Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Feature: Bits 'n Pieces - Daphne Grab

Yes, the very exciting and hopefully fun-filled new feature is here! I figured that since I had no regularity or schedule to my blog I had to add something that everyone could look forward to and be excited for. I know that a bunch of other blogs out there do author interviews and guest blogs and while I still wanted to incorporate authors into the feature (how could I not), I wanted it to be different than anything else out there. Hopefully you guys like it!

So the basics of the new "Bits 'n Pieces" feature are as follows:
It is designed to focus on the author more than their works. I wanted to get down to 
all the fun little details about the people whose books we know and love. It's not a traditional interview format, but rather a collection of different little questions.
There will be a new feature posted every Wednesday. There might be some book giveaways, but that is obviously up to the author. 
If you want to see any authors featured or have any cool ideas, email me! I want to hear your thoughts on it. Definitely let me know what you think in the comments of this post. Other than that, enjoy!

Daphne Grab is the author of the marvelous book Alive and Well in Prague, New York. You can find my review of Alive and Well here. You can also visit Daphne's website here, and the awesome blog she shares with seven other authors here. What better name for it than The Longstockings? Pippi is, after all, one of the original spunky females of children's books. I am so glad that Daphne's the one kicking off my new feature because she provided some fun answers and is an all around great author. :) 

This or that:
Rain or shine?
I want to be artistic and like the rain but honestly I hate it- I hate the grey skies and I hate my feet getting wet. I am all about the shine!
iPod or mp3 player?
iPod loaded with ABBA and other embarrassing music.
Movies or TV?
Both but when pressed, movies. I am totally addicted to movies.
City or country?
I grew up in the country and like to visit, but I am a total city girl now.
Mountains or beaches?
Beaches! I love the beach.
Dots or stripes?
Hm, this one is a challenge but I’ll go with dots since I just bought some polka dotted rain boots that I love.
Dogs or cats?
I am a total cat person and worship my two kitties.
Cooking or eating out?
Both, though I love not having to do dishes after a meal.
Coffee or tea?
Herbal tea.
Books or magazines?
Definitely books. The only magazines I read are sports related.

It’s so hard to pick just one but probably THE CATCHER IN THE RYE which is the best portrayal of grief I’ve ever read.
Book store-
I love the Bank Street Bookstore which is my local indie.
I am pretty in love with THE LIVES OF OTHERS- it blew me away.
Music artist-
I hate to admit it but ABBA.
I really love Go Fug yourself- those girls crack me up and are spot on in their fashion assessment.
The lovely people who design for Anthropologie.
Coffee chain-
Since I’m an herbal tea geek I’d have to say the Tealuxe.
Guilty pleasure-
Cookies- I am a cookie fiend.
Candle 79, a swanky vegan place on the Upper East Side. My husband and I went there to celebrate when I sold PRAGUE.
Pink even though I’m a redhead and redheads aren’t supposed to wear pink.

Have you ever:
Lived abroad?
Yes, in China, Colombia, England and Costa Rica, all terrific places.
Gotten a tattoo?
No, I’m too scared of pain. And I worry that a year later I’d hate the design I chose.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book?
I waited many hours for Star Wars tickets, both for RETURN OF THE JEDI when I was a kid and then the first of the new trilogy- does that count?
Disliked your job?
Oh yes! I think the worst job I ever had was doing cleaning in a hotel. The woman I worked with was mean, the work was boring and I got paid close to nothing since people never left tips. But the worst was the mean woman- I think any work is doable if you are working with fun people.
Cried during a movie?
Yeah, I am a crier during good books, TV and movies. I cried buckets at the end of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (one of my favorites) and even a half hour later was still tearful on the subway home which was kind of embarrassing.
Sang karaoke?
No which is funny because I love to sing and ABBA is great stuff for karaoke.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
Soap, because I am a neat freak and would want to wash up every once in a while, and four books, long classics like ANNA KARENINA that I’ve never read. Oh, maybe three books and a box of cookies.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Travel to more places. I really want to see Egypt, Jordan and Chile.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
Probably to be able to go without sleep for the rest of my life- is that a super power? I could get so much done if I never had to sleep.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
A mix of ABBA Gold and the soundtrack to WICKED.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
Besides cookies I’d have to say my husband’s chicken tikka masala. He is a master of that dish.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
There are the countries I want to see but if I was offered a free ticket to anywhere leaving next week I’d choose Melbourne Australia because that’s where my best friend lives.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
The Civil Rights Movement. I’d love to have been part of something like that.
What does your dream library look like?
Filled with YA’s and MG’s that no one has spilled any food on. I hate reading a great book and turning to a page with a big smear of chocolate on it. Or what I hope is chocolate!
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Teen section every time.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
This is such a good but hard question. Probably THERE IS NO ME WITHOUT YOU, this amazing book about the problems facing people, especially kids, in Ethiopia. It has some really eye opening info that is tough to believe and she also has some re
ally touching adoption stories that I loved since my kids are adopted.

