Monthly Archives: August 2012

Book Review- Bittersweet

I finished Bittersweet yesterday afternoon! Reading this book has been a great stress reliever for me the past few days. I started school on Monday, and up until today I’ve been insanely busy and pretty out of wack, too. When I start new classes, I always have a rough time at first. It doesn’t help that Chemistry is insanely hard. (it hasn’t even been a week, and I’ve had two labs, a quiz and I’ve got a unit test on Tuesday!) My birthday was Wednesday, but I kept forgetting because I was so busy. (thanks for all the birthday wishes, BTW! *blows kiss*) My point is, I’ve had almost NO time to read, but when I did, I was reading this lighthearted book about cupcakes and high school!

Hudson Avery was on the path to figure skating stardom. Olypics, sponsorships, the whole deal. But something awful happened on the night of a big competition, and Hudson backed out of the limelight. She gave it all up, and a few years later she’s stuck in the same small town, only dreaming of skipping town one day. She loves baking cupcakes, and is slowly adjusting to the idea of staying in tiny Watonka forever to run the family diner. But when a huge break comes and competing isn’t just a dream anymore, will Hudson go for it?

This book definitely could have gone down the path of Chick-lit. I really don’t want to write off that genre (and let’s be honest, that is such a sexist thing to call it) but this could have been a totally frilly-silly book with lots of cupcakes and kissing and unrealisticly perfect relationships. There is a time and place for that sort of book, but I was really happy when I didn’t find shallowness here! Sarah Ockler did a fabulous job of capturing the teen spirit. Hudson goes through some pretty rough stuff, and while she doesn’t deal with it perfectly, she deals with it the same way any teen girl would.  I’m not an expert on many things, but I definitely do know all about teens, being one myself. I feel that angst every day. Hudson is a crappy friend for a while, but she comes around in the end.

Speaking of which, I thought the ending was great! Lots of slow, building angst and then the perfect last minute solution! I love it! The writing was lovely to read, and funny as well! I laughed out loud many times! I really enjoyed this book, but there is some part of me that longed for something more. Not sure why, but that’s why I don’t read YA Contemp a lot of the time. Also, I saw right through a certain character. I can’t spoil it, but when you see something coming for the majority of the book, it’s hard to buy into it like everyone else.

 This book is about equal parts figure skating stuff and romance. I think that’s important y’all know before you read it, good or bad!

Recommending especially for contemp fans, cupcake fans, figure skating junkies, and all those who like cute hockey boys. 😉

Have a lovely long weekend, all!

Olivia

2 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

Full Book Review- Bitterblue

The last post you got in your inbox (if you’re a subscriber) was a mess-up. Sometimes I mean to press the ‘save draft’ button and hit the ‘Publish’ button instead. So this is the real Bitterblue review. The entire one. 🙂

So, I finished Bitterblue a few days ago, but I’ve held off reviewing it until now for two reasons. One, I’m not sure how hard my new classes will be right off the bat. And two, this book was so AMAZING that I felt I needed to take a break in order for my review to be coherent. 🙂

It’s no secret that I am a HUGE fan of the Graceling series. Normally I don’t go for YA Fantasy, but gosh I just LOVE this series. Of course I wanted to pick up the third installment in the series as soon as it came out. But I don’t have a job or an endless supply of money to buy books with. Most of the time, I don’t buy books. It’s not that I don’t want to support authors (I really, really do!), it’s just that my budget is SO small, I usually only buy my VERY favorite books. That way I don’t waste precious book money.
Anyway, after that lengthy explanation, my point is, I would have bought this right off the bat, but I couldn’t afford it. So I got on the library waiting list instead, and recieved it last week.

