Monday, December 29, 2014

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

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Publication date: 2000
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pages: 272
My rating: 2 stars
Ages: 18+

Throughout the personal essays in this book we are introduced to Sedaris's strange and almost unbelievable life. From growing up in North Carolina with a lisp, to going to France for two years but never being able to learn the language, Sedaris puts forth his life for us without any excuses.

I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I thought that this book was written by someone else entirely. So I was a little surprised when I discovered that it wasn't who I had expected. But I started reading it. Unfortunately, I didn't seem to find it quite as funny as the people who had provided the blurbs on the back of the book did. At least, not until Sedaris got to France, and then I found little pieces here and there pretty humorous--enough that I shared some of them with my family.

There is some language--usually when Sedaris is talking about his brother, who seems to have a bit of a mouth on him. There was also a time in Sedaris's life when he was pretty heavily involved in drugs and he goes into some detail about buying them, taking them, and their effect on him. There were actually a lot of things that I would have been more interested in learning about than what was provided in the essays. How and why did he decided to get sober? How did he get into writing? How did his family react to him being gay? I felt like there was a lot more interesting things that I wanted to know than the story about the lady who made him chase a pigeon.

I've read other memoirs/books of essays that I enjoyed a lot more.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 277
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 13+

Vivian Divine had everything: fame, money, a hot boyfriend, and a mother who loved her. But six months ago her life started unraveling and it all ends with a death threat. Vivian runs off to Mexico, alone and scared and not knowing who to trust, or who is trying to kill her. Plus, there's Nick, the boy who's been helping her--who she thinks she might be falling in love with!

This was a fast read--I read it in about two days, during my lunch breaks and before bed. It was fun to read, especially because it was the week before Halloween and the climax of the book takes place during the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It's a bit of a mystery, which is always fun, and it wasn't completely predictable. I was only about ten pages ahead of the character instead of most of the book.

This is definitely a book that will intrigue teens the most--those who are probably between 13 and 16 will like it the best. It's not really a masterpiece, but it's not just completely fluff either. Vivian is a teen movie star, her parents are famous, which makes it something that I know I would have liked to read about when I was 13 or 14. Then there's the cute Latino boy, the cultural differences of Mexico, the celebration of a different holiday, with the addition of a mystery. All of this just combines to make an enjoyable read.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

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Publication date: 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 335
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 17+

Tennis star, class president, prom king. This was Ezra Faulkner's life until tragedy stuck. Now he's starting senior year with a shattered knee and disillusioned about who he was before. Then he meets Cassidy, and in a blur of adventures, Ezra starts discovering the person he was meant to be.

This book kind of reminded me of John Green's Looking for Alaska, but with a somewhat happier storyline. Ezra is the normal kid, trying to live up to everyone else's expectations. Cassidy is wild and unpredictable, a whirlwind in the otherwise settled town of Eastwood.

I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. On the one hand, the story was really interesting. I hated having to put it down, really caught up in Ezra and Cassidy. I liked the panopticon idea, that we should all be trying to escape from under the gaze of everyone else's ideas of how we should act. But then there was the overload of sexual language and situations. There wasn't anything as graphic as in Alaska, but I still found it uncomfortable for me to read. Just remember, I'm a little bit more conservative in what I read than some people.

I think there was also a little bit of language. As it is, I think that a lot of teens could probably relate to the book and enjoy it.

*I do not receive any compensation from Amazon.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Image
Pages: 332
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 18+

Philosopher, professor, and devote Catholic, Dietrich von Hildebrand was one of the biggest enemies of National Socialism (Nazism). Throughout his life, he spoke out against Hitler and the ideals of the Nazi party, which meant that he lost friends and he had to flee Germany, leaving his family behind. This book exists because his second wife asked to know more about him.

I do have to admit that I only got about 60 pages into this book, but it was fascinating. Von Hildebrand is a great role model of someone who stood up for morality and beliefs, even when the world around him was saying they were wrong. The only reason I didn't continue reading his book is that it's pretty heavy stuff. Von Hildebrand was an intelligent man--which shows in his writing--who suffered a lot. I do hope to finish this book at sometime, but with the holidays and winter coming, it was just a little too depressing to continue reading.

I think something that's pretty nice about this book is that each chapter is sort of a separate incident, so you can read it as you wish, coming and going as you see fit. Great book for historians, those with an interest in WWII, and those who want to learn more about the religious and philosophical side of the war.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

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Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 342
My rating: 4 stars
Ages: 16+

After hitting rock bottom, Reagan decides to start anew and the best way to do that is to get away from her small town. Fortunately, her best friend is Lilah Montgomery--country star and ultimate good girl. But things get complicated with the addition of teen heartthrob Matt Finch, who is supposed to be pretending to be Lilah's boyfriend, but has gotten Reagan's attention instead. Now it's up to Reagan to decide whether or not the chance of getting hurt again is worth the risk of acting on her feelings.

When I first started reading this, I didn't really have the best attitude toward it. "Lilah is just a stand in for this famous artist, and Matt is just a stand in for that one," I thought. But once I started getting into it I realized that the similarities between the famous artists didn't matter, because the characters had depth and purpose. I laughed out loud at the back and forth between Matt and Reagan, and there was one point where my eyes threatened to tear up. Ultimately, I think Open Road Summer is a story about friendship and how true friends forgive each other and love each other no matter what happens or what you say in the heat of the moment.

Unlike other books about a "regular" person dating a celebrity, I felt this one seemed pretty real. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants a nice summery book to read. There is some mild language.

*I do not receive any compensation from Amazon.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

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Publication date: 2012
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Pages: 438
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 10+

Prince Charming is tired--tired of being called Prince Charming! There are four princes and none of them are called Charming; their names are Frederic, Gustav, Duncan, and Liam. All four have been immortalized in stories, but none of them get the credit they deserve. Together, they embark on an adventure sure to get them mentioned by name.

This is a really fun take on fairy tales, focusing on the princes instead of the princesses. Each of the princes have their little quirks that end up becoming strengths and being able to work together.

Though the book is long for middle grade at 438 pages, I think that advanced readers will be able to read it without any problem. I also think this would be a good read-aloud book for parents to share with their kids, as it has humor that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. There are cute illustrations throughout the book, showing not only what the princes and princesses look like, but also what trolls, goblins, and dragons look like. The narration is fun as the narrator will break in occasionally, giving spoilers, or hints of what is to come. I also think this would probably be a good book for boys and reluctant readers.

*I do not receive any compensation from Amazon.