Liv, thanks for having me on your blog!!
Thank you so much Daphne! Daphne has also generously agreed to give away a signed copy of Alive and Well in Prague, New York to a random commenter who posts their opinions of the new feature. Post a comment on my review of Alive and Well and get an extra entry! The winner will be announced on next week's feature.
Authors; want to be featured in a Bits 'n Pieces interview? Email me at and we'll make it happen!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not Reading is Not Fun

I'm so sorry I haven't posted a review in a while. The book I'm reading right now is slow going, but I'm trying to get through it. It gets difficult though, when school starts tomorrow! This week I was drowned in early morning sports practices, school shopping, and organizing. I'm not at all looking forward to the school year as it means that I'm going to be so much more busy. I'm sorry if I'm not posting reviews as often as I was during the summer, but I'm sure you can all understand my reasons. Oh, but the thing that's brightening my outlook is that I got a laptop! I used to have to use our family PC which was very slow and I had to compete for time on it with the other members of my family, but now I'm the proud owner of a shiny white Macbook. Yay! 

One thing in which I may redeem myself and my non-reading is that I'm starting a new feature next week (hopefully). It's fun, it's cool, and I think you guys'll like it. So definitely be on the lookout for that and a few new reviews. If I can squish some reading time in.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pictures of the loot

So here are some pictures of the wonderful goodies you can win if you enter the contest that I'm running right now. I had to switch the candle to a "future librarian" button because when I went to find the candles at my favorite little gift shop, they didn't have them anymore. That made me really sad, but I hope you guys like the button! I think it's super adorable. If you'd like to find out more about the contest, click here. Comments on this post will not count as entries towards the contest. Remember to get your entries in by Saturday, August 30th, at midnight, central time. Good luck! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Undone by Brooke Taylor

1. Sing with Bleeder Valve.
2. Get a tattoo.
3. Work things out with Shay.
4. Confront D.
5. Tell Serena.
Kori Kitzler is the "dark angel" of her high school: beautiful, mysterious, the subject of rumors. Serena Moore is just an average girl: unassuming, not sure exactly who she is or who she wants to be. But then a seemingly chance encounter ignites a fateful friendship - allowing Kori to draw Serena into her world.
When the girls are given an assignment to list five things they would never dream could really happen - their five ways to tempt fate - Serena doesn't take it very seriously. But then a tragedy leaves Serena shocked, alone, and in possession of Kori's five secret impossible possibilities. Can Serena complete her best friend's list, or will she leave Kori's dreams undone?
(Summary from jacket flap)

After hearing a lot of great things about this book, I was expecting fantastic things. The only thing that really bothered me about the story was that at some points it got rather confusing. Everything was cleared up eventually, but I just didn't like the little parts where I was left hanging. Also, Serena's character got a little annoying after a while, in how she was always trying to be like Kori and didn't discover who she herself was until the very end of the book. That being said, there were tons of things that I liked about this book. The plot was very good. Even though it was a little bit predictable, I was still anticipating the next twist and flipping pages to get to the next part of the story. I also loved the character of Anthony Beck. He's the ideal boyfriend; a good kisser, supportive, and gives you your space when you need it. I'm completely in love with him. He treated Serena so well even as she was chasing after Kori's old boy toy. The best part of Undone was the huge twist at the end. I'm not going to give it away, but let's just say that it knocked me off my feet. I wasn't expecting it at all which was the greatest part. I also liked how the PostSecret postcard project was incorporated into the book. Brooke Taylor did an excellent job of having relative pop culture references in the story which added a nice edge to the narrative. All in all, I'd definitely recommend Undone. It's dark, captivating, and edgy. You won't be able to put it down.

