Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
This novel takes place in a southern Georgia town after World War I. Four characters feel like there is more to life and are just looking to find it. They feel isolated and misunderstood. These misfits find solace in John Singer, a deaf-mute. Carson McCullers then takes us through the lives and thoughts of these 5 people and what it means to be lonely.
This is the novel that I chose to read for my English Honors novel project, and it was pretty good. It was a little slow at times, but it’s a kind of heavy read. I liked how I was able to relate to a lot of things, even though this book was written 70 years ago.
It was a really thought provoking story and has some deep meanings. I also had to research the author, and everything I learned was really interesting. I really enjoyed this story an would recommend it to someone if they had to do a novel project like I did. 4 out of 5 stars.

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number
Poppy Wyatt’s life is perfect. She is engaged to the most amazing man and has a job she loves. But when she loses her wedding ring, everything starts to fall apart. In her panic, her phone also gets stolen from her. Now where are people going to call if they find her ring?! Poppy looks in a trashcan and finds a phone. Finders keepers right? She’ll just use it until her ring is found. But the phone’s owner, Sam Roxton, is not happy. Especially when Poppy starts reading his messages and “fixing” his life. But as Poppy and Sam start facing their lives and denials, they realize that nothing is as they thought it was.
This was such a cute, fun story. It was hilarious, and you find yourself loving Poppy as a person. She’s so adorable and easy to relate to. Especially when she plays Scrabble (LOL). And the footnotes were just too funny.
The real only complaint I have was the flap that has the summary. Sam and Poppy do not “upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages”. I hate when the summaries do that!
Another thing that’s notable is that when people send texts, they do not sign their name at the end of every one. And people don’t say things like “hi wts up? Wnt 2 go 2 d movi?” But unlike my previous rant of misleading texts, it was tolerable.
I like how as frivolous as this story is, it really does have some good messages worth remembering. And there are a lot of unpredictable events in this book! It’s a hilarious novel that’s worth reading on a lazy afternoon. Sophie Kinsella doesn’t disappoint at all, or at least for me. 5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Envy (Empty Coffin #1) by Gregg Olsen

Envy (Empty Coffin, #1)

When 15 year-old Katelyn is electrocuted by a coffee maker and found dead in her bathtub, her death is pronounced accidental. But twins Hayley and Taylor feel that it was more than that. They feel that things are not always what they seem, and that they must find out why Katelyn died. Could it have been murder? Or suicide? Either way they know something's up, and they're going to figure it out.

I was intrigued by the creepy looking cover and the interesting plot. It's based on a real story about cyberbullying. Interesting enough, correct? Correct. This should have been a five-star book hands down. But there were a few things that bothered me.

On the positive side, I like the message that this book sends about cyberbullying and how it shows the evil side of humans. I liked the mystery of it all and how it came together. It was fun and suspenseful. The plot is really interesting too. The characters were pretty realistic, and I liked how you got to see into all of their differnent minds and their ambitions. And unlike some stories, I wasn't able to predict the ending for this one. I had a basic idea, but it was a lot more complicated than I thought. I also liked the title and the cover choices. And where the title comes from, I thought that was pretty cool. But on the cover it says "murder is such a dirty word", when the book isn't... really... yeah. You'll see.

About the bad things, I felt that Gregg Olsen was trying TOO hard to be hip and cool and relate this to teens. That is who it's written for, after all. He includes many text messages and IMs in his book, which is fine by me. But the thing that was annoying was the shortened text lingo. I don't know where you adults get off, but us kids do not talk like that. I love texting, and I have NEVER encountered anyone who talks like they did. Because no one does. Her mutilates their messages so something like: "I'm busy right now, I'll talk to you later" would be "bzy rt nw, ttul :P". And you as a reader are like, wtf... There were times I had to read them very slowly because I had no idea what they were talking about. Nobody talks like that. Does it really take that much more time to type out actual words?

Another thing was the supernatural aspect. I can handle a whole "twin sense" thing, because I believe that there are some things in this world that just cannot be explained. But the whole "I'm going to submerge myself in a bathtub and let letters come to me" and "now they are pulsing from Scrabble letters" just made me roll my eyes. It just seemed TOO hokey and unrealistic. I like stories that blend fact and fiction together, but I don't like when its really obvious what is real and what isn't.

I knew that this was only the first book in a series, but I had hoped that there would be different situations and characters. I was a little disappointed to find out that they would be the same. I mean, how many crimes can one town have? But yeah...

