Monday, October 29, 2012

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess

Barnes & Noble

A vicious fifteen-year-old "droog" is the central character of this 1963 classic, whose stark terror was captured in Stanley Kubrick's magnificent film of the same title. In Anthony Burgess's nightmare vision of the future, where criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology. 

A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex—to "redeem" him—the novel asks, "At what cost?" 

This edition includes the controversial last chapter not published in the first edition and Burgess's introduction "A Clockwork Orange Resucked."

What an intense novel. I really wish I had read this in high school, because I know I would have been able to write a kick-ass book report. I need to convince my book club to read this so I can talk about it more.

I have so many conflicting feelings about Our Humble Narrator and I need more time to sort them all out. I was horrified at all of the violence; I certainly don't need "vitamins" in order to make good decisions. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

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After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . . 

3.5 stars.

So many people rave about Neil Gaiman--and this book in particular--that I chose to read this for a book club challenge, wherein I had to choose a book that was not on my TBR.

It was okay. I really enjoyed the last third of the book.

I still don't think that Gaiman's style is my cup of tea, but I'm glad I tried another one of his books.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Sky Is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson

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Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life - and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. 

Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. 

Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. 

For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

Love adore cherish worship revere idolize admire glorify treasure value relish esteem.

There aren't enough ways to say how much I love this book. It's hilarious and heart-breaking and sincere and gut-churning. And I can't get enough of it. I immediately started to re-listen to the audiobook version as soon as it ended. 

Thank goodness I own the ebook and paperback versions; I have a feeling I'll be re-reading this one for years to come.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals, by Missy Chase Lapine

Barnes & Noble

Parents will do almost anything to get their kids to eat healthier, but unfortunately, they’ve found that begging, pleading, threatening, and bribing don’t work. With their patience wearing thin, parents will "give in” for the sake of family peace, and reach for "kiddie” favorites--often nutritionally inferior choices such as fried fish sticks, mac n’ cheese, Popsicles, and cookies.

Missy Chase Lapine, former publisher of Eating Well magazine, faced the same challenges with her two young daughters, and she sought a solution. 

Now in The Sneaky Chef, Lapine presents over 75 recipes that ingeniously disguise the most important superfoods inside kids’ favorite meals. With the addition of a few simple make-ahead purees or clever replacements, (some may surprise you!) parents can pack more fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants in their kids’ foods.

My son is actually eating vegetables! Miniscule amounts per serving (1 tsp here and there), but it's better than nothing.

It does take a while to cook and puree all of the to-be-hidden foods, so I doubled- and tripled-up on the recipes and froze portions for later use.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Goth Girl Rising (The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl #2), by Barry Lyga

Barnes & Noble

"Time is a funny thing in the hospital. In the mental ward. You lose track of it easily." 

After six months in the Maryland Mental Health Unit, Kyra Sellers, a.k.a. Goth Girl, is going home. Unfortunately, she's about to find out that while she was away, she lost track of more than time.

Kyra is back in black, feeling good, and ready to make up with the only person who's ever appreciated her for who she really is.

But then she sees him. Fanboy. Transcended from everything he was into someone she barely recognizes.  And the anger and memories come rushing back.

There's so much to do to people when you're angry.

Kyra's about to get very busy.

Awesome sequel to The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth GirlI loved reading about Kyra's back story in her POV. 

Don't Forget Me! (The Nightmare Room #1), by R.L. Stine

Barnes & Noble

Danielle Warner was only pretending to hypnotize her brother Peter. So why is Peter acting so strange... so terrifying? Doesn't Peter realize it was all a joke? Danielle and her brother are about to learn a frightening lesson: It's not a good idea to kid around—in The Nightmare Room.


I'm trying to remember at what age I used to read R.L. Stine's older books. 10? 12? I read his books religiously when I was a preteen. But I don't remember them being so poorly written.

This book is classified as Young Adult, but I don't know any YA fans who would think this was any good: characters are undeveloped; the story goes way too quickly; the plot is constructed in such an amateur fashion that I'm not sure how this was approved to publish; etc. etc. and so forth.

Give this book to third graders: they would probably enjoy it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater

Barnes & Noble

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

WOW. I LOVE this book! I listened to the audiobook and the characters drew me in right from the beginning. The actors were spot on.

I wasn't a fan of the Shiver trilogy, so I put off reading this book. Mistake! I should have read it earlier. Puck is a kick-ass female lead and Sean is my new book boyfriend.

:: swoon ::

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen

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Jane Austen's first published novel, Sense and Sensibility is a wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. 

While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor's reason nor Marianne's passion can lead them to perfect happiness-as Marianne falls for an unscrupulous rascal and Elinor becomes attached to a man who's already engaged. 

Startling secrets, unexpected twists, and heartless betrayals interrupt the marriage games that follow. Filled with satiric wit and subtle characterizations, Sense and Sensibility teaches that true love requires a balance of reason and emotion.

This has been on my TBR list since high school, but as there are always new books to read, I never thought I'd actually get around to this one.

Character-driven stories rarely intrigue me, but I'm glad I finally "read" (audiobook version) this book. My heart broke with the Dashwood sisters' hearts. I laughed at the ridiculousness of Mrs. Palmer. Swooned over Edward. Wanted to smack several characters at various points And am thankful that my marriage was not based on how much money I had or could gain (though I do tell my husband that I am his trophy wife and I married him for his money).