August Recap

Books:
Total Books: 10   | YA: 6  | Adult: 4  | Fiction: 10 | Non-fiction:  0 | Re-reads: 1
Hardcover:  2 | Paperback:  1 | Kindle: 7  | Computer: 0
Pages Read: 2674  | Pages Per Day: 86.2 (ughhh)

Best Book(s) Read:The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
Most Disappointing Book(s) Read: Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake

Movies:
Total Movies:  8  | Comedy: 1   | Drama: 6  | Horror: 1
New:   4 | Re-watch:   4 | Theater: 2

Best Movie(s) Watched: Manhattan, The Cabin in the Woods
Worst Movie(s) Watched: Bachelorette

Other and Miscellany:

Goals for Next Month:

  • Read at least 10 books
  • Review at least 10 books
  • Post at least 20 days out of the month
  • Watch at least 10 new movies (I will make this goal, I swear!)

Waiting on Wednesday: Return to Me by Justina Chen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Return to Me by Justina Chen

Expected Release Date: January 15, 2012

Three months before Rebecca Muir is set to begin college, her father reveals a secret that tears the family apart: he is leaving them.

In an instant, Rebecca’s life crumbles—she has to rely on her mother now, when her whole life she’s been her father’s girl; she’s not sure she can trust her high school boyfriend; and her carefully planned-out life suddenly feels all wrong.

Reb’s journey takes her across the country and back, and is for anyone who has experienced uncertainty or betrayal. This book will inspire readers to overcome life’s challenges and come out triumphant on the other side.

(summary via Goodreads)

I really loved Chen’s North of Beautiful, so it’s no surprise that I want to pick this one up when it’s released in January.  It looks like it’s going to be a difficult one in terms of content–this isn’t exactly the stuff of marshmallow fluff.  But Chen’s a good writer, and I’m looking forward to how she explores the hard stuff in this novel.

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin

When Leah answered the knock on her door only to find police informing her that her boyfriend Bastien was killed in a car accident, she’s been in a state of suspension.  Unable to function, she flunks out of university, loses her job, and cuts herself off from most of her friends. When Bastien’s aunt offers her a place to stay, rent-free, in a nearby suburb, she jumps at the chance.  It’s there that she finds life has to move forward, whether or not she’s ready for it to.  It’s also there that she meets Liam, an Irish actor with his own set of baggage.  As the two enter into a steamy, complicated relationship, she starts to realize that she has a lot of learning to do–about herself and about others.

Come See About Me is C.K. Kelly Martin’s first adult title and falls firmly in the “new adult” camp of literature.  It’s also self-published, for a number of reasons that Martin outlines on her website.  Don’t let the self-published aspect of this book dissuade you, because you’ll be missing out on something really special: Martin’s book about grief, loss, and moving forward is a stunner and a must-read for fans of contemporary fiction.

Martin’s pitch-perfect prose is enriched by the fact that Leah is a quiet, completely authentic heroine.  Although the book starts off rather slowly and takes a while to let the story really unfold, it never feels like it’s dragging.  Rather, it seems like a calculated move to allow Leah a natural progression in her thaw after being frozen in her own grief for so long.  Once Leah gets out of her head and starts interacting in the world again, the story leaps to life.

Sad, sensual, and emotionally raw, this novel doesn’t shy away from its heroine’s darkest moments.  Martin also allows her twenty-year-old heroine to be a sexual being, and the novel offers some pretty sexy scenes for readers.  Never gratuitous, this novel is as authentic a coming-of-age as I’ve ever seen.

Highly, highly recommended.  Come See About Me is out now.

Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin. 2012. Borrowed copy.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  The purpose of the meme is to discuss books we are reading this week, as well as books we completed the previous week.

Books I Completed This Week:
What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney: Even though there’s purportedly another Janie novel to be published sometime in the near future, it feels good to have finished the original series.
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake: I was hesitant about this sequel to the deeply creepy, well-written Anna Dressed in Blood, but it didn’t disappoint.  It was good. Review to come.


Books I’m Reading This Week:

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy: A book that has been on my radar for a while, I’ve decided that I need a break from some of the YA.  So I’m going dark.
Small Damages by Beth Kephart: I can’t wait to start this one.  It’s gotten good buzz, so I’m looking forward to it.
What are you reading this week?

Viewed this Week (20)

Inspired by Ticket to Anywhere’s What I Watched, I’ve decided to try to post on Sundays about what movies and/or TV shows I watched the week before.  Some weeks will be epic, and some weeks…won’t be.  There’s no hurt in trying, though, right?