Book Vault's Birthday Contest Riddle

This is the next leg of The Book Vault’s birthday book riddle contest! For more information on the contest, go here.
Each correct answer counts as an entry into the drawing on August 29th!
(Please enter by Aug 28th, midnight, EST)

Riddle: Falsely accused of a crime, this teenage boy is sent to a “camp” where he must dig a hole of specific dimensions each day. Is there more to this drill than the character-correcting & character-building that the warden claims it’s for?Which book is this?

Know the answer? Send Dominique an email at with:

“BDAY CONTEST” in the subject line
The Riddle: Falsely accused of a crime, this teenage boy is sent to a “camp” where he must dig a hole of specific dimensions each day. Is there more to this drill than the character-correcting & character-building that the warden claims it’s for?Which book is this?
Answer: (full book title + author)
The name of the site where you found the riddle: Liv’s Book Reviews
Your site’s URL: (if you have one)

Please send a separate email for each riddle you answer!

Good luck!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


After playing around with the layout code and the header a little bit, a present to you a new and improved header for my blog! Yay! I like it a lot; it's much more interesting than the old one. Thank you wordle!
When I was going through the surveys I've gotten so far for my contest, the bland header was a main thing that most people commented on, and I had to agree with them. It was kind of boring and not fun.
If you guys could let me know what you think of the new one, that would be awesome! Love it, hate it, somewhere in between? I just want to know if it was worth my trouble. :) Thanks so much!

Violet by Design by Melissa Walker

I was gong to get out of the modeling business for good. But now I'm having trouble sticking iwth my decision. After all, if it wasn't for modeling, I might still be be the invisible wallflower. Hot guys like Paulo wouldn't be interested in me. And I'd never have seen Brazil or Spain - and now France! On the other hand...I also wouldn't have to choose between my best friend from home and my agent's shrill demands. Or anguish over my body the way only runway models do. Not to mention all this trouble I'm getting into for speaking out in the press about eating disorders. Maybe the life of an international model isn't for me. But if I quit for good, I might always wonder...what if?
(Summary from back of book)

I fell in love with the first book, Violet On The Runway, and I think, if possible, I liked the second book even more. In this novel, Violet matures and grows into the title of super model. She learns more about the business of modeling and what it takes to make it. She then has to decide for herself whether all the trials are worth being publicly recognized and admired. After reading a true story about modeling, the book Model, I think I've gained a little better insight into a world I previously knew nothing about and I was able to compare what the Violet books said to what Model said. What I found was, much to my surprise, that the Violet books, although they are fiction, are extremely accurate and not only do they capture the real world industry vibe, they also involve a plot that is easy and fun to follow. I don't think we could ask for much more in a book! The best part of the whole series is how we get to focus on a leading girl who is so realistic that we feel as if we know her personally. She doesn't hold back any thoughts or questions, and she gets to know herself better throughout the story. I also loved how the whole Roger/Violet dynamic worked out in this story, even if it is a little bit cliched. I can't wait to read Violet in Private to see how that drama turns out. I'm hoping for a happy ending for our heroine, and for a third book that lives up to the high standard that Violet By Design set. I have to get to the library!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the indendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?
(Summary from back of book)

I don't even know where to begin. Nothing I could say would do this book justice. It's one of the most raw, heartbreaking, and touching novels I've read. Ever. Yikes. The thing I admire the most is that I think the author really wrote from her heart. You can tell just by the way the story is told that she cared deeply about what she was writing about which is the key to any good book; an author who is connected to her story. What's amazing is that this is Stephanie Kuehnert's first novel. How someone can write something this fantastic on her first attempt in the published world is...can I use the word amazing again? The characters are deep, detailed, and flawed. The plot is twisting and you flip the pages to find out what comes next. This book really takes you away into the trying, yet exhilirating world of rock and roll. You feel as if you're going through all of Emily's triumphs and trials with her and rooting for her as she alternately makes it big and falls hard. I think I'm running out of superlatives here. Or maybe I've uses so many that they don't have any meaning any more. But they are all deserved. So let me use a few more here; this book is really amazingly fantastic and you all need to go pick up a copy quickly. Really. :P

