTV Books
Pages: 224

Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective…but there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.Since its publication, Stephen Chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over three million copies in print, spent over one year at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and inspired a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

While I did not particularly like this book, I can see why many would. Charlie’s voice rings very true as a typical high school-er. While the book is set in 1991-1992, many teens will be able to relate to the situations that Charlie has to deal with. Issues such as drugs, alcohol, abuse, and fitting in are relevant no matter what year you’re in. So, I have to give Chbosky kudos for keeping it real in that aspect.

However, there are some issues that ultimately made me dislike the book. For example, the thing with his English teacher (Bill) and all the extra reading felt over the top to me. The long list of books ended up overwhelming me and feeling too contrived. Plus, I was kind of waiting for his English teacher to overstep his boundaries with all the attention he was giving Charlie. (Or maybe I’m too cynical and have heard of too many teacher sexual abuse headlines?) I also didn’t like that Charlie made out with his gay best friend (Patrick) in order to make him happy. I know this probably somehow ties in with the abuse issues and finding himself, but to me this went one step too far. I kept waiting for Charlie to question his sexuality/come out gay and felt bewildered when it never happened. But the real tipping point came in the last chapter when his sexual abuse issue comes out. I really wish it had come out much sooner in the book. While I understand that Charlie was off-center and had many issues, I felt it was easily related to guilt and grief from his aunt’s death and friend’s suicide. Had it been mentioned sooner I may have read Charlie in a completely different manor.

I am interested to hear from fellow readers and here what you think. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too hard on books at times…I suppose it’s the English Major/Librarian in me. Oh well, can’t love them all right?

Book Review: City of Glass


Book Review: City of GlassCity of Glass by Cassandra Clare
Release Date: March 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 560

A few months ago, Clary was a normal girl leading a normal life. But the moment she met Jace her world turned upside down. She was plunged into a life that had been hidden from her, a world of demons, Shadowhunters, and other Downwordly things. While she knows that nothing will ever be the same again, the only thing she can think about is saving her mom from a magical coma. To do this she must go to Idris…the City of Glass.

The plan was simple. She was to go to Idris with Jace and the Lightwoods, but when they leave without her everything changes. Clary doesn’t care that she doesn’t know the magic to open a portal or that she doesn’t have permission to enter. The only thing that matters is saving her mom. Of course, once she gets there things go from bad to worse when she discovers that Jace doesn’t want her in Idris and that Simon (her best friend) has been locked away in the Shadowhunter prison. Her only bright spot is her new ally, a mysterious Shadowhunter named Sebastian. She finds herself instantly drawn to her dark prince lookalike; he’s no Jace, but perhaps he could be the next best thing?

As Clary’s quest continues, she finds herself in a tangled web of family secrets about experiments, magic, and cruelty. The truths about her father, mother, and the world she never knew was not what she had ever expected. But as the lies begin to unravel, Clary may just have all she needs to save her mom, to make old enemies into allies, and to have her heart’s true desire.

 

My Thoughts

All over, I really enjoyed this book. It was not my favorite in the series by far, but it was an enjoyable wrap up to the series. Before I go into complaints, I have to get my YAYs out of the way. So…YAY Alec and Magnus and YAY Luke and Jocelyn. Ok, now the complaints, which really I have very few of. I suppose my main one is the end felt so rushed. We had been building to this moment over the past three books and if you blinked…well then you missed it. It felt too easy in a way. I’m not saying that I expected a 200 page fight were every one dies, I just wanted more. It was like BAM, we’re done kthanxbai. And to be honest, I’m not exactly sure HOW she defeated Valentine. I know that she somehow changed the rune of the ritual, but I’m not sure if I understand how that bound her to the ritual. Can anyone help a poor girl out? It’s been a while since I’ve read the other two and I’m not sure if I’m just forgetting something from them.

The only other thing that bothered me is that the Jace-Clary relationship and the lack of tension. Okay, so I guess I shouldn’t say lack of tension, because it was still there but it was very off. I was still locked into the frantic page turning for another scene with them, but felt less satisfied about it. I fully understand that Jace was trying to push her away as far as possible, but shouldn’t that have just increased the tension? Their final scenes were very sweet though and made me happy over all. (Okay, but I still wanted more!)