I thought Bitterblue was the perfect end to a truly great series. Before I read this, I had a bit of a hard time relating to Po and Katsa from Graceling, but after seeing them 10 years later, I love them. And I’m even more in love with Po than I was before! Each one of Kirsten Cashore’s others in the series was amazing and beautiful and deep, but this one really tied up loose ends that I didn’t really realize were there. Not major ones, but like ‘I wonder if Katsa and Po will still be together after 10 years?’. That kind of thing. That doesn’t mean Bitterblue doesn’t have a good plotline as a standalone, but you really need to read it after you read Graceling and Fire. (in order- read Graceling, then Fire, then Bitterblue)

It’s hard for me to review a book that is reliant on you having read the other books without giving spoilers, so I’ll say this: Kirsten Cashore’s Graceling series is my favorite series ever. I never expected to love them as much as I did! Her books are an example of everything I’m looking for in a story, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Bitterblue is a fantastic end to a truly memorable set of books that I look forward to passing on to my children. If you haven’t read these, you must. For fans of Graceling and Fire, Bitterblue is an absolutely necessary read that will charm you as much, if not more, as the others.

Hope y’all enjoyed this review! I’m hoping to keep my regular pace up with reviewing as I start school tomorrow. I usually review more during the school year, but it takes me a few weeks to get in the groove and I’ve got some really tough stuff this year.

🙂 Olivia

P.S. this is a *super* tentative announcement that I *might* be going to YALLFest in November. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully. 😉

Leave a comment

Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance

The Teenage Stereotype

This post has a bit to do with a certain tweet by a certain person-on-Twitter-who-shall-remain-nameless tweeting and asking during a chat yesterday if they should ‘dumb things down’ for teen readers. I’m going to try hard not to make this post directly about that tweet, as angry as that made me. It’s more about how so many have this misconception that teenaged brains are entirely different.

We’re teenagers, folks. We are a varying small number of years away from being legal adults. Does this mean we’re entirely mature and able to make well rounded decisions? No. In fact, adults are right (for the most part) to assume that we’re unpredictable and frankly, quite hormonal. Does this mean that you have to ‘dumb things down’ for us to understand your big words and huge concepts? Absolutely not. There is a difference between changing you subject matter to something teens will like more than adults, and only using one syllable words.

We might not have gone to college yet. We might not have lived as long as you have, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t aware of the world. We are more mature than you give us credit for, really. I actually did some research on the psychology point of view of adolescence. In case you needed proof that my opinions were factual. 😉 A quick google search brought up this great article (ironically titled “Trashing Teens” )in Psycology Today, which made some good points.

The tagline of the article: ” Psychologist Robert Epstein argues in a provocative book, “The Case Against Adolescence,” that teens are far more competent than we assume, and most of their problems stem from restrictions placed on them.”

“….Imagine what it would feel like—or think back to what it felt like—when your body and mind are telling you you’re an adult while the adults around you keep insisting you’re a child.”

Well, there you go.

Every teen writer and reader I’ve talked to on the matter agrees; teenagers are really good at decifering what they read. If you ‘dumb it down’ for us, we will know. Don’t even try that. Please. Spare yourself.  Great YA books are written by people of all ages, but the one thing they have in common is their grasp on how we feel. Teenagers want a good story. We usually don’t want to be taught a lesson. You really shouldn’t pretend we don’t know what happens in the world around us. We can, and will, see right through it. Thankfully, editors and agents and the like do a great job filtering these people and their books out. And for that, I can’t thank them enough. But every once in a while a book gets through that, and it stinks.

Teenagers HATE being looked down upon. As a reviewer, if I read a book with a terrible teen voice, I struggle to finish. If I wasn’t going to review it, I would quit reading. Teens love books that they connect with. We love that unbelievable moment when you find the perfect book for you, and all of a sudden you feel less hormonal and realize that you aren’t alone. Some magical adult out there actually gets it! If you get the chance to meet that author, we might babble something like :

“OMG I’M A HUGE FAN AND I JUST…. WHEN SHE— AND THEN HE….. AND THEY… GAHHHH JNCSKFLJW”

And then we’ll probably start crying. Because we are teenagers after all, and our emotions are hard to verbalize.

There is so much good that comes from books. YA can help teens get throught really, really rough times in their lives. Condescention in YA just makes teens not want to read. Seriously. Even I, loving books as much as I do, get a bit fed up with reading YA after reading one of those books.