I'm interested to seeing what the other books in this series (and their covers) will be like and I may just have to read them. I recommend this one if the plot entertains you, but I'm warning you not to get your hopes up! 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Have you ever asked yourself "What if?" What if Hadley hadn't gotten into a fight with her mom that morning? What if she hadn't been four minutes late? Hadley is forced to go across seas and timezones to be present at her dad's second wedding. She doesn't want to go, because who wants to visit a dad who left you and your mom and haven't seen for a few years, only to be invited to be the maid of honor in his wedding to another woman? She misses her plane and is stuck on the next flight, where the stars have it that she meets a cute British boy named Oliver. Hadley soon realizes that things are not always what they seem and that second chances are allowed.

I wasn't expecting too much out of this novel, but it sounded cute so I borrowed my friend's book. I apologize ahead of time for the short review.

The plot is quick paced and the characters are all very realistic and lovable. Though slightly predictable, it's still cute and fun. This is the type of book I can see being turned into a cheesy Hollywood movie. That would be okay, as long as they cast a really cute guy as Oliver. Like.... Ryan Reynolds! Except he's too old to be Oliver and not British (but hot). Maybe like one of the guys from One Direction.. If they acted haha :D

This is a story that takes you through the highs and lows of a teenage life, while exploring love and family matters at the same time. It's a cute quick read, but not anything super special. 4 out of 5 stars.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm

In a satirical novel of Communist Russia, Orwell tells a story about how Manor Farm's animals are treated cruelly and decide to revolt against Farmer Jones. They establish a new way of running the farm based on the idea that all animals are created equal. However as time passes, it seems to be that that is no longer the case.

This is my second time reading Animal Farm. The first time I read this, which was last year, we had not learned about the Russian Revolution in school. Now a year later we learned about the Russian Rev, so I decided to re-read the book. Why would a school make kids read Animal Farm before their sophomore year, which is where you learn what it was based on? That's just... strange.

This is a really cool story in the way that it satires Stalin and Lenin, etc. Now that I actually know the stuff, I liked seeing how it all played out with animals. This is probably my favorite book I've had to read in high school because it's so simple, yet not. It wasn't boring at all and was easy to follow. I think Orwell did a perfect job of getting his point across and explaining human nature. I recommend that you read this one at some point or another. 4 out of 5 stars.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights

Lockwood travels to Wuthering Heights in hope that he can heal from his broken heart. He finds the people living there fascinating, and his servant tells him the dramatic history of Heathcliff, the Lintons, and the Earnshaws. Heathcliff and Catherine fell in love at a young age, but misfortune forced them apart. Years later, Heatcliff returns to find his Catherine married to someone else. He becomes obsessed with getting revenge with every one who he blames for his loss.

I had to read this book for Honors English and if it hadn't been required reading, I probably would have liked it a lot more. As one of my guy friends pointed out, it's basically a literary soap opera.

I love how thought-provoking it is. Is Heathcliff insane and obsessed? Or is he really just THAT in love with Catherine? There is so much going on and so many questions that arise from it. And then there is like incest. Which is... interesting.There are so many complications and things that the author doesn't tell you. Like is Nelly Dean really telling the truth? Or is she making up parts? And it can even be argued that she loves Heathcliff herself.

The only thing that I didn't like about Wuthering Heights was how confusing it was. It's a "frame story" meaning that there are narrators telling of other narrators. Even though Nelly Dean is telling the majority of the story, it is really Lockwood who is writing all of this down in his diary. So it can be a little confusing to keep track of who is talking. Especially with all the weird punctuation. And the character names. It gets to be quite complicated! There is Catherine Earnshaw, the one who loves Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton, her daughter. And then there is Edgar, who is sometimes referred to as "Linton" and then another character named "Linton". I had to keep a family tree near me when I read so I wouldn't get confused.

Though slightly confusing and as required reading, Wuthering Heights wasn't all that bad. It's a timeless story that can still be loved today. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

The Lucky One

Logan Thibault (pronounced "T-bow", not "Thigh-balt") is an ex-marine. In Iraq, he found a picture of a woman and posted it on the bulletin board. Weeks passed and no one claimed it, so he took it for himself. He found himself becoming luckier, whether it be in poker or in combat. His friend, Victor, insists that it is a lucky charm though Logan doesn't really believe it. When they are sent home, Victor encourages him to seek the woman out because he "owes her". He does, and meets Beth. Beth lives in a small North Carolina town and is a single mother. They fall in love. And then there is Clayton, Beth's evil ex. He doesn't like Thibault, and he especially doesn't like him near Beth or her son.