TV:
A bunch of Switched at Birth, Season 1

Movies:
Looking for Alibrandi
The Hunger Games
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I

Thoughts on what I watched:

In desperate need of total distraction, I’ve been rewatching the first season of Switched at Birth (which is a nice way to refresh myself before the new season starts in like a week).  I still totally love the show but also think it’s kind of ridiculous.  As I’ve watched the episodes again, I’ve found that the faces Daphne makes when she’s supposed to be nervous, uncertain, or uncomfortable are sort of odd.  It’s like she graduated from the Ben McKenzie school of acting, circa the first season of The O.C.  Whatever. I still love this show.

My sister reread Looking for Alibrandi and then insisted on watching the film version, so the two of us watched it this week.  Despite the fact that the movie switches around a lot of the events (and lessens the emotional impact of many of the book’s subplots), it’s a pretty faithful adaptation of the source material (and the script was written by Marchetta herself).  It was fun to revisit a movie that I loved when I was about 15.

She and I also watched The Hunger Games, even though we’d both seen it.  Rewatching it was emotional, but not as much as it was the first time through.  I still think this is one of the strongest book-t0-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen.  I love it.

While watching THG, we started talking about Twilight, and when I explained the birth scene in Breaking Dawn, my sister insisted we watch the movie.  So we did.  The entire time we were watching it, T. was exclaiming, “This is a joke, right? This can’t be real. This is awful.”  In short, it was an amazing viewing experience.  Awesome.

 

What did you watch this week?

Returning Fall TV Shows

Back in late May, I posted about the new shows I’m looking forward to.  I thought that with fall nearly here, it was time to revisit the returning shows I’m most excited about.  Okay, you got me: I’m having trouble coming up with blog post ideas.  Either way, I love to talk about TV, so this should be golden, right?  Right. Onward.

Switched at Birth (ABC Family, Mondays, September 3rd)

Arguably my most embarrassing guilty pleasure (which is saying something), I can’t wait for the premiere of Switched at Birth.  I don’t know what it is about this show that keeps me coming back. The acting is not great at all, the writing is often clunky, and the story lines are totally predictable.  That being said, I’m fascinated by Deaf culture and am desperate to learn how to sign ASL.  I love watching the characters navigate their differences, and my crush on Sean Berdy is well-documented.  I love this show, guys, and I can’t wait to see how off-the-rails it gets this season.

Parenthood (NBC, Tuesdays, September 11th)

This is probably my favorite show on TV right now.  I think the cast as a whole is great, and while I find some of the character’s plights more compelling than others, I love watching the family interact with one another.  I love the way everyone talks over each other and how emotionally authentic the show feels.  Sure, there are ridiculous elements to the show, but I love it all the same.  Plus, how can you go wrong with Mae Whitman and Lauren Graham (and Jason Ritter)?  YOU CAN’T, IS HOW.

Parks & Recreation (Thursdays, NBC, September 2oth)

Despite some people claiming that last season was the strongest, I don’t completely agree.  However, I still think this is one of the funniest comedies on TV right now with one of the best overall casts, in terms of chemistry.  I can’t wait to see what happens this year with Leslie and Ben and the rest of the parks crew.

New Girl (FOX, Tuesdays, September 25th)

This was the show that won me over slowly, and then all at once.  It’s no secret that the show really belongs to Max Greenfield’s Schmidt now, but the rest of the cast (including Deschanel, who is still my ultimate girl-crush) is pretty great, too.  The show is strongest when the cast is together, drinking beer and talking about nothing.  Here’s to much more of that this season.  I can’t wait.

What returning shows are you most looking forward to?

Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily is tough and wild and maybe a little magical.  Adopted into a tribe in Neverland, she’s always on the outside.  When she meets the elusive and captivating Peter Pan, she finds herself drawn to him.  It doesn’t take long before Tiger Lily is willing to risk everything in her world–including those she loves–in order to be with him.  Things in Neverland are constantly changing, though, and Tiger Lily’s future isn’t guaranteed to be happy.

A retelling of Peter Pan whose jacket flap summary plays up a potential love triangle could easily be dismissed as more of the paranormal romance that’s flooding the YA market these days.  Fortunately, Jodi Lynn Anderson’s Tiger Lily surpasses all expectations and ends up being a haunting, lyrical tale of one girl’s self-discovery.  Coincidentally, it’s one of the best YA books of the year.