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

Ruby Oliver is 15 and has a shrink. She knows it’s unusual, but give her a break—she’s had a rough 10 days. In the past 10 days she:
lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list),
lost her best friend (Kim),
lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket),
did something suspicious with a boy (#10),
did something advanced with a boy (#15),
had an argument with a boy (#14),
drank her first beer (someone handed it to her),
got caught by her mom (ag!),
had a panic attack (scary),
lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie),
failed a math test (she’ll make it up),
hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends),
became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
and had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the boys’!?!). But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists. (Summary from Amazon)

The one thing that sticks with you about this book was how out of the ordinary and creative it was. The idea that so many people can have an effect on your life, no matter how small is mind blowing. Maybe the kids from my preschool made me who I am today, who knows? Another thing I liked about this book was Ruby's character. She was a classic E. Lockhart creation; spunky, sarcastic, witty, and brave. Every trait a good female character should have. The author definitely didn't disappoint on that front. And the one other thing that made the book work were the hilarious footnotes that were on almost every page. I loved that the little details were added into the book that way. I enjoyed that aspect of the book a ton. There were a few little things that I wasn't fond of in the book though. One of the main issues I had was that the narrative went back and forth from past to present without warning and it would often backtrack to touch down on points already told about. I can't take a ton of moving around like that when I'm reading. Also, I didn't like how the chapters were each labeled with one of the boys on the list because towards the end, the guy's story had been told in a previous chapter and there was nothing new to add to it in the chapter that was actually entitled to him. The whole layout of the book was a little hectic and mismatched which I didn't like. I also didn't like how unloyal Ruby's friends were to her. They let a little misunderstanding come between them which didn't help the realistic-ness of the story. Those things put aside, though, The Boyfriend List is a highly enjoyable book filled with laughter, cute guys, and only a few pitfalls. I'd recommend reading it. I myself will be picking up a copy of The Boy Book soon. I can't wait to read more about Roo's hilarious mishaps.

Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab

Matisse Osgood is a New York City girl through and through. She buys her clothes at Andy's Cheapies, watches indie films at the Angelika, and wouldn't be caught dead on a hayride. But when her father gets sick and Matisse's parents decide to leave Manhattan for a small town in upstate New York, her perfect world crumbles. As Matisse trudges through life in Prague, she dreams of waking up in her apartment on West 78th Street with a father who's well enough to walk with her in Central Park and a mother who doesn't pretend that everything is okay. When rumors surround Matisse at school and her father's symptoms worsen, Matisse realizes that the friends she's making in Prague are the kind you can count on. They help Matisse find the strength to reach out to her father, who may not be as far from her as she thought. And one particular farm boy shows Matisse that country living is a lot more magical than she ever imagined.
(Summary from jacket flap)

The one thing that surprised me about this book was how it was marketed for a younger audience than I expected. The print is large, the plot line is basic, and nothing "naughty" happens. But, of course that's not a bad thing. I think it added to the overall warm charm the book had. Each character was whimsical and fun, and even though their actions may have not seemed realistic at some points, they were still fun to read about and you felt as if you knew them well. I also liked how the romantic aspect of the story played out. I loved Hal and I think that him and Matisse make one of the cutest couples I've read about in a while. There's just something so innocent about the high maintenance city girl falling for the hokey farm boy. I adored it! Another thing that really brought the book to life for me was the strong female lead. Even throughout her boy troubles and the issues with her family, Matisse was able to stay sane and competent. I loath books that place females in weak and inferior positions, so for that reason alone, I loved Alive and Well. I'd definitely recommend this book to everyone. It is sure to warm your heart and leave you wanting to read more of Daphne Grab's smooth and clear writing. I'm definitely looking forward to more books from her!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fix by Leslie Margolis

It hurts to be beautiful.
Pretty, blond, popular Cameron Beekman has it all - lots of girlfriends, a hot boyfriend, and a successful family. She's perfection. Gone are her days as the outcast, huge-nosed "Beakface." Which, as it turns out, was nothing a good nose job couldn't fix.
While her little sister, Allie, struggles with doubts about her own approaching "procedure," Cameron wants more. She's headed to UC "Santa Barbie" and needs to look the part. After all, why settle for smart and pretty when smart and drop-dead gorgeous is just a surgery away?
(Summary from back of book)

