Dig a Little Deeper!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Resident Bookworm's Thoughts On: The Spectacular Now

Hello, fellow bookworms!

The book of the week this week is The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. This book has had a little cult following for several years, and it was just recently adapted into a movie starring Shailene Woodley. I'll be honest: the movie looked really cute and romantic, which motivated me to read the book.

Summary: "Sutter Keely. He's the guy you want at your party. He'll get everyone dancing. He'll get everyone in your parents' pool. Okay, so he's not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men's shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram's V.O., life's pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee's clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it's up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee's not like other girls, and before long, he's in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone's life -- or ruin it forever." - Summary courtesy of amazon.com

The Good: I love how Tim Tharp wrote Sutter's dialogue. You get a little taste of it in the summary, with words like "splendiferous" and "fabuloso." Sutter as a character is really hilarious, actually. It makes it easy to read. He doesn't care about anything, and he just constantly flies by the seat of his pants for everything he does. Sutter is also on the brink of alcoholism, and he drinks all day every day. This addition really added quite a bit to the story, because Sutter is sort of an dope sometimes, but people like him anyway, despite his quirks. However, everyone is wary of his drinking habits, especially whenever he decides to drink and drive, which happens entirely too often. So everyone can accept him being quirky and off-the-wall, but they can't accept his drinking habits. I thought that made it really relatable.

The Bad: If I were honest, I would admit this shouldn't be a factor, but Aimee was sort of a letdown for me. I expected her to be...something that she wasn't, I guess, and I blame that on the movie previews. Don't read this book if you think Aimee is going to be Shailene Woodley. Because she's not. It's also a slow story, to be sure. There are large chunks of the "story" when it feels like there isn't a story. It's just Sutter running around, drunkenly causing a ruckus. It was entertaining sometimes, but other times, I found myself flipping forward two or three pages at a time, just waiting for something to actually happen.

Overall: So I have this tendency to generally avoid books written by men that also have male narrators solely because I have a hard time relating to them. Obviously there are exceptions (13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher comes to mind, and if you haven't read that yet, STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW AND GO GET YOURSELF A COPY. That's an order. It's one of the best books I've ever read. Looking for Alaska comes to mind, as well, which is also fabulous. But I digress.), but normally I don't like most of them. If I were honest, I wasn't overly impressed by The Spectacular Now, and, staying on the honest train, that might be because it was from Sutter's point of view instead of Aimee's. That might have made all the difference. So I'm going to give this one a 6. It was enjoyable and parts were laugh-out-loud funny, but other parts really dragged.

Would I recommend this to a fellow bookworm?
This is a tough one. The Spectacular Now vaguely reminded me of a John Hughes movie for reasons I don't pretend to understand. I'll admit that I think this book's mediocre score is just me being picky, so if you think you would enjoy reading Ferris Bueller's Day Off in the form of a novel, then I say go for it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Resident Bookworm's Thoughts on: Starcrossed

Hello, fellow bookworms!

The book of the week for this post is Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini. Starcrossed is the first in a trilogy, or as some like to call it, the first in a "haunting saga." Really, that was verbatim. It's on the book jacket. If you're familiar at all with the Percy Jackson series, which are now movies to boot, the idea behind this story might sound a little familiar. To be honest, Starcrossed is the teenage-girl version of Percy Jackson. You'll see what I mean if you read the summary.

Summary: "How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it's getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she's haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they're destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart." - Summary courtesy of amazon.com

The Good: The concept is just really cool. Angelini uses a lot of names you've heard before if you've ever paid any attention to mythology, including Cassandra, Ariadne, and Jason, among others - and Helen, obviously. But the cool part is that the myths don't match up with this story. They're not the same people; they just share names and some of the same gifts or traits. It's really clever. And this story is a real page-turner. I have a lot of interest in Greek mythology, but I don't know that much about it. I'm trying to learn more, but it's really dense. There's too much of it to be an expert just as a little side job. So I was eager to learn more about the people with names that I recognized in the story, like the four I listed above, as well as others. It's also well-written and there's a lot of sappy romantic parts, both of which are big pluses for me.