I swore I would never read another Nicholas Sparks book, and look what happened. The movie is coming at the end of this month, so I figured I would read it... lol.

First of all, I will put aside the obvious similarities and formula that Sparks uses while writing novels. If I didn't, I would spend this entire review ranting about how its like the exact same thing as his other books. Anyways.

One thing Sparks does wonderfully is his character development. The Lucky One is told in three points of view: Logan's, Beth's, and Clayton's. Each character has their own voice and way of thinking that is extraordinarily realistic. You can even follow and almost sympathize with Clayton through his words, even though he's the "bad guy". And that's a really weird thing to find yourself relating to the villain and being like "oh, I see where he's coming from." It's awesome at the same time though.
The storyline is a little slow at the beginning, but afterward is pretty quick paced. The plot is interesting and generates many different emotions.

And the ending... After reading The Best of Me, I was expecting the worse. And I was about ready to kill Nicholas Sparks when I was reading that last chapter. Lucky for Sparks, he is still alive right now.

Overall, this is a really sweet romance. It's a light read, though not too special. I look forward to when the movie comes out at the end of the month. I will probably be dragging my reluctant boyfriend with me haha :D . 4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mocking Jay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

Mockingjay is the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. District 12 is gone and Katniss and a few other tributes have been evacuated to District 13, where they will live now. Luckily she is reunited with her family and Gale. But Peeta is in the Capitol’s hands. Katniss is free of being a pawn, or is she? Thirteen wants her to be the face of the war, but all Katniss wants is to kill Snow. What is the right thing to do? And who can she really trust?


There are so many aspects of this novel that I enjoyed, and a few things that I didn’t. I liked how this story was so much more than people think it is. They think it’s a wonderful dystopian series, which it is. But what people overlook is how closely it characterizes humans as a whole. I’ve read the Uglies a cajillion times and so I could pretty much predict what was going to happen. Putting that aside, I believe that Collins correctly portrays human nature and their strive for power. It reminds me a bit of Lord of the Flies thinking. 

The war aspect was portrayed perfectly, because it was very realistic and historically based. In the author's note, she mentions that she knows a lot about war, which leads to the great way that she can create a literary one.

I liked how this is not a romance. Yes, there is a love triangle, but the romance does not take over or distract from Katniss' story and true purpose. Which is a very nice thing to see in a book that has so much hype. And for every one who is like, "Team Gale or Peeta?", I like Peeta better, but let us not forget that this is not a romance!!!!

I like how the author is not afraid to kill characters. Not all books can have a happy ending... 

The connection between roses and Prim’s name. Its very contradictory, because President Snow's roses are evil and symbolize the cruelty of the world. But at the same time, Prim is short for "primrose", which Katniss has to appreciate.

There were a lot of things that I didn’t like about the ending. One was Gale’s absence. He just… disappears at the end. And you don’t hear from him. It makes me angry. He was supposed to be her best friend, and look how much they communicate after the war is over! And then there’s Katniss. She chooses Peeta (which is fine by me because I liked him better. Oh yes, I chose sides!) and has children, but seems so nonchalant and like, “I’m with Peeta, but whatever. I could have lived without him…” And her children? She didn’t even want them and doesn’t mention their names. That bugs me because I think she could have thought of some really cool names. The fact that she doesn’t is significant and just… argh. And I like what the last line implies, but it’s so awkward and poorly formed in my opinion. “But there are so much worse games to play.” Isn’t that just awkward sounding? And last, how Katniss can’t just be a littttle bit happy. I understand she’s been through a lot, but it’s time for a new beginning. She can’t see just a little bit of that?

 At the end when they take the vote on a last Hunger Games, I really trusted Katniss to vote no. But she votes yes, “for Prim”. Since she experienced the Games twice and knows how horrible they are, why would she EVER want to put someone else through it? No matter how evil they were? And it’s not even the children. That bugged me so much and I lost a little respect for Katniss. And then we don’t even find out what happens with the Games! Darn you loose ends…

Overall, I think that Mockingjay is a daring way of ending the series, and I can see why some people didn't like it. There were definitely some things that bothered me. Despite the multiple things I can find wrong with this book, I did enjoy reading it. And for the entire series, I think it's worth reading if you love to read. If you are not the type of person that reads books for fun, I would like to recommend you read a different book that can offer you more than this hyped-over franchise. 4.5 out of 5 stars.