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Archive for March, 2012

REVIEW! Casey Barnes Eponymous by E.A. Rigg.

Mar
31

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Casey Barnes Eponymous by E.A. Rigg

Three weeks into the school year music junkie Casey Barnes gets a second chance with the mysterious ex-boyfriend whose name she has not even been able to say. In hopes of saving studentkind from the hell that is high school, Casey has been slipping song playlists to fellow students while working in the library. When she gets another chance with her ex, she schemes to win him back by giving him one of the lists. Her plan works, but not quite in the way she hopes, and she realizes that truly winning him back will be a lot harder than choosing some killer songs. Namely, she will need to get the attention of the whole school in a way no one has ever done before.

MY THOUGHTS:

As excited as I was for this book, and as much as I wanted to like it, I could never fully immerse myself in the story. I had the most extreme lack of connection to the main character, Casey. It didn’t help that the story is told in the third person – this only created even more detachment, in my case.

I appreciate Casey’s devotion to and passion for music. The playlists thrown into the story are really neat and a nice touch for her character. But between her random babblings, music references, and strange trying-to-be-too-cool phrases, I became lost – and not just with her, but with the story as well. I understand that she is not, in any way, going to be labeled a “good girl,” but I definitely wasn’t expecting her to be so ready to hook up with her ex (going out on a limb here and relying on my memory, but I’m pretty sure it happens not even 50 pages in). I wasn’t able to get used to the idea of them being together. As a reader, I barely even knew who he was, exactly. There’s very limited details given, and they don’t offer much. However, there is a background story for almost every character, no matter how minor they may be – which, while at first seemed like it helped me get a feel for the story and setting, ended up making me utterly lost with the abrupt changing between the past and present, especially in the beginning.

The flow of the novel just didn’t work for me. I could never settle into the story, which made for a very rocky reading pattern.

While I understand that Casey is only a Sophomore in high school, I wasn’t quite prepared for the read to be so juvenile, both in its writing and plot and characters. That said, it’s a very light, feel-good read. It’s definitely not weighed down by emotional baggage, and Casey’s voice keeps things entertaining and humorous.

Casey Barnes Eponymous is a story that will keep you on your toes, purely from its strangeness.

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Being Friends with Boys by Terra Elan McVoy

Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex–best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t anymore.

When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he might want to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.

MY THOUGHTS:

I’m going to start by saying that I can relate to this story so much, and that’s partly what aided me in my decision to rate this 5 stars.

But in all honesty, this story took me completely by surprise. Yes, some bits are predictable, but others really made me stop in my tracks.  Granted, none of it’s outlandish or entirely unbelievable. It’s just very catchy and held my attention. I had to read this straight through.

It was entirely refreshing to read a story about a truly non-girly protagonist, blossoming into something more. Everything Charlotte says and does perfectly embodies her role as “one of the guys,” but also allows room for her to grow.  And she does. As a character, Charlotte is dynamic and attention-grabbing. She’s able to evoke emotions from me, for her. If a character can do that, I consider them gold.

One of the best and surprising components of this story is the inclusion of Charlotte’s family.  Their relationships, you can tell, are strained but in the process of changing.  They don’t revolve around drama. They come together. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they were real.

As far as the band is concerned, I can’t say there was one member I disliked. McVoy makes sure to give each boy a separate entity, personality, presence.  Do they clash? Oh, of course. But is it good that they clash? Most definitely. More than one of them are swoon-worthy, without even trying to be. Another golden component, as far as I’m concerned. When the romance isn’t the main focus and simply grows as the story progresses, without the intent of having it be the entire reason for the protagonist’s existence and survival, it just clicks for me. It works. And in the case of Being Friends with Boys, it works. Very well.

Make sure you bump this one up on your reading list. It’ll take you by surprise, how good it is.

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Follow Friday (30)

Mar
30

7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

Follow Friday is now acknowledging and promoting the following of blogs through their RSS feeds! Because this site is proudly powered by WordPress, there’s no GFC (Google Friend Connect) option. BUT, you can follow TGR through my feed by clicking HERE or over to the right, in my sidebar. You can also subscribe through email!

 

Do you read one book at a time, or switch between multiple?

I read one book at a time. If I happen to start two books around the same time, I will not switch between them. I will finish reading one, and then the other. If I try to read more than one, I feel that I get lost between the stories. I prefer to have my full attention on one story.

This week at The Grammarian’s Reviews

The Hunger Games movie – What did you think?!

I dare you all to read this book – don’t judge a book by its cover!

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The Hunger Games movie: a re-cap.

Mar
28

2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

*There will be spoilers in this post regarding the Hunger Games movie. You’ve been warned! *

Do any of you remember THIS post?

