Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Description: “Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate (about eating disorders, death, etc.)
Sexual: Mild

This book touched a lot of issues, not just my own but for many other teenage girls (and some boys) who feel as though they will never be perfect until they lose that last pound. There was a time that I was a bit like Lia was— not as bad as she was with her eating habits (counting calories, stepping on scale and checking weight twenty times a day in hopes of achieving those goals, etc.), but if I continued there would be a high chance I would be like her today, or worse.

I believe that the beginning of the story can be a very big trigger for someone who is immune to or struggling with an eating disorder, and especially someone who is bullied or just wants this for themselves. If you want to begin this story, I feel I have to be honest with this. Eating disorders are not something to play around with; they are very dangerous and can very well leave you alone in a dirty old motel room dead, such as Lia’s friend. Because I know more about eating disorders than I’d care to admit and I know how it works extremely well by now, this novel did not affect me as much as it could others who are new to this or struggling with it. But it still had a large significance to the reason I had to stop telling myself what I was doing was wrong and to stop doing it. Even though I still feel bad about eating, whether it is a larger portion or a minimum, I know what could happen if I stop overall and I definitely know I do not want this to happen.

This being admitted, just beware before you begin this. But I do believe that this is a good book for someone to read. It touches on a level that many people are afraid to get into, and I respect the author for going into the deepest depths of the story. If you are as empathetic as I am, you will be swimming in the wide sea of transitions and countless issues that you have faced or are on the weak level of fronting.

Cover: I like the cover, because it is unique and has that feel to it that makes you want to crack that spine and read the book from start to finish.

Setting: The setting was never mentioned, but as it was snowing and the author is also from this specific location, I would assume the novel takes place in New York.

Characters: The lead character in the story, Lia, although a strong girl, obliviously forces more problems onto herself instead of washing them away in the sink her blood goes down the drain into. She cannot go to her father, who watches her every move as though she were some spectacle until wary observation, nor can she go to her stepmother or her real mother, the woman who basically abandoned her. Her younger sister is adorable and tries to help Lia in ways only a young child will try. Although their commitment to her is unwavering, Lia shoves their love and help away from her as she continues on, not wanting to be the girl everyone labels fat and ugly. She doesn’t accept any help until it is forced upon her by those she never expected would enter into her life and would comfort her the way they did.

Storyline: The storyline is a sad but relatable and touches on issues some authors have been afraid to pursue. It is quite helpful in some aspects, but you should beware with the beginning because it can be a trigger to the gun that is bulimia and depression.

Writing: The descriptions in the book enthralled me, especially the ones about food and her cutting (as horrible as it may sound, this has always interested me), and the imagery was utterly amazing. It has just the right amount of simplicity in some areas and the perfect amount of definition in others.

Surprises: There might be a few surprises to many others who have never read reviews or heard about this specific story before, but considering I have foolishly done this, the ending was a bit spoiled for me. It did, however, end the way I would have liked for Lia and those who care about her.

Overall: 4.5 stars. A very moving piece, this story is not one that anyone can easily forget after reading. Do not pick this book up if you are squeamish, for it has cutting and several disorders mentioned.

Recommended: I would recommend this story to the older teen crowd or those who are more mature, as it has serious issues involved in it, and those who are either struggling with the same problem or have a friend or family member who are, so they could help and advise them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: Twilite: A Parody by Sue Knott

Description: This parody skewers the best-selling novel about the sparkly undead. Whether you're a "Twilight" lover or hater*, you'll laugh out loud. The scribd preview generated over 50,000 hits, a 5-star rating and rave reviews including:
"I love Twilight. But I swear I think I almost love this even more."
"This was hilarious!"
"boi i luv this book!! amazing"

Whether you're a "Twilight" lover or hater, you will enjoy the non-stop humor and subtle commentary on that best-seller's view of the world. (If you haven't read "Twilight," you'll just say, "Hunh?" If you've seen the movie, but haven't read the book, we're not sure what you'll think...let us know!)

People ask whether it's worth reading all 498 pages of "Twilight" just to truly appreciate "TwiLITE A Parody." That's a tough question. "Twilight" is a page-turner, but you'll never get those hours back. However, if you really, really love to snicker, it's worth it. 

Do not confuse this parody with fan fiction. This is a true parody. It follows Stephenie's book non-event by non-event, exposing the ridiculous every step of the way. Its stars are Edward Sullen and Bella Swoon, and boy is she clumsy.