This book was rather boring. It had a good storyline and a good underlying message, but there wasn't enough meat in it to make a mark. I think the one thing that I liked about it was that it covered a topic I've never read about before. Plastic surgery is pretty controversial and I appreciated how the author didn't take a certain side on it. She showed how Cameron was happy with the perks surgery gave her and how her sister wasn't. I was expecting there to be a prominent pro or con attitude, but there wasn't. The book illustrated both sides of the argument and in the end let you choose for yourself where you stand. I also liked how Cameron and Allie grew throughout the story; Cameron through her photography, and Allie through discovering who she wanted to be. It's nice to see characters that change and evolve. Even with all those good aspects, though, I wasn't satisfied. There were no enormous twists; you were able to predict almost everything that happened, and there wasn't anything there that would make me want to keep reading besides to say that I finished the book. The pages didn't turn by themselves, and there was no true insentive to keep reading. Fix is a good book to read if you're looking for fresh subject material but not if your looking for something that's going to impact you. Although, given the topic, it could be that kind of book, it's not. Which is slightly disappointing to me. There was so much potential from working with new subject matter, and this book just didn't pull it off. Read it for something new and interesting, though. Maybe we can look forward to better books on the same topic later on.

Fun Little Meme

Kesley over at Reading Keeps You Sane tagged me for this fun little meme. Enjoy!

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Going back to school shopping for those lovely elementary years. Ah, how I miss those carefree days...

What are 5 things on my to-do list today?
1. Get up to date on writing reviews!
2. Watch the olympics
3. Read
4. Go to a high school fall sport kick-off banquet
5. Organize all the pictures from my trip

Snacks I Enjoy:
Pringles...reese's pieces, baby carrots, apple sauce.

Places I've Lived:
I've moved once since I was born and that was to a house only 10 blocks away. Sorry I'm so boring!

Things I Would Do If I Were a Billionare:
1. Buy tickets to the olympics!!! That would be so cool
2. Own all the books I could possible want and house them all in an enormous, yet cozy library.
3. Go clothes shopping. hehe.
4. Be able to go to any college I was able to get into.
5. Travel to a bunch of foreign places. I want to see so many things!

And I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you haven't done this meme yet, consider yourself tagged!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Liv’s late birthday/half year of blogging/100 posts/it’s about time for another… contest!

I’ve only had one other contest on this blog and that one wasn’t very remarkable, so I figured that with all the reasons I had to have one, I had to make it big. For my late birthday/half year of blogging/100 posts/it’s about time for another contest (is that a long enough title for you?), I’m giving away a total of 3 book packs each of which will hopefully contain the following (although I'm making no promises):

2 books
a reading is sexy bumper sticker (for laughs)
a notebook,
some candy from Sweden ,
a CD of all the music I’ve played on my blog over the past half year,
and a really yummy smelling votive candle from this adorable little gift shop near my house

The books in each pack are as following:
-I Was a Teenage Popsicle (review here) and Beyond Cool by Bev Katz Rosenbaum
-Such A Pretty Girl (review here) and Leftovers (review here) by Laura Wiess
-Why I Let My Hair Grow Out (review here) and How I Found The Perfect Dress (review here) by Maryrose Wood
For our use, they will be referenced as The Popsicle Pack, The Leftovers Pack, and The Hairdresser pack

The actual entering process is where this whole thing gets a little complicated, so please read carefully. I tried to cover everything you could ever have a question about, but it’s still rather complex…

To get your first entry, you must either leave a comment on this post with your email or actually email me with the words Liv’s Contest in the subject box. I will follow up on all emails sent to me, but not on comments.
One entry is only good towards one pack, so you also have to pick your favorite and let me know which pack you would like that entry to go towards.

There are several ways to get extra entries:
Posting about this contest on your blog earns you one entry. Leave the link in your comment or email.
Filling out the following survey with honest answers earns you two entries:
What is your favorite thing about the Liv’s Book Reviews site?
What is your least favorite thing about the Liv’s Book Reviews site?
What are some suggestions you have for making the site better?
Do you base your decisions about reading books on the reviews on the site?
What are your favorite books or authors?
Do you read any other book review blogs besides this one? Which ones?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Making a banner or icon for the blog which includes the site address earns you 3 entries.
And the following people earned the noted amount of entries from either correctly guessing which country my trip was in (Sweden) or commenting on my Summer Hiatus Reviews which earned you an entry per comment (some people racked up some serious points; thanks guys!):
Anilee - 1 (commenting)
TJ Brown - 1 (commenting)
Melissa Walker - 1 (commenting)
Carol - 3 (commenting)
Books and Love - 2 (commenting)
RR2 - 1 (commenting)
Nicole B - 1 (commenting)
Book Chic - 5 (commenting)
Aella - 1 (commenting)
Em - 2 (commenting)
Elaina Reads - 1 (commenting)
Page Numbered - 1 (commenting)
Hillary - 1 (commenting)
Mari - 1 (guessing Sweden)
Ink Mage - 1 (guessing Sweden)
Liviania - 1 (guessing Sweden...well Norway, but that's close enough for me. :P)