If you don’t, that’s okay. It was my first time expressing my thoughts upon reading the Hunger Games trilogy.  And let me tell you right now that it was not positive. When I meet people who say they LOOOOOOOVE (yes, there usually are that many Os) the Hunger Games, I prep myself for their reaction to my reply, which is, and forever will be, I love to hate them.

Cue the gasps and pitchforks.

No, I did not buy into the hype. No, I do not like Peeta. Not at all, really. No, I do not like Katniss. If I could get together with Gale, Cinna, the Avox girl, Finnick and Annie, I’d be set; they’re my favorites.

But this post isn’t meant to discuss my likes and dislikes regarding the trilogy. Instead, it is to talk about the recently released movie. I finally had the opportunity to put aside some school work to go see it. And to be perfectly honest, I liked it. Although, to clarify, I liked it as a movie. Naturally, as we’ve seen with our other beloved series, Harry Potter, there are differences from book to movie adaptations.  Did I mind the differences? Not much. But here were a few that got to me:

Madge does not give Katniss the mockingjay pin. In fact, Madge doesn’t even exist in the movie.

Um. What. I love Madge. I always have. It’s such a pivotal moment that she and Katniss share, for both obvious and obscure reasons. I don’t think it would have hurt or detracted focus from the rest of the main focuses of the movie. The mockingjay, although given emphasis in the movie, is given an entirely different sort of emphasis than it receives in the book(s). It was one of those short, but powerful, moments I would have liked to see.

Uh, is Katniss really falling for Peeta?

I know how it all ends up, but regardless, Katniss did not initially return Peeta’s feelings. In fact, their romance was somewhat faked and staged for the Games. Aside from a short, comedic note from Haymitch, there was no indication that the romance was a ruse in the movie. Although this probably irked me more than anyone since I’m anti Katniss and Peeta.

President Snow.

I can’t say I minded him in the movie, but I also can’t say I was thrilled with his portrayal. While his deviousness becomes more apparent toward the end of the movie, I feel that Snow is so much creepier, horrific and evil in the book(s).

Those were the three big things that bugged me. Other minor things included the lack of bread sent from District 11, the lack of explanation or recognition that the dog hybrids had the eyes of the fallen tributes, and the destroying of the alliance’s goods (I’m sorry, but that bomb scene/explanation was much cooler and more difficult in the book).

Now for some positives! Since I did, in fact, enjoy the movie.

Caesar Flickerman.

My liking of Caesar partly has to do with Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of him. That SMILE, people! That SMILE. It got me every time. So hysterical. But seeing Caesar also put him into a different perspective for me. He’s a little devious, yet not. A little evil, yet not. It helped to see him come to life.

Rue. And her death.

To be honest, I never loved or hated Rue in the book. I liked her well enough, but was ultimately unaffected by her death while I was reading. But the scene in the movie is so heartbreaking and so well done, that I finally cared. I was finally affected. I applaud them for constructing it well and taking special care with it.

The arena.

No, not everything about the arena was as I imagined (bizarre Cornucopia, anyone?). But, overall, I thought it worked. The fire was much more terrifying than I ever pegged it to be, the cave was spot-on, and the gridded sky was unexpected but a nice touch (was I the only one thinking they projected a sky above them?).

Effie Trinket.

She was the most annoying woman in the book. Well, maybe not the MOST annoying, but she was up there on the list. And yet, in the movie, I fell in love. Granted, they made her more humorous than I remember her being, but that’s okay. I felt like I actually got to see several sides to her, and that was nice.

Peeta.

Never thought I’d say this, but I DID actually like Peeta in the movie. Maybe that’s because Josh Hutcherson makes him more likable. I don’t know for sure. All I know is that, while I’m not the character’s biggest fan by a long shot, I think he’s perfectly portrayed in the movie. You get a sense of who he is and what he stands for, and it’s just right.

Going behind-the-scenes.

I loved seeing that round room full of people controlling and monitoring the events in the arena, with Seneca Crane watching everything. It gave us, as the audience, something that we didn’t have with Katniss in the book(s): an outside, behind-the-scenes look. It really put the Games into the perspective that they’re equivalent to a reality TV show.

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Now that you know how I feel about the movie, what about you? Did you like the Hunger Games movie? Dislike it? Why? What about the differences between the book and movie – did they bother you?

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It only takes a few hours for Turner Buckminster to start hating Phippsburg, Maine. No one in town will let him forget that he’s a minister’s son, even if he doesn’t act like one. But then he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a smart and sassy girl from a poor nearby island community founded by former slaves. Despite his father’s-and the town’s-disapproval of their friendship, Turner spends time with Lizzie, and it opens up a whole new world to him, filled with the mystery and wonder of Maine’s rocky coast. The two soon discover that the town elders, along with Turner’s father, want to force the people to leave Lizzie’s island so that Phippsburg can start a lucrative tourist trade there. Turner gets caught up in a spiral of disasters that alter his life-but also lead him to new levels of acceptance and maturity.