My point is, if you have questions about if your YA is true to life, there are ways around it. I suggest Teens Can Write, Too! even if you aren’t a teen. My friend Mark also posted about this from a teen writer’s standpoint. My friend John has a great feature on his blog where you can send him a page of your MS to check for realism in teen voice. (if you’d prefer a female perspective, feel free to email me) By all means, talk to some teens! Work out something with your local library’s teen program to chat there once a week, if you have to.  A great friend of the teen writing community on Twitter, Leigh Ann Kopans, is  one of the few adults I feel really understands. She and a couple others have organized the #YAWritersAAT chat on Twitter every Sunday at 9PM. It’s where YA Writers can Ask A Teen about high school, friends, and pretty much every other teen issue. I’m there every week, and there are plenty of other teens to give you various opinions. The writers and adults from the chat are really, really great. And honestly, most YA authors are fabulous and really get teens. We appreciate that.

Overall: Teenagers are not another species. Get to know them, understand them, love them, and you can write YA. If you think you need to dumb it down, meet some teens. Or write adult fiction. Love your genre before you write it. Love the people you write for.

We might be a bit hormonal, but we definitely aren’t dumb.

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized, writing

Interview!

Just a real quick post! I’ve been interviewed on my friend Alice’s blog! I talk about books, reading, my writing, and living in NC! Check it out! 🙂

Article!

Have a lovely day, everyone!

Olivia

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

If you liked….

I’m sure there are many posts like this out there already. Heck, this is basically exactly what Goodreads does. Sometimes, though, I have issues with Goodreads’ recommendations. As a whole, I LOVE Goodreads. But when you read as many books as I do, it’s hard to trust their recommendations. It’s hard to explain, but some books I like/don’t like are grouped into genres that I wouldn’t normally put them into and thus change what is recommended for me. Example: why exactly is The Tales of Peter Rabbit being recommended for me as a Young Adult book?

Anyway, I could have used a post like this a few months ago. I still could. So without further ado… “If you liked___, you might like___!” I’ll be using a lot of my favorite books, because frankly, they’re great!

If you liked

You might like…

    

If you liked…

You might like….

     

If you liked…

You might like…

   

If you liked…

You might like…

If you liked…

You might like….

    

And that’s all, folks! I hope this post was a little helpful to you! It’s kind of like my entire blog, condensed into one post. All of the books above are my favorites, and absolute must-reads for everyone!

Have

Olivia

4 Comments

Filed under Classic, Fiction, Modern Fiction, Nonfiction

Book Review- Love in the Time of Cholera

I hate this book with a passion!!! If you enjoyed this book, I don’t really recomend reading this review. But if you didn’t or haven’t read it, this might save you from reading it and give you a good laugh at the same time.

I’ve got to use the description from the back of the book for this one. Why? Because other than what is on the back, nothing happens in this book. NOTHING. I (ahem) added a few notes of my own in bold. In the interest of keeping the summary truthful, you know.

“In their youth, {obviously youth= when she was 13 years old. Duh.} Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza {if you don’t get those names mixed up, I’m impressed.} fall passionately in love. {through letters, of course. They never actually had a conversation} When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated {i.e. mopes around for 50 years instead of, you know, moving on}, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs {we learn the details of many of these affairs. Included: prostitutes, random ladies, cleaning ladies, and a 12 year old girl (I’m sorry, that’s just twisted)}- yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. {Um. Jerk.} Fifty-one years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again. {obsessive much?}

Can you see why I disliked the book? I’m sorry for being so negative, but seriously. Seriously. The book’s entire plot line is outlined above. Other than that, the book consists of:

75% totally useless information, like pages upon pages about how Fermina smelled like decaying old people (gross!)

15% Florentino’s 622 affairs, in disturbing detail

10% pointless metaphors and similes. Example: “he was crying with tremendous loud wails, the way Arabs cry for their dead, sitting in a trickle of fouled water that might well have been a pool of tears.”