If you are doing any extra entry options, in your comment or email you must tell me the number of entries you have earned and from where (if you’re filling out the survey or making a banner or icon, enter in an email please, so I know whose surveys and graphics are whose). You also need to tell me which packs you want the entries to go towards. Remember, you earn one entry automatically just for emailing or commenting. Spread out your entries between them or increase your odds at winning one particular pack, whatever you want.

And I think that covers everything. I hope that wasn’t extremely confusing, but if you have any questions drop me a comment or email so I can straighten it out. Enter away!

Oh, and the contest officially ends on...let's say Saturday, August 30th at midnight, central time.

EDIT: Just as a clarification, you are only able to win ONE pack. You can put entries towards all three, but I decide what order I draw winners in and if you win one pack, you can't win any which I might draw afterwards. You CAN enter for all three so if you don't win the first one you enter for, you still have a chance at winning one of the next ones. I hope that made sense...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ten Cents A Dance by Christine Fletcher

Chicago, 1941. When her mother becomes too ill to work, fifteen-year-old Ruby Jacinski is forced to drop out of school to support her family. But her dull factory job makes life feel like one long dead end, until she meets neighborhood bad boy Paulie Suelze. Soon Ruby discovers how to make money - lots of money: while wearing silk and satin and doing what she does best - dancing. Paid ten cents a dance to lead lonely men around a dance hall floor, Ruby thinks she's finally found a way out of Chicago's tenements...until swinging with the hepcats turns into swimming with the sharks.
A mesmerizing look into a little-known world and era, Ruby's story is resplendent with the sounds of great jazz, the allure of beautiful clothing, and the passions of a young generation in a country on the brink of war.
(summary from jacket flap)

Before reading this book, I hadn't read a ton of detailed historical fiction before. I wasn't sure how I was going to like it, and surprisingly, it really struck a chord with me. I loved how it covered a time period that I didn't know much about and how we were able to see it all through the eyes of someone who was easy to relate to, and real. Ruby reacted the same way any of us would have reacted in her situations and for that, I was drawn into the story completely. It slowed down a little at some parts, but there was sure to be a huge twist on the way to pull me under again. I also liked how this book wasn't so much about the action, but about the setting and making it come alive for the reader, which it really did. I was able to perfectly picture the dance hall, the black and tans, the dresses Ruby wore, and the factory she worked at in the beginning of the book. Description and details were everywhere which was wonderful. I think the other thing that made the book work was how the plot wasn't sugar coated - it showed the ugly underside of life in the 40's; not glossing over the gory parts. I was able to read about what things would have actually been like had I been living in those times. The plot twists were realistic and unexpected and everything felt as if it had been carefully planned out to add more to the story. I would definitely recommend this book if your looking for something that will teach you things but also take you back in time and sweep you away into a world that you never thought you'd experience. Even if you aren't a history lover, you'll definitely like Ten Cents A Dance.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - review, pics, and SPOILERS!