Guys, I’m dedicating this post to telling you about a fabulous, downright wonderful book I’ve come across: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. It’s the latest book I’ve had to read for my Children’s Lit class, and boy, was I blown away. It’s nothing like anything I’m used to reading, or anything I ever CHOOSE to read, for that matter. So you can imagine my hesitation upon starting this novel.  It went a little like this:

Ugh, next book for class. Ugh, not in love with the cover. Ugh, takes place in 1912?

BUT I WAS SO WRONG. SO. WRONG. This is one exception to the rule. You must not judge this book by its cover, or even its description. It’s just that beautiful. And the best thing is that it’s not outright and immediately beautiful. The beauty develops and then before you know it, you’re halfway through and it has wrapped you in its delicate layers.

These characters are promising. They’re full of life and have vivid personalities. I know I’d like to hang with Lizzie.

Don’t even get me started on the imagery of Maine and the coast. The sea breeze, the rocks, the WHALES. It’s all so quaint, so cozy, so breathtaking. I couldn’t help but want to be there, to breathe the salty air and allow it to lead me to the coast.

Still skeptical? I dare you all to read this. It’s a MUST. It will pull at your heartstrings.

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Follow Friday (29)

Mar
15

9 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

Follow Friday is now acknowledging and promoting the following of blogs through their RSS feeds! Because this site is proudly powered by WordPress, there’s no GFC (Google Friend Connect) option. BUT, you can follow TGR through my feed by clicking HERE or over to the right, in my sidebar. You can also subscribe through email!

 

What is the best and worst book you’ve read in the last month?

Considering I’ve only recently had time to read for fun again, the best book I’ve read in the past month is Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, and the worst was Little House in the Big Woods (for my Children’s Lit class).

This week at The Grammarian’s Reviews

REVIEW – Bittersweet

A new release!

 

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Look what I found: a new release!

Mar
15

3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

 

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Lucas and Tessa’s friendship is the stuff of legend in their small Midwestern town. So it’s no surprise when Lucas finally realizes his feelings for Tessa are more than friendship and he asks her to prom. What no one expected, especially Lucas, was for Tessa to come out as a lesbian instead of accepting his heartfelt invitation. Humiliated and confused, Lucas also feels betrayed that his best friend kept such an important secret from him.

What’s worse is Tessa’s decision to wear a tastefully tailored tuxedo to escort her female crush, sparking a firestorm of controversy. Lucas must decide if he should stand on the sidelines or if he should stand by his friend to make sure that Tessa Masterson will go to prom.

 

ARE YOU SEEING THIS?! Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin teaming up again! Oh, I just love this author duo. You can bet I’ll be trying to get my hands on this as early/soon as possible. If you don’t know who either of them are, maybe these pictures will be a refresher for you:

The Half-Life of Planets and Jenna and Jonah’s Fauxmance

(reviews HERE and HERE, respectively.)

So, needless to say, I’m excited! Have you gotten to read Tessa Masterson already? If so, let me know if you do/don’t like it! In the meantime, I’ll be eagerly awaiting its March 27th release.

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REVIEW! Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler.

Mar
13

2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last….

MY THOUGHTS:

Remember those Cutting Edge movies? Bittersweet is a little like them – hockey player meets figure skater.  But while Bittersweet is a good concept, its execution is a bit rocky.

I’m all for the dynamic of a talented figure skater helping a less-than-stellar hockey team – it’s a perfect tension scenario.  But Bittersweet focuses less on the games and more on the rest of Hudson’s world, from new friends to her pushy mom to her adorable brother to cupcakes. This would’ve been okay had it not stretched on and on, with no end in sight.

The thing is, all of the characters are really interesting and fleshed out. Hudson’s friend, Dani, is funny and charming and everything a best friend should be.  Bug, Hudson’s brother, is not your average eight-year-old, but he’s spectacularly funny and cute.  I wish Hudson’s mom had been included a little more, if only because so many issues revolve around either her or their family (which includes her).  Her mom has a much bigger role in the first half of the story, then tapers off.

This is my biggest issue with Bittersweet: it tapers off. I love the first half of the story.  What’s not to like about a figure-skater-turned-cupcake-maker? But there’s not even much focus on the cupcakes. Or rather, the passion behind the cupcakes.  And then the hockey team comes into play and everything else takes a back seat.  The romance that stems from the coaching gig is boring and obvious; while I was neither surprised by Hudson’s errors and choices nor opposed to her relations with two of the team’s members, I just never got the sense that it was necessary. Had the romance been condensed, I think I would’ve enjoyed the story much more.

If you don’t dive in expecting detailed focus on the sports or baking, you’ll be happy enough reading about Bug’s antics.

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Back and better than ever!

Mar
09

2 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

(Image from weheartit.com)

SPRING BREAK!!!

We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled book reviews and chats in just a few days….

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