To me, that’s not beautiful language. That’s wastelful language. Wasteful of my time, eye strain, and patience. And that is the least wordy example I could find! Honestly, every single sentence in the book in a run-on. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is probably the only book I’ve ever read that I enjoyed the flowery language. In that situation, it feels right. Here, it’s ridiculously excessive.

This book pained me to read. Like, physically. It took me 2 whole weeks to finish. This is like 2 months for someone who reads at normal speed. I winced at every page; the overly descriptive affairs, the holy excessive words, the fact that there ISN’T EVEN A PLOT. NONE. If this wasn’t a summer reading book, I’d have quit on the second sentence. The first sentence was the *only* redeeming factor of this book.

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him the fate of unrequited love.”

Pretty cool sentence. The ONLY good part of the book.

And finally…

Things I Learned From Love in the Time of Cholera:

  • If a man stalks you for 51 years, while at the same time having 622 affairs, don’t worry! He’s not a creeper. He’s just madly in love. And you’ll fall for him eventually.
  • Random dead bodies floating in the river while a cruise ship is passing isn’t unusual.
  • It isn’t wrong to have a 40 year age gap between a man and a girl. Duh.
  • If you’ve been stalking your love for 50 years and she stil doesn’t want to marry you, just take her on a cruise. That will solve all of your romantic issues.
  • Parrots can be deadly.
  • The first chapter of this book has almost nothing (or everything) to do with the ‘plot’ of this book.
  • Unrequited love smells like bitter almonds, apparently.

My point is, I feel like I lost brain cells reading this book. Please don’t waste your time.

Olivia

19 Comments

Filed under Classic

As if you needed proof…

….that I was a crazy fan of Daughter of Smoke and Bone! (I’m DYING for the sequel!!)  I know most of you haven’t read this book, but I feel the need to share this anyway! And again, I know I haven’t posted a review in forever. It pains me too, y’all. I’m stuck reading dumb summer reading stuff. But I’ll try to get a few more up before summer’s over! It’s weird, but I actually get WAY more book reviews done during the school year. More of a schedule. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway coming soon! 😀 (on that note, if you’re an author or publicist, let me know if you want to donate something for me to giveaway! ) Also, my review of it is here.

Now for the main purpose of this post. There was one particular part of Daughter of Smoke and Bone that made me want to do this. In this book, Karou (the main character) has wishes on a string, in the form of beads. When she pinches one, it disappears and her wish comes true! I spent days after I read this thinking about how amazing it would be to actually have some scuppies, ‘the pennies of the wishing world’. Well, I can’t get beads on a string (….. or can I? ;)) but I’ve had my eyes peeled for the perfect beads for months! And I finally found them! I bought them, ran to the store for some leather cord, and BAM!

Cool, right?!

The neat part of this is that I made it exactly like the book describes it. I can’t for the life of me find a quote explaining it, but maybe I’ll add one later! Anyway, it’s basically a long strand of beads that you can wear as almost anything.

A bracelet..

A headband… (hey look! It’s my hair! :D) Or my personal favorite…

An anklet! Just wearing these beads has made be feel… different. Sounds weird, but there is something really cool about wearing a piece of jewelry that to your average Joe is beads, but to you is wishes.

I love it so much!

Some of my favorite quotes from Daughter of Smoke and Bone:

**

“Wishes are false. Hope is true. Hope makes its own magic.”

**

“It’s not like there’s a law against flying.”
“Yes there is. The law of gravity.”

**

“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens. I need you to remember that I love you.”

**

“She had been innocent once, a little girl playing with feathers on the floor of a devil’s lair. She wasn’t innocent now, but she didn’t know what to do about it. This was her life: magic and shame and secrets and teeth and a deep, nagging hollow at the center of herself where something was most certainly missing.”

**

“Until a few days ago, humans had been little more than legend to him, and now here he was in their world. It was like stepping into the pages of a book — a book alive with color and fragrance, filth and chaos — and the blue-haired girl moved through it all like a fairy through a story, the light treating her differently than it did others, the air seemed to gather around her like held breath. As if this whole place was a story about her.

**

I think this is my favorite book EVER. READ IT!!

8 Comments

Filed under Fiction, Modern Fiction, Romance