Just as a warning, this post will contain tons of spoilers for the book, so if you haven't read it yet, continue at your own risk.On the night of August 1st, I stayed up with one of my friends for the release of the highly anticipated book, Breaking Dawn. We headed over to our local Barnes and Noble at around 11 and much to our surprise, there were very few people there. You'd think that with as big a following as the Twilight saga has, there'd be more people camped out in line. I think there were maybe 15 people there before us. I'm assuming there were more at the stores hosting parties, like the Mall of America Barnes and Noble. I'm sure that there were a ton of people there. So after we've been sitting for around a half an hour, an announcement comes that there will be very few copies available if you haven't preordered the book. I hadn't. Urgh. We sit for a little while more and then it's midnight. The line moves pretty quickly even though around 30 more people showed up after we did. When my friend and I get up to the registers and buy our books, the lady says there are only two un-preordered copies left after ours. You can imagine how relieved I was feeling. I was two spots in line away from not being able to have a copy of Breaking Dawn to read. Yikes. I walk out of the store with my free stickers and pin in triumph and head over to my friend's house. We had been planning to stay up to read and chat about the book. We had two of those 4-packs of Starbucks bottled coffee, Reese's Pieces, and Twizzlers and once we got to her house, we sat down to read, caffeinate ourselves, and eat sugar. I lasted until about 5, and then even the coffee had no effect. I slept for four hours and then started reading again at 9. I went back to my own house at 2, but I didn't actually finish the book until this afternoon. I know, I'm pathetic. Before Breaking Dawn, I had never actually stayed up for the midnight release of a book before. It's cool now to say that I've done it, although slightly nerdy. Not completely though, because I wasn't dolled up in heavy eye shadow and wearing a Team Edward or Team Jacob homemade t-shirt like some of the people at the store. I tried to look as normal as possible. :P What were some of your Breaking Dawn experiences?

Summary from jacket flap: When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?
To be irrevocably in love with a vampire is both fantasy and nightmare woven into a dangerously heightened reality for Bella Swan. Pulled in one direction by her intense passion for Edward Cullen, and in another by her profound connection to werewolf Jacob Black, she has endured a tumultuous year of temptation, loss, and strife to reach the ultimate turning point. Her imminent choice to either join the dark but seductive world of immortals or pursue a fully human life has become the thread from which the fate of two tribes hangs.
Now that Bella has made her decision, a startling chain of unprecedented events is about to unfold with potentially devastating and unfathomable consequences. Just when the frayed strands of Bella's life - first discovered in Twilight, the scattered and torn in New Moon and Eclipse - seem ready to heal and knit together, could they be destroyed...forever?