Narrating this dark, oftentimes slow tale is the miniscule and totally mute Tinkerbell, who becomes obsessed with Tiger Lily. She follows her around and watches as the events of Tiger Lily’s fifteenth year unfold.  While Tinkerbell is virtually powerless against humans, she has a strong voice that helps bring the characters and the setting to life.  It is difficult to get inside Tiger Lily’s head, but Tinkerbell helps the reader understand her actions and motivations.  The supporting characters are well drawn, complicated, and deeply flawed.  Everything about the book’s characterization is excellent, and sophisticated readers will devour this story.

The book is a richly re-imagined take on Neverland, and although it is much darker and much more sinister than readers are familiar with, there’s something completely captivating about it.  Although the novel moves at a fairly relaxed pace, there’s still an undercurrent of tension that makes it impossible to put this one down.  The ending is sad but fairly satisfying.  Anderson is at her best with this most recent offering.

Highly, highly recommended.

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Harper Collins Children’s Books: 2012. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Expected Release Date: January 15, 2013

Anna remembers a time before boys, when she was little and everything made sense. When she and her mom were a family, just the two of them against the world. But now her mom is gone most of the time, chasing the next marriage, bringing home the next stepfather. Anna is left on her own—until she discovers that she can make boys her family. From Desmond to Joey, Todd to Sam, Anna learns that if you give boys what they want, you can get what you need. But the price is high—the other kids make fun of her; the girls call her a slut. Anna’s new friend, Toy, seems to have found a way around the loneliness, but Toy has her own secrets that even Anna can’t know.

Then comes Sam. When Anna actually meets a boy who is more than just useful, whose family eats dinner together, laughs, and tells stories, the truth about love becomes clear. And she finally learns how it feels to have something to lose—and something to offer. Real, shocking, uplifting, and stunningly lyrical, Uses for Boys is a story of breaking down and growing up.

(summary via Goodreads)

Provided the novel doesn’t cross over into total didacticism, this sounds like the kind of contemporary YA that I absolutely adore and devour and want to talk about all the time.  I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high for it, but the early buzz (like, really early) is largely positive, and if the blurb is to be believed, this one will be an important release next year (maybe that’s just wistful thinking on my part?)

What are you waiting on this week?

Book Review: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

Lexington Larrabee is one of America’s most famous teen heiresses, and she’s never had to do any work as a result.  On her 18th birthday, Lexington is set to receive her millions until her father decides she needs to build character and needs some consequences to her recent actions.  In order to receive her money, Lexington will have to work a new minimum-wage job every week for an entire year.  Things get worse when she’s assigned a handler in the form of an annoying college intern working for her father.  But as Lexington begins to experience life for the other 99%, she starts to figure out who she is, too.

Jessica Brody’s riches-to-rags story doesn’t provide the reader any reason to hate it, but it also doesn’t allow for much love, either.  The story is so transparent in its formula that it’s difficult to muster any sort of feelings for the book, one way or another.  While it will certainly engage readers looking for silly, light fun, the book isn’t memorable in any way.

Virtually nothing about the story surprises.  Everything happens exactly as you’d expect it to: Lexington whines and complains until she learns a valuable lesson about hard work.  She begins to change with the help of Luke, the intern hired to watch her progress.  The two have a bland, predictable romance.  I try to stay awake as a result.  There’s nothing new here, and that’s disappointing.

The characters are all flat and lifeless.  Not a single person in the story seems to exist in an authentic way.  Instead, readers are treated to every possible stereotype, and that’s all.  Although Brody’s writing is competent, especially in the case of Lexington’s voice, it’s not enough to save this novel from mediocrity.

Might be fun for readers looking for fluffy summer escapism, but it doesn’t even do that well.  It’s kind of like the short-lived Paris Hilton reality show “The Simple Life” in that it presents a lot of the same concepts with about as much creativity.

52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody. Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 2012. Library copy.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.  The purpose of the meme is to discuss books we are reading this week, as well as books we completed the previous week.

Books I Completed This Week:
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney: I don’t know.  I just…started them.
Whatever Happened to Janie? by Caroline B. Cooney: I feel compelled to finish this series, and I’m so busy these days that something this easy is all I have the brain space for.  Review to come.
The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney: I don’t understand why the story continues to be drawn out the way it is, but I’m determined to finish this stuff.

Books I’m Reading This Week:
What Janie Found by Caroline B. Cooney: I’m almost done.  I have to see how it ends.

I don’t know what else I’m going to read this week as my slump continues.

What are you reading this week?