The Bad: Yet again, this is too long. If you're noticing a pattern here, you're very astute. But don't get me wrong; I don't have any problem with long stories. I've devoured every Harry Potter book with no arguments or even a sigh here or there. These books that I'm critiquing are just long for no good reason. Starcrossed is almost 500 pages, and it's just not necessary. It could easily be even 400 if not 350 and it would be much better. There is also an aspect of teenage love that, while it's sweet and enjoyable to read, is really unrealistic. It reminded me of Twilight, actually, which also really annoyed me. You're really going to leave your family for this guy you've known for 20 minutes so you can be together eternally? What a stupid girlish move, despite that you're supposed to be really mature for your age. And Helen is prepared to do the same thing, which angered me (At least Helen and Lucas are fated to be together, I suppose. What was Bella's excuse? But I digress). If she was really that smart and well-adjusted, she wouldn't be considering running off with a guy she met a month ago when she's seventeen. Crazy teenagers.

Overall Score: This one does have me eager to read the next book, which is definitely positive. So I'm going to give it a 7. It was too long and silly at parts, but it is a fantasy book, to be fair, and it's definitely a page-turner.

Would I recommend this to a fellow bookworm?
I would recommend this one. The story is intricately interwoven with mythology, but not so much that you can't understand it if you don't know anything about myths, because Angelini still explains everything. So if you like fantasy and can stomach some highly sappy young love, then I recommend giving this "haunting saga" a shot.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Resident Bookworm's Thoughts on: How to Love

Hello, fellow bookworms!

The book of this week is How to Love by Katie Cotugno. Before I write this review, I have to explain something. I went to the Book Expo America back in June with my sister, and we got several Advance Reader copies of different books. How to Love happened to be one of them, so this is really a review in advance, because it doesn't come out until October 1, this coming Tuesday. I also need to take a minute to gush about how exciting it is that I'm reviewing a book before it's published. I feel like a real reviewer!

Now on to the important stuff.

Summary: "Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember. But he's never noticed that Reena even exists . . . until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.
After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to life without Sawyer, but just as suddenly as he disappeared, he turns up again. Reena wants nothing to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said his being back wasn't stirring something in her.
After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?" - Summary courtesy of amazon.com

The Good: Out of the three books I've reviewed so far, I liked this one the most. It's really sweet and relatable, two of my favorite things. I think part of the reason I liked it so much is because Reena reminds me of myself - sans unplanned pregnancy, that is. She loves to write - ahem - and she has this desperate need to travel, so her dream is to become a travel writer. If I could choose any job, that would be it, so I was genuinely heartbroken when she got pregnant because it basically crushed her dream. The other thing I really liked was the great conflict within Reena. She genuinely loves her daughter and wants the best for her and smothers her with affection, but she is really resentful because now she's stuck at a community college with a waitress job. She's not resentful of Hannah herself; rather, she's more resentful of the situation, especially herself and Sawyer. The conflict within her family is also really well-written. They love Reena just as much as they always have, but an added member to the family has taken its toll. Both conflicts were so realistic of how I'm sure many unexpected mothers and their families feel that it added a realism to the book that was much appreciated.

The Bad: I just sat here and looked at the blinking cursor for a minute and I still couldn't think of anything substantial. The only thing I could think of was that it seemed like more of the book was in the past than the present, and I think it would have been a truly great book if it was the other way around. However, Cotugno was trying to set the scene for what really happened when they were teenagers, and I can totally understand that. I really liked this book a lot, and it's Cotugno's first novel, which makes me that much more excited for the stuff she has planned for the future.

Overall Score: I'm going to give this book an 8.5. I really liked it a lot, and if I picked it up sometime in the future to read it again, I wouldn't be surprised. I'm pretty sure it's also one of those stories that if you showed me the cover in 5 years, I'll still remember what it was about - which is really a huge accomplishment for Cotugno.

Would I recommend this to a fellow bookworm?
Wholeheartedly. It's a feel-good story with some real family drama thrown in. If it were a movie, I'd say it would be under "romantic drama." It's definitely a good read, and Katie Cotugno just gained one more fan.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Resident Bookworm's Thoughts on: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1)

Hello, bookworms!

The book of the week is City of Bones, the first book in the Mortal Instruments series. If the title sounds familiar, that is probably because this particular book was just made into a movie that was released within the last few weeks. The movie looked good enough to motivate me to read the book, something I had been meaning to do for ages anyway.