Amazingly long review: I have so much to say about this book. Let's start at the beginning. I think the first "book" (it's divided into 3) of the novel was my favorite. It was the classic Twilight saga style that we all know and love. And since Bella and Edward get married in the first couple chapters, it left me wondering what else could possible happen in the rest of the book. The anticipated wedding scene did not disappoint. It was lavish, emotional, and what everyone expected. I thought the whole bit with Jacob showing up at last and then running away again was a little cliched as we had already seen so many scenes like that in the earlier books. I also got a little annoyed with Bella when she was so ecstatic to see him right after her marriage had taken place. I was also a little disappointed with Bella and Edward's "wedding night". All the earlier books had been leading up to the imminent sex scene and nothing happened. Edward hurt her a little bit, he bit some pillows (which was rather hilarious), but other than that, nothing was detailed. I wanted a little more than that. And then the ending of this first book. Bella, pregnant? That totally goes against everything any one's ever thought about that topic, and although I liked that there was a big twist like that, it just didn't seem plausible. Overall though, it was an acceptable start to the book. Maybe a little slow, but acceptable nonetheless.
The second book in Breaking Dawn was a complete surprise to me. I thought the Twilight saga was going to be told completely from Bella's perspective but then we have a random section from Jacob's point of view thrown into the middle of the last book. It's not consistent. I did like hearing some things from Jacob, but I didn't really think it added to much to the story. I also think that Stephenie wasn't able to differentiate Bella and Jacob's narration from the other enough. They don't have distinct, individual voices which made it confusing for me, because as I was reading Jacob's part, I'd kind of lapse back into Bella land and forget whose perspective I was reading from. Which shows that there needed to be more distinction between the two. The only new aspect of the novel that Jacob's point of view added was the wolf pack mental communication and the last page of the section. The mental communication was actually really interesting to read about and for that one reason, I'm glad that the Jacob section was put in. The part where Jacob reclaims his alpha-ness probably couldn't have been told as well from Bella's perspective either. And the last paragraph of the second book made it semi-worthwhile because we actually get to see Jacob imprinting on Renesmee. But even if you add all those things together, it's not enough to justify adding a completely different aspect to the book that wasn't present in any of the other books. I'd rather it had been entirely from Bella's perspective. It would've been interesting to see her thoughts on her pregnancy; like when she first drank blood, or when her bones started breaking, or things like that.
The third book started out good but then got worse. I loved hearing about the changes that Bella was going through as she got changed into a vampire. I think that that whole section was something a lot of Twilight fans had been waiting to read for quite a while and it didn't disappoint. We got to read in detail what the pain was like, what her bloodthirstiness was like (what little of it there was), and what her new abilities were like which was all very cool. We've read about the vampires from a human's perspective but we've never before read about them from the eyes of one. The thing that annoyed me about this part though, was how Bella wasn't like other newborn vamps in that she wasn't entirely overcome by thirst. That aspect was never explained fully which was disappointing. The book never really told why she wasn't normal, it only speculated. Another thing that I didn't like about this section was Bella's daughter's name. Renesmee Carlie as in Renee Esmee, Carlisle Charlie. Blech. I think this is probably the worst name in book history. It's so horribly obnoxious and I just about screamed when I found out about the name. It doesn't even sound like a real name. And now the poor kid has to grow into that heavy name. Maybe it's just me overreacting, but did anyone else feel that way about *shudders* Renesmee? And yet another thing I didn't like about the third section is that we never heard from Bella's human friends at all. They were at the wedding in the beginning and then we never see them again. We don't get to see what their reactions to Bella's vampire-ness are. Would Bella really just ditch Jessica and Angela to live with her vampire friends? At least she could've called them or something like that. And I personally would've been excited to see their reactions but that's one loose end that isn't tied up in this book. The writing style also gets a little rushed and choppy in this section, like Stephenie is trying to fit too much action into too little pages. This book could've been longer, or even been divided into two so we could get all the details, but instead, the most exciting part of the book, the last confrontation with the Volturi is squished in to 150 pages. They were the best 150 pages of the book though. We got to meet a slew of new vamps with cool powers and personalities and we were introduced to Bella's power. She's a "shield". She can shield herself and people around her from mental onslaught. It doesn't protect people physically though. Even so, I think that's a pretty kick-butt power. It might be one of the things Stephenie got absolutely right in the book. I also liked how Alice's disappearance and Renesmee's true nature were wrapped up neatly and convincingly. The final standoff was really addictive too. But Jacob's whole imprint thing bugged the crap out of me. Is it right/moral that after he'd been helplessly in love with Bella that he get stuck with her daughter. I think he's definitely getting stuck with the short end of the stick. And it just doesn't sit well with me. It helps that Renesmee's going to mature in 7 short years, but it still feels entirely wrong.
After stewing over the book for a few hours, I've concluded that even though I wasn't satisfied or impressed by Breaking Dawn in the least, it was as good of an ending to the Twilight saga as could be formed. Stephenie had too many open ends to tie off in too little space and the resulting book was squished, confused, but still semi-satisfactory. I guess, looking back, it was an okay last book but it definitely deviated from the first three books in ways that it shouldn't have. Breaking Dawn was more scientific and not as emotional. Also, I didn't feel any attraction to Edward in this book. While reading the first three, I was hopelessly in love with him, but in this one, not so much. The characters weren't as in depth and the prose wasn't as addictive or gripping. It just wasn't as good; as the first books, or as it could've been. I'm accepting it and moving on to new things though. Like the movie. Hopefully that will turn out well!
What were your thoughts on Breaking Dawn?

I've Been Nominated

Thanks to Kelsey and Bookworm for nominating me for the blog award. I'm honored!

The Rules:
1) Put the logo on your blog.
2) Make a link to the person who nominated you (see above).
3) Nominate at least seven (7) other blogs.
4) Add links to those blogs on your own blog.
5) Leave a message to your fellow nominees on their blogs.

And the nominees are...
Dominique over at The Book Vault because she is so sweet and writes some seriously amazing and detailed reviews.
Kelsey at Reading Keeps You Sane. Yes, she did nominate me, but her blog is just so cool that I had to nominate her in return. And you know, us Minnesotans have to stick together. :P
Chelsie at Read, Read, Read, because has such a huge variety of fun stuff going on at her blog and because she has fantabulous taste in books.
Megan who runs the blog From The Corner of Megan's Mind. She has one of the coolest author features going on and her reviews are thorough and thoughtful.
Jordyn at Page Numbered because she writes fantastic reviews, discovers new books for me, and has mad writing skills. :)
Ashley at Ashley's Bookshelf because even though she is new on the scene, she already knows her way around and is writing honest and informative reviews.
Alice at My Inked Pages because I'm loving her blog so far even though she's only been at it for about a month. Keep it up!

Congrats guys, and thanks again to Bookworm and Kelsey for nominating me. It means a lot!