Because author, Sue Knott, believes Twilight's endless descriptive passages of vampire hunkieness could not possibly be rendered more absurd, only the "meat" of the original novel is mocked. That makes this parody blessedly shorter than the lengthy vampire tome it skewers...but you'll wish there were more! 

This is the perfect gift for friends who don't understand why you don't like Twilight.
Read it. Laugh. And come back to share your review. 

*Disclaimer: haters find it funnier than fans.

Language: Mild
Violence: Mild
Sexual: Mild

Honestly, I am not a huge fan of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, so reading a parody on it was awesome and a nice change to my reading norms. It’s not that I strongly dislike Twilight, but it is not something I generally leap at the chance to buy or read. This book is another thing I would not charge to the book store to buy, but it is one I am glad to have read. It is an interesting and rather hilarious story for me, considering it is fairly unusual for me to read parodies. But it sounded unique, and I thank First Reads for allowing me to read and review this piece.

Despite the fact that Twilite: A Parody is not the lengthiest story (at around one hundred and twenty pages), it is a funny and insightful book, making the original novel by Stephenie Meyer have a new insight on the fellas such as I whose hearts are not won by the vampire/werewolf/human love triangle. This being said, I could chuckle numerous times throughout this parody, clearly knowing before I started that I would not be offended whatsoever, but humored.

Cover: Simple, it plays off of the cover of Twilight with a funny twist.

Setting: Phoenix.

Characters: The author makes fun of the characters, changing their names to sound similar to the characters created by Stephenie Meyer but making them more amusing to the reader, and manages to make the reader laugh at their obliviousness and lack of integrity throughout this well-told parody.

Storyline: A girl moves to a small town, and thus begins the blossoming of a romance and adventure nobody in the story expected would ever happen. Unique, I know. Call me sarcastic.

Writing: I enjoyed reading the hilarious writing style as I strolled through this quick read.

Surprises: Predictable but still entertaining, this is a story that both makes fun of and brings more insight onto the original story it plays off of.

Overall: 3 stars. This is very different from anything I have ever read before, which is something that is easy for me to state because I read very few parodies, and it is a read that may annoy some readers from time-to-time. Although extremely short in size and with bigger print, this book has a longer feel to it (probably because of all the exclamation points Bella uses and incorrect grammar I could pick out quickly).

Recommended: I would recommend this to anyone who loves parodies, doesn’t prefer Twilight, and will push the offensiveness of the fans aside for an enlightening read.

January Book Haul

   Here's a sad fact: I haven't been reading much lately. And you all know what that means. Yes, it is true. I am overload with the outside world and have very few moments of brief imaginary conceptions. I only managed to read about two books last month, and therefore I have only three new books this month, two of which I won on GoodReads' First Reads.

                                                                                    (SIGNED)                                              (POSSIBLY SIGNED)

So you see, I was only able to buy one book. (But that was only because I was at the grocery store and my father stated that I could either get candy or a book. You can guess which one I picked.) But, let me know if you have read any of these before and how you enjoyed them!

What books did you receive this month?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: Hide and Seek by Sara Shepard

My friends and I used to play lying games.

Now my twin sister is living one.

When I was alive, my family seemed picture-perfect. My adoptive parents adored me, and my little sister, Laurel, copied my every move. But now that my long-lost twin, Emma, has taken my place to solve my murder, we're both learning just how flawed my family really is.

Laurel is shooting Emma nasty looks and sneaking around with my ex-boyfriend. And it turns out my parents are keeping a huge secret--could it be the reason I'm dead?

How far would they go to keep the truth buried? No one can harm me now, but Emma is still fair game. And if she's not careful, she'll end up buried, too. . . .

Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Sexual: Mild

When I first began this series, I was really enjoying discovering the secrets and killer lies this story brought force, bringing out my inner sleuth along with it. I thought the plot was fairly unique and the writing style smoothly played along the continuous flipping of pages. But I found that as the story continues, it lacked the depth and mysterious thrills that tagged nearby.

I never particularly liked the games Sutton and her friends played on people, that they called “pranks.” What they would consider hilarious jokes, I would consider premature homicidal activities that needed to be watched closely by a therapist or psychiatrist, at best. Nobody seemed to enjoy Sutton’s company after pulling these pranks on her friends, which I don’t understand because, even though hers might have brought out her mental instability I imagine she must’ve had by then, her friends went along with it and pulled out some foolery of their own. But did anyone despise them? Yes, but not like they did Sutton.

