Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Anatomy of a Boyfriend


Daria Snadowsky's first novel is about a goal-oriented, hopeful med-student, high school senior, Dominique. Despite her best friend being boy-crazy, she hasn't been all that tempted to enter the dating world. She has heard enough vulgar and/or idiotic things out of guys mouths to detract far too much from their attractive appearance to really ever become interested (haven't we all?). But during an eventful (and not in a good way) trip to the port-a-potty during a school event she meets Wes, a boy with the brightest blue eyes she's ever seen and a shy smile that wins her over in an instant. For the first time ever, Dominique is interested.

Daria's story is an in-depth look at a girl's first serious relationship - the ups, the downs, and the mistakes. She really shows the way we of the female persuasion can (we don't have to) lose ourselves, desperately melding into the guy's identity and maybe going too far too fast. But she never makes it glamorous or pretentious - it's brutally honest and bold-faced. I considered it a cautionary tale.

I'll admit I didn't love Dominique straight away. And I got frustrated with her character as the book continued. But it was never boring. I was always interested and hopeful for a brighter future for Dom. You couldn't help but root for her.

This isn't exactly my type of book, exactly. Character study, plot-light books can be beautiful and poignant but I tend to like a little extra oomph (sci-fi, fantasy, and suspense being some of my favorite genres).

Some of the details did get to be a bit much for me, but I understood their place and why Daria meant to portray them. I do wish that I got to know all the characters better, on a deeper level. I'd especially have liked to know Dominique more before she met Wes. No one ever seemed as fully fleshed out as I feel they could have been. But there is obviously talent in Snadowsky's writing technique when you find yourself cheering on the main character, as I was. I couldn't help but be desperate for her to find her independence again (and independence doesn't necessarily mean being out of a relationship - more so how you treat yourself, so that is not a spoiler!) - and I was semi-satisfied with the results.

Did I think it was a perfect book? No. But I certainly think there are many readers out there who will disagree with me - so don't let my opinion discourage you!

Thing is, I'm not not recommending it either. It's an acquired taste, a raw story. But it also promised me even better things to come from this highly acclaimed and extremely praised brand new author: Daria Snadowsky.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Audrey, Wait!


Robin Benway's first novel has been, so far, a critics darling. I was super excited to read it because it sounded like such an interesting premise - Audrey breaks up with her wannabe rocker boyfriend who then writes a great song about the breakup, becomes a huge superstar and ends up pulling her into the spotlight in the meantime - and it is.

But (you knew that was coming, right?) I wasn't sold. Well, not right off anyway.

Audrey's character was neither likable, nor relatable to me personally. In fact, I kind of felt that if I knew Audrey personally - we wouldn't really mesh. Not that I'd hate her, I just wouldn't be in her group. She declares early on that if you you don't like your music so loud the neighbors move out and the speakers blow that you probably won't be her friend.

See, I don't like the neighbors moving out (living in an apartment I know how stressful and horrible it can be to have a neighbor that plays their music too loud) and the speakers blowing out (um, hasn't anyone told Audrey about hearing loss?).

But even more so than any of these probably superficial and ridiculous complaints (I know, I sound like a bore, right?) - I didn't like Victoria, Audrey's best friend. She seemed unrealistic to me and, again, not someone I could imagine meshing well with.

HOWEVER, if you've been paying attention - there IS a reason why I am using the past tense.

About halfway through the book (which took a good bit of patience and a little bit of faith, mind you), I got it.

Audrey's personality started to shine more when all the crazy paparazzi stuff starts happening and her faux interviews and pictures start popping up in familiar celebrity magazines. Not to mention the fact that I felt like something was really starting to happen. Where I felt the first half was blah and lifeless, I found the second half to be fun, insightful, and romantic.

That's right - romance!

Things really started looking up when her extremely slow moving crush on Scooper Dooper (a rather alarming name for an ice cream shop, if you ask me) co-worker James got going. Ideal boyfriend alert!

And, overall, I saw how the progression of the novel (including the rocky beginning) did add to the satisfaction of the conclusion. Audrey (and even the cantankerous Victoria) became much more relatable and enjoyable as characters and by the time I turned the last page there was one word in my mind -

Sequel.
P.S. Because of the overwhelming percentage going to Tibby in the poll on the right, I've decided to go ahead and open it back up, for curiosity's sake, to see if that continues or if things even up a bit more. I've always considered myself to be a cross between Lena and Carmen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Okay, did it take me long enough?

The Book Vault's Dominique tagged me in the comments of my review for The Shining and I'm just NOW getting to it. Oops.
Here goes:

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Getting my first-year Hogwarts supplies in Diagon Alley and taking a roam through Eelops Owl Emporium.

Okay, for real? Well, it was the end of the summer before 5th grade (if that's the grade I was in when I was 10 - I'm not willing to take out the calculator right now), so probably devouring more Babysitter's Club, Nancy Drew, and Girl Talk books in my room.
What are five things on my to-do list today?
Degnome the garden and visit my old celebrity crush Gilderoy Lockhart at St. Mungos.