Summary: "When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing—not even a smear of blood—to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end." Summary courtesy of amazon.com.

The Good: Obviously, this story is really unique. So much YA fiction is either really plain and unimaginative or just ripping off someone else's good idea, which really made this a breath of fresh air (There's too much first love and vampire fiction in the "teen" section at Barnes and Noble for my taste; I was there over the weekend and there is now a subsection dedicated to "paranormal romance." Why is there so much of it that it deserves its own heading? But I digress.). I really like the narrator, Clary. She seems older than her years, which I can certainly appreciate, because she's only supposed to be 15. I also really enjoyed the different ways that Cassandra Clare changed the norms for mythical creatures. Vampires, for example, have super-thin, needle-like incisors rather than fangs. Clare also developed a whole culture and homeland for the Shadowhunters that was very Harry Potter-esque in a way that a Potterhead like me could really appreciate.

The Bad: This, like the book from my previous post, was also too long. There was a really silly and unnecessary conflict thrown in involving one of the characters turning into a rat which added nothing to the story, just to the length. It would be a much better book without it, so much so that I couldn't help but wonder what Clare was thinking. It would have been much better suited to being a supplementary short story of its own. Clare also threw in a plot twist at the very end of the book that was a complete game-changer. It was a clever way to spin the story, but I hated it. So. Much. It changed my impression of the interactions between two of the main characters in the entire rest of the book, and not in a good way. This, too, was completely unnecessary, in my opinion. There was definitely another way to add in a plot twist without ruining a large part of the story.

Overall Score: The fact that this is the first book in a series and I'm not running to pick up the next book says a lot. Keeping this in mind, I'm going to give it a 5. I'll definitely never read it again, but I did like the story, overall. So it falls right in the middle.

Would I recommend this to a fellow bookworm?
I'm really on the fence with this one. I think that if you like fantasy, you'd like this story. It was definitely a page-turner, and I honestly did enjoy most of it. The end just soured my opinion of it so greatly that it's giving me a hard time. So I'm going to go with a strong yes for fantasy fans, but if you're not sure if this a story you'd like, then I would probably hesitantly give it a shot. If you're not hooked by the third or fourth chapter, I'd forget about it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Resident Bookworm's Thoughts on: Big Girl Panties

Hello, fellow bookworms!

I wanted to formally greet you since this is my first blog. I'm Clare, and I'm the aforementioned resident bookworm. I love to read, and I normally get through one book per week...most of the time. The first book I've chosen to discuss is Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich.

Summary: "Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief. Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?" - Summary courtesy of amazon.com

The Good: So as a fair warning, the majority of the books that I will blog about will be young adult or new adult novels, since that's the majority of what I read. This book, however, was a full-fledged adult novel (complete with some very steamy sex scenes), and I really enjoyed it.

Big Girl Panties is a fun read and it's easy to get in and out of. There's nothing worse than a novel that you can't pick up and put down at your leisure. This book, however, is very well suited to doing just that. The characters are relatable; both of the main characters have flaws and make mistakes, but they are both good people deep down. And the secondary characters are equally relatable. Evanovich is great at helping the reader get to know her characters, because there were only about four secondary characters in the whole book, and I can name all of them, something every author should be proud of. The use of the anatomical terminology and the gym-speak was interesting, proving that Evanovich either follows a strict workout or she did her research. Honestly, it's just a sweet story. As a curvy girl myself, I really enjoyed this My Fair Lady-esque story, because I don't think there are many others like it, so I enjoyed it's uniqueness immensely.

The Bad: I thought it was a little long. The book is more than 330 pages, and the story simply isn't that intensive. There were times when I found myself thinking, "God, I still have 100 pages to go?" I also was a little let down by the big conflict in the story. It was okay, but it wasn't as realistic as I earlier praised the rest of the book for being. It was too dramatic and silly to be in a book that was previously so realistic.

Overall Score: I give this book a hearty 7. I don't think it's one that I want to read again, but I really did enjoy it thoroughly, despite what I said about it being a little lengthy.

Would I recommend this to a fellow bookworm?

Yes, I would recommend Big Girl Panties. If you like romantic comedies, this is a book for you.