There was something that began to get on my last nerve about these books. Through the second book, it felt like nothing was really happening. It was as though nothing had happened from the first book. These novels always leave with a cliffhanger, leaving open your thoughts for the killer, but it never ends with any closure, nor does it pursue our ambitions. The cliffhangers were seemingly for nothing at all, really.

I am not sure if I have such feelings about this series because I watch the TV series before reading the story itself (but I don’t think this is the case, considering the show is completely different than the novels), but I have doubts whether or not to continue reading the last two books. Apparently I am not the only one with feelings about these books, and about the Pretty Little Liars series, that of which I have not previously read but have the same dragging storyline. It makes me feel as though I wasted my money on the books that don’t even continue the story, and I don’t like that about Sara’s writing style.

Cover: Honestly, I like the designs for these covers. Or maybe it’s just the fashionista in me that enjoys the interesting styles the twins have.

Setting: A small town with big fashion, catty teenagers, and deceiving secrets.

Characters: Spiteful and selfish characters were what apparently made up this entire series. Hardly any of them had any good aspects in them, and most were rude and incompetent, even the parents and sister who I had some hope for in the beginning. Despite the fact that Sutton remembers nothing, she is still able to be just as much of a twit as she used to be. Emma is growing into the similar character her twin sister unfortunately was.

Storyline: The search to find Sutton’s murderer continues.

Writing: It had an easy and swift flow to it, but it lacks depth and builds up nothing at all.

Surprises: There were no surprises that made me gasp, but that was probably because I watched the television series beforehand.

Overall: 3.5 stars, because it did not fulfill my ambitions for the series, unfortunately. Although it is a thrilling read, there are just too many things I didn’t care for.

Recommended: If you enjoyed the PLL series, also by Sara Shepard, and you don’t mind basically reading the same story with each sequel to it, then I would recommend this to you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

There are six things very wrong with my life:

1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.

2. It is on my nose

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.

4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.

5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.

6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.

In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones's Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it's "Fabbity fab fab!"

Language: Mild (British slang)
Violence: Very Mild
Sexual: Mild/Moderate (descriptive kissing)

When I picked up Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, I was hoping for a light read that would make me laugh my head off. It was a light read, I can assure you, for nothing besides the “drama” of everyday life and the trials of growing up and learning that not everything will end perfectly or the way you imagined, but in other ways, it dragged on in some parts and showed the story rather than letting us see it through our imaginations.

It wasn’t that I necessarily dislike the book, but I just felt it to be very juvenile on some things and too mature on others. For instance, Georgia’s list was a bit too…much for me. It was vague, but I didn’t really appreciate it. Obviously the details in it were not vague, but it never went further than kissing. Nonetheless, most of the story was about Georgia learning how to kiss, deal with life, boys, and other things that caused all kinds of refreshing angst.

Cover: I will be honest when I say that I am not a fan of this version of the cover. Yes, it shows some of her uniform, plus the cat at the bottom is a nice touch, but it’s too cartoony for my taste. Once the cover jacket is off, however, it is a plaid design, and I do like that one much better so I shall uncharacteristically put it up on my bookshelf in that way.

Setting: UK.

Characters: I am not going to go through all of the characters in the story, because of how many there were and this is a quick review, but I will say that many of them were whiney and troublesome in their own ways. For example: all Georgia seemed to care about was herself and what she wanted and who she wanted to be with (this was the case with many of the characters). Her parents were hardly in the story at all, merely mentioned at times, but it was odd how she saw them, considering how they had the mental ability of her toddler sister, in her eyes.

Storyline: A coming-of-age story about a girl who feels the need to show the world she is grown up, and in doing so acting immature as she discovers the world of boys, kissing, real friends, and dealing with her parents and little sister who poops in the secret corners of Georgia’s bedroom.

Writing: The writing style is all right. You can definitely tell that the author is trying to write from a naïve fourteen year old’s point of view, in an amusing manner.

Surprises: There weren’t a whole lot surprises, but that was probably because I decided it was a “good idea” to watch the movie beforehand (although I watched it around two months ago). Where there weren’t many surprises, it was replaced by a lot of amusing moments.