Do you really want the honest truth? It's actually my day off today (whoo-hoo!) so nothing on my to do list today but my favorite things. Watch my recorded TV shows (yay Burn Notice! yay The Closer!), the Olympics later (which can be a chore with all those commercials, even fast-forwarding!), and other various leisure activities.
Snacks I enjoy:
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Pumpkin Pasties, Chocolate Frogs, um...
Okay, okay! A true Harry Potter fan am I. Forgive me.
I wish I could say carrots with raw dip or celery with peanut butter or something, but I'm afraid I'm not a healthy girl.
So my list would more consist of:
Chips
Candy (currently Whoppers and Peanut Butter M&Ms)
Cookies
I know, I know. Spare me the lecture on heart disease or whatever. Us Weasleys like our food!
Places I've lived:
Washington State.
Born, raised, and staying put.
Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
I'll try to keep it simple.
New computer (current one is pretty elderly)
Buy my three kitty cats the best kitty toys ever
Buy all the books on my Amazon.com wish list
Buy everything on my Amazon.com wish list
Design a beautiful house, including my own personal library - closely resembling the one the Beast gifted Belle
Take lessons in: Spanish, French, Italian, Guitar, and Singing
Create some sort of writing grant program where struggling writers can have some start-up money to give them a better chance at getting that first novel written (my current problem)
Start a huge animal shelter that'd I'd be personally involved in
Go to the Harry Potter theme park the first day it opens
No, scratch that! Build my OWN Harry Potter theme park exactly as described in the book (okay, maybe SLIGHTLY impossible, but hey)
And the people I'm tagging (maybe tomorrow or something, not quite yet):
Okay, yeah they both authors - but wouldn't it be awesome if they did it?
Here's hoping!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Book Vault’s Birthday Contest Riddle

What does every fellow bibliophile love? A contest of course! This is the next leg of The Book Vault’s birthday book riddle contest!

Don’t even try to tell me that you don’t want a free book!

For more information on the contest, go here: http://the-book-vault.blogspot.com/2008/08/birthday-contest.html.

Each correct answer counts as an entry into the drawing on August 29th!

Here ya go, for your therapeutic usage:

Riddle: A community of genetically blind (they chose to be that way) exists harmoniously—or so it seems. Not long after a young boy in the community turns 13, he realizes that for some miraculous reason, has regained his sight. The community is not as peaceful as it seems—there are thieves, hypocrites, and other wrong doers. Now he must decide what to do, now that he has a gift that separates himself from the rest of his community.
Which book is this?

Know the answer? Send Dominique an email at bookvault@yahoo.com with:

“BDAY CONTEST” in the subject line and:
Name:
The Riddle: A community of genetically blind (they chose to be that way) exists harmoniously—or so it seems. Not long after a young boy in the community turns 13, he realizes that for some miraculous reason, has regained his sight. The community is not as peaceful as it seems—there are thieves, hypocrites, and other wrong doers. Now he must decide what to do, now that he has a gift that separates himself from the rest of his community.
Which book is this?
Answer: (full book title + author)
The name of the site where you found the riddle: Bibliophile Support Group
Your site’s URL: (if you have one)

Dominique asks that you send a separate email for each riddle you answer!

Hope you win!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Shining


As someone who has watched the movie adaption of this Stephen King novel, The Shining, well, I admit I wasn't gung-ho about reading the book. Why? Well, the movie always kind of freaked me out. I was kind of worried how much more the book would freak me out.

But for all of you who have watched the movie, I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that it just didn't make any sense. At all. The end is a head scratcher that never seems to be resolved. A puzzle piece trying to be shoved into a puzzle that still has way too many pieces missing.

So - I wanted to read the book. To see if it made more sense. Maybe answer my questions. I took a deep breath and went for it.

For those of you who haven't watched the movie (you should, it's a classic), the general synopsis of the story is that Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who has recently lost his job, is hired as the caretaker for a huge hotel up in the mountains of Colorado. The hotel has to be shut down every winter (for about 5 months or so) because it's impossible to drive up and down the roads, but someone needs to stay there to take care of the boiler and everything. His wife Wendy and his son (who has special abilities at the very young age of five) come with him and they find out that the Overlook Hotel's bad reputation might have some substance.

Now for how I felt about all 684 pages: Wow. Now, I can't put it up there with my top tier books (books I read over and over again, like, ahem, Harry Potter) but I was surprised to find Stephen King's writing style more patient and character developing than gory. Not that it isn't creepy. It's very creepy. But in a slow moving, suspenseful way. I did feel like the ending was a little rushed and I was left slightly confused. But only slightly. Nothing really worth criticizing. In fact, it just makes me want to read it again and figure it out.

And A LOT is different than the movie. I can't give anything away, but don't expect it to be the same AT ALL. I do recommend it as an expertly woven tale of horror, but more so a story of a broken family that loves each other and the bravery of a little boy.

There are a lot of "adult" scenes and some frightening, weird stuff in it nearer the end, so depending on your age, wait until you feel ready. Oh and if you do read it, and you're like me and like to read right before bed? Yeah, don't do that. I place my freaky, crazy dreams at your feet as evidence. Seriously.

All I can say is that I am interested in reading more Stephen King now. His character development and buildup is phenomenal.

And even though the movie is good (scary Jack Nicholson!), the book is better.