Overall: 3 stars. Although it wasn’t the most intellectual read, it was pretty funny at times and seeing Georgia mess up and her friends be corky and amusing was pretty entertaining to read about. So whether or not you have the right sense of humor for this novel, there has to be on aspect of it you can appreciate.

Recommended: I recommend this one to all people who want a funny and entertaining read, whether you are young or just young at heart.

“Look, I can't go out with you, because...because...because I'm a lesbian.” 

“When uncle Eddie does his impression of 'Like a Virgin' it's like Madonna is coming out of his body!'
Christ what an image.”

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Description: Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. 

Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in. 

But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

Language: Moderate/Heavy
Violence: Moderate/Heavy
Sexual: Mild

There is no way I can write this review without having some spoilers. So you have been warned. Read further at your own risk.

Cara is a girl nobody has paid much attention to since she moved to this new town full of fresh starts and new opportunities. But she doesn’t see this in that optimistic fashion, and therefore does not seem to make a huge effort to make any new friends. She is pretty much invisible until she gets distracted staring at Ethan and a baby carrot gets lodged in her windpipe, and that is where the bullying really begins.


Perhaps this is one of the reasons Zoe dislikes Alexis and Sydney so much; firstly, because Alexis is Ethan’s girlfriend, and secondly, because Sydney and Alexis have never been on a good side with Cara, despite the fact that she did nothing to bother them besides that Heimlich situation. The thing is, Zoe is very close to Cara and would do absolutely anything to help her out.


Lost in a web of accusations and crime, Cara practically watches from the sidelines as one girl is found dead, and not too long afterwards she hears of another girl missing. What little remorse Cara has for the fact that the two bullies are dead and missing is long gone. Or at least, it is for Zoe.

But lately, Zoe has been extremely odd. Cara’s mother’s cat is scratching at her at any chance he can get, and let’s not forget the fact that she continues leaving Cara’s room and going to the fairly-abandoned farm. Something is definitely up with Zoe, but she doesn’t let Cara even ask what her problem is. Now her parents are getting suspicious and, as it always been, it’s all Zoe’s fault.

You should be grateful.

And Clara should be grateful she has her best friend back. And she is at first, until she watches her best friend slowly wither away before her very eyes. Is she sick? And why does she disappear in all the opportune moments?

I did all of this for you.

In Choker, you won’t just discover things aren’t always stated by-the-book, nor will you just understand more about Clara or Zoe. By the time you finish reading this thrilling adventure, you will also discover a little bit more about yourself. It will leave you thinking long after you finish it and then some.

But remember one last thing.

Be careful not to choke.

Cover: I really like this cover, but I wish it had more to do with the actual story behind it. I’m wondering if the rose on the cover relates to the phrase: “Every rose has its thorn.”

Setting: A small town, high school filled with drama, and a realization that puts Cara way in over her head.

Characters: Cara is a girl who feels secluded, nervousness, and slight depression because she moved away from her “friend.” Because of some of the things she said and did, she was not my favorite character, but the story leaks out strong emotion coming from her and her reactions were realistic, and I enjoyed that.
-Zoe: from who Cara remembers as a nice but mischievous friend she left back home is slowly dissipating the more she comes to know Zoe after she finds her randomly sitting on her bed.
-Cara’s parents: although caring, they can be a little overprotective of her at times. The amount of times they were asking her if she was okay made me sigh along with Cara. But as the story progressed, I understood the reason for their worries.
-Ethan, Alexis, and Sidney: also known as the popular crowd, Ethan, a sweet and thoughtful boy who Cara has a crush on but happens to be dating a very protective, jealous, rude, and catty Alexis. Sidney is Alexis’ best friend, who is more of the side-kick, but is very close to Alexis nonetheless.

Storyline: A depressed girl finds herself wound deep in a terrifying adventure after she finds her best friend she moved away from sitting on her bed one day.

Writing: Honestly, I liked the writing. It described the emotions of Cara very well and the descriptions of the murders weren’t over-the-topic but still specific, something the squeamish readers will appreciate.

Surprises: The end made my jaw drop. There was some predictability in this book, but the ending was heartbreaking.

Overall: 4.5 stars. If you want a quick read that’ll keep you interested, this one is for you.

Recommended: I would definitely recommend Choker. Read this if you love a good psychological thriller that isn’t freaky enough to make you sleep with the lights on, but is scary enough to make you look over your shoulder and sneak into your own intricate personalities.